Main Street

Signs Of The Time, Part 104

In the May 2016 issue of The Atlantic there’s an article entitled “The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans.” Neal Gabler writes:

Since 2013, the Federal Reserve Board has conducted a survey to “monitor the financial and economic status of American consumers.” Most of the data in the latest survey, frankly, are less than earth-shattering: 49 percent of part-time workers would prefer to work more hours at their current wage; 29 percent of Americans expect to earn a higher income in the coming year; 43 percent of homeowners who have owned their home for at least a year believe its value has increased. But the answer to one question was astonishing. The Fed asked respondents how they would pay for a $400 emergency. The answer: 47 percent of respondents said that either they would cover the expense by borrowing or selling something, or they would not be able to come up with the $400 at all. Four hundred dollars! Who knew?

I didn’t know.

But I’m really not surprised to learn of it either.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Gabler, Neal. “The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans.” The Atlantic. May 2016. (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/05/my-secret-shame/476415/). 24 May 2016.

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Peter Schiff: Obama, Federal Reserve, Government Have Failed As ‘This Economy Is A Disaster’

Economist, financial broker/dealer, and author Peter Schiff appeared on the Alex Jones Show last Friday. Schiff, who correctly-called last decade’s housing crash and recent global economic crisis, discussed a number of subjects with Jones, including Puerto’s Rico’s recent default/economic crisis and “modest” U.S. inflation numbers. The “crash prophet” said of the U.S. territory:

It’s never a problem until it is. So Puerto Rico is broke, but now it’s a problem because the creditors figured out that they’re broke. Well America is more broke than Puerto Rico. That’s a fact. It’s just that our creditors haven’t figured it out yet. But when they do, then Donald Trump is going to end up being right, because all we can do is default. And if we don’t default, if we print money- which now Trump is saying, “Oh, we don’t have to default because we can print.” Well printing is worse than default, because printing doesn’t just wipe out the bondholders, it wipes out anybody who hold U.S. dollars.

When asked by Alex Jones where all the inflation is being hidden, the CEO of Euro Pacific Capital pointed out:

It’s actually hiding in plain sight because, because first of all, the inflation is all the money printing. That’s the definition. The consequence of inflation is that prices go up. But look, stock prices went way up. Real estate prices went back up. Rare art went back up. Collectible cars went back up. I mean, asset prices have gone up like crazy- that is inflation. And, of course, anybody who lives in America knows that the prices are going up. Look, rents are up about 8 percent year-over-year. Look how much health care costs have gone up. Utilities are going up. Look at the price of food. Have you bought a steak recently at a supermarket? Prices are going up. It’s just that the government is not doing an accurate job of reporting, and that is by design…. The standard of living is going down. Americans are working two or three jobs a piece. And they can barely make ends meet. You know, this economy is a disaster. And everyone wants to pretend that it’s great, because no one wants to admit that Obama is a complete failure, that the Federal Reserve was a complete failure, that everything that government has done has failed.


“Venezuela Is America’s Socialist Future”
YouTube Video

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: A qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. The creator/Editor of this blog is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information contained herein.)

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Peter Schiff: Rising Gold Stock Prices ‘Just Getting Started’

Peter Schiff, the CEO of Euro Pacific Capital who correctly-called last decade’s housing crash and recent global economic crisis, was on the Fox Business Network yesterday. Chatting with Liz Claman about the recent terrific performance of gold mining stocks, Schiff told viewers:

But this is just getting started. These gold stocks are just recovering ground they never should have lost. I don’t know why anybody’s surprised at these bad numbers coming out of Macy’s. The retailers have been reporting horrible sales all year. The consumer is broke. We are back in recession. That’s why Trump is a nominee. That’s why Bernie Sanders is beating Hillary Clinton in all these primaries. Because the voters know how awful this economy is. They don’t have any money left to spend…


“Retail Tanking, Gold Stocks Doubling”
YouTube Video

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; a qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. The creator/Editor of this blog is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information contained herein.)

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Signs Of The Time, Part 102

From the official website of the National Association of REALTORS- realtor.com- this past Tuesday:

“Prepping for Doomsday: Bunkers, Panic Rooms, and Going Off the Grid”

Excerpts from the article included:

“If the booming sales of panic rooms are any indication, more and more city dwellers these days are obsessively worrying about everything from home invasions to terror attacks…”

“Some real estate companies are seeing big increases by specializing in ‘survivalist properties’…”

“Survivalists are also particularly hungry for metal containers they can convert into shelters and bury underground…”

While there’s the expected mocking tone to the piece (“Welcome to the brave (and for some, highly profitable) new world of paranoia”), it’s still an interesting look at what’s going on with panic/safe rooms, survival real estate, and (underground) shelters- topics I’ve blogged about from time to time over the last several years.

You can read the entire article on realtor.com here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Quote For The Week

“And that means we have to not only question the world as it is, and stand up for those African Americans who haven’t been so lucky- because, yes, you’ve worked hard, but you’ve also been lucky. That’s a pet peeve of mine: People who have been successful and don’t realize they’ve been lucky. That God may have blessed them; it wasn’t nothing you did. So don’t have an attitude. But we must expand our moral imaginations to understand and empathize with all people who are struggling, not just black folks who are struggling — the refugee, the immigrant, the rural poor, the transgender person, and yes, the middle-aged white guy who you may think has all the advantages, but over the last several decades has seen his world upended by economic and cultural and technological change, and feels powerless to stop it. You got to get in his head, too…”

-U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking at Howard University’s commencement ceremony last Saturday

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Peter Schiff: Obama, Fed Presided Over Phony Recovery, Sees ‘Major, Major Currency Crisis’ Coming

This past weekend, Peter Schiff, the CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, uploaded a new video to The Schiff Report on YouTube.com. Schiff, who correctly-called last decade’s housing crash and recent global economic crisis, noted that it had been a while since he released an entry to this vlog. As such, Schiff talked about a number of subjects. He advised viewers:

I think that we’re already in recession. It’s just that the Fed hasn’t acknowledged it yet. And one of the reasons that Janet Yellen is so reluctant to come clean and acknowledge how weak the economy is because number one, it undercuts President Obama, who’s going around the world claiming the United States has the strongest economy in the world when we’re, in fact, in recession. Even Europe is growing faster than the United States. Yet somehow President Obama wants to claim credit for saving the U.S. economy and producing all this non-existent growth. While the Federal Reserve doesn’t want to peddle fiction, in the words of President Obama. So it doesn’t want to basically undercut his message of an economic recovery by acknowledging that it’s over. And for the same reason the Fed doesn’t want to take the wind out of Hillary Clinton’s sails, because she wants to sail into the White House based on the prosperity that was supposedly created by President Obama. So Janet Yellen doesn’t want to undercut her message because she wants to run on four more years. And the Fed can’t admit that we’re back in recession. And also the Federal Reserve has already claimed credit for success. They want to pretend that their monetary policies created this real recovery. They don’t want to acknowledge it ended. So they have their own credibility on the line. They want to pretend that the economy is still recovering…

Meanwhile, I think it’s the United States that’s going to launch a whole new round of easing. I think they’re going to be lowering interest rates back to zero and launching QE 4. The only unknown is whether they’re going to do it before or after the election. And it depends on how quickly the economy or the markets unravel, because Yellen would rather have to come to the rescue of the economy before the election, because admitting that it needs rescuing is going to be a problem for Hillary Clinton and it’s going to help Donald Trump. And I know Janet Yellen does not want to see Donald Trump as the next President. So that is the fine line that she is trying to walk. Whether she admits the economy is weak enough and needs stimulus, or whether she puts the stimulus anyway because it’s so weak she’s worried about the economy being too deep in a recession when voters go to the polls. And in that case, the Federal Reserve simply has to come up with some kind of excuse to try and blame things on the global economy. But the problem is, the situation is already turning around in the global economy. The real problem in the global economy is the United States.

And if you look at the action in the markets, people are just starting to figure this out. But it’s still kind of like a deer in the headlight moment. I think a lot of traders, a lot of people who are managing money on Wall Street. They’ve been getting beaten up this year. A lot of the big players are losing a lot of money because they are positioned for the wrong outcome. Everybody has believed this narrative of a legitimate recovery, where the Federal Reserve will be normalizing interest rates. I’ve known all along that that was a farce. That the economy hadn’t recovered. That the Federal Reserve had in fact prevented a recovery. That the U.S. economy is actually in worse shape now than it was in 2008. So rather than a recovery, we actually got sicker. We just covered up some of the symptoms. But we have exacerbated all of the problems. And President Obama- he’s hasn’t presided over a recovery at all. He’s presided over a bigger bubble than his predecessor. And in fact, the economic disaster that awaits his successor, is going to be much bigger than the disaster he inherited from George Bush. And he spent the entire last eight years of his presidency blaming everything bad on Bush, and claiming that he got us out of that mess. Well, the reality is, he has gotten us into a much bigger mess. And whoever succeeds him is going to have to deal with it. It will be interesting though if its ends up being Hillary Clinton. Is she going to still blame the disaster on Bush, and just forget about the eight years of Obama, and try and blame the recession she is going to inherit as some kind of leftover, residual recession from the Bush years? As if President Obama had actually nothing to do with it, when his policies simply exacerbated all the problems. He just double-downed on the failed policies of Bush. But then he added a lot of other policies that were even worse. And that is why this so-called recovery has been the weakest recovery that we have ever had. And, in fact, if the truth were known. If the numbers weren’t cooked by artificially-low inflation rates, we would have a much weaker recovery or we’d have no recovery at all. But the people who are voting for Bernie Sanders or voting for Donald Trump- they are living in this recession. This phony recovery that President Obama and the Federal Reserve want to take credit for.

Schiff hasn’t deviated from his long-held belief of a coming dollar crisis. He warned viewers:

This is going to be a major, major currency crisis. And unfortunately, the currency crisis/economic crisis that’s coming- maybe it’ll start before Obama leaves office, just like the financial crisis blew up on the last year of the Bush administration. Or maybe it will be an inaugural present for Donald Trump or for Hillary Clinton. But this crisis that’s coming is going to be much worse, much worse, on an order of magnitude, kind of like a Richter scale-worse, than the financial crisis of 2008. Because the combination of bad fiscal policy and bad monetary policy, particularly monetary policy but also things like ObamaCare- all the things that the Federal Reserve and the federal government have done over the last seven or eight years have made the problem so much worse. Meanwhile, the debt has gotten so much bigger. The leverage has gotten so much bigger. The number of players, the financial markets, are so much more out-of-whack based on a false expectation of what is likely to happen. I mean, this is worse- these are bigger imbalances than we had leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. Fewer people are prepared for what’s going to happen. And when it does, it’s going to be a major economic upheaval, much worse than what we had in ’08 from the perspective of the average American… When you have a currency crisis, when the dollar is collapsing, when the cost of living is going up, and then people start to lose these part-time jobs- you lose your job and the cost of living goes up. This is going to be much worse.


“Gold and Currency Markets Expose U.S. Recovery Myth”
YouTube Video

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; a qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. The creator/Editor of this blog is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information contained herein.)

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Signs Of The Time, Part 101

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed “spelling” seems to be less important to a growing number of Americans these days?

Genevieve Bookwalter reported on the Chicago Tribune website on April 28:

Outraged Naperville residents are demanding that Hassert Boulevard be renamed, mistakenly believing the road honors former U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, who admitted this week he sexually abused students when he was a Yorkville high school wrestling coach.

Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico said he’s received dozens of emails from angry constituents.

“People are upset,” Chirico said. “You have a street named after a pedophile?”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Bookwalter continued:

The confusion also prompted the village of Bolingbrook to post a note on its website, http://www.bolingbrook.com, alerting residents that the street name was Hassert, not Hastert.

On his Facebook page, Bolingbrook mayor Roger Claar posted a photo of a sign reading, “Hassert Blvd is Named After The Hassert Family NOT Dennis Hastert The former Speaker.” Claar said Thursday evening that his staff will post six of the blue-and-white metal signs, which stand about three feet by five feet, along Hassert Boulevard by the end of the day Friday

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I don’t know what’s worse. That people can’t tell the difference between “Hastert” and “Hassert,” or that taxpayer money may have been needed to address this shortcoming.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Bookwalter, Genevieve. “Outraged residents confuse Hassert, Hastert; demand street sign removal.” Naperville Sun. 28 Apr. 2016. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/naperville-sun/news/ct-nvs-naperville-hassert-confusion-st-0429-20160428-story.html). 3 May 2016.

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Jim Rogers: Signs Of Next Economic Crisis ‘Already Happening’

The next two days I’ll be focusing on two “crash prophets” who correctly-called the 2008 global economic crisis and who see more carnage on the way. First up is the widely-followed investor, author, and financial commentator Jim Rogers, who appeared on the RT TV show SophieCo earlier today. From his exchange with host Sophie Shevardnadze (RT transcript):

SHEVARDNADZE: You’ve been talking about this impending recession for a while now, ready to strike the U.S., for instance, but, you know, we see American economy picking up, the unemployment rate is going down, so- why does it keep postponing itself?
ROGERS: Wait, wait. First of all, you are listening to government figures. You remember the Soviet Union, the government had a lot of numbers, they were very good. The U.S. now puts out a lot of figures that are not legitimate, accurate figures. Look at unemployment, what do they do? For instance, they just stopped counting many people, said they’re not looking for a job anymore – so the numbers are artificial in the U.S. Yes, some parts of the U.S. economy are doing very well. If you’re on Wall St. or if you’re in finance, you’re doing fine, because the government has been printing a lot of money and a lot of debt has been put out. But you go to Texas, go to the MidWest- they’re not doing well at all. Most of the country is not doing well.
SHEVARDNADZE: Alright, but give me something concrete- when do we have to expect this crisis to hit and what’s going to cause that meltdown?
ROGERS: Sophie, for the last 18 months in the U.S., most stocks have been going down. The average is a fraud, because of the few big companies that make the average go up and that’s because the government, the Fed Reserve, Central Bank is printing a lot of money. Stocks are going down in the U.S., most stock are down. So, the signs are already there. Now, unfortunately, they’re not visible, they don’t make headlines, so it’s already happening. Parts of the country are in recession, stock market, most stocks are going down – it’s already happening

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Back on March 28, I noted Rogers had warned on the Nikkei Asian Review (Japan) website eight days earlier:

I expect the American economy to be in recession sometime in the next year or two…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

And earlier that month I quoted a March 4, 2016, Bloomberg.com piece where it was reported:

The famous investor said that there was a 100 percent probability that the U.S. economy would be in a downturn within one year

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Shevarnadze did a good job extracting some investment nuggets from the former investing partner of George Soros. Rogers still thinks there will be a better chance to buy gold “sometime in the next year or two,” and added later in the discussion:

If the dollar goes up, gold may go down. But, if it goes down, I hope to buy a lot more gold, because eventually gold is going to go through the roof. As this turmoil increases and people lose more and more confidence in governments, more and more confidence in paper money, they’re going to look for something, and gold and silver will be a couple of those places. If you’re looking for something right now- agriculture

I have sold short the U.S. stocks and I have sold junk bonds, low-grade bonds, in the U.S., I own shares in China, I have shares in Russia, I bought Russian government bonds, several days ago. These are places that I am looking at, I am looking at Kazakhstan as a place to invest, Iran I’m looking at, Nigeria I am looking at

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Kazakhstan and Nigeria are two markets not often mentioned by Rogers. A terrific interview, which you can read in its entirety over on the RT website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; a qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. The creator/Editor of this blog is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information contained herein.)

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Signs Of The Time, Part 100

A milestone has been reached with the “Signs Of The Time” series of posts.

I wasn’t sure what material I’d use for post number 100, when manna from Heaven suddenly appeared in the form of a headline on the home page of my Internet service provider:

Why people won’t say the economy is booming

By most measures, the economy is doing great. So, why are people reluctant to admit it?

Obama: ‘We went through a really scary time’

In the accompanying piece, Sam Ro, managing editor at Yahoo! Finance, wrote Sunday:

By most measures, the economy is doing great. The US labor market is creating around 200,000 jobs a month, which has brought the unemployment rate tumbling to 5%. Meanwhile, home prices are up and stock prices (GSPC) are near all-time highs.

So, why are there so many people so reluctant to acknowledge how good things are today?

One word: trauma.

“Some people are still recovering from the trauma of what happened in 2007-2008,” President Barack Obama said in an interview with Yahoo Finance’s Nicole Sinclair. “You know, we went through a really scary time.”

Trauma has the ability to distort how we perceive our present reality…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Just when you thought you’ve heard everything, right?

It gets better. Ro continued:

Consider the joy that comes from jumping on a trampoline or the thrill one gets from speeding downhill on a bicycle. For many folks, the unexpected and painful reality of a nasty spill and a couple of fractured bones will forever take away the bliss that once came from those activities. The trampoline and bicycle will continue to offer the same experience, but the trauma can be so intense that it can force many to keep their feet on the ground.

Losing your job, getting evicted from your home, and watching the value of your retirement savings crash can be deeply distressing. And so even when you get a new job, move into a new home, and recoup all of your investment losses, that new persistent feeling of uncertainty that followed the traumatic will discount everything you have…

Any readers ever see that iconic sports film The Natural, starring Robert Redford? Is it just me, or does all this kind of remind you of that part in the movie where the club hires a shrink to talk to the players when everything is going wrong?


“Losing is a disease”
YouTube Video

No, not that bit where the ballplayer gets hit in the (g)nards. But that “losing is a disease” speech.

And just like Roy Hobbs rolled his eyes and walked out of the locker room, I wouldn’t blame any of you for moving on from this post after reading that stuff about “trauma.”

“Trauma has the ability to distort how we perceive our present reality”

I suspect the “present reality” is crystal-clear for a growing number of Americans- trauma not needed.

And in more than a few instances, their economic “reality” definitely does not match what’s being peddled by Washington and its allies in the mainstream media these days.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Ro, Sam. “Obama uttered a single word that explains so much about America today.” Yahoo! News. 17 Apr. 2016. (https://www.yahoo.com/news/obama-us-economy-americans-recovering-from-trauma-175254482.html). 18 Apr. 2016.

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DHS, FBI Launches Nationwide Program Warning Electric Companies About Cyber Attacks

While most of Main Street might not have a clue about the threat to the nation’s power grid from cyber attacks, it sounds like the Feds may be starting to take it seriously. Bill Gertz reported over on The Washington Free Beacon website last Friday:

Three months after a Department of Homeland Security intelligence report downplayed the threat of a cyber attack against the U.S. electrical grid, DHS and the FBI began a nationwide program warning of the dangers faced by U.S. utilities from damaging cyber attacks like the recent hacking against Ukraine’s power grid.

The nationwide campaign by DHS and the FBI began March 31 and includes 12 briefings and online webinars for electrical power infrastructure companies and others involved in security, with sessions in eight U.S. cities, including a session next week in Washington.

The unclassified briefings are titled “Ukraine Cyber Attack: Implications for U.S. Stakeholders,” and are based on work with the Ukrainian government in the aftermath of the Dec. 23 cyber attack against the Ukrainian power infrastructure…

The briefings will outline the details of the attacks, the techniques used by the hackers, and strategies to be used to limit risks and improve cyber security for grid organizations…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Those who have been sounding the alarm over the cyber attack threat for some time now have found a high-profile ally in American broadcast journalist Ted Koppel. Graham Vyse reported on the website of InsideSources, a non-partisan news organization, back on March 19:

On Monday, ABC News legend Ted Koppel sat down at a conference table at the National Press Foundation in Washington, accepted the mug of coffee he was offered and proceeded to describe a national security threat greater than 9/11.

The longtime “Nightline” anchor told reporters about the danger of a cyber attack on the United States power grid — an unprecedented event that could mean months of blackouts affecting tens of millions.

Koppel sees this scenario as a likelihood, not just a possibility, for which the country is woefully unprepared. He worries it would reduce America to a kind of Hobbesian state of nature, with conflicts over food, water and other dwindling necessities. It’s all the subject of his latest book, “Lights Out.”

“What happened on 9/11 is nothing compared to what a cyber attack on the power grid would do,” Koppel said…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Vyse added:

Koppel doesn’t think America can actually prevent a cyber attack, so he argues the focus should be on minimizing damage. The trouble is, he’s doubtful Congress would respond well to a request for $100 billion to buy enough freeze-dried meals to avoid food riots

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“The trouble is, he’s doubtful Congress would respond well to a request for $100 billion to buy enough freeze-dried meals to avoid food riots”

Yikes.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Gertz, Bill. “FBI Warns of Cyber Threat to Electric Grid.” The Washington Free Beacon. 8 Apr. 2016. (http://freebeacon.com/issues/fbi-warns-cyber-threat-electric-grid/). 12 Apr. 2016.

Vyse, Graham. “Ted Koppel: Homeland Security Chief ‘Ignorant’ on Threat to Grid.” InsideSources. 19 Mar. 2016. (http://www.insidesources.com/koppel-homeland/). 12 Apr. 2016.

Ted Koppel’s power grid cyber attack book…

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Survival And Prosperity
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Christopher E. Hill, Editor

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