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This weekend demonstrated an inconvenient truth for those who think that in response to free speech they should go shoot people:

In America any such attempt has a high probability of turning into a two-way shooting range, and due to our 2nd Amendment we are typically quite reasonable shots with our weapons too.

You may pull something like this in France, Spain or similar (Boston, anyone?) where the population has been pussified and given up their arms, but in large parts of the country we still have ours and we're not going to give them up -- except, of course and under perfectly-reasonably justification, bullets first.

Free speech is worth defending; there has never been a time that people have tried to censor or threaten people for inoffensive speech.  Indeed, it is only speech offending someone that is ever threatened.

Nonetheless there is an important point of note: Despite being deeply offensive to Christians everywhere nobody went on a shooting spree when "Piss Christ" was put on display, nor when other various images were concocted insulting Christianity.

Irrespective of whether you find a cartoon insulting or not the cartoonist has every right to draw and display it.  In fact, the more insulted you are the more right that person has, because it is only through the mental confrontation in the offended's mind that necessarily takes place when free speech occurs that people question their beliefs, religions and suspicions.

It is through this process of inquiry, whether it occurs with attendant insult or not, that we find that which we hold as "true" when it comes to matters that cannot be proved but rather are beliefs, whether they be related to religion or otherwise.

To those in the Islamic community who believe that there is no right to insult your prophet and that such merits a legal or violent response: You're wrong, and if someone else believes that said person was a pedophile war-mongering monster they have every right to both say it and draw it.  Those who attempt to meet such free speech with violence in this country will, as they have, discover that we both defend our Constitution and will shoot back, ending your murderous rampage, and I advocate that we dip our bullets in pig fat before doing so as well.  After all, a well-lubricated weapon is a happy weapon.

PS: Has Obama called this "Islamic Terrorism" yet, even with ISIS taking credit for it, or is he still sniveling about "The Great Religion of Pieces"?

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There are an increasing number of estimates being ratcheted down to an outright negative GDP print for the second quarter (first quarter is already in the crapper, incidentally.)

As I've repeatedly noted this has become increasingly likely as the so-called "monetary heroin" cannot work indefinitely and the hangover from such shenanigans is a cumulative poison in the economy.

The reason is that contrary to Bernanke's pronouncements (along with others) it is supposed to be expensive in relative and real terms to borrow.  This market force prevents you from doing so en-masse for uneconomic things, such as consumption or speculation.

Pulling forward demand with low interest rates while at the same time spurring asset prices higher via buybacks and similar games does not create economic demand.  At best it is a time shift with a hangover and the problem is that the act of doing it exacts a tax on the economy as a whole that cannot be avoided and is permanent in its impact.

So while the benefits are fleeting the costs are not and when they come home to roost the inevitable hangover means much lower growth than would otherwise be the case.  Unfortunately asset prices and behavior become predicated on this artificial horizon and as a result the next downward move becomes both inevitable and of far worse depth than it would have otherwise been.

Welcome to the consequences.

PS: 2 quarters of sequential negative GDP has a common name.  It's "Recession."

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I wonder if it's time for a new song.....

It's unlikely that police officers would turn on each other during a trial, due to the loyalty that typically runs through departments, David A. Harris, a University of Pittsburgh law professor and an expert on racial profiling, told The New York Times.

Jurors are often "inclined to give [police officers] the benefit of the doubt," according to The Times, because behavior "such as beating or even shooting another person" is assumed to be part of a cop's job.

"It's always difficult to get a guilty verdict against a police officer except in the worst and strongest cases," Harris told The Times. "A police officer comes into a courtroom not just presumed to be innocent, but presumed to be the good guy."

 That's been true for a long time, but as the number of people who have this sort of experience mount....

I had no idea why I might be getting pulled and I was extremely surprised when the officer told me it was for not stopping at the stop sign.

I said, “I absolutely did stop.”

He said, “Sir, you didn’t even slow down.”

Simply put, that was a bald-faced lie. (And also utterly ridiculous — the cop was claiming that I approached an intersection, going 20 or 30 miles per hour, and executed a 90-degree turn without braking, in an SUV.)

I had this sort of experience, but at a somewhat-lesser level, a number of years ago.  There was a "no right turn" sign that was intentionally hidden behind a tree that had become very overgrown in the direction of the sign such that it was flatly impossible to see the sign until after you had committed to the turn.  There was no other indication that the street was one-way or the turn was otherwise restricted visible; in fact it was a two-way, normal street -- you just couldn't turn right there at that particular intersection.

I did, and there was a cop waiting right there who immediately pulled me over and issued a ticket.  I fought it, complete with coming to court with a bunch of pictures (film shot, developed, printed; this was before the rise of digital photography and cellphones) documenting that it was flatly impossible to avoid knowing that the turn was prohibited until you were already committed to it.

I was still fined -- half the amount, no points, no record -- but fined.  Equally telling was that out of roughly 50 people in the courtroom for traffic violations that morning every single one of them, roughly a dozen before my case was called was for the same violation at the same intersection.

The city was simply using this sign placement as a means of extortion, and making a hell of a lot of money doing it, with the cops all in on it.  It was a flat-out extortion racket complete with guns.

As a result I'm sure you can guess what my expectation is if I am ever asked to sit on a jury with regard to whether the cops are telling the truth -- or are the "good guys."  Our numbers are mounting by the day, and this means that eventually the cops, when they show up in a courtroom, are going to be presumed to be the bad guys, and while the case will still have to be proved that "halo" will be flat out gone.

Is it time yet?  No, but it's coming folks, and while it may not quite get to the level where the common man with a cup of water who sees a cop on fire will drink it, it doesn't have to go quite that far for the thug cop problem to disappear.  No, only the halo needs to be quashed, and the more of their union reps and captains stand up and "support" cops who cause a man to die from a nearly-severed spine while shackled hand and foot in their custody, never mind arresting people without probable cause, the closer this day comes......

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There are times I have to chuckle at the bleating from so-called "genius" minds...

For the second year in a row, the first-quarter Gross Domestic Product figures were disappointing. The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial entitled "The Slow-Growth Fed," uses the opportunity to argue (again) for tighter monetary policy. The editorialists point out that the Federal Open Market Committee's projections of economic growth have been too high since the financial crisis, which is true. Therefore (the WSJ concludes), monetary policy is not working and efforts to use it to support the recovery should be discontinued.

It's generous of the WSJ writers to note, as they do, that "economic forecasting isn't easy." They should know, since the Journal has been forecasting a breakout in inflation and a collapse in the dollar at least since 2006, when the FOMC decided not to raise the federal funds rate above 5-1/4 percent.

Well the Journal was in decent company there; back in 2007 I was expecting a breakout in inflation and a collapse of the dollar too. In fact, I wrote extensively about it.

But there's an important difference between people like Bernanke (and the WSJ's board, sadly) and those who actually look at data rather than parrot a narrative: The latter revise their views when their thesis fails to verify.

So when, Ben, are you going to revise your views?  You might start by telling the truth, for example:

Importantly, they fail to note that, while the FOMC (and virtually all private-sector economists) have been too optimistic about growth, they have also been consistently too pessimistic about unemployment, which has fallen more quickly than anticipated.

Oh really?  If you disregard the employment:population ratio you can make this sort of claim, but of course that's intentionally disregarding people who left the labor force yet are of working age.  It's flat-out fraudulent to claim such people are not "unemployed"; they most-certainly do not have jobs!

But of far more importance is what tampering with interest rates to the degree The Fed did under Bernanke (and has continued today under Yellen) does to the economy as a whole.  Borrowing money is supposed to be expensive; this in turn is the natural check and balance on doing so for other than productive purposes -- that is, for other than increasing production on a durable basis.

That is from an economic perspective borrowing money to consume is simply a time shift; it leads to no durable economic improvement and is in fact deflationary because it raises the cost of acquisition in the fullness of time, thereby depressing aggregate demand over time.  Borrowing to speculate is even worse as it simply drives the supply:demand curve of asset prices to the right and thus (prices) move upward.  But again, that is a false gain for it only continues so long as the distortion does!

Borrowing to build a factory, where the factory is able to produce more net profit than the borrowed money costs to acquire, is the only positive use of borrowed funds.  The natural check and balance against doing other things with borrowed funds in a market interest rate environment is that the costs are high enough to dissuade that abuse.  Tampering with interest rates destroys this market mechanism.

The Fed defends this with the argument that the government "should" use the lowered rates to invest in infrastructure.  But neither The Fed or anyone else can control where borrowed money goes; market forces control that and they are not under The Fed's control.  What the government actually did with all this cheap borrowed money was spend it on "social benefits" such as unemployment and effectively nobody in the private economy spent the cheap borrowed money on infrastructure either; it instead went to stock buybacks and similar chicanery.

The Fed could have withdrawn its program when it became clear that Congress wasn't going to spend nearly all of the "free" credit it created on infrastructure -- but it didn't.

The Fed could have withdrawn its program when the stock buyback craze with borrowed money began.... but it didn't.

Instead it ratified and endorsed those decisions by continuing and further pressing the program with multiple rounds of QE.

The problem with such a policy is that any borrowing for other than productive investment is economically destructive.  It inherently must be, because when you print credit out of thin air (as the US Government and Fed do with such policies) the purchasing power destruction caused is immediate and impossible to avoid.  Just as the Fed cannot control where the borrowed money goes it also cannot control who gets hosed with the purchasing power destruction; indeed, it ratably gets allocated across the entire economy!

There is no escaping any of this as it's a function of arithmetic.

So back to the first point: Why was the WSJ (and my view, originally) wrong on the dollar collapse?

Answer: Credit expansion is inflationary.  Credit contraction is deflationary.

Why?  Because the money supply is not just currency -- it is all currency and credit in the system, and since credit is of much larger quantity than currency swings in that metric wildly outpace currency.

As I'm fond of saying.... it's the math, silly Ben, and I suspect you know this since you have a PhD in economics, which you certainly didn't earn without knowing how exponents work.

Therefore I'm forced to ask: What was, and is, your true motivation in presenting what was obvious bullcrap for the last couple of decades, along with continuing to defend it now Ben?

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2015-05-04 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Energy , 333 references

Jesus, the stupid is strong with people....

The Powerwall is available in 10kWh, optimized for backup applications or 7kWh optimized for daily use applications. Both can be connected with solar or grid and both can provide backup power.

The 10kWh Powerwall is optimized to provide backup when the grid goes down. When paired with solar power, the 7kWh Powerwall can be used in daily cycling to extend the environmental and cost benefits of solar into the night when sunlight is unavailable, Tesla said.

Tesla’s selling price to installers is $3,500 for 10kWh and $3,000 for 7kWh. (Price excludes inverter and installation.) Deliveries begin in late summer.

So let's see..... I'll assume (and I'm being kind) that this pack in cyclic use will return 10 years of power with an average drawdown of 50%.  Note that the drawdown percentage is critical; a pack that can handle 3,000 cycles with a 50% drawdown can probably only handle 1,000 if the drawdown is in the 70-80% range.

This in turn means that the actual capacity of the pack, in real use, isn't 7kWh -- it's half that, or 3.5kWh.

So you're paying $350/year for 3.5kWh of storage.  Now double that investment for the grid-tie inverter and wiring, and by the way, inverters don't last forever either.  We'll assume that's good for 10 years as well although you might do better on the inverter.

Now we have a $700 annual cost, before the cost of the money (which isn't zero!) and we haven't actually done anything but provision a storage bank for power; we have no source yet.

So how much power does that $700 buy?  That's pretty easy -- about 7,000 kWh at the more-or-less average cost of about 10 cents/kWh around the country.  Some areas pay more, some less.

The average house can run for anywhere from several months to nearly a full year on 7,000 kWh and remember, you haven't bought the solar panels yet.

I see utterly no reason to buy such a system.  The so-called "backup" system is even more idiotic; a 5kW backup generator can be had for under $1,000, is portable as it requires no permanent installation and will run for as long as you can feed it gasoline.

Oh, we haven't looked at the environmental and other sunk costs of producing the batteries; lithium is mined, and is a pretty nasty business -- never mind that most of it is produced from third-world nations.

There are, even with the very steep drop in solar cell prices, very few cases in which solar makes sense on a cost basis -- and that's for direct conversion, with no storage.  There are even fewer when you start adding battery storage to such a system, simply on the economics.

If you insist on burning $100 bills in the quest to play "foo-foo" games with your so-called "carbon footprint", have at it.  But from a purely economic standpoint this sort of system makes no sense at all unless you can't be on-grid for some particular reason (e.g. availability or cost to extend it to your location.)

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