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Tue Feb 5, 2013, 07:09 PM

STOCK MARKET WATCH -- Wednesday, 6 February 2013

[font size=3]STOCK MARKET WATCH, Wednesday, 6 February 2013[font color=black][/font]

SMW for 5 February 2013

AT THE CLOSING BELL ON 5 February 2013
[center][font color=green]
Dow Jones 13,979.30 +99.22 (0.71%)
S&P 500 1,511.29 +15.58 (1.04%)
Nasdaq 3,171.58 +40.41 (1.29%)

[font color=green]10 Year 2.00% -0.01 (-0.50%)
[font color=red]30 Year 3.21% +0.01 (0.31%)[font color=black]


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[font size=2]Market Conditions During Trading Hours[/font]


[font size=2]Euro, Yen, Loonie, Silver and Gold[center]




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[font color=black][font size=2]Handy Links - Market Data and News:[/font][/font]
Economic Calendar
Marketwatch Data
Bloomberg Economic News
Yahoo Finance
Google Finance
Bank Tracker
Credit Union Tracker
Daily Job Cuts

[font color=black][font size=2]Handy Links - Essential Reading:[/font][/font]
Matt Taibi: Secret and Lies of the Bailout


[font color=black][font size=2]Handy Links - Government Issues:[/font][/font]
Open Government
Earmark Database
USA spending.gov

[font color=red]Partial List of Financial Sector Officials Convicted since 1/20/09 [/font][font color=red]
2/2/12 David Higgs and Salmaan Siddiqui, Credit Suisse, plead guilty to conspiracy involving valuation of MBS
3/6/12 Allen Stanford, former Caribbean billionaire and general schmuck, convicted on 13 of 14 counts in $2.2B Ponzi scheme, faces 20+ years in prison
6/4/12 Matthew Kluger, lawyer, sentenced to 12 years in prison, along with co-conspirator stock trader Garrett Bauer (9 years) and co-conspirator Kenneth Robinson (not yet sentenced) for 17 year insider trading scheme.
6/14/12 Allen Stanford sentenced to 110 years without parole.
6/15/12 Rajat Gupta, former Goldman Sachs director, found guilty of insider trading. Could face a decade in prison when sentenced later this year.
6/22/12 Timothy S. Durham, 49, former CEO of Fair Financial Company, convicted of one count conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud, 10 counts of wire fraud, and one count of securities fraud.
6/22/12 James F. Cochran, 56, former chairman of the board of Fair, convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud, one count of securities fraud, and six counts of wire fraud.
6/22/12 Rick D. Snow, 48, former CFO of Fair, convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud, one count of securities fraud, and three counts of wire fraud.
7/13/12 Russell Wassendorf Sr., CEO of collapsed brokerage firm Peregrine Financial Group Inc. arrested and charged with lying to regulators after admitting to authorities he embezzled "millions of dollars" and forged bank statements for "nearly twenty years."
8/22/12 Doug Whitman, Whitman Capital LLC hedge fund founder, convicted of insider trading following a trial in which he spent more than two days on the stand telling jurors he was innocent
10/26/12 UPDATE: Former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta sentenced to two years in federal prison. He will, of course, appeal. . .
11/20/12 Hedge fund manager Matthew Martoma charged with insider trading at SAC Capital Advisors, and prosecutors are looking at Martoma's boss, Steven Cohen, for possible involvement.

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[font size=3][font color=red]This thread contains opinions and observations. Individuals may post their experiences, inferences and opinions on this thread. However, it should not be construed as advice. It is unethical (and probably illegal) for financial recommendations to be given here.[/font][/font][/font color=red][font color=black]

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Reply STOCK MARKET WATCH -- Wednesday, 6 February 2013 (Original post)
Tansy_Gold Feb 2013 OP
Demeter Feb 2013 #1
Demeter Feb 2013 #2
Demeter Feb 2013 #3
Demeter Feb 2013 #4
AnneD Feb 2013 #33
Ghost Dog Feb 2013 #42
AnneD Feb 2013 #47
Ghost Dog Feb 2013 #48
xchrom Feb 2013 #5
Fuddnik Feb 2013 #12
xchrom Feb 2013 #14
Demeter Feb 2013 #23
xchrom Feb 2013 #24
xchrom Feb 2013 #6
Ghost Dog Feb 2013 #32
Demeter Feb 2013 #36
Ghost Dog Feb 2013 #40
xchrom Feb 2013 #7
Demeter Feb 2013 #25
xchrom Feb 2013 #26
xchrom Feb 2013 #8
xchrom Feb 2013 #9
xchrom Feb 2013 #10
xchrom Feb 2013 #11
xchrom Feb 2013 #13
Demeter Feb 2013 #37
xchrom Feb 2013 #15
tclambert Feb 2013 #34
Demeter Feb 2013 #38
tclambert Feb 2013 #41
xchrom Feb 2013 #16
xchrom Feb 2013 #17
DemReadingDU Feb 2013 #29
DemReadingDU Feb 2013 #30
xchrom Feb 2013 #18
xchrom Feb 2013 #19
tclambert Feb 2013 #35
xchrom Feb 2013 #20
xchrom Feb 2013 #21
xchrom Feb 2013 #22
xchrom Feb 2013 #27
DemReadingDU Feb 2013 #28
Fuddnik Feb 2013 #31
Demeter Feb 2013 #39
just1voice Feb 2013 #43
progree Feb 2013 #44
just1voice Feb 2013 #45
progree Feb 2013 #46

Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 09:07 PM

1. I survived Tuesday


although I ache all over, and look like the cat chewed me up and spit me out.

Only how many more days of this? (House renovations).

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:19 AM

2. Congress considers putting limits on drone strikes




Uncomfortable with the Obama administration's use of deadly drones, a growing number in Congress is looking to limit America's authority to kill suspected terrorists, even U.S. citizens. The Democratic-led outcry was emboldened by the revelation in a newly surfaced Justice Department memo that shows drones can strike against a wider range of threats, with less evidence, than previously believed.
The drone program, which has been used from Pakistan across the Middle East and into North Africa to find and kill an unknown number of suspected terrorists, is expected to be a top topic of debate when the Senate Intelligence Committee grills John Brennan, the White House's pick for CIA chief, at a hearing Thursday.

The White House on Tuesday defended its lethal drone program by citing the very laws that some in Congress once believed were appropriate in the years immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks but now think may be too broad.
"It has to be in the agenda of this Congress to reconsider the scope of action of drones and use of deadly force by the United States around the world because the original authorization of use of force, I think, is being strained to its limits," Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said in a recent interview.


Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said Tuesday that "it deserves a serious look at how we make the decisions in government to take out, kill, eliminate, whatever word you want to use, not just American citizens but other citizens as well." Hoyer added: "We ought to carefully review our policies as a country."


The Senate Foreign Relations Committee likely will hold hearings on U.S. drone policy, an aide said Tuesday, and Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and the panel's top Republican, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, both have quietly expressed concerns about the deadly operations. And earlier this week, a group of 11 Democratic and Republican senators urged President Barack Obama to release a classified Justice Department legal opinion justifying when U.S. counterterror missions, including drone strikes, can be used to kill American citizens abroad Without those documents, it's impossible for Congress and the public to decide "whether this authority has been properly defined, and whether the president's power to deliberately kill Americans is subject to appropriate limitations and safeguards," the senators wrote. It was a repeated request after receiving last June an unclassified Justice Department memo, which fell short of giving the senators all the information they requested.

First detailed publicly by NBC News late Monday, the memo for the first time outlines the Obama administration's decision to kill al-Qaida terror suspects without any evidence that specific and imminent plots are being planned against the United States. "The threat posed by al-Qaida and its associated forces demands a broader concept of imminence in judging when a person continually planning terror attacks presents an imminent threat," concluded the document.

The memo was immediately decried by civil liberties groups as "flawed" and "profoundly disturbing" — especially in light of 2011 U.S. drone strikes in Yemen that killed three American citizens: Anwar al-Awlaki, his 16-year-old-son and Samir Khan. Al-Awlaki was linked to the planning and execution of several attacks targeting U.S. and Western interests, including the attempt to down a Detroit-bound airliner in 2009 and the plot to bomb cargo planes in 2010. His son was killed in a separate strike on a suspected al-Qaida den. Khan was an al-Qaida propagandist.

White House spokesman Jay Carney, echoing comments Brennan made in a speech last April, called the strikes legal, ethical and wise and said they are covered by a law that Congress approved allowing the use of military force against al-Qaida. FAN ME, YE WINDS!
"And certainly, under that authority, the president acts in the United States' interest to protect the United States and its citizens from al-Qaida," Carney said Tuesday.


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Response to Demeter (Reply #2)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:21 AM

3. NYT EDITORIAL To Kill an American




On one level, there were not too many surprises in the newly disclosed “white paper” offering a legal reasoning behind the claim that President Obama has the power to order the killing of American citizens who are believed to be part of Al Qaeda. We knew Mr. Obama and his lawyers believed he has that power under the Constitution and federal law. We also knew that he utterly rejects the idea that Congress or the courts have any right to review such a decision in advance, or even after the fact.

Still, it was disturbing to see the twisted logic of the administration’s lawyers laid out in black and white. It had the air of a legal justification written after the fact for a policy decision that had already been made, and it brought back unwelcome memories of memos written for President George W. Bush to justify illegal wiretapping, indefinite detention, kidnapping, abuse and torture. ALL OF WHICH CONTINUE TO THIS DAY

The document, obtained and made public by NBC News, was written by the Justice Department and coyly describes another, classified document (which has been described in The Times) that actually provided the legal justification for ordering the killing of American citizens.

That document still has not been provided to Congress, despite repeated demands from lawmakers. The white paper was sent to Capitol Hill seven months after the military carried out President Obama’s orders to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, an American who moved to Yemen and became an advocate of jihad against the United States...


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Response to Demeter (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:23 AM

4. ROOM FOR DEBATE: When Can the U.S. Kill One of Its Own?




A Justice Department white paper, obtained by NBC News, states that it is lawful to kill a United States citizen if “an informed, high-level” government official decides that the target is a ranking Al Qaeda figure who poses “an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States.”

What standards must be met for the government to assassinate an American citizen? And does this deprive U.S. citizens of their constitutionally protected due process rights?


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Response to Demeter (Reply #4)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 12:47 PM

33. I seem to remember....

the same thing too. Something about LIFE, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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Response to AnneD (Reply #33)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 05:23 PM

42. ... Of course, even higher standards would be applied ...

... before your government would consider extra-judicially assassinating non-American citizens and/or bystanders ... right?

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Response to Ghost Dog (Reply #42)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 09:38 AM

47. Right....

I think that standard relates to the amount of melanin you have, but then I am a bit partial on that subject, what with earlier tribal experience with the US Government.

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Response to AnneD (Reply #47)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 11:24 AM

48. Mmm huh.


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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:47 AM

5. i was seriously confused about WHAT to wear today...

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Response to xchrom (Reply #5)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 09:21 AM

12. Wear armor and a helmet.

You never know when a drone might be in the neighborhood.

And you make the White House "C" list.

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Response to Fuddnik (Reply #12)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 09:29 AM

14. i'll have to dig around for my shield - but i'm ready..

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Response to xchrom (Reply #5)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 10:37 AM

23. The Mother Nature look!


Very chic!

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Response to Demeter (Reply #23)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 10:39 AM

24. oh thank you! i didn't know what to call it. nt

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:49 AM

6. Burning Down the House of S. & P.


One of the most surprising aspects of the Justice Department’s five-billion-dollar lawsuit against Standard & Poor’s, which the D.O.J. accuses of defrauding investors by issuing ratings on subprime mortgage securities that it knew to be misleading, is that the settlement talks broke down. According to a story in the Times, McGraw-Hill, S. & P.’s parent company, decided to take its chances in court rather than accept a billion dollar fine and admit wrongdoing, which could have made it vulnerable to more lawsuits from investors.

McGraw-Hill did this fully aware that, in handing over some twenty million pages of e-mails to government prosecutors, it presented them with some pretty damaging stuff, including a number of messages in which S. & P. employees criticize the firm’s rating process and seemingly acknowledge that it issued generous ratings to please its customers—the Wall Street banks that issued subprime bonds—and avoid losing market share to rivals Moody’s and Fitch. In one instant message, turned over by the company and included in the government’s complaint, an S. & P. analyst says the firm would have given a good rating to a deal put together by cows.

If the case does go before a judge—the two sides could still settle before trial—S. & P. will have the opportunity to place the offending communications in context, and to counterbalance them with more exculpatory materials. But the firm also faces the risk that some of its employees, and former employees, will say incriminating things on the witness stand, and that the prosecutors could be holding even more embarrassing exhibits in reserve. The ones contained in the one-hundred-and-nineteen-page complaint are bad enough, although they don’t necessarily ensure a government victory in the case.

The case revolves around the activities of two teams at S. & P., one that rated residential-mortgage-backed securities (R.M.B.S.), and another that rated collateralized debt obligations (C.D.O.’s). The underlying collateral for both of these types of securities was largely the same: subprime mortgages taken out by borrowers who didn’t have a high enough credit rating to get a normal mortgage. The Wall Street firms that put together the securities paid S. & P. hefty fees to rate them: one hundred and fifty thousand dollars for a R.M.B.S., five hundred thousand dollars for a regular C.D.O. based on actual mortgages, and seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars for a fancy (“synthetic”) C.D.O. based on derivatives tied to the mortgages. It was a big business. Between 2005 and 2007, S. & P.’s C.D.O. division alone generated four hundred and sixty-one million dollars in revenue.

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/johncassidy/2013/02/burning-down-the-house-of-s-p.html#ixzz2K7fqPoZa

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Response to xchrom (Reply #6)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 12:11 PM

32. Message to Fitch and Moody’s: Don’t Downgrade U.S. Debt?

The biggest news story of the day is the Justice Department’s lawsuit against credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s for misdeeds that contributed to the financial crisis in 2008. Aside from the obvious questions of “What took them so long?” and “What about the Wall Street investment banks?”, the next question on the minds of some is “What about the other credit rating agencies – Moody’s and Fitch?”

While some news accounts only mention in passing that S&P is one of three major credit rating agency that were all, basically, doing the same thing in assigning Triple-A ratings to all sorts of mortgage related paper a few years back on the mistaken belief that U.S. home prices never go down, at least this Reuters report wonders aloud about why it is that S&P was singled out:

No individuals were charged in the DOJ’s lawsuit, and it was not immediately clear why the government focused on S&P instead of rivals Moody’s Corp or Fimalac SA’s Fitch Ratings, which were also major raters of such securities.

A more interesting treatment is seen in McClatchy’s Is U.S. suit against rating agency S&P actually retaliation?

Among the many questions raised by the pending Justice Department civil suit is why S&P alone is being charged. A person familiar with the department’s investigation of ratings agencies said the probe has gone on for three years and originally also involved Moody’s Investors Service. A Moody’s spokesman did not respond to a request for comment, but Daniel Noonan, a spokesman for Fitch Ratings, the third major rating agency and the only one that is not a publicly traded company, said that “we have no reason to believe Fitch is a target of any such action.”

Investigator interest in Moody’s apparently dropped off around the summer of 2011, about the same time S&P issued the historic downgrade of the U.S. government’s creditworthiness because of mounting debt and deficits.

“After the U.S. downgrade, Moody’s is no longer part of this,” said the person familiar with the case, who demanded anonymity in order to speak freely about the matter.

Others share that perception.


/... http://www.financialsense.com/contributors/tim-iacono/message-to-fitch-and-moodys-dont-downgrade-u-s-debt

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Response to Ghost Dog (Reply #32)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 01:27 PM

36. OF COURSE It's Retaliation


It's a remake of the old W and Cheney show, without the snarl or the drooling.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #36)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 02:59 PM

40. Yeah.

... MEPs (Elected Members of the European Parliament) seek tougher rules for ratings agencies
By Ian Wishart - 15.01.2013 / 20:23 CET
MEPs today (15 January) called for tougher legislation to curb the behaviour of credit-rating agencies, saying that new rules expected to be approved tomorrow do not go far enough. The European Parliament, which is meeting in plenary session in Strasbourg, is scheduled to hold a vote on the legislation tomorrow (16 January) following a deal between MEPs and the Council of Ministers last month.

MEPs are expected to approve the legislation but many of them, during a debate this evening, expressed dissatisfaction that member states did not make the new rules more ambitious, and they called for tougher rules to be introduced soon.

Many MEPs said that they were unhappy that the legislation did not include plans for a new credit-rating agency based in Europe to be set up to compete against the current three main agencies, which are all based in the US...


New rules on when and how credit rating agencies may rate state debts and private firms’ financial health were approved on 16.01.2013 by the European Parliament. They will allow agencies to issue unsolicited sovereign debt ratings only on set dates, and enable private investors to sue them for negligence.

Statement by Commissioner Barnier
Press release of the European Parliament
Frequently Asked Questions

16.10.2012 Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 946/2012 of 12 July 2012 supplementing Regulation (EC) No 1060/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to rules of procedure on fines imposed to credit rating agencies by the European Securities and Markets Authority, including rules on the right of defence and temporal provisions. PDFbgcsdadeetelenesfrgaitlvlthumtnlplptroskslfisv

Midday Express

05.10.2012 Commission adopts a Decision on the recognition of the legal and supervisory framework of the US PDF, Canada PDF and Australia PDF as equivalent to the requirements of Regulation (EC) No 1060/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council on credit rating agencies.
30.05.2012 Publication of the first regulatory technical standards on credit rating agencies (CRAs)
On 30 May 2012, four Commission Delegated Regulations establishing regulatory technical standards for credit rating agencies have been published in the Official Journal of the European Union. These technical standards set out: (i) the information to be provided by a credit rating agency in its application for registration to the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA); (ii) the presentation of the information to be disclosed by credit rating agencies in a central repository (CEREP) so investors can compare the performance of different CRAs in different rating segments; (iii) how ESMA will assess rating methodologies; and (iiii) the information CRAs have to submit to ESMA and at what time intervals in order to supervise compliance. The four standards, which complement the current European regulatory framework for credit rating agencies, were developed by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) and endorsed by the European Commission on 21 March. The regulatory technical standards will ensure a level playing field, transparency and adequate protection of investors across the Union and contribute to the creation of a single rulebook for financial services.

/... http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/securities/agencies/index_en.htm

See also eg. https://www.google.com/search?q=ratings+agency+europe

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 08:51 AM



About a third of the way into in a Department of Justice white paper explaining why and when the President can kill American citizens, there is a citation that should give a reader pause. It comes in a section in which the author of the document, which was given to members of the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees last year—and obtained by Michael Isikoff, of NBC, on Monday—says that this power extends into every country in the world other than the United States, well beyond those where we are engaged in hostilities. The reference is to an address that John R. Stevenson, a State Department legal adviser, gave before the Association of the Bar in New York in May, 1970, to justify the Nixon Administration’s incursion into Cambodia. Does that make everyone, or anyone, feel better about what the Obama Administration has decided it can do, or the extent to which it thought through the implications, unintended consequences, precedents, and random reckless damage it may be delivering with this policy?

The white paper is a summary of something that had long been sought: the Obama Administration’s legal analysis of its killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen in Yemen who was hit by a drone strike in 2011. That memo has been described to reporters but never released. It needs to be. The question isn’t whether al-Awlaki, who worked with Al Qaeda, was an innocent—the question is at what point he crossed the line and became killable without any judicial proceedings, and when, by extension, the rest of us could be put on a “kill list.” John Brennan, the President’s nominee for head of the C.I.A., has been deeply involved in the drone and targeted-killing programs. His confirmation hearings are this week, and the white paper offers a guide to some of the questions Senators should ask him. (As the Washington Post notes, it may have been leaked for that purpose.) The paper pretends to lay out a careful argument,

a legal framework for considering the circumstances in which the U.S. government could use lethal force in a foreign country outside the area of active hostilities against a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al-Qaida or an associated force of al-Qaida—that is, an al-Qaida leader actively engaged in planning operation to kill Americans.

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2013/02/the-release-of-a-doj-white-paper-about-targeted-killings.html#ixzz2K7gNANxt

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Response to xchrom (Reply #7)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 10:40 AM

25. They said only Nixon could go to China


Now we can add:

It takes ademocratically elected Democrat, Constitutional Lawyer and Scholar to truly and forever destroy the Rule of Law and the Constitution.

I sure hate to think that everything hangs on Congressional probity.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #25)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 10:43 AM

26. +1

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 09:04 AM

8. Farm Wars: EU Grapples with Costs of Subsidizing Agriculture


From the top of the hill, farmer Martin Ramschulte has an unobstructed view of the past. "That one down there has given up," says Ramschulte, "and so has that one, and that one back there, too." Then he points to a brick house next to a pond. "And if this continues, it'll eventually spell the end of that place, too."

Ramschulte, 59, is pointing to his own house. "That's just the way it is," says the gaunt farmer.
It was three or four years ago that Ramschulte began pondering the fate of farming in his area. One neighbor had just ordered 1,500 hogs, another neighbor had ordered 2,000. Less than a kilometer away, factory-like buildings were erected to house about 200,000 chickens. The buildings are surrounded by swaths of open land the size of several soccer fields. "This isn't what I call farming anymore," the farmer says.

In 1978 Ramschulte became a hog farmer in the northwestern German town of Schöppingen, where the 100,000-strong hog population vastly outnumbered the mere 8,000 humans. At the time, he was considered a big player with his 25 hectares (62 acres) of land. By today's standards, his current 35 hectares and 950 hogs pale in comparison. The local farming organization advised him to expand and grow his business if he wanted to stay in farming.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 09:06 AM

9. Young and Stuck: Spain's Well-Educated Move Back to Madre


Jaime García, a 36-year-old architect, lives in Seville's historic center. To reach his office, he passes orange trees and walks through narrow streets past churches and the palaces of the nobility. Specializing in the restoration of historic buildings and run-down neighborhoods, García would seem to have chosen the right profession for living in this city, which was made wealthy 500 years ago by gold from Spain's colonies in South America.

But appearances are deceiving. Almost nothing that once glittered in the capital of the Spanish autonomous community of Andalusia is gold anymore. At nearly 36 percent, the region's unemployment is the highest on the Iberian Peninsula, according to figures for the last quarter of 2012, which were even more dismal than expected. The Spanish economy is mired in a deep recession, and it will be a long time before the government and businesses start hiring again. Some 302,500 people are looking for work in the province of Seville alone.
Times of 'Total Uncertainty'

"This year will shape my future," says García. Just as the real estate bubble was bursting, he and a former fellow student, Manuel Vivar, 35, decided to start a business under the promising name Dinamo. Now, says García, they either have to make enough money with renovations, "or I'll have to give up and try something completely different, like design or photography."

These are times of "total uncertainty" in Spain, says García. Hundreds of thousands of other young Spaniards are in the same position. Nationwide, more than half of people under 25 can't find jobs, while in Andalusia the figure is higher than 62 percent. Those who are a little older -- around 30 and well educated -- are seeing their lifelong dreams turn into failures.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 09:10 AM

10. 2013 year of the snake Chinese Zodiac - Snake


n the Chinese zodiac, the Snake is listed after the Dragon, but its place and its significance as a symbol of worship is far less than that of the Dragon. it carries the meanings of malevolence, cattiness and mystery, as well as acumen, divination and the ability to distinguish herbs. In some places, people believe that a snake found in their court can bring delight. During Spring Festival, people like to paste onto their doors and windows the paper-cut 'Fu' character (happiness), combined with a snake twisting around a rabbit onto their doors and windows as a popular pattern indicating wealth.

They often have a good temper and a skill at communicating but say little. They possess gracious morality and great wisdom. They are usually financially secure and do not have to worry about money. They have tremendous sympathy for others and would like to take actions to help ther fellow human beings. They are determined to accomplished their goals hate to fail. Although they look calm on the surface, they are intense and passionate. They have a rich source of inspiration and understand themselves well. They are people of great perception. Women under the sign of the snake do well in housework but are irritable.

They are likely to be jealous and suspicious. They should be cautious about what they discuss with others, as it might cause them to lose friendship and opportunities. They tend to overdo things. They prefer to rely on themselves and have doubts about other people's judgment. They are courteous with polite manners, but they can be headstrong. They are fickle and usually have problems in relationships or marriage problems.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 09:16 AM

11. Corruption case raises Iran domestic tensions


DOHA, Qatar - Iran's president has accused the brother of the speaker of parliament of corruption, increasing tensions between two of the country's most powerful political figures in the run-up to presidential elections in the country scheduled for June this year.

Mahmud Ahmadinejad and his cabinet were in parliament on Sunday for the impeachment hearing of Abdolreza Sheikholeslami, the labor minister, when he leveled the accusations against Fazel Larijani, the speaker's brother.

He played an inaudible audio recording in which Fazel allegedly says he used his family's status for economic gains, but both brothers dismissed the allegations made by Ahmadinejad.

"Our problem is that our president does not observe the basics of proper behavior," Ali Larjani, the speaker, said, retorting to the

president's comments, adding that it had nothing to do with Sheikholeslami's impeachment process.

"Actually it's a good thing that you played this tape today, so that the people better understand your character."

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 09:21 AM

13. Germany is right: there is no right to profit, but the right to work is essential


'The objective of every German business leader is to earn trust – from employees, customers, suppliers and society as a whole.' illustration by Belle Mellor

People talk too much about the economy and not enough about jobs. When economists, academics and bankers are allowed to lead the debate, the essential human element goes missing. This is neither healthy nor practical.

Unemployment should be our prime concern. Spain, with youth joblessness close to 50%, is in the gravest crisis, but there is hardly a government on the planet that is not wondering what it can do to guide school-leavers into work, exploit the skills of older workers, and avoid the apathy and alienation of the jobless, which undermines not just the economy but also the social fabric.

There may be no definitive answer but, over the past half-century, Germany has come closest to finding it. Its postwar economic miracle was impressive, but its more recent ability to ride out recessions and absorb the costs of reunification is, perhaps, even more remarkable. Germany was not immune to the economic crisis of 2008-9, but the jobless rate rose more slowly than elsewhere in Europe. Although in recent months it has edged up towards 6.9%, it remains well below the euro area's 11.7% average. Germany's resilience springs from the strength of its medium-sized, often family-owned manufacturing companies, collectively known as the Mittelstand, which account for 60% of the workforce and 52% of Germany's GDP. So what can we learn from the Germans?

The enduring success of the Mittelstand has been well documented but rarely emulated. The standard excuse is that it is rooted in German history and culture and therefore unexportable. At a time when so much business is conducted on a global scale, via globally accessible media, this excuse is wearing thin.

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Response to xchrom (Reply #13)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 01:29 PM

37. There ought to be a right to get paid for one's labors


At least enough to keep body and soul together.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 09:32 AM



WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Postal Service will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to deliver packages six days a week under a plan aimed at saving about $2 billion annually, the financially struggling agency says.

In an announcement scheduled for later Wednesday, the service is expected to say the Saturday mail cutback would begin in August.

The move accentuates one of the agency's strong points - package delivery has increased by 14 percent since 2010, officials say, while the delivery of letters and other mail has declined with the increasing use of email and other Internet services.

Under the new plan, mail would be delivered to homes and businesses only from Monday through Friday, but would still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays. Post offices now open on Saturdays would remain open on Saturdays.

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Response to xchrom (Reply #15)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 01:02 PM

34. Republicans just want to kill the Post Office.

They can't stand that the government can provide a service for the good of the country, one that has worked for 237 years. (Benjamin Franklin became the first Postmaster General of the United States on July 26, 1775. That's right, the Post Office is almost a year older than the country.)

What they apparently want is to privatize the postal system, so somebody can make a huge profit for over-charging for a pretty much monopoly service. And we would pay. Here's numbers I looked up in 2011:

Canada charges about 60¢ for first class. In Australia, 60¢. In Great Britain, 66¢. In Germany, 75¢. In Japan, 96¢. In Switzerland, $1.06.

We would pay. And the new CEO/postmaster general would give himself an eight-figure bonus for saving the Post Office!

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Response to tclambert (Reply #34)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 01:30 PM

38. And the Unions! Can't forget them--gotta wipe them out.


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Response to Demeter (Reply #38)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 04:39 PM

41. Oh, yeah, those uppity working people getting together to demand things like enough money to live on

Can't they see how Walmart's model works so much better? Pay 'em so little they need food stamps and Medicaid. That way the gubmint partly subsidizes your workforce, which is to say, taxpayers, which is to say, little people. Because "only little people pay taxes."

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 09:35 AM



LONDON (AP) -- Japan's Nikkei's was the stock market standout Wednesday, surging to its highest level since Sept. 2008 as the yen slid to a three-year low against the dollar on news the country's central bank governor will resign earlier than planned.

The Nikkei surged 3.8 percent, or 416.83 points, to close at 11,463.75 as export shares soared on expectations of stronger sales thanks to the yen's slide against other major currencies. A lower currency should help make Japanese products more competitive in international markets and potentially get the Japanese economy going again.

With Toyota Motor Corp. jumping 6 percent, Honda Motor Corp. adding 3.3 percent and Sony climbing 3.8 percent, investors appear more hopeful about the Japanese economy, which has been in stagnation for the best part of 20 years.

The Nikkei's surge came as the yen fell sharply after the Bank of Japan governor, Masaaki Shirakawa, said he will step down three weeks early on March 19, for logistical reasons. Some investors took it as a sign that his replacement will be more likely to comply with the new government's wish to ease monetary policy and cheapen the yen.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 09:46 AM



LONDON (AP) -- U.S. and U.K. authorities have fined the Royal Bank of Scotland more than $610 million for its role in the manipulation of a key global interest rate.

RBS is the third major bank caught up in an international scandal over banks' setting the rate. The London interbank offered rate, or LIBOR, provides the basis for trillions of dollars in contracts around the world, including mortgages, bonds and consumer loans.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission says RBS submitted false data on interest rates to benefit its trading positions.

U.S. and UK regulators fined RBS more than $460 million for rate-rigging. Meanwhile, a unit of RBS agreed to plead guilty in a Department of Justice investigation. It accepted a penalty of $150 million and will cooperate in its probe.

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Response to xchrom (Reply #17)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 10:56 AM

29. From DOJ: RBS Securities Japan Limited Agrees to Plead Guilty in Manipulation of Libor

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

RBS Securities Japan Limited Agrees to Plead Guilty in Connection with Long-Running Manipulation of Libor Benchmark Interest Rates

Second Financial Institution to Plead Guilty to Libor Fraud and Pay Substantial Criminal Penalties

RBS Securities Japan Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Royal Bank of Scotland plc (RBS), has agreed to plead guilty to felony wire fraud and admit its role in manipulating the Japanese Yen London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), a leading benchmark used in financial products and transactions around the world, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Scott D. Hammond of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and Special Agent in Charge Timothy A. Gallagher of the FBI’s Washington Field Office Criminal Division announced today.

A criminal information, being filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, charges RBS Securities Japan with one count of wire fraud for engaging in a scheme to defraud counterparties to interest rate derivatives trades by secretly manipulating Yen LIBOR benchmark interest rates. RBS Securities Japan has signed a plea agreement with the government admitting its criminal conduct, and has agreed to pay a $50 million fine.


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Response to DemReadingDU (Reply #29)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 10:59 AM

30. Hypocrisy Defined: DOJ's Infamous Lanny Breuer Accuses RBS Of "Stunning Abuse Of Trust"

2/6/13 Hypocrisy Defined: DOJ's Infamous Lanny Breuer Accuses RBS Of "Stunning Abuse Of Trust"

From ZeroHedge, refer to above post #29.

We had to reread this DOJ statement on today's RBS wristslap twice, as the hypocrisy was literally mind-blowing: “As we have done with Barclays and UBS, we are today holding RBS accountable for a stunning abuse of trust,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “The bank has admitted to manipulating one of the cornerstone benchmark interest rates in our global financial system, and its Japanese subsidiary has agreed to plead guilty to felony wire fraud. The department’s ongoing investigation has now yielded two guilty pleas by significant financial institutions. These are extraordinary results, and our investigation is far from finished. Our message is clear: no financial institution is above the law.”


We have two questions: i) how is it that Lanny Breuer, the man who was unmasked by the recent humiliating show "Untouchables" as the DOJ mastermind behind not bringing one single criminal case against bankers for fear of "ripple effects" when pursuing justice against TBTF banks still employed by the US government and still on the record after reportedly announcing his resignation two weeks ago? And ii) how does he, of all people, have the gall to even mention "stunning abuse of trust" when his entire public-service career can be summarized as such?


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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 09:50 AM



BERLIN (AP) -- Germany wants to punish bankers who take excessive risks and require some banks to separate retail activity from riskier proprietary trading, officials said Wednesday.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the proposed measures were part of an effort to draw lessons from the 2008 financial crisis, when governments around the world had to bail out ailing banks to avoid a collapse of the international financial system.

"Whoever has a chance to profit also has to bear the risk," Schaeuble told reporters in Berlin.

The new German banking rules were drawn up in coordination with France. The two countries have been at the forefront of tighter regulation in Europe, pressing ahead with national legislation in the hope that these can eventually be extended to the entire European Union.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 09:53 AM

19. The Endangered Fate of Barnes & Noble


Washington D.C.'s Union Station is a major point of entry for the nation's capital. Streams of daily commuters from the region, tourists, and business travelers on the Amtrak circuit from Boston and New York can choose from an especially ample array of shopping and dining opportunities. But, as of the end of February, one of the anchor retailers will be gone. Barnes & Noble is shutting down its bookstore in a main concourse after failing to reach terms with the landlord. Browsing the aisles at Barnes & Noble stores has been a core feature of the chain's strength in the forty years since Leonard Riggio purchased the assets of what was then a venerable seller mainly of textbooks and turned the enterprise into the country's most formidable shaper of a superstore culture for book selling.

It is hard to imagine a destination like Union Station without a fully stocked bookstore, even if it is also the case that an increasing percentage of the consumer traffic is carrying a mobile reading device that is loaded with books purchased elsewhere, mainly from Amazon. The sprawling Barnes & Noble on Georgetown's M Street is gone, and the company has closed superstores in New York, Dallas, Chicago, and Seattle (among other places) in similarly well-situated locales as part of a broader brick and mortar contraction that suggests--disturbingly--its long-term decline. Barnes & Noble's post-holiday report for 2012 reflected a drop in same-store sales of 3.1 percent, and despite a substantial push to expand its Nook line of e-readers, product sales for the devices were down 12.6 percent from a year ago.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Mitchell Klipper, chief executive of Barnes & Noble's retail group, said that, over the next decade, the chain will reduce its outlets by about twenty a year to reach a figure of about 450-to-500 consumer stores, down from a peak of 726 in 2008. A separate chain of 674 college bookstores (which thrive on tchotchkes and their exclusive franchises) is not part of that calculation. Even with so many fewer consumer stores, Klipper said, "It's a good business model. You have to adjust your overhead and get smart with smart systems. Is it what it used to be when you were opening 80 stores a year and dropping stores everywhere? Probably not. It's different. But every business evolves." Klipper disputes the notion that bookstores will be unable to hold their own in the digital era, despite the chain's need to downsize where rents or locations are hurting the prospect of acceptable profitability. Only a handful of the stores--fewer than twenty--are actually losing money, he told the Wall Street Journal's Jeffrey Trachtenberg. But the company's revenues have been significantly impacted by its commitment to build the Nook franchise.

While holding on to ownership of nearly 80 percent of its Nook division, a $300 million investment in Nook from Microsoft last fall, followed by an $89.5 million commitment from Pearson, which sees value in the growing electronic textbook market, are signs that Barnes & Noble can forge a way to secure enough of the digital business to offset the problems it faces in traditional bookselling.

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Response to xchrom (Reply #19)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 01:09 PM

35. Oh, yeah, they used to make books out of paper.

I remember that. And some people had these wooden shelving units they called "bookcases." And there were whole buildings filled with these books that you could borrow. I think they were called bibliotheca.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 10:00 AM

20. Robots Won't Steal Your Job Next Decade (They'll Just Steal Your Raise)


Forget Skynet, Hal, and every other dystopian tale of robot revolution -- the real machine menace isn't that we get overthrown, but rather replaced. At least some of us. That's the story Paul Krugman and Iza Kaminska of FT Alphaville have told about labor income collapsing to 60-year lows in the aftermath of the Great Recession. In other words, jobs are so scarce and pay so little, because machines are stealing them. That's great news for the people who own the robots, and horrible news for everybody else.

But not so fast. As my colleague Derek Thompson points out, our jobs crisis is one of too little demand, not too many robots. Technology has always obsoleted some jobs, but that doesn't exactly vindicate the Luddites. As long as there is sufficient demand, better machines free workers to do more productive things. It's the same logic for why free trade makes us better off. But in both cases, this happy story is based off a helluva caveat -- that there isn't a demand shortfall. That, unfortunately, is exactly what we have today, even three years removed from the end of the Great Recession.

But the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) thinks that will change over the next decade. The CBO expects that our economic Godot will finally show up -- the elusive catchup growth we've been waiting for will finally kick in, and bring with it not just more jobs, but more pay. (More on this in a bit). After recently hitting a 60-year low, the CBO projects labor's share of income will rebound to less horrific, but still pedestrian, levels by 2023, as you can see in the chart below from its latest outlook.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 10:11 AM

21. Spanish Home Prices Halt Drop After Three Years of Declines


Existing home prices in Spain were little changed in January, the first month without a decline in three years, according to Fotocasa.es and IESE Business School.

The average price for a house was 1,890 euros ($2,550) a square meter compared with 1,891 euros in December, Fotocasa, a Spanish real estate website, said in a survey published today. The annual decline was 9.9 percent. Homes in Madrid, Spain’s capital and financial center, rose 0.3 percent to 2,965 euros a square meter, 57 percent more than the national mean.

Spanish property developers have waited years for signs of recovery in a market that ravaged their business for new homes and led to writedowns and a restructuring of the nation’s banking industry. Average home prices had fallen for 36 consecutive months, losing more than a third of value from an April 2007 peak, Fotocasa said.

“It’s still a very illiquid market, and there aren’t many deals going forward at these prices,” said Hugo Navarro, a money manager at BPA Global Funds in Madrid, which invests 4 billion euros. “The real price, where sales can happen and that would be reflected in official valuations, is still about 20 to 25 percent below these levels.”

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 10:16 AM

22. German Factory Orders Add to Signs of European Recovery: Economy


German factory orders rose in December as euro-area demand jumped, adding to signs that the region may be starting to recover from recession.

Orders, adjusted for seasonal swings and inflation, increased 0.8 from November, when they fell 1.8 percent, the Economy Ministry in Berlin said today. The median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of economists was for a 0.7 percent gain. Factory orders from the euro area surged 7 percent.

The report is the latest to suggest the 17-nation euro economy is starting to improve after the sovereign debt crisis pushed it into recession last year. Spanish house prices halted a three-year decline in January and euro-area economic confidence rose to a seven-month high. Rising demand in the currency bloc would bolster growth in Germany and help it rebound from a contraction in the final quarter of 2012.

“It’s good news that the increase in euro-area orders was so big,” said Frederik Ducrozet, an economist at Credit Agricole SA in Paris. “It’s too early to declare a recovery in the euro area, but for Germany this could be the beginning of some good hard data in the first quarter.”

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 10:48 AM

27. Underclass fears as workers flock to cities


A lively and eminently readable new book about China’s staggering process of urbanisation provides an excellent companion volume to the greatest social transformation the Earth has witnessed – the making of China’s cities.

In the past three decades or so, China’s cities have expanded by nearly 500 million people, which is the equivalent of adding the populations of the US, Britain, France and Italy. It’s not over yet either.

By 2030, China’s urban population will have ballooned to one billion and its cities will be home to one in every eight people on the planet. Construction of these cities has been the driver behind much economic growth, and the government is keen for this to continue in the future.

Li Keqiang, who will be installed as premier at the National People’s Congress in March, has said on many occasions that urbanisation must continue. “But policymakers are playing a high-risk game: forced urbanisation could dramatically improve millions of lives – or vastly swell the ranks of the urban poor,” writes Tom Miller, a journalist and long-time Beijing resident, in China’s Urban Billion.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 10:48 AM

28. Tim Geithner Joins CFR As "Tireless And Creative Practitioner And Thinker"


Well that didn't take long. It appears spending time with the family is over-rated (or perhaps they couldn't stand him either) as Turbo Timmy has landed his first post-Treasury gig (Citi next?). The Council of Foreign Relations has graciously brought this "tireless and creative" thinker on board as a Distinguished Fellow. His role... "to strengthen their capacity to produce thoughtful analysis of issues at the intersection of economic, political, and strategic developments." We assume this is his gracious 'giving back' phase before six-months down the line slithering over to the big bucks at a bank when he suspects no one will be looking... The mutual adoration society continues...


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Response to DemReadingDU (Reply #28)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 11:56 AM

31. Must be amateur night for assholes.

Ever notice that any bad policy seems to originate from a CFR member? And the very worst of our policy makers, from either party, come from there?

Timmeh is a reach, even for the low standards at CFR.

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Response to Fuddnik (Reply #31)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 01:32 PM

39. Maybe he'll get fired. Finally.


Peter Principle, in the flesh.

The floor's looking good...and the sun is shining, for once. It might even get up to freezing tomorrow!

My poor little snowdrops...have to go see if they are uncovered, yet, and still there.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 05:46 PM

43. Here's a fun little corruption test, compare ANY fund to the S&P 500 chart


Go ahead, pick a world fund, a bond fund, an emerging market fund, a green fund, a tech fund...whatever. They all follow the S&P 500 to the letter. Here's a link to a google finance chart of the S&P 500 to test the hypothesis:


After it's apparent that they all exactly match the performance of the S&P 500 ask yourself how that is possible. It's only possible if the markets are completely rigged, there is no "balancing your portfolio" in mutual funds/401Ks.

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Response to just1voice (Reply #43)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 06:14 PM

44. Odd, I've found a wide divergence between my funds and the S&P 500 in January 1, 2013 - Feb 5, 2013

Last edited Wed Feb 6, 2013, 11:55 PM - Edit history (2)

excepting only my energy fund (VGENX) which pretty closely matched the S&P 500. (I just happened to be looking at my January performance of my funds minutes before reading this).

What in the world are you talking about? I'm always comparing my funds' performance to the S&P 500.

Here's where one can see all Vanguard funds -- a wide array of equity investments (one can check the "stocks" box on the left side to just see the U.S. stock funds. Then one can check the "International" to see the non-U.S. funds (one can check both)). As a point of comparison, the fund at the very top -- the 500 Index Admiral Shares, matches very close the S&P 500 since it is Vanguard's S&P 500 index fund. Seems quite a lot of variety in performance.


ON EDIT: And individual stock performance is all over the place, which is why I only own one. (Stock mutual funds, being an aggregation of several stocks, are less volatile thanks to their diversity / averaging effect).

ON 2nd EDIT: The S&P 500 index was up 5.0% in January. Here are some of my funds' January 2013 returns (listed in increasing order of performance).
-3.1%, -1.5%, -.1%, +0.6%, +3.3%, +3.7%, +5.8%

I'd be gurgling in ecstasy if most of my funds did as well as the S&P 500 in January. And in the last 2 years, for that matter. It sure as heck doesn't look like they are all marching in lock step to me. If they all were, I'd simplify my financial life enormously by just holding one investment -- the Vanguard S&P 500 Index fund. Whose average annual return since its August 31, 1976 inception, 36.43 years ago, is 10.52% ( http://www.thestreet.com/quote/VFINX.html ). A $1 invested in it back then would have grown to 1.1052^36.43 = $38.24. Or, $10,000 put in it back then would have grown to $382,429. Had there been Roth IRAs back then, it'd all be tax free.

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Response to progree (Reply #44)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 04:57 AM

45. I compared VGENX to the S&P 500, it makes every move the S&P does


in 1 month, 3 month, 6 month, 1 year and 5 year time frames. So does VMMSX, VFSVX and every other stock fund. However, the gnma fund is flat as is an inflation-adjusted fund VTAPX.

I'm surprised to see any difference, of course it's to the downside but still, a difference is there. My point is the overall markets are rigged, the big banks take any profits made and peg the rest to the S&P 500. Except in bonds where they rig every auction as cited in Matt Taibbi's articles: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-scam-wall-street-learned-from-the-mafia-20120620

Sorry to burst your view of what are supposed to be free markets. If anyone is trading individual stocks it's at the whim of the big banks too, as are ETFs and commodities.

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Response to just1voice (Reply #45)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 06:34 AM

46. "Makes every move" - yes, they tend to move in the same direction, but diverge in performance over

Last edited Thu Feb 7, 2013, 07:39 AM - Edit history (1)

time. Its called psychology. Good economic news in any major country or block tends to lift most stocks worldwide -- its that globalization thing you know -- if the U.S. economy has good news for example, not only do U.S. stocks do well, but stocks in other countries that see more export opportunities to the U.S.. Conversely bad news. I also was perplexed when you said bond funds "follow the S&P 500 to the letter" in #43.

[font color = blue]"So does VMMSX, VFSVX and every other stock fund. "[/font]

No, "so does every other fund" is not true. Try AIA (-1.5%), AAXJ (-0.1%), VGPMX (-3.1%) in January and compare to S&P 500 (+5.0%). I guess the banks didn't get around to rigging those in January.

[font color = blue]"However, the gnma fund is flat as is an inflation-adjusted fund VTAPX"[/font]

Oh. So they don't "follow the S&P 500 to the letter".

[font color = blue]"Sorry to burst your view of what are supposed to be free markets."[/font]

Nobody claimed they were "free". Sorry to burst your view of what I think

[font color = blue] "If anyone is trading individual stocks" [/font]

Yes, there are people trading individual stocks. Lots and lots of them.

[font color = blue] "it's at the whim of the big banks too, as are ETFs and commodities."[/font]

You can wallow in your conspiracy theories all you want and put your money under the mattress or a 2% CD (controlled by a big bank). I prefer the 38-fold increase of the S&P 500 over 36 years. If this is at the whim of the big banks, I think I'll take a ride right along with them.

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