I Said He Would Be Entertaining.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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donaldtrump

Say what you like about him, but he is entertaining. Trump is already making what was looking like one of the dullest election campaigns in history into something worth looking at – just now and again though.

The latest nonsense comes from the business world, namely Macy’s, NBC and Univision.

Macy’s has decided to drop Trump-related merchandise, and the other two are going to break off ties (pun, tee-hee!) with the Donald.

The Macy’s decision is fairly clear, they’d rather run away from controversy and lose money than ride out the storm. I wonder do they sell goods manufactured in the sweat shops of the world, often by children? Maybe we should look in their hypocrisy department – fourth floor next to the white flags if I remember correctly?

waving white surrender flag

However, no one knows exactly what the NBC and Univision decision means in practical terms. For example, will they sell their half of the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants and if they do who will they sell it to? Or will they buy Trump’s half which will mean giving him top dollar for the shows because I don’t think he will let them away softly. In fact he would be within his rights to sue NBC for breach of contract relating to the pageants if this dodgy decision leads to a cancellation.

Either way it will be more wealth for Trump, which is probably what the move was designed NOT to do when they were thinking about it. That’s assuming they did think about it, which appears increasing unlikely.

trump two fingers

Neither has NBC given great thought as to who is going to host “The Apprentice” in a post-Trump era. They’ve hinted that they are going to look for a new star to replace Trump on the long-running reality show, but he’ll be a hard act to follow. Maybe it’s a chance for another dose of the limelight for the Shark Tank’s Mr Wonderful or even Mark Cuban, both of whom seem to thrive on the small screen and both of whom seem to have egos on the grand scale.

This hasty decision also leaves a BIG question mark about the partiality of these TV companies during the election race. Will they – or perhaps better, can they – continue to cover Trump fairly as a presidential candidate?

Former President Bush, President Bush and Governor Bush depart the christening ceremony of the USS George H.W. Bush in Virginia

Then there’s former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, part of the Bush, Bush and Bush super wealthy and well connected dynasty who want the big seat in the White House again. Jeb has said his decision to run for the Republican nomination will be based on two things: his family and whether he can lift America’s spirit.

After the great job his father and big brother did as President in lifting America’s spirits (a little sarcasm there) how could the voters do anything other than make him the GOP Presidential candidate? Oh dear me!

Despite the family history, Bush seems to be making good progress so far. But he had an easy start, because prior to the arrival of Trump on the scene he had no high profile rival. He still holds a significant lead over the second-place Trump.

Some think Jeb Bush would be the best candidate to handle illegal immigration and social issues. Just like his brother perhaps, see video.

On the economy Trump would probably be favorite, especially after the way Dubya Bush let spending go out of control during the latter stages of his war-mongering Presidency.

Apart from these two, although there are numerous others in the field,there does not seem to be any other close runners. Not yet anyway. But things in election races can always change suddenly as a skeleton or two tumble from their closets.

Trump is trying to capitalize on his business background. There is no doubt that that gives him an advantage over the career politicians. In business Trump lives or dies by his decisions. As for the Senators and Governor would-be’s, they are used to other people paying for their mistakes not them personally. It’s a significant difference in the mindsets of the two types of contender.

There is no doubt that Trump is correct when he says that the “American public is ready for a leader with a proven track record of success.” This is particular so after eight years of a dithering Obama administration.

Whether or not “Eighty percent of Central American girls and women are raped crossing into the United States,” one would have thought that America was ready for someone who wasn’t afraid to tell it how it is, instead of trying to pander to every minority viewpoint be it legitimate or crazy.

In politics a bit of controversy is always…

what’s the word….

“Entertaining?” That’s it.

trump with hand mic

As if to emphasize the fact, contrast what is going on in the Republican camp with the Democrats.

Hillary Clinton launched her presidential bid via a lackluster video message on social media way back in April and she continues to be the overwhelming front-runner among Democratic hopefuls for the White House job.

In fact the Democrat competition has turned into an amalgamation of Dullsville & Boringtown. There’s only one horse (make that horse’s ass) in the running. What she needs to blow all that cash for I don’t know. Build a hospital ward for the poor you dummy, you’re already selected.

hillary rodham clinton presidential bid 2016

Vice President Joe Biden, who has twice before made unsuccessful bids for the Oval Office – in 1988 and 2008 – might make another one, unsuccessful one that is. Recently he has said he thinks he’d “make a good President.” He is perhaps basing that on comments in the press that he is known for his foreign policy and national security expertise. He shouldn’t, because during the past eight years he has shown absolutely no grasp of either foreign affairs or national security.

Of course, it may well be that come the actual Presidential election next year, it will be Jeb versus Hillary and dull as they are the Democrats may win again. In a democracy the voters sometimes get it wrong.

In the meantime I’m still finding the Donald’s entry into the fray, what’s that word again….

“Entertaining!”

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Jobs, Jobs, And More Jobs

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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jobs under the magnifying glasss

This post is about jobs.

You might have guessed that from the title.

Not the late Steve, the other kind.

During the past months America has been creating approximately 200,000 jobs. At least that’s what the official figures are saying. It has helped to indicate the underlying strength of the economy, led to official unemployment figures of 5.5% and propped up the USD on the foreign exchange markets.

And no one is questioning any of it.

It’s as if it’s really real.

Again it’s all a question of what you do with the numbers.

unemployment

The May 2015 figure for the labor force is 157.5 million. That is the figure the government uses to calculate it’s unemployment rate of 5.5%.

That’s what they call the ‘U3’ number. U3 is the official unemployment rate.

But there is also a ‘U5’ number that includes discouraged workers and all other marginally attached workers; and a ‘U6’ number that adds on those workers who are part-time purely for economic reasons.

Don’t ask me what happened to ‘U1’ or ‘U4’ because I don’t know. However ‘U2’ is a very successful pop group from Dublin, Ireland.

u2 image

The problem is that the “official” unemployment rate (U3) does not count discouraged workers who have settled for part-time jobs or have given up looking altogether because they believe there are no jobs out there for them.

There are about another 7.5 million or so people who were not considered ‘unemployed’ because they were employed part-time for economic reasons. Those people are also called involuntary part-time workers – working part-time because their hours were cut back or because they were unable to secure a full-time job.

If you include those individuals, (the U6 number), you get a very different figure for the nation’s unemployment rate. Unlike other jobs figures, the U6 rate actually got worse in June.

So the real unemployment rate is well in excess of 12%, more than double the official figure.

But it is even worse than that.

The economy is growing, BUT it is growing slowly, and it is growing from a very low base caused by the financial crisis that the banksters brought upon us with their fraud and greed.

In that light, an increase of 200,000 jobs or so each month is basically just replacing some of the millions of jobs lost during the bank-caused recession, not creating ‘new’ jobs as such. In other words we’re just slowly getting back to where we were.

The forecasts aren’t optimistic either. If and when the workers laid off during the recent recession find new jobs and we get to what the government calls full employment, the labor force is forecast to grow at a rate of only 0.5% for the rest of this decade. At 0.5%, we grow at a rate of about 66,000 a month — nowhere near 200,000. Next decade it’s even worse, at 0.2%.

government bureaucrats

Add to that the fact that a great number of the jobs being created are government bureaucratic jobs that cost the country money, not real jobs that produce wealth for the country and you can see that there is little for the politicians to crow about.

As I noted in my post on Wednesday, with statistics you can ‘prove’ anything. Take any government figures with a great big pinch of salt.

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The Only Way Is Up, Unless It’s Sideways.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Federal-Reserve-Seal-logo

It has been nine years since the ‘Fed’ put up interest rates in the US. Not a day goes by when some pundit or other is explaining why an interest rate rise is imminent whilst yet another is warning that the US dollar is about to collapse in a heap.

There’s even a fed funds futures market for people to bet which way they think it is going to go.

For what it’s worth, I think the US dollar will weaken from its current position because a lot of the support it is getting lies solely in the belief that interest rates are about to start going up.

Much of that dollar support is created by continual talk from Yellen and the Fed about raising rates. But the fact is that every time they reach the point at which they said interest rates would rise, they chicken out.

us dollar

So why does the Fed keep making big promises that it hasn’t the nerve to keep?

Good question, I’m glad you asked.

Although it might make them look a bit foolish, what their continual rate rise threats also do is to help to discourage speculation in US stocks and bonds – not a healthy thing for any economy.

If they do, do it, I don’t think they will until very late in 2015 – maybe not until 2016.

2016?

But wait.

2016 is an election year.

2016 US Election year

Will Obama deliberately burst Hilary’s Democrat Party bubble by allowing interest rates to rise? He might do it out of spite I suppose. There’s no love lost between them since Obama beat her for the candidacy and then won the Presidential election eight years ago.

But I think the election year may mean we are looking at 2017 for those rate hikes.

So who is right, me and people who think like me or the great unwashed of the media who are still predicting an imminent rate hike.

I wouldn’t bet the farm on it, but I think I might risk a few zero interest dollars that they are wrong and I’m not.

Stay tuned for some gloating or a big spoonful of humble pie come June this year.

humble pie

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Does My Ass Look Big In This?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The wife of a friend of mine once asked him, “Does this new dress make my ass look big?” He started off well by replying, “No, of course not, Darling, the dress is lovely.”  And if he’d left it at that he would have scored lots of plus points, but then he added the fateful line, “You’ve just got a big ass!”

Big buttocks.

 

I may have told you that story before and I may well tell it again, because it’s funny and it’s true. This time it is by way of introduction to today’s post – or rant – on the subject of airline seats. I’ve already given you my two cent’s worth on airfares a few days ago. (Click here if you want to read that.)

Just when you thought they couldn’t get any smaller, or more uncomfortable, airlines are shrinking seat widths yet again to squeeze more passengers in and more money out of them. The latest culprit is Airbus, which unveiled a new 11 seat-per-row reconfiguration for its A380 superjumbo jet.

The Airbus A380 currently seats ten passengers uncomfortably per row in economy in a 3-4-3 configuration, but the new configuration adds yet another seat to the middle section to make it a 3-5-3 – with even less room per passenger and even more discomfort.

crowded-flight

 

Airbus are making the excuse that the seats in the new configuration will be the same width as before, which is 18 inches or 46 cms, but then they add the qualifying word “technically” which means whilst what they are saying may be true in theory, in practice you the paying passenger will have less room.

Applying fasab logic to the situation, if you raise an airplane’s seating capacity from 525 seats to 544 seats, and at the same time you don’t make the airplane any bigger, then there is less room for the poor abused passengers. (quod erat demonstrandum or Q.E.D.)

The A380’s main users are Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and Qantas, all of them long-haul carriers meaning you will be squashed up like a sardine for at least eight hours, maybe much, much longer which adds greatly to the discomfort experienced by passengers.

Other long-haul airplanes that are shrinking the width of their seats include the new models of the Boeing 777, many of which are flown by United and American Airlines. They will now come with a squashingly miserable 17 in. seat width.

Standing room only on aircraft.

The seat squashing trend started with the short-haul airlines and they got away with it because of the relatively short journey times. Long-haul is different – much different – and passengers should be less willing to endure many hours of discomfort.

To add a great big insult to this injurious trend, it is all taking place against a backdrop of decreasing fuel costs and rising airfares – in other words more greed than need on behalf of the airline companies who buy these newly configured butt busters.

On the plus side – for passengers – not a single airline placed an order for the world’s two biggest commercial jets, the Boeing 747-8 and the double-decker Airbus A380 during 2014. In fact most of the Boeing 747-8s that have been sold have been mainly the air freighter version. On the negative side, as just mentioned, airplanes like the 777 are also to be made much more uncomfortable too.

With air travel forecast to more than double from today’s 3.3 billion passengers a year to 7.3 billion by 2034 – according to the International Air Transport Association – I fear greatly for the comfort of those of us flying economy.

the shape of things to come in air travel

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Okay, I Give Up – Show Me The Money!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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money

I know it isn’t quiz day today, but this is just a short post to ask one very pertinent question – one that deserves an answer.

Quantitative Easing ended on Wednesday past.

QE was the media tag given to the process whereby the US Federal Reserve has printed $3.6 trillion over the past few years.

Quantitative Easing

The Bank of England did it in Britain too, and so did the European Central Bank for the European Union.

So where did all that money go?

I didn’t get any of it.

Did you?

But it must have gone somewhere.

Someone must have got it.

So where is it now?

If you know the answer please do tell. I, and I am sure many other people, would be interested in the answer.

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“No Credit. Bad Credit. All Credit. 100 Percent Approval.”

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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We had it with the real estate market. Billions of dollars being lent to people who obviously couldn’t afford it.

We saw the trouble, hardship, misery and financial woes that were caused as credit dried up, real estate prices began to tumble, and bankruptcies and foreclosures increased.

And we know the damage it did to the economy when irresponsible banks and other lenders went bust and almost brought down the entire financial system. 

Smart people would learn from such a situation.

Smart people would never contemplate doing such a thing again.

But despite what they would like to have you believe, bankers are not smart people. They’re dumb and they are greedy, a deadly combination.

bad credit 100 percent financing

As a result of the financial crisis millions of Americans (and people in other countries too) have been left with poor credit scores. Yet remarkably they are now able to easily obtain auto loans from used-car dealers, including some who fabricate or ignore borrowers’ abilities to repay. Even if you are bankrupt or living only on social security, banks like Wells Fargo will lend you thousands of dollars to buy a used car.

It’s called the new sub-prime boom, because the lack of caution resembles the frenzied sub-prime mortgage market before its collapse. And it is already bringing misery to many people who have been suckered into taking out loans that they clearly could not afford.

Worse than that, these sub-prime auto loans often come with terms that take advantage of the most desperate, least financially sophisticated customers, with interest rates that can exceed 20 percent. And many of the loans can be at least twice the value of the second hand cars they are being used to purchase!

wall street car crash

This creates a vicious circle for some borrowers, who still owe money on a car that they are trading in when they purchase another one, meaning that the former debt is rolled over into the new loan and they end up, not just paying too much for their current car, but also continue to pay off the loan on their previous car that they don’t even have!

This is the way loan sharks operate. Eventually you end up borrowing your own money and paying them interest for the privilege!

This surge in sub-prime auto lending is being driven by some of the same dynamics that were at work in sub-prime mortgages. There is a veritable deluge of money pouring into sub-prime autos, as the high rates and steady profits of the loans attract investors.

And just as Wall Street stoked the boom in mortgages, some of the nation’s biggest banks and private equity firms are now feeding the growth in sub-prime auto loans by investing in lenders and making money available for loans.

To quote some of the figures, auto loans to people with bad credit have risen more than 130 percent in the five years since the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, with roughly one in four new auto loans last year going to borrowers considered sub-prime, that is, people with credit scores at or below 640. Wells Fargo, mentioned earlier, made $7.8 billion in auto loans in the second quarter of this year, up 9 percent from a year earlier, and has at least $50 billion in auto loans on its books.

greedy bankers

Even worse, as was the case with sub-prime mortgages before the financial crisis, many sub-prime auto loans are being bundled up into complex bonds and sold as securities by banks to insurance companies, mutual funds and public pension funds. They are all scrambling for these, which in turn creates ever-greater demand for loans, and leads to the banks issuing more and more sub-prime credit.

Unbelievably it’s the same crooks doing exactly the same thing, including using incorrect information about borrowers’ income and employment, so that people who had lost their jobs, or were bankrupt, or living on Social Security, could qualify for loans that they could never afford.

carbuying credit report

Admittedly, the size of the sub-prime auto loan market is only a tiny fraction of the sub-prime mortgage market at its peak, and its implosion would not have the same far-reaching consequences.

For the banks the investors silly enough to buy their bonds, that is.

But the misery is just as great for the people who are suckered into accepting credit they cannot afford.

Illegal it may not be, but immoral it certainly is.

Political leaders who sit astride high horses and purport to be working on behalf of the ordinary people should be doing something about it.

But, as I’ve said before, don’t hold your breath!

obama used car salesman

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None. That’s Ninguno, Aucun, Keiner, Zero!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Farnborough Airc Show 2014 logo

In the summer in Farnborough in Hampshire, England one of the biggest events in the aviation industry takes place. It’s call the Farnborough Air Show.

I remember when I used to work in that industry helping to prepare invitations, information packs, and all the usual PR stuff. Farnborough is THE place to meet and greet both those who buy aircraft and those firms like Boeing and AIrbus who build them and provide tens of thousands of jobs for smaller companies.

So it is an important event.

At this year’s show they named the world’s best airline, in fact they named the top ten best airlines.

And despite the United States building some of the best airplanes in the world, and despite the United States having some of the world’s largest and busiest airlines, do you know how many United States airlines made it into the top ten?

The title of this post probably gave it away. The answer is….

None. That’s ninguno, aucun, keiner, zero!

Even the regional category for North America was won by Air Canada.

cartoon intrusive airport searches

Apparently, not only are air travelers in America to be treated as potential terrorists, herded and prodded and scanned and humiliated when they are trying to get on to an airplane. But when they do, the comfort and service they can expect will be second rate.

I think that’s a disgrace. America should be leading the world in the standard of their airlines. They should be at least one, if not more, of the top ten list every year offering a consistently high standard that their customers (that’s you and me) deserve.

And this award is decided by the votes of millions of travelers, so customers’ opinions do count.

So time for United States airlines to ditch those bureaucratic bean counters who decide that they can squeeze just another row of seats into an airplane so that everyone is uncomfortable. In the long term this kind of thinking doesn’t save you money, it loses you money. And when your customers vote for the best airline, they don’t vote for you!

For those of you who are interested, this year’s best airline was the Hong Kong based Cathay Pacific. They were voted best performer across all types of travel, economy, and luxury.

Cathay Pacific World's Best Airline 2014
Cathay Pacific World’s Best Airline 2014

Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines placed second and third respectively in the global category, with last year’s winner, Emirates, slipping to fourth. Fifth to tenth places went to Turkish Airlines, ANA All Nippon Airways, Garuda Indonesia, Asiana Airlines, Etihad Airways and Lufthansa respectively.

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