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The Market Ticker - The True State of The Economy

The Market Ticker - 16 January 2015 - 12:15am

Yes, we hear, jobs are plentiful (so says the Obama administration)

Yes, we hear, the economy has mended (so says all the people driving around in new F-150 gas guzzlers)

Yes, we hear, housing is recovering (so says the NAR and the rest of the pump monkeys in housing)

Yes, we hear, it's all going to be ok (so says the stock market near all-time highs)

Ok, if that's true, then how about this?

Approximately 62% of Americans have no emergency savings for things such as a $1,000 emergency room visit or a $500 car repair, according to a new survey of 1,000 adults by personal finance website Bankrate.com. Faced with an emergency, they say they would raise the money by reducing spending elsewhere (26%), borrowing from family and/or friends (16%) or using credit cards (12%).

So basically if nothing ever goes wrong most of America will be just fine.

Yeah, right -- like that's ever been a reasonable expectation.

Folks, only about 1/3rd of so-called millennials and about 45% of senior citizens can cover one unexpected expense such as their car breaking down and needing $500 worth of repairs or a water heater leaking in their house.

Let me point out that these sorts of expenses are routine through your life.  In fact, during my lifetime it is rare when at least one unexpected "surprise" of a financial sort does not occur on a yearly basis.

$500 is a pretty small one too, although if you're an apartment dweller you might get away with that being the upper limit of expectations.  If you own a house?  There is not a prayer in hell of that being reasonable; $2-5,000 surprises happen all the time and $10,000 ones are not unheard of, even with relatively modest homes.  Hell, a need to replace the washing machine can hit the thousand dollar mark particularly if you need someone to come install it for you!

The article, in point of fact, cites the Affordable Care Act (that is, "Brosurance") as a positive.  Trust me, if you have a Bronze plan and actually get sick you won't think so -- the usual deductible for those plans is around $6,000!  Don't got it?  Too bad, so sad -- that's why you needed an emergency fund!

What's worse -- far worse -- is that every organ of the media and government is screaming at you to make this situation worse rather than better: Go shop, go buy more iCrap, go get a new car, go to college -- and all of it on credit!

Well?

Americans, as a group, learned exactly nothing by being bailed out with funemployment and skyrocketing food stamps instead of being forced to reckon with their profligate and reckless abuse of credit during the 2000s.  

When the next financial dislocation comes and jobs are once again lost by the million+ a month, and it will happen as The Fed and Government have only created the illusion of prosperity, the public will find itself in worse condition than it was in 2008!

Here it comes!

Categories: Economics

Introducing the Real Economy Lab

Energy Bulletin - 16 January 2015 - 12:03am

Aside from nearly 500 Transition initiatives worldwide, there is a vast and increasing array of practitioning and thinking around what is being called the ‘new economy.’

Categories: Peak oil news

Engaging Communities in Decisions after Complex Disasters: Lessons from Fukushima

Energy Bulletin - 15 January 2015 - 11:34pm

As a starting point for the sustainable recovery of communities affected by disasters, decision-makers must meet the needs of the affected population while being mindful of the local context.

Categories: Peak oil news

Nebraska's Community-Owned Electricity Generation

Energy Bulletin - 15 January 2015 - 11:30pm

In Nebraska, 121 publicly-owned utilities, 10 cooperatives, and 30 public power districts provide electricity to a population of around 1.8 million people.

Categories: Peak oil news

What is the "Social Economy"?

Energy Bulletin - 15 January 2015 - 11:30pm

The social economy is composed of civil organizations and networks that are driven by the principles of reciprocity and mutuality in service to the common good – usually through the social control of capital.

Categories: Peak oil news

Peak Oil Notes - Jan 15

Energy Bulletin - 15 January 2015 - 11:29pm

A mid-week update. Oil prices fell on Monday and Tuesday of this week, but then rebounded sharplyWednesday afternoon to close at $47.48 in New York and $48.69 in London.

Categories: Peak oil news

Oil Prices and the Devil's Ransom - CounterPunch

Peak Oil - Google - 15 January 2015 - 10:33pm

Seeking Alpha

Oil Prices and the Devil's Ransom
CounterPunch
Mobbs's enthusiastic support of oil production in Saudi Arabia manifests a powerful rebuttal to Steve Melia's dispatch on the troubled thesis of peak oil; whereas Melia claims we must continue to resist fossil fuels for the sake of the environment ...
OPEC Losing Its Grip? No, The Saudis Are Partying Like It's 1981Forbes
Oil Price Crash: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly TruthSeeking Alpha
The real cause of low oil prices: Interview with Arthur BermanMercoPress
The Market Oracle
all 1,422 news articles »

Kennismaking Transition Town Vollenhove - De Noordoostpolder

Transition Towns in the media - 15 January 2015 - 9:51pm

Kennismaking Transition Town Vollenhove
De Noordoostpolder
Transition Towns hebben geen kant-en-klaarconcept. ,,Het gaat er om waar er op lokaal niveau behoefte aan is. Dat bepaalt niet de initiatiefgroep, maar de bewoners van een wijk, stad of dorp zelf. Door aan te sluiten bij een wereldwijd netwerk, kan er ...

Categories: TT news

March of the Squirrels

Energy Bulletin - 15 January 2015 - 9:47pm

Prediction is a difficult business at the best of times, but the difficulties seem to change from one era to another. Just now, at least for me, the biggest challenge is staying in front of the headlines.

Categories: Peak oil news

Vote in the Democratic Shadow Primary Now: Support Elizabeth Warren

The Baseline Scenario - 15 January 2015 - 1:48pm

By Simon Johnson

The shadow primary for the Democratic Party is in full swing. What will be the ideas, themes, and messages that win support in 2016 – and will they carry the day in the presidential election?

You can vote now at the Big Ideas project on almost every viable proposal from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Expressions of interest will feed into conversations on Capitol Hill and with presidential candidates. Nearly 1 million votes have already been cast.

Voting ends Friday at noon. Currently, in the section on the Economy & Jobs, the proposal to restore Glass-Steagall is in third place; breaking up Citigroup is close behind. (Vote now for these or for your own priorities.)

I suggested Break Up Citigroup, but it is based directly on Elizabeth Warren’s December 12, 2014, speech on the Senate floor. (The Restore Glass-Steagall idea was proposed by Byron Dorgan, former Democratic Senator from North Dakota; Senator Warren has also proposed bipartisan legislation along these lines.)

Senator Warren made another powerful speech last week laying out what has gone wrong in America – and what can be done better in the future. She covers a lot of ground and lays out a compelling statement of the issues, including how to raise incomes for most Americans.

But everyone has to start somewhere, and this is where she begins,

We know that democracy doesn’t work when congressmen and regulators bow down to Wall Street’s political power – and that means it’s time to break up the Wall Street banks and remind politicians that they don’t work for the big banks, they work for US!”

You could start by reading Senator Warren’s recent speech and, if you agree with what she says, vote for her Big Ideas.

Categories: Economics

'Buzzing' Totnes stars in film to advertise UK's biggest retail event - Western Morning News

Transition Towns in the media - 15 January 2015 - 1:12pm

Western Morning News

'Buzzing' Totnes stars in film to advertise UK's biggest retail event
Western Morning News
The global Transition Towns movement was started in Totnes while the town was also one of the first in the UK to adopt its own 'money' – the Totnes Pound – with the view to boost local trade and keep the money flowing locally. Naomi Barton, interim ...

Categories: TT news

March of the Squirrels

The Archdruid Report - 15 January 2015 - 12:03pm
Prediction is a difficult business at the best of times, but the difficulties seem to change from one era to another. Just now, at least for me, the biggest challenge is staying in front of the headlines. So far, the crash of 2015 is running precisely to spec. Smaller companies in the energy sector are being hammered by the plunging price of oil, while the banking industry insists that it’s not in trouble—those of my readers who recall identical expressions of misplaced confidence on the part of bankers in news stories just before the 2008 real estate crash will know just how seriously to take such claims.
The shiny new distractions disguised as energy breakthroughs I mentioned here two weeks ago have also started to show up. A glossy puff piece touting oceanic thermal energy conversion (OTEC), a white-elephant technology which was tested back in the 1970s and shown to be hopelessly uneconomical, shared space in the cornucopian end of the blogosphere over the last week with an equally disingenuous puff piece touting yet another rehash of nuclear fission as the answer to our energy woes. (Like every fission technology, of course, this one will be safe, clean, and affordable until someone actually tries to build it.)
No doubt there will shortly be other promoters scrambling for whatever government subsidies and private investment funds might be available for whatever revolutionary new energy breakthrough (ahem) will take the place of hydrofractured shales as America’s favorite reason to do nothing. I admit to a certain feeling of disappointment, though, in the sheer lack of imagination displayed so far in that competition. OTEC and molten-salt fission reactors were already being lauded as America’s energy salvation back when I was in high school: my junior year, I think it was, energy was the topic du jour for the local high school debate league, and we discussed those technologies at length. So did plenty of more qualified people, which is why both of them—and quite a few other superficially plausible technologies—never made it off the drawing board.
Something else came in for discussion that same year, and it’s a story with more than a little relevance to the current situation. A team from another school in the south Seattle suburbs had a brainstorm, did some frantic research right before a big debate tournament, and showed up with data claiming to prove that legions of squirrels running in squirrel cages, powering little generators, could produce America’s electricity. Since no one else happened to have thought of that gimmick, none of the other teams had evidence to refute them, and they swept the tournament. By the next tournament, of course, everyone else had crunched the numbers and proceeded to stomp the squirrel promoters, but for years to come the phrase “squirrel case” saw use in local debate circles as the standard term for a crackpot proposal backed with seemingly plausible data.
The OTEC plants and molten-salt reactors currently being hawked via the media are squirrel cases in exactly the same sense; they sound plausible as long as you don’t actually crunch the numbers and see whether they’re economically and thermodynamically viable. The same thing was true of the fracking bubble that’s messily imploding around us right now, not to mention the ethanol and biodiesel projects, the hydrogen economy, and the various other glittery excuses that have occupied so much useless space in the collective conversation of our time. So, it has to be said, do the more enthusiastic claims being made for renewable energy just now.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a great fan of renewable energy. When extracting fossil carbon from the earth stops being economically viable—a point that may arrive a good deal sooner than many people expect—renewables are what we’ll have left, and the modest but real energy inputs that can be gotten from renewable sources when they don’t receive energy subsidies from fossil fuels could make things significantly better for our descendants. The fact remains that in the absence of subsidies from fossil fuels, renewables won’t support the absurdly extravagant energy consumption that props up what passes for an ordinary middle class lifestyle in the industrial world these days.
That’s the pterodactyl in the ointment, the awkward detail that most people even in the greenest of green circles don’t want to discuss. Force the issue into a conversation, and one of the more common responses you’ll get is the exasperated outburst “But there has to be something.” Now of course this simply isn’t true; no law of nature, no special providence, no parade of marching squirrels assures us that we can go ahead and use as much energy as we want in the serene assurance that more will always be waiting for us. It’s hard to think of a more absurd delusion, and the fact that a great many people making such claims insist on their superior rationality and pragmatism just adds icing to the cake.
Let’s go ahead and say it in so many words: there doesn’t have to be a replacement for fossil fuels. In point of fact, there’s good reason to think that no such replacement exists anywhere in the small corner of the universe accessible to us, and once fossil fuels are gone, the rest of human history will be spent in a world that doesn’t have the kind of lavish energy resources we’re used to having. Concentrations of energy, like all other natural resources, follow what’s known as the power law, the rule—applicable across an astonishingly broad spectrum of phenomena—that whatever’s ten times as concentrated is approximately ten times as rare. At the dawn of the industrial age, the reserves of fossil fuel in the Earth’s crust were the richest trove of stored energy on the planet, and of course fossil fuel extraction focused on the richest and most easily accessible prizes first, just as quickly as they could be found.
Those are gone now. Since 2005, when conventional petroleum production peaked worldwide, the industrial world has been engaged in what amounts to a frantic game of make-believe, pretending that scraping the bottom of the oil barrel proves that the barrel is still full. Every half-baked scheme for producing liquid fuels got flooded with as much cheap credit as its promoters could squander. Some of those—biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol come to mind—turned out to be money pits so abysmal that even a tide of freshly printed money couldn’t do much more than gurgle on the way down; others—above all, shale fracking and tar sand mining—were able to maintain a pretense of profitability for a while, with government subsidies, junk bonds, loans from clueless banks, and round after round of economic stimulus from central banks over much of the world serving to prop up industries that, in the final analysis, were never economically viable in the first place.
The collapse in the price of oil that began this June put paid to that era of make-believe. The causes of the oil crash are complex, but back of them all, I suggest, is a straightforward bit of economics that almost everyone’s been trying to avoid for a decade now.  To maintain economic production at any given level, the global economy has to produce enough real wealth—not, please note, enough money, but enough actual goods and services—to cover resource extraction, the manufacture and replacement of the whole stock of nonfinancial capital goods, and whatever level of economic waste is considered socially and politically necessary. If the amount of real wealth needed to keep extracting resources at a given rate goes up steeply, the rest of the economy won’t escape the consequences: somewhere or other, something has to give.
The economic history of the last decade is precisely the story of what gave in what order, or to put it another way, how the industrial world threw everything in sight under the bus to keep liquid fuel production around its 2005 peak. Infrastructure was abandoned to malign neglect, the last of the industrial world’s factory jobs got offshored to Third World sweatshops, standards of living for most people dropped steadily—well, you can fill in the blanks as well as I can. Consumption remained relatively high only because central banks flooded the global economy with limitless cheap credit, while the US government filled the gap between soaring government expenditures and flat or shrinking tax receipts by the simple equivalent of having the Fed print enough money each month to cover the federal deficit. All these things were justified by the presupposition that the global economy was just going through a temporary rough patch, and normal growth would return any day now.
But normal growth has not returned. It’s not going to return, either, because it was only “normal” in an era when cheap abundant fossil fuels greased the wheels of every kind of economic activity. As I noted in a blog post here back in 2007, the inevitable consequence of soaring oil prices is what economists call demand destruction: less formally, the process by which people who can’t afford oil stop using it, bringing the price back down. Since what’s driving the price of oil up isn’t merely market factors, but the hard geological realities of depletion, not everyone who got forced out of the market when the price was high can get back into it when the price is low—gas at $2 a gallon doesn’t matter if your job scavenging abandoned houses doesn’t pay enough for you to cover the costs of a car, and let’s not even talk about how much longer the local government can afford to maintain streets in driveable condition.
Demand destruction sounds very abstract. In practice, though, it’s all too brutally concrete: a rising tide of job losses, business failures, slumping standards of living, cutbacks to every kind of government service at every level, and so on down the litany of decline that’s become part of everyday life in the industrial world over the last decade—leaving aside, that is, the privileged few who have been sheltered from those changes so far. Unless I miss my guess, we’re going to see those same changes shift into overdrive in the months and years ahead. The attempt to boost the world out of its deepening slump by flooding the planet with cheap credit has failed; the global economy is choking on a supersized meal of unpayable IOUs and failed investments; stock markets and other venues for the exchange of paper wealth are so thoroughly gimmicked that they’ve become completely detached from the real economy of goods and services, and the real economy is headed south in a hurry.
Those unwelcome realities are going to constrain any attempt by the readers of this blog to follow up on the proposal I made in last week’s post, and take constructive action in the face of the crisis that’s now upon us. The energy situation here in the US could have been helped substantially if conservation measures and homescale renewables had received any kind of significant support from the oh-so-allegedly-green Democratic party, back when it still had enough clout in Congress to matter; the economic situation would be nowhere near as dire if governments and central banks had bitten the bullet and dealt with the crisis of our time in 2008 or thereafter, rather than papering things over with economic policies that assumed that enough money could negate the laws of physics and geology. At this point, it’s much too late for any sort of collective action on either of those fronts—and of course the political will needed to do anything meaningful about either one went missing in action at the end of the 1970s and hasn’t been seen since.
Thus all of us will have to cope with a world in which the cost of energy suffers from drastic and economically devastating swings, and the sort of localized infrastructure that could cushion the impact of those swings wasn’t built in time. All of us will also have to cope with a global economy in disarray, in which bank failures, currency crises, credit shortages, and crisis measures imposed by government fiat will take the place of the familiar workings of a market economy. Those are baked into the cake at this point, and what individuals, families, and community groups will be able to do in the years ahead will be constrained by the limits those transformations impose.
Those of my readers who still have a steady income and a home they expect to be able to keep would still be well advised to doublecheck their insulation and weatherstripping, install solar water heating and other homescale renewable energy technologies, and turn the back lawn into a vegetable garden with room for a chicken coop, if by any chance they haven’t taken these sensible steps already.  A great many of my readers don’t have such options, and at this point, it may be a long time before such options are readily available again. This is crunch time, folks; unless I’m very much mistaken, we’re on the brink of a historical inflection point like the ones in 1789 and 1914, one of the watersheds of time after which nothing will ever be the same again.
There’s still much that can be done in other spheres, and I’ll be discussing some of those things in upcoming posts. In terms of energy and the economy, though, I suspect that for a lot of us, the preparations we’re going to be able to make are the ones we’ve already made, and a great many people whose plans depend on having a stable income and its associated perks and privileges may find themselves scrambling for options when the unraveling of the economy leaves them without one. Those of my readers who have been putting off the big changes that might make them more secure in hard times may be facing the hard decision of making those changes now, in a hurry, or facing the crisis of our age in the location and situation they’re in right now. Those who’ve gone ahead and made the changes—well, you know as well as I do that it’s time to review your plans, doublecheck the details, batten down the hatches and get ready to weather the storm.
One of the entertainments to be expected as the year draws on and the crisis bears down on us all, though, is a profusion of squirrel cases of the sort discussed toward the beginning of this essay. It’s an interesting regularity of history that the closer to disaster a society in decline becomes, the more grandiose, triumphalist, and detached from the grubby realities its fantasies generally get. I’m thinking here of the essay on military affairs from the last years of the Roman world that’s crammed full of hopelessly unworkable war machines, and of the final, gargantuan round of Mayan pyramids built on the eve of the lowland classic collapse. The habit of doubling down in the face of self-induced catastrophe seems to be deeply engrained in the human psyche, and I don’t doubt for a moment that we’ll see some world-class examples of the phenomenon in the years immediately ahead.
That said, the squirrel cases mentioned earlier—the OTEC and molten-salt fission proposals—suffer from a disappointing lack of imagination. If our society is going to indulge in delusional daydreams as it topples over the edge of crisis, couldn’t we at least see some proposals that haven’t been rehashed since I was in high school?  I can only think of one such daydream that has the hallucinatory quality our current circumstances deserve; yes, that would be the proposal, being made quite seriously in the future-oriented media just now, that we can solve all our energy problems by mining helium-3 on the Moon and ship it to Earth to fuel fusion power plants we have absolutely no idea how to build yet. As faith-based cheerleading for vaporware, which is of course what those claims are, they set a very high standard—but it’s a standard that will doubtless be reached and exceeded in due time.
That said, I think the media may need some help launching the march of the squirrels just mentioned, and the readers of this blog proved a good long time ago that they have more than enough imagination to meet that pressing need.
Therefore I’m delighted to announce a new contest here on The Archdruid Report, the Great Squirrel Case Challenge of 2015. The goal is to come up with the most absurd new energy technology you can think of, and write either the giddily dishonest corporate press release or the absurdly sycophantic media article announcing it to the world. If you or a friend can Photoshop an image or two of your proposed nonsolution to the world’s energy needs, that’s all the better. Post your press release or media article on your blog if you have one; if you don’t, you can get one for free from Blogspot or Wordpress. Post a link to your piece in the comments section of this blog.
Entries must be posted here by February 28, 2012.  Two winners—one picked by me, the other by vote of the registered members of the Green Wizards forum—will receive signed complimentary copies of my forthcoming book After Progress. I can’t speak for the forum, which will doubtless have its own criteria, but I’ll be looking for a winsome combination of sheer absurdity with the sort of glossy corporate presentation that frames so many absurd statements these days. (Hint: it’s not against the rules to imitate real press releases and media articles.)
As for the wonderful new energy breakthrough you’ll be lauding so uncritically, why, that’s up to you. Biodiesel plants using investment bankers as their primary feedstock? A vast crank hooked to the Moon, running a global system of belts and pulleys? An undertaking of great energy profit, to misquite the famous ad from the South Sea Bubble, but no one to know what it is? Let your imagination run wild; no matter how giddy you get, as the failure of the fracking bubble becomes impossible to ignore, the mass media and a great many of our fellow hominids are go much further along the track of the marching squirrels than you will.
********************In not unrelated news, I’m delighted to report that the second volume of stories to come out of this blog’s 2014 Space Bats challenge is now available in ebook formats, and will shortly be out in print as well. After Oil 2: The Years of Crisis features a dozen original short stories set in the near future, as industrial civilization slams face first into the limits to growth. Those of my readers who followed the original contest already know that this is a first-rate collection of deindustrial SF; as for the rest of you—why, youre in for a treat. Click here to order a copy.
Categories: Peak oil news

Fear and Loathing in Paris

The Daily Reckoning - 15 January 2015 - 10:33am

This post Fear and Loathing in Paris appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Paris looked like a city under siege when we went through it on Saturday.

Helicopters overhead. Gendarmes everywhere. Fear and loathing down every rue.

Even with the diminutive François Hollande at its head, the French government seemed suddenly robust – its muscles flexed, its cheeks rosy and flush with energy and purpose.

“War is the health of the state,” said American writer Randolph Bourne.

“Compare what these Islamic commandos did to Charlie Hebdo and what your Navy SEAL team did to Osama bin Laden,” suggested a provocative Frenchman.

“Both were trained to kill. Both killed unarmed people in the name of their cause. Bin Laden had been accused of a serious crime. But no trial was ever held. No verdict ever rendered.

“The cartoonists had been accused of a serious crime, too… at least as the radical Islamists saw it. In both attacks the killers gunned down innocent people who hadn’t been accused of anything.”

“What’s the difference?” he asked. He did not stay for an answer.

We had one: In our Western tradition, making fun of someone is not a capital crime. Plotting the murder of thousands is.

But the man had a point. The perps – the brothers Kouachi – believed in a different tradition… a different set of rules… and a different kind of justice.

Once killing is permitted, people will reach out to others… and blow their brains out.

The Kouachi brothers’ beliefs may be strange, but their plan of action was familiar. It came directly from The Revolutionist’s Handbook.

Their attack aimed to do more than just avenge the mockery of the prophet Mohammed.

There are more than 5 million Muslims in France. Most of them are sensible, law-abiding people. Few take jihad seriously. Murdering high-profile targets was designed to rally these secular Muslims to the cause.

Terror would harden the majority French against them and provoke the government to overreact. The Kouachis must have been hoping that France would declare “war.”

Not only would this give the murderers the dignity of soldiers, it would help radicalize the minority… providing the jihadists with more recruits and more financial support.

The US has been a big help to radical Islam. It was US mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib that the Kouachis credited with having convinced them to become terrorists.

Bombing, droning, torturing, invading – and killing thousands of innocent people as it throws its weight around – the Pentagon has done its part: creating and arming ISIS, as well as other violent groups.

Now, the terrorists are getting the same cooperation from France.

This is where the worlds of money and geopolitics meet. The link is credit. Without the almost unlimited credit of the post-1971 world, today’s grotesqueries in politics and finance wouldn’t exist.

Excess credit – above and beyond the ratio of credit to GDP that existed up until 1980 – added about $35 trillion to America’s spending power since the 1970s.

Americans borrowed and spent. Planet GDP spun faster and faster, as people spent more and more money they didn’t have on more and more things they didn’t need.

This includes the vast “military-industrial complex” that President Eisenhower warned against… and the “foreign entanglements” that Washington, Adams and the founding fathers sought to avoid.

Regards,

Bill Bonner
for The Daily Reckoning

The post Fear and Loathing in Paris appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Categories: Economics

The Market Ticker - Thinking About BlackBerry & Samsung

The Market Ticker - 15 January 2015 - 9:24am

So what do I think?

First, allegedly Samsung just wants the patents.  I think not.

Samsung has a problem; they're losing their growth rate.  KNOX has gone basically nowhere and they need a MDM platform of some sort.  Their high end phones are no longer the only Belle of The Ball and having Google's millstone around their neck is hurting them.  Their alternative, Tizen, has failed to launch (but is now going into their TVs.)  The low end is being destroyed by low-cost Chinese device producers.

Does a deal make sense?  You bet it does.

Can Samsung do the deal?  With their free cash.

What does Samsung get?  

For openers:

  • QNX.  A working OS that can go into Samsung devices now, giving them a working alternative to Android without losing compatibility for most Android apps.  This is something Tizen doesn't do.

  • Enterprise/security/MDM.  Samsung has part of this already, but this sort of combination "closes the loop" and slams the door on others, specifically Apple, who Samsung wants to slam the door on.

  • The patent portfolio. That's probably the smallest part of the bargain.

There's more that I can come up with but those are the immediate "big ones."

There are some real impediments to getting it done but this makes a lot more sense than does Lenovo going after these guys. Among other things there is no Chinese impediment with the Canadian government.

Earlier today the chart looked like a potential breakdown below recent support on the earnings release; the market itself had been soft and high-beta (e.g. BlackBerry) names were getting pantsed.  That's the sort of environment that technical traders like to short into but if you did it today you got cornholed to the tune of about 30% in minutes.

~67 million shares traded today with 53 million of them in the last 30 minutes.

Mr. Short, the margin clerk is on line 1 and says you need to wire in $50 million within the next half-hour.  Oh, you don't have it?  That's most unfortunate.

Categories: Economics

The Market Ticker - Samsung Wants BlackBerry?

The Market Ticker - 15 January 2015 - 8:56am

Oh boy....

This one's got prices too -- $13.35 to $15.49/share.

If you're short you just got it up the pooper, and if this has any sort of authenticity to it then the move's not done either.

More as I learn it; the stock is up nearly 30%

Categories: Economics

Transition Town to screen 'Inequality For All' - The Manchester Journal

Transition Towns in the media - 15 January 2015 - 7:45am

Transition Town to screen 'Inequality For All'
The Manchester Journal
MANCHESTER >> Transition Town Manchester's One Earth Film Series presents "Inequality For All," on Wednesday, Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. at the Manchester Community Library. In this award winning film, American economist, author and professor Robert Reich ...

Categories: TT news

The Market Ticker - Are You Done Supporting The Cops And Prosecutors Yet?

The Market Ticker - 15 January 2015 - 7:10am

Oh oh....

Is this the scandal that ends Hillary’s campaign? Former President Bill Clinton visited the hedonistic private island of a billionaire pedophile who police found was engaging girls as young as 12, multiple times. Now a new lawsuit may compel the former president to testify under oath about what he was doing there. The New York Post reported that Hillary is furious that Bill is mired in the scandal.

Now let me point out up front that I don't trust Stone as far as I can throw him.  He has a long history of twisting things around to suit whatever he wishes to push at any given point in time -- he is, basically a political hitman.

But -- if he's right on this, and I've been following this story for a while but have reserved writing anything material on it because I simply can't verify the claims on either side -- he's right.

The allegations here are not technicalities and there is no defense of them if true. So let's look at this from the lens not of whether Epstein got off through improper means but rather whether you, as a citizen, should tolerate and in fact can defend any part of what calls itself "law enforcement" -- at the local, state or federal levels.

Let's take Stone's words on the allegations at their core:

Incredibly, state and federal prosecutors charged Epstein with one count of soliciting only adding, “soliciting a minor” after objections by both the Palm Beach Police and the FBI. Epstein was allowed to spend 16 hours a day in his Palm Beach Mansion and report to jail only at night. A few nights ago on FOX, Ann Coulter spoke the truth on the Jeffrey Epstein case. She hit the nail on the head when she said, “This is the elites circling the wagon and protecting a pederast.”

Let’s take Coulter’s observations a step further: the Epstein case is about the pedophile elite VIP friends of Jeffrey Epstein circling the wagons and protecting not just Jeffrey Epstein, but themselves.

Here's the problem with all those who claim that most cops are good and there are a few "bad apples" -- those who investigated this matter in the first place all know what they saw in the process of their investigation.  They also know what the outcome was.  Either that outcome was consistent with the evidence or it was not.

Stone alleges that it manifestly was not, and that the conduct alleged was in fact sexual abuse of dozens of underage girls.

There are a lot of crimes that can be committed, but sexual assault on kids is about as bad as it gets.  Those who wish to argue that there's some sort of excuse found in the "thin blue line" for not doing anything about a "sweetheart deal" in this sort of case tells me all I need to know about whether you have any defense in a position that supporting so-called "law enforcement" at both the prosecutor and police levels has any rational defense whatsoever.

Let me point out that the entirety of the Palm Beach force and all who know any of them are alleged by Stone to have meticulously documented and effectively proved that the assaults alleged occurred.  They then handed off the case, which is their job.  So far so good.

But, it is alleged, they sat on their asses as the State Attorney intentionally threw the prosecution and let the alleged perpetrator walk while saying exactly nothing about it to this very day.

The bad news is that as of today I don't know whether or not what Stone alleges is true, and therefore I don't know whether to charge not only myself but the general body politic in this state and nation with dereliction of their duty to put a stop to this sort of crap up and down the line.  Remember folks, this is a case that stretches back a decade and thus the complicity is not, if true, just a "today" thing -- it too stretches back that same decade.

While there's some question as to whether such a reaction is appropriate in the Ferguson case based on the publicly known facts, or the NYC choking case there isn't any such question here.  

The question here is simply one of whether Stone's allegations in this article are true.

The good news, however, is that it appears we're going to find out if those allegations are true because one of the alleged victims has sued and, apparently, the seals are going to come off some of the details on this deal -- if not all of them.

Again, the book hasn't been closed on this fiasco, and I don't trust Stone as far as I can throw him, and as such we have to wait for the facts to come out -- but come out it appears they will given the legal process now underway.

But if he's right, and he is willing to put his allegations in great detail in print, which will certainly get him sued if he's being dishonest then you, I and everyone else in this country are absolutely and completely out of excuses for our tolerance of the corruption that run to the core of our so-called "law enforcement" agencies -- from the "top cops" (district attorneys, attorneys general and similar) on down to the beat cop on the street.

And that, my friends, is a fact.

Categories: Economics

Your Next Car Will Come With a Private Chauffeur Free for Life

The Daily Reckoning - 15 January 2015 - 5:43am

This post Your Next Car Will Come With a Private Chauffeur Free for Life appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

From a distance, it looked like an ordinary Audi A7 in the bright Nevada sun — other than the unusual black and gray paint job, that is.

The driver, “Jack,” covered 500 miles of highway from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas to get Audi’s new prototype to CES last week.

But when I got closer, I noticed something different about his Audi.

“Jack” wasn’t a real person.

“Jack” was the autopilot.

Audi’s new A7 comes with “Audi piloted driving.”

Thanks to a maze of chips and sensors, Audi’s A7 is part of a new breed of automobiles that is going to upend the way we move from place to place.

If you’re not excited about this, you’re a real nut job.

Do you know what this means for your future?

In the very near future, instead of driving yourself, you are going to enjoy the services of your own personal chauffeur. And you won’t even have to pay for it.

Maybe you’ll even call him Jeeves and you’ll be able to summon your car with a tap of your smartwatch, like Audi’s CEO did last week.

Can you imagine?

Drivers log an average of 37 miles a day, nearly twice what they logged in 1980.

The U.S. Census Bureau says we spend nearly 50 minutes a day driving.

What would you do if you could get that time back?

Get a Ph.D. in the back seat of your car?

Learn Spanish… or even Mandarin?

Write the novel that’s been making you feel guilty for the last 10 years?

Audi isn’t alone in working on the new technology. Mercedes-Benz unveiled a concept car it called the F 015. With wall-to-wall gesture-controlled displays and swiveling seats, the radical design is a zero-emissions self-driving lounge on wheels. Mercedes-Benz displayed it at the Consumer Electronics Show for one day last week before whisking it away to the Detroit Auto Show.

Source

Other automobile manufacturers are also following suit in the race to bring self-driving cars to the road. Why the big push for cars that drive themselves? It isn’t just the coolness factor. More time on roads means more chances for accidents.

Successfully deploying this technology will keep you and your children safer.

Let’s face it, we aren’t the best drivers.

It reminds me of Elaine from Seinfeld driving in the episode where Kramer wears an unusually tight pair of jeans and can’t take them off…

“God, it is so great to drive again. I miss it so much! (Suddenly swerves to the right, and then yells out of her window.) How about a left turn signal, ya moron?!”

That’s the kind of driving self-driving cars can protect us from.

We’re losing 30,000 lives on our roads every year in the U.S., usually to human error or Elaine-esque moments.

Self-driving automobiles will take a big bite out of deaths and lessen congestion.

Computer-controlled cars will have faster reaction times, allowing cars to go faster and pack closer together.

When Minority Report came out in 2002, safe self-driving cars felt like a pipe dream.

But self-driving car safety isn’t so theoretical anymore, by the way. And Audi’s car isn’t really breaking any records, either. Google’s self-driving cars have already piloted hundreds of thousands of miles of our roadways — without a single accident.

The story everyone’s missing…

Cars are becoming smarter and more connected.

But the best way to play the self-driving car trend won’t be the automobile manufacturers.

It will be the companies making it possible for automobiles to be smart enough to drive themselves. That’s players like the self-driving car booster Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and other technology companies that make the processors and connectivity components needed to make it happen, like Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM).

Sources: click here.

Yours truly,

Ray Blanco

P.S. Experts are predicting the first self-driving cars will hit the auto dealerships in five years. Will you buy a self-driving car when it’s available? Vote RIGHT HERE.

The post Your Next Car Will Come With a Private Chauffeur Free for Life appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Categories: Economics

The Death of Copper — And the Rebirth of Silver

The Daily Reckoning - 15 January 2015 - 3:10am

This post The Death of Copper — And the Rebirth of Silver appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Copper is crashing. Hard.

No one—and I mean no one—wants anything to do with this base metal anymore. Stinks for anyone playing copper on the long side. But it also gives you a shot at fast, double-digit gains on another metals play… if you know where to look.

More on this hot trading opportunity in just a minute…

From 2001 to 2011, the price of copper exploded more than 620%, topping out near $4.50. It’s impossible to overstate how big this rally was. But that’s ancient history now.  Yesterday, the metal plunged to $2.59. And the breakdown we’re seeing now could easily send copper prices to $2 or lower over the next couple of years.

Hey, go explain that one to the meth-head who’s been stealing copper wire from construction sites for the past five years. Time for Plan B, dude.

Copper’s nose dive shouldn’t have come as surprise to you, though. It all started back in late November when Copper started acting screwy, dropping well below $3 for the first time since 2010. Here’s what I wrote:

“Sagging economies in both China and Europe are reducing demand for copper, while supplies are growing. China alone has accounted for over 40% of all copper consumption in recent years. But the party is winding down. China’s economy is forecasted to grow by just 6.8% in 2015 and 6.5% in 2016, the slowest growth rates since the early ’90s. Meanwhile, Chile, the world’s largest copper producer, expects to produce record levels of the stuff in 2015. In case you’re new to this sort of thing, that ain’t good for copper.”

Nothing’s changed since that statement.

We’ve highlighted the psychological importance of the $3 level in copper prices many times before. And for the past several years, copper has managed to save itself every time it has breached $3. Before its November breakdown, copper snuck below $3 back in March. But by April, it had rallied back above the $3 mark once again.

That hasn’t happened again. Here’s the chart we showed you as copper imploded:

The point of no return held strong. Since breaching $2.90, copper has booked a one-way ticket to Loserville. $2.80 fell soon after. And yesterday the metal plunged to $2.59, like I said. That’s nearly a 5% drop on the day, bringing copper down to its lowest level since 2009.

If we zoom out to an updated long-term chart, you can see the wreckage from the last few weeks…

Now, you’ve already made your money betting against copper with your Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (NYSE:FCX) short play back in December. In fact, you had a shot at booking close to 20% in just two weeks as copper’s crash began heating up.

I don’t want you to take another shot shorting this copper miner just yet. Traders put FCX through the ringer yesterday, dropping the stock 8%. That doesn’t give you a great low-risk entry point.

Instead of chasing copper lower, you can jump on another trend that’s shaping up in the metals market: a new silver bull. Or at the very least, a quick rally that could net you gains of 15% or more.

While copper is taking the elevator to $0, silver is actually perking up. In fact, it’s actually one of the few commodities that posted a gain yesterday. While volatility has returned to stocks in 2015, silver has been sneaking higher this year.

A quick silver trade could be your ticket to gains if the metal can hang on and move higher from here…

Regards,

Greg Guenthner

for The Daily Reckoning

P.S. Don’t go out and buy just anything with silver in it. It can be a tricky market. If you want to cash in on the biggest profits this market has to offer, sign up for my Rude Awakening e-letter, for FREE, right here. Stop missing out. Click here now to sign up for FREE.

The post The Death of Copper — And the Rebirth of Silver appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Categories: Economics

Totnes' Great Court Farm plans get the go-ahead despite demo - Torquay Herald Express

Transition Towns in the media - 15 January 2015 - 3:03am

Torquay Herald Express

Totnes' Great Court Farm plans get the go-ahead despite demo
Torquay Herald Express
Scott Atkins addressed the meeting on behalf of the Friends of Great Court Farm, Transition Town Totnes and Bridgetown Alive groups. He said they were not against development, they just wanted development to be 'in the right areas'. Afterwards, he said ...

Categories: TT news
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