Week in review

Quote of the week

“Facebook was developed the way many important American companies are developed nowadays from what we can tell. The company was discovered at Harvard and nurtured through venture-capital incubators affiliated with US intel operations. These funding mechanism are no secret; US agencies proudly announce their availability, positioning their creation as a public service rather than the ruinous conflicts-of-interest that they are. Nonetheless, there is probably sensitivity about the current roster of Facebook investors as from our point of view the company – like too many in the US today – is a partially inauthentic creation, nurtured by the powers-that-be for various purposes, including ones that are intended to contravene US privacy rights.” – The Daily Bell Staff

The Lull Before The Storm: What’s Coming in 2011

by Gonzalo Lira

“[T]hese three issues—auguries of EMU collapse, successful Fed monetization, and commodity price rises—are the ones that mattered on a macro-economic level this past year.

“In 2011, every other financial story will be either a cause or consequence of one of these three issues: Guaranteed.” more…

Elite on a Tightrope

by The Daily Bell

“In this article, we hope to show that where the US – and Europe, too – are headed has nothing much to do with business-as-usual. This is a dangerous time. The elite is unfathomably powerful yet; its injuries will make it angry. We will explore why the elite simply cannot fathom that its situation has changed radically and why sooner or later the realization that it may have to take a step back will sink in.” more…

Numismatics Are Fool’s Gold

by Peter Schiff

“Last month, I addressed the hype around gold confiscation, and debunked the myth that collectible or numismatic coins would offer effective protection. But there is another sales pitch that many dealers will use while trying to “up sell” you to numismatics. They may argue that on investment merits alone, numismatics are a better bet. While this may be a more rational line of thinking than the typical confiscation con, it is bad advice for investors hoping to protect their assets in an economic slump.” more…

When Will the Renminbi Overtake the Dollar?

by Simon Black

“Without a doubt, the existing global financial system depends on the widespread use of fiat currencies issued by insolvent governments. The wealth of the world’s large financial institutions requires that there be currencies with sufficient size and circulation to absorb massive capital flows.” more…

World Food Prices Enter ‘danger territory’ to Reach Record High

by Jill Treanor

“An index compiled monthly by the United Nations surpassed its previous monthly high – June 2008 – in December to reach the highest level since records began in 1990. Published by the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the index tracks the prices of a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, and has risen for six consecutive months.” more… [The “experts” indicate that the rise in prices are due to supply issues, and also downplay the monetary aspect of this. The FAO Food Price Index can be found here.]

Regulars

And now the numbers…

DOW Jones Industrials – 11,674.76 (+97.25/0.84%)
S&P 500 – 1,271.50 (+13.86/1.10%)
VIX – 17.14 (-0.61/-3.44%)
CSI 300 (China) – 3,166.624 (+38.363/1.23%)
BSE 500 (India) – 7,656.49 (-304.57/-3.83%)
MICEX (Russia) – 1,687.99 (UNCHG)
BOVESPA (Brazil) – 70,057.203 (+752.391/1.09%)
Nikkei 225 (Japan) – 10,541.04 (+312.12/3.05%)
RICI (Commodities) – 3,813.06 (-83.38/-2.14%)
Gold/oz – 1,368.90 (-52.50/-3.69%)
Silver/oz – 28.671 (-2.266/-7.32%)
Copper/lb – 428.25 (-16.45/-3.70%)
Oil/bbl (Brent) – 93.33 (-1.42/-1.50%)
Wheat/bu (CBT) – 774.00 (-20.25/-2.55%)
Corn/bu – 595.00 (-34.00/-5.41%)
Rough Rice (CBOT) – 13.63 (-0.66/-4.62%)
EUR-USD – 1.2907 (-0.0477/-3.56%)
USD-JPY – 83.1488 (+2.0318/2.50%)
USD-HKD – 7.774 (+0.0009/0.01%)
USD-BRL – 1.684 (+0.0227/1.37%)
NZD-USD – 0.7598 (-0.0204/-2.61%)
3 Month Treasury – 0.13 (+0.01/8.33%)
2 Year Treasury – 0.59 (UNCHG)
10 Year Treasury – 3.32 (+0.03/0.91%)
30 Year Treasury – 4.48 (+0.15/3.46%)
3 Month LIBOR – 0.30 (UNCHG)
U.S. Public Debt (official) – 14,011,793,170,981.70 (+140,662,817,164.30/1.01%)
Baltic Dry Index (BDIY:IND) – 1,519.00 (-254.00/-14.33%)

In a press conference this week Nancy Pelosi said,  “deficit reduction has been a high priority for us. It is our mantra, pay-as-you-go.” The comment, which was delivered without a smirk, had me thinking that the senile-old-bat really meant to say “print-as-you-go.”

She went on to distress about how the fiscal sanity of the last four years would be undercut by the incoming Congress, which of course will be dominated by those oh-so-evil Republicans. Sorry Nan, the “our-party-good-other-party-bad” doubethink is overplayed. You are all evil or just unfathomably stupid. Either way, not much use for you.

And as for the future of “print-as-you-go” policies under the new Congress, I’m figuring it’s full steam ahead for the foreseeable future. [Note: it is estimated that at least 60% of last years’s deficit was financed by Fed printing. Uh no, I meant to say “quantitative easing”. Yeah that’s it. For more information on that see the article by Lira above.]

Wikileaks, as well as other sources of leaks, just keep giving and giving and giving. First, it appears that since at least 2008 Israel had made it an official policy to keep Gaza right at the brink of economic collapse, but perhaps this is not news rather just a confirmation that the policy was deliberate. Next, from an FDA leak we find that the pesticide clothianidin was approved for widespread use despite its lethal toxicity to honey bees. In case you didn’t know, honey bees have been dying off in large numbers recently. This of course is bad for food production as honey bees are key to the pollination of many plant species. I’m sure Monsanto has an answer for us.  Though it’s probably not one we’ll like.

But perhaps it’s all due to changes in the earth’s magnetic field.

The quote of the week comes from this article, which explains how Goldman Sachs has managed to basically do a pre-IPO of Facebook for a select few hundred or so clients. Wait for the real IPO to hit and then short the hell out of it I would say. But we’ll see.

Anyway, enough of all of that. Class started this week. It’s a Friday only thing, so only 13 more classes to go before that is buried. This particular class, Natural Language Processing, is going to be quite interesting though.

We’ve had a reorganization at work and I have a new boss, which is also quite interesting. All is for the better methinks. Time will tell for sure. It always does.

Baby Girl has really taken a liking to Elmo. Holy crap, like really taking a liking to him. We watch Elmo’s Song almost daily now. We sing “Baby Girl’s song” at home. She started jumping a little bit this week.

Wonderful Wife and I got out to a movie this week as well. First time in about 6 or 9 months. A friend of ours is watching Baby Girl each week for a short while, so hopefully there will be more movie dates. Anyway, we went and saw The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I have to say that was one of my favorite books in the Narnia series, but I think maybe the second movie was the best so far. Either way it was still pretty good. Oh, and we saw it in 3D. The 3D stuff is actually pretty cool, though this movie did not make an especially interesting use of the technology.

We made a roast duck on New Year day that came out very well. Best duck I’ve ever had, and on the absolute scale of yumminess it was also quite good. The recipe we used is here. We used the spice seasoning as a rub.

And that’s about it this week. Liberty breakfast at the Classic Cup Cafe tomorrow at 8AM. We’ll have a special visitor from Transition Town coming to see us. Otherwise, have a great weekend!

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