The College Conspiracy


The College Conspiracy Full Documentary – College Conspiracy is the most comprehensive documentary ever produced about higher education in the U.S. The film exposes the facts and truth about America’s college education system. ‘College Conspiracy’ was produced over a six-month period by NIA’s team of expert Austrian economists with the help of thousands of NIA members who contributed their ideas and personal stories for the film. NIA believes the U.S. college education system is a scam that turns vulnerable young Americans into debt slaves for life.


Wow!!!….Did Dr. King Die for Freedom of Ignorance?

By: Don Lemon from CNN

I can’t wait to see Dr. King this coming King Holiday weekend.


He’s going to be appearing at a lot of parties around the country. Did you know that?


I’ve seen him on a bunch of party flyers, and he’s looking like he’s about to get “turnt up” or star in the latest video on 106 & Park.


I didn’t know Dr. King sagged his pants or twerked or flashed his money or wore gold chains and bling on his fingers and wrists.


Not until I saw the pictures for myself.



It was on a flyer that read “Freedom 2 Twerk” – It was an invitation to a Martin Luther King Day Weekend teen party in Flint Michigan. Dr. King is decked out in a black sweater, a gold watch, saggy jeans and a giant gold chain with what looks like a musical symbol attached.  Well, it’s almost as big as one. Oh and there’s a young lady with a letterman’s jacket standing right next to him.


And you’re in luck if you’re not going to be in Flint this weekend cause you can also go to another party in Cleveland. I saw an invitation to the MLK Weekend Shuffle.



This one shows Dr. King with his hands outstretched wearing a Guayabera or safari type shirt, a gold watch on his wrist and a pinky ring next to his wedding band.


So, if you’re not going to be in the Midwest there’s another invitation from Ontario, California- an invite to the MLK 4th annual Chocolate Affair. Chocolate candy bars appear in the photo with Dr. King.


Not out west this weekend? No problem.


An invitation from Jacksonville, Florida shows Dr. King in a photo next to a scantily clad woman in sunglasses.


According to the flyer for the MLK All Black party (meaning everyone wears black, not blacks only) ladies drink for free till midnight.

In Miami, there’s the Bad Bitch official I Have a Dream Bash put on by Boss Nigga’z Presents. Dr. King is flashing $100 bills. Two ladies in bras and panties flank him along with Ciroc vodka bottles. By the way, all Ciroc drinks are $5.


So are dances presumably from half naked ladies similar to the ones on the flyers. Yes, it is a strip club. Interesting place for a Dr. King party.


Another from Auburn, Alabama shows Dr. King in a leather jacket draped with a gold chain, standing next to a 1970’s Monte Carlo with custom rims. And there’s another naked lady and more Ciroc vodka bottles in that photo.


Hey ladies! This one you get to drink free all night, according to the flyer.


There’s another one from Pensacola with Dr. King wearing over-sized headphones standing next to Lil Wayne and a woman I don’t recognize. An old Chevy with rims and a brand new Maybach are in the background. Obviously I’m being sarcastic up until this point.


The ignorance about what Dr. King represents to some young folks is astounding. Dr. King is probably rolling over in his grave.


Luckily his daughter Bernice is here to speak for him, saying she’s outraged by the use of her father’s image in this manner.


And luckily he has a whole lot of TJMS listeners to defend him as well. More than a thousand of you responded with words ranging from ‘appalling’ to ‘disrespectful’ to ‘ignorant.’


And your calls to the event center in Michigan got an apology and the event cancelled. TJMS listener Pam Ranberg even asked, “when is there going to be a conversation about how much damage the thug image is doing to our community?”


My answer to her is right here on my commentary and on CNN. I just had that conversation this week.


And when I did people called me a sellout, an uncle tom and a race trader. That’s part of the current mentality that embraces and defends thug culture and so-called rachetness.


So perhaps the best way to sum it up comes from TJMS listener Patricia McGee who very astutely wrote, “No respect. His dying wasn’t for you to shake your butt.”


I say, Amen Patricia!

The American Dream – Understanding Money and the Banking System

The AMERICAN DREAM is a 30 minute animated film that shows you how you’ve been scammed by the most basic elements of our government system. All of us Americans strive for the American Dream, and this film shows you why your dream is getting farther and farther away. Do you know how your money is created? Or how banking works? Why did housing prices skyrocket and then plunge? Do you really know what the Federal Reserve System is and how it affects you every single day? THE AMERICAN DREAM takes an entertaining but hard hitting look at how the problems we have today are nothing new, and why leaders throughout our history have warned us and fought against the current type of financial system we have in America today. You will be challenged to investigate some very entrenched and powerful institutions in this nation, and hopefully encouraged to help get our nation back on track.

The Federal Reserve Shareholders Own All The Money They Create

Every time a trillion dollars is created out of thin air it is The Federal Reserve Share- holders property. Every new trillion whether it is loaned, spent or wired to a personal bank account it is an addition to their assets and control. Greenspan makes us think money created is owned by the government. If that were true there would be no need for the government to tax or sale treasury bonds. It is pure profit for the Rothschilds, etc and pure debt for the government/borrower.

Grant Cardone’s 10 Biggest Money Misconceptions


Something is clearly not working for most of middle class America regarding money. From my experience working with people, here are the 10 biggest misconceptions the middle class has about money:

1) Money Shortage Mindset
Most people struggling with money think there is a shortage of money. The reality is money is plentiful and even when there are shortages we print more. The very wealthy don’t think in shortages. Change your thinking to think in terms of money being abundant and plentiful. This isn’t some esoteric new age concept but reality.

2) Unconscious Spending
Most people have no clue what their money is being spent on. The couple that complains about $4 gas spends $4 a day to get 800 TV channels delivered to their home. Solution: Make a list of all your spending and don’t use cash. Either put everything on a credit card or write a check so you have a complete record of every expenditure. If you are going to give a homeless person money, write a check so you can have a record.

3) Not Prioritizing Expenditures
You can get tripped up struggling to meet expenses that aren’t really necessary if you don’t have your expenses prioritized. Solution: Take the last 60 days and rate all your spending on a scale from 1-5, 5 being most important. Anything not rated a 3 or higher should be stopped immediately.

4) Budget with No Financial Plan

People spend most of their time budgeting the money they have rather than concentrating on a plan to create finances. I spend 90% of my time looking at ways to create income and how to invest and grow money and only 10% of my time on how I am spending it. A budget suggests what I am allowed to spend each month and a financial plan is a road map to creating finances.

5) All Debt is Considered Bad Debt
A very common misconception is not knowing the difference between good debt and bad debt. Not all debt is created equal. Some debt is good, contrary to what financial pundits like Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman suggest. Debt that is paid off by others or debt that actually generates income is good debt; assume all other debt to be bad. Solution get rid of ALL debt that can not be funded by others.

6) No Emergency Accounts
The lack of an emergency account is a big mistake. As recent economic events have shown us, the unexpected can happen. In order to bullet-proof yourself against these types of catastrophes, you should set up emergency accounts that are never touched except in urgent situations. Also your goal should be emergency accounts of at least 12 months of your income not the popular 3 months and I would prefer 30 months.

7) Paying Others First
Don’t pay others first, pay yourself first. You are taught not to be self-centered but when it comes to money, be self centered — pay yourself first and bill collectors next. This seems impossible when you first start, but it works like magic once you commit and you will actually see yourself cutting unnecessary expenses and creating more income to meet your REAL requirements.

8) Lack of Future Investment Accounts
Most people don’t establish future investment accounts and then are baffled why they are unable to invest or start a business. Solution: Set up three investment accounts beyond emergency funding that you start funding every month for future investments. I started doing this when I was 25 years old and didn’t invest in anything until I was 30. I had a Real Estate Investment account but no Real Estate; a Business Account but no business and a Stock Investment account but no stock portfolio. When it was time to do these things I had the money set aside to do so.

9) Incorrect Income Formula
Most people base their income needs on their immediate expenses, not their future expenses, investments and financial goals. Solution: quit calculating your income needs based on your current spending. Use this magical Income Formula to get ahead: Future Savings Monthly + Emergency Funding + Current Spending = INCOME TARGET

10) Not Paying Regular Attention to Finances

People tend to only confront something once it is a problem. If you want financial freedom, you will have to regularly invest time looking at your finances. What you pay attention to is where you get results. Once a week on a set day I sit down with my wife and two children to discuss our finances for 30 minutes. This gets everyone on the same page and demonstrates the importance of having control over our finances with the family. For finances to work you need everyone paying attention and on the same page.

While money won’t make you happy, surveys suggest that not having money can tear a family apart. Most agree that economic troubles for the American middle class are only going to increase and most don’t believe the government can solve this problem. A man told me once, “the best way you can help people in need is to not be someone in need.” Help yourself out so you are in a position to help someone else out.

Mandela’s sharp statements rarely cited in mainstream media

As the world remembers Nelson Mandela’s legacy as South Africa’s first black president and anti-apartheid icon, he was also deeply skeptical of American power, the Iraq invasion, and was a key supporter of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

Here are seven quotes from the leader that are less likely to be published as his life is honored and his death commemorated in the mainstream media.

Prior to the US invasion of Iraq, Mandela slammed the actions of the US at a speech made at the International Women’s Forum in Johannesburg, declaring that former President George W. Bush’s primary motive was ‘oil’, while adding that Bush was undermining the UN.

“If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care for human beings,” Mandela said.

Mandela did not hold back from making hard-hitting statements against the US, and repeatedly spoke out against the prospect of the country invading Iraq. As the US prepared its mass-action in 2002, Mandela told Newsweek:

“If you look at those matters, you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace.”

Mandela was a long-time supporter of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and made a speech to reporters in 1999, in which he agreed to be a political mediator between Israel and its neighbors.

“Israel should withdraw from all the areas which it won from the Arabs in 1967, and in particular Israel should withdraw completely from the Golan Heights, from south Lebanon and from the West Bank,” Mandela stated, according to the Jewish Telegraph Agency’s Suzanne Belling.

Mandela met with Fidel Castro in 1991, giving a speech alongside him entitled “How Far We Slaves Have Come.” The country was commemorating the 38th anniversary of the storming of the Moncada, and Mandela hailed Cuba’s ‘special place’ in the heart of the people of Africa, its revolution, and how far the country had come.

“From its earliest days, the Cuban Revolution has also been a source of inspiration to all freedom-loving people. We admire the sacrifices of the Cuban people in maintaining their independence and sovereignty in the face of the vicious imperialist-orchestrated campaign to destroy the impressive gain made in the Cuban Revolution….Long live the Cuban Revolution. Long live comrade Fidel Castro.”

Mandela urged for the end to harsh UN sanctions imposed upon Libya in 1997, and pledged his support for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was a longtime supporter of his.

“It is our duty to give support to the brother leader…especially in regards to the sanctions which are not hitting just him, they are hitting the ordinary masses of the people … our African brothers and sisters,” Mandela said.

On the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, December 4. 1997, Mandela assembled a group “as South Africans, our Palestinian guests and as humanists to express our solidarity with the people of Palestine.” At the speech, he called for the metaphorical flames of solidarity, justice, and freedom to be kept burning.

“The UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

70 percent of California doctors plan to boycott Obamacare exchanges


About 70 percent of California’s 104,000 doctors are reportedly planning to stay out of the state’s health insurance exchange, a move that could have significant impact on implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

As states across the country work to enroll Americans in the ACA, one question that remains is exactly what kind of doctor access patients will have when their coverage kicks in. According to the president of the California Medical Association, Dr. Richard Thorp, residents there could find limited options at the start of the new year.

Thorp told the Washington Examiner the primary reason that seven-out-of-10 California doctors are boycotting the Obamacare exchange is due to the state’s low Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement rates, which typically land 30 percent below those in other parts of the country.

For example, Medicare typically pays doctors $76 for return-office visits, but in California doctors only receive $24. A tonsillectomy, meanwhile, pays out between $500 and $700, whereas doctors in California receive $160 for the procedure.

“We need some recognition that we’re doing a service to the community,” Thorp said. “But we can’t do it for free. And we can’t do it at a loss. No other business would do that.”

California’s Medi-Cal reimbursement rates have long been a sticking point for doctors, but when insurance companies revealed their rates would be tied to the state’s Medicaid program, many physicians balked.

To make matters more confusing, multiple medical association leaders told the Examiner that many of the doctors listed as participants in Covered California, the state’s insurance marketplace, have not stated they’d accept patients from the exchange.

“They may be listed as actually participating, but not of their own volition,” said Donald Waters, executive director of the Alameda-Contra Costa Medical Association.

Although numbers have not been revealed at this point, a similar feeling seems commonplace among doctors in New York. In October, a survey of 409 doctors by the New York State Medical Society found that 44 percent of the state’s physicians aren’t participating as ACA providers, while an additional 33 percent were undecided.

As in California, doctors pointed towards low reimbursement rates to defend their lack of involvement.

“This is so poorly designed that a lot of doctors are afraid to participate,” said Dr. Sam Unterricht, president of the 29,000-member medical society, to the New York Post. “There’s a lot of resistance. Doctors don’t know what they’re going to get paid.”

Meanwhile, bipartisan efforts to permanently reform how Medicare doctors are paid have stalled in Congress. According to CNN, Lawmakers from the Senate Finance and the House Ways and Means committees have been working on legislation that would freeze payments through 2023 before implementing a policy that includes raises and bonuses. The law would also change Medicare’s reimbursement method into a system that favors “value over volume.”

The reforms are unlikely to pass Congress this year, however, meaning negotiations will extend into 2014.

How that would affect doctor participation in California and other parts of the United States is unclear, but if doctors continue to hold out, patients could find their choice of physicians shrink, leading to increased waiting times and less access to their doctor.

“Enrollment doesn’t mean access, because there aren’t enough doctors to take the low rates of Medicaid,” Alex Briscoe, health director for Alameda County Health Care Services Agency in California, said to the Examiner. “There aren’t enough primary care physicians, period.”

The Fed Turns 100



End America’s central bank because it caused the crashes of 2008, 1987, and 1929 and will blunder again.


That’s what many critics are saying about the Federal Reserve System (the Fed), which turns 100 on December 23. They note that on the Fed’s watch America has endured numerous bubbles, crashes, and inflationary cycles that have greatly devalued the dollar. The Fed, they say, has caused or aggravated several crashes.


“The Fed’s performance over the century has been abysmal, no matter how you look at it,” says Professor Joseph Salerno, a business professor and monetary expert at Pace University.


“If you say the goal of the Fed was to prevent calamities, then you have to say that it has been a failure,” says William A. Fleckenstein, a hedge fund manager and the author of Greenspan’s Bubbles.


Fleckenstein says he’s seen two bubbles over the past quarter century. He also believes that, under the Fed’s system of easy money, of interest rates of close to zero percent over the past few years that, “the Fed is once again creating a bubble.” The Fed should be abolished, he adds, because it has no accountability for its mistakes.


The length of the Fed’s charter is indefinite, said Fed sources, who would only speak on background. And that is generally the only way Fed sources will speak when asked about the bank’s current policies or historical record.



What is the Fed?


The Fed is a bank for banks that creates money. It is designed to be a lender of last resort to sick banks in times of crisis. And crisis is one reason why the United States finally returned to authorizing a central bank a century ago. (America had previously had a central bank in the 19th century, but its legislative re-authorization was vetoed by Andrew Jackson who railed against a central bank as the tool of moneyed interests.)


The Fed began with the goal of protecting the dollar. It was given the exclusive right to create money in 1913.


The Fed would “provide a means by which periodic panics which shake the American Republic, and do it enormous injury, would be stopped,” according to Robert Latham Owen, one of the authors of the original Federal Reserve Act.



Why was it given these powers?


After the Wall Street banking Panic of 1907 led numerous banks to fail, “there was a growing consensus among all Americans that a central banking authority was needed to ensure a healthy banking system and provide for an elastic currency,” according to the official Federal Reserve history.


But critics claim the Fed has made things worse. Subsequent problems were the result of Fed governors giving in to political pressure, providing elastic or “cheap money.” This is the controversial Fed policy of setting interest rates. If set too low, the rates will mislead consumers and businesses, causing them to borrow too much. And that can lead to a cycle of boom and bust.


That’s what many believe happened in 2007-2008 as millions of Americans were encouraged through cheap-money policies to use subprime loans to buy homes they couldn’t afford. But Fed critics contend that it had happened before.


For instance, interest rates were dirt cheap in 1972, which led later to an economic disaster as inflation jumped to 10 percent and interest rates went to over 20 percent in the 1970s.


“The consequence of the monetary framework of the 1970s was two bouts of double-digit inflation,” said Fed Chairman Bernard Bernanke in a recent speech entitled, “A Century of U.S. Central Banking: Goals, Framework, Accountability.” These 1970s events killed interest sensitive industries and destroyed many small businesses that couldn’t obtain credit.


These controversial money policies have lead to crashes, depressions, and recessions, including the crash of 1929 and resulting Great Depression, critics say. Some 10,000 banks failed between 1930 and 1933, according to Fed numbers.


“Tragically, the Fed failed to meet the mandate to maintain financial stability,” Bernanke said in his speech.


“Many people,” according to the official Fed history, “blamed the Fed for failing to stem speculative lending that led to the crash, and some argued that inadequate understanding of monetary economics kept the Fed from pursuing polices that could have lessened the depth of the Depression.”


One of the people blaming the Fed was economist and monetary historian Milton Friedman. He criticized Fed policies for triggering the 1929 crash and then causing a depression that lasted over a decade.


“Throughout the contraction, the System [the Fed] had ample powers to cut short the tragic process of monetary deflation and banking collapse,” according to The Great Contraction 1929-1933, by Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz.


To Fed critics, the Great Depression of 1929 and the great inflation of the 1970s were part of a series of policy blunders that happened again in 2008.


“There never would have been a subprime mortgage crisis if the Fed had been alert,” Schwartz told the Wall Street Journal. “This is something Alan Greenspan must answer for.”


In Greenspan’s memoir, The Age of Turbulence, the former Fed chairman conceded that Fed actions leading up to the crisis were dangerous. He wrote: “I was aware that the loosening of mortgage credit terms for subprime borrowers increased financial risk, and that subsidized home ownership initiatives distort market outcomes.” Still, Greenspan said he believes in the idea of every American having a home.


Economist Laurence Kotlikoff of Boston University says he’d give the Fed a C grade in its first century.


“It didn’t prevent the Great Depression or the Great Recession. It hasn’t fixed the core problems: opacity and leverage in the banking system,” Kotlikoff said.


“Central banking has a poor record but other methods do as well,” adds Jeffrey Gundlach, the manager of the Doubleline Total Return Bond Fund, which invests in mortgage backed securities. Gundlach has been very critical of cheap money policies of the Fed and predicted the crash of 2008. He believes the government should balance the budget first and then consider the Fed’s future.


Other critics, in reviewing the Fed’s record are harsher. They say it is time to end the Fed, in part because it favors certain banking interests.


“The Fed is an instrument of crony capitalism,” warns Hunter Lewis, a money manager and the co-founder of Cambridge Associates, an investment advisory firm.


“The Fed should be abolished because its legal monopoly of the money supply renders it an inherently inflationary institution able to create money at will and without limit,” says Salerno, noting that the value of a 1913 dollar is now five cents.


“History and current experience,” Salerno adds, “reveal to us that groups endowed with a legal monopoly over any area of the economy are prone to use it to the hilt to enrich themselves, their friends and allies.”

The Five Biggest Asset Bubbles in History

Asset Bubbles

Between the stock market, bitcoin, and tech IPOs, today everyone seems in a race to spot the next biggest asset bubbles readying to pop.

The term “asset bubble” indicates that there is a marked, noticeable divergence between the market price of an asset and its fundamental value. In other words, something that people store value in – a coin, a house, a share of stock – is valued much, much higher than the thing itself could possibly be worth.

Bubbles usually end with crashes: double- or triple-digit percentage losses in the price of the inflated asset over a very short time.

Bubbles – called “manias” prior to the 18th century – have probably been around as long as people have wanted to get rich quickly.

The next biggest asset bubble to pop remains to be seen, but in order to break the top five, it has to be incredibly damaging.

Just take a look at the five biggest bubbles to ever exist, and the destruction they inflicted on the economy:

Five Biggest Asset Bubbles Ever

Asset Bubble #1: Tulipmania, 1636-1637. The first asset bubble, the one everyone knows, started in the Netherlands, and the asset involved was the harmless, beautiful tulip. It’s unclear exactly how this bubble got started, but it probably had to do with the novelty of the flower. The tulip had only just been introduced from the court of the Ottoman Sultan and was unique among European flowers, at the time, for its vibrant, unadulterated color. The tulip seems to have been a conspirator in its own bubble. The bulbs take nearly a decade to mature, and only last a few years thereafter. And then there was the “Tulip-breaking virus,” which changes the coloration of tulips, resulting in vivid striations in the normally single-colored bloom. These infected bulbs were the focal point of the speculative bubble. According to Charles Mackay’s Extraordinary Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, a single bulb of the coveted “Viceroy,” with a pattern of imperial purple and white stripes, sold for between 3,000 and 4,100 guilders in 1636. The “Semper Augustus” – tulip growers often gave grandiose names to their rare bulbs – sold for 1,000 guilders in the 1620s and 5,500 guilders in 1637, according to The Economist. A skilled laborer, by contrast, might earn 150 guilders in a year. Economist Earl Thompson showed a 20-fold increase in the price of tulip bulbs between November 1636 and February 1637. In February 1637, though, buyers simply stopped showing up to routine auctions. Prices collapsed, falling 20-fold between February and May 1637. The bubble popped, but the Netherlands would continue to be a financial powerhouse well into the 18th century.


Asset Bubble #2: South Seas Bubble, 1720.The South Seas Bubble – the first bubble actually called a “bubble” at the time – grew out of a government’s inability to manage its money. When war broke out with Spain in 1718, the U.K. Parliament attempted to consolidate about 30 million pounds in debt (about $6 billion in 2013 dollars) through the South Seas Company, a joint-stock company organized to consolidate government debt and, occasionally, trade with South America. The company agreed to do so, giving existing creditors shares in the company in exchange for their debts from the government, receiving as dividends shares of a 5% interest payment Parliament would make to the company. New stock would be issued equal to the face value of the debt. Share price increases above that would go to the company for its profit and to pay a quarterly fee to the government. The scheme was put into place in 1720. The Company rewarded its friends in Parliament, offering them shares. But the company had no shares to offer, as the debts had not yet been converted. Instead, it simply promised the new shareholders the option to sell the nonexistent stock back to the company at any time at market price, pocketing the difference. The directors of the company set about inflating the share price, making wildly exaggerated claims about the value of trade with South America. In 1720, the price of South Seas Company stock went up 680% from 128 pounds to 1,000 pounds and fell to 150 pounds over the course of nine months. The only thing underneath the bubble was the exaggerated claims of the value of the South American trade made by the South Seas Company’s directors. Isaac Newton, who lost around 20,000 pounds, is reported to have said of the bubble, “I can calculate the movement of the stars, but not the madness of men.”

Asset Bubble #3: The Florida Land Boom – 1920-1926.Florida is many things: beautiful, warm, populous. But it is not rich in stable, arable land for construction. Much of the state is a swamp, yet in the heady days of post-World War I America, it was the place to make a fortune in land. The boom swept down the east coast of Florida and up the west. Entrepreneurs and hustlers laid out plans for subdivisions, towns, and resorts to take advantage of the state’s undeveloped coast and interior. Stories of people getting rich from Florida real estate flooded out of the state as people flooded in. According to Frederick Allen’s 1931 book Only Yesterday, a plot in the center of Miami Beach bought for $800 in 1920 sold again in 1925 for $150,000. Land bought for $240,000 in 1911 sold in 1920 for $800,000 and was parceled up and sold in 1921 for $1.5 million. The vehicle for this asset inflation speculation was the “binder” – a piece of paper representing a plot shown on a blueprint, and bought for 10% down, with payments for the balance due beginning 30 days from the sale date. These binders changed hands with remarkable velocity – most people apparently bought them with the intention of turning around and selling them well before the first payments came due. Advertisements for real estate sales were so numerous that the Miami Daily News printed an issue 504 pages long. But the rapid growth put a massive strain on the state’s resources. Railroads embargoed imperishable goods for fear that clogged rail lines would cause famine. Then, in January 1926, the schooner Prinz Valdemar sank in Miami harbor, completely blocking sea access for goods and people. This, in turn, halted Florida’s land boom – new construction could not progress without materials, and new “investors” were not stepping off the boat. Further, people still holding “binders” were defaulting on the payments as they came due. In September 1926, a hurricane put the final kibosh on Florida’s boom, wiping out developed property and killing some 400 people.

Asset Bubble #4: The Roaring ‘Twenties – 1922-1929.The stock market bubble and ensuing crash of the 1920s is the enduring benchmark for all asset bubbles, speculative manias, and general financial insanity since. It’s also probably the second-best known on this list – only recently displaced by the subprime housing bubble of 2002-2007. This one kicked off with the end of World War I: Massive pent-up consumer demand drove purchases of radios, refrigerators, automobiles, and other consumer products. An expansion of consumer credit – buying on layaway and installment – increased demand for new products and helped improve corporate earnings, which helped support growing stock market prices. At the same time, the newly created Federal Reserve Bank and relaxed restrictions on margin trading helped fuel rising prices with easier credit for investors. Rising prices encouraged more people to get into the stock market, which drove up share prices. The most popular investments tended to center around new technology, like automobiles, radios, and airplanes. In 1928 alone, radio stocks rose 400%. The stock market reached the peak of this boom in September 1929, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average at 381.17, up 500% from 63 in 1921. Throughout September and October, the Dow would fall fitfully, with occasional, brief recoveries. Then on Black Monday – Oct. 28, 1929 – it fell 12.8% to 260, and fell another 11% the next day to 230.07. Between the peak in September, and the close on Oct. 29, 1929, the Dow lost 40% of its value. The ’29 crash is considered the beginning of the Great Depression, and the Dow would not reach pre-crash levels until well after World War II.

Asset Bubble #5: The Housing/Subprime Bubble. It almost seems cruel to mark out the gory details of the most recent popped bubble, as the global financial system is still on shaky ground, six years after the bubble burst. Instead, here are the simple facts of the case. Between 1997 and 2006, the price of the average American home rose 124%. The ratio of median national home price to median household income expanded from about 3.0 for the two decades prior to 2001 to 4.6 in 2006. Prices peaked in 2006, and, according to the Case-Shiller index, fell 20% by 2008. At the same time, U.S. foreclosures tripled to 300,000 as borrowers were unable to refinance mortgages on properties whose value had fallen, but whose interest rate had increased. Meanwhile, mortgages themselves had been rolled up, monetized as mortgage-backed securities, and sold globally as investment grade instruments, because no one misses mortgage payments, ever. As the investments built around housing started to collapse along with home prices, the complex web of financial bets disintegrated with it, bursting the bubble and bringing the global economy to the brink of destruction.

Asset bubbles, like bad pennies and worse monetary policy, are always with us. They come and they go, leaving both wealth and destitution in their wake. If you want to protect yourself against the next one, read about the one indicator you need to spot a crash before it happens.

Most Americans think US should ‘mind its own business’ abroad


A majority of Americans believe the US plays a less important and powerful role in the world than it did 10 years ago, according to a long-running study that found that most people now believe America should “mind its own business internationally”.

It is the first time the survey of US foreign policy attitudes has recorded such a sentiment in almost four decades of polling.

The findings, published on Tuesday by the Pew Research Center in association with the Council on Foreign Relations, suggest Americans want their leaders to adopt a less interventionist approach, although there is a growing desire for the development of stronger trade and business links abroad.

The US is now widely seen as less respected abroad, bucking a trend in which Americans believed their reputation had recovered since Barack Obama was elected. Impressions of how the US is perceived under Obama are now, broadly, as negative as they were in the final days of the George W Bush administration.

That may stem partly from a belief that America’s power is in decline. According to the poll, Americans’ views about the geopolitical clout of their country has reached a historic low, with a majority (53%) for the first time believing that the US plays a less important role than it did 10 years ago. The proportion saying the US is less, rather than more, powerful has increased 12 points since 2009 and has more than doubled – from just 20% – since 2004.

The survey was conducted in a year in which the US pulled back from a military intervention in Syria, chose a diplomatic route to secure a nuclear deal with Iran and sought to contain the international fallout over disclosures by whistleblower Edward Snowden about the reach and nature of surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency.

The American public appears generally divided over Snowden’s leaks, and on related questions about the correct balance between security and civil liberties. Most of those questioned (55%) said Snowden’s revelations, which were first published in the Guardian in June, had “harmed the public interest”, although a sizeable minority of 34% said the whistleblower had “served the public interest”.

Perhaps surprisingly, the proportion of Americans who said the government’s anti-terror policies have gone too far in restricting civil liberties of average people has declined slightly since July, from 47% to 44%.

However, those critical of the impact of counter-terrorism policies on civil liberties still outweighs the 39% of Americans who believe national security programs have not gone far enough.

The poll confirms a significant shift in public attitudes, with growing concern about the privacy implications of national security efforts. As recently as January 2010, 58% of Americans expressed greater concern that government policies had not gone far enough to provide protection from terrorism, compared to only 27% who believed than that they had gone too far.

In broad terms, the survey is likely to be interpreted as evidence that President Obama’s cautious approach to foreign policy is backed by a public wary of becoming too embroiled in problems abroad.

However, most people surveyed disapprove of the president’s handling of foreign policy, with particularly negative views reported of his handling of China, Afghanistan, Syria and Iran. Terrorism is the only foreign policy area on which more Americans approve of the job Obama is doing than disapprove.

Exactly half of Americans believed the use of drone strikes against terrorist suspects in Pakistan and other countries has made the US safer – while only 14% say it has made the US less safe.

The latest survey, repeated every four years since 1993, was conducted in the week before November 6, before the interim deal with Iran – aimed at halting its nuclear program – was forged in Geneva.

But it highlights the scale of challenge for the US administration in selling an agreement with Tehran to the American public. According to the survey, 60% of Americans believe Iran’s leaders are “not serious” about addressing international concerns over their nuclear enrichment program.

One of the starkest findings in the survey was in response to a question about whether the US should “mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own”.

A majority of respondents – 52% – said they agreed with the statement, while just 38% disagreed. The authors of a report accompanying the survey described it as “the most lopsided balance in favor of the US ‘minding its own business’ in the nearly 50-year history of the measure”.

The results show how much public opinion has changed since 2002, when just 30% of Americans believed the US should mind its own business.

Views on geopolitical influence in the world, however, contrast with American perceptions about the global economy. More than three-quarters of those polled were supportive of growing economic ties with other countries. Echoing other surveys, most Americans appear to believe that China is a stronger economic power than the US.