Like many of my fellow Americans, I have been forced to economize and become more of a bargain hunter than I was in the happy days of go-go prosperity. Having been brought up in the great Depression, I still pick up pennies, and I have always loved a bargain, but now more than ever. So now when I receive three colorful supermarket circulars in the mail each week, I examine them closely to see where the bargains are.

We have one supermarket chain in this area of Massachusetts that has the best overall prices. Yes, even some of their prices have gone up, but they’ve been able to maintain low prices for some essential items. For example, milk. They sell a half-gallon for $1.59, while other markets charge over $2.00. I expect their price will go up one of these days, but so far so good.

Staples has been offering low prices on a number of utilitarian and back-to-school items. For example, the other day I picked up a packet of four scouring pads for one dollar.
 

Swiss bank UBS trader Kweku Adoboli was arrested early Thursday morning and charged with two counts of false accounting and one count of “suspicion of fraud by abuse of position.”  His position was director of the Delta One trading desk at UBS in London, where he had worked as a trader for the past three years and as a technical advisor for two years before that.

The desk specializes in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) which allow investors to take a position in an index without having to purchase each stock represented by that index. Trades were profitable when positions were taken that move higher (long) and the index rises, or that move lower (short) and the index declines. Adoboli had learned the system well, and he lived well, paying $1,570 a week for an apartment in a high-end neighborhood just five minutes’ walking distance from his office.

But something went wrong — terribly wrong — when the Swiss Central Bank announced on September 8 that it would not allow the Swiss franc to rise beyond a certain level versus the euro. The mere whiff of intervention caused the Swiss franc to swoon by more than eight percent in two days.

We built up the industrial might of China, now the powers that be want to build up Russian industry.

The fiscal and monetary crisis confronting America today is more than an economic problem, it is a threat to our liberties and the nation's sovereignty, constitutional lawyer Edwin Vieira said at a Constitution Day celebration in Portsmouth, N.H. on Sunday. Unless a sound currency is established, the coming economic collapse will result in America "falling victim to a domestic totalitarian police state with the loss of American sovereignty and independence and lead to some sort of regional or global system, i.e. a new world order," he said. 

Citing Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s as examples, Vieira warned of the hyperinflation that occurs when a government dramatically increases its printing of dollars to cover its mounting debts. No form of government has ever survived a national debt that equal to more than 41 percent of its annual budget, he said, adding that in the United States today, it is 44 percent. "Our country is set up to fail," he said, as jobs and technology are shipped overseas, artificial "bubbles" are created in the domestic economy and banks and large-scale investors turn to the federal government for relief.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's highly touted RomneyCare has cost Massachusetts some 18,000 jobs, reduced investment in the state by tens of millions, raised health care costs, and lowered per capita disposable income, according to a computer model study by the Suffolk University-based Beacon Hill Institute. RomneyCare became the model for Obama's national health care reform legislation Congress passed in 2010, including an individual mandate, tax penalties for companies that don't offer care, a health insurance exchange, and several other similar key components.

The health care law "does not exist in a vacuum," Beacon Hill Institute executive director David Tuerck wrote in a September 15 press release unveiling the computer modeling study. "The 'shared sacrifice' needed to provide universal health care includes a net loss of jobs, which is attributable to the higher costs that the measure imposed."

The study concluded that the Massachusetts health care reform (HCR) signed by Mitt Romney in 2006 has:

After spending hundreds of billions to bail them out, the federal government is now turning on the big banks it once protected. Earlier this month, the Federal Housing Finance Agency launched a broad legal assault on 17 major banks, claiming the banks misled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in misrepresenting the quality of mortgage-backed securities. The FHFA’s lawsuit is a new attempt on the part of the federal government to recoup from big banks some of the taxpayer money lost during the financial crisis. Banks named in the action include Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, and Deutsche Bank.

In a separate action, the feds went on a second offensive against Goldman Sachs, with the Federal Reserve — newly empowered as a financial regulatory and enforcement body, besides being a central bank — initiating legal action against the investment bank, claiming Goldman had exhibited “a pattern of misconduct and negligence” in its issuing of mortgage-backed loans.

Did you listen to Barack Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress on September 8? Remember? It had to be squeezed in after the Republican debate but before the start of the professional football season.

What, you decided to skip it? You weren’t alone. While I haven’t seen any stats from the various survey companies, I suspect Obama’s speech was one of the least-viewed presidential addresses. When it comes to presidential promises to revive the economy, I suspect the public mood has gone from “let’s hear what he’ll do” to “I don’t believe a word of it.”

The very first sentence in the lead story in the Wall Street Journal the next day referred to Obama’s peroration as “what might be the White House’s last chance to change its political fortunes before the 2012 campaign kicks into high gear.”

What a bunch of hooey. The President’s speech didn’t presage a campaign stump speech; it was a campaign stump speech. In fact, it was little more than a 50-minute infomercial — except without the attractive models or clever graphics.

If the European Union begins to disintegrate, what signs would portend its spiral into disunion? One would be a member nation utterly ignoring the financial rules intended to support the EU by providing false and misleading information about its economy — actions already undertaken by both Greece and Portugal. Another indication of impending EU disintegration would be a member state simply printing its own euros — after only technically meeting the requirement of notification — as did Ireland a few months ago.

Or the European Union might dissolve as European society itself is breaking down with the rise of both radical Islam and secular humanism. Many Muslim settlements in the continent have become “no go” zones for police and fire services, and the disdain by the elites in Europe for historic Christian values is now deeply entrenched in the culture.

Furthermore, representative government is no longer working in some of the EU nations.

Even as the dollar is crashing and inflation in the United States is rampant, Federal Reserve officials have announced plans to flow dollars into banks in the European Union. The European Central Bank, which is to receive the largest amount, will in turn will extend the money to other major banks in EU member states, which are finding it increasingly difficult to raise funds from investors deeply concerned by the massive regional government's unstable economic climate.

Meanwhile, the planned participation of central banks across the globe in the scheme is now prompting some to ponder how these efforts will impact the drive for gold, as well as the future of the European economy. The Washington Post reports:

The initiative, which entails temporarily swapping dollars for foreign currencies, also involves the central banks of Britain, Switzerland and Japan, underlining the extent of international concern about Europe’s deteriorating financial system. By tapping the Fed for dollars, the other central banks are taking advantage of long-standing arrangements, first put in place four years ago at the outset of the global financial crisis to prevent bank lending from freezing up.

Dr. Mark Perry, economics professor at the University of Michigan and blogger at Carpe Diem joyously announced that the closing of Borders’ last bookstore on Sunday, September 18th “is a glorious, beautiful thing.” He said:

In the rearrangement of resources to serve customers we see the beautiful actions of the market economy reconfiguring the world to provide goods and services that are most wanted and needed in the most effective way.

It was those customers who built Borders into the world’s second largest bookseller from its first location — a humble second-floor used-book shop in Ann Arbor in 1971 — into a world-wide operation with over 1,000 stores. It was those same customers who, 40 years later, humbled Borders into bankruptcy and liquidation.

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