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Landmark ruling comes 34 years after the Supreme Court last upheld Canada’s anti-prostitution laws [Reuters]
|Canada’s top court has overturned all restrictions on prostitution, declaring that existing laws violated sex workers’ right to safety.The Supreme Court of Canada struck down bans on brothels, street solicitation, and living on the earnings of prostitution in a unanimous 9-0 decision on Friday, and gave the Canadian government one year to re-write the country’s prostitution laws.
While prostitution itself is technically legal in Canada, most prostitution-related activities were previously considered criminal offences.
In the decision, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin said many prostitutes “have no meaningful choice” but to “engage in the risky economic activity of prostitution,” and that the law should not make such activities more dangerous.
“It makes no difference that the conduct of pimps and johns is the immediate source of the harms suffered by prostitutes,” McLachlin wrote.
“The impugned laws deprive people engaged in a risky, but legal, activity of the means to protect themselves against those risks.”
The legal challenge to Canada’s prostitution laws was brought by a group of sex workers who argued that the now-overturned restrictions put them in danger.
Katrina Pacey, a lawyer for the petitioners, called it “an unbelievably important day for the sex workers but also for human rights.”
“The court recognized that sex workers have the right to protect themselves and their safety,” she said.
Last year, a lower court in the province of Ontario struck down the ban on brothels on the grounds that it exposed sex workers to more danger.
Friday’s ruling comes 34 years after the Supreme Court last upheld Canada’s anti-prostitution laws.
Prostitution is legal in much of Europe and Latin America, and brothels are legal in numerous countries, including the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland.
I’d been watching the stock for at least a month. A small time oil & gas company in Africa. It managed to secure a huge land position for a company of its size. Looked very promising, well funded for some time. Management previously had success putting together a similar land position with another company before it was swallowed early. But, still highly speculative.This one wouldn’t be dropping a drill on dirt until late 2014. Maybe 2015.
Being a stingy bugger and without a catalyst in the market, I kept sniffing around for a while before I finally slid my buy order in at 18.5 cents – this dude wasn’t going to pay the current market price of 20 cents! Maybe even 18.5 was too much. When it dropped to 19.5, I began to believe my order would get filled, but then when it hit 19 cents my mind started to desert me.
“I could get this for 18 cents.”
Volume. There wasn’t a great deal of it. In fact it was being pushed down on mild trades. Someone needed a new flatscreen or wanted to get their kid Optimus Prime for Christmas. There was no prospect that enough shares would be dumped and I’d get my fill at 18 cents. The holding was tight and the sell side was thin. Regardless, I hit the amend button and my order dropped down the queue to 18 cents.
I assume you know where this story is going. You’re probably wondering why I’m telling it when it inevitably makes me look like an idiot. So why tell? I’ve read countless explanations of investor psychology in a general sense, but rarely does anyone put their name to a calamity, or at least their nom de plume.
Everyone can recognise these paragraphs by Heidi Lefer and Ildiko Mohacsy, in Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry, but there’s little personality to it and no experience.
Economic bubbles and crashes have occurred regularly through history-from Holland’s 17th century tulip mania, to America’s 19th century railway mania, to the 1990s high-tech obsession. Though most investors regard themselves as investing rationally, few do. Instead they react collectively, buying high and selling low in crowds. Being subject to the illusion of control, they follow regressive behavior patterns and irrational, wishful thinking. They are victimized by their own emotions of hope, fear, and uncertainty.
When people feel doubt and panic, they regress to an earlier stage either individually or en masse. Under stress, they revert to affect (Mohacsy & Silver, 1980). Such mobbing has an obvious psychological counterpart in the market. Here, crowds are governed by wishful thinking. “Investors are coached to believe that a stock is a better buy when the price rises, that it’s ‘safer’ to join the crowd in betting the price up and ‘riskier’ to buy a stock declining in price” (Vick, 1999, p. 7). Investors also join a crowd to minimize regret. If something goes wrong, they know others behaved the same way.
We recognise it when exuberance makes charts go vertically up or when stone cold fear pushes them ruthlessly down, but our ego inevitably makes us shy away admitting that we take part in any function of it – “that’s those other sheep”. We’re merely unemotional observers, until we aren’t. Is anyone going to admit they were buying in the final moments before the last bitcoin crash?
It was inevitable that a few short days after Wall Street lovingly embraced Bitcoin as their own, with analysts from Bank of America, Citigroup and others, not to mention the clueless momentum-chasing, peanut gallery vocally flip-flopping on the “currency” after hating it at $200 only to love it at $1200 that Bitcoin… would promptly crash. And crash it did: overnight, following previously reported news that China’s Baidu would follow the PBOC in halting acceptance of Bitcoin payment, Bitcoin tumbled from a recent high of $1155 to an almost electronically destined “half-off” touching $576 hours ago, exactly 50% lower, on very heave volume, before a dead cat bounce levitated the currency back to the $800 range, where it may or may not stay much longer, especially if all those who jumped on the bandwagon at over $1000 on “get rich quick” hopes and dreams, only to see massive losses in their P&Ls decide they have had enough.
There will be a strange irony, in that anyone you talk to with a bitcoin experience will have left the building at $1100 – “it was looking bubbly, so I took a profit.” Hmmm. The drip that bought at $1155 will be cloaked in anonymity, unless $2200 is later smoked.
Back to me, and the price my mind had agreed pay – 18.5 cents was hit. But where was I? Yeah, I’d cooly (or so I told myself ) shifted another gear down and was expecting to get my happy ending at 17.5 cents. As the share price firmed again, juddering between 19.5 and 20 cents I meekly snuck back to 18.5. At 20 I snuck up to 19, as I wondered whether it might go to 20.5. Of course it did, before coming back to 19.5, at which point I had enough steel to leave my order at 19.
In the midst of this circus, late on a Friday, the buy side appeared to firm considerably and immediately it looked a better buy again – “buy now and I’m with the crowd.” After a fortnight of courting and several times being left with my frank in my hand, maybe it was time to make the move and just get my fill at 19.5. But, but, but, this was Friday afternoon and anything could happen over the weekend. Rating agency downgrades, terrorist attack, tsunami, nuclear disaster, alien invasion, apocalypse. And I’d still have to settle on Wednesday!
And something did happen. First it was a market announcement after the close on Friday that their seismic program had shown positive results. Damn, I assumed this was going to cost me another half cent! Then on Monday – TRADING HALT.
11 minutes before open on Monday morning. I spent most of Monday cursing my stupidity while muttering F-U under my breath. On Wednesday morning the announcement came out – an unsolicited equity placement at an 18% premium to the previous close. A significantly rare and positive event. And on open, the share begins trading at 23.5 cents.
Where’s my order? Oh I’d moved it to 22 cents now. Sigh. Yeah it was happening all over again. Though a few price bumps up to 24 and 24.5 cents during the day had me edgy. Now the urge is to get ahead of the game because this is surely going higher.
What didn’t help throughout this brain mincing was my constant contact with a share trading forum. Those great analogies that describe a share price ready for take off (see, I just used one then!) were flying into my eyes like poison darts. Common sense is blinded and it further makes me think I gotta get in!
Toot! Toot! Buckle up your seatbelts! The floor is in! A couple of cents will be meaningless soon!
Then there’s also talk of the big boys buying, holidays (not just theme parks, your own private island), early retirement and Ferraris. Sitting on the sidelines and kicking yourself while reading this is a little unnerving, but a slap to the face and you quickly regain perspective. The real issue becomes the now moving share price. Even if you block out the chat room noise, with every half cent it’s somehow a better investment – or speculation as it were. Yet last week every half cent movement downward made it waft like sun-baking salmon. Someone’s selling, something must be wrong. Drag that order down so you won’t overpay!
After again playing tag and miss with the price for most of the day, a gap opened up at 22.5 towards closing time. That was the entry point. No more mental gymnastics trying to second guess the next movement – if I got hit, I got hit. I placed my order. It sat near the top of the queue and with one foul swoop at 3:51pm I became a shareholder. A few minutes later the price went back to 23 cents and that’s where it closed for the day. After two weeks of games, and being led around by my nose, it was a very painless exercise. Yet I had little control until I pinched my brain in those final moments. There was some satisfaction that I paid less than the premium placement that instigated the jump in price, but I still paid 21% more than if I’d just left my initial order 18.5 cents.
Again, from Heidi Lefer and Ildiko Mohacsy, in Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry – I’m guilty as charged.
Our brains are hard-wired to get us into investing trouble; humans are pattern-seeking animals . . . .Our brains are designed to perceive trends even where they might not exist. After an event occurs just two or three times in a row . . . the anterior cingulate and nucleus accumbens automatically anticipate that it will happen again. If it does repeat . . . dopamine is released . . . .Thus, if a stock goes up a few times in a row, you can reflexively expect it to keep going up . . . .Brain chemistry changes as the stock rises, giving . . . a “natural high.” You effectively become addicted to your own predictions.
At last close the share price sat at 31.5 cents. I’m in, I’m ahead and I’m finally calm. But I still can’t believe how ridiculous my mental gymnastics became. I’ve got no clue how many trades I’ve completed over the years, but any time I’m buying a new company this farce reappears.
The share forums have gone wild over the company. Just by reading them the brain could start firing with thoughts of short changing your future family tree by not taking a position. I felt similar insanity that day I realised I’d be paying 21% more than I’d initially intended.
It went up remarkably quickly after I bought, then came a sharp pullback. The sentiment around the company has snapped from “gotta get in” to “maybe I can get it cheaper”. A sharp change in the direction of the share price invokes that mental game for any potential new entrant. Now, as a shareholder, I’m less concerned if it goes up or not. I just don’t have to worry about being left behind if it does.
My terror now? The prospect of fighting that uncontrollable and irrational part of my mind when it comes time to sell. Sometime down the line will I play chicken for two weeks in the attempt to get an extra three cents? Or will I chase the price down two cents if it turns on me?
If I can ruthlessly control my saving and spending, surely the same control can be applied to investing (or speculating).
Sooner or later I’ll find out.
As might be expected as political and economic policy failures pile up and citizens become increasingly mad, the status quo is becoming increasingly authoritarian (recall blogger “Mish” was just fined 8,000 euros for a blog post).
In the latest disturbing news from a desperate power structure, the conservative government in Spain has passed an Orwellian bill titled the Citizens’ Security Law, which allows for fines of up to 600,000 euros ($816,000) for “unauthorized” street protests, and a 30,000 fine for merely having signs with “offensive” slogans against Spain or for wearing a mask.
This law is a perfect example of the increasing neo-feudalism being implemented across the globe by a corrupt, decadent and depraved status quo. Such laws must be immediately resisted or they will only get worse, much worse. It is quite obvious what the power structure in Spain in trying to do. It is putting into place an egregious punishment framework that could bankrupt a person by merely protesting. Such a threat is intended to make people not even consider their rights as human beings to express grievances to a crony government.
Instead of eye for an eye, it is like 25 eyes and a limb for an eye. If this does’t tell the Spanish people all they need to know about their government I don’t know what will. Below are some excerpts from a Reuters story covering the law:
(Reuters) – Spain’s conservative government agreed on Friday to toughen penalties for unauthorized street protests up to a possible 600,000 euro ($816,000) fine, a crackdown that belies the peaceful record of the anti-austerity protests of recent years.
Street protests and strikes have became increasingly frequent in recent years following huge cuts to education and health spending aimed at shrinking Spain’s public deficit to adhere to European Union demands.
But in contrast to Greece and elsewhere, where many similar protests have turned violent, Spain’s have remained largely peaceful, despite unemployment of 26 percent, rising poverty, and changes in labor laws that make firing easier.
Among other measures, protesters who cover their faces at demonstrations could be fined up to 30,000 euros while “offensive” slogans against Spain or its regions could reap a similar sanction.
The government also plans a new law restricting labor protests.
“This law … attempts to criminalize the act of protest,” said United Left lawmaker Gaspar Llamazares, questioning whether it complied with Spain’s constitution. “The government is trying to turn its political opponents into delinquents.”
”Compare events in Spain with those of other countries around us,” wrote conservative columnist Jose Antonio Zarzalejos on the website El Confidencial. “This security law … will add the stigma of authoritarianism to the political failure of the PP.”
It’s not just Spain though. This sort of panic attack from desperate members of the status quo is popping up elsewhere. Japan is another example, and over the weekend I read that Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba compared demonstrations to “acts of terrorism.” From the Japan Times:
Citizens demonstrating against the controversial state secrets bill are committing “an act terrorism,” according to Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba.
In a blog post Friday, he wrote: “If you want to realize your ideas and principles, you should follow the democratic principles, by gaining as much support as you can. I think the strategy of merely shouting one’s opinions at the top of one’s lungs is not so fundamentally different from an act of terrorism.”
My take is that people worldwide will not stand for such nonsense. Increasingly citizens have very little to lose and if they all say no together, there is not much the state can do. Just look at how Ukrainians responded to a ban on protests. Hundreds of thousands of them filled the streets in defiance. Below is a video of just one of the many incredible street scenes from over the weekend. In this case we see demonstrators using a tractor to break police barricades.
Interesting times indeed.
Still unnoticed by a large part of the population is that we have been living through a period of relative impoverishment. Money has been squandered in welfare spending, bailing out banks or even — as in Europe — of fellow governments. But many people still do not feel the pain.
However, malinvestments have destroyed an immense amount of real wealth. Government spending for welfare programs and military ventures has caused increasing public debts and deficits in the Western world. These debts will never be paid back in real terms.
The welfare-warfare state is the biggest malinvestment today. It does not satisfy the preferences of freely interacting individuals and would be liquidated immediately if it were not continuously propped up by taxpayer money collected under the threat of violence.
Another source of malinvestment has been the business cycle triggered by the credit expansion of the semi-public fractional reserve banking system. After the financial crisis of 2008, malinvestments were only partially liquidated. The investors that had financed the malinvestments such as overextended car producers and mortgage lenders were bailed out by governments; be it directly through capital infusions or indirectly through subsidies and public works. The bursting of the housing bubble caused losses for the banking system, but the banking system did not assume these losses in full because it was bailed out by governments worldwide. Consequently, bad debts were shifted from the private to the public sector, but they did not disappear. In time, new bad debts were created through an increase in public welfare spending such as unemployment benefits and a myriad of “stimulus” programs. Government debt exploded.
In other words, the losses resulting from the malinvestments of the past cycle have been shifted to an important degree onto the balance sheets of governments and their central banks. Neither the original investors, nor bank shareholders, nor bank creditors, nor holders of public debt have assumed these losses. Shifting bad debts around cannot recreate the lost wealth, however, and the debt remains.
To illustrate, let us consider Robinson Crusoe and the younger Friday on their island. Robinson works hard for decades and saves for retirement. He invests in bonds issued by Friday. Friday invests in a project. He starts constructing a fishing boat that will produce enough fish to feed both of them when Robinson retires and stops working.
At retirement Robinson wants to start consuming his capital. He wants to sell his bonds and buy goods (the fish) that Friday produces. But the plan will not work if the capital has been squandered in malinvestments. Friday may be unable to pay back the bonds in real terms, because he simply has consumed Robinson’s savings without working or because the investment project financed with Robinson’s savings has failed.
For instance, imagine that the boat is constructed badly and sinks; or that Friday never builds the boat because he prefers partying. The wealth that Robinson thought to own is simply not there. Of course, for some time Robinson may maintain the illusion that he is wealthy. In fact, he still owns the bonds.
Let us imagine that there is a government with its central bank on the island. To “fix” the situation, the island’s government buys and nationalizes Friday’s failed company (and the sunken boat). Or the government could bail Friday out by transferring money to him through the issuance of new government debt that is bought by the central bank. Friday may then pay back Robinson with newly printed money. Alternatively the central banks may also just print paper money to buy the bonds directly from Robinson. The bad assets (represented by the bonds) are shifted onto the balance sheet of the central bank or the government.
As a consequence, Robinson Crusoe may have the illusion that he is still rich because he owns government bonds, paper money, or the bonds issued by a nationalized or subsidized company. In a similar way, people feel rich today because they own savings accounts, government bonds, mutual funds, or a life insurance policy (with the banks, the funds, and the life insurance companies being heavily invested in government bonds). However, the wealth destruction (the sinking of the boat) cannot be undone. At the end of the day, Robinson cannot eat the bonds, paper, or other entitlements he owns. There is simply no real wealth backing them. No one is actually catching fish, so there will simply not be enough fishes to feed both Robinson and Friday.
Something similar is true today. Many people believe they own real wealth that does not exist. Their capital has been squandered by government malinvestments directly and indirectly. Governments have spent resources in welfare programs and have issued promises for public pension schemes; they have bailed out companies by creating artificial markets, through subsidies or capital injections. Government debt has exploded.
Many people believe the paper wealth they own in the form of government bonds, investment funds, insurance policies, bank deposits, and entitlements will provide them with nice sunset years. However, at retirement they will only be able to consume what is produced by the real economy. But the economy’s real production capacity has been severely distorted and reduced by government intervention. The paper wealth is backed to a great extent by hot air. The ongoing transfer of bad debts onto the balance sheets of governments and central banks cannot undo the destruction of wealth. Savers and pensioners will at some point find out that the real value of their wealth is much less than they expected. In which way, exactly, the illusion will be destroyed remains to be seen.
Many of the ills of the modern world — starvation, poverty, flooding, heat waves, droughts, war and disease — are likely to worsen as the world warms from man-made climate change, a leaked draft of an international scientific report forecasts.
The report uses the word “exacerbate” repeatedly to describe warming’s effect on poverty, lack of water, disease and even the causes of war.
The Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will issue a report next March on how global warming is already affecting the way people live and what will happen in the future, including a worldwide drop in income.
A leaked copy of a draft of the summary of the report appeared online Friday on a climate skeptic’s website. Governments will spend the next few months making comments about the draft.
“We’ve seen a lot of impacts and they’ve had consequences,” Carnegie Institution climate scientist Chris Field, who heads the report, told The Associated Press on Saturday. “And we will see more in the future.”
Cities, where most of the world now lives, have the highest vulnerability, as do the globe’s poorest people.
“Throughout the 21st century, climate change impacts will slow down economic growth and poverty reduction, further erode food security and trigger new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hotspots of hunger,” the report says. “Climate change will exacerbate poverty in low- and lower-middle income countries and create new poverty pockets in upper-middle to high-income countries with increasing inequality.”
For people living in poverty, the report says, “climate-related hazards constitute an additional burden.”
The report says scientists have high confidence especially in what it calls certain “key risks”:
People dying from warming- and sea rise-related flooding, especially in big cities.
- Famine because of temperature and rain changes, especially for poorer nations.
- Farmers going broke because of lack of water.
- Infrastructure failures because of extreme weather.
- Dangerous and deadly heat waves worsening.
- Certain land and marine ecosystems failing.
“Human interface with the climate system is occurring and climate change poses risks for human and natural systems,” the 29-page summary says.
Exacerbating current health problems
None of the harms talked about in the report is solely due to global warming nor is climate change even the No. 1 cause, the scientists say. But a warmer world, with bursts of heavy rain and prolonged drought, will worsen some of these existing effects, they say.
For example, in disease, the report says until about 2050 “climate change will impact human health mainly by exacerbating health problems that already exist” and then it will lead to worse health compared to a future with no further warming.
‘Climate change indirectly increases risks from violent conflict in the form of civil war, intergroup violence and violent protests.’– Report
If emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of coal, oil and gas continue at current trajectories, “the combination of high temperature and humidity in some areas for parts of the year will compromise normal human activities including growing food or working outdoors,” the report says.
Scientists say the global economy may continue to grow, but once the global temperature hits about 3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than now, it could lead to worldwide economic losses between 0.2 and 2.0 percent of income.
One of the more controversial sections of the report involves climate change and war.
“Climate change indirectly increases risks from violent conflict in the form of civil war, intergroup violence and violent protests by exacerbating well-established drivers of these conflicts such as poverty and economic shocks,” the report says.
Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann, who wasn’t part of the international study team, told the AP that the report’s summary confirms what researchers have known for a long time: “Climate change threatens our health, land, food and water security.”
The summary went through each continent detailing risks and possible ways that countries can adapt to them.
For North America, the highest risks over the long term are from wildfires, heat waves and flooding. Water — too much and too little — and heat are the biggest risks for Europe, South America and Asia, with South America and Asia having to deal with drought-related food shortages.
Africa gets those risks and more: starvation, pests and disease. Australia and New Zealand get the unique risk of losing their coral reef ecosystems, and small island nations have to be worried about being inundated by rising seas.
Field said experts paint a dramatic contrast of possible futures, but because countries can lessen some of the harms through reduced fossil fuel emissions and systems to cope with other changes, he said he doesn’t find working on the report depressing.
“The reason I’m not depressed is because I see the difference between a world in which we don’t do anything and a world in which we try hard to get our arms around the problem,” he said.
Two months ago we reported that Obama had officially declared war on the weather, after it was reported that he was ready to use “administrative authority” to fight climate change. While at the time it was not quite clear just what authority he had to unleash centrally-planned weather, today we finally got a glimpse of how Obama’s biggest war yet would look like.
As Washington Times reports, “President Obama issued an executive order Friday directing a government-wide effort to boost preparation in states and local communities for the impact of global warming. The action orders federal agencies to work with states to build “resilience” against major storms and other weather extremes. For example, the president’s order directs that infrastructure projects like bridges and flood control take into consideration climate conditions of the future, which might require building structures larger or stronger — and likely at a higher price tag.”
In other words, following the epic Syrian fiasco, whose primary intention was to boost the US budget deficit as a result of a localized war, and allow Bernanke more debt issues to monetize, Obama now has decided to unleash a very expensive, and very much debt-funded war against the greatest enemy of all: the weather.
The article goes on:
“The impacts of climate change — including an increase in prolonged periods of excessively high temperatures, more heavy downpours, an increase in wildfires, more severe droughts, permafrost thawing, ocean acidification and sea-level rise — are already affecting communities, natural resources, ecosystems, economies and public health across the nation,” the presidential order said. “The federal government must build on recent progress and pursue new strategies to improve the nation’s preparedness and resilience.”
There’s no estimate of how much the additional planning will cost. Natural disasters including Superstorm Sandy cost the U.S. economy more than $100 billion in 2012, according to the administration.
Well, the more the merrier. Since interest costs in the New Normal are not an issue as long as the Marriner Eccles politburo is around, debt is wealth, and the more debt the US incurs to comply with Obama’s latest executive order, the better.
Sure enough, as a result of this idiotic development, it is best to have very lofty aspirations, of the variety that come in 9 or more digits: after all, since nobody can quantify “climate change” may as well unleash the most ridiculous numbers conceivable.
The White House is also setting up a task force of state and local leaders to offer advice to the federal government, with several Democratic governors having agreed to serve and at least one Republican governor, from the U.S. territory of Guam.
Mr. Obama has a goal of reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020, and the Environmental Protection Agency is working on rules that would impose tougher regulations on coal-burning power plants. But much of the president’s climate-change agenda has stalled in Congress, and the administration says the new order recognizes that global greenhouse gas emissions are still rising, making further damage from global warming inevitable.
But since when did an autocrat, whose only concern is pandering to his populist, Obamaphone-equipped electorate, while spying on the middle class and doing the bidding of Wall Street, care about the facts?
“The question is not whether we need to act,” Mr. Obama said at the time. “The question is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late.”
Damn right: however the “action in question has nothing to do with spending trillions to prepare for a crisis that may come long after the Federal Reserve has destroyed western civilization, but rather to overthrow a corrupt, oligarchic, self-serving system, in which the middle-class, once the backbone of a great nation, is being forced into extinction by its “elected” representatives through the most subversive form of wealth transfer in the Fed’s 100 years of existence.
If there is ever a case study about people who built up their reputation and then squandered it for first being right for all the wrong reasons, and then being wrong for the right ones, then Meredith Whitney certainly heads the list of eligible candidates. After “predicting” the great financial crisis back in 2007 by looking at some deteriorating credit trends at Citigroup, a process that many had engaged beforehand and had come to a far more dire -and just as correct – conclusion, Whitney rose to stardom for merely regurgitating a well-known meme, however since her trumpeted call was the one closest to the Lehman-Day event when it all came crashing down, it afforded her a 5 year very lucrative stint as an advisor. Said stint has now been shuttered.
The main reason for the shuttering, of course, is that in 2010 she also called an imminent “muni” cataclysm, staking her reputation once again not only on what is fundamentally obvious, but locking in a time frame: 2011. Alas, this time her “timing” luck ran out and her call was dead wrong, leading people to question her abilities, and ultimately to give up on her “advisory” services altogether. Which in some ways is a shame because Whitney was and is quite correct about the municipal default tidal wave, as Detroit and ever more municipalities have shown, and the only question is the timing.
However, as Citi’s Matt King recent showed, when it comes to stepwise, quantum leap repricings of widely held credits, the revelation is usually a very painful, sudden and very dramatic one. This can be seen nowhere better than in the default of Lehman brothers, where while the firm’s equity was slow to admit defeat it was nothing in comparison to the abject case study in denial that the Lehman bonds put in. However, as can be seen in the chart below, when it finally came, and when bondholders realized they are screwed the morning of Monday, Septembr 15 when the Lehman bankruptcy filing was fact, the move from 80 cents on the dollar to under 10 cents took place in a heartbeat.
It is the same kind of violent and anguished repricing that all unsecrued creditors in the coming wave of heretofore “denialed” municipal bankruptcy filings will have to undergo.Starting with Detroit, where as Reuters reports, the recovery to pensioners, retirees and all other unsecured creditors will be…. 16 cents on the dollar!… or less than what Greek bondholders got in the country’s latest (and certainly not final) bankruptcy.
On Friday, city financial consultant Kenneth Buckfire said he did not have to recommend to Orr that pensions for the city’s retirees be cut as a way to help Detroit navigate through debts and liabilities that total $18.5 billion.
Buckfire said it was clear that the city did not have the funds to pay the unsecured pension payouts without cutting them.
“It was a function of the mathematics,” said Buckfire, who said he did not think it was necessary for him or anyone else to recommend pension cuts to Orr.
“Are you saying it was so self-evident that no one had to say it?” asked Claude Montgomery, attorney for a committee of retirees that was created by Rhodes.
“Yes,” Buckfire answered.
Buckfire, a Detroit native and investment banker with restructuring experience, later told the court the city plans to pay unsecured creditors, including the city’s pensioners, 16 cents on the dollar. There are about 23,500 city retirees.
One wonders by how many cents on the dollar the recovery to pensioners would increase if the New York-based Miller Buckfire were to cut their advisory fee, but that is not the point of this post (it will be of a subsequent).
What is the point, is that creditors across all products, aided and abetted by the greatest credit bubble of all time blown by Benny and the Inkjets, will find the kind of violent repricings that Lehman showed take place whenever hope dies, increasingly more prevalent. And since retirees and pensioners are ultimately creditors, this is perhaps the fastest, if certainly most brutal way, to make sure that the United Welfare States of America is finally on a path of sustainability.
The only question is how will those same retirees who have just undergone an 84 cent haircut, take it. One hopes: peacefully. Because among those whose incentive to work effectively has just been cut to zero, is also the local police force. In which case if hope once again fails, it is perhaps better not to contemplate the consequences. For both Meredith Whitney, who will eventually be proven right, and for everyone else.
- Detroit pension cuts ‘function of mathematics’ -investment banker (uk.reuters.com)
- Judge allows banker’s Detroit bankruptcy testimony (crainsdetroit.com)
- Matt Taibbi: Wall Street hedge funds are stealing public workers’ pensions (rawstory.com)
Struggles of the young and jobless – Business – CBC News. (FULL ARTICLE)
Friday’s employment figures held a rare spot of good news for young workers – the creation of 15,700 jobs for 15- to 24-year-olds in September.
The burden of unemployment has fallen especially heavily on Canada’s youth over the last three to five years.
Youth joblessness currently stands at 12.9 per cent, down from 14.1 per cent in August, possibly on account of many young people returning to school in the fall. That compares with a Canada-wide unemployment rate of 6.9 per cent.
‘It definitely is a very competitive job market, and when it is competitive, employers have more choices.’– Manjeet Dhiman, job counsellor
Youth participation in the workforce is a scant 63 per cent, and only 48 per cent of young workers have full-time employment, with the rest making do with part-time work, according to Statistics Canada.
And while dismal job prospects have encouraged many young Canadians to stay in school, for many, a master’s degree is no guarantee of employment in any job, let alone in their field of study.
- Ontario facing “chronic” youth unemployment (o.canada.com)
- Young people dropping out of the workforce amid high youth unemployment (o.canada.com)