Wolf Richter On The Keiser Report
"Debtonomics and the NSA"

Wolf Richter on the Keiser Report
"Where Is The Fear"

Wolf Richter on Max Keiser's "On The Edge" 
"The Pauperization of America"

Wolf Richter on the Keiser Report
"Where the Money Goes to Die"

Clarke and Dawe: European Debt Crisis
Two favorite Australian Comedians

Clarke and Dawe: Quantitative Easing
Big industrial-strength printers, all facing the window

The Fastest Drive Ever Through San Francisco
Don't try to do this yourself

humanERROR - by "Frying Dutchman"
Powerful, lyrical appeal to the Japanese. Slams nuke industry, MSM, bureaucrats, and politicians.


Doctor: why private practice will be only for wealthy patients

By S.J., M.D.:

Concerning Dr. Gorback’s article: The Sheer Insanity of What You Pay For Medical Services

I am a family physician who has practiced 30 years and remain independent. In my central Pennsylvania town only about 5% of the doctors are not employed by a large health system. The “place of service” is yet another reason why private practice will be only for wealthy patients.

Oddly in our "free market," insurance companies and government have been made it difficult for independent docs to compete. This has occurred through a lengthy process of legislation and regulation that has almost always been to the advantage of these large systems and insurance companies. Now they are often at each other's throats.

But, they have found a way around that. In Pennsylvania, they have united themselves in at least two hybrid systems that are both insurance companies and health care systems. I am not sure why that does not meet the criteria for anti-trust.

I also do not know why Medicare has granted hospitals the ability to charge more for an employed physician doing a physical than the independent physician can charge in his office. Ironically, independent physicians doing physicals in the hospital will be paid less than he would in his office. This favoritism puts many Third-World countries to shame. It hurts our business community because of the lack of true competition thereby raising prices.

All of this has occurred with the cooperation of the AMA or any specialty society. These organizations have not only hurt their members, but have ultimately harmed most patients. This year I have noticed that there are many patients with high deductibles. They will forego simple needed tests because the costs are probably five times what they could be or wait until November to get them done at a much reduced rate through the Kiwanis club.


Dealing With Unemployment in Austria

By Mike:

Unemployment Crisis Hits Economic Wunderkind Austria

I am from Austria. That article is correct. On Wunderkind. Indeed we are clever and invest our time into making profit. Austrian businesses have been well known in the 60s and 70s for leveraging own capital up to 90%. That changed. The mid-sized structure does help too.

What happened ... not new.

a) We immigrate like hell - not unusual since something like an Austrian does not exist.

b) We retire people instead of treating them as unemployed. If you are 58 you will not find a job? So we simply retire people and they don't show up in the unemployment statistics. Honestly that's simply a response to an inevitable reality.

The increase is nothing but the slowdown in retiring people. That's all. That's an old game. Started after the crisis in the mid-80s. At the moment the job market is still alive. It will become somehow dynamic....


high price of oil that is destroying growth

By Paul:

Concerning: Wall Street’s “Escape Velocity” Hoax

Stockman is correct – escape velocity is not going to happen, but it's the high price of oil that is destroying growth. QE and ZIRP are primarily aimed at offsetting the growth crushing $100 oil price. None other than the IEA confirms this: According to the results of a quantitative exercise carried out by the IEA in collaboration with the OECD Economics Department and with the assistance of the International Monetary Fund Research Department, a sustained $10 per barrel increase in oil prices from $25 to $35 would result in the OECD as a whole losing 0.4% of GDP in the first and second years of higher prices.


The Conduct of the Hospitals Is Indefensible

By NY Geezer:

I am responding belatedly to the blog posted under the name JB McMunn, M.D. entitled Doctor’s Perspective: The Perils and Pitfalls of Corporate Medicine. For the public, a better title might be "Pity Not the Poor Doctors, Pity us." In my view, the members of the public as taxpayers and as patients are in far greater peril than the private practice doctor segment of the healthcare industry.

I am not unsympathetic to the plight of the doctors who contend that they are not sufficiently remunerated by Medicare and Medicaid because in the “past decade, Medicare fees have risen about 10% while the cost of running a medical practice has risen about 30%.” I do not dispute that doctors have a just claim for fee increases. For the doctors, the increases will save their private practice businesses that they have spent years building. These businesses provide them with a good income and personal autonomy that is of value. Yet, most doctors will continue to do well financially working for a medical corporation.

However, the public's interests are much more fragile, and at least as important. Medical care provided by doctors in private practice is supposed to be predicated solely on the doctor's medical judgment and tailored to produce the most benefit for the patient. But in recent years this has eroded with increasing pressures from insurance providers, malpractice liability fears, and incentives from drug companies. Nonetheless, private practice care has on balance been good for patients as it provides good accessibility and it is least expensive.

I am personally aware of doctors who have chosen to work in hospitals to increase their income and benefits and avoid the expense and difficulty of running a private practice. When they close their practices, their patients must scramble for other doctors. Sometimes patients do not succeed in obtaining new doctors. I wonder what happens to them. As more doctors choose to work for hospital medical corporations their patient medical decisions will be weighted in favor of the best interests of the corporation. Hopefully, for what it is worth, the best interests of the corporation include providing patient care that is sufficiently adequate to avoid liability.

From a public perspective, the conduct of the hospitals is indefensible. They have consistently obtained ever higher reimbursements which appear to have no relation to the value of their services. Such increases are the fruit of the successful lobbying efforts of their hospital associations.

The increases are granted without regard to their adverse impacts on private practice doctors, patients, or the public. Particularly damaging to the public is the relationship of higher pay for hospital corporation employed doctors to the expanded ability of hospitals to tack on facility fees and other fees and service charges which greatly exceed the amount allowed for the doctors' fees.

The doctors benefit by receiving higher pay than private practitioners. The hospitals, benefit as they now receive large unearned and unjustified windfalls by virtue of the work of doctors that should be done for much less in private practices. Patients on the other hand will have to be even more concerned about whether x-rays and invasive procedures and treatments are medically necessary and performed for their best interests or for the corporation's financial benefit, whether their insurance providers will disallow the unnecessary charges, and whether they will face collection procedures.

As the total cost of health care approaches 18% of GDP, we the public are rightfully upset. It is much too expensive. Not only do we not receive fair value for our money, but many hospital, drug, and insurance charges are well known to be blatantly exorbitant. Austerity in this part of the health care industry is essential, should be imposed, and is avoided. It is not justifiable that we must continually pay more in premiums, deductibles, and co-pays, and fear the consequences of exorbitant charges, all of which have the effect of discouraging us from using our ever more costly medical coverage.


Financial Repression

By John:

We all understand the damage done to savers by the Fed's super low interest rate "financial repression," but there is a directly related issue which receives no press, though seems far more important.

The tipoff is that we are not "borrowing from our children." Our children have no money to lend. Then where is the "borrowing" coming from?

It's coming out of the capital base which represents the repressed savings. For the middle class, savings is the key resource for economic growth. It is the only way one educates one's kids, obtains a down payment for a (now overpriced) house, saves to start a new business (restaurant, farm, machine shop, retailer, internet service business, etc.). The savage disincentives provided by financial repression are not only destroying the retirements of savers, it’s destroying the ability of the middle class to grow the economy (and of course, jobs).

The most obvious of these effects can be found in the first time home buyer statistic; it has collapsed.
Fed policy, while making the banking sector rich, is killing the economy; not expanding it.

One wonders if the academics at the Fed understand this, and are simply pressured to support the cheap Treasury and bank financing of the powerful interests, or are completely unaware of the logic that you cannot spend your way to wealth and you cannot borrow your way out of debt.


An undisclosed connection


Concerning: I Just Got PayPal’s New Absolutely-No-Privacy-Ever Policy

I will relate an experience I had regarding Pay Pal that I believe has some relevance to your blog on Pay Pal's privacy policy.

I am a retired old geezer living in NY State. About 4 years ago I looked at Ebay's bidding process to place a bid on an item I wanted. However I discovered that I could not make such a bid without subscribing to pay pal. I provided pay pal with the information it required and made my bid. My bid was exceeded by other bids and I did not get the item. My credit card was not used at that time and I never used Ebay or pay pal after that.

Because I did not respond to ongoing emails from the 2 companies I believed that I had no further connection to either of them and that my single failed bid was the end of our relationship.

Then about 2-3 years ago I received a couple of emails from Best Buy: one thanking me for opening a new account, and the other thanking me for purchasing an expensive electronic item.

When I opened up that new Best Buy account I discovered that my address was stated to be in California in care of a person named Pham Pham and that the credit card that was used was one that had recently expired although the number was still in use on a subsequently issued card. I checked all my credit cards online and found that the charge was not pending. I also took some other measures to protect myself. Within hours I received another email from Best Buy cancelling the order because payment was not made by my credit card company.

This incident took a strange turn a couple of days later. Initially I had no idea as to the source of the credit information leak. But then 2-3 days afterwards I received an email from Pay Pal requesting an update of the credit card information in my Pay Pal account. Pay Pal's email request for updated credit information so soon after the online theft attempt may be just a coincidence, but in my mind there is an undisclosed connection. Of course I have not complied with Pay Pay's requests. To this day no company has informed me that their accounts were hacked and that my credit information was stolen.


The law is like a spider web

By Gepay:

Concerning: Peaceful Indignation Turns to Violent Rage in Rajoy’s Spain

"The law is like a spider web: it catches the fly but the hawk goes free."

I used to be a conspiracy theorist but the biggest scam is the banking system operation in plain sight.

I think the "system" is broken. Just hope it breaks while the Earth is still livable for humans. Think about what actually worked as well as the human condition allows so as to be able to reinstate after the deluge.

"The older I get, the more cynical I get... but I just can't keep up." Lily Tomlin


Fracking: When the economics caught up with the hype.

By Tom:

Concerning: Boss, We Got a Situation in Natural Gas

I like the articles you write on the Oil and Gas Patch, like today's article.

I drilled and fracked about 100 wells from the mid-70s to the mid-80s. I haven't worked in The Patch since 1986. I am more shocked than anyone else about the success of the Marcellus. I just wonder if it is mostly hype. I drilled a bunch of wells into the Devonian Shale, which is right on top of the Marcellus. The Devonian was all the hyped rage in the 70s and 80s, but you don't hear of it any more.

Did we drill up all the Devonian prospects? No way. The economics caught up with the hype. We drilled one of the most successful Devonian Shale plays, according to the legend. It was in the Burning Springs field in Wirt County, WV. We drilled 75 wells to the shale. Six of the wells made oil, the rest were dry gas. Only 15 of the wells made enough to pay for themselves. All told, the field took about 22 years to break even if you didn't discount the future revenue and if the gas price stayed at $3.50, which it didn't. 


The business cycle must be respected

By Bruce:

Concerning: Housing Bubble II: What’s Ruining Home Sales? Not The Weather!

There is so much BS propaganda flying around from MSM and gov't. re: US econ. "recovery" that it's hard to know which way is up.

Please see link:

Jed Kolko, Chief Economist at Trulia, February 18th, 2014:

"January’s polar vortex should knock construction and home sales activity down, but only by 1-2%. If sales, starts, or permits drop by more than that, don’t just blame the weather."

We are having a stimulus-driven, bank-friendly, Potemkin-style, non-organic recovery, orchestrated by the usual suspects, and promulgated by false statistics and happy talk.

I'm generally an optimist, but also a pragmatist. The ultimate result may be delayed, but it cannot be denied. The chickens will come home to roost sooner or later.  I think we're getting close to the end game here. The business cycle must be respected.

You cannot spend your way out of recession or borrow your way out of debt.” Daniel Hannan

There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.” – Ludwig von Mises


Russia calls force majeure on cooperation with the US?

By Dmitry:

Concerning: The “Sanction Spiral” Elegantly Spirals Out of Control

I am wondering about two things:

1. Russia calling force majeure on space cooperation with US; American astronauts lose access to the space station

2. Russia calling force majeure on military cooperation with US; US military loses access to Central Asian resupply route to Afghanistan; troop pull-out effort turns into a rout.


Great. Just what we need, a pissing contest between the USA and Russia

By Walter:

Concerning: Kremlin: If The US Tries To Hurt Russia's Economy, Russia Will Target The Dollar

Lifted from the post: "Washington’s decision to release ... oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve ... a direct attack on the main revenue source of the Russian government."

Great. Just what we need, a pissing contest between the USA and Russia, where we piss away precious oil reserves.

One of these recessions is going to be a true depression, when we run out of not just economically recoverable fossil fuels, but also the duct tape, baling wire, smoke, mirrors - and money.

While they'll be able to hang on to life as they know it for longer than the rest of us, at some point, even the wealthy won't be able to buy shelter, food, health, and happiness.

We live in interesting times.


weirdest NYC housing market I have ever seen, and it will collapse soon

By Thomas:

Concerning: The Smart Money Quietly Abandons The Housing Market

I live in Manhattan and the Asians are buying properties. They bundle their funds... one, two, three families... group buying... wealthy ones too. The NYC market is warped. Homes that look like crap going for $800K, or more. The inventory is well below past years and multiple offers on a home are common. There are almost no, young, first-time buyers for houses, co-ops, condo's, but in Queens or Brooklyn, although that is getting tight too.

This is the weirdest NYC market I have ever seen and it will collapse soon. It has peaked.


I don't think you emphasized enough....

By Edward:

Concerning: California Housing Bubble: Now Even Teachers Can No Longer Afford To Buy A Home

Excellent article. My only amplification: I don't think that you emphasized enough (or perhaps the subject of a different article) how destructive price increases in post-secondary education and the commensurate borrowing required to finance it.

First time buyers (what we think of as "first time" -- 25 to 30 year old singles and couples) today completed college from 4 to 9 years ago. Between 2005 and 2009. That final year of tuition in 2005 (4 yr public) was about $5,500; the student graduating in 2015 will pay $8,900. 62% in 9 years. ( BTW, I think that the linked numbers are low, but the important point is not the absolute dollar but the percentage.

My point is this: not only are "first-time" buyers today in substantial long-term debt for their education, each new graduating class is in even GREATER debt. Coupled with low inflation (which limits ongoing wage increases), the debt will be a ball and chain on the millenials indefinitely.

Finally, I suspect that the "average" debt substantially understates the crushing burden for the majority. Some people graduate without any debt and they are factored into the overall total. One in 20 will drive the average down by 5%

Two final (personal) anecdotes:

I completed a graduate degree at a large, public Midwestern university rougly 30 years. Tuition was $900/semester. $1800 for the full year. Undergraduate (can't easily find graduate) is estimated at $15,000 to $20,000 per year. So roughly a 10-fold increase in 30 years.

Completed a professional degree in 1990. Debt was about 125% of annual income. Took approximately 8 years to pay it off (debt payments were greater than rent most of the time). Also roughly increased my salary by 50% in the same period. That's not happening to young people today. And I was "broke" most of those 8 years, despite earning a good salary.


Toll Brothers Q1 2014: Cold Weather Ate My Sales Contracts

By , Aaron Layman Properties:

It looks like the story of freezing weather is again being used to explain stagnating home sales. This morning it was luxury home builder Toll Brothers who lamented that the cold weather impacted first quarter sales:

“The freezing, snowy weather of the past two months has impacted our business in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest markets, where about 50% of our selling communities are located. While it is still too early to draw conclusions about the Spring selling season, we remain optimistic based on solid affordability, attractive interest rates, growing pent-up demand and an industry still under-producing compared to both historical norms and current demographics.”

The FY 2014 first quarter results from Toll showed a continuation of stagnating sales contracts, as well as a higher cancellation rate. Stagnating sales have been the norm lately with the recent run-up in home prices. Toll reported a 6% decline in first-quarter net signed contracts, 916 units compared to 973 units a year ago. Toll also saw the first-quarter cancellation rate jump to 7 percent compared to 6.2 percent a year ago.

I would expect similar if not worse results from other builders as the real reasons facing the housing market continue to be unresolved. There’s a reason JPM is laying off more staff amid declining mortgage demand. The real problems facing the overall housing market are stagnate income and home price inflation. It’s nice to see Case Shiller actually bucking the propaganda trend and explaining what’s actually happening:

“Some of the weakness reflects the cold weather in much of the country. However, higher home prices and mortgage rates are taking a toll on affordability.”

Of course the real issues of stagnating incomes combined with asset inflation are problems which the Federal Reserve is woefully incapable of addressing. Why? They are the primary cause of the problems. The Fed’s primary goal is to keep the banking establishment afloat come hell or high water.


Years Of Falling Sales For Texas Instruments (Despite Acquisitions)

By Pesky Varmint:

Concerning: Texas Instruments CFO Admits: Stock Market Is Overpriced

I found your story on TI from Oct 22 2013 to be very interesting. I thought you'd be interested in this follow up:

TI revenues (dollar values in millions)

Revenues (in millions):





















Note that in 2011 TI acquired National Semiconductor, which at the time, had around $1.5 billion in annual revenue. In 2013 the semiconductor industry grew 4.8% according to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA).

So when we factor in what should have been a gain from both the acquired revenue of National Semiconductor, along with the growth of the semiconductor industry, TI is down 18.34% from where it should be in terms of revenue growth.


insidious dynamic of college expenses

By Joe:

Concerning: The Young Subprime Debt-Slave Generation

Your article, as astute and accurate as it is, does not mention the even more sinister aspect of the student loan Ponzi scheme. The middle-class students who are average in most ways and whose parents have dreams of upward mobility for their children are caught in an insidious dynamic that has been particularly targeted.

My kids were B students, not athletic and we live in NJ. They did not qualify for the State schools because NJ focuses too much on the "underprivileged", i.e., foreign students, minority students and students of single mothers. So, my two kids ended up at private schools for $20,000 instead of State schools for $10,000. Further, the year 2008, when my kids entered college, coincided with the TARP bailouts, which included....student loans! Therefore, the tuition in 4 years for my 2 kids went from $45,000 a year to $75,000 a year!!!

Do the math. As my self-employment income crashed by 50%, my kids college tuition went up by over 50%. We were faced with liquidating every penny of savings we had, i.e, my retirement account, or taking loans. My kids did not qualify for Federal grants because we "have too much in assets". My kids didn't qualify for private bank loans because they have no income or assets. We were forced to co-sign for over $200,000 in private bank loans. My kids have been out of school for two years and all they can find are $10 / hr jobs and unpaid "internships".

Yes, the corporate world is on to the scam as well. They know the kids are stuck. They are being squeezed as well. So, they are seizing n the opportunity to get workers for free on trial basis with no contract or promise of position. Indentured servitude for the youth of America and their parents. The American "dream". This is an orchestrated economic plan to overload the system, eliminate the middle class and create a debt class. They surely will offer a "solution" to forgive the loans in exchange for your soul. They can kiss my a#$.

Thanks for your ear. 


Student loans: The picture is even bleaker

By Tom:

Concerning: The Young Subprime Debt-Slave Generation

In the referenced article you stated, “The official student loan delinquency rate, as dizzying as it is, actually covers up a problem that is even worse: many borrowers don’t have to make payments yet because they’re still in school.”

The picture is even bleaker than this – many of those that are in repayment are only doing so on an income contingent basis (15 or 20% of net AGI income above poverty level.) For many this means that they aren’t even repaying the accrued interest. So they will pay for 25 years with an ever growing balance until the loan + addl unpaid interest is “forgiven” (assuming the private “servicers” haven’t “lost” the repayment records). At which point the borrower will owe non-dischargeable taxes on the amount forgiven (probably 25%-28% tax) which may be considered as income by the IRS if the borrower has a positive net worth. So then they can be hounded by the IRS for however long it takes to repay the tax.

And for those that do default – what does the government/lender do – tacks on a service fee of up to 25% of total balance – making impossible what was for most an already unmanageable situation. The monkey on their back just turns into a gorilla and/or elephant.

Also it isn’t just the Universities and Schools that are milking the availability of loans/grants by bloating administrative staff and paying professors like they were top producers in the private sector (no longer accepting lower pay for the privilege of being in the ivory tower) - much of this has also been the State Government reducing the level of funding for their schools – shifting the majority of the burden onto the students. Kinda like a farmer demanding record yields from a field that he refuses to irrigate or fertilize.

Thanks for your blog – I very much enjoy reading it and appreciate your insightful and honest writing.

 P.S. it isn’t just the “young” that are in the SL debt-slave category - many would be repaying with anticipated, but soon to be non-existent, Social Security income. 


Banks, investors holding foreclosed homes to create demand

By Disgusted Citizen:

Concerning: “Foreclosure Rebound Pattern”: Foreclosures SUDDENLY Jump 57% in California (And Soar In Much Of The Country)

I work for a real estate attorney in Oregon and am a modification specialist. I have been doing this work now for about 5 years but the past 1 year almost full time. Based on the number of new clients we are getting, the banks are only just getting started on foreclosing. They are also making it more difficult to get modifications, some claim because the houses are no longer underwater and there is equity. That makes them better targets for foreclosure and is in the investors’ best interest. I have one client in a CA coastal community that just happened to. This is after trying to get a modification for two years.

I live in a "resort" area where the bubble was BIG and when it fell, we were considered a "hardest hit" county in Oregon and we fell far. I have seen this bust destroy families with increased divorces and Bk filings.

Legislative and court issues RE: MERS litigation and State Mediation program tended to slow foreclosures in our state for a couple years and again starting to pick up again. Chase and Nationstar seem to be leading the pack so far.

We are a non-judicial foreclosure state (generally speaking) but lender attorneys are tending to lien towards judicial foreclosure, a more expensive route. I haven’t yet figured out that strategy yet but as with most things, it comes down to money.

The past year investors who picked up undeveloped subdivisions and empty lots around town that went bankrupt for a song a few years ago are suddenly building like crazy. Home after home is being built and whole subdivisions popping up in a few months’ time. That can’t build them fast enough to rent out for outrageous amounts.

The rental properties are few and rents rising dramatically. Everyone's homes were in foreclosure and have been looking for rentals. It’s a seller’s market because there are few homes to buy.

I can only point to my particular neighborhood as an example of what may be going on.

I have watched for 3 years at least six homes (2200 sq ft) within 2 blocks sit vacant and are bank owned. I’m in a moderate family oriented neighborhood in a good school district. The realtors all complain how the banks are holding the vacant properties and how there are none to sell. They even leave notes on my door asking if I want to sell or know a neighbor who does.

2 years ago, my house was worth about 180K. (I paid $385K) The county tax assessor has it at 197K now. Last year I saw several homes get pulled off the market because they were asking $270K and no one would bite so they rented them out. Just prior to that, I saw two homes go for CASH at $270-290K. There would have been NO WAY an appraisal would have reached close to that level of value and approved by a lender for a traditional mortgage.

Interestingly enough, a client looking to get a modification in the neighborhood has a Fannie Mae loan. Fannie Mae has produced an AVM (Automated Value Model - like Zillow) putting these houses at a "predicted" value of $313K with a "confidence" score of "2". Scale of 1-5, 1 being the highest.

I had a few realtors run the comps in the area and no doubt those CASH purchases artificially raised the values in the neighborhood. Funny thing is, the same 6 houses that have been sitting empty are STILL sitting empty. Although this may sound like a conspiracy theory, I suspect those cash purchases are occurring elsewhere in very targeted areas. Banks and/or investors holding inventory (foreclosed homes) to create more demand.

I agree with you. BIG MONEY RULES!


Suddenly we have a "new" heroin epidemic

By J.B.

Phillip Hoffman's death has drawn attention to the problem of increasing heroin abuse. IMHO, this is a case of squeezing the toothpaste from from end of the tube to the other.

When OxyContin hit the scene years ago it rapidly began to compete with heroin on the street. It was a time-release preparation and patients were warned not to cut or crush the pills because they would get the entire 12-hour dose all at once.

Helloooooo? Did you just give abusers the recipe? Next thing you know, people are crushing and snorting/injecting "Oxy". Plus, the pill is of known purity and dose. Heroin is a pig in a poke.

It caused heroin prices to drop and purity to rise. Depending on availability and price, people shifted between the two drugs. Then Purdue came up with a preparation of OxyContin that is hard to abuse.

Suddenly we have a "new" heroin epidemic. Actually, it's probably just plain old market forces in action, and I expect we'll see Oxy deaths drop and heroin deaths rise.

I would also expect heroin deaths to rise more than the Oxy death rate falls since the heroin is unregulated for dose and purity. Thus given the same number of abusers the probability of death is higher. 


Physicians’ Bubble Talk

By J.B.

Observations on chatter in physician forums.

1. Stock investing is easy if you know technical analysis.

2. The economy is recovering and we are experiencing growth.

3. The market could go up for another 5-10 years.

There is a lot of talk about gold and most of it is positive, especially about buying at these prices. I haven't seen any discussion of gold for over a year. Now two posts in one week.

A number of people said real estate is a better buy than gold, especially farmland and foreign real estate.

One guy said the market went up Wednesday because there were more buyers than sellers. This was my favorite.

Another said he just lets his broker at Merrill Lynch handle things.