Sandland Savior

Can this man save Sandland?

Well, he tried before he passed away, but nobody listened.

The great man was Jay Hammond, the Alaska governor who invented the Alaska Permanent Fund. That’s the oil profit-sharing program which pays residents of Alaska about $1,000 each year. In 2008, the payout was $3,209.

That’s real money to “the small people” here in food-stamp nation.

Hammond thought that we should have set up a similar program in Iraq to get the people on-board the nation-building process. But it didn’t happen. And that tells you something about the way we conduct our empire: we are not serious about winning hearts and minds.

They said it would be wrong to “impose” such a program upon Iraq; that we would be violating the nation’s sovereignty by dictating such policies. Sure, we could bomb the country back to the Stone Age, but we couldn’t inflict a profit-sharing program for the people.

What BS.

In any case, if you are a Sandland dictator running low on bullets to shoot protesters, you might try a different tack: being less evil.

Sure, it sounds crazy at first, and it’s not nearly as much fun as running people over with tanks. But you don’t want to end up like Hosni Mubarak, do you?

And it’s not just about passing out money. An Alaska-style fund is a shining example of transparent, accountable, professionally-managed government.

I might also add that the rest of the US states should look at profit-sharing programs. Surely the people of the Gulf Coast should get a royalty from GOM projects, no? And God only knows how much oil is off the coast of Florida. Maybe a profit-sharing program would generate political support amongst those pesky “small people”.

I see Americans getting royalties for natural gas extracted from beneath their property. But what about the public lands in the lower 48?

Show me the money!

The 44 million people that we have on food-stamps are a potential political time-bomb. Why not defuse the bomb with an Alaska model that has proven itself for 35 years?

Our leaders here need to take a look at the less-evil program too.

Here is Jay Hammond speaking about Iraq:

Why America Needs Trump

Howard Stern, and various pundits, say that Trump will not run for president. That he is only doing this as a publicity stunt to promote his TV show. Maybe they are right, but I think that they are overlooking one important fact about Trump: his ego.

Trump’s critics love to point out his giant ego. But guess what? That’s exactly the kind of President the USA needs right now.

You see, Trump’s ego is too big to fit inside of a nation that isn’t #1. When China surpasses us, Trump will have two choices: move to China and join them since we can’t beat them, or stay here and knuckle under in a second-rate country in decline.

Neither one of those options is acceptable to Trump. The only way his ego can maintain its current size is for Trump to personally see to it that the USA remains #1.

Have you noticed that Trump speaks with more passion than all of the other candidates combined? That is no accident. I believe that he feels personally threatened by the USA’s decline, and is driven to turn things around.

Trump’s top two issues are OPEC and China. That’s no accident either. Both OPEC and China have deliberately targeted the USA. OPEC ministers have said things like: “America’s wealth will now flow into the Middle East.” And China has vowed to not make the “Plaza Accord Mistake” that the Japanese did. The Japanese were team players when it came to exchange rates, but the Chinese are not. They have stated publicly that they have deliberately adopted a predatory policy.

Ronald Reagan beat back the Japanese with protectionist policies. Donald Trump wants to beat back both OPEC and China.

Only a man with a HUGE ego could come up with a strategy like that. The sad fact is that most Americans are already resigned to being surpassed by China and bled dry by OPEC. We are content to live on food-stamps and argue about who should get what crumb of a steadily shrinking pie.

Donald Trump smashes that whole loser mentality. And that is revolutionary.

Note: When you buy a big, brawny SUV and try out the horn, it sounds like an elephant on a rampage. When you buy a little rice-burner and beep the horn, you hear “meep, meep”. Of course, there is no reason why a small car must have a small horn. It’s just that the auto company wants to punish you for buying their low-margin product, rather than a ridiculously profitable larger car. And how do they punish you? They give your exoskeleton a wimpy voice. Why is that effective? Because it’s a boot on the neck of your ego. Donald Trump is not content to ride in a meep-meep kind of country.

Nailed It

The last comment that I made on the direction of the market was at 12:37pm on April 5th, when I wrote in the comments section:

“The Russel 2000 is above its 2007 peak of 856.48, so that’s an all-time high. And it’s not unreasonable to expect resistance at this level, at least in the short-term.”

And that’s exactly what happened. Just look at this 5-minute chart of the R2K over the past few days (click to enlarge):

Not bad, huh?

If you had put a short trade on at that time, you would have suffered a mere 2.25 point draw-down.

There are two morals to this story:

Moral #1 – The market looks unstoppable as it races toward an historic peak. But in reality, that is actually the safest time to put on a short trade. Resistance occurs at such chart points like clockwork. The market may well continue higher eventually, but you almost always have plenty of time to assess weather or not to take profits on the trade, or let it ride.

Moral #2 – I can take credit for this call because I’m not a beartard predicting Armageddon around every corner.

Happy Beartardiversary!

One year ago today, on April 7, 2010, “Tyler Durden” barfed up a piece on Zero Hedge titled: “About This Alleged Increase In Tax Withholdings” where he stamped his little foot and proclaimed:

“…this is patently not true.”

Let’s see how things have fared since he threw his tantrum.

There are only two bars on the following chart so that even “Tyler Durden” can understand it:

The second bar on the chart shows withholding tax receipts for the trailing year, which were $1.715 trillion.

The first bar on the chart shows the total for the year prior to that, which was $1.634 trillion.

It turns out that his majesty got it horribly wrong. As of this very moment, withholding tax receipts are up at an annual rate of 4.99%, corroborating the improvement in all of the jobs statistics. And without this year’s tax cut, it would be even stronger.

If you drank the Zero-Hedge brand Kool-Aid on April 7, 2010, you are now sans face. The DJIA has advanced 1,470 points during that time, shrugging of the Flash Crash in the process.

In the piece linked above, “Tyler Durden” starts out saying:

“We are a little confused by all the recent hype in the media about a surge in individual tax withholdings by the US Treasury.”

And he got that wrong too! He was, like, waaaay confused! But what media hype was he talking about? Why, it was some of my withholding-tax charts posted on Barry Ritholtz’s site. Barry wrote:

“Matt observes we are making the same pattern that we did at the bottom of the last recession in 2002.”

And in fact, the private sector has added jobs for 13 months in a row now.

Here’s a chart of private-sector job creation to help visualize how dumb “Tyler Durden’s” call was (click to enlarge):

Note to “Tyler Durden”: Happy Beartardiversary!

Data Notes:

1) The withholding-tax data is reported daily, and that enables me to calculate the annual growth rate in real time as I did above. The growth percentage is always right up to date on The Daily Jobs Update. None of my subscribers were caught by surprise by the turn in the jobs market.

2) Going back from April 6 of this year, to April 7 of last year finds 253 business days. But doing that for the prior year only finds 252 days. So, I threw in an extra day, and that’s why the first bar on the chart above begins on April 6, 2009 rather than the 7th. If I hadn’t done that, the annual growth rate would have been 5.60% instead of 4.99%. So, you could say that on a calendar-basis, it is up 5.60%. However, 4.99% is more realistic.

The Land of Perpetual Armageddon

In the Land of Perpetual Armageddon, small children choke to death on lollipops, while puppy dogs frolic in molten lava, and unicorns are eviscerated by the rainbow-colored laser beams of invading space aliens.

And the world dies a grisly death, not just once, but each and every moment, from now to the end of time, which is right around the perpetual corner.

Last week, The Pope of the Land of Perpetual Armageddon, “Tyler Durden” reported on the food-stamp data. His majesty proclaimed: “…there is no way to spin this.”

Four seconds later, I found a way.

First, here is what the monthly chart looks like; see if you can figure out my bullish spin. (click to enlarge):

If you noticed that the January 2011 bar was only a bit higher than the December 2010 bar, then you get a gold star. Tell your mom that I said it’s OK.

It turns out that the number of people added to the food-stamp rolls in January was the lowest in over two years:

One month does not make a trend, but keep in mind that the food-stamp data is reported with a two month lag. The economy created jobs in both February and March, so it is conceivable that the food-stamp rolls are already in decline.

But even if that does not turn out to be the case, look at the bars for 2010 on the second chart. See how they are mostly shorter than the 2009 bars? Things are clearly less-bad than they have been.

If you enjoy wallowing in the Land of Perpetual Armageddon, by all means, wallow away. But why not take a peak at an objective view of the food-stamp data every once in a while?