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I was one of Enron's victims when that company manipulated the energy prices in California and looted the residents.
A recent report on 60 Minutes described how big banks, speculators, and hedge funds caused oil prices to skyrocket in 2008 despite falling demand and rising supply. I got screwed in that deal just like the rest of you.

And of course there was the Dotcom stock bubble that cost lots of people a bundle, thanks to the many unscrupulous financial "experts" and lying CEOs who made it possible.

Some would argue that the war on terror is really about channeling taxpayer money to the military industrial complex. I don't think that's the whole story, but the war in Iraq probably wouldn't have happened unless someone was sure to make a profit.

Then there was the bogus move to ethanol that made food prices skyrocket. Thank you lobbyists!

Now the housing bubble and the mortgage backed derivatives are picking my pocket along with yours.

And don't get me started about Bernie Madoff, although I think I dodged that specific bullet. It's hard to tell.

This got me wondering who will screw us next. You know someone is manipulating the market whenever you see a bubble, a relatively sudden shortage, a scare, or any investment that is too complicated to understand. Armed with that knowledge, where is the next bubble, scam, scare, or artificial shortage?

The obvious next candidate for a financial disaster involves all the government money intended to stimulate the economy. It's the biggest game in town for 2009, so every crook in a suit is figuring out how to get a piece of that action. I'm sure the upcoming administration means well, but the criminals have improved their methods since the New Deal. Watch out for any sort of confusing organization or fund that gets created to manage and distribute the stimulus money. We could save time by arresting those guys in advance.

I expect another financial disaster to be in the "green" field. Look for more inexplicable shortages, bubbles, and of course confusing investment opportunities in that area, possibly in conjunction with the stimulus funding. Many companies in that industry already had a good run up in stock prices, but I think that's just the beginning. If you don't see Warren Buffet investing in that area, there might be a good reason.

Health care costs are going through the roof in the U.S. One assumes that increase is a simple function of an aging population, rising costs, malpractice insurance, patented treatment options, etc. I'd watch that area for the next big scam or bubble. It seems ripe because everyone already expects those prices to keep rising quickly.

You have been warned.
 
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Jan 18, 2009
Mr. Adams,
Have you thought of writing a serious book or pamphlet, in a funny way of course, on financial planning. I know you have the 129 words of financial planning, but most people need more explanation. I think it would be a big help because too many look for the magic formula when there isn't one. You could take each of the nine steps and illustrate each one with a Dilbert cartoon and provide a one page explanation why this approach is necessary and preferred.
Best wishes,
Rick
 
 
Jan 15, 2009
Avi, I think you hit the nail on the head in more ways then one.
 
 
Jan 15, 2009
You yourself. As usual either it's from greed or fear or something like it. we ARE !$%*!$%* ourselves. How to get out of this type of mess ? Let God (yes the one with a clean spirit which you know and feel inside of you) guide you.
 
 
Jan 15, 2009
I've been reading the book "Sustainable Energy - Without the hot air" http://www.withouthotair.com/ which has properly worked out numbers on most "green" technology, and comparisons with normal. It's a bit UK centric, but a lot of useful numerical facts are buried in it's pages.

If you're interested in green technology or global warming, it's compusory reading, and if you don't want to buy the book, you can just download it as a PDF.
 
 
Jan 15, 2009
Scott, I think you've hit the nail on the head so hard and so accurately that it's come out the other side of the board. I particularly like the idea of saving time by incarcerating the guys in advance...Someone told me the other day--and I'll grant right away that I have no idea about the source of his information---that 97% of the funding for Obama's election came directly or indirectly from corporate sources. I suspect that the proportion for McCain was similar, the point being that corporate thieves contribute big dollars to BOTH sides. Why? Because that's where the money is, as Willy Sutton said about banks. They all want a piece of what's in that big government cookie jar...Isn't this fun? Cheers!
 
 
Jan 14, 2009
Hi Scott,
do we have here a new Dilbert Principle?
when you says "[...] but the war in Iraq probably wouldn't have happened unless someone was sure to make a profit." can we undertsand that :

"nothing happens unless someone is sure to make a profit"

This is finnaly the word of the gut: all livings should spend less calories to hunt or feed than they will get with the prey or the grass.
 
 
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Jan 14, 2009
NEXT BUBBLE: The cost of college education has to burst, along with the push to make every teenager an "above average" student and shove him into college. I shuddered when some of my friends came out of college 20 yeras ago with $10,000 in student loans. Now they are coming out with $100,000 in debt. And the mechanically inclined who should be going to trade school first head off to college to accumulate debt (to feed the bubble) before they renege on their debt and pursue a trade wat which they can excel.

NEXT SCAM / SCARE: As documented here in other posts, the Global Warming / Carbon Credit scam in which Al Gore is both the scaremonger and the scamster. He should try growing a handlebar mustache instead of a beard for he is one heck of a snake oil salesman.

NEXT ARTIFICIAL SHORTAGE: There will be periods when there is not enough fresh water to sustain the water consuming habits of dry areas like Central Texas. When supplies become (temporarily) so low that we are restricted to water for consumption and limited bathing only, it will be scary how people react. Of course, this will probably lead to a de-salination bubble along coastal areas.
 
 
Jan 14, 2009
Oh, I SO have to comment on this one!

In my opinion, it will be (and already is) healthcare and health insurance. Here's why:

-Most providers can no longer work for themselves due to low insurance reimbursements. They have to work for a group or corporation.
-Corporations see your illness as a "product" from which they can bilk the insurance companies for.
-The insurance companies in return reduce payments to providers and increase premiums.
-Corporations find more ways to bill insurance for your condition (even if that means tacking on a few 'extra' diagnoses to get more procedures from, etc)
-Everyone pays more out of pocket (if you can even GET insurance) while the corporations and insurance companies make a profit.
-Physicians and therapists, who are now middlemen, can't pay back their student loans.

I work in healthcare and I see this debacle everyday. I'm actually afraid to go to the doctor because I don't know if the diagnosis I get is real and the treatment is really necessary or if I'm being told something unnecessary so my insurance can be billed.

There's more to it then my short post can provide, but I truly think this is going to be the next big mess to blow up in our faces.
 
 
Jan 14, 2009
One group that is being taken to the cleaners is the doomsday survivalists. gold has skyrocketed and survivalism is distracting people from being as productive.

they aren't necessarily getting a lot of money, since survivalists tend to not have lots of $, but they are fleecing some folks.

the truly rich don't worry about survival on this level, they worry about buying an island and having resources to maintain a small staff after bailouts and handouts combine to bring capitalism down.

the higher functions of openmindedness and racial tolerance are a luxury for the wealthy. this is going to end badly, you can be sure obama's skin color will be in play.
---
should USA recover instead of descend into anarchy, new businesses that will have power will be those who milk govt for $, such as child care. Security will expand too. Having a person you can trust to protect your trophy wife without seducing/violating her will become a commodity. When poverty comes, all sense of morality flees.
 
 
Jan 14, 2009
Life insurance.

The Chinese market for life insurance is ripe for a bubble. Here's how they work.

1) Guy purchases a life policy from X co.
2) Guy maintains that policy for a few years.
3) Y co under bids X co.
4) Guy purchases new life policy from Y co
5) Guy pays cancelation fees to X co
6) Guy maintains that life policy for a few years
7) Z co under bids Y co.
8) Guy purchases new life policy from Z co
9) Guy pays cancelation fees to Y co

This results in current profits for life insurance writers from the policy cancelation and cancelation fees. The problem is you also have companies under funding their pools with insufficient premiums. They will argue that they have reinsurance on their policies to cover catastrophic risk. However, the bonds tied to the housing bubble also had insurance; there might not be enough cash in the system to cover those losses.

They operate this way because someone always under bids them. However, like the housing bubble, once X, Y and Z Co stop under bidding each other and those policies are maintained or cashed out, you could see some real problems.
 
 
Jan 14, 2009
Life insurance.

The Chinese market for life insurance is ripe for a bubble. Here's how they work.

1) Guy purchases a life policy from X co.
2) Guy maintains that policy for a few years.
3) Y co under bids X co.
4) Guy purchases new life policy from Y co
5) Guy pays cancelation fees to X co
6) Guy maintains that life policy for a few years
7) Z co under bids Y co.
8) Guy purchases new life policy from Z co
9) Guy pays cancelation fees to Y co

This results in current profits for life insurance writers from the policy cancelation and cancelation fees. The problem is you also have companies under funding their pools with insufficient premiums. They will argue that they have reinsurance on their policies to cover catastrophic risk. However, the bonds tied to the housing bubble also had insurance; there might not be enough cash in the system to cover those losses.

They operate this way because someone always under bids them. However, like the housing bubble, once X, Y and Z Co stop under bidding each other and those policies are maintained or cashed out, you could see some real problems.
 
 
Jan 14, 2009
Life insurance.

The Chinese market for life insurance is ripe for a bubble. Here's how they work.

1) Guy purchases a life policy from X co.
2) Guy maintains that policy for a few years.
3) Y co under bids X co.
4) Guy purchases new life policy from Y co
5) Guy pays cancelation fees to X co
6) Guy maintains that life policy for a few years
7) Z co under bids Y co.
8) Guy purchases new life policy from Z co
9) Guy pays cancelation fees to Y co

This results in current profits for life insurance writers from the policy cancelation and cancelation fees. The problem is you also have companies under funding their pools with insufficient premiums. They will argue that they have reinsurance on their policies to cover catastrophic risk. However, the bonds tied to the housing bubble also had insurance; there might not be enough cash in the system to cover those losses.

They operate this way because someone always under bids them. However, like the housing bubble, once X, Y and Z Co stop under bidding each other and those policies are maintained or cashed out, you could see some real problems.
 
 
Jan 14, 2009
Based on your criteria, it has to be in education. It costs 50 times what it did back in the early 80s. What exactly caused that increase?
 
 
Jan 14, 2009
The 60 Minutes story on oil prices was terrible. It was another obvious ignorant media scare tactic. Funny, how it was terrible "speculators" that drove the price of a barrel of oil to $147.00. Have we already forgot how much oil China , India and other emerging were using for their fast growing economies? Yet, only a few months after hitting that high, the price of oil went as low as $33.00 per barrel. How did that happen? Oh, the same type of speculator drove the price down? No. The world economy slowed and the need for so much oil declined. Well? Understand that the futures markets are absolutely necessary. Investors, speculators call them what you want take all the risk. Those that produce the commodity get to lock in their price many months in advance so that can run their businesses. No futures market would be a monster disaster. The great thing about the futures market is that anyone with some money (and it doesn't take lots of dough, either) can get in the market. It isn't just some big, awful entity. I was an"nasty" speculator in that oil market, myself. I saw what was happening and bought a few oil contracts and made some money. Now, if I would have lost money I wouldn't have asked for a taxpayer funded bailout. I wouldn't be crying the blues that "someone" screwed me. I read the other comments and I see "crooks in suits". There are a lot of babies on this blog that always want to blame someone else and say they are "victims". Grow up. Get educated. Learn from your mistakes and quit blaming others for "your" problems.
 
 
Jan 14, 2009
I think cartoonist will be the next big scammers. We'll see Scott recycle more old Dilbert cartoons, trying to pass them off as new.
 
 
Jan 14, 2009
Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if those that are getting the bailout money will be the next to screw us. On the radio yesterday, it was being discussed that the U.S. automakers, who will be saddled with extra regulations to build smaller, more efficient cars as a condition of receiving the bailout money, will in turn lobby Congress to raise gas taxes to "encourage" more people to buy the cars they're forced to build that people don't want. This, of course, has the end result of !$%*!$%* everyone. Now you're stuck with the bailout bill and increased gas taxes.
 
 
Jan 14, 2009
Youve broken the code!!! We should have all known there was a mortgage problem when we were getting three emails a day from mortgage scammers....

Big anything is a problem...
Big Govt
Bid Education
Big Unions
Big Business
Big Healthcare

A VERY EARLY warning comes when the "govt" says...well we learned from this and that wont happen again....

 
 
Jan 14, 2009
As a mother of teenagers, I am just beginning to research college possibilities, and I am astonished in the increase in the costs related to higher education compared with 20 years ago. Seems to be be scam-worthy to me.
 
 
Jan 14, 2009
Green is the new red. Our communist friends got blown out of the water in Russia; China is moving toward a capitalist direction (they now have more Internet users than we do, by the way, even though only 20% of their population is online). While Sarkozy, Merkel and Blair are calling for a "new capitalism," we're moving down the road to their former (and now rejected) style of socialism.

And it's led by the so-called green movement. Senator Clinton, during her confirmation hearing yesterday, stated that the most important thing for the Secretary of State to address is climate change. Not Al Qaeda. Not Iran. Not Hamas and Hezbollah. Global warming. Read: "Hang on to your wallets."

The combined governments of the US now spend one out of every four dollars produced in the economy, yet they produce nothing that can be bought, and they provide no self-sustaining jobs. The idea we're expected to believe is that 500 lawyers in government can better direct the economy of the US than the 300,000,000 people who have to live in it every day.

Economies rise and fall - that's just what they do. It's economic Darwinism. The federal government is now trying to fix what doesn't need fixing by borrowing trillions of dollars to artificially prop up businesses that are inefficient and should be allowed to fail. Obama says we're going to have to accept trillion-dollar yearly deficits for years to come. And YOU'RE worried about the next Enron? You've got to be kidding me.

Our corporate taxes are the second-highest in the industrialized world. Add in the effects of the state taxes on business, and we're number one. Did you ever see the movie "Phar Lap?" It was about a horse who was so powerful that it won every race, so to "level the playing field" they started putting weights in the horse's saddlebags. This is the government's answer to everything - weigh down the successful so they become mediocre, all in the name of fairness. And when that saps strength from the economy, raise taxes and borrow some more money.

You need to consider, Scott, where the real power is. Where the real money is being squandered. At least business provides some goods and services, even if you think they're all looking to screw the consumer. Government produces nothing; they just take money. Mad at the oil companies? Government takes three times as much money as the oil companies' profits, and they don't produce any gasoline.

You have been warned. Now go start writing about something that really matters.
 
 
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Jan 14, 2009
Most Carbon Offset company are scam. Obama administration will introduce carbon quota to reduce pollution. I'm expecting people to start emitting carbon at unprotected offshore locations. So, more outsourcing. We will start trading carbon quota at an inflated price, and no one will understand what the hell is going on.
 
 
 
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