Are You Seeing What I’m Seeing?

 

Submitted by Jim Quinn of The Burning Platform

Are You Seeing What I’m Seeing?

Is it just me, or are the signs of consumer collapse as clear as a Lowes parking lot on a Saturday afternoon? Sometimes I wonder if I’m just seeing the world through my pessimistic lens, skewing my point of view. My daily commute through West Philadelphia is not very enlightening, as the squalor, filth and lack of legal commerce remain consistent from year to year. This community is sustained by taxpayer subsidized low income housing, taxpayer subsidized food stamps, welfare payments, and illegal drug dealing. The dependency attitude, lifestyles of slothfulness and total lack of commerce has remained constant for decades in West Philly. It is on the weekends, cruising around a once thriving suburbia, where you perceive the persistent deterioration and decay of our debt fixated consumer spending based society.

The last two weekends I’ve needed to travel the highways of Montgomery County, PA going to a family party and purchasing a garbage disposal for my sink at my local Lowes store. Montgomery County is the typical white upper middle class suburb, with tracts of McMansions dotting the landscape. The population of 800,000 is spread over a 500 square mile area. Over 81% of the population is white, with the 9% black population confined to the urban enclaves of Norristown and Pottstown.

The median age is 38 and the median household income is $75,000, 50% above the national average. The employers are well diversified with an even distribution between education, health care, manufacturing, retail, professional services, finance and real estate. The median home price is $300,000, also 50% above the national average. The county leans Democrat, with Obama winning 60% of the vote in 2008. The 300,000 households were occupied by college educated white collar professionals. From a strictly demographic standpoint, Montgomery County appears to be a prosperous flourishing community where the residents are living lives of relative affluence. But, if you look closer and connect the dots, you see fissures in this façade of affluence that spread more expansively by the day. The cheap oil based, automobile dependent, mall centric, suburban sprawl, sanctuary of consumerism lifestyle is showing distinct signs of erosion. The clues are there for all to see and portend a bleak future for those mentally trapped in the delusions of a debt dependent suburban oasis of retail outlets, chain restaurants, office parks and enclaves of cookie cutter McMansions. An unsustainable paradigm can’t be sustained.         

The first weekend had me driving along Ridge Pike, from Collegeville to Pottstown. Ridge Pike is a meandering two lane road that extends from Philadelphia, winds through Conshohocken, Plymouth Meeting, Norristown, past Ursinus College in Collegeville, to the farthest reaches of Montgomery County, at least 50 miles in length. It served as a main artery prior to the introduction of the interstates and superhighways that now connect the larger cities in eastern PA. Except for morning and evening rush hours, this road is fairly sedate. Like many primary routes in suburbia, the landscape is engulfed by strip malls, gas stations, automobile dealerships, office buildings, fast food joints, once thriving manufacturing facilities sitting vacant and older homes that preceded the proliferation of cookie cutter communities that now dominate what was once farmland.

Telltale Signs

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FED MAFIA LAUNCHES QE3

As Predicted, Bernanke Launches QE3 to Help the Big Banks … Which Will Destroy the Economy

George Washington's picture

Submitted by George Washington on 09/13/2012 14:38 -0400

XaiUx As Predicted, Bernanke Launches QE3 ... Which Will Destroy the Economy
Image via Max Keiser

We predicted last week that Bernanke would launch QE3 this week.

Today, the Fed announced that it will buy $40 billion dollars of mortgage-backed securities per monthindefinitely.

Today, the Fed announced that it will buy $40 billion dollars of mortgage-backed securities per monthindefinitely.

This is just another bailout for the big banks. (If the government had instead given money directly to the consumer, we would be out of this economic slump by now).

Bernanke claims that the main justification for QE3 is to boost employment. This is slightly ironic, since Bernanke’s policies are largely responsible for creating high unemployment in the first place.

The real justification is to try to artificially prop up asset prices. But that approach has been proven to be an absolute failure.

This is in addition to numerous other easing programs. As CNBC notes:

In addition, the Fed said it will continue its program of selling shorter-dated government debt and buying longer-term securities, a mechanism known as Operation Twist. It also will continue its policy of reinvesting principal payments from agency debt and mortgage-backed securities back into mortgages.

***

“These actions, which together will increase the Committee’s holdings of longer-term securities by about $85 billion each month through the end of the year, should put downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, support mortgage markets, and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative,” the Fed statement said.

And the Fed isn’t stopping there:

“There’s strong hints that they’ll do Treasurys next,” Joe LaVorgna, chief economist at Deutsche Bank Advisors, said in a phone interview from London. “They’re pulling out all the stops to try to get this economy to gain some traction and, most important, to get unemployment down.”

This sounds nice … except that the experts say that quantitative easing destroys the economy and – despite the initial optics of it – hurts the little guy.

As we said in 2008: welcome to the Fed’s Weekend at Bernie’s.

P.S. Yes … if you’re a homeowner, you will probably want to re-fi.