Although in the last predictive linguistics run from www.halfpasthuman.com there were indications that disease of the pandemic sort wouldn't show up in the US until late November or December of this year, swine flu has broken out and the Centers for Disease Control says it's too late to contain it. When I last checked, there had only been eight confirmed cases in the US, but there was plenty around the net about the importance of hand-washing and other 'hot zone' protocols if you're planning to stay out of sick bay.
The conspiratorial side of me wonders if this isn't maybe just a grand way to put the final kibosh on the user of cash. "Dirty money" passed from person to person would sure be easy to position during a serious epidemic, wouldn't it? On the other side - and more realistically - since swine flu apparently got loose in Mexico where 60 have died so far - a figure that's expected to rise - and I'm stumped as to why air and cross-border traffic hasn't been slowed or halted.
If you get some time, you might want to review the US government web site at www.pandemicflu.gov and read through most everything there.
I'll send a note to my son and ask him "Where the hell is your book on disease containment you've been working on?" Along with a note, of course, to check out what the US government is doing in terms of investigating the swine flu outbreak.
One thing to have plenty of on hand? Bleach. Yup, plain simple household bleach (Clorox/Purex, et al) is about as good as disease prevention gets...especially when augmented by disinfecting hand wipes that Elaine uses religiously when touching a new shopping cart at the store, and so on.
Gee, you think my pile of 3% PCMX surgical scrubs and my Scott full-face NIOSH P100 mask is overkill?
The headline that the World Health Organization may name the outbreak as an 'event of international concern' just boggles the mind. We're led by geniuses, for sure.
Banks: Another One Bites the Dust
A couple of Saturdays back I reported how we had already tied the number of banks closed in 2008 and we were only about 3-10th's of the way into the year. Well, now we're ahead of 2008 with four more bank closures (or more properly: shotgun marriages to other institutions) being announced on Friday.
The latest are First Bank of Idaho up in Ketchum Idaho, First Bank of Beverly Hills in guess where, Heritage Bank of Farmington Hills, Michigan, and American Southern Bank of Kennesaw Georgia.
Last week, we had a 2008 run rate of about 1.8 bank closures per week and this data point, while it's not necessarily a trend-indicator, is way ahead of that rate, so if someone says the financial crisis is easing, you couldn't prove it by the FDIC bank closure data. Maybe Treasury Secretary Geithner is looking at something else that causes him to be optimistic?
Anyway, last week's closures were right about on trend (2 closed) and this week is well over trend
Not to beat you around the head and shoulders with how disconnected from reality the national media is, but when I hit the Google news search engine, the two keyword search "geithner optimism" came back with 1,671 hits. The search "fdic closures" came back with 309.
Say, you don't think my assertion that the MainStreamMedia is hopelessly out of touch, or worse - deliberately downplaying a currently unpleasant reality - could possible be true, do you? We're 16 weeks into the year and 29 have augured in. So we're holding at 1.8125 banks closing per week, which means at the current run rate we'll see 94.25 banks close this year.
Life After Friday
Since this is Saturday, and since Elaine and I were out trying to lay out the foundation piers for a new 20 by 20 foot deck until about 7 PM last night, this morning's report will not only be short, but it will be helped along with a strong pain reliever (left over from the last root canal) since I'm in a world of hurtin' this morning. Yes, tossing around treated 20 foot s by 8's is harder on this side of 60, in case you were wondering. But over all, progress is as expected on any of the larger projects around the ranch: Costs are half again as much as first estimates, takes twice as long, but the results are more satisfying in the end.
So while we'll get to the summary of the past week's financial events in a moment, I though I'd disclose after a full day of hard work (4:30 AM to 7 PM) Friday, that it's as much fun cutting up rebar with the cutting torch, putting down the ground cloth, covering it with gravel, as it is writing a column about economics; except for the pain of the next day. In economics, there's just as much need for pain relievers, it's just that I'm used to headaches, not these damn muscles that I didn't know existed previously.
That said, the old Dow lost about 55 points for the week, which isn't bad since we had been trolling down around 6,600 not that long ago. My long-awaited rally seems to be well underway not and should last (best I can figure but remember this is NOT investment advice) well into summer before it gets derailed by unsocial social behavior of the unruly masses and a realization that if the wages of sin are death, then the wages of free lunches are inflation. In other words, my entry into silver commodity options looks like a decent enough play, since gold closed the week over $900.
Not that I'm especially greedy about such things, but since silver did decline percentage-wise a lot more than gold, I expect once gold gets back over the $1030 area that silver will have recovered toward $20 -- its old high tide mark. Two things ought to drive the metals picture. First, there were reports this week that China was trying to turn some of its foreign currency reserves into gold which explains the rise of the yellow dog. The other thing is that despite China's buying of copper, the price has continued soft and that's bullish for silver, since some portion of silver output is as a byproduct to copper and other industrial metals mining.
Little happens in the blink of an eye, but I've got mine open and looking for improvement in the precious metals. The only question is how fast will it show up and with that be before some of my silver options expect (June 25 and August 26) or will it show up later?
Well enough of this blathering on...it's still raining which I take it as a sign from Universe that I'm supposed to go out in the rain and lightning and dance around with my Skil saw. See you Monday, unless there's a big blue flash....Hmmm...come to think of it, maybe I'll head back to the rack...
The Really Long View of Investing
Although I gave up cigar smoking several decades back, if there's a mindset to be in for this week's report, it'd be the fresh cup of coffee, a cigar, and being in no particular hurry, since we have a lot so much to cover. Over in the ChartPack section, we'll be pondering the meaning of the pending Armstrong Turn date. Here, we'll be asking a few questions about hidden archeology, which in case you're wondering, may have a lot more to do with how modern-day investing works than you might think. And we'll get into the future of the web bot project and a couple of thoughts on what it's like to touch the future. So clip the end off that virtual stogie and let's get to it starting with...
More For Subscribers Subscription Information
Tell Your Friends About this Site
So let me ask you this: When was the last time you ran into a no BS site about economics, investing, and the changing lifestyle that a resource-limited world needs to evolved? Well, why not tell someone about it? Click here for a tool that may help.
"Live on $10,000" Updated
What? You haven't ordered the ebook "How to Live on $10,000 a year -- or less"? Suit yourself. We're all going to live it shortly, anyway. I just thought you might like a heads up by reading about how to do it before you get pink-slipped. But, suit yourself OR visit www.liveontenthousand.com or, click one of the following button:
Yep - still possible. I also took a bit of additional material that was pertinent from recent issues of Peoplenomics and included them. The whole thing runs about 65 pages, but it gives you a vision of how to not only live on the aforementioned dollar amount, but also how to migrate up the economic foodchain if you make a little more than that and do some active savings... Click here for the page with more details on it.
Last week's report is here. For back issues of this site, click here. (Goes back to 1997!)