Month: December 2014

As 2014 Ends – What Have You Done? Is A Great Question To Ask

So here we are the final day of 2014. Many will look forward with excitement to set new goals, chart new courses et al. However, more than 90% (and maybe higher) will not continue their diligent path only 30 days in let alone 365.

They’ll become frustrated at the first sign of opposition. Some will blame the environment, their job, their boss, their spouse, the economy and so forth. I presume you get my point. The true issue here is none of the challenges have anything to do with whether or not you may reach any desired goal or outcome. What matters is how you deal with any and all challenges in finding ways to surmount them. In other words: It’s about you – not the world.

I’ve stated and wrote over the years that New Years resolutions are in many ways meaningless. They’re more or less “the thing to do because everyone else is doing it.” You should not rely on some arbitrary date to start or pursue a goal of any type. It should be started the day you decide – not some arbitrary holiday for renewal.

That said the end of the year is a great time for reflection. In other words, if you were setting goals and experiencing growth you should have a myriad of accomplishments that happened throughout the year, while simultaneously still have others that are still “in process” that will carry on into the next year.

If all you did was set one goal at the end of 2013 and gave yourself till today for accomplishment. If you didn’t reach it – then was the year a total worthless failure? I would hope you would say, “Of course not! I accomplished this, that, and the other thing but just not that one.” Which I hope brings light to my point I’m trying to imply in the reflection vs arbitrarily wishing.

So with that said since today is that reflective day I thought I’d share a few of mine that might help inspire you to seek larger goals or, push yourself to take those chances where the rewards are greatest where you see fit. Especially those of you that think or believe: The deck is stacked against you, you don’t have the resources so why even try, you don’t have the right connections, education, address, _______________ (fill in the blank).

For like you I also have been there and had to find ways to push through – and did. I’ve always used myself as the example and documented using verifiable, not pie in the sky, made up out of whole cloth examples.

There were a few things I thought I’d get out this year such as my newest book which I originally planned to release last month but changed my mind when I saw the newest release by Seth Godin. When I saw the advance copy I knew what was troubling me about mine and decided to pull it and start over and discussed my reasons why.

I had some who thought the reason why I pulled it was I hadn’t written enough to complete, implying that I probably hadn’t written enough words to fill it. (this usually comes from someone who themselves has the inability or makes excuses to write themselves)

When I answer that just this year between March and December I wrote on this very blog over 125 posts with an average word count of 1000 per which translates into the equivalent of 5 business books in less than 10 months. (the average business book today is approximately 25,000 words) Usually at that point I no longer get questioned on whether or not is was “the ability to fill a book.”

That said while on the topic of books. Although I did not release one this year I have had far more recognition, viewership, reads, impact and a whole lot of other criteria measurements than many others that did release a book, even some that are considered “best-selling.”

This year my articles, thoughts, quotes, and more have been shown around the globe on some of the largest as well as most informative websites today. My work has been alongside on the same pages as the top authors or authorities in finance, academia, business, and more. Whether I was quoted from my articles on my blog, re-posted elsewhere, or pull quoted.

I have used no social media (other than the sharing buttons on my own site) against what everyone in media would tell you (or sell you) that you must, must (!) be done in order to make an impact. I have done absolutely none of it to demonstrate – you don’t need to. For if I’m to express my talk, I need to walk it, and not only show it, but prove it.

While everyone was touting this metric and that metric as to “prove” one was relevant I shared my experience of how I handled this in a post back in Oct. when I shared how I address this when I’m in public. As I stated in that piece: Although I don’t use Twitter™ any one of my articles or quotes can be sent to over 2 million Twitter followers depending on where my work has shown up. And that’s just Twitter.

As far as viewers or potential audience size at any given time, it can be anywhere from 1 to 2 million on a near weekly basis, but has had verifiable gusts of as much as 30 million depending on which news source (or sources) carried it.

The blog itself this year decisively crossed over the “read in over 100 countries” threshold. (it’s actually 112) A mark that utterly staggers me still. Along with that subscribers to the blog has doubled this year. (and I wish thank every one of you personally, gratefully, as well as humbly)

Some of my articles have been noted by others as helping to move arguments forward where no one was either paying attention or worse – turning a blind eye.

In April of this year I wrote an article that came out as Michael Lewis’ was promoting his newest book “Flash Boys.” In that article I made the case and titled the piece: “If HFT Algo’s Were People They’d Be Perp Walked” At the time of this article, along with his book, all of both Wall St. as well as the regulating bodies pooh poohed people like myself and others. (many labeled as us “tin-foiled”) Yet, within 24 hours of my article being posted on the “paper of record” ZeroHedge™ in helping expose the whole High Frequency Trading issue, the Justice Departments decided that finally it might be time to see if there was any there – there. (Below is a screen shot of their announcement)

Screenshot courtesy of ZeroHedge

Screenshot courtesy of ZeroHedge

Was It me that caused this? I have no idea and I explained it in another article when people were questioning me about this very fact in an article “Am, I Front Running The HFT Story?” I made the case for where I have standing, nothing more. And asked for the reader to draw their own conclusions. (which I feel is the best way for authentic creditability)

This was just one instance where I found my thoughts, ideas, writings, or more in places that everyone tried to imply “I didn’t know what I was talking about for I’m not some Wall St. guy, what do I know?” It seems in retrospect I at least knew enough about both business, as well as common sense, for the elite of the financial media to take my thoughts seriously and actually quote or post them. Sometimes in the biggest financial market moving stories of the year.

One example is when Apple™ the largest capitalized business and probably most  revered company in the world made the announcement that they were splitting their stock and other market moving announcements (e.g. paying a dividend et al) With the myriad of people a news source such as MarketWatch™ could have quoted, interviewed, asked for insights, and more; I found myself as one of the two they decided to use as a resource. The other was Bob Lefsetz.

For those who don’t recognize his name immediately I’ll just use this example: We go into a night club and see a rock star we know sitting at a table and we say “Hey look it’s him!” That rock star in the same club sees a person like Tim Cook of Apple and says “Hey look it’s him!” Mr. Cook in that same club sees Mr. Lefsetz and says “Hey look it’s him!” So to see my thoughts alongside such a well-known media figure I was more than honored.

Those are just a few that have taken place and there have been far too many to list them all here. However, what I want to demonstrate, again, using myself as the example; is that all this and more has been done by someone who can barely spell cat without spellchecker, has made more grammatical errors, punctuation mistakes, as well as other abuses in using the written word that if the Inquisition was still around – I’d be first to be put to the stake. (and there are many who have written and told me that very thing should be done with me!)

Others have released books this year. Some are touted as a “best seller” because they made some list. Most that made that list sold about 20, or 30,000 to make those very lists. Accomplishments, yes, but if you know what to do, who to call, and how to allocate and manipulate your sales – anyone can do it. Yes, I’m saying just that. And you don’t have to take my word for it. You can search online and find the very people who do it which is why I no longer care about that metric. In real terms except for “show” it’s meaningless in many ways.

Let me ask you this: (don’t take my word for it you think about it and decide if there’s merit in what I’m stating.)

One person releases a book on let’s say “investing” or “finance” as it pertains to the individual. For what ever the reasons whether one agrees or disagrees with the books premise the book is deemed a “best seller.” Let’s say for benefit of the doubt (for I truly don’t know the metrics but I’ll err on the side of what would be deemed stellar if hit) the book sells 1 million copies. That would make it into “blockbuster” type status by any measure.

However, we know by empirical data that more than 50% of all business book sales never get their spine even cracked. In other words bought – but never read. We also know by this same data that of the remaining – less than half of those will be read more than a few chapters before abandonment. The remaining 25% falls into the same type of metric where less than 1/2 of those will actually be read from cover to cover. And that is being generous for it’s actually much, much less.

So based on these metrics you come to about 125,000 as true readers or viewers of your insights that may put them into action. And basically – that’s it. For it’s a book, and the way things work once the book is done – it’s done as far as relative metrics. (which if you do your own research you’ll find I’m right in line for back of napkin styled math. Remember as I always say, don’t take my word for it, you should know for yourself)

Now as for me. I have not written a book this year, yet I have written more than 50 articles (approximately over 75,000 words the equivalent of 2 to 3 business books) that have appeared across the globe to a verifiable audience of millions nearly every week. Not only have they been carried, but I have also been quoted or cited in some of the largest financial stories in regards to the capital markets this year alone.

So to ask the question I posed at the outset: Who’s truly making the impact if the true “goal” is: to make an impact?

I make this statement in response to quite a lot of feedback I received when I wrote my thoughts on Tony Robbins latest release. Some said “I was jealous” others were far more let’s just say “colorful.” But all in all the responses were quite genuine and some really wanted to understand my position, for many had just started hearing, or read my work for the first time.

One of those that questioned my motives insinuated I was just trying to “latch on” because that’s what guy’s in the “motivation” business do. (In some ways I did agree with him for as many of you know I deplore most as “snake-oil” hawkers) In other words I was neither “qualified” to question, along with “not nearly as known” as I make myself to be. As I said earlier, in a way, they are fair points so I answered him this way…

“I understand the point you seem to be trying to make legitimately. It’s a fair one if you truly want an answer to help yourself square a circle in your own mind, for I feel the subject matter in and of itself is something that can not be taken willy-nilly in today’s markets.

I like Mr. Robbins are in the “motivation” business. Yes, he’s been a big star, and has been on a big stage for a very long time. However, that said doesn’t mean just because “he” says or wrote something that others within the same field can’t nor shouldn’t criticize or, point out flaws if they can both see them, as well as articulate the reasons why they have a differing viewpoint based on understandable, definable, resolvable data or facts.

Arguing or trying to insert oneself into a story for the mere act of it is quite another thing. And If I were doing that or one could demonstrate I was, I would agree. But clearly I have enough intellectual property across the web as well as on my own site where my views have not only been expressed for quite some time, but I back up my assertions with evidence based facts whenever and wherever possible.

But I’ll also answer you with this screen shot that I just took, for I believe it also helps answer the other part of what you’re trying to find an answer to. i.e., “Who the heck am I to….”

If one wants to believe that the internet and search engines with their sophisticated as well as ever-changing criteria for algorithmic matches for relevance or importance matter. Then if the data shows X than in some ways there must be some credibility to it. For as we all know, search, and all the “SEO” that has taken place over the last few years has been not only pummeled, but Google™ itself has laid waste to many of the so-called “genius” ways one could game the system and get ranking.

So if one can actually get that ranking within not only a major figures news feed, but while that major figure is in the throes of an actual release window where not only themselves, but others across the media are writing and reviewing the work and are known as “some of the largest viewed portal across the web.” To be within the top 50 of that search result would be an accomplishment. The top ten would be a phenom would it not? So what does it say when you’re not only in the top 5 but in the top 3 as in the isolated box of most relevant articles? Remember, this is when a major figure is actively pursuing making that news. To wit:

Me on a TR story search Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 7.33.52 AMAs you can see, in an open quote search, with over 23 million responses, during the most saturated media period concerning Mr. Robbins and the release of his book. The number 3 position is occupied by my article. And, it’s not exactly conducive to the algorithmic scrape for relevance. It would have to be there because of algorithms based on viewership numbers, which gives it in my view even more credibility when I make the statement of “making an impact.”

Whatever or however you draw your own conclusions from here is up to you and I respect it. But now at the least you have some actual data to either contemplate – or completely trash. The choice is yours as it should be.”

Moving on; a few other things I had expected to have in place but, as things always do – sand gets into the gears and halts everything. e.g., Expanding the audio/video section along with making the blog (or splitting it) more useful.

As I’ve discussed in the earlier post in this article (the first hyperlink in this article) the blog has become very broad in its topics. Some come for motivation, others come for entrepreneurial insights, others come for a host of other reasons. Then they subscribe – get a post like I did on Ebola and “ding!” they unsubscribe. And as I’ve explained I totally understand why.

So the move has been on to make changes but, I was held up in a battle royale over a domain I owned and it was getting ugly. Well I’m glad to say that situation has finally been resolved and I’ll be sharing more in the coming weeks. So please stay tuned. I think you’ll like the additional feature.

I could go on, and on, but I think you get the point of this whole (maybe even long-winded) exercise to demonstrate it’s been quite a year. And I’m expecting even better things come this newest year.

As I’ve said many times “I’m just getting started.” I also hope that is similar to your mantra going into this year.

So….See you next year!

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

From Land Of Opportunity To A Fool’s Paradise

I am amazed daily to see just how many adults (never mind the teenagers) seem absolutely oblivious to their surroundings. Seemingly intelligent people walking with their heads down flailing away on a keyboard built for ants either trying to find out “what’s happening” in the world or, to let the world know on some social networking platform what they ate for dinner, if they just showered, or posted their 2,375 picture of themselves in a compromising pose or situation.

They tweet, post, paste, share, spread, etc.,etc.,etc. But ask them a question about a relevant subject such as the economy, state of global affairs, or more that might impact their future? You’ll just get a blank soulless expression of bewilderment.

You know that look, it’s the same look you get when one of these clueless figures walks right into you in some store or mall. Do they say sorry? Or, excuse me?  No: you just get the animatronic look that says ” Weren’t you watching where I was going?”

Sorry too say, that’s what you’ll hear people saying who put more into exercising their texting dexterity than their educating or informing themselves with useful information. Information which they need to know and understand so they can apply it to their personal well-being. Not their personal “page.”

Social media along with near instantaneous news feeds have given the allusion to a great many that they are “informed.” Nothing could be further from the truth. And in many ways it’s becoming not only dangerous, but could turn catastrophic for these same “informed” individuals.

Most truly informed people today (which you are) know that what is being reported, how it’s reported, how it’s manufactured, and all the other ways data of today is being manipulated that one can not rely on the once deemed “reliable sources of information.”

Today far too many are only taking in the “headlines” along with what’s known as “headline numbers.” This is an abject lesson in Tom Foolery.

Be it as it may that the markets are at lifetime highs along with unemployment prints of under 6%. If you believe as Janet Yellen stated in her latest FOMC conference that we’ll be at “full employment” in a little over a year from now without questioning or understanding how, along with looking at these markets without wondering how and why – then maybe this is “paradise.” However, I doubt that is what it will be in the not too distant future.

As I have stated many times over the years one of the most important reasons that needs to be understood above all with the Federal Reserve’s intervention into the capital markets is the very fact – they enable both the political class, as well as other policy makers from attending to making sure intrusive, job killing, business stifling, or other entrepreneurial based impediments are either not made law – or repealed out of law. Whether that be taxes, regulations, et al.

This point for a long time seemed to have been falling on deaf ears. However, now with so many once “touchstones” as to gauge the health of the economy so utterly “off the charts” such as the indexes, others are now beginning to call out this glaring danger. One such person is Stephen Roach. In a recent article he also opined the following:

“Moreover, the longer central banks promote financial-market froth, the more dependent their economies become on these precarious markets and the weaker the incentives for politicians and fiscal authorities to address the need for balance-sheet repair and structural reform.”

Again to make my point: what is happening away from the adulterated headlines and at the root of business is there are changes about to imposed on businesses as well as others that are going to have dramatic impacts on business creation, expansion, hiring, and a lot, lot more.

A few examples of what is possibly coming down the literal “pipeline” is just how fast all the good news in the employment front just might turn around near overnight and go from good straight to; how can this be happening?

Oil as of today is in free-fall. “Great news to consumers” you’ll read in the main stream media (MSM). Yes, it is. Yet, that decline in fuel savings will not turn into a windfall for spending on new trinkets or electronics that this same MSM will laud over. For a great many it will barely cover the increases in their newest round of healthcare premium increases. But not too worry – the MSM loves that new consumer spending report, and that factors in your new bill to their new-found narrative: Everything is just wonderful!

Then there’s that unemployment number. Forget all the “not counted” souls any longer. How about the ones that they do count? You know where they all work? In the oil business in one form or another.

As I stated in an earlier article We Forget All Too Fast… once you see the beginning signs, things can move very quickly. And we are beginning to see those very signs.

Here are just a few: US Oil Well Permits Collapse 40% in Nov., US Oil Rig Count Tumbles, Drilling Cutback…Forced to Scrap Rigs. These few are not just for the sake of a headline, but have actual empirical data. I’ll also bet dollars to doughnuts those are headlines that won’t be shared or seen on a government supplied phone.

With as abstinent or what some might say “out right hostile” view of the fossil fuel industry as this administration has both proclaimed, as well as demonstrated itself to be: How does one think the view will be when these once job creating states or areas suddenly find themselves in dire straights if this perfect storm of low oil prices, along with low demand, and high yield financing collide?

Will they leave the heavy lifting (if there’s anything left to lift at all) to the Federal Reserve? Because if jobs in these states begin to accelerate to the down side, so to will the narrative of “patient.” I’ll garner it will turn right into outright panic. But there’s a problem.

Interest rate cutting and more money printing won’t help next time. You’ll need far more tools than just a printing press, for the rest of the world is not going to bear that burden any further. The currency markets won’t allow it.

Does one think Russia along with China are going to let the U.S. solve its monetary and economic crises once again by putting their currencies at risk? Along with the political unrest it fosters? You can see these tensions manifesting within the Forex markets everywhere. And as I’ve stated many times before – it’s the Forex markets where you have to keep a keen eye peeled. For this is where the real action happens that everything else follows.

The current new pledges of friendly trade and even friendlier currency swaps excluding the Dollar are happening with far more frequency and in more prominent markets today than probably the last two generations.

Whether they work out over time with signing parties is irrelevant. Just the mere fact that others are not only thinking but actually engaged in the process is a monumental shift. And should literally scare U.S. policy makers to their core. But alas – it seems they either have no understanding, or worse – don’t want to know and don’t care.

And if you think about it why should they? Just look at what the all those people who bump into you are reading. You know, the one’s only concerning themselves with what a “headline” says, or what a tightly dressed, impeccably coiffed headline reader would tell them – like… “Everything Is Awesome!”

A Fool’s paradise is what the once great “land of opportunity” is in real danger of becoming if the adults don’t stop acting like children and actually care about what’s beneath the headlines or between the book covers. Rather than the headlines of who’s between the covers with who.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

Meetings And Why They Still Matter

Entrepreneurship and all that it implies for many will leave them filled with excitement and wanting for the adventure. Then, once they begin, they become frightened, panicky, or down right abstinent in continuing the path.

What once looked like a thrilling adventure seems to turn into a form of free-fall into a lonely abyss because of the lack of a support structure. Before, all one wished for is that they could channel Greta Garbo’s immortal line “I want to be alone” and work in peace versus the almost suffocating one finds inherent working for an organization where peers abound. Many lull themselves into thinking: If I strike out on my own I’ll be rid of having to deal with these people! Matter of fact – any!

However, sometimes the peers you totally disagreed with, and argued profusely, and couldn’t wait to jettison as to never deal with the likes of these others again; may have been exactly the push back you unsuspectingly needed to make your own arguments more salable to not only others – but to oneself, and never realized it. (I’m not talking about a boss or co-worker as depicted in some sit-com or movie. We’re adults and should know what I’m trying to express here.)

Believe it or not. Being in business where you are now the “boss” and answer only to yourself and need no approval process to do (or not do) something, can be a very daunting (if not scary) period until one gets comfortable with it. And if not worked through properly “comfortable” never shows.

This is where isolation can really hurt far more than help. And in today’s world of “connectivity” many think they can get the support or input they need that replaces “face to face” meetings or interaction with people. I believe you can’t.

In today’s age of instant connectivity anywhere/anytime one sometimes assumes they are “connected.” That’s true in one sense, yet lacking in another.

Napoleon Hill years ago described and recommended what he deemed the “Master Mind” group throughout his books over the years. One thing that is as true today as it were then is the group met.  Meeting didn’t mean they traded ideas via the mail, or telephone, or any other means of communication they had at their disposal.

They too could have had a conference styled call or some other way of communicating at a planned event, but no – they met in person – face to face. (just to be clear – the telephone was just as revolutionary and “disruptive” in its effects as say the “phone” is today)

The act of sitting down and meeting with other like-minded people (whether it’s just one or a group) is not only a recommended exercise in today’s world of entrepreneurship or business. I believe it should be viewed as a sacrosanct event.

There is something lost when the face to face interaction is cavalierly viewed as no longer “important” and can be replaced by smart phones, web chats, et al. Yes, those interactions can be useful and more. However, as a complete replacement? Sorry, I believe you lose something in the process over time which inevitably makes one less effective in their overall communication skills going forward. And what might be worse in other ways – fosters and hardens an isolationist type mindset where one draws further and further into seclusion.

There are times when we all need to “be alone.” Yet, one needs to be aware when that “being alone” has turned into a defensive mechanism to avoid any type of outside criticism or push-back.

There are specific requirements as to what constitutes a true “Master Mind” group and this isn’t the article to go into all of them here. (I would suggest reading Hill’s definition found in any of his books) However, the first step in the process and one that fortifies the process is actually meeting with other individuals where the exchange of ideas can take place.

At the very least once a month at an agreed upon time (in advance) where ideas for business will be exchanged where everyone (and that does mean everyone attending) will partake in the discussion bringing something to the table.

You don’t need to meet with others who are in your direct line of business. (and I would actually encourage you to do the opposite) i.e., Seek others in differing fields such as bakers, software, accounting, tattoo shop owner, you get the idea.

The idea of sitting face to face and discussing ideas as well as challenges with a group of like-minded individuals is worth 100 times more than the same time spent “online” in all its varying forms.

There’s a time and a place for each, but knowing the value of when to do them, as well as not, is what separates the successful from all the rest. (On an aside – lawyers and tattoo shop owners have more in common if they’re in true “business” than one would think. Think about it.)

Don’t allow yourself to become an island in a sea of “connectivity.” Get out and not only put the phone down – but turn it off for an hour as you discuss challenges, opportunities and more face to face with other like-minded entrepreneurs or business people.

The rewards gained in just that one hour meeting might provide an actionable insight that pays dividends for years going forward.

It’s far too easy to become isolated in today’s world of connectivity anywhere, anytime. “Connected” means just that connected.  “Connected” doesn’t mean true interaction. It just denotes connected, nothing more.

We all work better, get more out of life, as well as gain and retain useful information when we’re face to face meeting and discussing challenges, as well as other insights with other like-minded people.

There is no replacement worth its salt at this time. Period.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

Probably Not A Better Real Time Real World Example

Over the years I have been dogged like a junk yard dog latched onto a bone about trying to show entrepreneurs, business people and a like insights as to help work through the clutter and get about creating, formulating and running their enterprises in a manner that helps them reach their objectives.

One of the hardest things (as well as potentially business curtail of my own business for after all I am in the motivation business) is pointing out that what is being shown as “a rose” is not a rose. And as a matter of fact if you looked closely not only could you see, but you would see for oneself the scent is anything but “sweet.”

I do this for many reasons, but the (and by that I do me The) main reason is: I believe with all my being that if and when the ugliness of this painted picture economy does show its true face – it will be the prepared entrepreneurs, as well as anyone else in business that will reap rewards not seen in maybe a generation.

But (and it’s a very big but) that means exactly that – the prepared. i.e., The ones that understand true business fundamentals, economics, net profit, as well as others such as; that there are times to accumulate debt (yes I said that) times to shed debt, and times to maintain debt. It’s in the knowing of the when’s, and the why’s that separates the successful from all the rest.

All that said (for I could go on, and, on) let me use today December 23, 2014 as empirical evidence to make my case.

Many of you may have already heard (for it is being cheered everywhere) that the U.S. economy for Q3 just posted a print of 5%. That’s not a typo, that is the highest Q3 print since (wait for it….) 2003!

That would mean that Q3 of this year is better, more spectacular, than any other Q3 in 11 years. That proposes during the boon of the 00’s where people could get a loan just for lying.

Housing and everything entailed within it was off the charts with construction, new home sales, all those construction jobs, and much more. Yet, this Quarter, was better than any single one of them? Think about that in honesty. Do you think with what you know today, and what you that lived and worked through those past 11 years; do you believe today is “the best?” I believe you see my point.

Now let me show you 3 screenshots I took as I was writing this to illustrate. First is the front page of Bloomberg’s™ web site. What I would like you to do is read the headline, then look below and read the lines I underlined in red and see if it helps square the circle – or just leaves a hole.

Bloomberg Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 12.58.39 PM copyFirst line is the consumer spending within the GDP that beat the forecasts (remember this beat it’s important)

Second is New home sales “Unexpectedly fall to a four-month LOW” ( But this GDP beats when we had the absolute best, so why do we need housing to go up at all if we can do 5% without it? Right? It doesn’t fit.)

Third line is durable goods (what was the most important item in the GDP report to make a good report) Increased? Nope, surprisingly – Declined! Again, if we don’t need housing, nor a durable good to make a great giddy styled print in the GDP you must be asking – then what did? To Wit:

Chart source ZeroHedge

Chart source ZeroHedge

See that top line circled in red I drew? That is the reason, the category, the only input that made it possible for a GDP print of 5%. Spending for healthcare aka Obamacare. You can read the original article and breakdown here at ZH if you wish.

That means because of forced increases in peoples expenditures because of healthcare costs rising (which is now considered a “consumer spending.” Remember earlier when I said for the first line where this figure came from was important? Now you know. If your healthcare costs go up, that’s now considered great for the economy. This line of thinking leaves no issue with considering if your tax burden goes up, that is also “good for the economy.”

Currently as I type I am listening to one financial analyst after another along with commentators touting the 5% number as if they were 14yr old’s discussing boys and girls. And just when I think I’ve heard it all I hear some market maven tout how “this proves the fundamentals in the market are sound.”

I keep looking around to see if a chaperone will come on the set and escort the kids off and bring on the adults. But alas, not only are they the adults, they’re touted as “the smart crowd!”

If you don’t think these headlines are going to be force-fed on the general public all week-long from everywhere; I’ll leave you with one last screen shot. It’s from the Drudge Report™.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 2.43.01 PM

Just remember, if you are reading this – you are leaps and bounds more informed to take advantage of opportunities when they arise than I would estimate 90% of anyone you may consider your competition.

And that’s a first mover advantage worth its weight in gold in my book. If not possibly – priceless.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

A Quick Observation In More Than 140 Characters

I was just sent a quick note from a friend who wanted to know if my thoughts on the whole “social media” thing had changed. He used the point that Facebook™ today had just hit a new high insinuating “I must not be as ‘informed’ on the whole social media ‘thing’ as I think.”

I thought I’d share my response since we’re in the holiday wind down mode:

Yes, Facebook over the last week or so has been on a tear. But I’ll ask you, (never mind asking me) why? What is it that you have seen, or heard something that changed all the concern after their last earnings report sell off? I won’t wait for your response, for I know the answer – no, there’s been nothing.

What you’re watching in my opinion is nothing more than money needing to be invested before year-end trying desperately to find a home (any home) that has even the slightest prayer of possible growth before next earnings season.

With all the turmoil also happening within the currency markets moves like these happen out of nowhere and get fueled by light markets and more. There’s a lot more to it, but mostly what I’m trying to express is what you’re seeing currently is ephemeral. That goes for this whole melt up as of the last few weeks also. But since this was brought up let me ask you something…

What happened to Twitter™? Remember that social media darling that was “the” social media darling of darlings? If you remember I was basically lambasted both publicly and privately for my saying that this would be the “canary in the coal mine” to watch for trouble. And I believed there was to be trouble and I was called a “Chicken Little.” I was called worse (more like stupid – no clue – should I go on?) when they also hit record highs more than once. Where are they now?

That’s right: if you invested in Twitter at any time, chances are you’ve not only lost money – but maybe a lot of money. Twitter today has only stopped its bloodletting of investment value over the last few weeks for one reason and one reason only: The possibility some other company might now find it useful and buy it such as a Google™, or an Apple™.

Don’t take my word for it here’s a quote I saved for an article I was going to write later from a prominent investment short seller Doug Kass. “This past week, Kass wrote that he’s buying Twitter on a decline in shares that makes the company a more attractive takeover candidate.”

If I remember correctly, the only person publicly making that argument theorizing something such as this would more than likely happen in the coming future over a year ago (before they even IPO’d) was yours truly. I know this for as I know you remember – it’s one of the reasons I got even more flack than I was getting about my stance on the whole genre at the time.

Remember, no need to take my word for it. It’s all in my archives. I’d put a link but I think it would be better if you looked yourself. No need to say it again if you didn’t believe me the first time.

Because as far as my thinking on the whole social media thing goes – nothing has changed.

The issue is most of social media (as well as Silicon Valley) hasn’t realized that as far as “the world of social” as they knew or though it to be – is about to change. And I mean change in ways so diametrically opposed to how they are looked at today that the word “disruptive” may no longer going forward be a word embraced as it is today.

Other than that, I have no strong feelings on the matter.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

Wall Street Gets A Merry Christmas Main St. Gets Keynesian Coal

Here we are going into what should be by all accounts one of the most festive times of the year. If one were to listen to most of the commentary coming from the mouths of what are proclaimed as the “smart-crowd” you would think we should be dancing in the streets, buying everything, and anything within arms reach, and much, much more.

Yet, anyone who owns, runs, or works for a business will tell you in private they are either paralyzed by uncertainty, or worse, they’re just scared to death. It just seems nothing makes sense as to what they know – and what they’re being told they should believe.

I talk directly with people who are entrepreneurs and business professionals. One glaringly impression that gets made to me over, and over again, is they literally can’t make heads or tails out of not only who to believe, but also what data to believe.

Everything they once thought they knew has not only been stood on its head, but in many cases the data or information they once used as touchstones as “to keep an eye on the ball” as to where the economy is possibly going – has now turned into a game having more in common trying to watch a ball with a street magician. And in my opinion; it just got a whole lot worse.

Turn on any “news” outlet and what will be touted in some form of giddy-esque fashion is the markets are once again hitting new all time highs. And not only will this Christmas be better than expected, it will be better because people will now enjoy a sudden rush of unrealized gains now that gasoline is plummeting. Sounds like a festive holiday season made to order.

Well it is, just not for Main St. Yes, it will cost one less to drive that boulevard, but stopping and shopping? Probably better to stay in the car and drive around looking at all the pretty displays. It’s cheaper, maybe more memorable, and the chances of being shot drop lower than a bargain basement discount.

If things have been so good for retailing, and the stock market the once “gauge of gauges” for optimism and health of an economy is once again at all time highs; then how can you have people such as long time retail consultants that cut their teeth in both good and bad times comment on both the state of malls, as well as the very people who shop in them like Howard Davidowitz (and he is not some glass half empty styled analyst, far from it) when he states:

“They’re trying to change; they’re trying to get different kinds of anchors, discount stores … [But] what’s going on is the customers don’t have the fucking money. That’s it. This isn’t rocket science.” as reported in a story appearing in The Guardian™ when asked about malls and their challenges just this year.

Although I agree with him, the Federal Reserve (Fed.) seems to believe the retail economy is “rocket science”. Just listen to a press conference to clear any doubt.

I don’t know how many readers listened to the Fed. Chair Janet Yellen read her prepared remarks on the recent meeting. Personally I was left slack-jawed when I heard her summarize the expectations for the employment situation going forward.

The assumption stated (I’m paraphrasing to give the example) is that based upon the unemployment figures currently which are now under 6%. The committee sees reaching their target of maximum employment in about a year or so. Yes, you read that correctly, full employment is just around the corner based upon the data they use today. All I could think was: Are you seriously making that in a public statement? I mean – really?

If you’re a person in any way shape manner or form that needs reliable data to help formulate your decision on whether to open a new division, relocation, and more where employment data was critical to that discussion: Would you take seriously a person who stated where you were proposing to go was to be at full employment with a year or so knowing full well over 90 million of that base are jobless?

Of course not. You’ld throw them out of your office. Yet – that’s what the head of all monetary policy in that local not only says, but will base decisions that impact you directly going forward. Happy Holidays!

If your only interest is in Wall Street itself – then you should embrace the bubbly. Why? As posted by ZeroHedge™ “Fed To The Rescue” The Plunge Protection Team Makes The Front Page.

So adulterated have the markets now shown themselves to be, none other than the most G rated, of G rated newspapers for financial literacy the USA Today™ front paged the Fed.’s omnipotence. No one needs to hide the “chair” behind the curtains any longer. It’s now so obvious and accepted by everyone they can run the full frontal nudity of this assault to free market capitalism on the front page to an adoring public.

You’re told to turn your eyes from any hint that retail sales might actually be flashing a warning sign with an unexpected drop. However, you are told to embrace the “bubbly” with both hands because the markets rallied in a manner not seen in years based on; great economic figures? Retail blowout reports from Black Friday sales? Massive retail upticks that people have needed to only arrive in panel vans or trucks capable of hauling home all those new presents for girls and boys? Nope. It was not only based on no new data, but just one new word: Patient.

Yes, you can re-read that till your mind gels and strews out your ears. That is what led to nearly 1000 market points. Most business people could stand there all day and never “get” the causation. However, if you’re a banker on Wall Street, it’s Merry Christmas enjoy the holidays.

If you understand “Fed. speak” or global politics where nuances and words are taken to have very specific meanings (don’t look for this in the main stream media they’ve abandoned this analysis long ago) you heard the fear in the Fed.’s statement that things are so fragile, so reliant on their intervention, the word “patient” which for all intents and purposes was supposedly the first indicator that the Fed was serious about changing its meddling – patiently punted.

Instead of changing its language from “a considerable time” to the more ominous “patient” (i.e., implying could happen sooner than later) they added the “patient” while also leaving in the “considerable time” in fear the headline reading, algorithmic, high frequency trading machines would run wild. (Yes, I spelled that all out on purpose to make one remember what “trading” is today. I think it’s important not to forget that.)

One of the greatest issues with this whole process that just infuriates me and is one of the main reasons why I took on trying to explain all this mind numbing minutia to entrepreneurs and business people alike is for the very reasons the people out here trying to build, and work their business can’t make any sense of just what the hell is going on half the time.

They don’t have the luxury of sitting back wondering if what the Fed. does today might impact how they have to prepare and run their business tomorrow. And anyone who tries to tell you that it doesn’t and you should just not pay attention it, and just be happy in your 401K is either a con man – or a fool. Most of the stuff coming across the wires if just nonsense, Pure – unadulterated – nonsense!

I was perusing the financial media networks after listening to the Fed. Chair give her press conference where I happened to hear a breath of sanity expressed by Melissa Francis on her show “Money with Melissa Francis” on Fox Business™ when she made a very pointed remark when trying to fish out implications going forward. (I’m paraphrasing) “If the Fed. can just keep the markets afloat – then why do we need free markets at all?” She was making it rhetorically but she’s right on the money. And this is where it gets more dangerous by the day. Because some do believe that to be true. aka Keynesian’s.

Right now it’s a Keynesian wonderland with Wall Street year-end bonuses abound for everyone. With data made up, adulterated, or meant to mean anything you would like. Just plug-in what you want, and if that light don’t light, don’t worry, plug-in another one. And don’t worry about the cost. They’re free, or at the least, they’re made off shore in a country that doesn’t have the same labor standards or pay scales that we demand here, but not too worry, we don’t talk about that here in Keynes-ville. (It helps the earnings report you get that right?)

What’s Keynes-ville you ask? Oh you remember that charming old Christmas story that plays every year with Jimmy Stewart. You know, where he was frightened of the prospects of a futuristic “Potters-ville?”

Well that’s the old make-believe version from theaters of yesteryear. But now we have it in full stunning detail with no funky headset or internet connection is needed to see to enjoy. Just venture into any downtown where currently over 90 million American unemployed reside.

It’s not a movie – It’s a running nightmare with no end in sight if the elites believe we could be at “full employment” in a little more than a year or so if we just let them continue on the way they’re going unabated.

Talk about a stocking stuffer. That’s more like giving us Santa’s boot.

In the teeth!

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

It’s Not About What I Would Do

I was asked on how someone like myself can help “guarantee” results with people searching for advice or guidance. Here’s how I responded…

“I can clearly show someone the how’s or why’s something must be done. I can help steer or give the proper training to help facilitate a successful outcome. However, what I can not do, is magically curate all the possible actions for someone, then, telepathically make them do the things they need to do when they are needed too be done as instructed. Instructions by the way in which they agreed, were the things to do, and promised or assured themselves they would indeed: do them.

Without the person on their own accord making themselves do the very things they either know or believe needs to be done – nothing will help. The final condition or application for a successful outcome no matter what relies solely on the individual themselves: to do it. What ever “it” is. Period.”

Some may think the above is a coy way of “covering one’s behind” when the results aren’t produced by an individual. Again, that would be a fair point where I’ll also agree for I’ve seen it used in varying ways by many that I deem as “snake-oil” hawkers. However, that doesn’t mean because some have morphed and used it in duplicitous ways that there isn’t any truth still contained.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

Today’s Markets Are “A Lesson In Willful Ignorance”

Within the last 90 days there has been more convoluted messaging coming from the financial media, the main stream, as well as academia than I can remember. The more one looks or tries to find relevant, useful, actionable insights – the more they get conjecture.

Tag onto this the obligatory covering of arses as one’s told “It’s a great time to buy stocks!” Followed with “It will probably end badly.” Or, that other gem for the legend books “The Fed’s got your back” analogy.

So prevalent are these today it makes a politician marvel in its usage for audacity or speciousness. And that’s saying something in my book.

Let’s take a few examples that really give the tenor and tone of what I’m trying to express. They are far from the only ones, yet they give what I believe are true representations on why people are not only confused, but why they’ve walked away from both the markets as well as other activities in ways that have all the supposed “experts” flummoxed.

These are in no manner of importance, just the most recent. I would love to say egregious – but there isn’t enough paper nor computer memory to list them all. These just stuck out in my head and are in my “front of mind” as I type. Nothing more.

Like many I was listening to a business show when the retail sales figures were announced. As the data came across one pundit commented or implied in his usual snarky “knows more than you” tone that the “numbers” showing a drop of -11% was something that should be disregarded “for its inherently flawed.”

Fair enough. However: How does one square that circle when the so-called “data” which people like himself point to as reasons one should “not go by their feelings and look at the data” (for if you do you’re and “Idiot”) a 5th grader can see doesn’t add up?

The math now used along with the “seasonal adjustments” made to not only hard numbers, but “opinion surveys?” Would make that same 5th grader wonder how they got an “F” on their math tests. Ever! For if one can seasonally adjust an “opinion” – who needs to know math or even school for that matter if the numbers are “what ever you say they are.”

So don’t laugh (or cry) when your kid comes home in the not too distant future proclaiming “But Ma – Really. It does mean fantastic!” Just resolve yourself to the idea that maybe they’re just training for a career on Wall Street.

Then we have what many would proclaim as “market top signals” that not only confuse the average drive-by market participant – but can drive them crazy, as well as insane. For they seem to come precisely at the time the so-called “smart money” is heading for the exits as they “hold the doors open” and “give the bags” to the uniformed.

These are the ones believing “this is a great time to get rich!” as financial books touting memes on how to “invest like a billionaire” from Tony Robbins along with the front page articles parroting Barron’s™ “Crash? This time it’s different” make their appearances expressing how one should perceive treading within these markets as to take hold of one’s financial future.

Speaking of “financial future.” What happens if this bolt-out-of-the-blue styled sell off when everyone (and I do mean everyone) was calling for a “Santa Claus rally” into the year-end; turns into a “Santa came but left with all my profits” type affair?

Who will be to blame for this? Santa, or The Federal Reserve? For if they “had your back” every other time during a sell-off – how could they sit and watch your profits go up the chimney during the holidays?

It seems the markets which were once again atop “never before seen in the history of mankind heights based on fundamentals” crowd are nervously waiting to see if there will be even more reasons for concern (or panic) as the market goes lower, and lower; as the collapse in oil prices seems to be sucking it down faster, and with more vigor, than a saber-toothed cat caught in those very tar sands.

Just a few weeks back in October it appeared the markets fell precariously hard and fast when a Fed official made a public comment that maybe it was time for less Fed. involvement.

Suddenly the markets that were “fundamentally” sound on good economics plummeted. Some wiping out all their gains for the year. And that slide looked as if it was picking up steam until that same Fed. official did what many feel was a mea culpa and reversed his previous statement insinuating that the Fed possibly should do more.

Currently that recovery is identified as the “Bullard bottom” and since we have not only regained all those losses – but have gone even higher! But remember you are told this market is based on “fundamentals” not just Fed. policy.

Well one had better hope that truly is the case, for not only do people who are laughed and scorned as “tin-foil” types think these markets aren’t based on fundamentals, but rather, on the interventionist actions of the Fed.’s monetary policies. So too does the Central Bank of Central Banks. aka The Bank For International Settlements.

As reported by ZH in their article Why James Bullard Won’t Bail Out The Market’s Next Correction. One doesn’t need to take anyone else’s word (or opinion) that something just isn’t right within these markets. The bankers themselves are coming out as publicly as they dare warning other bankers to put a nix on things.

This is a very rare occurrence in both the timing as well as the messaging. Too not pay attention to the implications as well as the inference that the markets are tied far too close to the Fed – is a lesson in willful ignorance in my book.

You can’t mention bankers today without also mentioning politics and what is taking place once again.

Today what many are calling the “bail-out bill re-do” has just passed congress in the form of a budget bill. aka “The CRomnibus.” (This has nothing to do with an R – D – or I. This is just the observation in the obvious and conflicting. Nothing more.)

Suddenly we wake to headlines that congress has finally worked together to pass something both sides wanted to shut down the government in opposition to its passing.

On one side you have the R’s that couldn’t get a budget bill passed that would make it passed the Senate finally doing so with the help of the president who basically stands against the very ideas contained within it. And it was he who helped get members of the D’s to sign on or it would have failed.

Then you have Sen. Elizabeth Warren calling for its defeat because it is said to contain once again “Wall Street bailouts” and if the government is to be shut down – so be it. And the main stream press is singing her praise and tenacity. However, it’s this same “main stream media” that held anyone else that may even hint at the suggestion of a government shut-down as contemptible.

It’s near laughable for any thinking person at the obvious hypocrisy. In actuality – it’s breathlessly stunning rivaled only by Wall Streets claim of the markets “un-rigged” status.

So as we get ready for this joyous holiday season one has to ponder: Is there a chance that maybe – just maybe someone knows what they’re doing in these markets? Or, are we once again, at the cusp of another glaring point where the world wakes to find out once again: the so-called “smart crowd” hadn’t had a clue.

Personally I’ll take my chances with not gambling at all or looking to any of the so-called “experts” for clues. It keeps becoming abundantly more clear by the day: without the “Chair” behind the curtain. OZ is more attainable than following the road to financial freedom these people want to point out.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr

It’s Not Easy Being Green

I was standing in the ubiquitous bookstore you’ll find in most airports. As I was waiting for a flight I perused the shelves scanning which books and magazines were getting attention. You can learn a lot if you’ll take the time to look, and in many ways know “how” to look. e.g., Which magazines you can tell have been leafed through yet not bought as opposed to those show they have never been touched, with a generous supply left.

I did the same for books where I saw for the first time Tony Robbins new book. I was surprised by the heft of it. It wasn’t 5 inches thick, yet as far as business books go it was substantial, on par for what one would expect for a novel. It made sense seeing it’s his first in 20 years on an important subject so I picked it up and leafed through it. What surprised me? After skimming through it my original intent as to buy it waned – and I put it back.

As I’ve said many times “I’m a fan” but not of this latest release. (you shouldn’t take my word for it your mileage may vary) As I skimmed through it only reinforced my first blush inclinations that the “think like a billionaire” meme was misplaced for reinforcing the how and why for investing today.

I was surprised on just how often I found myself at odds with what I read. However, that’s me, and like I said, you may think different, but if you’re reading this I must assume you think somewhat like myself. (or think the opposite and use me as a rebuttal board which I feel is totally acceptable)

So now at least you know how I viewed it. Yet, the song from the Muppets® “It’s not easy being green” kept popping up in my head as the week wore on.

I was reading an article from a very well-respected speaker/consultant whom in which I have very high regards for. It the article he described an incident where an audience member stood and stated that they didn’t agree on his view about the nature or description as to the health of the economy.

The speaker then went on to describe how he refuted the answer with a terse one liner (I’m paraphrasing) ” “You can look at the glass as half empty or half full. Some of us simply take the glass.” There was a little more length and a little more color however I feel you get the point.

Although in principle I would agree with that statement or premise at first blush, in relationship to the question posed, and to answer in an almost “flick of the wrist” styled manner shows me just how few understand exactly what is taking place today. (And by few I mean the people who not only claim they know but charge for it)

If a downturn does take hold many I feel are going to find themselves not as prepared for the advantages that will abound. And many more will lose a lot of credibility if it does in the manner I have warned about.

In this business of “motivation” or “business expertise” there is both low hanging fruit ready for the picking as well as fruit that may take years to bear out. Today, many are reaching for that low hanging fruit thinking (or believing) that today’s market highs are borne from the same economics that produced similar highs and basing business, investing, and other “advice” based on it.

I firmly believe that is a grave mistake and will hurt more than it will help. However, only time will tell, but there are once again rumblings showing just how precarious things truly are.

I absolutely believe if I’m correct in my assessment of what is truly happening within the world of both markets as well as business; the opportunities for true entrepreneurs along with those that have put into practice the “entrepreneurial spirit” in their business lives will be rewarded with possibly the most monumental changes, as well as business opportunities – in more than a generation.

One that may just rival what we know as “the industrial revolution.” However, being prepared before hand to make any of the “green” so many others think/dream about will take a concerted effort to understand what is actionable advice as it pertains to the circumstance, as well as what should be avoided. This is the paramount distinction one must be able to discern today. Period.

The issue going forward is whether or not you can “be green” when everyone else is strutting like a peacock taking credit or basing advice on what just might be flawed assumptions.

Because it ain’t easy. But that’s where the credibility comes from – if you’re right.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr