From Great Recession to Grand Illusion

From the Great Recession to the Grand Illusion of recovery, growing household debt and the number of families struggling to make ends meet is the story left behind the curtain. Only a few leaders, authors and bloggers expose the underbelly reality hoping for strength in the numbers of those who wake up to the window dressing. As Charles Hugh-Smith puts it, “Welcome to debt-serfdom, the only possible output of the soaring cost of living for the unprotected many who are ruled by a hubris-soaked, subsidized Protected Elite.”

I could not have said it better, myself. Yet first-world culture appears to be all about looking good for those in it, even if living in a world of hurt.

Not unlike the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes, we’re supposed to go along to get along and never mention the Emperor is butt naked, i.e. that you’re living precariously on the edge. As an issue deemed “negative” in a “think positive” world and way too personal to talk about, people tend to consider they are the only ones navigating rough financial waters. Conversation must stay upbeat. However, this tacit agreement to silence seems to only eventually lead them to deeper and murkier circumstances, until they are betrayed as if by a cheating spouse.

Methinks suffering in silence (by the little guys) is part of the big guys’ strategy to assure the longevity of their own financial domination. All along, you honestly believed you were doing everything you were supposed to because that’s what the experts said to do. But, alas, you learned the hard way. Bad news for you; good news for the Emperor.

Given corporate commerce has the mandate of a profitable bottom line, if to stay in existence, markets must expand and sales must grow. Marketing and advertising serves to cloud the non-commercial human’s innate ability to recognize their array of choices as they head down the road of increased consumption. The banking industry touts the benefits of their product, credit, and since everyone else relies on credit, why not? Some call the outcome, debt-slavery.

Despite the distraction of a booming stock market masquerading as an expression of a healthy economy, household debt levels tell another story; they surpass debt levels of the Great Recession in 2008. The Federal Reserve reports on household debt for the 1st quarter of 2017.

“Aggregate household debt balances increased in the first quarter of 2017, for the 11th        consecutive quarter, finally surpassing the 2008Q3 peak of $12.68 trillion. As of March 31, 2017, total household indebtedness was $12.73 trillion, a $149 billion (1.2%) increase from the fourth quarter of 2016. Overall household debt is now 14.1% above the 2013Q2 trough.”

A Bankrate Inc. January 2017 survey revealed 57% of American respondents (6 of 10) didn’t have enough cash to cover a $500 unexpected expense. Almost half of the 1,003 adults surveyed said they or a member of their family were hit with a major expense in the past year.

However, if you discern with eyes wide open, you can see marketing manipulation for what it is. Greater awareness brings into focus the greater range of choices available to you beyond those prescribed by a marketplace that benefits at your expense. With a curiosity to advance your financial IQ, alternatives to traditional wealth building and management start to make sense.

What this proves, in my estimation, is that suffering in silence does advance the cause of financial and personal well-being in the lives of everyday people. Bottom line, the overriding problem is systemic, not personal. Until more people are willing to discover how the monetary system undermines their best efforts, and speak up about it, I fear more suffering behind closed doors.

Central Bank Chicanery and We the Revenue Units

“Unfortunately no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.” ~Morpheus, The Matrix

The Oxford English Dictionary defines, chicanery, as, “legal trickery, pettifogging, abuse of legal forms; the use of subterfuge and trickery in debate or action; quibbling, sophistry, trickery.” You need not read past, “legal trickery,” to understand the overlooked impact central banks have on we, the revenue units. But perhaps more worrisome is where central banks appear headed.

A quick review of central banking’s role as regards currency informs us that a global monetary system dominates and controls all other systems of the world. Like the 800-pound gorilla in the living room, this fact becomes impossible to ignore once you see it.

Just as it is impossible to fully understand planet earth without realizing the role of the solar system that contains it, so also is it impossible to fully understand money separate from the monetary system.

The global monetary system is a network of 17 central banks worldwide of which the Federal Reserve Bank is the one in the U.S. Central banks are the only banks capable of issuing currency, (a private product we pay to use), issued via “fractional reserve banking,” loaned into existence, and repaid with interest. This formula, called the “expansion multiplier,” in the Federal Reserve’s pamphlet, Modern Money Mechanics, multiplies profits for the architects of the system and their cronies.

Currency trickles down from the governmental level to commercial and local banks when a country’s government borrows money from its central bank. When a business repays a commercial loan plus interest (a.k.a. the debt-service) they pass on their bank-loan charges to their customers as increases to the price of goods and services. Over time, what began as “simple” interest becomes “compound” interest which in-turn increases prices at an ever-faster pace.

As a result, we, the revenue units, must increasingly work harder and pay more for the same basic goods and services for which people in the 50’s and 60’s paid far less. This exponential rise in the cost-of-living has become glaringly obvious in the real estate and insurance industries.

Once in power, more power is needed to remain in existence.

The 2008 economic meltdown tested the Fed. It employed the desperate measure of dumping trillions of newly-printed money into an ailing monetary system via a series of Quantitative Easings (QE) to “stimulate” the economy, as well as, its position of power. Their monetary strategy led most Americans merrily down the yellow brick road of the appearance of recovery and wealth.

Yet, like the Wizard of Oz, appearances are often deceiving. In reality, the glut of newly-issued currency contributed to deeper devaluation of the dollar (now worth less than 3 cents). Going forward, the Fed would have to keep up with what the QE’s had begun. To continue ensuring liquidity in the marketplace, larger and larger amounts of currency would have to be injected into the system.

This is where it gets interesting. By all accounts, to sustain ongoing liquidity, the Fed tactics have advanced to aggressively buying-up public assets, company stocks and “toxic” real estate, which has contributed to the double-digit rise in the stock market. Increasingly drastic measures provide a type of expansion putting the economy at risk of being swallowed whole by the financial sector. Think: further concentration of power.

Here’s why:

“So the central banks have a problem here, they are now “forced” to purchase assets to prevent market downturns but one should ask the question ‘who will they eventually sell to?’ The answer of course is ‘no one’ because there is no one large enough to take these assets off their books.”  ~Bill Holter, Central Banks Will Destroy Their Own Currency By Doing What They Do …Creating Currency And Credit. From Here, The Faster They Run, The Faster The Boogeyman Catches Them!, April 22, 2017

The Fed has the legal authority to endlessly purchase assets of which they can then drive up the prices that virtually no one can out bid. Higher costs-of-living due to more inflation do not translate into a recovered economy, contrary to popular opinion, and especially for the majority of Americans without assets.

As long as someone is receiving a paycheck, they seem to care little about the system producing it, an entrenched system that owns and controls the ability to create an endless supply of money, (new credit). Additionally, if central banks decide to transition to blockchain technology, as discussed in my February and April recent blogs, it would not be a decentralized application, as is Bitcoin. Instead, blockchain technology would simply enhance central banking’s already centralized system.

With every successive economic downturn, the Fed doubles-down to minimize the economic impact on society. Minimizing the economic impact equals the Fed taking on more and more control of the situation to sustain their power, and in an attempt to counterbalance the ongoing, exponential loss of value in all fiat currency. The role of central banking is like a snowball growing larger as it rolls down the hill; I wonder if anyone sees what I see?

“Only the small secrets need to be protected. The big ones are kept secret by public incredulity.” ~Marshall McLuhan, author

Blockchain: Open Source Money

“Blockchains are simply distributed transaction processing engines. The technology allows data to be stored in a variety of different places while tracking the relationship between different parties to that data. Most people trying to explain blockchains like to compare it to a ledger. Anytime someone makes a transaction, such as a currency changing hands or a new device being added to a network, it is recorded in the chain and anyone can track what has happened. This is why law enforcement is so keen on Bitcoin—the digital footprints are easy to trace.” Fortune tech, Stacey Higginbotham, May 29, 2015

What if we lived in a world where global access to money was available to everyone? Money can zoom around the globe at the speed of digital as a peer-to-peer decentralized and cooperative process – no top-down banking system needed. Trust relationships happen automatically via digitally signed, permission-less transactions, destroying the inevitability of poverty. Would this represent a giant step for humanity?

Such is the utopian dream of tech developers. The next generation of computer networking gears up to surround the world for the greater good. Welcome to the intended blockchain (financial) transformation of the world.

Ignore it at your own peril.

My article of May 2016, The Power Behind the Throne, discusses the mostly under-reported, yet steady advancement, towards a cashless society via blockchain technology, and my thoughts about who really benefits. It could end up as the giant leap for the banking industry, gaining omnipotent control over our financial transactions. A Bloomberg article, Inside the Secret Meeting Where Wall Street Tested Digital Cash, May 2, 2016, cited representatives from Nasdaq, Citigroup Inc., Visa Inc., Fidelity, Fiserv Inc., Pfizer Inc. and others in attendance.

Enter 2017 and the documentary produced to inspire and excite: The Blockchain and Us. Some say that 2017 will be the year this technology moves into the mainstream; others say it’s just too risky.

The infomercial-type documentary introduces “leaders” from countries around the world who extol the virtue of open source money, the grassroots, and bottom-up cultural game-changer begun by Bitcoin in 2008. Blockchain technology and its potential impact is likened to how the introduction of the airplane changed society; the structure of the financial services industry, alone, is said to transform 100% to digital within 20 years. Additionally, blockchain technology is expected to:

  • Affect every industry as a “value” platform with military-grade cryptology
  • Create a generational shift in technology, an opportunity capable of “lifting people out of poverty”
  • Accommodate what they called, “smart” contracts
  • Exert a profound shift in how the Internet could be used to create new forms of value and new ways of transacting value
  • Generate more jobs due to automation

There you have it…Blockchain and Us. Yet naysayers, such as myself, cannot see the commensurate personal benefit. Surrender the paltry financial privacy we have left via cash to the Goliath banking industry? It occurs to me we may not have a choice since the “little” people appear to be the revenue units simply along for the ride.

That said, using cash and paying as you go, has obvious and maybe not so obvious benefits:

  • Choice
  • Transaction privacy
  • No bank-interest charges (overdraft, credit cards, loans, lines of credit, etc.)
  • Possible 5% vendor discount upon request
  • Fiscal responsibility that credit use has destroyed
  • Curbing the instant-gratification mindset easy credit encourages
  • More personal time when keeping up with debt means working harder/faster

I think living in a material world makes is easy to forget that the complete definition of wealth includes more than stuff. The intangible wealth of personal well-being and peace of mind are priceless until they are overlooked and under-valued. Instead of the utopian dream, imagine this:  We no longer make purchases we don’t need, with money we do not have to impress people who do not really care about us. If more people would make a habit of using cash, we could strengthen our own money-management skills towards building real wealth, and also send a message to those who own the gold.

 

The Cumulative Effective-Tax Rate

Early Americans would roll over in their graves if they heard about modern-day America’s topsy-turvy departure from many of the hard-won freedoms and liberties of the American Revolution. They would be unable to make sense of all the different taxes we pay today, and especially the government’s legal entitlement to a portion of an American’s labor via an income tax. There was no such tax on labor for the earliest Americans; it was unconscionable to tax someone’s personal property, which one’s labor was then considered. The concept of paying one’s “fair share” did not exist until after mid-20th century.

In general, operating expenses of private corporations and the federal, state and corporate-county municipal governments are passed on to the end users (public) in the form of taxation.

A partial list of the transparent as well as all the unseen hidden taxes include: federal and state income tax, county taxes, federal and state sales tax, accounts receivable tax, alcohol tax, alternative minimum tax, building permit tax, cigarette tax, corporate tax, dog license tax, education tax, estate tax, excise tax on imports, food license tax, fuel permit tax, gift tax, hotel tax, inheritance tax, inventory tax, car rental tax, IRS interest charges, IRS penalties and levies, license tax, labor tax (withholding), marriage license tax, Medicare tax, municipal state tax on insurance premiums, worker’s compensation and unemployment tax, property tax, recreational vehicle tax, sales tax, self-employment tax, road usage tax for truckers, school tax, Social Security tax, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), telecommunications tax, travel tax, utility tax, vehicle licensing registration tax, vehicle sales tax, watercraft registration tax, well permit tax, hospitality tax and last but not least, the hidden tax of inflation of a debt-based central banking system and all finance charges.

I’m sure I must have missed something!

While on a TV talk show in 1981, President Reagan mentioned that 46 different taxes contributed to the price of one loaf of bread. Imagine how many more taxes have been added since then. How many taxes and fees are hidden in an airline ticket? Seldom considered is how the cost of doing business has the effect of decreasing one’s purchasing power as more and different kinds taxes make up the retail price you end up paying.

The total of the multiple costs of doing business becomes the retail price. Throughout a company’s chain of events from production to sales and marketing, labor costs take a huge bite; they are the wages, taxes and fees imposed on the labor of every employee from the factory-floor worker to CEO. Materials, essential resources, and the interest amounts on a company’s business loans are all rolled into the price you pay.

Americans take a beating from taxes that now appear to exponentially erode earnings (personal property). “Bracket creep,” as it is called, over time automatically moves a taxpayer into new, higher tax brackets. For example, in 1970, private pensions and Social Security retirement were not considered taxable income, though today, they are. These sort of official changes often move people into a higher income bracket with subsequent increased amounts due to state and federal governments.

What if mainstream media routinely reported on the cumulative total of what everyday American pays annually in taxes? Would you connect the dots to the direct impact this has on your personal finances, e.g., actual disposable income and increasing dependence on credit? The addition of all taxes, transparent and not so transparent, (hidden taxes mentioned above, upfront fees and regulation costs of federal and state regulatory compliance, federal fines (like what British Petroleum passed on to consumers after the Gulf oil spill) lead this writer to the educated guess that the average American pays somewhere in the range of a cumulative 30 to 60 percent of their annual gross earnings in taxes, depending on their tax bracket.

Are you powerless when it comes to this topic? I don’t think so. Knowledge is power, and power can lead to informed action.

Cashless Society, India, and Big Brother

“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.” ~H. L. Menken

I'm FreeThe short story is that American banking and government institutions are partnering on a do–or-die- global ultimatum to shift all countries from cash to digital currency. The ultimatum is that if a country does not play ball by cooperating, they lose out in trade since digital will become the default platform.

Quietly, India was chosen to kick-off off the campaign. The so-called “financial-inclusion” drive that started in India November 9, 2016, is anything but. Additional promotional language states the goal to create “a holistic ecosystem approach” to solve the merchant and customer issues limited by cash-only systems. Translation: Think…Big Brother.

This well-thought out globalist scheme was not simply the brainchild of India’s Prime Minister Modi.

“In early November, without warning, the Indian government declared the two largest denomination bills invalid, abolishing over 80 percent of circulating cash by value. Amidst all the commotion and outrage this caused, nobody seems to have taken note of the decisive role that Washington played in this. That is surprising, as Washington’s role has been disguised only very superficially.”  ~Norbert Haering, Global Research, 1 January 2017

The shock and hardship resulting has been palpable since India is one of the most dependent countries on a cash economy, especially for the millions of very poor. Literally overnight more than 80% of the value of cash in circulation was extracted, nullifying all 500 and 1,000 rupee bank notes. Now street vendors and the poor, in general, suffer ever more. India has become the guinea-pig harbinger of a cashless future, spun as an effort towards new economic opportunities. But… for whom?

The primary partnership with the country of India is India’s Ministry of Finance and The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The Beyond Cash report is their source document (globalinnovationexchange.org/beyond-cash) but it does not end there. To expand and execute digital payment in India, the US/India partnership introduced, Catalyst: “Inclusive Cashless Payment Partnership” “to digitize economies” and to make “everyday purchases cashless.” (cashlesscatalyst.org)

Not surprisingly, the war on cash has been mounted mostly by payment providers in IT services. Their plan, obviously, is to make more money directly from digital payments or downstream from data, also of benefit to governments. Some of the bigger players are the Better Than Cash Alliance, the Gates Foundation (Microsoft), Omidyar Network (eBay), the Dell Foundation Mastercard, Visa, and the Metlife Foundation.

In 2012, the above mentioned umbrella organization, Better Than Cash Alliance (betterthancash.org), was established with the byline: Moving from cash to digital payments to improve people’s lives. With generous donors, the Gates-Foundation and the Master-Card-Foundation, its membership is of  large US institutions: Mastercard, Visa, the Ford Foundation, USAID, the Gates Foundation, Omidyar Network of eBay-founder Pierre Omidyar, and Citi, to name but a few of its 35 members.

There you have it. It’s only a matter of time until we hear of the next country with a fate similar to that of the most-unfortunate Indian people. Will the big dogs continue to use the surprise-attack strategy to ensure no one messes with their campaign? The momentum builds in the interest of international business community to eliminate cash, increase digital payments, and to expand the ability of payment service providers and mega corporations to track every penny you spend. Are you ready for the “financial inclusion” of a “holistic ecosystem approach” to improve your life? Ha!

Special Report 2017

Add New Revenue Streams“No matter what the politicians and monetary authorities say, the buying power of the dollar continues to decrease, with its current value 95 percent lower than it was in 1913.” The American Institute for Economic Research, January 2009 Cost of Living Report.

There’s a funny saying apropos to my Woodstock generation: Getting old is not for sissies. So true and don’t I know it! The same goes for achieving financial wellness – not for sissies.

Financial wellness takes more than balancing your checkbook, making your credit card payment on time, and investing in the stock market. It takes courage, the courage to consider and to follow a formula for success that is likely never to come out of the mouth of a traditional financial planner.

What I have studied and learned about money over the past 35 years is that making fully-informed and sound financial decisions involves more than meets the eye. The all-important first step is to get the big picture, the history of money. Yet there appears to be no educational emphasis to do so, and for good reason, given those who benefit.

However, with a snapshot overview of how we got to the financial pickle we’re in as countries, businesses families and individuals, the lights go on and new strategies make sense.

In today’s post-meltdown economy, I offer this formula for true financial wellness.

•    Historical context regarding money and how it works
•    A priority of paying down debts
•    Inflation-adjusted to actual, not official, rate of inflation
•    Multiple streams of cash flow
•    An emergency fund other than credit
•    Learn to live within your means
•    Low to no use of credit
•    The courage to stay the course

I have recently rewritten my free Special Report, The Baby Boomer Backup Plan to further provide relevant information about personal finance in today’s economy. This 14 page document is not only for those of a certain age, though they are the most at risk at this time. No catch; just thought my report might help you with your New Year’s Resolutions. Click here: Free Special Report to get your PDF copy. I will send it directly to your inbox once I hear from you.

Post-Truth: Facts Pale by Comparison

inflation cartoonChuckling to myself, I could not pass up the opportunity to highlight the Oxford Dictionaries’ international word of the year for 2016, post-truth, an adjective defined as:

“relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

Why was I chuckling?

Since 2002 my research, writing and consultation to help everyday people learn the whole truth about money, wealth and the economy has fallen mostly on deaf ears. As often as possible I source public-domain Federal Reserve and U.S. Government agency information, statistics and graphs to expound upon the realities of actual inflation, economic policies and central-bank money mechanics.

But it does not seem to matter how “official” my sources are when it comes to who wants to know.

The problem, as I have analyzed it over the years, is that the corporate, for-profit financial services industry appears to enjoy an open-ended, evergreen marketing budget when it comes to “educating” the public on topics of money, wealth credit, debt and the economy. Frankly, I cringe every time I hear the supposed facts and advice of conventional financial wisdom replete with critical contextual omissions. So-called objective facts about money and the economy are half-truths at best when you are not made privy to the big picture.

As defined, and in this case, post-truth is the conventional financial data and advice that simply reinforces erroneous existing beliefs, while appealing to the emotions (Chase Freedom, use credit to pay for a wedding, get rewards, etc.). Self-preservation and the need for growth is the name of the financial-services game when it comes to shaping the scope of monetary facts that get passed on to the “consumer.” What is in your best interest, ultimately, is not their concern, as is the case with for-profit entities.

Buyers beware.

I’m not saying that industry professionals are evil and out to get you. Not at all. Probably most advisors, consultants, bankers, traders, etc. mean well, yet they unwittingly disseminate pricey financial advice no longer relevant to the economic times we live in, and often based on incomplete data, in my view. They suffer the same limitations to their knowledge-base as everyone else via their industry education and training.

After meeting R.Buckminister Fuller, reading his book, Critical Path, and then  co-producing the last leg of his speaking tour in1983, my eyes were opened.  There was no going back. I needed to dig deeper into the history of monetary issues.

Post-truth is not a new concept. For me it began way back in 2002 when heading out on my journey to revise common knowledge about money, wealth and the economy. It has been an uphill battle but that said, I thank you, my readers, for your interest, and, some of you, also, for your business. Your insights about and success in applying the practical steps of The Quality Life Plan nourish me and give me hope.

Perhaps one-by-one people will discover the merit of another way to think about, earn, save, spend and invest money. Perhaps word will spread to help give more people the opportunity to experience financial relief and wealth-building by taking advantage of a sound, out-of-the-box personal finance approach.

Meet the New Boss Same as the Old Boss

FEDSorry to have to break it to you. The truth is that President-elect Donald Trump is not anti-establishment. Certainly he is the opposite to Hillary Clinton in many ways; he will bring different policies to the country and a new look to the White House. Yet these two are only opposite in the same way day is different from night. Day and night together make up one 24 hour cycle of a calendar day. Similarly, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton together comprised the whole of the 2016 presidential election.

What I’m trying to say is that, all things considered, these two are just two sides of the very same nothing-really-new coin. How could I imagine such a thing? To date, Hillary Clinton and now president-elect Donald Trump have both shown they are beholden to the Federal Reserve Banking System – the root cause of all things financial in the U.S. I concur with what Nassim Nicholas Taleb, philosopher and author of the book, The Black Swan, once said,

“What we need to do is break the financial community’s grip on society.”

In all probability, a Donald Trump presidency won’t break that grip. Certainly a Clinton presidency would perish the thought. The Office of the President intersects with, but does not have final authority over, Fed monetary decisions or policies. Yes, a president can elect new members to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and also the chairperson and vice-chairperson for a new term. And yes, these elections give a president potential influence over the direction of monetary policy, but that’s it.

I like to use the analogy of nesting dolls to further illustrate my view. When considering the man-made systems of the world (scientific, political, educational, monetary, health, etc.) as nesting dolls, the largest/outside doll would represent the monetary system. The political system then fits neatly inside it as the 2nd largest, 2nd most powerful, and so forth. As such, the monetary system asserts an overriding impact on each and all other man-made systems.

In 2007 we learned something about the Fed from Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan.

“The Federal Reserve is an independent agency, and that means, basically, that there is no other agency of government which can overrule actions that we take.”

“No agency” includes the Office of the President. Yet somehow many believe the political power of a president “trumps” all, including that of the financial sector. (Pun intended.)

We learned more about the Fed the year following Alan Greenspan’s statement. In 2008 Bloomberg LP sued the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System to discover which banks they had bailed out and for how much. The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System appealed in 2009, arguing that they met the requirements of Exemption 4 of the FOIA request because the Federal Reserve Banks in question were “persons,” i.e. private corporations; therefore disclosure would harm them. Though the Board of Governors lost the appeal and turned over documentation in 2011, what they submitted has been reported to have been mostly inconsequential to Bloomberg LP’s FOIA request and expectation.

But wait…there’s more. As the prime mover of all things financial, the Fed, no matter the truth of its legal structure, remains the bottom-line issue when it comes to U.S. economic success. That means no president, no matter how opposed to the one before them, is ever truly anti-establishment until and unless they take on the Federal Reserve Banking System.

A monetary system which issues currency that literally depreciates like a car (worth approximately 3 cents today) and decreases purchasing power at the register at an alarming and accelerating pace cannot be trusted. Quietly and systemically it undermines long-term economic growth and stability for everyday Americans. Since financial giants benefit from the current economic set-up, this awareness is not popular. It’s money that rules the world, not politicians.

The Wealth Effect Failure

uneven playing fieldPeople tend to increase spending when the prices of their stock market and real estate assets rise. They perceive it as an increase to their financial security. This is known as the wealth effect.

“The wealth effect is a psychological phenomenon that causes people to spend more as the value of their assets rises. The premise is that when consumers’ homes or investment portfolios increase in value, they feel more financially secure, so they increase their spending. Conversely, when consumers see the value of their homes or portfolios fall, they tend to spend less. The wealth effect attempts to explain why consumers might change their spending habits even if their income and fixed costs have stayed the same.” ~Investopedia

Monetary policymakers consider the increased consumer spending that follows a rise in the price of assets to be an indicator of economic recovery. But is it really and does the everyday family benefit? What is the reality?

  • Higher home prices (significantly increased since 2008) make home ownership  more unavailable to more people. Home ownership is at its lowest rate since tracking began in 1963.
  • Higher home prices also put rental property prices out-of-reach to more people.
  • Home sales in 2016 are not broad-based and people-driven as they were in 2008, albeit via sub-prime loans. Now a large percentage of homes sales are cash sales of homeowners and investors (domestic and foreign) who need somewhere to park assets. Banks offering low interest rates remain an unattractive option.
  • Additionally, the 2016 big bump in home sale prices and purchases are pocketed in 3 main areas of the United States due to the presence of the U.S Government, government contracts, and technology companies: Washington D.C., New York, and San Francisco where tech employees can get home loans based on their stock option prices.

In April of 2016 GOBankingRates.com created a survey they called: Financial Burdens Survey. The respondents ranked their personal finance issues according to the six categories the survey provided. Interesting to me is that a category called, personal debt, was totally absent! Here are their six categories:

•    High cost of living
•    Healthcare costs
•    Insufficient income
•    Taxes (income, property, and/or other taxes)
•    Retirement savings
•    Higher education costs

runaway cost-of-living

Not surprising, one in four Americans responding to the survey said the “high cost of living” was their most challenging personal finance issue. Not only do salaries and wages fail to keep up with the cost-of-living (since the 1970’s) but also the killer – personal debt – takes a growing bite out of incomes.

The wealth effect is a smoke screen. It distracts from any focus being put on the flaws of the monetary system. Rising asset prices favor the haves who own assets (minority), while extracting precious resources from the have-nots (majority).

More decent-paying jobs can certainly help; but alone, jobs cannot make it “right.” Why? The independent-of-governments central banking system pulls the strings. Simply put: The money they issue is systemically devalued via a mathematical formula decreasing money’s purchasing power. Anyone who has studied this, as I have, knows that nothing short of a system overhaul could possibly bring back long-term economic recovery. Even if everyone had a job, their hard-earned money over time will purchase less and less.

The good news is that by this knowledge you can rethink the best ways to earn, spend, save and invest to ensure the most quality in your life with the least amount of stress. That is, until really real change takes place at the monetary system level.

Presidential Candidates, the Fed, and Status Quo

work harder earn less

The battle for President of the United States between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump rages on towards the finish line, nasty as ever. Despite blinding differences, they each seem to rely on an historically-authoritarian style of delivery (based on dualistic thinking) to underscore their obvious superiority over the other:  Insider/outsider, right/wrong, good/bad, black/white, smart/stupid, experience/no experience, etc. Yet does Nero fiddle while Rome burns? Methinks yes. Like an unattended, festering wound, deeper causation of a messed-up world undermines the lives of everyday people both left and right.

“Church of the Sacred Fed”

A September 2016 Truthout article by Dean Baker, Hillary Clinton and the Church of the Sacred Fed, only confirms the ongoing reluctance to tackle the larger issue of a broken monetary system. Mr. Baker shares the disparate views of the candidates to launch his description of the Fed’s inner workings via funny religious metaphors such as Robert Rubin’s “doctrine of the sacred Fed” and the “anointed” referring to members of the Federal Reserve Board.

Hillary Clinton is said to have “denounced” Donald Trump for his comments calling on the Federal Reserve Board to raise interest rates. Apparently, however, this was not her real reason for denouncing him. Her real reason was:

“You should not be commenting on Fed actions when you are either running for president or you are president.”

Disappointing but not surprising, the article fails to venture beyond the Fed’s shoreline to reveal the skewed mathematical mechanics that drive a global monetary system, and the erosive damage to economic stability left in its wake. You see, anyone who makes the effort to learn about how central banks work (The Fed for the U.S.) discovers that, today, only the deep state of powerful self-interest (typically those at the top of money pyramid and their governmental cronies) actually benefit…and not by accident; whereas everyday people lose ground little by little over time.

In my view, this exchange between presidential candidates of differing perspective on the Fed exists safely within the shores of the status quo since there is no money in truth. Will the root cause of the lack of economic growth, increasing poverty and homelessness, incomes not keeping up with the cost of living, mounting personal debt and the stress that is literally killing people, ever be revealed and understood so genuine solutions might be put forth?

I wonder.