International Forecaster Weekly

The Plunge Protection Team

The Plunge Protection Team...Oil shock... Paxil risks, and Omnibus data mining

Bob Chapman | June 9, 2004

The Working Group on Financial Markets better known as “The Plunge Protection Team” and the Fed are doing everything they can to move the stock market higher. They both continue to attempt to suppress the prices of silver and gold as each day more Americans realize the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have been failures. The Bush neocons had a yellow alert recently to take the atrocities at Abu Ghraib prison out of the headlines. The longer we stay bogged down in the Middle East the worse it is going to be. The Fed showing its “patriotism” is increasing aggregates at a $2 trillion annual clip.

Among us are a few executives with the guts to speak out and speak the truth. Bond guru Bill Gross warned that housing and commodity prices are becoming too speculative and he encouraged Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan to hike US interest rates higher before we create too many more bubbles. Gross, Chief investment officer of PIMCO has already positioned his firm’s bond portfolios in anticipation of higher rates. He expects interest rates to rise 1% before the election, starting this month. We believe that is what they should increase, but we believe we will get 1/4% and if lucky 1/2%.

If earlier oil shocks are any guide, the result will be accelerating inflation and a global recession. That is if current prices are sustained. Since industrial countries are largely consumers and importers of oil, a rising price is always a negative factor on demand. The more consumers pay for oil products the less they can spend on other goods. At current price levels $31.00 per month per car in the US. For Corporations higher costs, lower investment, reduced profits and eventual layoffs. Japan gets hit the worst as 45% of its exports go to other Asian countries. GDP would fall 0.5% in 2005 with oil at current levels and a full 1% in 2006. Inflation would pick up by 0.7%. At $40.00 a barrel, Europe would lose 0.3% in GDP in 2005 and 0.4% in 2006. That could be off set if the euro rises to $1.30 again, which we believe it will. This price level has a detrimental effect on business and consumer confidence, especially if this is associated with rising interest rates and worse, if house prices decline.

Families who can afford a monthly mortgage payment but do not have enough money for a down payment on a home can apply for assistance through a new government program under HUD, the most corrupt of our government agencies. HUD will distribute over $161 million to state and local agencies to help first-time homebuyers defray the costs of the down payment and closing costs typically due at settlement. Grants will be up to $10,000 or 6% of the purchase price. The money can be used to rehabilitate the property. Our government is not only giving houses away but they will pay you to buy one. The program is to help minorities and illegal aliens. That is because fewer than 50% own their own homes and this is a way to drive up housing prices. The Bush neocons want $200 million for next year. This is no way to run a country on a financially sound basis.

Hospitals are seeing a sharp rise in people not paying their bills. It is probably 30% of billings. Kaiser will spend $41 billion this year to cover medical costs for the uninsured. In some instances 50% of hospital earnings are being wiped out. Due to the cost of medical care the situation can only worsen, especially with a recession facing us in 2005 and millions of illegal aliens streaming over the border.

The Republican’s defeat in South Dakota last week shows that not only the presidency is at risk, so is control of Congress. Last time around Bush received 60% of the vote in this district. The public is rebelling against phony terrorist tactics, another war lost, which only served to enrich Mr. Bush’s elitist friends, massive deficits and virtual draft as thousands of soldiers are forced to continue serving in combat long after there enlistments are up.

New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has sued British pharmaceuticals group Glaxo Smith Kline PLC claiming fraud over its antidepressant drug Paxil. The company withheld negative information about Paxil and misrepresented data concerning its safety and efficacy in children and adolescents. They suppressed facts showing increased risk of suicide. More than two million prescriptions for Paxil were written for children and adolescents in the US in 2002. Finally, the truth is winning out thankfully to the giant efforts and guts of Dawn Rider.

The arrogance is now absent from Mr. Bush’s voice as the hole we know, as Iraq gets deeper. George and the neocons are running scared. Our President has lied about almost everything he has told us and those turkeys have returned to roost. Never has a head of state elected or dictated ever embarked on an imperial adventure so ill conceived, arrogant, little understood and without thorough preparation. He and his neocons in the final analysis in history will be regarded as evil blundering fools for even beginning such a misadventure. They have the maturity of 13 year olds. Washington is in an uproar with everyone blaming everyone else for wars that most of the participants favored and now want to disown. The crowning events are the torture and rape photos from Abu Ghraib prison, which had to have been planned and condoned at the highest level. The gag on reporting, the embedded media, is now free to tell the truth if it cares too. George and the neocons have their work cut out for November. We repeat vote for an independent because both George and John, both illuminists, will bury us.

Spotfire, Inc. creates software that transforms vast amounts of complex data into images that reveal the relationships between pieces of information. What is interesting to us is that the company is in Somerville, Mass., where I grew up, and that they are funded by the CIA. For the CIA, Spotfire is to develop data-visualization tools specially tailored to the needs of the intelligence community. The funding comes via an equity stake in the company from IN-Q-Tel, a venture capital company operated by the CIA. Surprisingly the Spotfire people are developing products that can be sold commercially and at the same time can be of use to the agency. The CIA has invested in three other companies developing software in nearby Cambridge. The three are Meta Carta, which makes geographic analysis software, Endeca Technologies, which provides search tools that generate orderly databases from heaps of unstructured data and Basis Technologies, which analyze documents written in multiple languages. This, of course, is done all in behalf of national security.