The devaluation of the US Dollar is a hot topic in the bubble blogging world. We make fun of the "strong dollar policy", blame the Fed for "trashing" the dollar and argue that a country cannot debase its currency to prosperity.
We also argue about the benefits of dollar devaluation. This includes the possibility of reduced out sourcing, economic war against countries like China who deliberately keep their currency undervalued and spreading the pain from us to foreign holders of USD.
In this post, I want to point out another potentially big result of this phenomenon.
I am going to quote verbatim - with added emphasis - from the book "Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market" by Eric Schlosser, who is better known as the author of "Fast Food Nation".
In the introduction, Schlosser writes ...
The US Dollar now serves as the unofficial currency of this new global underground. During the late 1960s and the early 1970s American economists began to notice that the amount of currency in circulation had grown much larger than the amount ordinary citizens were likely to use in their everyday transactions. ... ... ... The $100 bill soon became the underground favorite, not just in the United States, but overseas as well, thanks to its high face value and the relative stability of the dollar. During the late 1970s the outflow of the currency from the United States averaged about $2 billion a year. By the 1990s, about $20 billion in the U.S. currency was being shipped to foreign countries every year. Today approximately three-quarters of all $100 bills circulate outside the United States.
The supremacy of the dollar in the global underground has proven a boon to the American economy. The outflow of the U.S. currency now serves, in essence, as a gigantic interest-free loan. ... ... ... The latest threat to the $100 bill comes not from organized crime figures [counterfeiters], but from the central bank of the European Union. The new 500-euro note is perfect for black market activity. It has roughly 5 times the value of a $100 bill [at the time of book's publication], allowing drug dealers and smugglers to lighten their suitcases. Portugal has banned the 500-euro note for those reasons, and its acceptance in other foreign undergrounds is not yet certain.
It may be impossible to gauge the exact influence this "underground" demand has had on the appreciation of Euro against USD. But it certainly cannot be negligible given how globally linked the organized crime has become. I won't be the one to cry if USD devaluation decreases the buying power of international terrorists.
I want to make myself clear. I am not in favor of US devaluation if its happening by design - no matter what the reason is. Definitely not the argument - "let's punish those bad guys by reducing their wealth". Like any economic lever, the value of USD is both the cause and effect - and just one parameter in the grand scheme of things. All I am pointing out is, among the many good and bad side-effects of USD devaluation, this is one very interesting and desirable outcome.
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FollowBefriend (4)117 threads17,655 comments Premium
Will MI and FL delegates be seated?
McCain is my favorite.
Obama is fine.
But if I have to bet money, I think Clinton will win.
FollowBefriend4 threads1,477 comments Hampton, VA
Not sure what Mr. Z means whe he says “the lists”? Lists of all cash buyers? Listings?
Sorry, I should have added the link.
FollowBefriend4 threads1,056 comments Boise, ID
What we need is for McCain to select Ron Paul for director of the IRS....
FollowBefriend15 threads1,255 comments
BUT.. we have all kinds of arms being shipped around the globe along with enough blow to sink a battleship yet it goes on largely undetected?
I have a close friend who works for a European law-enforcement agency in the counter-trafficking side of the business. He doesn't talk much about his work but from what I gather, shipments of hash are "cleared" all the way to Amsterdam by the time brick gets loaded on to the first donkey-cart in Peshawar. They know exactly who will be on duty at the border-crossing or the port, and how much they "take" to look the other way and ensure smooth, well-greased transit.
FollowBefriend284 comments BayAreaIdiot's website
No one in bubble-blogging world believed that this merger was in the best interest of BAC. Conspiracy theories abound. They were pressured to buy it, they were promised “something” in return. My conspiracy theory was it was done to just stop the bleeding, with an expectation of a surprise snag that will derail the deal in the future
I've always had the same "feeling" as well. Regardless of discount it seemed crazy to rush in and buy them - it's one more of those things that makes me feel like an idiot. (I normally consider those who 'believe' in such conspiracies idiots)
@ Peter P
sorry to get back on this question but it's a big one for me: why do you say Obama is fine? What do you know about him which you find reassuring? I don't mean "as opposed to X", I mean on his own.
It’s not just the SEC, but the FBI is also investigating the Tan-Man.
Just heard a rumour that Sunkist will be going after him for trademark infringement too.
FollowBefriend1 threads6,749 comments Premium
"the first donkey-cart in Peshawar"
Pretty much what I thought. That and the fact that much of the product moves along the same routes and we get token busts from time to time. Once in awhile we'll get a report of some submarine being built for contraband to show just how "ingenious" these guys are and what resources they have at their avail.
What a joke. If the U.S Navy "pinged" an unknown submersible vessel in open water and he doesn't respond correctly they'll go to full scale alert. Of course this leaves open the possibility/plausibility there may operational vessels out there. Oh give me a break.
Spitzer "resigned"? Weird huh?
Yeah, some news about being involved in a prostitution-ring (no, not NAR, but the old fashioned kind).
by the way, does anyone have any idea why congrssman Issa is so adamantly defending the CEOs (esp. Mozilo) who were in front if his comittee yesterday? Isn't he independently wealthy? Why is he trying to stand in front of this tsunami?
I had always worried that mr.-anti-gun Spitzer would be Obama's pick for Veep. Won't happen now.
I can't imagine what could have unraveled in Elliot's life? He was like this modern day Ralph Nader and raised awareness about what was going on in the financial services arena. He could be a pain but his intentions were honorable.
Was the REIC Cartel his next target?
FollowBefriend1 threads3,248 comments
A few posts back FAB, HARM and I were talking about how much people in trades make. Yesterday I had a plumber over to change my water tank which is long overdue. The whole process took about 4 hours and his labor (with a Mexican sous-plumber) is $360 plus tip, which is about $400. I have to pay for the new water tank separately of course.
He told me he has about 3 jobs (some more complicated than other) a day, often busier on weekends, so he takes weekday off instead. Well, after splitting with the sous-plumber, he probably pockets $80/h a day, based on an 8-hour work day.
Now if he works on average 20 days a month, that is $12.8K income, and that makes his annual income well over $100K. Don't forget I pay him cash and he gets to write off lots of things from his "small business".
This guy definitely has a lot more job security that most of us.
That's why I don't quite believe the pay surveys on "sole proprietors" especially in these trades. Such a survey probably only reflects the reported after-cost "income" on tax forms.
I don't want to start a slam-fest but what most of these guys do is report only what looks feasible. If they have a ___ mortgage, they'll declare ___. Where they run into trouble is when they go to qual. for a loan. (Up until recently that wasn't even an issue)
I had dinner with my Mom the other night. It came up in conversation that she had called a plumber to get an estimate on having the bathroom faucets replaced. GET THIS. $1600.00 plus the cost of the fixtures. I told her that if she hired him, I'd have her committed. (joking of course) There's nothing special about the setups in her bathrooms. Easy stuff, two hours,tops, for all three. I told her to pick the models that she wanted and that I would pick up the fixtures and supply lines and install them next weekend. A lot of these guys see what they think is an easy kill and go for it. That crap makes me furious.
$1600 sounds ridiculous, that makes my $420 sound like a steal. Actually he was doing something that I couldn't have done myself because I don't have the welding tools. He also hauls back the old tank which is a big saver for me. I am very satisfied with his service.
I just want to illustrate a point to HARM that it doesn't take the top 10% plumber to earn $100K in the BA. I have also been slapped a minimum charge of $80 just for a plumber to come out.
Plumbers are actually very high on the job needs list for English speaking countries. If you are an experienced plumber especially with certification, you are very welcome in UK, Canada, Australia, etc for immigration, ranking way ahead of accountants, software engineers etc.
Perhaps the USA should have 500 and 1,000 dollar notes again to compete. Not sure if anything can halt the USD decline but why not take a shot. They should have the 10,000 note too just to be sure! Oh, these will all come in handy when doing some grocery shopping in the not too distant future.
FollowBefriend (1)119 threads4,785 comments HARM's website
Alright, OO, you have far more direct experience with construction/maintenance contractors here than I do. So, if you insist that all of the master plumbers in the BA make comfortable 6-figures, I'll concede the point (though I *still* highly doubt the undocumented "sous-plumbers" do nearly as well). And this puts plumbers on the list of highly compensated professionals --right up there with MDs, dentists, lawyers, MBAs, etc.
One thing for your wealthy plumber to keep in mind, though: high profits tend to attract lots of (cheaper) competition:
They should have the 10,000 note too just to be sure!
By then, USD is not worth a Continental. :)
FollowBefriend8 threads1,513 comments
This one is for all the boomers and anti-boomers.
Aging Boomers could burst housing bubble
The common perception among economists is that the current housing bubble will be a relatively short-term affair that should see a return to normal within the next few years.
But according to a study by two University of Southern California researchers, a bubble of even more monumental proportions lies just ahead. They call it the "generational housing bubble," and maintain that it will be fueled by the same Baby Boomers who have been bidding up prices since 1970 as they moved higher and higher on the housing ladder.
Buy a home and sponsor a boomer's retirement.
Bap, I hope you'll win. :)
I even started a thread on that topic a while back. http://patrick.net/wp/?p=475 Although my thread had the added spice of the boomers facing higher capital gains taxes when the Dems take over so they would consider selling off even earlier than demographics alone would suggest.
Buy a home and sponsor a boomer’s retirement.
Thanks, the guy who bought my tiny SJ home helped me do just that.
I got mine. Screw everyone else. ;)
(Where's surfer-x when we need him the most?)
FollowBefriend2,842 comments Carlsbad, CAMalcolm's website
March 10th, 2008 at 4:48 pm
"Alright, OO, you have far more direct experience with construction/maintenance contractors here than I do. So, if you insist that all of the master plumbers in the BA make comfortable 6-figures, I’ll concede the point (though I *still* highly doubt the undocumented “sous-plumbers” do nearly as well)."
Plumbers are a classic example of the bottom of the barrel people who no matter how much they make they will still be poor. I have no doubt that OO knows some plumbing contractors who make 6 figures. Normally they are the owner of a business who send out technicians who make about $25 per hour. An independent plumbing contractor can easily make 6 figures. By charging labor at $100 per hour with just a work truck as overhead, one can see how feasible it is.
My point with the plumber is not to illustrate how lucrative such a career is. I just want to provide a data point for FAB's claim that any hardworking person can make a very decent living no matter how "low" the profession is.
The plumber I used is a first generation Korean, barely speaks any English, but does very good quality work. He cleans up thoroughly after the job, and takes great care to situate the water tank properly. You can tell that he has good work ethics. I think he pays the "sous-plumber" quite well because I have seen disincented Latinos at construction site @$10/h doing very sloppy job, but this "sous-plumber" looks well trained and genuinely interested. I hope both of them make good money.
I didn't need to pay him cash, but I opted to, because that gives him more "options". When I go to a restaurant that serves great food at a decent price, I always pay cash, because I know it gives the owner more flexibility than CC charges.
I may not go that far, but at least I always tip in cash.
Spitzer, another wife in “Stand by Your Man” moment
Mon Mar 10, 2008 10:46pm EDT
By Claudia Parsons
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pity the wife.
With her husband ensnared in a sex scandal, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s wife is living through the worst nightmare for any political spouse — the “Stand By Your Man” moment.
Silda Wall Spitzer, the mother of the governor’s three daughters, stood by her husband’s side at a news conference on Monday where he admitted he had violated his obligations to his family and his “sense of right and wrong.”
The New York Times said Spitzer was caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet a prostitute at a Washington hotel last month. He neither confirmed or denied the report.
Spitzer, who was a crusading attorney general before winning the governorship on a promise to clean up state politics, said he wanted to take time “to regain the trust of my family.”
Dina McGreevey, the ex-wife of former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey who resigned in 2004 over a gay affair with a man whom he hired, said Spitzer should start by resigning.
Likening Silda Wall Spitzer’s experience to her own, Dina McGreevey told CNN the public exposure made an already difficult situation even tougher for the wife.
“She’s ridiculed and shamed in front of virtually the entire world,” McGreevey told CNN. “She’s not only dealing with her own personal pain but trying to protect her daughters from this.
“I thought that Governor Spitzer was going to announce his resignation today. By not doing so he’s only prolonging the pain and anguish and humiliation.”
The first lady of New York state, Silda Wall Spitzer has a law degree from Harvard and is chairwoman of a non-profit group called Children for Children.
At Monday’s news conference, she maintained her composure, looking a little dejected but stoic, as her husband spoke. The two held hands as they walked away from the podium after his statement.
Some were reminded of another political spouse who lived through such a moment — Hillary Clinton, a New York senator now seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.
Then-President Bill Clinton had a sexual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky, then 21, which led to his impeachment in 1998 after accusations he lied about it under oath.
Well before the Lewinsky affair, Clinton famously defended her husband in another scandal over reports of an affair.
In a January 1992 joint television interview with Clinton, she rejected a comparison with the “little woman” in the Tammy Wynette country song “Stand By Your Man.” She said she was with Clinton because she loved him and respected him.
Asked about the Spitzer case at a campaign event on Monday, Clinton said she had no comment “but I obviously am sending my best wishes and thoughts to the governor and to his family.”
Dina McGreevey urged people not to criticize Spitzer’s wife for her decision to stand by his side, saying she made a similar choice for the sake of her daughter.
“I was criticized for standing there. Hillary Clinton was criticized for standing there with her husband. We all do it for very personal reasons,” McGreevey said in the CNN interview.
“You don’t know what it’s like unless you’re in the person’s shoes.”
FollowBefriend (2)33 threads3,497 comments
Helicopter Ben is out flying again today....
She looked heavily sedated (I'm not kidding) poor dear. Looks like some aide gave her something "to calm her nerves" and over did it. This is a godsend for the REIC.
The New York Times said Spitzer was caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet a prostitute at a Washington hotel last month. ... Dina McGreevey, the ex-wife of former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey who resigned in 2004 over a gay affair with a man whom he hired, said Spitzer should start by resigning.
So, a wealthy, powerful man has a courtesan. Why is this such big news? Specially ten years _after_ a president admitted getting hummers in the Oval Office from at least one staffer.
It is not like Spitzer was in bed with someone from NAR. Now, _that_ would be something that would justify calls for his resignation.
Helicopter Ben is out flying again today…
Fiddling with the TAF spigot again. Looks like the DOW went on a 250-point tear for about 3 minutes (seriously) after the market opened, and is now giving it back slowly but steadily.
Does this indicate that Berwankey is favoring TAF over FFR-cuts? Or do you all think we will see another rate-cut at the next meeting?
FollowBefriend2 threads2,498 comments
Does this indicate that Berwankey is favoring TAF over FFR-cuts? Or do you all think we will see another rate-cut at the next meeting?
Ben's got an itchy trigger finger. One finger is on the TAF "button", and the other is on the FFR cutting "button."
Note that the markets are basically expecting a full 100bp cut for the next meeting.
Spitzer made a LOT of enemies in high places, especially Wall Street. Not to bring out the conspiracy theories, but this guy needed to stay perfect - any trip up, and his enemies would be coming out of the woodwork like crazy.
What saddened me the most about Spitzer's demise was that he was probably the only person (other than Ben Jones, Patrick, Schiff, Fleckenstein and a handful of others) that really understood the REIC Cartel.
More specifically how they operate and suck untold resources into their commission-driven scam. I guess now we'll never know but Spitzer seemed to grasp that just like the mutual fund industry, the REIC is more about gathering fees (than it is about performance!)
I have no way to explain it to those outside the securities industry but after Spitzer's impact virtually EVERY mutual fund purchase is scrutinized now.
Could the customer have gotten a "breakpoint" on the commission? Is this the best "share class" given the client's investment objectives? Where there existing options within the existing fund family's product line that could have been substituted without incurring a commission at all?
And just because the trade itself "is a done deal" doesn't mean your own internal compliance officer can't go back and re-evaluate the purchase! There were so many improvements as a result of his efforts it's incredible. Now that level of reform may never strike at the heart of the REIC. They'll quickly gloss over reforms and make toothless concessions to shut us up long enough to get back to biz as usual. What a shame.
Have you guys noticed how lame and soft the UCLA Anderson forecast has become since Chris Thornberg left them?
"No recession" for California, according to their report. Gimme a break! We're already IN one!
“No recession” for California, according to their report. Gimme a break! We’re already IN one!
California is special. It is the FORTRESS.
FollowBefriend4 threads2,115 comments
FFR cuts do not help if banks are unwilling to lend to each other. That is what TAF is about (around 70 banks particpated in the last auction vs. the 20 primary dealers). And just when you think you understand the game, they announce something like the new TSLF. My stomach ChurnOMeter just went from BAD to VERY BAD.
The Federal Reserve announced today an expansion of its securities lending program. Under this new Term Securities Lending Facility (TSLF), the Federal Reserve will lend up to $200 billion of Treasury securities to primary dealers secured for a term of 28 days (rather than overnight, as in the existing program) by a pledge of other securities, including federal agency debt, federal agency residential-mortgage-backed securities (MBS), and non-agency AAA/Aaa-rated private-label residential MBS.
non-agency AAA/Aaa-rated private-label residential MBS
That's the longest euphemism for "crap" that I have seen yet.
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