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David Galland is Managing Director of Casey Research, LLC. (http://www.caseyresearch.com/), and the Executive Director of the Explorers' League. His career in the resource and financial services industry dates back to a stint working underground at the Climax mine in Colorado, following college.... More
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  • Slow Down… or Else
    By David Galland, Managing Editor, The Casey Report

    On a whim following our Denver Summit – and despite truly abysmal weather – Casey Research CEO Olivier Garret and I cabbed it down to a local public golf course for a quick nine holes. Afterwards we were returning to the hotel through a neighborhood best described as poor, but not disreputable. While our cab made its way down a side street, a radar gun-wielding policeman leaped out of the bushes down the block, pulled the trigger, and waved our immigrant cab driver to the curb. The offense, we soon learned, was going five miles an hour over the speed limit in a school zone… well after school was out and with no other children in sight.

    Waiting for our ticket to be issued, we watched as another of Denver’s finest jumped out of a hidey hole on an intersecting street, fired off his radar gun, and proceeded to pull over another slow-moving perp. With such a low tolerance for excess speed, it struck me that what the police were doing had a lot less to do with protecting the public and much more with revenue harvesting. And that the school zone was just a cover for a bonus penalty on the ticket.

    Being naturally curious, I subsequently poked around and confirmed my impression. Studies have proven that, in bad economic times, municipalities look to replace flagging revenues by turning the dial up on ticketing.

    These studies show that, in the year following a downturn in revenues, municipalities issue “significantly more” tickets. Specifically, a 10% decrease in revenue growth results in a 6.4% increase in the growth of traffic tickets.

    In Red Ink in the Rearview Mirror by the St. Louis Fed, the authors make some astute observations about the nature of this sort of revenue harvesting. The following excerpt is worth a read and some further pondering, as it paints a clear stripe down the road leading to your wealth.

    The notion that local governments may use traffic tickets as a revenue tool has received considerable attention in recent years largely because of the growing use of traffic cameras to enforce red-light violations. While most studies find that red-light cameras have reduced right-angle collisions and red-light violations, some studies have also noted a significant increase in rear-end collisions following the installation of the cameras, making their net effect on safety a point of contention.

    Combined with the fact that local governments frequently share in the ticket fines with camera manufacturers, many observers have concluded that red-light cameras are revenue generation devices rather than tools to improve public safety. In a more general sense, this view essentially holds that local traffic enforcement policies, much like other government policies, may be a function of two (often opposing) motives of public officials – political interests and public interests (Becker 1986; Saffer and Grossman 1987; Mixon 1995).

    Given the limited revenue-raising options, erosion of property and sales tax bases, and a general distaste for tax increases by the public, local policy makers are under increased pressures to find alternative revenue sources (Tannenwald 2001; Crain 2003; Brunori 2006).

    […] Traffic tickets provide an attractive revenue source for local governments because the amount of revenue that can be generated is often unrestricted, they provide a mechanism to capture revenue from non-residents and non-voters, and most traffic offenses possess a low strict-liability threshold to achieve a conviction (as opposed to the higher criminal intent standard).
     
    That reminds me of the reign of Caligula and how he instituted rules allowing for the wealth confiscation of anyone found less than enthusiastic about his particular form of government. Over time, this became a major source of revenue for the increasingly bankrupt state.

    As was revealed more recently in California’s budget wrangling, the states and municipalities are experiencing rapid declines in their revenues. With property tax revenues plummeting, local governments – and there are about 90,000 local taxing authorities in the U.S. – are scrambling to find new revenue sources, including levying income and sales taxes.

    And by turning up the heat on cab drivers that go five miles an hour over the speed limit. 
    Then there’s this from the British, who may have a great sense of humor, but it seems to be balanced by their lack of irony, given they provided the stage for Orwell’s 1984. According to the Times of London…

    People who emit more than their fair share of carbon emissions are having their pay docked in a trial that could lead to rationing being reintroduced via the workplace after an absence of half a century.

    Britain’s first employee carbon rationing scheme is about to be extended, after the trial demonstrated the effectiveness of fining people for exceeding their personal emissions target. Unlike the energy-saving schemes adopted by thousands of companies, the rationing scheme monitors employees’ personal emissions, including home energy bills, petrol purchases and holiday flights.

    Workers who take a long-haul flight are likely to be fined for exceeding their annual ration unless they take drastic action in other areas, such as switching off the central heating or cutting out almost all car journeys. Employees are required to submit quarterly reports detailing their consumption. They are also set a target, which reduces each year, for the amount of carbon they can emit.

    Those who exceed their ration pay a fine for every kilogram they emit over the limit. The money is deducted from their pay and the level of the fine is printed on pay slips. Those who consume less than their ration are rewarded at the same rate per kilogram.

    (You can read the full article here.)
     
    The whole carbon footprint issue and the massive taxes associated with it are literally nothing more than a ploy to keep the government and its supporters in (taxpayer-provided) high corn. That it is a ruse is clear when you examine a recent Bloomberg poll on what the public is actually concerned with…



    (Thanks to Whatsupwiththat.com for bringing that poll to our attention.)

    This is all headed in the wrong direction, and for the decidedly wrong reason of not wanting to address the underlying problem of too much, and too expensive, government.

    The list of slippery acts of officialdom trying to boost its revenues at the expense of those with low political coverage could fill a book, but I will leave off by sharing an eye-opening video from ABC News, about the government grabbing safe deposit boxes and selling the contents.

    If you want to avoid being stripped of your wealth, it is time to stand up. Alternatively, the point where you’ll want to consider voting with your feet is rapidly approaching.

    Doing nothing, on the other hand, will just leave you as a sheep to the shearing pen, or worse.

    Keeping an eye on the big trends is the main job of the Casey Report editors – even on their time off. Following their keen instincts what’s ahead and translating their findings into actionable opportunities to profit is the formula that has made subscribers to The Casey Report double- and triple-digit gains on a regular basis. How do they do it, and what’s in it for you? Click here to learn more.
    Nov 13 4:00 PM | Link | Comment!
  • Into the Fourth Turning
    A Casey Research interview with Neil Howe, co-author of The Fourth Turning

    The Fourth Turning is an amazingly prescient book Neil Howe wrote with the late William Strauss in 1997. The work, which describes generational archetypes and the cyclical patterns created by these archetypes, has been an eye-opener to anyone able to entertain the notion that history may repeat itself. At the time the book was published, the Boston Globe stated, “If Howe and Strauss are right, they will take their place among the great American prophets.” Read this visionary interview published in The Casey Report, and see for yourself.

    DAVID GALLAND: Could you provide us a quick introduction to generational research?

    NEIL HOWE: We think that generations move history along and prevent society from suffering too long under the excesses of any particular generation. People often assume that every new generation will be a linear extension of the last one. You know, that after Generation X comes Generation Y. They might further expect Generation Y to be like Gen X on steroids – even more willing to take risk and with even more edginess in the culture. Yet the Millennial Generation that followed Gen X is not like that at all. In fact, no generation is like the generation that immediately precedes it.

    Instead, every generation turns the corner and to some extent compensates for the excesses and mistakes of the midlife generation that is in charge when they come of age. This is necessary, because if generations kept on going in the same direction as their predecessors, civilization would have gone off a cliff thousands of years ago. 

    So this is a necessary process, a process that is particularly important in modern nontraditional societies, where generations are free to transform institutions according to their own styles and proclivities.

    In our research we have found that, in modern societies, four basic types of generations tend to recur in the same order. 

    DAVID: The four generational archetypes. Can you provide a sketch of each for those of our readers unfamiliar with your work?

    HOWE: Absolutely.

    The first is what we call the Hero archetype. Hero generations are usually protectively raised as kids. They come of age at a time of emergency or Crisis and become known as young adults for helping society resolve the Crisis, hopefully successfully. Once the Crisis is resolved, they become institutionally powerful in midlife and remain focused on outer-world challenges and solutions. In their old age, they are greeted by a spiritual Awakening, a cultural upheaval fired by the young. This is the typical life story of a Hero generation. 

    One example of the Hero archetype is the G.I. Generation, the soldiers of World War II, who became an institutional powerhouse after the war and then in old age confronted the young hippies and protesters of the 1960s. Going back in American history, we have seen many other Hero archetypes, for example the generation of Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, and President Monroe. These were the heroes of the American Revolution, who in old age were greeted by the second Great Awakening and a new youth generation of fiery Prophets. 

    After the Hero archetype comes the Artist archetype. Artist generations have a very different location in history -- they are the children of the Crisis. For Hero generations, child protection rises from first cohort to last. By the time Artists come along, child protection reaches suffocating levels. Artists come of age as young adults during the post-Crisis era, when conformity seems like the best path to success, and they tend to be collectively risk averse. Artists see themselves as providing the expertise and refinement that can both improve and adorn the enormous new institutional innovations that have been forged during the Crisis. They typically experience a cultural Awakening in midlife, and their lives speed up as the culture transforms. 

    A great example of the Artist archetype is the so-called “Silent” Generation, the post World War II young adults who married early and moved into gleaming new suburbs in the 1950s, went through their midlife crises in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and are today the very affluent, active seniors retiring into gated lifestyle communities. 

    The third archetype is what we call a Prophet archetype. The most recent example of this archetype is the Baby Boom Generation. Prophet generations grow up as children during a period of post-Crisis affluence and come of age during a period of cultural upheaval. They become moralistic and values-obsessed midlife leaders and parents, and as they enter old age, they steer the country into the next great outer-world social or political Crisis. Boomers, for example, grew up during the Postwar American High, came of age during the Consciousness Revolution of the 1960s and ‘70s, and are now entering old age.  

    Finally there is what we call a Nomad archetype. Nomads are typically raised as children during Awakenings, the great cultural upheavals of our history. Whereas the Prophet archetype is indulgently raised as children, the Nomad archetype is underprotected and completely exposed as children. They learn early that they can’t trust basic institutions to look out for their best interests and come of age as free agents whose watchword is individualism. They are the great realists and pragmatists in our nation's history. 

    The most recent example of the Nomad archetype is Generation X. This generation grew up during the social turmoil of the 1960s and ‘70s and are now beginning to enter midlife. They are the ones that know how to get things done on the ground. They are the stay-at-home dads and security moms trying to give their kids more of a childhood than they themselves had. Their burden is that they tend not to trust large institutions and do not have a strong connection to public life. They forge their identity and value system by “going it alone” and staying off the radar screen of government. It could be very interesting to see the rest of the life story of this generation, particularly as they take over leadership positions. 

    DAVID: Could you tell us the general age ranges of these archetypes now? 

    HOWE: One Hero generation that is alive today is the G.I. Generation, born between 1901 and 1924. They came of age with the New Deal, World War II, and the Great Depression. They are today in their mid-80s and beyond, and their influence is waning. 

    Today’s other example of a Hero archetype is the Millennial Generation, born from 1982 to about 2003 or 2004. These are today's young people, who are just beginning to be well known to most Americans. They fill K-12 schools, colleges, graduate schools, and have recently begun entering the workplace. We associate them with dramatic improvements in youth behaviors, which are often underreported by the media. Since Millennials have come along, we’ve seen huge declines  in violent crime, teen pregnancy, and the most damaging forms of drug abuse, as well as higher rates of community service and volunteering. This is a generation that reminds us in many respects of the young G.I.s nearly a century ago, back when they were the first boy scouts and girl scouts between 1910 and 1920. 

    DAVID: Then following the Hero, we have the Artist, right?

    HOWE: Yes. As I mentioned earlier, one example of that archetype is the Silent Generation, born between 1925 and 1942. This generation was too young to remember anything about America before the Great Crash of 1929, and too young to be of fighting age during World War II.

    That 1925 birth year is filled with people like William F. Buckley and Bobby Kennedy, first-wave Silent who just missed World War II. Many of them were actually in the camps in California waiting for the invasion of Japan when they heard that the war was over. Part of their generational experience is that sense of just barely missing something big. Surveys show that this generation does not like to call themselves “senior citizens.” They did not fight in World War II. They did not build the A bomb. They are more like “senior partners.” Unlike G.I.s, they are flexible elders, focused on the needs of others.  Many of them are highly engaged in the family activities of their children and grandchildren. In politics, they are today’s elder advisors, not powerhouse leaders. 

    There is a new generation of the Artist archetype just now beginning to arrive. They started being born, we think, around 2004 or 2005. We did a contest on our website to choose a name for this new generation, and the winner was Homeland Generation, reflecting the fact that they are being incredibly well protected. So we are tentatively calling them the Homelanders.

    This generation will have no memory of anything before the financial meltdown of 2008 and the events that are about to unfold in America. If our research is correct, this generation’s childhood will be a time of urgency and rapid historical change. Unlike the Millennials, who will remember childhood during the good times of 1980s and ‘90s, the Homelanders will recall their childhood as a time of national crisis. 

    So, those are the two examples today of the Hero archetype, and two examples of the Artist archetype. 

    DAVID: What about the Prophet and the Nomad generations?

    HOWE: There is only one Prophet archetype generation alive today: the Boomer Generation. We define them as being born between 1943 and 1960. Those born in 1943 would have been part of the free-speech movement at Berkeley in 1964, the first fiery class whose peers include Bill Bradley, Newt Gingrich, and Oliver North. The last cohorts of this generation came of age with President Carter in the Iran Hostage Crisis. 

    For the Nomad archetype, we again have only one example alive today, and that is Generation X. We define Gen Xers as being born between 1961 and 1981. Actually, there may be a few members of the earlier Nomad generation still around – those of the Lost Generation born from 1883 to 1900, but today they would be around 110. This was the generation that grew up during the third Great Awakening, the doughboys who went through World War I. They were the generation that put the “roar” into the “Roaring ‘20s” – the rum runners, barnstormers, and entrepreneurs of that period. They were big risk-takers.

    DAVID: Is the Millennial Generation the next group up in terms of controlling or being a powerful force in society? 

    HOWE: It depends what you mean by a powerful force in society. 

    DAVID: Who is going to be in the driver's seat?

    HOWE: Let me put it this way. The generation that is about to be in the driver's seat in terms of leadership is Generation X, the group born 1961 to 1981. In fact, we now have our first Gen-X President, Barack Obama, who was born in 1961 and who is in every way a Gen Xer, despite being born at the very early edge of his generation. His fragmented family upbringing, with his father leaving while he was young and his mother moving all over the world, is typical of the Gen X life story. A telling anecdote from his biography is that, when he arrived at Columbia University, he spent his first night in New York sleeping in an alley because no one had arranged to have an apartment open for him.

    His life story has a “dazed and confused” aspect. He made his own way against a background of adult neglect and lack of structure. It’s interesting that he is the first leader in America to call himself “post-Boomer.” As a matter of fact, he talks regularly about how he intends to put an end to everything dysfunctional about Boomer politics: the polarization, the culture wars, the scorched-earth rhetoric, the identity politics, all of that. I understand a lot of people do not believe he can actually do this, but it’s interesting that this is the rhetoric he chooses. That rhetoric is one reason why the vast majority of Millennials voted for him.

    Obama is the opening wedge of Gen Xers who will assume very high leadership posts. They are not yet the senior generals in control of the military, but they are taking over the reins of government and, of course, the top spots in American businesses. 

    If you want to know what Neil Howe foresees for the U.S. economy, future investment opportunities, and American society in general, sign up here to read the rest of this 17-page, FREE Special Report - Click Here.

    Oct 08 11:46 AM | Link | Comment!
  • Could China Push Gold to the Moon?
    By David Galland, Managing Director, Casey Research

    Inside sources have recently confirmed the Chinese government is actively promoting gold and silver investment to the masses.

    Some analysts now contend that China can no longer afford to let the gold or silver price slump. The rationale behind that contention is that with the Chinese government now telling the general populace to buy precious metals, it would be highly problematic should gold and silver subsequently take a nose dive.

    In many cases, what a government wants and what ultimately occurs can be wildly different, due to unintended consequences rarely foreseen by officialdom, and because once the masses get it into their heads to break one way or another, government’s desires are largely ignored.

    “You shall not smoke marijuana,” says the government. “Roll me another,” says John Q. Public.

    But in the case of gold, interestingly enough, the Chinese government has the means at its disposal to actually do something about prices. Namely, at $1,000 an ounce, the total value of all the gold ever mined comes to about $5 trillion.

    Of that amount, less than $1 trillion is held in official reserves, the rest under mattresses, in jewelry and family heirlooms, and in various ETFs – GLD being the biggest, by far, holding about $34 billion worth of gold.

    Against these totals, China has foreign reserves in excess of $2 trillion. In other words, more than enough to push the tiny gold market around in any way it wishes. Given that much of its reserves are now denominated in fragile U.S. dollars that it would sorely love to replace with something more tangible, and that China is the world’s largest gold producer, the country’s involvement with gold is something more than just a passing fancy.

    Simply, there is a new gorilla in the room in global gold markets. The extent to which the broader market hasn’t yet figured this out is the extent to which you as an early mover can ultimately profit. Especially in the more leveraged gold stocks, which continue to be strong even as the broader markets show weakness.

    That all of this comes before the dollar hits the wall it must hit, or before the inflation that is now baked in the cake arises, lends a lot of credibility to the idea that when the gold bubble begins to expand, it could reach all the way to the moon.

    No need to chase gold at these levels, as opposed to buying on dips. But buy.

    As mentioned above, gold stocks – especially those of the junior exploration variety – can provide an even greater upside than gold itself. As the subscribers of Casey’s International Speculator can confirm, double- and triple-digit gains within 12-24 months are nothing out of the ordinary. Click here to read more.

    Sep 17 11:32 AM | Link | Comment!
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