Tuesday, April 8, 2014

“When We Wave: Essays”

So here’s a new book (yes, another one! What can I say, I’m on a roll!). It’s a collection of essays written between the fall of 2010 and the winter of 2014.

It’s called When We Wave, and it’s about America: The idea of it contrasted to the reality of it. The wish for it measured against the truth of it. The hope for what it can once again be, opposed to the fear of what it will one day become.

Because America matters. So I wrote about what matters.

Go check out the sales page here, where you can download free samples of the book.

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Chinese Shadow Bank Bailout May Mean A Crash In U.S. Treasury Bonds

This article is adapted from a post which originally appeared at my Strategic Planning Group. Go to the preview page to see what it’s about.

China’s economy in 2014 is remarkably similar to America’s in 2008: Both were fueled by real estate speculation, both speculative bubbles a product of cheap-and-cheerful shadow-bank financing.

And just like the U.S. in 2008, China in 2014 is looking down the barrel of a Minsky Moment: The point at which servicing debt levels becomes unsustainable, and there are no reserve cushions large enough to absorb the losses.

Lots of people are pointing this out; Mish Shedlock had a piece about it this morning, and he and others are right to worry that a shadow banking collapse will be bad for China.

But it will be even worse for the U.S.: Because after all—unlike the United States in 2008—China in 2014 has the reserves to buy its way out of the hole it’s in.

In 2008, the U.S. shadow banking sector began its collapse when real-estate backed bonds turned out to be a lot dodgier than originally thought. This set off a systemic domino effect. We all know how the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 (GFC) played out.

Friday, March 7, 2014

“The End of ‘Chimerica’”: Excerpt from “A Secret History of The American Crash”

click to enlarge.
Here’s another excerpt from “A Secret History of The American Crash”: From Chapter 5, “The End of ‘Chimerica’”, here’s the testimony of “Roland”, the head of a private equity firm, and “Tom”, a caretaker at the abandoned Port of Los Angeles.

The interviews were carried out in the summer of 2020, both men looking back at what happened in late 2014, early 2015:

Interview recorded June 28, 2020: Roland* is a 47 year-old former Wall Street bond trader who currently heads a major private equity firm. He is over six feet tall, slim, handsome in a Northern European sort of way, with short white-blonde hair and a crisp diction that speaks of education and privilege.
He is a wealthy, powerful man.
“I’m not powerful for who I am, much less for the money I have,” he tells the interviewer. “My power, my privilege and my security come from how I am connected to the One Percent--which is not the ruling class, but rather a ruling class; one of several.
“How necessary I am, how useful I am to the One Percent ensures that I remain a member of the One Percent, and thus remain protected. I’m . . . a useful cog in a vital machine. A key member of a street gang. I’ve worked at all the [Wall Street] firms, I even did a stint at the Fed [Federal Reserve], and everyone in finance likes me. Even the ones who think I’m an asshole think I’m one of the gang--and this is crucial: I belong to my gang. And since my gang is powerful, I am powerful.
“You see we’re all gangs, here in America.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Finally! It’s here . . .

After over a year of writing, it’s finally done:

Here you can find a free sampler—and download it if you feel so moved.

If you read it, I would so appreciate you leaving comments here, telling me what you think.

Thank you.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A New eBook: “Hyperinflation in America”

Go check it out, you can find it here.

You’ll find free samplers there, as well as a complete description of what the book is about.

So go check it out, I’d appreciate it.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Trouble with IRA’s and 401(k)’s

Last week, The Daily Reckoning ranked me Number 5 on their list of “The 50 Best Investing Blogs”. All I have to say is, Thanks!
Individual retirement accounts seem like the answer to a lot of people’s prayers.

Every month, you deposit a set amount of money into your individual retirement account, whether it’s a 401(k), a regular IRA, a Roth-IRA, or any of the variants (403(b), most 457 plans, the Federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan, Obama’s new MyRA, etc.). That money that you contribute is discounted from your tax bill. So far, so good.

Once your money is in the account, it’s invested in stocks, bonds, or other paper assets. As it is invested in these paper assets, the amount of money in your retirement account grows as the paper assets rise in value and/or receive dividends or yields of whatever sort. Again, so far, so good.

By the time you retire, or so goes the idea, your individual retirement account will have grown in value so much that you will have a nice little nest egg. It will have grown from three sources: Number one, it will have grown from your monthly contributions; number two, it will have grown from the rise in the value of stocks or bonds in the account; and number three, it will have grown from the dividends or yields of those stocks and bonds.

This nest egg will be so big by the time you retire that you will have more than enough to receive a nice pension until the end of your days, and live your golden years worry-free.


Wrong. Oh so very, very wrong. Government-approved and IRS-compliant individual retirement plans work only in theory—but in practice they will not be enough to help you build a nest egg on which to retire. Far from it. Here’s why.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Random Notes on Writing “A Secret History of The American Crash”

Here is the Facebook page for the novel I set up, with all sorts of cool doodads. Go visit it!
• Writing 2,500 words a day is easy. Writing 2,500 words a day that don’t suck? Hard.

• See, some stuff is easy to write—a breeze and a pleasure. For instance, writing about the invasion of North Korea by American Unmanned Battlefield Drones? Easy—and super fun. (I mean c’mon, writing about self-actuated battledrones fighting—and deafeating—Storm Tiger battle tanks is cool shit that practically writes itself!) But writing about how Americans everywhere rent their clothes and howled “Why!? Why!? Why!?” to God in Heaven after the Capitol Rotunda and Dome were destroyed by terrorists is actually hard. My internal schmaltz-meter constitutionally prevents me from going over the emotional top—but considering how people who had never in their lives been within 1,000 miles of the World Trade Center went emotional full-wallow, I’d think the same would happen with the destruction of the Capitol Dome, only more so. It’s the “more so” which I’m having trouble with.

• The biggest problem I’m having is writing about certain things—racism, sexism, anti-Semitism—that would happen in a post-Crash America without coming across as either racist or sexist or anti-Semitic. The whole book is a series of first-person narratives, many of whom are those aforementioned bad-ists with whom I don’t want to be associated. I have a lot of “-ists” people can rightly peg me for, principally elitist and snobist and assholist—plenty, I figure. But I don’t want them adding to the list stuff that isn’t true about me, but is true about characters I’ve written.