Friday, December 25, 2009

Joe Discovers the Only Perfectly Efficient Christmas Gift

Did you know that Economists hate Christmas? Okay not really, but it does frustrate them. Want to know why? It's not because we get left out at the company Christmas party, although we usually do...... Unless you want to talk about efficient resource allocation at a Christmas party. This would be popular at some Christmas parties, like an economic department Christmas party at a University. However, as hard as it is to believe this, most people don't want to talk about efficient resource allocation at Christmas parties. Or on blogs for that matter - but since you've already had your Christmas party, and now you're bored with nothing better to do so you're still reading this blog, we'll explain.

It's all about efficiency. Economists love efficiency. If you have two resources, labor and capital, you want both to be utilized efficiently while making your product. Suppose you have 10 machines and each requires one person to operate. If you only have one person the process is inefficient. If you have 10 people and only one machine it's also inefficient.

Now let's suppose Joe Shareholder wanted to get a big screen TV for his living room, but not any big screen TV, he wants a Dynex 40" 1080 LCD HDTV listed at $499 on Best Buy online because he knows that LG actually makes this brand so it should be a great product for less money. Okay, suppose Joe's brother Moe gets Joe a Samsung brand television for $200 more? Sure, it's a great TV also, but does Joe derive an extra $200 worth of pleasure from watching this more expensive TV? If not then there's $200 worth of inefficiencies in this gift. What if Joe gets a Christmas sweater with actual reindeer antlers on it? While Joe admits this would be a sweet Christmas gift, he might only wear it once/twice per year to Christmas parties where he will try to corner others to tell then why this sweater was an inefficient gift? He might derive only partial pleasure from this gift whereas a Dynex TV would offer full pleasure.

You see, there are too many inefficiencies in Christmas to fully satisfy efficiency-loving economists. It's a problem. Just give cash then? That's too boring. Give unnecessary gifts? That's too inefficient. So what does this mean for Joe? Joe wants the Dynex TV so JoAnn can come over and watch movies on his big screen TV. Not any movies, but scary movies where he could "calm her nerves" by placing his arm around her and holding her hand to offer help and support in this season of giving. (Even if it is after a Christmas party in which she talked with others about something other than efficient resource allocation, who also don't have reindeer antlers on their Christmas sweaters) Joe understands that not everyone will give each other Dynex TV's, however, so he came up with the perfect idea: A subscription to the JoeShareholder newsletter. Oh wait, JoeShareholder doesn't have a newsletter. All you have to do is give this blog to your friends. There you have it. We've satisfied economists everywhere, and you've satisfied your needs for Christmas gifts. Efficiency = Joe Shareholder.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Time Magazine Names Helicopter Ben Person of the Year! Joe Names him Wool Puller of the Year

Ronald Reagan once warned to never trust a man who says, "Hello, I'm from the Government and I'm here to help." Joe Shareholder once warned to never trust someone who says, "Hello, I'm from a quasi-government agency and I'm here to help". That's right, the Federal Reserve isn't really a government agency. (Joe, halfway house) It's more like a banking cartel that happens to print money and establish monetary policy for the US Government. Anywho, when Joe Shareholder found out that Time Magazine named Helicopter Ben the 2009 Person of the Year, potato chips went flying at the computer screen, behind the computer screen, down the back of the computer desk, and all over the baseboards. Grease doesn't come off the screen very well by the way. Back to business now. Actually, it's not really that surprising considering how many people think this recession is over, and also how many people have gotten wool pulled down so far over their eyes they get market-disorientation-disorder (MDD). Joe Shareholder gave Ben an award also, "Wool Puller of the year, 2009". Until now, Joe didn't realize one of the main commodity investments of the Fed is wool, which is used to pull down over your eyes. Back to business again. What is surprising, however, is how the Federal Reserve Banking Cartel has been able to pull this off, er, over for so long now. With wool consistently over your eyes, it's surprising the US Taxpayer hasn't struggled to free itself to see clearly yet. Apparently to Time Magazine it's become comforting in this cold weather storm. Which isn't over by the way.

Now for the truth about Ben Bernanke, lift the wool up for a second to see these previous posts:
Newsflash to Time Magazine, the Federal Reserve Banking Cartel doesn't place the US taxpayer first on the priority list. Sure, they care about the US Taxpayer, but kind of like how Tiger Woods cares about mistress #4. He sees her from time to time, and has moments in which the two are very close, but at the end of the day, she's not his top priority. The Federal Reserve and Tiger Woods have other similarities also, but this is a family friendly blog, so you won't find them here. Back to business a third time. The Federal Reserve Bank exists for one reason, and that is to protect the interests of the big banks. Joe Shareholder's brother, Moe, recently discovered the Federal Reserve Bank's priority list:
  1. Goldman Sachs (Fed's AAA minor league ball club)
  2. JP Morgan Chase (Fed, only under a different name)
  3. Citigroup
  4. Bank of America
  5. Morgan Stanley
  6. Destroy the US Dollar
  7. Wells Fargo
  8. Bank of NY
  9. Ruin the US Dollar
  10. Sacrifice Lehman
  11. Turn the US Dollar into fancy green toilet paper
  12. American Express
  13. US Taxpayer (but mainly when bailouts are necessary)
What does this mean for Joe? It means Joe better end this post....and quick. Indeed, black helicopters are starting to swirl up above.....Lincoln Towncars with tinted windows are starting to appear in strange places, from strange places, and Joe's inbox is starting to get flooded by .gov email addresses, which should really be .quasi-gov email addresses. Whoa, what's this? An email from JoAnn saying "Help Me!" An email from JoAnn's mother titled, "strange men in shades standing at my door", and an email from Joe's mother "house broken into, but nothing is gone...strange". Email from Moe titled, "phone's bugged!". Before we all start shouting Kum Bah Yah about the recession being over, first check to see if your eyes are itching.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

House Passes Financial Takeover Bill

Just yesterday the House passed a financial reform bill in order to keep "too big to fail" corporations from wrecking the US economy. This mammoth 1200+ page bill was no different from any other our fearless leaders have passed in the last year. In other words, yes, a warehouse dolly was necessary to transport the bill into the house floor; yes, a propane fueled forklift was necessary to hoist it up to the table; yes, the House members were in the gym the night before lifting weights (the bill tied to the barbel was used in place of weights); and most importantly, NO, NOBODY THAT VOTED FOR THIS BILL HAS READ IT. It's unclear whether the phrase "too big to fail" is in reference to the companies posing systemic risk or simply referring to bill itself. (Joe, if you haven't read it, sign it, and if it's too large, pass it.)

Anyway, this bill still needs to clear the Senate, so don't be surprised if you see DC Senator's coming to a Gold's Gym near you very soon. Especially Harry Reid. Anyway, this bill gives the government unprecedented authority to simply break up any corporation, anytime, anywhere, anyway they want to if they feel it poses "systemic risk" to the economy. Is that confusing to anyone else? Worst of all, it doesn't even need to be a financial company. Any company period. (Joe government over-reach) So who decides whether a company poses systemic risk? They do. Most likely House Financial Services Committee chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) and Senate Banking Committee chairman Christopher Dodd (D-CN) will have a large say in this process as heads of financial regulatory committees, along with the Obama Administration.

Alrighty then, what you don't know is that these two Congressmen actually played a very large part in blowing up the sub-prime bubble in real estate which caused this very depression, or recession, or whatever we're calling it now. There will be much more on this on my next post when I publish a book review on one of the most fascinating books I've ever read. "Architects of Ruin", by Peter Schweizer. Simply an amazingly informative book. Barney Frank blocked several attempts by the Bush Administration to reign in Fannie Mae and accused Bush and several Senators from both parties of "not caring about affordable housing". Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are quasi-government agencies that were hijacked by the liberal agenda of offering loans to anybody that wanted one.

Here's how they work:
  1. Mortgage Lender or Bank originates a loan with a home buyer.
  2. Mortgage Lender/Bank sells loan to Freddie/Fannie to free up cash to originate more loans.
  3. Freddie/Fannie, then package loans and sell to investment/hedge/pension funds or banks or slice up the loans into derivatives and sell the pieces.
Fannie and Freddie created explicit goals to buy trillions of dollars of sub-prime loans (loans to people who wouldn't have otherwise qualified for a loan) from mortgage brokers and banks. Most of the time these sub prime loans required very little or even no money down, and were even offered to many jobless earning unemployment benefits! Lenders didn't care. They simply immediately sold the loans to Fannie and Freddie, looked the other way, and tucked the commission firmly in pocket. Anyway, Barney Frank covered Mae's Fanny and was defender #1 for this agenda-driven organization. Christopher Dodd was simply bought out by various groups represented by Fannie and Freddie (see attached Coutrywide Scandal) and refused to regulate these government agencies. Bottom line, Peter Schweizer argues that it wasn't runaway capitalism that took the economy down to the canvas, but rather runaway government with an agenda.

So what does this mean for Joe? Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd were supposed to be monitoring financial institutions already.......but they weren' we're giving them more power and oversight.....??? (Joe Einstein, "the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different outcome") We'll see what happens, but Joe is skeptical. Speaking of skeptical, JoAnn is nervous because she believes Joe might be ring shopping. (She also caught him talking to his friend Joe Weller the other day.) If it doesn't stop soon, she's going to have to financially regulate him.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tiger's not out of the Woods Yet - But the US Dollar Might be

Since early March the dollar has been dropping faster than Tiger Woods' endorsement deals...will; and Congress has been taking a 9 iron to the greenback like scorned Swedish women to SUV windows.
So here's the deal. Normally the stock market dictates the direction of the US dollar. Investors flee to currencies as a safe haven from a falling stock market. (Joe's dog, dog wagging the tail) Lately however, the US Dollar has interestingly been calling the shots and dictating the direction of the stock market (Joe's dog, tail wagging the dog). Indeed, steep drops in the dollar are strongly correlated with a rising stock market due to the fear of inflation. These increases in the stock market are reflecting the nominal value of the dollar, not the real value. Even if the market goes up, the value of your retirement could still be dropping (Joe's dog, tail not wagging at all anymore, but drooped in between its legs and hunkered down in depression).

This can't last forever, however. Despite the Federal Reserve's loose monetary policy and Gov's best efforts to whack the greenback and spend its way out of trouble, (Tiger Joe Woods, yes, Joe's his middle name, or it should be anyway) it appears the US Dollar free fall may be over for now. Why? Just this week Japan - the number two economy in the world - announced a large scale quantitative easing policy (or government spending) which should dilute its currency relative to ours. (Japan wants a weak currency because it strengthens their exports) Also, Japan's debt to GDP ratio is actually MUCH worse than ours right now, so it's bad debt position coupled with a ramped up quantitative easing plan should help soften its currency. So there you have it. The stage is set. The top two economies in the world in a race to see who can beat down its currency harder and faster and turn it into fertilizer. (Joe's dog, tail now straight up in the air, squatting position).
Another interesting phenomenon that happened Friday after I initially wrote this post, was the dollar's surge on a much improved November unemployment report. The diminished job loss announcement launched the dollar like you-know-who's tee off because of rate increase speculation. Ben has previously stated he wouldn't raise interest rates until jobs were actually increasing rather than decreasing. This may or may not happen soon. It will be interesting to see if the jobs report for December drops down again, or if the trend line of improved job numbers continues. Construction and manufacturing job losses were still quite high, but government and health care jobs both saw increases last month.

What does this mean for Joe? An increasing dollar value would ease inflation fears, but also throw cold water on Gold Bugs somewhat. I recently posted a comment on to short gold, and received 6 thumbs up and 34 thumbs down, so who knows, I might be way off on my Gold projections. A strengthening dollar would seemingly drop the price of gold, but the future of the US Dollar is very uncertain and fragile still.

What else does this mean for Joe? Joe doesn't have a dog, but could use the companionship since JoAnn hasn't accepted his latest offer yet to marry him before hyper inflation gets a hold of ring prices. Since he believes the dollar might start to stabilize, he's nervous now that she has a pretty good counter argument. The pressure's on for Joe Shareholder. Doggonit.