Mainstream Media | - Part 2

McClatchy reports that Americans are as glum as ever about their prospects for getting ahead in the world, due in no small part to the increasing attention by politicians and the mainstream media on income/wealth inequality, the recent prosperity of the one percent, and the consensus view that the outlook is dim for the middle class.

Eight out of 10 Americans think it’s harder now than before, taking more effort to get ahead than it did for previous generations. Just 15 percent think it takes the same work as it did before, and a scant 5 percent think it’s easier now.

And Americans don’t think it will get better soon, with 78 percent thinking it also will be harder for the next generation to get ahead.

The findings underscore the landscape at a time when the economy and the country are being fundamentally changed by waves of globalization and new technology, and as Americans struggle to see a better path forward and their politicians grapple over how to help.

At this point, you’d think that things might improve maybe just a little bit if everyone stopped talking about this so much and stopped making so many people feel so lousy.

Born to Be on Disability

This 60-Minutes piece on the nation’s swelling disability rolls answered a lot of questions about how so many people can be receiving this government benefit that, now, is widely seen as just a bridge from unemployment to collecting social security at age 62.

One question that wasn’t really answered was how social security disability lawyers get paid and this story appears to settle that – they get $6,000 per successful claim and the money comes from the U.S. government, not the claimant.

An opposing view of the state of the government’s disability program is offered up here.

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There was an absolutely fascinating discussion about the nation’s student loan dilemma on Friday’s PBS Newshour in which you get a good sense of what is to come in the opening seconds of the panel discussion where the conversation is immediately diverted from rising student loan interest rates to these loans enabling out-of-control college costs.

Watch Presidential Push to Stop High Student Loan Interest Rates on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

I have a new sympathy for “Generation Debt/Opportunity” and wish them well.

There are obviously a lot of very smart and ambitious twenty-somethings in this nation but, unfortunately, they drew some bad luck when it came to the timing of their births.

The precious metals commentary offered up by the mainstream financial media is getting more interesting by the day. Just this morning, this Bloomberg story lamented the loss in value incurred by central banks since the gold price peaked back in 2011.

The World Gold Council says they added 534.6 metric tons to reserves in 2012, the most in almost a half century, and expects purchases of 450 to 550 tons this year, valued now at as much as $25.3 billion.Central banks are the biggest losers, with about $560 billion of value erased since gold reached a record $1,921.15 an ounce in September 2011.

Well, yeah, since central banks are the biggest holders of gold, they’re the biggest losers over the last couple years, but they’re also the biggest winners over the last decade or so as the price rose five-fold from under $300 an ounce. But, the implication here is that recent buying of the metal by emerging market central banks was kind of dumb since many of those purchases were made at higher prices.

Well, here’s what was really dumb – Western central bank gold sales over the last decade at much lower prices (chart via the World Gold Council and average prices via Kitco):

Central Bank Gold Purchases

Later, the authors write:

The timing of the rout is surprising because the events that sustained the bull market in the last several years are still unresolved.

Yeah, it kind of makes you wonder.

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MSNBC Most Opinionated

I guess this isn’t too surprising given the evolution of MSNBC in recent years – a recent survey from the Pew Research Center titled State of the Media showed that MSNBC offers up more opinion than any other cable channel.

Like many other Americans no doubt, a little more than a year ago (just as the election was heating up) I stopped watching political cable channels completely (save for a little Comedy Central) and I don’t think I’ll ever go back. For some time prior to that, I’d try to catch some shows on MSNBC and on Fox – just to better understand how opinions were being shaped, but, it just became unbearable after a while.

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