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Thursday, September 12, 2013 – Going Interstellar

Going Interstellar
by Sinclair Noe
DOW – 25 = 15,300
SPX – 5 = 1683
NAS – 9 = 3715
10 YR YLD – .01 = 2.91%
OIL + .02 = 108.62
GOLD – 44.80 = 1322.00
SILV– 1.48 = 21.84
The war hasn’t started…, yet.
The peace talks are underway in Geneva between Secretary of State Kerry and his Russian counterpart Lavrov. In a news conference ahead of the Geneva talks, Foreign Minister Lavrov said the resolution of the chemical weapons issue in Syria would make any military strike by the United States unnecessary. The UN has confirmed it has received documents from Syria on joining the Chemical Weapons Convention, a key step in the Russian plan. Syria’s president said it would submit arms data one month after signing, but Mr Kerry has rejected that time-frame.
Even before the talks, Russian President Vlad Putin weighed in with an op-ed in the New York Times arguing that a military strike risked “spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders” and would violate international law, undermining postwar stability. Putin says poison gas was used in Syria but not by Assad; he also didn’t say who sold the poison gas to Syria; he talks about peace and democracy; and he finishes the editorial by saying “We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.” It’s all quite bizarre, to have Putin lecturing the US on democracy and morality and God.
The good news is that the war hasn’t started…, yet.
And that means we can focus on domestic problems, like shutting down the government. Lawmakers are tied up in knots over increasing the debt ceiling this fall, but they eventually will; eventually. The only question is how messy the process will be. They really don’t have much choice. Even if they shut down government for a while, they can’t make the stunt last long.  A default would hurt the economy and markets, and most lawmakers know this. That’s why they regularly raise the debt ceiling before it comes to that. In fact, since 1940, Congress has effectively approved 79 increases to the debt ceiling. That’s an average of more than one a year.
Despite some politicians’ incorrect assertions, raising the debt ceiling does not give the government a “license to spend more.” It simply lets Treasury borrow the money it needs to pay the bills in full and on time. Those bills are for services already performed and entitlement benefits already approved by Congress. In other words, it’s a license to pay the bills the country incurs as a result of past decisions made by lawmakers from both parties over the years. It sounds like it should be a straight forward deal. It’s not. It’s a chance to position for whatever idea a politician can position for. Things will likely get ugly before they get uglier. That’s about the only thing we can count on from Congress.
Believe it or not, Greece’s job situation is getting worse. Greece’s jobless rate hit a record high of 27.9 percent in June, and was more than twice the average rate in the euro zone of 12.1 percent in July.  The unemployment rate has more than tripled since 2008, the start of a six-year recession which has wiped out about a quarter of Greece’s economy. Joblessness is a major headache for the government as it scrambles to hit fiscal targets and carry out structural reforms demanded by its international creditors.
Meanwhile, an independence rally in Catalonia drew more than one million. That’s a lot of people. Greece’s unemployment rate is now higher than Spain’s
If you plan on buying one of Apple’s new iPhones, you may want to head to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart announced it will carry the new devices and sell them at prices lower than Apple and other retailers. Wal-Mart said it will carry 16-gigabyte versions of the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5c will be available for $79 ($20 cheaper than its regular price) with a two-year contract from AT&T, Verizon or Sprint. The iPhone 5s will be available for $189 ($10 cheaper than its regular price) from the same carriers.
It’s strange when Wal-Mart can get a better deal from Apple than the Apple stores.
A Dutch designer thinks the way people currently buy electronics is inherently wasteful. As soon as a new device comes out, the old one is tossed in the garbage or put on the shelf to collect dust. He’s introduced a new phone called PhoneBloks, a smartphone that has detachable components on its front and back so that everything from the processor to the camera can be easily upgraded without discarding the rest of the phone. The entire contraption is held together by a pegboard-style base, with a screen — also replaceable — mounted on the front. It’s kind of like lego-blocks for a phone.
If you’re looking for a good deal on airline tickets; you might want to keep an eye on United Airlines. For about 15 minutes today, they offered $0 fares plus $5 in tax for many domestic flights. That worked out to $10 flights between Washington DC and Hawaii, while others scooped up over a dozen tickets to destinations all over the country.
And then, just as quickly as the airfares showed up, United’s reservation system slammed to a halt, reporting “United.com is currently undergoing maintenance  Flight search and booking are unavailable for all flights.” They say it was a computer glitch.
California lawmakers are poised to raise the state’s minimum wage by 25% — a move that would make the state’s hourly workers among the most highly paid in the country. Millions of workers would see their hourly pay jump from $8 to $9 on July 1, 2014 and to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016, under legislation which received strong support this week from the state’s Governor Jerry Brown and other legislative leaders. “The minimum wage has not kept pace with rising costs,” Brown said in a statement. “This legislation is overdue and will help families that are struggling in this harsh economy.”
A survey by Duke University and CFO Magazine  of more than 500 Chief Financial Officers, shows they expect to boost full-time hiring by nearly 1.8% next year, which represents a slight increase from this year. The results indicate that despite worries over President Obama’s health care reform law, a recent tendency on the part of companies to hire more part-time workers may be turning around; so far in 2013, companies have hired more than four times the amount of part-time workers than full-time workers, while in 2012 the opposite was true.
New figures on wealth inequality from economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez show that the top 10 percent earned more than half of our nation’s income. That hasn’t happened since they started tracking these figures a century ago.
What about the bottom 99 percent? After being left out of the post-crisis boom, they finally saw an increase in their earnings last year, but it was less than one percent. By contrast, income for the top one percent rose twenty percent. The really rich, the top 0.01 percent, saw their income soar by more than 32 percent.
As the Economic Policy Institute recently observed, “The median worker saw an increase of just 5.0 percent between 1979 and 2012, despite productivity growth of 74.5 percent–while the 20th percentile worker saw wage erosion of 0.4 percent .
Shareholders of Dell approved a proposal led by company founder Michael Dell to take the computer company private. The proposal, worth about $25 billion, won an unspecified majority of votes from the holders of Dell stock. The buyers consortium sweetened the deal in recent weeks in response to criticism from activist Carl Icahn and others, who had complained their offer undervalued the company.
As Dell goes private, a couple of companies are going public. Hilton Worldwide, which is owned by Blackstone Group, could be valued at $30 billion. Blackstone does not intend to issue so many shares that it loses control of Hilton.
Twitter is going public. It’s could be the biggest IPO since Facebook, and hopefully they learned a lesson from that. The IPO announcement came in the form of a tweet. The details of Twitter’s filing are confidential, thanks to the JOBS Act.
Designed to foster more IPOs for “emerging growth” companies, the IPO provisions of the law have become a way for most companies that want to go public do so with less investor scrutiny. The new rules have cut the time that all that information is available to the public to three weeks before the roadshow.
And finally, scientists now have strong evidence that NASA’s Voyager 1 probe has crossed the heliosphere, the magnetic boundary separating the solar system’s sun, planets and solar wind from the rest of the galaxy. The first man-made object to leave the solar system.
“In leaving the heliosphere and setting sail on the cosmic seas between the stars, Voyager has joined other historic journeys of exploration: The first circumnavigation of the Earth, the first steps on the Moon,” Ed Stone, chief scientist on the Voyager mission said “That’s the kind of event this is, as we leave behind our solar bubble.”

The twin spacecraft Voyager 1 and 2 were launched in 1977, 16 days apart. Voyager 2 will exit the solar system in about 2 billion more miles. Voyager 1 has a long way to go before the next stop. The probe will fly near a star in about 40,000 years. But as of today, human-kind has gone interstellar. 
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