Monday, July 2, 2012


CNBC experts admit that people are slaves to central banks, because the free market has been replaced by a command economy which is driven by bank policy. [And they don't appear to be concerned about this. The reason is that this is not new. It's been like that since the Federal Reserve was created 99 years ago. What is new is admitting it in such plain terms.]

Small-Town Cops Pile Up on Military Gear

oxford_4Small police departments across America are collecting battlefield-grade arsenals thanks to a program that allows them to get their hands on military surplus equipment – amphibious tanks, night-vision goggles, and even barber chairs or underwear – at virtually no cost, except for shipment and maintenance.
Over the last five years, the top 10 beneficiaries of this “Department of Defense Excess Property Program” included small agencies such as the Fairmount Police Department. It serves 7,000 people in northern Georgia and received 17,145 items from the military. The cops in Issaquah, Washington, a town of 30,000 people, acquired more than 37,000 pieces of gear.
In 2011 alone, more than 700,000 items were transferred to police departments for a total value of $500 million. This year, as of May 15, police departments already acquired almost $400 million worth of stuff. Last year’s record would have certainly been shattered if the Arizona Republic hadn’t revealed in early May that a local police department used the program to stockpile equipment – and then sold the gear to others, something that is strictly forbidden. Three weeks after the revelation, the Pentagon decided to partly suspend distribution of surplus material until all agencies could put together an up-to-date inventory of all the stuff they got through the years. A second effort, which gives federal grants to police departments to purchase equipment, is still ongoing, however. According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, since 9/11, the grants have totaled $34 billion.
Which means billions of dollars’ worth of military gear are in the hands of small-town cops who neither need the equipment nor are properly trained to use it, critics charge. At best, it’s a waste of resources (since the gear still has to be maintained). At worst, it could cost lives.
Take the 50-officer police department in Oxford, Alabama, a town of 20,000 people. It has stockpiled around $3 million of equipment, ranging from M-16s and helmet-mounted infrared goggles to its own armored vehicle, a Puma. In Tupelo, Mississippi, home to 35,000, the local police acquired a helicopter for only $7,500 through the surplus program. The chopper, however, had to be upgraded for $100,000 and it now costs $20,000 a year in maintenance.
The Nebraska State Patrol has three amphibious eight-wheeled tanks. Acquired almost three years ago, their highest achievement has been helping with a flood last year and with a shooting a couple of weeks ago. Overall, it has been deployed five times. At least, officers love driving them. “They’re fun,” said trooper Art Frerichs to the Lincoln Journal Star in 2010. And the ride, according to Patrol Sgt. Loveless, “is very smooth.”

Scientists have created 30 genetically engineered human babies that carry DNA from three 'parents' and this will be passed on to their own offspring.

The world's first geneticallymodified humans have been created, it was revealed last night.
The disclosure that 30 healthy babies were born after a series of experiments in the United States provoked another furious debate about ethics.
So far, two of the babies have been tested and have been found to contain genes from three 'parents'.
Fifteen of the children were born in the past three years as a result of one experimental programme at the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science of St Barnabas in New Jersey.
The babies were born to women who had problems conceiving. Extra genes from a female donor were inserted into their eggs before they were fertilised in an attempt to enable them to conceive.
Genetic fingerprint tests on two one-year- old children confirm that they have inherited DNA from three adults --two women and one man.
The fact that the children have inherited the extra genes and incorporated them into their 'germline' means that they will, in turn, be able to pass them on to their own offspring.
Altering the human germline - in effect tinkering with the very make-up of our species - is a technique shunned by the vast majority of the world's scientists.
Geneticists fear that one day this method could be used to create new races of humans with extra, desired characteristics such as strength or high intelligence.
Writing in the journal Human Reproduction, the researchers, led by fertility pioneer Professor Jacques Cohen, say that this 'is the first case of human germline genetic modification resulting in normal healthy children'.
Some experts severely criticised the experiments. Lord Winston, of the Hammersmith Hospital in West London, told the BBC yesterday: 'Regarding the treat-ment of the infertile, there is no evidence that this technique is worth doing . . . I am very surprised that it was even carried out at this stage. It would certainly not be allowed in Britain.'
John Smeaton, national director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said: 'One has tremendous sympathy for couples who suffer infertility problems. But this seems to be a further illustration of the fact that the whole process of in vitro fertilisation as a means of conceiving babies leads to babies being regarded as objects on a production line.
'It is a further and very worrying step down the wrong road for humanity.' Professor Cohen and his colleagues diagnosed that the women were infertile because they had defects in tiny structures in their egg cells, called mitochondria.
They took eggs from donors and, using a fine needle, sucked some of the internal material - containing 'healthy' mitochondria - and injected it into eggs from the women wanting to conceive.
Because mitochondria contain genes, the babies resulting from the treatment have inherited DNA from both women. These genes can now be passed down the germline along the maternal line.
A spokesman for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which regulates 'assisted reproduction' technology in Britain, said that it would not license the technique here because it involved altering the germline.
Jacques Cohen is regarded as a brilliant but controversial scientist who has pushed the boundaries of assisted reproduction technologies.
He developed a technique which allows infertile men to have their own children, by injecting sperm DNA straight into the egg in the lab.
Prior to this, only infertile women were able to conceive using IVF. Last year, Professor Cohen said that his expertise would allow him to clone children --a prospect treated with horror by the mainstream scientific community.
'It would be an afternoon's work for one of my students,' he said, adding that he had been approached by 'at least three' individuals wishing to create a cloned child, but had turned down their requests.

Good God.............

Kicking The Can Down The Road

Has Europe finally been saved this time?  Has this latest "breakthrough" solved the European debt crisis?  Of course not, and you should know better by now.  European leaders have held 18 summits since the beginning of the debt crisis.  After most of the preceding summits, global financial markets responded with joy because European leaders had reached "a deal" which would supposedly solve the crisis.  But a few weeks after each summit it would become clear that nothing had been solved and that the financial crisis had actually gotten even worse than before.  How many times do they expect us to fall for the same sorry routine?  Nothing in Europe has been solved.  You can't solve a debt problem with more debt.  European leaders are just kicking the can down the road.  More debt will relieve some of the short-term pressure, but in a few weeks it will be apparent that the underlying problems in Europe continue to grow.  Unfortunately, there is not an unlimited amount of EU bailout money, so once all of these "financial bullets" have been fired European leaders are going to find that kicking the can down the road will not be so easy anymore.  The truth is that the financial crisis in Europe has not been cancelled - it has just been put off for a few weeks or a few months.
Do you solve the problems of a credit card addict by giving that person another credit card?  Of course not.  You may delay the short-term financial problems of the credit card addict by giving that person another credit card, but in the process you make the long-term problems even worse.
Well, that is essentially what is happening in Europe.  European governments and the European financial system have become ridiculously dependent on debt.  By giving European debt junkies another "hit" or two it may relieve a bit of short-term suffering but it doesn't solve anything.
Just think about it.
Did the first bailout package solve the problems in Greece?
Did the second bailout package solve the problems in Greece?
Today, the Greek financial system is a complete and total mess, and Greek politicians are saying that a third bailout package may be necessary.
Many are claiming that Italy and Spain have been "saved" by this new deal, but that is a joke.
Yes, the ability to inject bailout funds directly into troubled banks is going to keep some of them going for a little while.  But the deal also calls for a new governing body to be established that will supervise those banks.  Will that governing body be established in time to even provide the short-term help that is needed?
Yes, spending bailout funds to buy up Spanish debt and Italian debt will artificially suppress bond yields for a time.
We have seen this before.
But what happened?
After the bond buying program was over, bond yields started spiking again.
So do the Europeans plan to suppress bond yields forever?
Of course not.  There is not enough bailout money to do that.
Let's review the equation that I have shared in previous articles....
Brutal austerity + toxic levels of government debt + rising bond yields + a lack of confidence in the financial system + banks that are massively overleveraged + a massive credit crunch = A financial implosion of historic proportions
Have any of those elements been removed?
Bond yields will be suppressed for a period of time, but that will not last forever, and all of the other underlying issues are still there.
Meanwhile, the rest of Europe continues to follow the Greek economy into economic depression.
The Spanish economy shrunk again in the second quarter of 2012, and austerity in that nation has barely even begun.
As a recent CNBC article detailed, the big spending cuts are still coming....
The conservatives, who inherited from the outgoing Socialists one of the euro zone's highest public deficits, at 8.9 percent of GDP in 2011, have said they will shrink the shortfall to 5.3 percent this year and 3 percent in 2013.
Austerity has absolutely shredded the Greek economy, and we are starting to see that same pattern be repeated all over Europe.
When you spend far more money than you bring in for decades, eventually you have to go through a very painful adjustment.  What is going on in Greece should be a lesson for all of us.  Debt allows you to live above your means, but the consequences of going into way too much debt can be absolutely horrific.
More debt can delay the consequences of a debt problem but it cannot solve a debt problem.  The following is what Jim Rogers told CNBC on Friday....
“Just because now you have a way to get them (the banks) to borrow even more money, this is not solving the problem, this is making the problem worse,” Rogers said on Friday.
“People need to stop spending money they don’t have. The solution to too much debt is not more debt. All this little agreement does is give them (banks) a chance to have even more debt for a while longer,” he added.
But if you just went by the headlines in most of the newspapers around the world you would think that European leaders had discovered the cure for cancer or something.
Sadly, the truth is that they are simply choosing to fire off a few of the "financial bullets" that they still have left as a recent Washington Post article described....
The European bailout funds don’t have unlimited resources. If they throw $125 billion at Spain’s banks and another couple hundred billion toward Italy, pretty soon they’ll be running low. The only entity with unlimited euros is the European Central Bank. And right now, there’s no talk of using the ECB to provide bailouts. Which means that this latest move might have just forestalled the crisis, rather than ending it permanently.
So what comes next?
Bruce Krasting believes that the "half-life of this bailout will be measured in weeks".  The following is his summary of what he sees coming next in Europe....
If I'm right, after a few weeks things turn south again in the capital markets. Then what?
- More LTRO. No – there is no more collateral. All of the swill loans have already been hocked.
- Cut ECB % rate. Doesn’t matter. It won't change conditions in Italian or Spanish funding markets one bit.
- A spending plan of <1% of GDP. That won’t put a dent in the recession that is building.
- Brussels buys more sovereign bonds to avoid a catastrophe of Italian 10-year exceeding 7% (capitulation). Sorry. There are “wise men” in Germany who will simply not allow this to happen in the scale that is required.
- The ECB goes Defcon 1 and launches a E2T QE program. No – same answer as above.
- Merkel does a 180 and embraces Euro bonds. No chance in hell.
-The US or China are going to start buying EU bonds? Lunacy – not happening.
-The IMF will come to the rescue? No way – the IMF does not have the resources to solve anyone’s problems.
In other words, kicking the can down the road is going to get quite a bit harder after the current "sugar high" wears off.
Europe is still headed for the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression (at least) and European leaders seem powerless to stop it.
Of course the United States is also facing a crisis of too much debt and a great day of reckoning is on the way for this country as well.
So yes, the global economy is still heading for collapse and there is still a multitude of reasons to be extremely concerned about the second half of 2012.

17 Reasons To Be EXTREMELY Concerned About The Second Half Of 2012

What is the second half of 2012 going to bring?  Are things going to get even worse than they are right now?  Unfortunately, that appears more likely with each passing day.  I will admit that I am extremely concerned about the second half of 2012.  Historically, a financial crisis is much more likely to begin in the fall than during any other season of the year.  Just think about it.  The stock market crash of 1929 happened in the fall.  "Black Monday" happened on October 19th, 1987.  The financial crisis of 2008 started in the fall.  There just seems to be something about the fall that brings out the worst in the financial markets.  But of course there is not a stock market crash every year.  So are there specific reasons why we should be extremely concerned about what is coming this year?  Yes, there are.  The ingredients for a "perfect storm" are slowly coming together, and in the months ahead we could very well see the next wave of the economic collapse strike.  Sadly, we have never even come close to recovering from the last recession, and this next crisis might end up being even more painful than the last one.
The following are 17 reasons to be extremely concerned about the second half of 2012....
#1 Historical Trends
A recent IMF research paper by Luc Laeven and Fabián Valencia showed that a banking crisis is far more likely to start in September than in any other month.  The following chart is from their report....

So what will this September bring?
#2 JP Morgan
Do you remember back in May when JP Morgan announced that it would be taking a 2 billion dollar trading loss on some derivatives trades gone bad?  Well, the New York Times is now reporting that the real figure could reach 9 billion dollars, but nobody really knows for sure.  At some point is JP Morgan going to need a bailout?  If so, what is that going to do to the U.S. financial system?
#3 Derivatives
Last week, Moody's downgraded the credit ratings of 15 major global banks.  As a result, a number of them have been required to post billions of dollars in additional collateral against derivatives exposures....
Citigroup’s two-notch long-term rating downgrade from A3 to Baa2 could have led to US$500m in additional liquidity and funding demands due to derivative triggers and exchange margin requirements, according to the bank’s 10Q regulatory filing at the end of the first quarter.
Morgan Stanley – which Moody’s downgraded from A2 to Baa1 – said a two-notch downgrade from both Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s could spur an additional US$6.8bn of collateral requirements in its latest 10Q. The bank did not break down its potential collateral calls under a scenario where only Moody’s downgraded the bank below the Single A threshold.
Royal Bank of Scotland estimated it may have to post £9bn of collateral as a result of the one-notch Moody’s downgrade to Baa1 in a statement on June 21, but did not detail how much of this additional requirement was driven by margin for swaps exposures.
The worldwide derivatives market is starting to show some cracks, and at some point this is going to become a major disaster.
Remember, the 9 largest U.S. banks have a total of more than 200 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives.  When this bubble completely bursts it is going to be impossible to fix.
#4 LEAP/E2020 Warning
LEAP/E2020 has issued a red alert for the global financial system for this fall.  They are warning that the "second half of 2012" will represent a "major inflection point" for the global economic system....
The shock of the autumn 2008 will seem like a small summer storm compared to what will affect planet in several months.
In fact LEAP/E2020 has never seen the chronological convergence of such a series of explosive and so fundamental factors (economy, finances, geopolitical…) since 2006, the start of its work on the global systemic crisis. Logically, in our modest attempt to regularly publish a “crisis weather forecast”, we must therefore give our readers a “Red Alert” because the upcoming events which are readying themselves to shake the world system next September/ October belong to this category.
#5 Increasing Pessimism
One recent survey of corporate executives found that only 20 percent of them expect the global economy to improve over the next 12 months and 48 percent of them expect the global economy to get worse over the next 12 months.
#6 Spain
The Spanish financial system is basically a total nightmare at this point.  Moody's recently downgraded Spanish debt to one level above junk status, and earlier this week Moody's downgraded the credit ratings of 28 major Spanish banks.
According to CNBC, Spain's short-term borrowing costs are now about three times higher than they were just one month ago....
Spain's short-term borrowing costs nearly tripled at auction on Tuesday, underlining the country's precarious finances as it struggles against recession and juggles with a debt crisis among its newly downgraded banks.
The yield paid on a 3-month bill was 2.362 percent, up from just 0.846 percent a month ago. For six-month paper, it leapt to 3.237 percent from 1.737 percent in May.
Needless to say, this is very, very bad news.
#7 Italy
The situation in Italy continues to deteriorate and many analysts believe that it could be one of the next dominoes to fall.  The following is from a recent Businessweek article....
The euro zone’s third-biggest economy is seen as the next domino at risk of toppling after the European Union’s June 9 deal to lend Spain $125 billion in bank bailout funds. Yields on Italy’s 10-year government bonds reached 6.2 percent on June 13, up from just 4.8 percent in March. By pushing up Italy’s borrowing costs out of fear of default, investors are making a default more likely. 
A recent Fortune article detailed some of the economic fundamentals that have so many economists deeply concerned about the Italian economy right now....
The main glaring risk threats that could propel Italy down the path to become Europe's next domino is the size of country's outstanding debt (at €1.9 trillion or 120% of GDP); the mountain of debt it has to roll over in the next 12 months (nearly €400 billion); and the market's cracking credibility around Prime Minister Mario Monti's ability to reduce the country's fiscal footprint and spur growth.
Further, fear around Italy's creditworthiness, which has recently been expressed by near cycle highs in sovereign CDS spreads and government yields on the 10-year bond, follow some rather glaring negative fundamentals over recent quarters and years:  declining GDP over the last three consecutive quarters; a rising unemployment rate (especially among its youth); deterioration in labor market competitiveness; and increased competition for export goods to its key trading partners.
#8 Greece
I have written extensively about the financial nightmare that is unfolding in Greece.  Unemployment has soared past the 20 percent mark, youth unemployment is above 50 percent, the Greek economy has contracted by close to 25 percent over the past four years and now Greek politicians are saying that a third bailout package may be necessary.
#9 Cyprus
The tiny island nation of Cyprus has become the fifth member of the eurozone to formally request a bailout.  This is yet another sign that the eurozone is rapidly falling apart.
#10 Germany
German Chancellor Angela Merkel continues to promote an austerity path for Europe and she continues to maintain her very firm position against any kind of eurozone debt sharing....
Merkel, speaking to a conference in Berlin today as Spain announced it would formally seek aid for its banks, dismissed “euro bonds, euro bills and European deposit insurance with joint liability and much more” as “economically wrong and counterproductive,” saying that they ran against the German constitution.
“It’s not a bold prediction to say that in Brussels most eyes -- all eyes -- will be on Germany yet again,” Merkel said. “I say quite openly: when I think of the summit on Thursday I’m concerned that once again the discussion will be far too much about all kinds of ideas for joint liability and far too little about improved oversight and structural measures.”
In fact, Merkel says that there will be no eurobonds "as long as I live".  This means that there will be no "quick fix" for the problems that are unfolding in Europe.
#11 Bank Runs
Every single day, hundreds of millions of dollars is being pulled out of banks in southern Europe.  Much of that money is being transferred to banks in northern Europe.
In a previous article I included an extremely alarming quote from a CNBC article about the unfolding banking crisis in Europe....
Financial advisers and private bankers whose clients have accounts too large to be covered by a Europe-wide guarantee on deposits up to 100,000 euros ($125,000), are reporting a "bank run by wire transfer" that has picked up during May.
Much of this money has headed north to banks in London, Frankfurt and Geneva, financial advisers say.
"It's been an ongoing process but it certainly picked up pace a couple of weeks ago We believe there is a continuous 2-3 year bank run by wire transfer," said Lorne Baring, managing director at B Capital, a Geneva-based pan European wealth management firm.
How long can these bank runs continue before banking systems start to collapse?
#12 Preparations For The Collapse Of The Eurozone
As I have written about previously, the smart money has already written off southern Europe.  All over the continent major financial institutions are preparing for the worst.  For example, just check out what Visa Europe is doing....
Visa Europe is holding weekly meetings to discuss scenarios in the event the euro zone collapses, joining other companies that are preparing for a potential breakup of the currency bloc.
Chief Commercial Officer Steve Perry said Tuesday that management at the U.K.-based credit-card company meets weekly to explore various possible outcomes, including a total collapse of the euro zone.
#13 Global Lending Is Slowing Down
All over the globe the flow of credit is beginning to freeze up.  In fact, the Bank for International Settlements says that worldwide lending is contracting at the fastest pace since the financial crisis of 2008.
#14 Sophisticated Cyber Attacks On Banks
It is being reported that "very sophisticated" hackers have successfully raided dozens of banks in Europe.  So far, it is being estimated that they have stolen 60 million euros....
Sixty million euro has been stolen from bank accounts in a massive cyber bank raid after fraudsters raided dozens of financial institutions around the world.
According to a joint report by software security firm McAfee and Guardian Analytics, more than 60 firms have suffered from what it has called an "insider level of understanding".
What happens someday if we wake up and all the money in the banks is gone?
#15 U.S. Municipal Bankruptcies
All over the United States there are cities and towns on the verge of financial disaster.  This week Stockton, California became the largest U.S. city to ever declare bankruptcy, but the reality is that this is only just the beginning of the municipal debt crisis....
Stockton, California, said it will file for bankruptcy after talks with bondholders and labor unions failed, making the agricultural center the biggest U.S. city to seek court protection from creditors.
“The city is fiscally insolvent and must seek Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection,” Stockton said in a statement released yesterday after its council voted 6-1 to adopt a spending plan for operating under bankruptcy protection.
#16 The Obamacare Decision
The U.S. economy is already a complete and total mess, and now the Obamacare decision is going to throw a huge wet blanket on it.  All over America, small business owners are saying that they are going to have to let some workers go because they cannot afford to keep them all under Obamacare.  It would be hard to imagine a more job killing law than Obamacare, and now that the Supreme Court decision has finally been announced we are going to see many businesses making some really hard decisions.
#17 The U.S. Election
It is being reported that Barack Obama is putting together an army of "thousands of lawyers" to deal with any disputes that arise over voting procedures or results.  It certainly looks like this upcoming election is going to be extremely close, and there is the potential that we could end up facing another Bush v. Gore scenario where the fate of the presidency is determined in court.  This campaign season is likely to be exceptionally nasty, and I fear what may happen if there is not a decisive winner on election day.  The possibility of significant civil unrest is certainly there.
We definitely live in "interesting" times.
Personally, I am deeply concerned about the September, October, November time frame.
The other day, Joe Biden delivered a speech in which he made the following statement....
"It's A Depression For Millions And Millions Of Americans"
And what Biden said was right for once.  Millions of Americans are out of work right now and millions of Americans have fallen out of the middle class in recent years.  If you have lost everything, it does feel like you are living through a depression.
When people lose everything, they tend to get desperate.  And desperate people do desperate things - especially when they are angry.
A whole host of recent opinion polls have shown that anger and frustration in the United States are rising to unprecedented levels.  The ingredients are certainly there for an explosion.  Someone just needs to come along and light the fuse.  We truly do live in frightening times.
Let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst.

Too Much Debt: Our Biggest Economic Problem

What is the biggest economic problem that the United States is facing?  Very simply, our biggest problem is that we have way too much debt.  Over the past 30 years, household debt, corporate debt and government debt have all grown much faster than our GDP has.  But no nation on earth has ever been able to expand debt much faster than national output indefinitely.  All debt bubbles eventually burst.  Right now, we are living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world.  All of this debt has fueled a "false prosperity" which has enabled many Americans to live like kings and queens.  But no nation (or household) can pile on more debt forever.  At some point the weight of the debt becomes just too great.  It is amazing that the United States has been able to pile up as much debt as it has.  Over the years, many authors have predicted that U.S. government finances would collapse long before the U.S. national debt ever got to this level.  So the mountain of debt that we have accumulated is quite an "achievement" if you want to look at it that way.  But the clock is ticking on this debt bubble and when it collapses we will say "bye bye" to our vastly inflated standard of living and we will discover that we have destroyed the economy for all future generations of Americans.
Household Debt
Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.  When most Americans think of the "debt problem" in this country, they think of the debt of the federal government.
But that is not the only debt bubble that we are facing.
Thirty years ago, household debt in the United States was approaching the 2 trillion dollar mark.  Today, it is sitting at about 13 trillion dollars....

We have been trained to pay for everything with debt.
We pay for our homes with debt, and mortgage debt as a percentage of GDP has more than tripled since 1955.
We pay for our cars with debt, and at this point about 70 percent of all auto purchases in the United States involve an auto loan.
We pay for higher education with debt, and the total amount of student loan debt in America recently surpassed the one trillion dollar mark.
Wherever we go we pay with plastic.
If you want a heated cat bed and a cute little cat sweater for your little kitty just put it on your Visa or Mastercard.
Amazingly, consumer debt in America has risen by a whopping 1700% since 1971, and if you can believe it, 46% of all Americans carry a credit card balance from month to month.
We are absolutely addicted to debt and we do not know how to stop.
State And Local Government Debt
Our state and local governments are also addicted to debt.
30 years ago, state and local government debt was approaching the 400 million dollar mark.  Today, state and local government debt is hovering around the 3 trillion dollar mark....

In the United States today, we don't just have one "government debt problem" - the truth is that we have hundreds of them.  All over the country, state and local governments are facing bankruptcy because of too much debt.
For example, according to Fox News the city of Stockton, California is right on the verge of declaring bankruptcy.  In fact, an announcement could come as early as this week....
Stockton, Calif., is set to declare bankruptcy as early as this week, according to local officials, a move that would make it one of the largest U.S. cities ever to file for reorganization. 
On Monday, a state-required mediation with creditors to find a fiscal solution is scheduled to expire. Stockton's City Council is then slated to meet Tuesday to decide whether to adopt a budget for operating in bankruptcy, a move widely considered the last step before the city formally submits a Chapter 9 petition to federal bankruptcy court. 
Federal Government Debt
Of course the biggest offender of all is the federal government.  30 years ago, Ronald Reagan was running around proclaiming what a nightmare it was that the U.S. national debt was reaching the one trillion dollar mark.
Well, now we are about to blast through the 16 trillion dollar mark with no end in sight....

Running up debt at a much faster rate than our GDP is rising is a recipe for national financial suicide.  Our politicians continue to steal about 150 million dollars an hour from future generations and everybody just acts like this is perfectly normal.
We are going down the same path that Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Spain have gone.
In fact, we already have more government debt per capita than all of those nations do.
Both political parties have been doing this to us, and it just keeps getting worse and worse.
Incredibly, the national debt has grown more under Obama in less than 4 years than it did under George W. Bush during his entire 8 year term.
Since Barack Obama entered the White House, we have accumulated more than five trillion dollars of additional debt.
We are on the road to national financial oblivion, and most Americans don't seem to care.
Debt From Sea To Shining Sea
Now let's add up all the debt in the country.  When you total up all household debt, business debt and government debt, it comes to more than 300% of our GDP....

In fact, if current trends continue we will hit 400% of GDP before too long.
As you can see from the chart, there was a little "hiccup" during the last recession, but now the debt bubble is growing again.
So how high can it go before the entire system collapses?
Total credit market debt owed is roughly 10 times larger than it was about 30 years ago.
How in the world did we accumulate 10 times more debt in just 30 years?
If we do that again in the next 30 years, our total debt will be more than 500 trillion dollars in the 2040s.
Unfortunately, that is the way that debt spirals work.  They either have to keep expanding or they collapse.
So will the U.S. debt spiral continue to expand?
Or will we soon see a collapse?
Sadly, this exact same thing is happening all over the world.  The government debt to GDP ratio in Japan (the third largest economy in the world) blew past the 200% mark quite a while ago, and almost every country in the EU is absolutely drowning in debt.
The world has never faced anything quite like this.  There is way, way too much debt in the world, but the only way we can continue to enjoy this level of prosperity under the current system is to pile up a lot more debt.
The western world is like a debt addict in a deep state of denial.  Some debt addicts end up with dozens of credit card accounts.  They will keep opening more accounts as long as someone will let them.  Most debt addicts actually believe that they will be able to get out of the hole at some point, but most never do.
Most Americans still believe that we are experiencing "temporary" economic problems that will eventually go away.  Most Americans still believe that even greater prosperity is still ahead.
Sadly, what the mainstream media and the two major political parties are telling them is a bunch of lies.
We have enjoyed the greatest prosperity that we will ever see in the United States, and when the debt bubble bursts there is going to be an immense amount of pain.
That is a very painful truth, but it is better to come to grips with it now than be blindsided by it later.

Peter Schiff’s Latest Advice To Investors

Gold and silver investors watching metals prices move back down near to the Dec. 29 lows of $1,523.90 and $26.15, respectively, should seriously consider accumulating the metals now.   The ‘Big Reset’ of the global financial, slated for no later than 2014, will reward precious metals holders as the big winners among investors, according to Peter Schiff.
Speaking with Cambridge House International, the CEO of Euro Pacific Capital said, “The United States is in a lot of trouble.”   After the Fed presumably embarks on QE3, and that stimulus wears off, “I think we’re going to have a crisis.  I don’t think we’re going to have time for QE4 or QE5.  I mean, ultimately, that’s where we’re headed, because that’s all QE does.  Each QE sows the seeds of the next QE
And global money looking for a safe haven won’t stand for another repeated currency debasements through debt monetization by the U.S. central bank.  Because Europe’s woes have forced politicians to make tough choices there, the spotlight has been taken off, temporarily, the even-more dire circumstances of debt loads and deficits of the U.S., according to Schiff.
Schiff’s time line for the Armageddon scenario of a U.S. dollar crisis matches predictions made by commodities legend Jim Rogers and ShadowStat’s economist John Williams, with each man projecting 2014 as the year the U.S. dollar no longer maintains its former role as the world’s premiere reserve currency—implying a severe decline of its global purchasing power and much higher metals prices.
In 2014, that’s the year the U.S. economy is expected to reach fresh new lows and the year politicians will finally be forced to face the tough choices regarding proposed cuts to federal, state and local government budgets, according to the three men.  It will also be the year that ushers in severe social unrest, similar to what is happening in Greece, in the case of Jim Rogers’ prediction for 2014.
Ironically, Schiff believes that if the U.S. economy miraculously digs its way into real economic growth, the bond market will sell off due to concerns of inflation from two massive QE programs from the Fed, driving interest rates much higher, along with U.S. borrowing costs—costs that will explode the federal budget deficit beyond the already red-line levels of 10-plus percent of GDP.  The dollar cannot survive under that scenario, according to Schiff.
“We don’t want to allow a real recovery, because that means real bitter-tasting medicine needs to be swallowed,” he said.  And added, no later than the year 2014, we’ll see “higher interest rates.  There’s going to be lower real estate prices, stock prices, some banks are going to fail, and the government is going to have to seriously cut spending dramatically to everybody.”
Under a Schiff scenario of deeper economic recession/depression, dramatic cuts to all levels of U.S. government spending will create a similar and immediate economic and financial death spiral, now faced by Greece, with reduced GDP coming from total U.S. government spending—presently 40.3 percent of GDP—further limiting the U.S. economy to pay on its local, state and federal debt, thereby initiating a feedback loop of further cuts and GDP declines, and so on—an unraveling of the Ponzi-like scheme warned of by Russian economist Nikolai Kondratiev in 1925, and later, by Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, among others.
By the year 2014, like Jim Rogers’ longstanding ‘heads-you-win-tails-you-win’ investment theme as a result of continued stimulus (currency debasements) to fight the Kondratiev Winter (depression) or the immediate inflation unleashed from years of Fed balance sheet expansion, Schiff recommends holding real money—gold (and silver)—the only money that will survive the loss of confidence in all fiat currencies and the ability of the U.S. to make good on debt obligations.
“There is no short-term fix anymore, because we’ve been doing these short-term fixes for a along time,” Schiff concluded.  “We got a little extra rope from this European crisis . . . Something is going to happen in Europe, because this cannot go on indefinitely.  And the numbers are just so big for the U.S.  Interest rates have got to rise, or the Fed is going to have to print so much money to keep them from rising that inflation is going to flare up in a way that government numbers can’t hide it anymore.”
Therefore, Schiff’s advice: Avoid dollars and euros.  Buy gold, real “money”.

John Roberts' cocktail party

If we sometimes forget that under those black minister robes lie corrupt and corruptible men and women of flesh and blood, then Thursday’s ruling by SCOTUS should have been a sobering wake-up call for all Americans who love and revere the U.S. Constitution. Rush Limbaugh, citing a Politico editorial two days before called “Justice Roberts big moment,” pulled back the veil to reveal the real intent of what was at stake: Will Justice Roberts’ name live on for the ages as a darling of the progressive/liberal establishment and will he be invited to all the “right” D.C. cocktail parties, or will he (like Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia) be treated as a leper in Washington, D.C., and ridiculed on the pages of the Washington Post, L.A. Times, New York Times and on all the liberal news networks – MSNBC, CBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, et al.?
On Tuesday’s radio show, Rush, extrapolating from the Politico story, warned Roberts: “You can be lionized and be the biggest hero in this town, or we can make your life miserable. It’s up to you. Now, those are my words, but that’s the point of the Politico story: You can be the biggest, most prominent, most loved and revered chief justice in the history of chief justices, or you can be dirt. It’s up to you, Judge. He’s supposed to swing Obamacare.
It is obvious Chief Justice Roberts took the traitors path. Roberts’ unholy alliance with the liberals on the court upholding the individual mandate of Obamacare was a Faustian bargain he made with the devil to establish and preserve his judicial legacy over the next three decades he will probably serve on the bench. Truly, Thursday’s decree marked a dark day for both the original intent of framers of the Constitution as well as legitimate jurisprudence that venerates the rule of law.
When the Supreme Court released its long-awaited decision on the constitutionality of the Obamacare individual mandate an MSNBC anchor made this prescient statement: “Justice John Roberts is now the most historic figure in Washington, D.C.” I am convinced that was Roberts’ primary intent – to be loved and toasted by the socialist D.C. establishment. This shocking 5-4 majority decision written by the chief justice, along with the socialist wing of the court – Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan and Breyer – outraged millions of Americans. The GOP has vowed to use this ruling as a rallying cry to repeal Obamacare as the first act under a President Romney administration in January 2013.
The entire Obamacare legislation was passed under the most fraudulent means and ends because it was characterized as an exercise of congressional Commerce Clause power, but Roberts, in dicta and contrary to the majority opinion exposed the Obamacare individual mandate for what it is – a $2 trillion tax increase over 10 years that has infused naked socialism into our free-market health-care system. In other words, Obamacare will by 2014 force all 50 states into a suicide pact of economic bankruptcy with itself, or the states will repent and bow to the will of the omnipotent Leviathan federal government, which will then eviscerate the private health insurance industry, create death panels, not give grandma her hip replacement and put government bureaucrats in control of all life-and-death decisions for over 320 million Americans.
America! Obamacare is tyranny writ large.
If Nietzsche proclaimed that “God is dead” to usher in the 20th century, then surely the Roberts Court in this outrageously unconstitutional decision has deemed that “States rights are dead” at the dawn of 21st century. No wonder Justice Scalia was spitting mad when he delivered his acerbic but constitutional dissent from the bench on Monday regarding Arizona’s constitutional right to protect its people by using its police powers to aggressively defend its borders, even if the federal government refuses to lift a finger of help on behalf of the courageous Gov. Jan Brewer and the beleaguered citizens of Arizona under siege by the fascist tactics of the Obama administration – particularly Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder.
Who got to Chief Justice Roberts? Who made him betray the Constitution for political expediency to save the failed policies of the Obama administration for a second term?
Rush Limbaugh cited an interesting theory from the popular Volokh Conspiracy that further explored Roberts’ treachery:
RUSH: There’s a blogger [The Volokh Conspiracy] who is talking about the pressures that were put on John Roberts to change his vote. They’re analyzing this, and through much of the dissent, they’ve got Scalia referring to “the dissent,” and there were notes that Ginsburg was writing the dissent. I remember reading earlier in the week that Justice Ginsburg was writing the dissent. The clear impression from court watchers was that the mandate was struck down.
Why does Scalia’s dissent against Obamacare read like it was originally written as a majority opinion? In particular, he consistently refers to Justice Ginsburg’s opinion as “the Dissent.” Roberts wearied of being treated like a “conservative justice,” an eternal leper. He wants to be invited to all the right D.C. cocktail parties and toasted as a jurist of the highest integrity, jurisprudence and judicial restraint by the liberal/progressive establishment.
To facilitate this treachery, Roberts made a cold, calculated Faustian bargain with the four liberals on the court at the 11th hour to sell out his conservative principles after first signaling he would overrule Obamacare. Thus Roberts become a traitor to the original intent of the constitutional framers just like his namesake Justice Owen Roberts did 75 years ago in the infamous NLRB v. Laughlin Steel Corp. (1937). Justice Owen Roberts, after almost five years of consistently voting against FDR’s socialist New Deal programs as unconstitutional, cowardly caved in to FDR’s attempt to “pack the court” with six socialist jurists of his choosing (aka “A switch in time saves nine”), and in 1937 this traitorous coward started voting with the liberals on the court.
Since that day the Supreme Court has irredeemably been perverted as demonstrated by Chief Justice John Roberts’ naked judicial activism that upheld socialist health care as constitutional.

The biggest scandal in U.S. history

Forget executive privilege, contempt of Congress, Fast and Furious, how many documents the government has produced and who said what to whom on which date.
The Obama administration has almost certainly engaged in the most shockingly vile corruption scandal in the history of the country, not counting the results of Season Eight on “American Idol.”
Administration officials intentionally put guns into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, so that when the guns taken from Mexican crime scenes turned out to be American guns, Democrats would have a reason to crack down on gun sellers in the United States.
Democrats will never stop trying to take our guns away. They see something more lethal than a salad shooter and wet themselves.
But since their party was thrown out of Congress for the first time in nearly half a century as a result of passing the 1994 “assault weapons ban,” even liberals know they’re going to need a really good argument to pass any limitation on guns ever again.
So it’s curious that Democrats all started telling the same lie about guns as soon as Obama became president. In March 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced to reporters on a trip to Mexico: “Since we know that the vast majority, 90 percent of that weaponry (used by Mexican drug cartels), comes from our country, we are going to try to stop it from getting there in the first place.”
As she sentimentally elaborated on Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren show: “The guns sold in the United States, which are illegal in Mexico, get smuggled and shipped across our border and arm these terrible drug-dealing criminals so that they can outgun these poor police officers along the border and elsewhere in Mexico.”
Suddenly that 90 percent statistic was everywhere. It was like the statistic on women beaten by their husbands on Super Bowl Sunday.
CBS’ Bob Schieffer asked Obama on “Face the Nation”: “It’s my understanding that 90 percent of the guns that they’re getting down in Mexico are coming from the United States. We don’t seem to be doing a very good job of cutting off the gun flow. Do you need any kind of legislative help on that front? Have you, for example, thought about asking Congress to reinstate the ban on assault weapons?”
At a Senate hearing, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said: “It is unacceptable to have 90 percent of the guns that are picked up in Mexico and used to shoot judges, police officers and mayors … come from the United States.”
And then, thanks to Fox News – the first network to report it – we found out the 90 percent figure was complete bunkum. It was a fabrication told by William Hoover, of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF), and then spread like wildfire by Democrats and the media.
Mexican law enforcement authorities send only a fraction of the guns they recover from criminals back to the U.S. for tracing. Which guns do they send? The guns that have U.S. serial numbers on them. It would be like asking a library to produce all their Mark Twain books and then concluding that 90 percent of the books in that library are by Mark Twain.
You begin to see why the left hates Fox News so much.
Obama backed away from the preposterous 90 percent claim. His National Security Council spokesman explained to Fox News that by “recovered,” they meant “guns traceable to the United States.” So, in other words, Democrats were frantically citing the amazing fact that almost all the guns traceable to the U.S. were … traceable to the U.S.
Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters that even if the percentage is inaccurate, the “vast majority” of guns seized in crimes in Mexico come from the United States. And he should know, because it turns out he was sending them there!
Apart from the guns Holder was giving them, this was an absurd claim. Most of the guns used by drug cartels are automatic weapons – not to mention shoulder-fired rockets – that can’t be sold to most Americans. They are acquired from places like Russia, China and Guatemala.
Right about the time the 90 percent lie was unraveling, the Obama administration decided to directly hand thousands of American guns over to Mexican criminals. Apart from the fact that tracking thousands of guns into Mexico is not feasible or rational, the dumped guns didn’t have GPS tracing devices on them, anyway. There is no conceivable law enforcement objective to such a program.
This is what we know:
1. Liberals thought it would be a great argument for gun control if American guns were ending up in the hands of Mexican criminals;
2. They wanted that to be true so badly, Democrats lied about it;
3. After they were busted on their lie, the Obama administration began dumping thousands of guns in the hands of Mexican criminals.
We also know that hundreds of people were murdered with these U.S.-government-supplied guns, including at least one American, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
But let’s look on the bright side. The BATF was originally going to ship warheads to Iran until realizing the explosions might disable the tracking devices.
(Contrary to more Democratic lies, there was no such program to dump thousands of guns in Mexico under George W. Bush. The Bush administration did have a program that put GPS trackers on about 100 guns in order to actually trace them. That operation was ended almost as soon as it began because of the lack of cooperation from Mexican officials. You may as well say Holder’s program was “started” by the first cop who ever put tracer dye on contraband.)
No one has explained what putting 2,500 untraceable guns in the hands of Mexican drug dealers was supposed to accomplish.
But you know what that might have accomplished? It would make the Democrats’ lie retroactively true – allowing them to push for the same gun restrictions they were planning when they first concocted it. A majority of guns recovered from Mexican criminals would, at last, be American guns, because Eric Holder had put them there.
Unfortunately for the Democrats, some brave whistleblower inside the government leaked details of this monstrous scheme. As soon as Congress and the public demanded answers, Holder clammed up. He just says “oops” – and accuses Republicans of racism.

‘Made in the USA’ Label Will Disappear If the World Trade Organization Plan Succeeds

“Made in the USA” labels may be disappearing more quickly than most consumers realize. As if buying American made goods was not difficult enough, shoppers may soon not even be able to determine where a prospective purchase is manufactured. The World Trade Organization (WTO) is pushing for an elimination of country-of-origin labels on all consumer products, the World News Daily (WND) reports. The organization wants to replace the current labeling policy of identifying the nation where items are manufactured with a “Made in the World” tag.
madeinusalabelSuch a tag would alert consumers that the pretty pink sweater which caught their eye while window shopping was not made on Mars; but would inhibit the ability of those who make an effort to support American workers when visiting the local mall. The misguided WTO plan was initiated to “re-engineer global governance and reduce opposition to free trade,” the WND reports.
The concept of global governance will likely not sit well with proud Americans and Republican lawmakers who are working diligently to restore manufacturing jobs around the country. The patriotic red,white and blue “Made in the USA” label allows American shoppers to support homegrown industries both large and small. Shoppers deserve the right to support manufacturers who provide jobs to their fellow Americans, which is easy to determine by glancing at the “Made in the USA” label.
A “Made in the USA” label may not reveal all the important information about a company but does require that all or virtually all components are made in the United States. Even though the labeling system may not inform the consumer of every bit of pertinent information on the little tag, it does still serve as an important guide to shoppers determined to support American industries.

Nicely Said..................

"A dictator enjoys unrestrained power over the people. The legislative and judicial branches voluntarily cede this power or it’s taken by force. Most of the time, it’s given up easily, out of fear in time of war and civil disturbances, and with the support from the people, although the dictator will also accumulate more power with the use of force."  - Congressman Ron Paul

The Depression Goes Global

While the attention of the financial world and the business press have been focused so completely on the daily developments in Europe – though there's not a game changer among them - other economic news from around the world has been largely crowded out.
The real news is that the depression is going global.
The spreading of the slowdown can be seen in the so-called BRIC nations. Surging growth from Brazil, Russia, India, and China has helped drive some of the world's economic vitality for a few years now. But the downturn is now taking hold in those countries, leaving little to resist the rip tide of depression.
Here are some economic highlights from each of the BRIC nations:
Brazil: Commodity exports are crucial to the Brazilian economy. China is the largest buyer of Brazil's exports, so a slowdown in China and lower commodity prices have affected Brazil. Growth has slowed considerably there already. 2010's 7.5% growth was sliced to only 2.7% last year. It's a trend in force: the Brazilian economy actually contracted in April. Foreign investments in Brazil appear to have reversed and become disinvestments.


Russia: Resource revenues, primarily earned from oil and natural gas exports, have helped drive growth of the economy and the middle-class in Russia. But it is a restive middle class that has taken its anti-Putin protests to the streets. As natural gas prices have taken a big hit in the last few years, and with oil down sharply since spring, Russia will run larger deficits, financed by inflation, a policy that will create more unrest. Earlier this year, the Russian central bank, which has been a net buyer of gold, surprised many with its first gold sales in five years.
India: Consumer price inflation in India is about 10%; food prices are increasing at a rate closer to 11%. Interest rates are high, the state deficit is widening, manufacturing has turned down sharply, and GDP growth is stalling. Standard & Poor's, which dropped the outlook for Indian debt from "stable" to "negative" in April, says the slowdown puts India's investment grade debt rating at risk.
China: Now the second largest economy in the world, China's demand has had a huge impact on commodity prices. Slipping commodity prices may tell more about what is going on (or not going on) in China than any official numbers, which are no more reliable than government numbers in the U.S. Besides the slowing export sector determined by conditions outside the country, China has blown up a huge real estate bubble of its own. Central economic planning, state -owned enterprises, and crony deals, all widespread in China, are no more functional there than they are anywhere else in the world.
The People's Bank of China's concern about a slowdown was seen earlier this month as it cut key interest rates for the first time in years.


It has become a cliché, but it is nevertheless true that we inhabit a global economy. We cannot escape the effects of slowing conditions elsewhere in the world. Thanks in part to emerging market demand, U.S. exports were up 17% last year, mostly in manufactured goods. As emerging markets slow, so do U.S. exports. China's slowdown threatens its ability to continue sponsoring U.S. debt. And then there is the inevitable currency warfare that ensues in a slowdown, as countries "race to the bottom" in their competitive devaluation of their own currencies, in the futile hope of generating prosperity by stimulating exports at the expense of destroying the people's purchasing power.
My local newspaper sums up the G-20 nation's talks in Mexico with a headline that reads, "G-20 talks on Europe debt spur optimism: Obama is encouraged strong action is near." It's like Groundhog Day. It's no different than the news stories about the European crisis that have run for years now. But no matter how many times the scene is repeated, the crisis of sovereign nations that spend more than they produce and cannot pay their bills is not fixed by loaning them more money.
The media focuses relentlessly on re-writing old news from Europe over and over. But despite the optimistic headlines, it is a situation that worsens as the debt deepens with each new rescue plan.
Meanwhile few notice that the tide is going out on the global economy.

'Fiscal Cliff' May Make Europe Look Like a Dip

Investors have been so worried over what to do about the rapidly moving European debt crisis that many of them probably have overlooked the political mess in Washington and looming "fiscal cliff" at year-end.

While troubles in Greece and throughout the euro zone have dominated headlines and driven market behavior, the idea that trillions of dollars in automatic tax increases and spending cuts are on the horizon has generated comparatively little chatter.
That's a dangerous position to be in for a market that has been so volatile and grasping for direction.
"It is unlikely that the cliff is fully priced into the markets," said Ethan S. Harris, North American economist for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. "The economic consensus and markets have recognized the fiscal cliff for some time, but are only beginning to understand the size and timing of the shock to the economy."
Harris recently prepared a lengthy analysis of the effects from the fiscal cliff - a term coined by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to describe the automatic financial triggers that will go into place if Congress does not come to a deficit-reduction agreement before the end of the year.

The picture is decidedly unpretty, with the Harris analysis amping up on earlier economist projections over how much damage the fiscal cliff triggers would impose on an already languishing U.S. economy.
From the the labor market to manufacturing, the latest round of government reports shows a slowdown from the encouraging pace of growth seen earlier this year.
Whereas the consensus has been for a drag of about $500 billion or 3.8 percent of gross domestic product , Harris said the actual total is closer to $720 billion, or 4.6 percent of GDP.
The areas of the economy likely to suffer the most damage are the most vulnerable - capital spending, home and auto sales and employment, which has slowed considerably over the past three months after strong wintertime gains.

"The cliff is likely to hurt growth this year as much as next year," Harris said. "By risking a recession-sized fiscal contraction and then offering no guidance to how it will be resolved, politicians are creating a major uncertainty shock."
In remarks to a Senate panel this month, Bernanke was sure to mention the dangers of inaction by Washington both on the fiscal cliff and policy in general, which he said risked both neglecting deficit reduction as well as promoting growth.
"Uncertainty about the resolution of these fiscal issues could itself undermine business and household confidence," the central bank chairman said. "Fortunately, avoiding the fiscal cliff and achieving long-term fiscal sustainability are fully compatible and mutually reinforcing objectives."
Ratings service Fitch also jumped in, repeating its warning that it would cut the U.S. debt rating if Congress doesn't resolve its various budgetary problems. Fitch analyst Ed Parker said the U.S. is the only one of four AAA-rated countries that "does not have a credible fiscal consolidation plan."
Yet investment pros have talked little about the danger the fiscal cliff poses to the stock market. Most research has focused on the economic reports of the day, bond and commodity prices and, of course, the damage that a breakdown of the euro zone will bring to the global economy.
"The market is reacting to whatever the market presents itself with on any given day," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Annuities in Newark, N.J. "Bernanke cares (about the cliff), serious economists care, but they are not the ones who rule the market."
Those who do care about the predicament in Washington seem unwilling to confront a future where Congress, which remains divided on party lines, seems unwilling to agree on even the smallest measures, much less on charting the fiscal future of a slow-growth economy.
Politically, the stakes couldn't be higher.
President Obama and his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, are battling over who has the better economic vision.
Obama, though, is faced with an economy growing at only 1.9 percent and the reality that there are just 100,000 more Americans working than when he took office in January 2009, while there are nearly 700,000 more counted as unemployed. (The statistical discrepancy comes from the surge in those who have left the labor force as well as population changes.)
For the Republicans, though, it will be a dicey gamble that Americans won't blame them as well for letting the George W. Bush-era tax cuts expire, and allowing a menu of other growth-stunting mandatory measures be implemented unless an agreement is reached.
"When push comes to shove they probably can (work out a deal), but there will be more pushing and shoving to get them to do it," said Krosby of Prudential Annuities. "Maybe this is hope springs eternal, but I don't think any of them wants to be blamed for the consequences of the fiscal cliff."
For investors, meanwhile, attention could turn more acutely to the fiscal cliff after Greek elections later this month, and when Germany indicates what concessions it is willing to make to keep the euro zone together.

"The next words out of everyone's mouth will be, 'What about the fiscal cliff?'" said Art Hogan, managing director at Lazard Capital Markets in New York. "Right now, it's running a close second in terms of market participants' concerns. It will take the lead as soon as we get some resolution or some near-term answers from Europe."
From Hogan's view, there is actually a bright side: If the market's overriding view is that Congress won't be able to get anything done, agreement on at least some of the key issues could provide a positive surprise. He said record low yields on the 10-year Treasury and a recent surge in gold buying have shown investors' pessimism regarding the mess in Washington.
Agreement will come, he said, in the form of an extension of the tax cuts before the election, with the most difficult decisions made after voters make their choice for president.
"I have a sense that we're going to address this, that we're not going to drive off a cliff at 100 mph into a double-dip recession," Hogan said. "The market's not prepared for that. That's where the upside risk is in the marketplace."

god fucking damn it...........