Massachusetts

Chicago Ties Birmingham, Alabama, For Highest Jobless Rate Among Large Metro Areas In December

This morning the U.S. Department of Labor handed the Chicago metropolitan area some bad news on the employment front. From a Bureau of Labor Statistics news release this morning entitled “Metropolitan Area Employment And Unemployment- December 2016”:

Of the 51 metropolitan areas with a 2010 Census population of 1 million or more, Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, Mass.-N.H., had the lowest unemployment rate in December, 2.5 percent, followed by Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo., 2.6 percent, and Salt Lake City, Utah, 2.7 percent. Birmingham-Hoover, Ala., and Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, Ill.-Ind.-Wis., had the highest jobless rates among the large areas, 5.4 percent each.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Worrisome.

You can read the entire BLS news release here (.pdf format).

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

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Wednesday, February 1st, 2017 Business, Employment, Government No Comments

Al-Qaeda Chief Calls On Young Muslim Men To Attack America, Allies

On Sunday, the Daily Mail (UK) website ran two terrorism-related pieces which might be of interest to Survival And Prosperity readers. Imogen Calderwood reported:

The leader of Al-Qaeda delivered a sinister message to young Muslim men in the United States and other Western countries, encouraging them to carry out attacks in their home countries.

Terror leader Ayman al-Zawahiri makes the call to arms in an audio recording that was posted online on Sunday…

‘I call on all Muslims who can harm the countries of the crusader coalition not to hesitate,’ he said in the recording, referring to the nations making up the Western-led coalition in Iraq and Syria.

‘We must now focus on moving the war to the heart of the homes and cities of the crusader West and specifically America.’

The leader suggests Muslim youths take their inspiration from Tsarnaev and the Kouachi brothers, who carried out the Boston marathon bombings and the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris respectively…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Future terror attacks in the mold of Boston and Paris concern one top spy who recently retired. Keiligh Baker reported later Sunday:

The former head of MI6 has warned that it is just a matter of time before terrorists hit the West and claimed Britain would no longer be able to safeguard another massive event like the Olympics.

Sir John Sawers stepped down last year after five years as chief of the UK Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, a post known as ‘C’ in the service…

Today, in an interview on CNN’s Global Public Square, he said the risk of a terrorist attack hitting the West has grown substantially since he stepped down from the role

Sir John said the way terrorists carry out their heinous attacks has changed drastically since the emergence of ISIS.

‘They’re not trying to fly airliners into buildings. They’re doing simpler things,’ he said.

He cited examples such as the massacre at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January, which saw brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi force their way into the building and kill 11 employees and another man, a police officer, outside the building.

He said as an intelligence service these sort of attacks are a lot harder to prevent…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Sobering reading.

I’m still convinced a major terror attack by Muslim extremists on the U.S. homeland (more complex than what was perpetrated by the Tsarnaev and Kouachi brothers) is headed our way.

Growing hatred of the United States because of our continued presence in the Middle East, poverty, continued radicalization of the young and more “moderate” Muslims, porous borders, rampant political correctness, gun “control,” and limits to our nation’s counter-terrorism capabilities all come to mind when I contemplate such an incident.

But what can someone like you or me do in the face of such danger? Is there anything that can be done?

More on that next time…

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

Sources:

Calderwood, Imogen. “Al Qaeda leader calls on young Muslim men in the US and the West to copy Boston Bombers and Charlie Hebdo killers with more homegrown attacks.” Daily Mail. 15 Sep. 2015. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3232767/Al-Qaeda-leader-calls-young-Muslim-men-West-copy-Boston-Bombers-Charlie-Hebdo-killers-homegrown-attacks.html). 13 Sep. 2015.

Baker, Keiligh. “Terrorists WILL hit the West and UK would not be able to safeguard another Olympics, warns former MI6 chief Sir John Sawers.” Daily Mail. 13 Sep. 2015. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3232834/UK-not-safeguard-Olympics-warns-former-MI6-chief.html). 15 Sep. 2015.

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Complacency Over Next Terror Attack By Muslim Extremists

FBI, CIA, NSA all say no 9/11 terror threat

The directors of the FBI, CIA and the National Security Agency said Thursday they have seen no specific or credible threat to the American homeland in connection with the 14th anniversary of 9/11 — despite a surge of digital and audio propaganda circulated in recent days from both al Qaeda and its growing rival on the global jihadi stage, the Islamic State…”

The Washington Times, September 10, 2015

On the eve of the 14th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, Al-Qaeda terror attacks, I detect an abundance of complacency in the U.S. concerning the next attack by Muslim extremists. For example:

Since September 11, Threat of Terrorism Has Morphed

Bin Laden’s distant dream of a caliphate in lands cleared of Western influence is being reshaped by the Islamic State, which exercises terror very differently, with less interest in attacking the ‘far enemy’ of the West than in creating a Salafist revolutionary regime…”

-Steven Erlanger, The New York Times, September 10, 2015

Does 9/11 really still have to be a ‘national emergency’?

As memorable and as meaningful as the 9/11 attacks were, they were also 14 years ago… virtually all the al-Qaeda leadership who planned the 9/11 attacks are dead or in custody, and while the long convoluted plotline of post 9/11 war and conflict has created an ongoing mess in the Middle East, any lingering threat to what was billed ‘the homeland’ — and the vigilance needed to stop it — is in a much, much better place than it was in 2001…

So what good comes of declaring a ‘national emergency,’ year after year?”

-Will Bunch, The Philadelphia Inquirer website, September 10, 2015

This is the wrong time to cut the city’s anti-terror funding

Alarmingly, funding is slowly decreasing for New York City under the ‘Securing the Cities’ program, which helps first responders detect nuclear materials and prevent attacks. The initiative deploys radiation-detection capabilities to the region’s law-enforcement agencies to identify illicit radiological materials that could be used for an attack.

This type of work requires sophisticated equipment and constant training — both of which are expensive but plainly worth the cost. Yet the Obama administration has proposed repeated cuts to the program, this year requesting only $10 million compared to historic levels of nearly double that amount…”

-U.S. Representative Dan Donovan (NY-11th), New York Post, September 10, 2015

Consider what Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City at the time of the 9/11 terror attacks, wrote on The Wall Street Journal website Thursday:

It would be a mistake, however, to conclude that 9/11 is now simply a part of the nation’s history, like Pearl Harbor. Because there is one big difference. The causes and hatreds that created 9/11 are still with us, and the terrorists have enlisted members who are even more diverse, cunning and determined. The Islamist terrorist war against us continues. This is not a matter of history but of current and future threats…

Now, once again, the terrorist attacks under the banner of jihad are increasing and diversifying. With so many such attacks and thwarted attacks over the past five or six years, we must recognize that “they”—those who want to destroy civilization—are continuing the war against us.

Yet those running our government seem to be in an even greater state of denial than the nation was in during the period before Sept. 11. Now, instead of bin Laden, Iran’s supreme ayatollah has declared that he wants to destroy Israel, to continue to kill Americans and to establish an Islamic empire including Iraq, Syria and Yemen—and the terrorist groups Iran supports. At the same time, the group known as Islamic State, or ISIS, has declared a caliphate seeking the destruction of Christianity and other infidels, and now occupies key areas of Iraq and Syria.

As we reflect on the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, we must remind ourselves that all the wickedness underlying those attacks still exists and has expanded. We may very well be in more jeopardy now than before 9/11. Attacks such as those at Fort Hood, the Boston Marathon and similar incidents in Europe and around the world reveal that many enemies, not just one, are united in purpose: the destruction of our way of life. Each of these attacks may be more limited than the coordinated terrorist assault on Sept. 11, but they are frequent and hard to anticipate, causing widespread fear, the ultimate goal of terrorism.

We must acknowledge this war being waged against us, increase the military’s capacity to deal with it and, most important, train police to recognize the precursors of terrorist acts. U.S. military and intelligence capacity must not be drastically cut as proposed by this administration. It should be quantitatively increased and strategically improved…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Just as I’m convinced a financial crash is coming to our shores, I’m sure another terror attack will be perpetrated by Muslim extremists.

Concerning both, it’s just a matter of “when.”

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

Sources:

Taylor, Guy. “FBI, CIA, NSA all say no 9/11 terror threat.” The Washington Times. 10 Sep. 2015. (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/sep/10/fbi-cia-nsa-all-say-no-911-terror-threat/). 10 Sep. 2015.

Erlanger, Steven. “Since September 11, Threat of Terrorism Has Morphed.” The New York Times. 10 Sep. 2015. (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/11/world/europe/9-11-anniversary-terrorism-europe.html?_r=1). 10 Sep. 2015.

Bunch, Will. “Does 9/11 really still have to be a ‘national emergency’?” The Philadelphia Inquirer. 10 Sep. 2015. (http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/attytood/Does-911-really-still-have-to-be-a-national-emergency.html). 10 Sep. 2015.

Donovan, Dan. “This is the wrong time to cut the city’s anti-terror funding.” New York Post. 10 Sep. 2015. (http://nypost.com/2015/09/10/this-is-the-wrong-time-to-cut-the-citys-anti-terror-funding/). 10 Sep. 2015.

Giuliani, Rudolph W. “The Islamist Menace Shadowing This Sept. 11.” The Wall Street Journal. 10 Sep. 2015. (http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-islamist-menace-shadowing-this-sept-11-1441929416). 10 Sep. 2015.

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Survey: Illinois Runner-Up State For ‘Worst Climates For Small Business’

Continuing Tuesday’s discussion about Illinois not being business friendly, I spotted a piece last night on the MarketWatch website entitled, “The best state and city for small business are…” Caitlin Huston reported yesterday afternoon:

The best state for small business owners is Texas and the worst is Rhode Island, according to an annual survey revealed Tuesday.

The survey, conducted by technology marketplace Thumbtack, contends that the friendliest states and towns for small businesses offer easier or non-existent licensing requirements. On a city basis, the report called Manchester, N.H., the best and Hartford, Conn., the worst for small-business climate…

Huston noted that survey responses came from 17,633 small businesses, with most having 5 or fewer employees.

As for Illinois? It’s the state runner-up under the “Worst Climates for Small Business” category, losing out to Rhode Island but ahead of Connecticut, California, and New York, in that order.

From the Thumbtack.com survey web page:

Small business owners gave California, Connecticut, Illinois, and Rhode Island an “F,” while Massachusetts, Maryland, and New York earned a “D” grade…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Digging deeper into the Thumbtack.com Small Business Friendliness Survey, the “Land of Lincoln” received an “F” for “ease of starting a business” and “overall friendliness.”

Nice. Real nice. Congratulations Illinois policymakers (not Rauner’s fault)- local and at the state level- on a “job” well done.

Then again, what would one expect from folks (not all of them, to be fair) who have never started/run a business in their lives?

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

Source:

Huston, Caitlin. “The best state and city for small business are…” MarketWatch. 18 Aug. 2015. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-best-state-and-city-for-small-business-are-2015-08-18). 19 Aug. 2015.

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Wednesday, August 19th, 2015 Business, Government, Main Street No Comments

Illinois In Worst Shape Of 43 States That Filed FY 2014 Audits

William G. Holland, the Auditor General for the State of Illinois, has just reported on Illinois’ finances.

It’s still fugly.

From the Summary Report Digest for “Statewide Financial Statement Audit For the Year Ended June 30, 2014”:

The Illinois Office of the State Comptroller prepares the State of Illinois Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). The CAFR is the State’s official annual report which provides the readers with the financial position of the State as of June 30, 2014, and results of operations during the fiscal year.

The financial section of the CAFR includes the Independent Auditors’ Report on the basic financial statements, the management discussion and analysis, the basic financial statements, required supplementary information, and individual fund statements and schedules…

The June 30, 2014 financial statements of the State of Illinois are fairly presented in all material respects.

The financial statements at June 30, 2014 reflect the following:

The net position of governmental activities continued to deteriorate and the deficit increased by $1.3 billion from FY13 to FY14. Overall, the net position of governmental activities is reported as a deficit of $49.2 billion. (Exhibit 1)
• The General Fund deficit decreased by $658 million from FY13 to FY14. The June 30, 2014 deficit was $6.7 billion. (Exhibit 2)

Over time, increases and decreases in net position measure whether the State’s financial position is improving or deteriorating. A comparison of Illinois’ financial position to other states is contained in Exhibit 3…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

And the results of that “comparison of Illinois’ financial position to other states”?

Karen Pierog of Reuters reported Wednesday:

This left Illinois in the worst shape of the 43 U.S. states that had filed fiscal 2014 audits. The only other state with negative assets was Massachusetts at $29 billion. Texas reported the biggest positive net assets at $119.4 billion

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Good ol’ Texas. Probably get even more sneers from local folks at my University of Texas t-shirt I picked up while at that Food Insurance-sponsored prepper conference in Dallas the other year.

Pierog added something else of note:

The state marked its thirteenth consecutive year with a general fund deficit

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

For most of those years, Democrats have dominated state government, occupying the governor’s office and the majority of both houses in the Illinois General Assembly.

Coincidence?

I’ll keep typing it on this blog until my fingers fall off:

“Financial reckoning day” is eventually coming to the “Land of Lincoln.”

As such, it might be wise for Illinoisans to start preparing if they haven’t done so already.

It won’t be the end of the world, but for many it could feel like it. Therefore, it’s probably a good idea to start addressing various vulnerabilities for such an occasion- financial and otherwise.

You can read that Summary Report Digest (.pdf format) on the Illinois Auditor General’s web page here.

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

(Editor’s note: I am 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 presented herein)

Source:

Pierog, Karen. “Illinois finances continued downward slide in FY 2014: auditor.” Reuters. 18 Mar. 2015. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/18/us-usa-illinois-audit-idUSKBN0ME2M920150318). 20 Mar. 2015.

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Al-Qaeda Behind Terrorist Attack On Paris Publication?

“Islamic State has made al Qaeda nearly irrelevant”

-MarketWatch.com headline, January 7, 2015

The first news headline I saw on my laptop this morning was about a terrorist attack in Paris, France. From the Fox News website:

Three black-clad gunmen shouting “Allahu Akbar!” stormed the Paris offices of a satirical publication known for lampooning Islam Wednesday, killing 12, including its editor, three political cartoonists and a police officer whose cold-blooded murder at close range was captured on a disturbing video.

The masked, Kalashnikov-toting shooters moved with military precision, and then escaped following the 11:30 a.m. attack at Charlie Hebdo, the publication known for challenging Muslim terrorists with a 2011 caricature of Prophet Muhammed on its cover and which recently tweeted a cartoon of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and were being sought.

“We’ve avenged the honor of the prophet!” the killers shouted, according to witnesses who spoke to Sky News. Other witnesses said the men shouted “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is great.” The gunmen spoke French without any accent, according to Le Monde…

It’s very possible that the attack was carried out by Al-Qaeda or one of its affiliates. Fox News noted:

Cartoonist Corine Rey, aka “Coco,” told the weekly Humanité that she let the men inside the building of Charlie Hebdo after being ordered at gunpoint.

“They spoke perfect French,” said Rey, who said the rampage lased about five minutes. “They said they were Al Qaeda.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

If Al-Qaeda or an affiliate was behind the assault, that should come as no surprise to regular Survival And Prosperity readers. I blogged back on June 28, 2011:

Recent suggestions that Al-Qaeda is on the run and that their new leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is “a bit of a loser,” as a source close to the Obama administration has called him (source: The Telegraph)- in conjunction with those recent setbacks suffered by Al-Qaeda- may motivate the Egyptian surgeon to push for a major attack against the United States and/or its allies as soon as possible.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

In addition to this on August 29, 2014:

Much of the mainstream media is playing up the threat to the U.S. from the Islamic State. Personally, I’m more concerned about Al-Qaeda beating them to the punch. I’ve already talked about Ayman al-Zawahiri needing to establish his “street cred.” But the emergence of the other band of terrorists formerly known as ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) or ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) puts even more pressure, I suspect, for bin Laden’s standard bearers to carry out a successful major operation against the U.S. homeland, and with haste.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Against the U.S. homeland.” That includes America’s allies as well.

Finally, I wrote the following on November 14, 2014, while discussing reports of terrorist reconnaissance of Britain’s Parliament:

Something tells me our friends in Western Europe might suffer a major terrorist attack before a strike against the United States.

Now, some might argue that the Paris attack wasn’t a “major” one. I disagree. The operation appeared to be carefully-planned (“Witnesses said the attack was carried out commando-style, with the gunmen demanding the names of those they encountered, indicating that they had specific targets in mind”) with fatalities surpassing the Boston Marathon bombings and other recent “lone wolf” attacks.

It was also “major” in that if Al-Qaeda was responsible, it was a bold statement to the world that they remain a significant player in global jihad and are staunch defenders of the faith despite the Islamic State getting most of the attention as of late.

That being said, I still predict major terrorist attacks having the potential of inflicting large numbers of casualties will be directed against America and its allies in the future. The possible culprits being several, but including Muslim extremists like Al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

But today, my attention is focused on continental Europe. My thoughts and prayers are with the deceased, their loved ones, and the people of France.

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

Source:

“At least 12 dead in Islamist terror attack at satirical French publication.” FOX News. 7 January 2015. (http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/01/07/shooting-reported-at-office-satirical-french-newspaper/). 7 January 2015.

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Wednesday, January 7th, 2015 Europe, Middle East, Religion, Terrorism, War No Comments

Jim Rogers On Best Ways To Invest In Agriculture

On Monday, I blogged about well-known investor, author, and financial commentator Jim Rogers and his steadfast belief that agriculture is where big money will be made in the future.

Late last night I was on the website of the Wall Street Daily website listening to an interview of Rogers that was conducted by Robert Williams, founder of the Baltimore, Maryland-based investment research/market commentary service. Considering what I just wrote, it was what the commodities “guru” had to say about the best ways to invest in agriculture that grabbed my attention. From their exchange:

WILLIAMS: Jim, what’s the most effective route into agriculture for our readers interested in playing this long-term bull market?

ROGERS: Well, there are many ways to do it. The best way is to buy a farm- become a farmer if you really want to get rich because I explained before, some of the serious, serious, key fundamental problems in agriculture. So if you like the outdoors, if you think you’d be good at it, you might consider becoming a farmer.

Now most of your readers are probably not going to become farmers, but that’s the way. Or buy a farm and lease it to a farmer- somebody who’s competent. You can buy stocks. Certainly you can buy stocks. If you buy the right stocks- seed companies, fertilizer companies, or whatever- you’ll make a lot of money.

You can buy countries. Some countries are more agriculturally-oriented than others. Pakistan is a country that lives and dies on cotton more than anything else. So it depends on the country.

If you’re going to buy a lake house, I would buy my lake house in Oklahoma, not in Massachusetts, because stocks are at all-time highs. And we just discussed what’s been happening in commodities. So lake houses in Oklahoma or Nebraska are probably a lot cheaper than in Massachusetts. You can get a Lamborghini dealership in Iowa, because the farmers are going to be driving Lamborghinis, in my view, in the future.

Or you can buy- for most people, obviously the best way is to buy an index. Many studies have shown that index investing is far and away the best way to invest in anything- stocks, bonds, currencies, commodities, anything else. And there are plenty of exchange-traded products where it makes it very easy these days to invest in commodities.

On buying a lake house in Oklahoma or Nebraska, the former investing partner of George Soros said something similar in an May 23, 2003, interview on the Wall $treet Week with FORTUNE TV program. Nailing the U.S. housing bubble a couple years before it burst, Rogers talked property (with an eye towards natural resources) with co-anchor Karen Gibbs. From the interview:

GIBBS: How about real estate?

ROGERS: Well, real estate, Karen, depends on where you are. There is a mania, a housing bubble going on. But if you’re going to buy a second home, buy a lake house in Iowa, because Iowa is a natural-resources-based state. I’m bullish on agriculture. I’m bullish on natural resources. So houses in Iowa will probably do well. Don’t buy it in Boston. Boston is a financial town. I’m not that optimistic on financial companies or financial areas. So buy in Oklahoma, buy in Colorado, buy in states where the economy is going to get better. Stay away from places like New York and Boston — where I live — because real estate there will probably not do well.

In a Barron’s interview that appeared on the publication’s website on October 12, 2013 (blogged about here), the Singapore-based investor who correctly-called the commodity bull market that began in 1999 expanded:

I could buy farmland and become a farmer—although I would be hopeless at it—or buy farmland and lease it out. Buy shares in farms, farm equipment, fertilizer and seed companies that trade on exchanges around the world. Stock markets in agriculture-producing countries should do better than those in agriculture-importing ones. Retailers, restaurants, banks in agricultural areas will do well. Buy a vacation home on a lake in Iowa, not Massachusetts.

Good stuff. You can listen to/read (transcript provided) that recent Wall Street Daily interview on their website here. And for a trip down memory lane, that Wall $treet Week with FORTUNE exchange here.

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am 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 presented herein.)

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

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