Saturday, June 11, 2011

Karl Denninger, “Ten Things Update: 2011”

“Ten Things Update: 2011”
 by Karl Denninger

“If you haven't read my previous "Ten Things" Ticker, do so here:

If you think that Bernanke, Obama and the rest have "fixed" the economy or the banking system, stop reading now and check into the nearest mental institution for evaluation.  I'm quite serious about this; given what we now know about securitized mortgages, debt in Greece and elsewhere along with 12% of GDP being literally borrowed up and spent by the government to cover up what should have been a Depression you are badly addicted to Hopium and your head has not seen daylight in two years. So with that and the "Ten Things" Ticker as a backdrop, let's update it.

    * You should be out of any floating-rate debt, and to the extent possible, be out of fixed-rate debt.  If you're not, it may be too late to prevent the worst sort of damage that could come.  If you have done this, congratulations.  Under no circumstance should you be adding to debt obligations at this time, with one exception: extremely low-interest and fixed rate debt that you are absolutely certain you can repay, even if your income is interrupted.  This has particular application for young people who are considering going to college and taking debt to do so.  This is a very dangerous proposition; read my previous Tickers on this subject and ask the hard questions - this debt is not only unable to be discharged in bankruptcy but at the present time young people doing this are the only suckers left in the market adding to their debt among consumers.  In short, our youth are being played.  Don't be one of the suckers!

    * You should have been saving 10% of your gross income and have two years of this available to you; that translates into at least 4 months of your current gross income.  Note that taxes are paid on this, so you really have at least six months of living expenses.  Anything in "investments" does not count; these must be liquid assets - that is, cash.  Now, distribute this through various instruments and places so you cannot lose access to it even in the event of "bad" things happening.

    * GET AWAY FROM THE TBTF INSTITUTIONS!  They're not only "too big to fail" they're also too big to save this time around.  Local credit unions are ok to a point, but look at their balance sheets.  Where's the money?  Even if you're under FDIC limits, be "more under" by distributing funds around.

    * If you have re-entered the stock market and made money, determine where your exit points are and be damn sure you're comfortable with the risk.  As I write this we're nearly 100 SPX points off the recent and multi-year highs.  Again, if you believe that the problems that led the market to tag 666 on the SPX were fixed, stop reading now; this article is not for you.  If, on the other hand, you do not believe this, consider what happens to that money if the SPX goes to 400 - because it both can and might.

    * Be prepared to "shelter in place" or "bug out" as appropriate.  "Wilding" events have already happened in some major cities.  This is likely to spread if there is a "fiscal" or "monetary" accident and the "FSA" (free **** army) funds get cut off.  These events could spread very quickly, and many large cities could go near-feral within days.  You need to know what you're going to do about that if it happens.  If you think it can't, you're wrong - it both can and might.  Being prepared costs nothing.  Being unprepared might cost you your life.  Consider walking down the average city street with 10-story apartment buildings on both sides while carrying a bag of groceries.  How many rifle barrels can be hidden behind those windows, pointed at your head?  Now consider what happens when the residents in those places have no food, no money, and you've got a bag of groceries.  Still comfortable walking down that street?  That's what I thought.  Incidentally, being "macho" (or even armed to the teeth) does you absolutely no good in such a situation; the only means of avoiding that problem is not being there if it happens.

    * You already have the lawful means of self-defense, right?  If not, there's still time to solve that problem, but remember: The means of lawful self-defense does not automatically confer skill in the use of same.  The police exist to come take a report and zip you into a bag under normal circumstances.  If the "wildings" get more-prevalent they may dispense with the report and shift to Hefty for the bag.  Think about that long and hard folks; it's not hyperbole.

    * Once again look at who your friends are - and aren't.  Many who you think are "friends" are really "acquaintances."  They're fine when things are good and ok to share a beer with, but trusting them with your life is another matter.   Again, this is "no foolin'" stuff - take stock of those who are in your circle and make changes as required.

    * Remember the first rules from Zombieland.  No, not "double tap."  Cardio.  If you're a couch potato you need to fix this right now.  Google up "Couch to 5k" if you need a way to get started.  If you can't jog a couple of miles non-stop you're not in acceptable physical shape.  The simple fact of the matter is that most of us are "sedentary" in our work nowdays and I'm willing to bet that 75% of those over 30 could not jog one ten-minute mile if it became necessary.  Well, if things get dicey and you have only your feet at that instant in time to reach safety with the question becomes this: Are you going to make it or have a heart attack?  One mile is simply not that far and fixing this problem can be done in eight weeks with nothing more than a pair of running shoes and 20 minutes three times a week.  Do it, and do it now.  This is not just about outrunning a bad situation; it's also about reducing your risk of dying when, not if, the "medical safety net" you're accustomed to today disappears.  I believe it will.  As such a minimum level of physical fitness is no longer optional unless you would like to make a date with St. Peter.

    * Wanna be short in the market right now? Ok.  But just remember my "golden rule" when it comes to these things: You cannot win a bet on the end of the world.  You're either wrong and lose your money or you're right and can't collect your winnings.  Therefore, discipline is key.  Giddiness is way, way out of control right now in the markets, with virtually everyone thinking that "The Fed will save us all."  Uh huh.  How's that worked out so far with unemployment, prices on commodities such as oil and similar?  The fact is this: The Fed not only has a horrifyingly bad record historically (e.g. "Subprime is contained") but in addition has done nothing to address the excess systemic leverage and has instead papered it over.  A bet on this continuing is, in my view, foolish.  Rather ominously a number of funds that track high-yield debt have started to roll over badly.  This is not being talked about, and by the time it is, it will be too late.  The first rule of investing is "don't lose your money"; all others (including "look at how much I can make!") come after that first one - never in front of it.

    * Do not count on entitlements of any sort.  Whether you're retired or not, figure out how you'll make it without them.  I'm completely serious about this, even though I know it's well outside of consensus.  The simple fact of the matter is that the United States is more than $100 trillion in the hole when one looks at the discounted future value of entitlement promises.  The money doesn't exist and can't be made to exist.  These entitlements on a forward basis will not be paid.  If you're 80, you'll probably not lose access to them during your remaining years.  If you're 65, or worse in your 50s or younger, it's an entirely different matter.  Again: Do not count on these political promises, no matter how much you believe you can force them to be provided through the political process.  When the money is gone, it's gone.”

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