The US Economy Turns Green in Time for St. Patrick’s Day

3/17/2015 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

1 oz .999 Fine Silver Round Irish Green Enamel Four-Leaf Clover With Display Box
1 oz .999 Fine Silver Round Irish Green Enamel Four-Leaf Clover With Display Box

A Happy early St. Patrick’s Day to our long-suffering readers of The Mint, who know we have an affinity for the color green, specifically the tone which can be found on the coin pictured to the left.

We have been buried deep in a classic accounting “busy season” of our own design, as, along with our regular duties, we have stumbled upon a vein persons ready to move their accounting systems into the cloud along with a cadre of brilliant entrepreneurs who need solid advice in terms of accounting and systems.  This work has gone nicely with our goal of mastering the tax trade this winter and spring.  We have also managed to produce our first audio version, What is Truth?  On the Nature of Empire (check it out here).

Together, it has made little time for reflection.  Alas,  this is the life of a farmer. When the season to work comes over us, we work day and night, knowing a season of rest waits.

Due to our numbers related tarries, the last time we took a glance at the US economy for long enough to write about it was October 3rd of last year, according to our records.

At that time, when the stated Unemployment rate was 5.9%, we sensed back then that it did not matter as the FED was set on continuing its Zero Interest Rate Policy until its member banks were safely in the clear, and that the US Labor market was getting extremely tight.

In case you are wondering, ZIRP and tight labor markets, taken together, is a recipe for explosive economic growth.  Five short months later, it appears that the feast is nearly ready, and the US economy is about to eat it.

First, let’s check in on Unemployment, which stands at 5.5%. According to the March 9th jobs report, US Job Creation has never been stronger:

US Job Creation
US Job Creation

And that momentum in the labor market is hotter than it was in 2005 – 2006:

Labor Market Momentum
Labor Market Momentum

And you have a labor market that has not been seen since the end of WWII.

But what about Wage Growth? It is tame, a 0.2% drop, in fact, if the BLS is to be believed. However, the NFIB Compensation Plans Indicator and the Employment cost Index are on the rise, meaning American workers are enjoying a rare (long overdue, we might add) post 1971 gain in real wages before the CPI, which clocked in at 0.7% (still well under the FED’s target), overtakes them.

Wage growth and Inflation
Wage growth and Inflation go hand in hand

And this chart seems to indicate that the tightening rental market may be the match that starts the Wage/Price spiral in motion:

Tight Rental Market
Tight Rental Market

We’re not sure about other metro areas, but rental and housing markets in Portland are ‘en fuego,’ with apologies to Dan Patrick.

What does it all mean? No one can be certain, but here are a couple of guesses:

1) The US Economy will once again become the envy of the world, despite itself. Yes, even with Obama care and other political and economic landmines strewn around it, the US economy is on pace to surpass the growth rates of developing nations, soon to be known as last decade’s darlings:

US to blow past emerging markets
US to blow past emerging markets

2) US Workers are likely to get healthy wages from healthy companies. Unhealthy companies will be gutted in this brain drain and fail.

3) Paradoxically, corporate profit margins will continue to increase as productivity gains continue.

4) Housing premiums, in terms of rent and home sales, are about to soar.

5) Interest rates will not go up until the markets yank them up by their shirt collar and hold them up against the wall, the FED will keep short-term rates low and allow the banks to recapitalize on the backs of the US economic miracle:

No Rate Hike coming
No Rate Hike coming

6) There will be no “Grexit” to spoil things.  Despite European claims to clairvoyance, it was the US who established the Euro zone (and its predecessor treaties) as the vital space for a revitalized German industrial base in the wake of WWII (more on this in our upcoming review of “The Global Minotaur” which was ironically written by a Greek economist).  Circa 2014, the Euro currency zone exists for the sole benefit of Germany and to an extent France.  The rest of Europe would be better off without it, which is why Germany and the pan euro banks will hold it together with an iron fist, not matter how futile the effort, or how far they have to bend the rules.

7) The Chicago River will turn green, and a record amount of beer will be sold tomorrow in honor of St. Patrick

Be safe out there as the Luck of the Irish and the ignorance of the FED paints the US Economy green for the foreseeable future!

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Key Indicators for March 16, 2015

Copper Price per Lb: $2.65
Oil Price per Barrel:  $43.68

Corn Price per Bushel:  $3.79
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  2.10%
Bitcoin price in US: $289.87
FED Target Rate:  0.11%
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,154

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  5.5%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.7%

Dow Jones Industrial Average:  17,977
M1 Monetary Base:  $3,069,400,000,000

M2 Monetary Base:  $11,883,100,000,000

Bitcoin Panel Illuminates the World of Crypto-currencies for the Oregon AFP

Bitcoin2/21/2015 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

For those who were unable to join us on Wednesday, the Bitcoin panel discussion at the Oregon AFP was a great success.  With us were six of the finest minds in Crypto-currencies in the Portland area.  These minds, together with some of the finest financial practitioners in the city, worked to bridge the gap between the Bitcoin universe and mainstream commerce.

We were pleased to find that the two are really not that far apart.

While there were a number of keen insights shared at yesterday’s meeting at the Multnomah Athletic Club, three stood out in our minds:

1) Transactions volume in Bitcoin has soared over the past two years and the USD/Bitcoin price action has settled down as a result.  Further, Venture Capital is pouring into the Bitcoin industry, proving that crypto-currencies, once on the exciting confluence of technology and money, are now entering the relatively boring yet infinitely more profitable economic mainstream.

2) Bitcoin innovators have largely solved the problem that has thus far kept most bankers at bay:  KYC, Know Your Customer.

3) Concerns about Bitcoin’s wild fluctuations in value are addressed by services that instantly exchange Bitcoins accepted in trade into national currencies. This is especially important for those who transact day-to-day business in Bitcoin, as it is technically considered property for tax purposes and could otherwise create an accounting nightmare. It also allows for a clear delineation between Bitcoin speculation and Bitcoin circulation, two completely different activities before were often unwittingly commingled by virtue of one’s use of Bitcoin in trade.

Bitcoin has come a long way since we published our 48 hour crash analysis of the emergent monetary revolution back in 2013, and our panelists did a superb job of presenting a balanced discussion of the present state of crypto-currencies.

A special thanks once again to all of our panelists, Lawrence I Lerner, Ian Pulicano, Anna Guyton, Mike Fors, George Fogg, and Rhys Faler, who was planning on spectating and found himself on the panel in the midst of an incredibly rich, informative, and relevant discussion of the merits and challenges of Bitcoin.

Ian had the difficult task of breaking the ice of ignorance and/or skepticism that is often associated with presenting the concept of Bitcoin to someone for the first time, which is never an easy task.  Beyond explaining the technical side in a concise manner, the slide near the end which highlighted the exponential growth in transactions and VC funding over the past 3 years got everyone’s attention and set the stage nicely for the discussion that followed.  Anna did a great job of stepping up as moderator and added valuable insights throughout, Lawrence did an excellent job of bridging the knowledge gap between industry and Bitcoin through helpful analogies, Mike and Rhys provided the evidence that Bitcoin can and is being used in everyday transactions, and George added insight into the inherent challenges and opportunities of Bitcoin on the regulatory and securitization side of the house.

At the end of the hour, the audience was left with one inescapable conclusion: Crypto-currencies are here, are here to stay, and will be part of one’s economic experience in the not too distant future.

For the benefit of those who were unable to join us on Wednesday, we offer the following bootleg recording of the event:

We also offer the hope that these types of panels will be held in other venues where finance and technology intersect, and that mankind will be all the better off for it.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Key Indicators for February 21, 2015

Copper Price per Lb: $2.58
Oil Price per Barrel:  $50.81

Corn Price per Bushel:  $3.85
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  2.13%
Bitcoin price in US: $246.31
FED Target Rate:  0.09%
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,204

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  5.7%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  -0.3%

Dow Jones Industrial Average:  18,140
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,884,400,000,000

M2 Monetary Base:  $11,771,600,000,000

Bitcoin, Cryptocurrencies, and Alternative Payment Systems: A Panel Discussion

BitcoinFor those who are in the Portland area, the Oregon & SW Washington Association for Financial Professionals is hosting a panel discussion on Bitcoin, Cryptocurrencies, and Alternative Payment Systems on Wednesday, February 18th at 11:30am at the Multnomah Athletic Club.

As you can see, the panelists are top notch:

Lawrence I Lerner of LERNER Consulting – Change Agent in digital strategy, payments, security, change management, and retail: http://lawrenceilerner.com/

Ian Pulicano – Digital currency specialist and co-founder of Bit Consultants.  Building the new paradigm

Anna Guyton – Co-Founder of Bit Consultants, Bitcoin educator and integration specialist, encouraging individual and local self-sufficiency https://bitconsultants.org/

Mike Fors – Founder of BitcoinNW, Bitcoin evangelist, and owner of a Bitcoin Kiosk located in Pioneer Square: www.bitcoinnw.com

George K. Fogg – Partner, Perkins Coie, LLP, national co-chair of firm’s Financial Transactions and Restructuring practice and a member of the firm’s Virtual Currency Team

Your’s truly will be moderating and generally trying to stay out of the way of what promises to be an interesting, informative, and timely discussion amongst those in the Pacific Northwest who are at the forefront in this exciting and perplexing space.

You can register for the event here: http://oregonafp.camp7.org/event-1844146

First time guests to the group are free, which is a nice.  Hurry, though, as space is limited.  Hope to see you for this important topic and Stay Fresh!

An Ode to Papa Jerry

Jerry and Bettie Mitchell
Jerry and Bettie Mitchell

Earlier this year in the class on Luke, we collectively learned that death is a form of healing. This being the case, our friend Jerry Mitchell was healed on January 28th, 2015. In terms dear to us as Samaritans, it may be said that Jerry graduated to heaven on that day.

Jerry Mitchell, or Papa Jerry, as we knew him, taught in the Beaverton School District until his retirement. He was already retired when we met him. We came to know Jerry as the cornerstone of Good Samaritan Ministries (GSM), a ministry with a call to “teach nothing but the Kingdom of God,” a call which continues to this day at GSM in Beaverton.

While Jerry’s wife, Bettie Mitchell, is recognized as the founder of the Ministry, she is always quick to recognize that Jerry, by giving permission for Bettie to leave her teaching job to pursue the Ministry full time, was the one who released the calling into action. It was he who supported and accompanied her through the years as the Ministry grew to touch lives not only in Beaverton but also in some 32 countries throughout the world.

Jerry was a veteran of World War II and a member of what Tom Brokaw famously referred to as “The Greatest Generation.” Jerry was a great fan of the Portland Trailblazers and was always quick with a smile and a joke. He was honest and approachable and loved children. It may truly be said that he never lost touch with the child within himself.

His positive impact as a soldier, teacher, and Samaritan can be seen today on four continents, and we count ourselves blessed to have had our hearts warmed by knowing Papa Jerry towards the twilight of his wonderful life. The world is a better place because Papa Jerry lived.

Rest in peace Papa Jerry, and thank you for your many sacrifices this side of heaven. We look forward to the time when we will meet again on the other side.

The Healing Miracles of Jesus Recorded in Luke

Healing Peter's mother-in-law by John Bridges, 19th century. Mark 1:29-31, Luke 4:38-41 and Matthew 8:14-15.
Healing Peter’s mother-in-law by John Bridges, 19th century. Mark 1:29-31, Luke 4:38-41 and Matthew 8:14-15.

The following are notes and Materials we used when teaching a class on January 7th, 2015 at Good Samaritan Ministries in Beaverton.  The class was on the Healing Miracles of Jesus Recorded in Luke.

For setting, we set the class up with a row of seats back to back in the middle, with a perimeter of seats in the shape of a U around this row.  It gave the class a feel that they were in a doctor’s waiting room and served to drive interaction.

We began the class by recounting a recent medical incident that involved a bit of drama.  You can use a similar story of your own or borrow ours:  Narrative of Medical Incident – Intro

We then handed out the following medical questionaire to the class.  As you will see, it was a bit daunting (the attendees did come under the impression that they were attending a Bible class, after all):  In Depth Medical History Form

If you prefer, start with something lighter such as:  Medical History Form

In both cases, it is important to get the class thinking about their family as well, so a Family Medical History Questionnaire is in order:  Family Medical History Form

As the class is filling these out, move through the outline, asking questions about recent experiences at the doctor, etc.  Try to get people focused on the concept of healing.  Key questions:  What does healing look like?  What form does it take?  How do you know when you are healed or have healed someone?

Refer to the class outline “When the Silence Comes, the Healing Takes Place” for a full narrative where the facilitator plays the role of Luke for the audience, telling them about Jesus, the doctor.  This outline also contains the key questions to the class for this teaching.

About halfway through this narrative, where Luke refers to the “Last Page” of the forms, direct them to this surprisingly simple and profound “Healing Eligibility Questionnaire.

You can either have this form at the back of the other questionnaires you have handed them or pretend that you forgot to give it to them, and that it is really the only form that is required.  In the class we taught, we pretended to forget it and people were as relieved to see it as they were shocked to recieve the first, exhaustive round of forms.

Raising of Jairus' Daughter by Paolo Veronese, 1546. Mark 5:21–43, Matthew 9:18–26, Luke 8:40–56
Raising of Jairus’ Daughter by Paolo Veronese, 1546. Mark 5:21–43, Matthew 9:18–26, Luke 8:40–56

You then will hand out a “Frequently Asked Questions” sheet to the class which will cause them to think deeply about healing in the Biblical context.

Now that the introduction to the material has taken place, the class is prepared to hear the miracles.  We have identified the following passages in Luke as containing references to a healing miracle.  The teacher is to read them, one by one aloud and allow the Lord to guide them in their teaching one another:

Luke 4:23-27, 31-37, 38-39, 40-41

Luke 5:12-16, 17-26

Luke 6:6-11, 17-19

Luke 7:1-10, 11-17, 21-30

Luke 8:26-39, 40-56

As you ask around the room, you will be astonished at how many people have witnessed a healing miracle.  In our class, one women shared that she had seen her daughter raised from the dead in the 1980’s, and that her son, who had a severe developmental disorder, had been dead twice and both times was resuscitated.

Resurrection of the Widow's son from Nain, altar panel by Lucas Cranach the Younger, c. 1569, in the Stadtkirche Wittenberg. Luke 7:11-17
Resurrection of the Widow’s son from Nain, altar panel by Lucas Cranach the Younger, c. 1569, in the Stadtkirche Wittenberg. Luke 7:11-17

Luke 9:1-6, 10-11, 37-43

Luke 10:1-12

Luke 13:10-17, 32-33

Luke 14:1-6

Luke 17:11-19

Luke 18:35-43

Luke 19:1-10

Luke 22:50-51

It is astonishing that Jesus healed even as he was being betrayed on the Mount of Olives.

In reviewing these miracles, you can see Luke, as a physician, gave a great deal of importance to the Healings Jesus performed.

Two key insights that were gained when we gave the class on the 7th were, first, that healing can be defined as the continuity/alignment of the spirit, mind, and body.  Second, that physical death is a form of healing.

At the end of the class, return to the questions on the Healing Eligibility questionnaire.  Ask them again.

To close, we prepared a PowerPoint presentation of artist’s depictions of the Healing Miracles found in Luke.  The PowerPoint can be downloaded here: Healing Miracles of Jesus in Luke PowerPoint

You can see the PowerPoint put to music below:

Close the class in prayer.

We pray that this teaching will heal all those who teach and hear it, for it is the power of the Living God within us all to heal, if only we believe.

You can see how the teaching went on January 7th, 2015 at GSM in Beaverton in the video below.  We didn’t get to the slideshow, but somehow it did not matter.  The healing came to us.

Freed by the Fire, The Fourth Man

The Book of Daniel, Chapter 3
Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits,* and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the local governors, the deputies, and the governors, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. Then the local governors, the deputies, and the governors, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together to the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
Then the herald cried aloud, “To you it is commanded, peoples, nations, and languages, that whenever you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music, you fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up. Whoever doesn’t fall down and worship shall be cast into the middle of a burning fiery furnace the same hour.”
Therefore at that time, when all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music, all the peoples, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and brought accusation against the Jews. They answered Nebuchadnezzar the king, “O king, live for ever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree, that every man that hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image; 11 and whoever doesn’t fall down and worship shall be cast into the middle of a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, have not respected you. They don’t serve your gods, and don’t worship the golden image which you have set up.”
13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and fury commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. Then these men were brought before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar answered them, “Is it on purpose, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you don’t serve my god, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready whenever you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music to fall down and worship the image which I have made, good; but if you don’t worship, you shall be cast the same hour into the middle of a burning fiery furnace. Who is that god that will deliver you out of my hands?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If it happens, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego by Simeon Solomon, 1863
“Simeon Solomon – Shadrach Meshach Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego by Simeon Solomon, 1863

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the form of his appearance was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He spoke, and commanded that they should heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 He commanded certain mighty men who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their pants, their tunics, and their mantles, and their other clothes, and were cast into the middle of the burning fiery furnace. 22 Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 These three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the middle of the burning fiery furnace.

24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste. He spoke and said to his counselors, “Didn’t we cast three men bound into the middle of the fire?”
They answered the king, “True, O king.”
25 He answered, “Look, I see four men loose, walking in the middle of the fire, and they are unharmed. The appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace. He spoke and said, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!”
Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the middle of the fire. 27 The local governors, the deputies, and the governors, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, that the fire had no power on their bodies. The hair of their head wasn’t singed. Their pants weren’t changed, the smell of fire wasn’t even on them.
28 Nebuchadnezzar spoke and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel, and delivered his servants who trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and have yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree, that every people, nation, and language, which speak anything evil against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill; because there is no other god who is able to deliver like this.”
30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

Today our Pastor gave a profound teaching on this chapter.  There are two eternal lessons we can all take from Daniel 3:

When you are in an impossible situation, do not play along, hold true to your values.  Further, when they throw you into the fire, know that it is the fire that frees you.

When you are in the fire, don’t miss the fourth man who is there with you.  Jews believe it to be the Archangel Michael, Christians believe it to be Jesus, and in both cases it is the Living God who is with us in the trial.

La Granja Tributaria

La Granja Tributaria.  Un lugar que parece ser “casa” por el mayor parte del año, hasta que el granjero pasa a sacar la leche.

La Granja Tributaria circa 1964
La Granja Tributaria circa 1964

Hace poco realizamos un curso para dueños de empresas pequeñas y medianas en Portland y los alrededores.  Presentamos aquí, como servicio al publico de The Mint, las materias del curso por si le puede servir a alguien en nuestra audiencia.

El Archivo PowerPoint: Tax Prep Class SPANISH 1-14-2015

El PowerPoint por YouTube:

Recursos en Portland para preparar su declaración anual: Tax Preparation Guide English – Spanish

Páginas web claves:  Ayuda Tributaria en Español

El IRS en Español:  http://www.irs.gov/Spanish

La Granja Tributaria circa 2014
La Granja Tributaria circa 2014

Un consejo, los impuestos son un asunto muy personal, y no hay ninguna situación que sea igual al suyo.  Por eso rogamos que, si tiene alguna duda, que se ponga en contacto con un profesional en su localidad.  Según la situación en la que uno se encuentre, tener sus asuntos en orden con la granja tributaria puede ser muy valioso.

Mucha suerte!  Y qué el granjero no le saque demasiado este año.

 

Fresh ideas on Economics, Monetary Theory, Politics, and Less Pressing but Equally Entertaining Matters for the English and Spanish speaking worlds

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