All posts by Moderator

From Fake News To Fake Shoes – How Payless Pranked So-Called ‘Influencers’

Payless tricked a group of fashionistas into buying their low-cost shoes for Madison Avenue prices.

The company opened a fake store at a former Armani location in Santa Monica, California under the bogus label “Palessi,” and invited discriminating high-end shoppers to a fake launch party. VIP shoppers paid as much as $645 for shoes which normally sell between $19.00 and $39.99 at Payless, according to NBC San Diego

Payless posted a video of what happened on Facebook, with some unwitting influencers commenting on the “high-quality material” of the “elegant, sophisticated” bargain shoes. –NBC San Diego

Customers bought $3,000 in merchandise over a few hours before Payless admitted to the prank, gave people their money back, and let them keep the shoes. “Shut up! Are you serious?” exclaimed one shopper. 

The retailer “wanted to push the social experiment genre to new extremes, while simultaneously using it to make a cultural statement,” said Doug Cameron, DCX Growth Accelerator’s chief creative officer.

“Payless customers share a pragmatist point of view, and we thought it would be provocative to use this ideology to challenge today’s image-conscious fashion influencer culture.” –AdWeek

Payless CMO Sarah Couch said that the campaign was designed to illustrate that their brand can keep up with the big boys (and girls) at a time when retailers are feeling more competitive heat than ever.

“The campaign plays off of the enormous discrepancy and aims to remind consumers we are still a relevant place to shop for affordable fashion,” said Couch.

No word on whether the heels on those Payless shoes will suddenly fall off in the middle of a 10-block urban hike through Manhattan vs. the $600 option, but for their prices, one can afford a few backup pairs. 

Is Abegeddon Nigh? The Zombification Of Japan’s Economy

Authored by Andrew Moran via LibertyNation.com,

Abenomics: Fool Me Once

Japan’s economy is a lifeless corpse. In the 1990s, Tokyo propped up zombie banks: institutions that are solvent in name only. In the aftermath of the Great Recession, Japan ensured these companies remained open. Today, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is presiding over a zombie economy, and he thinks he has a solution to inject new life into the rotting carcass: another round of Abenomics!

After a string of natural disasters this past summer, the world’s third-largest economy contracted 0.3% in the third quarter. Overall, consumer spending declined 0.1%, exports fell 1.8%, capital spending slipped 0.2%, and prices for basic foods surged. A recent survey of economists suggest a rebound in the fourth quarter, but the federal government is not taking any chances, especially with a looming trade dispute with the U.S. on the horizon.

Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told attendees at a recent Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy (CEFP) that the prime minister is demanding a stimulus program that would include aggressive infrastructure spending:

“The prime minister asked me to take firm measures to ensure that our economic recovery continues. He also said the public works spending program expected at the end of this year should be compiled with this point in mind.”

Fool me once, shame on you – but don’t expect it to work a second time.

Abenomics: A Failed Policy

Since coming into power in 2012, Abe has intervened into the national economy on multiple occasions. As part of efforts to spur growth, Abe has embraced Keynesian economics – a blend of government spending, tax hikes, and money printing – to achieve his objectives. The results have been disappointing.

Here is a list of policies Abe and his administration have implemented in the last six years:

  • Increased sales taxes – another hike is expected next year.

  • Mandated higher salaries and wages.

  • Directed the Bank of Japan to purchase $1 trillion in bonds.

  • Raised the national debt to 240% of gross domestic product.

  • Introduced several social programs, including national childcare.

Some of these announcements jump-started the stock market, mainly because Japan Inc. went on a buying spree fueled by the BOJ’s credit expansion. The buzz quickly faded, though, prompting Tokyo to implement additional stimulus to relive the same high.

Fast forward to 2018: Japan’s economy is on life support. The BOJ has confirmed it will maintain an ultra-loose and accommodative monetary policy – low interest rates and more bond-buying. Unlike previous initiatives, a stampede of bears has rushed through the country. Analysts and economists are not optimistic that Japan can dig its way out.

Unemployment may be low, but all the elements critical to growth are not invigorating investor spirits. You only need to examine the Cabinet Office’s Coincident Index, a measurement of jobs, industrial output, and retail sales. It plunged 2.1 points in September to 114.60, an 18-month low.

Why It Never Works

Anytime the economy stumbles, leaders are quick to respond, whether it’s through the guise of a public-works project or a financial injection like a rebate check. It is rare to find leaders willing to weather the economic storm, as former President Warren G. Harding did following the First World War. They fear if they do not act, then the opposition will pounce, and the electorate will question, “Why isn’t he doing something?”

But it is a confidence trick.

Politicians and government-paid economists will mock the naysayers, telling them that their shovel-ready projects really did bump up the GDP or provide a short-term burst to the economy. This is what happened with former President Barack Obama’s disastrous Cars for Clunkers program: It was successful at first, but the longer it lingered on, the more its idiocy was exposed.

First, the GDP is a terrible statistic to gauge economic growth because it never measures the true value of goods and services that improve our standard of living.

Second, public spending already accounts for a large portion of GDP.

Third, the long-term health of the country’s economy is in doubt because officials only look to the next election cycle.

Typically, there are three ways to fund these extravagant pursuits for prosperity: tax, borrow, and print. In recent years, governments everywhere have adopted all three policies, and now trillions of dollars, euros, and yuan have entered the global economy. Debt is pervasive, deficits are the new norm, and tepid growth is inducing headaches at central banks worldwide.

Every state-led expenditure must be paid for somehow, which is why spending is a levy. This is money taken out of the private sector; the people cannot save, businesses invest less in capital, and the remaining capital is consumed. This is terrible news for the economy.

But it is necessary to dig the ditch because it provides jobs and stimulates the economy, says the statist economist. This is the seen benefit – voters see men with asphalt and shovels and getting paychecks. What about the unseen? Since this endeavor was funded by the theft of $1 billion from taxpayers, that’s $1 billion less for the private sector to hire workers, buy stuff, or invest in a new business. The unbuilt property, the unmade phone, or the unsold food – these things cannot happen because there was a diversion and misallocation of resources by bureaucrats.

The grafters cannot win elections if voters do not see the cutting-ribbon ceremonies!

Legendary economist Walter Williams said it best:

“The fact that Congress has no resources of its very own forces us to recognize that the only way Congress can give one American one dollar is to first — through intimidation, threats and coercion — confiscate that dollar from some other American through the tax code.”

Or, in this case, the National Diet doesn’t have a single yen of its own.

Is Abegeddon Nigh?

With a potential trade spat with President Donald Trump on the horizon, it is anticipated that the economy will tumble even further. Perhaps this is why Tokyo is so adamant in ratifying a trade agreement with Europe and finalizing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). No matter what happens, Abenomics will fail Japan once again and metastasize the land of sushi and Betamax into a zombie nation. Get ready: Abegeddon is nigh.

Alaska Rocked By More Than 200 Aftershocks Since Friday’s Massive Quake

As if the chaos that followed Friday’s magnitude 7 earthquake didn’t create enough mayhem for the residents of Anchorage, Alaska, USGS reported on Saturday that in the wake of what many Alaskans described as the worst earthquake of their lifetime parts of the state have already been rocked by more than 200 aftershocks.

Two

And the quakes are expected to continue for “some time,” according to Seismologist Randy Baldwin. As of noon ET on Saturday, the official tracker on the Alaska Earthquake Center’s website stood at 224.

Alaska

Residents were still shaken from Friday’s back-to-back magnitude 7 and magnitude 5.7 quakes, which destroyed roads and sent goods flying off of store shelves as people ran into the street for cover.

Alaska

Shortly after returning, the second quake hit, and Alaskans went through the whole ritual again. Fortunately, there have been no reports of deaths or serious injuries (since the state is located above an area where two tectonic plates converge, Alaskans are accustomed to earthquakes – they experience more than the other 49 states combined).

Alaska

Still, Alaskans insisted that this one was different, according to several people who shared their stories with CNN.

“It was absolutely terrifying,” Palmer resident Kristin Dossett said. “It shook like I have never felt anything shake before,” she said.

“It was very loud when it came,” Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz said. “It was very clear that this was something bigger than what we normally experience. We live in earthquake country…but this was a big one.”

[…]

Philip Peterson was in a multistory building in downtown Anchorage as the structure swayed and coffee mugs fell from tables and tiles from the ceiling.

“I just jumped under my desk and had to ride it out,” Peterson said.

The magnitude 7 quake could be felt up to 400 miles outside of Anchorage. One seismologist described it as the worst earthquake to hit the state since 1964. Meanwhile, operations have resumed at a trans-Alaska pipeline that was briefly closed after the quake.

“I think it’s safe to say that, not measured in magnitude or location but in terms of how strong the ground itself shook during the earthquake,” he said during a question-and-answer session at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

The Anchorage police department reported “major infrastructure damage”, and helicopters and drones were still working on a damage assessment as of midday Saturday.