Friday, October 2, 2015

Secret Service Targeting of Chaffetz Alarms Lawmakers

Who didn't see this coming?  And no one gets fired.

The government agencies are out of control.  And there is only one answer:

Defund them. Cut them off at the knees. Maybe just below the hip.
A Secret Service official’s allegedly deliberate decision to embarrass Rep. Jason Chaffetz could “give pause” to other lawmakers who have applied for federal jobs, cautioned former House Judiciary Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.

The inappropriate intrusion into Privacy Act-protected information, acknowledged in a report by the agency’s inspector general, could have a chilling effect, Sensenbrenner told CQ Roll Call Thursday — and he thinks someone “should be fired over it.”

Spying on the phones and electronic devices of elected officials has stoked concern in Congress. Even Sensenbrenner, the lead author of the 2002 Patriot Act, has protested lax oversight of the National Security Agency’s activities. But the disturbing leak to two media outlets of Chaffetz’s rejected application for a Secret Service job and the particulars surrounding it raised further alarm about privacy.

“Those responsible need to be held accountable, because behavior like this threatens the very nature of independent oversight of law enforcement,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, said Thursday.
But they won't.  Why?


California’s huge solar projects causing energy poverty: Thomas Elias

Really, really expensive.
Overall, the emphasis on expensive solar farms — some so high-priced that the scandal-ridden state Public Utilities Commission refuses to publish their actual costs — has raised wind and solar energy production to about 12 percent of California’s total power usage. The cost of that energy comes to about $84 per megawatt hour, compared to the average $46 per megawatt hour wholesale cost of electricity, according to a new report from the conservative-oriented Manhattan Institute, headquartered in New York.

As these developments advanced, California power prices increased by 35 percent, to where they are now 40 percent above the national average. The cost for power from California’s privately owned utilities ranged from 18 cents to 21 cents per kilowatt hour, compared with 12 cents nationally.

That has caused what the Manhattan Institute calls energy poverty in some of the poorest parts of California, a phenomenon that will surely increase by 2018, when the utilities commission activates its new two-tier rate structure, designed to lower rates for big users and raise them for the more power-efficient.
So it turns out that California’s green energy policies, as now carried out, amount to a regressive tax on the poorest Californians. For the most part, the highest energy poverty rates occur in the counties with the highest unemployment.

Far from being champions of the poor, then, Schwarzenegger, Brown and their appointees have been the very opposite.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Simple Solution to High Rent in the Bay Area

The Legendary Thomas Sowell talks about CA's stratospheric home prices.

When more than half the land in San Mateo County is legally off-limits to building, how surprised should we be that housing prices in the city of San Mateo are now so high that politically appointed task forces have to be formed to solve the “complex” question of how things got to be the way they are and what to do about it? 
However simple the answer, it will not be easy to go against the organized, self-righteous activists for whom “open space” is a sacred cause, automatically overriding the interests of everybody else.

Was it just a coincidence that some other parts of the country saw skyrocketing housing prices when similar severe restrictions on building went into effect? Or that similar policies in other countries have had the same effect? How “complex” is that?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

CA Pensions run by idiots: Giant U.S. Pension Fund Calstrs to Propose Shift Away From Stocks, Bonds

And CAians are PAYING for this service?

I find this beyond believable.  With the BILLIONS of dollars in pension money, they could hire anyone they wanted to assist them in making correct choices as to where and what to invest pensioners' money.

But instead,whoever they have hired is doing an abysmally bad job of advising/controlling pension money.  Now they are talking about moving money out of stocks.  Now after markets have lost billions of dollars now they want to talk about moving money out of the stock markets?  Now they want to talk about hedging for a down market?

Free is better

Why am I saying this?  Because information available for FREE had warned what was coming.  And I'm not talking about perma-bears.  I'm talking about financial advisers that are normally very optimistic.

First, let's look at a graph of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.  The market top was about May 19, 2015.  the brown arrows highlight the areas where the decline massively accelerated: August 18th through August 26th:

Case 1:  Lance Roberts

Lance Roberts of was one of who saw what was happening.  Lance handles a small amount of my money (which means he handles a small amount of the small amount of money I have put aside for retirement). He puts out a weekly newsletter.  It is very interesting to see into his mind and analysis from the high and until he said to pretty much sell everything.  Very methodical, emotionless on.

Let's see how things progressed in his newsletters starting with the week that includes May 19:

May 23:
"From the broader macro-technical perspective, the current bullish trend remains very much intact despite deterioration in market liquidity, equity outflows and weak fundamentals."

May 31:
"Yes, the markets hit new highs this year - but it has been a volatile struggle to get there. While the markets have ground their way higher, the back and forth price action has sent a variety of internal momentum and breadth indicators into retreat suggesting a much less 'healthy' market than headline numbers would suggest. (It is not coincidental that the same holds true for the broader macroeconomic environment.)"

June 6:
"As I discussed earlier this week, EVERY single long-term market indicator has now broken down and send signals that have ONLY occurred at prior major market peaks. ... The market has been sending repeated warnings as of late which suggests that investors remain on HIGH ALERT. With portfolio's fully allocated currently, the risk to principal of a sharp downward contraction is elevated.

If the market does begin a breakdown I will issue a full alert with instructions on how to react. However, in the meantime, it remains advisable to continue rebalancing portfolios. I have reiterated those instructions in the 401k Plan Manager again this week. "

June 13:
 "With the longer-term bullish trend still intact, there is little reason to become overly defensive in the allocation model currently.

However, all of the indicators are suggesting that investors should be AWARE of the mounting risks. Therefore, investors SHOULD rebalance portfolios as instructed in the 401k Plan Manager over the last several weeks which will slightly increase cash holdings.

These 'warning' signals suggest the risk of a market correction is on the rise. However, all price trends remain within the confines of a bullish advance. Therefore, portfolios should remain tilted toward equity exposure 'currently.'  "

June 20:
"The bottom line is that the current technical deterioration of the market should not be ignored. There are a few pockets of strength supporting the markets in some of the most speculative areas like biotechnology. I am warning you now; this will end very badly. I can't tell you WHEN, but I can tell you it WILL."

June 27:
"We are very close to a long-term macro sell signal and with the market failing at overhead resistance this only leaves the longer-term bullish trend line as support. I have noted in the chart above the potential declines that could occur with a break of that support."

July 3:
"China is likely more of a threat to the financial markets than Greece because what is happening in China, and as being witnessed by the Shanghai index, is NOT being covered by the media. As I have stated previously, what trips up the market is generally not an event that the market is well aware of, but one that catches it by surprise.

"Over the last several months every primary indicator of internal market strength has deteriorated. From relative strength to price action to momentum, the market is showing signs of exhaustion that have only previously been witnessed at more important cyclical market peaks.

"With relative strength deteriorating, momentum and moving averages all on the decline, the risk of lower market prices has risen markedly as of late.

HOWEVER, while the internals are VERY weak, the bullish trend has not been violated as of yet. This keeps portfolios weighted towards equities momentarily as liquidity flows into the market are still support asset prices. It is important to note that despite the internal deterioration currently, the markets still rest near all-time highs."

July 11:
"For the last several months, the markets have defied the deterioration in the internals. Weakening internals from momentum to breadth have all suggested that markets were becoming much more dangerous in the short term.

It was from that stand point that I begin reiterating every week that investors should be taking some actions in portfolios. As per the April 24th Newsletter."

July 25:
"While I was gone last week, the markets bounced sharply providing a good opportunity to rebalance portfolios as I have been suggesting.

There is increasing levels of risk and deterioration in the market currently and actions need to be taken to reduce relative portfolio risk and raise some CASH as a hedge against a potential further decline. 

IF the markets resume their bullish trend we can always VERY EASILY reinvest harvested cash back into the markets. It is a MUCH HARDER process to make up losses when we have failed to be proactive. Remember - the one commodity we can NEVER regain is TIME. 
Continue to review your current portfolio holdings and make adjustments as needed. Any slightly overweight holdings in cash from recent profit taking and rebalance instructions will simply act as a short-term hedge against market volatility." 

August 1:
"However, the problem is that currently there is 'no way' to tell which way it will break. A break to the upside would likely carry the markets toward 2250-2300. A break to the downside would most likely push prices towards the October 2014 lows of 1840-1850."

August 9:
"Continue to review your current portfolio holdings and make adjustments as needed. Any slightly overweight holdings in cash from recent profit taking and rebalance instructions will simply act as a short-term hedge against market volatility. "

August 23:
"The time has now come to start moving more heavily to cash. As I will discuss throughout this weekend's missive, including the 401k-Plan Manager, it is now time to 'OPPORTUNISTICALLY' REDUCE PORTFOLIO ALLOCATIONS."
So, you can see, Lance Roberts has along the way and well before the crash has told investors and clients to start selectively sell losers and on rallies, to sell into strength.  His August 23rd newsletter is sort of after the fact and isn't a whole lot of help by then, he did cover this on his radio program and recommended people sell have less than 24% of their portfolio in equities.  But, by then you would have already sold a lot of your losers, going into the market sell off in a position of strength.

And remember, all this information is FREE.

New let's look at Ken Moraif of  Again, he has a free newsletter and also has a radio program.  He issues "flash alerts" or emails when he is interviewed.

Case 2:  Ken Moraif

Ken Moraif Aug 9:
Many of you have been emailing me with your concerns that the bull market may be coming to an end. There is no doubt that this bull market will come to an end one day. I do not believe that the time is now. Therefore, it is not yet a time to sell.

That said, this does not mean it is not a time to be concerned. It is a time to begin the preparation for the inevitable. If your financial plan does not include a sell strategy, I believe that you are certainly at risk of losses like you may have seen back in 2000 and in 2008.
Ken Moraif Aug 20:
With the markets down over 2% today we now face the very real possibility that this could be the beginning of the bear market and that a global recession is coming.

There was no major reason why the market tumbled the way it did. It is the cumulative effect of little things that are making people start to realize what I have been warning you about for several months now and that is that the world has a massive debt problem and there is not the economic growth to provide the revenue to service it.
Ken Moraif Aug 21 - the next day:
Well, I actually didn't think it was possible to reach our sell trigger today but we did.

Therefore, it is now time to sell.

The radio show was recorded Friday morning and therefore I said that we had not reached our sell trigger yet. This is the advantage that you have by getting this email rather than someone who just wants to listen to the radio show to know what to do. Listeners of the radio show will not find out until a week later that we have sold.

Our strategy is not perfect and those of you that have been following me for a long time know that our strategy predicts bear markets but it also predicts bear markets that don’t happen. It is certainly possible that the market will bounce back from here and that this is not the beginning of a bear market. However, now that we have hit our trigger point the odds are very high that this is the bear market that we have been expecting. It seems that it came sooner than I thought.
There you have it.  Advice for FREE.

I'm sorry but I can't help but question the competency of the people running the CA pensions.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

German cars pollute...and no one noticed

This reminds me of the fracking "scare" when CA finally noticed that fracking had been occuring in their own back yard for decades.

Up to that point no one noticed.

There was no environmental impact.  No "poisonous" chemicals leached into the aquifer.  No one was killed. No one got cancer because of this.

The "scandal" affects 482,000 VW diesel cars in the USA. The total number of cars on the streets amounts to 253 million.  This minuscule 0.19% will have ZERO IMPACT on the environment.

In fact, studies have shown that 90% of the pollution is caused by only 25% of the cars on the road, so the VW diesels would have an outsized effect on pollution.

So, in the grand scheme of things, what is the real impact?  For the VW diesels, the only impact anyone seems to be upset about is NOx.  And here, the greatest absolute impact would be in large cities - there are more cars, thus more diesel VWs.  But, of course, large cities are where the vast number of cars are located.  So, the per centage impact on the local environment is again almost zero.

So, what we see is that the federal government is upset that it was LIED TO.  And that's really the only story here.  All that other stuff about massive amounts of pollutants belching out of VW diesels choking the elderly and children to death are just that themselves.

But do I care that VW lied?  NO!!! They came out with a car that met my number one criteria:  maximum mileage and no stupid banks of batteries to haul around.

According to the article, the alternative to the VW "Clean Diesel" design is to add a chemical injection system to obliterate NOx.  This is a horrible solution.  Not only is it expensive at $5,000 - $8,000 the owner will NEVER remember to get it checked.

But here again, so what?  The vehicles apparently sensed when they were being analyzed and went "shields up".  And....the cars passed the emissions testing with flying colors.  If this is the case, then NOTHING needs to be done other than reprogram the car's system.  This all really sounds simple.

I say to hell with the EPA.