Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fed Concerned That Stong Dollar Creating Stability Issue


Are Currencies Unstable?
Recently released minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting confirmed growing concern about the pressure a stronger dollar is putting on other currencies around the world. Bottom-line is other currencies are under assault because both economies are weak and countries are buried in debt they can never repay at real market interest rates. This adds a great deal of validity to an article I recently penned concerning a somewhat unnoticed shift in the currency markets. In an article on Sept. 20th titled "Caution Alert, Currencies May Get Wild" I outlined how for months the major world currencies had traded in a narrow range as if held in limbo by some great force. But, that may be changing and using history as a guide markets show no mercy when this shift occurs.

A Bloomberg article by October 8th delves into how the dollar fell from almost a four-year high after Federal Reserve minutes were released last week. They showed officials are concerned that the global slowdown and a stronger currency also pose risks to the U.S. economic outlook. Afterwards, the greenback weakened  as futures traders lowered bets the Fed will lift interest rates. “It kind of looks like the Fed will take any excuse not to normalize rates in the near term,” Lennon Sweeting, a San Francisco-based dealer at the broker and payment provider USForex Inc., said in a phone interview. “What we’re seeing is consolidation and probably a brief period of stability. Overall, the bull rally on the dollar is still intact.

I contend that the central banks have made an effort to reinforce feelings of economic stability by keeping currencies trading in a "quiet" range. This has allowed people to think the global economy was on sound footing as central banks across the world continued to print and pump out money chasing the "ever elusive growth" that always appears to be just around the corner. Because of weak demand for goods little reason has existed to pump this money into investments in buildings and equipment thus much of it has flowed into intangible investments. This is the reason inflation has not been a major problem and explains the surge of stock prices to all time highs. Yes, this is a bubble manipulated higher by those with money chasing returns and taking on risk in a low interest rate environment. Have no doubt the seeds for inflation in the future have been planted everywhere.

When investors become unwilling to buy the bonds of heavily indebted nations causing the bond bubble to burst the values of currencies in those countries will tumble. John Maynard Keynes said By a continuing process of inflation, government can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. As the central banks print like crazy to control interest rates on bonds they devalue the currency. While there are not many Bond Vigilantes there are a slew of  Currency Vigilantes and they are ready to make their presence known. Recent weakness in the value of the Yen, Pound, and Euro must not go unnoticed. The Currency Vigilantes are acutely aware of when a currency is overvalued or ready to be re-pegged and pounce on the weak currency to tear it apart.

Today we live in an age when billions of dollars can be traded in just the blink of an eye, imagine how fast things could go to hell. Even the batch of recently created money will be used against the Central Banks that created it. The country most vulnerable to a currency collapse is Japan which faces a wall of debt that can only be addressed by printing more money and debasing their currency.  Often because of its size people forget that little Japan is the worlds third largest economy making it a huge economic power with a big shadow. The recent multi-year lows in the yen are very important. When Japan crumbles it will be felt across the world. I believe the cross-border flow of money leaving Japan is one reason many of the worlds stock markets have remained so resilient.

With the death of the Yen the myth that advanced Democratic countries are immune to hyperinflation will be destroyed. Soon after that people will realize that the Euro, Pound, and even the Dollar are not safe from hyperinflation.  Japan will be the first domino to fall, but not the last. This will bring much clarity to the debate of whether the next crisis will be of a deflationary or inflationary nature. The dollar is not immune, but I predict it will be the last to go. More and more often we seen Central Bankers forced to pull rabbits out of their hats knowing if people lose faith in the major currencies the system will come crashing down around our ears.  As we stand on the abyss central bankers will be forced to print so much worthless paper the money it will act as a cushion to our fall but not change the reality currencies are about to be debased.




Footnote; As always your comments are encouraged. World Central Banks have been on this murky path for a long time, please see the following posts. One deals with how this has detached from reality and other looks at how if a meltdown occurs many people will use it as a reason to adopt a new "world currency"

          http://brucewilds.blogspot.com/2012/06/fantasy-world-of-debt-and-more-liqidity.html
          http://brucewilds.blogspot.com/2014/02/contagion-may-lead-to-new-world-currency.html

Footnote #2; My apologies for again returning to the subject of "currencies" so soon but, I found the Federal Reserve minutes a compelling reason to do this article. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

An Ugly Math Primer On American Debt



At one time a billion dollars was a massive amount of money and it still is. Most people that have not thought about it might not think so considering how modern media and politicians throw the "B" word around. On several occasions I have heard a billion dollars accidentally confused with its much smaller sister the million marker. This drives me crazy. When someone misspeaks and says " the clean up effort for super storm Sandy may run as much as 60 million dollars."  With a billion dollars being a thousand times larger this confusion is undefendable. 


 Believe it or not, the little pile next to the man on top is $1 million dollars (100 packets of $10,000). You could stuff that into a grocery bag to walk around with it. Start talking about a $1 BILLION dollars... now we're really getting somewhere...
$1,000,000,000 (one billion dollars)

Internalizing the magnitude of the difference

A million is a large number. To put it in perspective think in terms of someone working every year from the age of 20 until they are 60 making $25,000 a year. Their total income over their life would be one million dollars. The magnitude of difference between billion and million is important. Another way this difference can be illustrated is with the example below that uses time as a scale or measuring stick:
  • A million seconds is 12 days.
  • A billion seconds is 31 years.
  • A trillion seconds is 31,688 years. 
Now back to our topic and "debt math primmer."  Making the ugly math simple so we can understand how it interrelates with our debt is no easy task, but lets have a go at it. In an effort to keep this simple I have chosen to focus on America. A similar formula can be created for almost any country. To make things easy lets us do a bit of rounding off and work with easier to manage numbers. Not lying about the numbers to arrive at a clear picture of reality is important.

We will start by placing the population of the United States at 333 million people, (this number is reasonably close) and includes every man women and child. What makes this important is that it includes infants, children, teenagers, the non working-both self sufficient and those on government assistance, the retired, and the elderly in nursing homes. How marvelously simple and convenient that this number goes into 1 Billion dollars roughly 3 times.

This means that every 1 billion dollars spent by our government represents roughly $3 for every person in America!

Taking the number of people and placing them into other groups is more challenging. Those groups can include; households or families--- for ease we will call the average household  3.4 people. When we look at "workers" we are looking at according to government figures in 2008, 120 million people were employed out of an estimated 330 million citizens. However, unemployment increased after that date. Last but not least how many taxpayers exist in America? This is very complicated,  many taxpayers get back more then they pay in and there are huge difference in amount people pay, also do we consider a joint return as two payers? Bottom line, whatever it means,  nearly half of households not pay taxes. This we must remember!

Back to simplicity: So $100 billion represents or equals $300 per person and $1,020 per family,

Unfortunately, we are not talking about only $100 billion. The American government has been running massive budget deficits for years. Recently we saw several years where the deficits far exceeded one trillion dollars. One trillion dollars is ten times the $100 billion multiplied out above. That would represent a staggering $3,000 per person and $10,200 per family being spent each year, year after year, it adds up very fast! Again we must remember nearly half of households not pay taxes, and if they don't someone else must pay their  share for them.

Sadly, this massive deficit is what is propelling the economy forward, and it is not sustainable. Please note; Massively compounding the problem is the realization that most people such as infants, children, the disabled or unemployed could not pay their share if their life depended on it, this transfers the burden to the remainder of society. The bottom-line is that it is easier to spend or waste money than to pay it back and a billion dollars is a lot of money to repay. When you start talking about debt in multiples of thousands, tens of thousands, and even more the task becomes impossible.



Footnote; If you found this post about how much the American government is overspending interesting or informative please look at my recent post about an article written by Mort Zuckerman in early 2013, it is really shocking, you can find the link below. Also, nothing is as sobering as looking at the National Debt Clock, that link is also below. Other related articles may be found in my blog archive, thanks for reading, your comments are encouraged,

http://brucewilds.blogspot.com/2013/01/zuckerman-says-debt-avalanche.html
http://www.usdebtclock.org/

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Currencies Are IOUs

Glorified And Pretty IOUs
Currencies are IOUs, glorified and pretty pieces of paper printed and handed out by governments. Whether because of modern printing options or in an effort to thwart counterfeiters most of us will admit countries have raised the bar concerning the appearance of their currency. This has almost become a full blown beauty contest and taken our minds off what is really behind these pretty little tokens. A piece of paper with great power, based only on faith, they are mere promises of stored value and wealth, and the value of these promises can change in an instant. According to IMF data the US dollar is the world's most widely held reserve currency and accounts for nearly 33 per cent of global foreign exchange holdings at the end of 2013.

That ratio or share of reserves held in the American currency has been declining since 2000, when 55 per cent of the world's reserves were denominated in US dollars. IMF data also shows emerging market countries' share of reserves in "other currencies" has increased by almost 400 per cent since 2003, while that of developed nations grew 200 per cent.  This shows and confirms that while the US dollar remains supreme an erosion is well underway to reduce its impact on world finance. Below is a run down of the four currencies that comprise the bulk of these IOUs and the source of their influence.

     * The US Dollar the current world reserve currency, but it represents a country with growing
        debt.
     * The Japanese Yen, currently falling, Japan has a massive amount of debt, its strength is a
        carryover from better days.
     * The Euro, a flawed currency backed by a union of mature countries with debt and failing
        banks.
     * The British Pound, its strength is that it was the former world currency, it has no other.

All the above currencies appear to be issued by countries waning in economic power. Never, believe that a country cannot lower the value of its currency, this can be done by a bad investment, a currency swap, printing more money, and several other ways. This leaves little wonder as to why currencies are so open to manipulation. A country often benefits from a weak currency as it helps exports and often imposes a bit of austerity on its people by raising the cost of imports. The games central bankers are playing in supporting their own currency and the currencies of their partners, has reached a dangerous level, and may be undermining confidence in the whole system.  

While currencies are important chips in the commerce of government and the business of running a country a study of history has shown that in the past both leaders and governments have fallen with the demise of their coin. If people lose faith in this system it could just come crashing down around our ears. At a time when billions of dollars can be traded in just the blink of an eye imagine how fast things could go to hell. Unstable currency markets can be a precursor to massive shifts in value and a sudden drop in confidence. It is logical to think that in such a situation insiders would be the big winners.

Over the last several decades barriers between countries have fallen and economic systems have become more intertwined and co-dependent on one another. Sadly, since 2008 many of the really big earners are those who have benefited from the surging stock prices with much of their income coming from financial markets and gains in equities. The financial sector or what could be called the "intangible goods" part of our economy has flourished since a union of mutual need was strengthened after the crisis six years ago.

Those in power have joined with the banks to create the "Financial-Political Complex" that promotes the current financial policy and supports banks that are "too big to fail".  This is culminating in a massive growth in these IOUs and promises never before witnessed in the modern world. It has been pegged by many people in the real world and outside its control as a giant Ponzi scheme just waiting to collapse and I'm forced to agree with that assessment. When looking at the assets of the rich and many well to do people we find that much of the wealth people own is in paper and this is full of risk.

Many countries have accumulated massive debts that can only be paid off or addressed by printing more money and devaluing their currencies. This is unsustainable and little comfort should be garnered from assets or pensions being pegged to future inflation because promises can be broken and rules rewritten for what is called the greater good. The collapse of any of these currencies would most likely start with the weakest, the Yen or Euro temporary forcing wealth into the others. This would open the door for a domino reaction. A word to the wise and a word of caution, a person should not feel secure in this system based totally on confidence that has strayed into uncharted waters.


 Footnote; As always your comments are encouraged. World Central Banks have been on this murky path for a long time, please see the following posts. They deals with subjects like, when the system might start this shift, how Modern Monetary Theory has detached from reality, and how if a meltdown occurs many people will use it as a reason to adopt a new "world currency"

          http://brucewilds.blogspot.com/2014/09/caution-alert-currencies-may-get-wild.html
          http://brucewilds.blogspot.com/2012/06/fantasy-world-of-debt-and-more-liqidity.html
          http://brucewilds.blogspot.com/2014/02/contagion-may-lead-to-new-world-currency.html

 Footnote #2  I plan to be moving away from the topic of currencies for the next several post because I have a backlog of about two hundred partially finished articles in the works. My recent pounding away at the vulnerability of  this stalwart of modern life is because I consider currencies as the "Trojan horse" of government weapons to fleece the average citizen of his wealth.


The Obama Phone Helping The Poor One Call At A Time

Just over a year ago I wrote an article that outlined a government program supplying free phones to people with low incomes or that have been declared needy. These phones have become known as "Obama Phones." Below I give some of the details about the program including who qualifies. If you want to be popular with the voters give them free stuff and let them know that they should not bite the hand that feeds them.

The Obama phone is not a myth as a online search rapidly confirms. This popular government program explains why we see so many people that would appear to not have a dime in their pockets walking along or driving down the street talking on a cell phone. What exactly is the free Obama phone? It is a program that is meant to help the financially unstable who cannot afford access to a cell phone. It seems that communication should not be limited to people in relation to what they can afford. The Lifeline program started decades ago to help low income families have access to land lines has been expanded. Over the years the cost of cell phones and cellular service has decreased and the program has been extended to cover cell phones.

So who qualifies? It seems that if you, or members in your household are, receiving the following benefits you automatically qualify for the Lifeline program. The best way to know if you qualify is by filling out an application for a Lifeline provider in your state. Those interested in the program must have an income of less than 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or about $22,350 per year for a family of four.

  • Food Stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income – commonly known as SSI
  • Health Benefit Coverage under Child Health Insurance Plan (CHIP)
  • The National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Program.
  • Low-Income Energy Assistance Program – LIHEAP
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance ( Section 8 )
  • If you are a low-income Eligible Resident of Tribal Lands
  • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families – TANF

Lifeline is a government sponsored program, but who is paying for it. Some people claim that the government is using taxpayer’s money to run this program, however, the claim is false. Universal Service Fund (USF) which is administers by Federal Communication Commission along the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC), pays for the Lifeline phone assistance program.The Universal Service Fund (USF) was created back in 1997 by Federal Communication Commission in order to achieve the goals set by the Congress under the Telecommunication Act of 1996. According to the Act, service providers are obliged to contribute a portion of their interstate and international telecommunications revenues.  OK, SO IN EFFECT IT LOOKS LIKE THE SAME PEOPLE THAT PAY TAXES, ARE PAYING FOR IT, IN A BACK HANDED UNDER THE TABLE SORT OF WAY.

It is written that if you are one of those people who have lost their jobs due to recession, then probably you’re having hard time with your daily expenses. On top of that, paying telephone bills will add extra pressure on you. However, you can get rid of this extra burden if you apply for the Lifeline Assistance Program run by the government. With the turmoil in the economy, more and more people are being eligible for this program and around eight million people have already signed up with this program up to now. In order to avail this facility you need to contact with the provider of this service. Government has approved many companies at national and regional level to provide this service to the eligible people. Currently, the government is thinking of providing free wireless internet service to the people under this program instead of old-fashioned land phones. It’ll be a great effort if government includes this service in Lifeline program.

Just how much would one of these free government cell phones change your life?
  • An employer can more easily reach you with a job offer if you have a free government cell phone.
  • You can you stay in touch with your doctor and other emergency medical professionals more easily with a free government cell phone.
  • A free government cell phone can help you keep in touch with family and other loved ones.
And the good news is that while a government-assisted cell phone provides you with up to 250 monthly minutes to go with your free cell phone. While that’s a generous contribution from the government, it’s really barely enough airtime to get by on for a month. But good news! You can easily buy more minutes for your phone from each of the major Lifeline cell phone companies. And if you use a promotion code, you can get some very good deals.

Abby Schachter has penned a post titled “Free cell phones are now a civil right.” Suffice it to say, she is none to happy about the free cell phones by the government program. She is particularly incensed that some are now calling a free cell phone a “civil right.” But who ever said it’s a civil right? Unfortunately, it was Gary Carter, manager of national partnerships for Assurance Wireless, whom she quoted in her blog post: “The program is about peace of mind,” Carter said. “It’s one less bill that someone has to pay, so they can pay their rent or for day care. … It is a right to have peace of mind.”

As expected this program has grown very fast and has nearly tripled in cost since 2008. With the only requirement being that recipients be on Medicaid, food stamps or another state or federal welfare program all those free minutes quickly add up. Last year, the government funneled $2.2 billion to the phone cartels to cover the cost of this Lifeline. But the Feds never required proof from cell carriers that their millions of Lifeline users were truly needy. Some 41% of Lifeline cell subscribers failed to show that they were eligible. Only last year did the FCC begin to "force" carriers to verify that Lifeline users needed aid after it found the program was riddled with "fraud and waste".

 With such a large percentage of many Americans having cell phones it is expected that carriers would be having a hard time finding new clients that actually pay their bills. By having the government cover the costs for millions of new customers the real face of corporate welfare is exposed. A lifeline to help poor Americans also helps companies like Sprint and AT&T. It should be added the government loves the program because it garners votes for those in power at the same time that it makes the economy appear better and stronger then it really is.  It is hard to say how much fraud and waste has been reduced within this program, but I suspect it is minimal.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Yellen Could Be Forced to Resign

Yellen Could Be Force To Take The Blame For Bad Policy
I share the disgust and anger many Americans feel hearing confirmed that Federal Reserve regulators were in bed with the enemy or at best asleep at the wheel. While pondering the ruckus being made over revelations and tapes that Fed regulators were too darn cozy with Goldman Sachs I found myself wondering if Janet Yellen might be forced to resign. I concede it may be rather early to start asking this but if a full scale scandal does develop over these revelations she has a problem. Many Americans are full of angst over the growth in inequality during the last several years spurred on by Fed policies.

Of all the elements within government and what Americans consider the establishment it would seem the Federal Reserve is one of the most mistrusted and often misunderstood. The Fed  has few friends and little in the way of a political base. If Americans become riled enough to demand change or that someone resign, the Federal Reserve chairman would be an easy target. The bonus being Yellen would not have a great number of supporters step up in her defense and she could be blamed for many of our economic ills caused as a direct result of policies the Fed controls. The politics of such a blame game will not garner a ground swell of support when a scapegoat is needed.

The Federal Reserve has been complicit and even aided the banks and institutions that caused the great economic collapse in 2008. Even those who have supported what I consider the misdirected policies of QE that has transferred so much wealth to a small few wealthy individuals and the group of banks deemed "too-big-to-fail" would most likely remain mute. Many people might argue this is not her fault because this appears to have gone on for a long time, but even if it has it must be noted that while Ben Bernanke was in charge Janet Yellen was at his side and now the responsibility falls squarely on her shoulders.

Other targets exist but Yellen is an easy one to hit. Our legal system has been ineffective in recent years to hold bankers and financial institutions responsible for the many woes they have put upon the country. I would think Americans would find it much harder to replace all the members of the Senate and House that make up our "do nothing Congress." The same could be said about removing a sitting President elected and supported by roughly half the people, but calling for Yellens resignation would be a cake walk in comparison.

To an angry and unhappy populace getting ten thousand or more protesters to rally in front of the Eccles Building in Washington D.C. where the Federal Reserve is housed should not be difficult. A tent city like the one formed in 2011 by the 99% movement in New York and several other cities is not hard to envision if disenfranchised Americans dig in their heels and camp out demanding the chairman be replaced. Bottom-line if the masses are looking for someone to throw under the bus and send a signal to Washington that they are growing tired of their daily fare she may be our girl.



Footnote; This post dovetails with many of my recent writings, as always other related articles may be found in my blog archive. Thanks for reading, your comments are encouraged. Below is another article giving an early job critique of Yellen that may seem a little harsh or personal, but this is how I call it. Remember Yellen is playing with our money in a unforgiving arena.
http://brucewilds.blogspot.com/2014/05/yellens-job-critique.html

Footnote#2  If you want to get really angry view the following PBS Newshour clip at the link below. The story from Sept. 26th 2014 delves into how Goldman Sachs makes its money and just how the Fed has in many ways aided Goldman in exploiting the American public.
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/ray-rice-video-last-week-today-ear-opening-audio-inside-fed/



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Euro-zone And Draghi Both Mired In Trouble

Nothing resolve-Problems Ahead
ECB President Mario Draghi's last move towards more QE is no more than stupidity on steroids, even words like misdirected and boneheaded do it a disservice. This is more proof that the Euro-zone is in big trouble, both the union and the flawed currency is again begging to crumble. One is forced to wonder if Japan and the Yen will crash first considering how each day Japan slides closer to the economic abyss or whether the Euro will lead the way into the wastebasket.

The European Commission recently said they expect the 18-nation euro-zone would grow by 1.2% this year and 1.8% next year. In both cases, the figure was 0.1 percentage points higher than in earlier predictions. The wider 28-nation EU's prospects have been revised up by the same amount, to 1.5% in 2014 and 2% in 2015. "Recovery is gaining ground," said Olli Rehn, commissioner for economic and monetary affairs. "The worst of the crisis may now be behind us." However, he also warned that the recovery was "still modest".

Those in power seem to forget that nothing has been resolved and they are squandering precious time. This comes as the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS confirmed their economy grew by 0.7% in the quarter, unchanged from its previous estimate. However, its estimate for growth in 2013 as a whole was cut to 1.8% from the initial reading of 1.9%. These numbers are nothing to celebrate considering the great lengths and expense gone to in order to achieve them. Even after billions of pounds in PPI (Payment Protection Insurance) payments, massive stimulus and super low interest rates the area seems mired in slow growth at best.

As troubling as the slow growth is the lack of real reform is more problematic of deeper issues. For example in the text of the communique issued by the Group of 20 finance ministers and central bank governors after the February 2014 meetings in Sydney the European Union assured the Group of 20 nations that a public backstop for euro-area banks will be "available within a decade". So much for decisive action, this comes as even now EU member states remain divided on the issue. It seems to me that we are often prematurely lead to believe or reassured by the media that this has already been done or is coming just around the corner.

Draghi recently said that his “biggest fear” is a protracted stagnation in the euro area that leads to high unemployment becoming structural. Forecast show joblessness gradually being reducing over the next two years from a record high of 12 percent, to 11.8 percent this year and 11.4 percent in 2015. It should be noted the upturn predicted across Europe conceals a splintered recovery, in which smaller, eastern European countries like Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia, which joined the currency union within the past five years, look toward growth of at least 3 percent in 2015 while some of the euro’s larger founding nations like France and Italy continue to struggle.

Tension about the way the EU has dealt with the debt crisis could erupt this month when voters from the 28 nations elect members of the European Parliament for the first time since Greece nearly brought the euro currency bloc to its knees. The required bailout unleashed a wave of German-led austerity demands that continue to rile several of the more indebted nations. A moderate deceleration in growth and world trade coupled with geopolitical risks over Ukraine and tensions with Russian have not been the foundation needed to propel the Euro-zone forward. As of today it is easy to say many issues remain unresolved.


Footnote; Please feel free to explore the blog archives and as always you comments are encouraged. Below are two articles that delves deeper into the politics that have caused the talkaton in the Euro-zone and the debt problems in Italy.
        http://brucewilds.blogspot.com/2014/04/euro-zone-update.html
        http://brucewilds.blogspot.com/2014/09/italy-achilles-heel-of-europe.html

Monday, September 22, 2014

Ebola May Have Reached Critical Mass!

Americans ignored Ebola while thousands of people died in Africa, now that one person gets sick in America it has become an "Oh My God" moment. For weeks Americans have tried to drop this into the dustbin of also ran or nuisance stories that when kept at a distance is of little interest. Unfortunately this may soon change as the virus is picking up "critical mass."  In this instant I'm referring to the point where enough people are infected with the virus that it can sustain a chain reaction and expand out of control. The bad news is Ebola may have already reached critical mass and be impossible to contain.

As I watch the evening news I find myself fast-forwarding when the subject of Ebola comes up because it is always more of the same sad depressing stuff. We are told how more people have died and how more people have become infected. The talking heads then come on and tell us more about how it is getting worse. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa could spread to hundreds of thousands more people by the end of January, according to an estimate under development by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that now puts one worst-case scenario at 550,000 or more infections.

President Obama recently launched an unprecedented plan to fight the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, now afflicting countries mostly in West Africa. The president is dispatching 3,000 American troops on a comprehensive humanitarian mission to help in containing Ebola, these troops will take the lead in coordinating an international response, facilitate logistics and engineering. This will come at a price tag of up to $1.26 billion dollars, including $175 million already allocated. The U.S. troops will also help set up 17 field hospitals with 100 beds each and establish a headquarters in the nation of Liberia to coordinate relief efforts.

The military will rely on its training in bio-warfare to protect its personnel against Ebola and U.S. troops will have no direct contact with patients suffering from Ebola. Part of the mission will be to train as many as 500 health care workers per week in proper care and containment techniques while orchestrating a community messaging campaign about the disease, the White House said. The United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps will also deploy 65 officers to Liberia –- including administrators, clinicians and support staff -- to manage and staff a previously announced Department of Defense hospital to care for any health care workers stricken by this ugly virus..

The following story brings a little reality as to what is happening on the ground in the stricken region. In a remote village in rural Guinea, a 9-year-old boy arrived at a clinic with his sick mother. Both had contracted Ebola -- she died on the way to the clinic -- but he managed to make it to the medical tent where doctors started treating him with antibiotics and fluid. "He was by himself in this treatment center being cared for by people in these 'spacesuits' and it was one of the most difficult things for me to see. Not just the disease … but the despair that was present, just from being alone."  recalled Dr. William Fischer, who worked in Guinea for three weeks. 

A clinical instructor in pulmonary and critical medicine at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Medical Center, Fischer saw firsthand the daily struggle faced by doctors, health workers and patients as the worst Ebola outbreak ever seen ravages three countries in Africa. "You're [treating patients] through two layers of latex gloves. A lot of the things you normally do to convey empathy is impossible to do under all these things," said Fischer, describing the protective "spacesuit" designed to keep health workers from being infected. 

Fischer said they managed to get the boy's pressure up by giving him fluids. He was even able to give him a pack of cookies. "I got a little bit of a smile out of him but he was in a tough spot," Fischer told ABC News. "Then we had to leave ... the amount of time we could stay in the isolation ward [was limited]. We left with this sliver of hope, or sliver of chance [for the boy]." The boy died that night."It portrayed how isolating Ebola can be," Fischer said. "He died without his family. You sit there and you tell yourself. ... The chances of us getting him through this is pretty low, but, man, it's miserable."

Below some reactions posted on the internet show how Americans are reacting;

* When they say "don't panic," its time to panic. I watched the movie Contagion again the other night. Scarier now than it was the first time I watched it. I don't think there's a magic vaccine coming to save us from Ebola.
* Why would you want to send 3,000 American military personnel who are not trained to deal with Ebola (people's sons and daughters) into a place where they could catch this deadly disease
*  This is a global concern. It's only a plane ride away from the rest of us. Like SARS and MERS. Remember the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918-19 killed more people than died in all of WWI.
*We should use Ebola to fight ISIS by dropping the bodies of the dead on their fighters and watch it spread throughout their ranks. I will be the first to admit while flaws exist my idea is cleaver if only by half.

As I wrote at the beginning of this article I was surprised not to find a lot more breaking and developing news about Ebola, that is because the story is neither sexy or fast breaking. It just pounds away in an unsettling and disturbing way slowly building on itself. Americans can neither run or hide from this reality in our ever shrinking world. The bottom-line is we cannot wish Ebola away or ignore it and hope for the best. There could be  "profound and devastating implications" for the U.S. and the world even if there is no immediate threat of an outbreak on American soil.

If this virus continues to spread the economic cost as well as the humanitarian toll will be massive. It has the potential to end most travel and reduce human interaction everywhere. A worldwide Ebola pandemic would change everything. If Americans and people throughout the developed world think a bad strain of the flu is a reason to panic they had better get concerned. Anything we can do to halt or slow the spread of the Ebola virus is crucial and will allow us more time to develop vaccines or weapons to deal with Ebola down the road. We can only hope the virus does not morph or a mutant strain develop that spreads much easier or is even more dangerous and deadly.


 Footnote; This post dovetails with many of my recent writings. Other related articles may be found in my blog archive, thanks for reading, your comments are encouraged. Below is an article written a while back making the case that the Federal government is often powerless and far less effective in a crisis than most people have been lead to believe.
http://brucewilds.blogspot.com/2014/07/government-pandering-in-disasters-great.html