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Old 07-25-2009, 12:07 AM   #76
NorthernSanctuary
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Default Re: 2009: Worst economic collapse ever

Fiscal ruin of the Western world beckons

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/c...d-beckons.html

For a glimpse of what awaits Britain, Europe, and America as budget deficits spiral to war-time levels, look at what is happening to the Irish welfare state.


Events have already forced Premier Brian Cowen to carry out the harshest assault yet seen on the public services of a modern Western state. He has passed two emergency budgets to stop the deficit soaring to 15pc of GDP. They have not been enough. The expert An Bord Snip report said last week that Dublin must cut deeper, or risk a disastrous debt compound trap.

A further 17,000 state jobs must go (equal to 1.25m in the US), though unemployment is already 12pc and heading for 16pc next year.

Education must be cut 8pc. Scores of rural schools must close, and 6,900 teachers must go. "The attacks outlined in this report would represent an education disaster and light a short fuse on a social timebomb", said the Teachers Union of Ireland.

Nobody is spared. Social welfare payments must be cut 5pc, child benefit by 20pc. The Garda (police), already smarting from a 7pc pay cut, may have to buy their own uniforms. Hospital visits could cost £107 a day, etc, etc.

"Something has to give," said Professor Colm McCarthy, the report's author. "We're borrowing €400m (£345m) a week at a penalty interest."

No doubt Ireland has been the victim of a savagely tight monetary policy - given its specific needs. But the deeper truth is that Britain, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, the US, and Japan are in varying states of fiscal ruin, and those tipping into demographic decline (unlike young Ireland) have an underlying cancer that is even more deadly. The West cannot support its gold-plated state structures from an aging workforce and depleted tax base.

As the International Monetary Fund made clear last week, Britain is lucky that markets have not yet imposed a "penalty interest" on British Gilts, given the trajectory of UK national debt – now vaulting towards 100pc of GDP – and the scandalous refusal of this Government to map out any path back to solvency.

"The UK has been getting the benefit of the doubt, both in the Government bond market and also the foreign exchange market. This benefit of the doubt is not going to last forever," said the Fund.

France and Italy have been less abject, but they began with higher borrowing needs. Italy's debt is expected to reach the danger level of 120pc next year, according to leaked Treasury documents. France's debt will near 90pc next year if President Nicolas Sarkozy goes ahead with his "Grand Emprunt", a fiscal blitz masquerading as investment.

There was a case for an emergency boost last winter to cushion the blow as global industry crashed. That moment has passed. While I agree with Nomura's Richard Koo that the US, Britain, and Europe risk a deflationary slump along the lines of Japan's Lost Decade (two decades really), I am ever more wary of his calls for Keynesian spending a l'outrance.

Such policies have crippled Japan. A string of make-work stimulus plans - famously building bridges to nowhere in Hokkaido - has ensured that the day of reckoning will be worse, when it comes. The IMF says Japan's gross public debt will reach 240pc of GDP by 2014 - beyond the point of recovery for a nation with a contracting workforce. Sooner or later, Japan's bond market will blow up.

Error One was to permit a bubble in the 1980s. Error Two was to wait a decade before opting for monetary "shock and awe" through quantitative easing.

The US Federal Reserve has moved faster but already seems to think the job is done. "Quantitative tightening" has begun. Its balance sheet has contracted by almost $200bn (£122bn) from the peak. The M2 money supply has stagnated since January. The Fed is talking of "exit strategies".

Is this a replay of mid-2008 when the Fed lost its nerve, bristling over criticism that it had cut rates too low (then 2pc)? Remember what happened. Fed hawks in Dallas, St Louis, and Atlanta talked of rate rises. That had consequences. Markets tightened in anticipation, and arguably triggered the collapse of Lehman Brothers, AIG, Fannie and Freddie that Autumn.

The Fed's doctrine – New Keynesian Synthesis – has let it down time and again in this long saga, and there is scant evidence that Fed officials recognise the fact. As for the European Central Bank, it has let private loan growth contract this summer.

The imperative for the debt-bloated West is to cut spending systematically for year after year, off-setting the deflationary effect with monetary stimulus. This is the only mix that can save us.

My awful fear is that we will do exactly the opposite, incubating yet another crisis this autumn, to which we will respond with yet further spending. This is the road to ruin.
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Old 07-28-2009, 10:53 AM   #77
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Default Re: 2009: Worst economic collapse ever

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ber...6?pagenumber=2

The Fed
Jul 26, 2009, 10:21 p.m. EST

Bernanke: This may be worse than Great Depression

Fed chief says growth will resume at 1% in the second half of this year

By Greg Robb, MarketWatch

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke discussed the economy with average Americans on Sunday, saying the current financial crisis could be even more virulent than the Great Depression.

"A lot of things happened, a lot came together, [and] created probably the worst financial crisis, certainly since the Great Depression and possibly even including the Great Depression," Bernanke said at the start of a town-hall meeting in Kansas City.

Bernanke defended the Fed's extraordinary moves, which have included slashing interest rates to zero, pumping billions of dollars to keep credit markets open, and buying Treasurys and mortgage debt to keep long-term interest rates low.

"I was not going to be the Federal Reserve chairman who presided over the second Great Depression," he said.

The event is being televised over three nights, beginning Monday, by U.S. public television network PBS. Members of the public, screened by PBS, were able to ask questions.

Many questioners expressed unhappiness with the "too big to fail" doctrine. One asked when Bernanke would get around to firing the leadership of banks that had to accept government assistance.

Another participant said the only thing that was clear to him in the whole crisis was that his small business was "too small to save."

At first, Bernanke tried to argue that the Fed moved to save big banks to protect the global economy, but by the end, Bernanke simply agreed that "too-big-to-fail has got to go."

First-of-its-kind meeting
The dialogue marked the first time that a sitting Fed chairman has sat down to answer questions on the record from the public. For the first 80 years of its existence, Fed officials operated under the rule that the less said, the better.

But recent economic research has indicated that Fed interest-rate policy actually works better if the public understands its basic thrust. This has led the Fed, in fits and starts, to try to open up.

The results at the town hall meeting were choppy at times, although Bernanke seemed to get better as the event went along.

The first questioner admitted she didn't "have a clue" what the Fed did. It is doubtful that Bernanke's laundry list response -- the Fed is monetary policy maker, bank supervisor, crisis manager and consumer protector -- helped her very much.

Asked when "this [recession] is going to end," Bernanke said growth would return in the second half of 2009, likely at a 1% pace. The unemployment rate won't peak until next year, he said.

The Fed has put the "pedal to the metal" to try to get the economy growing at a faster pace.

Maybe because his earlier answers were on the scary side, Bernanke then tried to be a cheerleader, saying that the U.S. economy "couldn't be held down" and would eventually return to a strong growth pace.

Strong-dollar booster
One odd moment came when Bernanke said he was a supporter of the Obama administration's "strong dollar" policy.

Fed officials typically steer clear of commenting on currency issues.

"We think the dollar should be strong, and the best way we think to get a strong dollar is to have a strong economy," Bernanke said.

"Our whole strategy right now is to get the economy out of doldrums and back onto a growth path that will attract foreign funds and keep [the dollar] strong," Bernanke said.

When asked about Bernanke, top Fed officials often use the word "decent" to describe him. This trait seemed to shine through and by the end of the event, at which point Bernanke was evoking gentle laughter from the audience.

Asked about the stock market, Bernanke said he was worried about getting sued for malpractice.

Bernanke has some other "never done before by Fed chairman" events under his belt. Earlier this year, he spoke at the National Press Club and took questions from the audience. And he took an interview for the CBS news program "60 Minutes," which included a walk down Main Street in Dillon, South Carolina, his hometown.

Bernanke did try to connect with the audience. When one member of the audience said he had been laid off and then found work, Bernanke stopped and congratulated him.

Asked what keeps him up at night, Bernanke explained he would probably get a good sleep tonight, saying: "I'm pretty tired."

Greg Robb is a senior reporter for MarketWatch in Washington.
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Old 07-28-2009, 11:36 AM   #78
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Default Re: 2009: Worst economic collapse ever

House prices roze this month for the first time in 18 months
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Old 07-31-2009, 07:59 PM   #79
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Default Re: 2009: Worst economic collapse ever

Sign of the times.
Constituent are mad as hell, town halls gone wild.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/200...5oYWxsc3R1cg--

News – Rep. Tim Bishop, D-NY. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
Alex Isenstadt – Fri Jul 31, 5:30 am ET
Screaming constituents, protesters dragged out by the cops, congressmen fearful for their safety — welcome to the new town-hall-style meeting, the once-staid forum that is rapidly turning into a house of horrors for members of Congress.
On the eve of the August recess, members are reporting meetings that have gone terribly awry, marked by angry, sign-carrying mobs and disruptive behavior. In at least one case, a congressman has stopped holding town hall events because the situation has spiraled so far out of control.
“I had felt they would be pointless,” Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) told POLITICO, referring to his recent decision to temporarily suspend the events in his Long Island district. “There is no point in meeting with my constituents and [to] listen to them and have them listen to you if what is basically an unruly mob prevents you from having an intelligent conversation.”
In Bishop’s case, his decision came on the heels of a June 22 event he held in Setauket, N.Y., in which protesters dominated the meeting by shouting criticisms at the congressman for his positions on energy policy, health care and the bailout of the auto industry.
Within an hour of the disruption, police were called in to escort the 59-year-old Democrat — who has held more than 100 town hall meetings since he was elected in 2002 — to his car safely.
“I have no problem with someone disagreeing with positions I hold,” Bishop said, noting that, for the time being, he was using other platforms to communicate with his constituents. “But I also believe no one is served if you can’t talk through differences.”
Bishop isn’t the only one confronted by boiling anger and rising incivility. At a health care town hall event in Syracuse, N.Y., earlier this month, police were called in to restore order, and at least one heckler was taken away by local police. Close to 100 sign-carrying protesters greeted Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) at a late June community college small-business development forum in Panama City, Fla. Last week, Danville, Va., anti-tax tea party activists claimed they were “refused an opportunity” to ask Rep. Thomas Perriello (D-Va.) a question at a town hall event and instructed by a plainclothes police officer to leave the property after they attempted to hold up protest signs.
The targets in most cases are House Democrats, who over the past few months have tackled controversial legislation including a $787 billion economic stimulus package, a landmark energy proposal and an overhaul of the nation’s health care system.
Democrats, acknowledging the increasing unruliness of the town-hall-style events, say the hot-button issues they are taking on have a lot to do with it.
“I think it’s just the fact that we are dealing with some of the most important public policy issues in a generation,” said Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), who was confronted by a protester angry about his position on health care reform at a town hall event several weeks ago.
“I think in general what is going on is we are tackling issues that have been ignored for a long time, and I think that is disruptive to a lot of people,” said Bishop, a four-term congressman. “We are trying, one by one, to deal with a set of issues that can’t be ignored, and I think that’s unsettling to a lot of people.”
Freshman Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.), whose event at a Syracuse middle school was disrupted, said that he still planned to hold additional town halls but that he was also thinking about other options.
“I think you’ve got to communicate through a variety of different ways. You should do the telephone town hall meetings. You should do the town hall meetings. You should do the smaller group meetings,” said Maffei. “It’s important to do things in a variety of ways, so you don’t have one mode of communication.”
“You’re going to have people of varying views, and in this case, you’ve got the two extremes who were the most vocal,” Maffei said of the flare-up at his July 12 event.
On Tuesday, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who handles incumbent retention duties for House Democrats in addition to chairing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, met with freshman members to discuss their plans for the monthlong August recess. While the specific issue of town hall protesters never came up, according to sources familiar with the meeting, he urged them not to back away from opponents.
“He said, ‘Go on offense. Stay on the offense. It’s really important that your constituents hear directly from you. You shouldn’t let a day go by [that] your constituents don’t hear from you,’” said one House Democratic leadership aide familiar with the meeting.
Some members profess to enjoy the give-and-take of the town halls, even if lately it’s become more take than give.
“Town halls are a favorite part of my job,” said Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.), a third-term congressman from St. Louis who noted that a “handful” of disruptions had taken place at his meetings. “It’s what I do. It’s what I will continue to do.”
“People have gotten fired up and all that, but I think that’s what makes town halls fun,” said Perriello, a freshman who is among the most vulnerable Democrats in 2010. “I think that most of the time when we get out there, it’s a good chance for people to vent and offer their thoughts. It’s been good.”
“I enjoy it, and people have a chance to speak their mind,” he said.
Both Carnahan and Perriello said they were plunging forward with plans to hold more town hall meetings.
Republicans, with an eye toward 2010, are keeping close track of the climate at Democratic events.
“We’ve seen Russ Carnahan, we’ve seen Tim Bishop, we’ve seen some other people face some very different crowds back home,” said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas). “The days of you having a town hall meeting where maybe 15 or 20 of your friends show up — they’re over. You’ve now got real people who are showing up — and that’s going to be a factor.”
Asked later how or whether the GOP would use the confrontations against Democrats, Sessions responded: “Wait till next year.”
But Democrats are quick to point out they’re not the only ones facing hostile audiences. They single out Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.), who found himself in a confrontation earlier this month with a “birther” protester, and insist that Republicans face a backlash of their own if it appears the party is too closely aligned with tea party activists or other conservative-oriented protesters.
“It’s a risk that they align themselves with such a small minority in the party,” said Brian Smoot, who served as political director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the past election cycle. “They risk alienating moderates.”
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Old 08-01-2009, 07:28 AM   #80
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Default Re: 2009: Worst economic collapse ever

Quote:
Originally Posted by Humble Janitor View Post
Yadda Yadda Yadda.

Nothing's going to happen.


Oh really?
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Old 08-12-2009, 03:39 AM   #81
NorthernSanctuary
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Default Re: 2009: Worst economic collapse ever

This is No Recession...It's a Planned Demolition

http://www.silverbearcafe.com/privat...emolition.html

Editor's Note: In my estimation, fully 97% of the American population has already fallen victim, and succumb to the all pervasive, insidious misinformation campaign that has been waged on us for the past 100 years. This means all the energies you and I expend pleading with our family and friends to "wake up and open your eyes" is falling on deaf ears. I have finally realized that rather than wasting my time trying to wake them up, I need to concentrate my energies forging alliances with those of a like mind, a support group if you will. Given that 97% of the population is "in denial" and as a result have been rendered "mindless sheeple", we are left with 3%. That, happily, equates to 9,000,000 Americans who are searching for a support group as well. It is a hell of a lot more gratifying to discuss our plight with those who "get it" than those who not only don't, but to make matters worse, don't want to. If you don't know, that's ignorance. But you can fix ignorance. If your don't care, that's apathy. With a little nurturing that also can be fixed. If you don't want to know, however, that's stupid. And believe me, I have found that it is very hard to deal with stupid. - JSB)

Credit is not flowing. In fact, credit is contracting. That means things aren't getting better; they're getting worse. When credit contracts in a consumer-driven economy, bad things happen. Business investment drops, unemployment soars, earnings plunge, and GDP shrinks. The Fed has spent more than a trillion dollars trying to get consumers to start borrowing again, but without success. The country's credit engines are grinding to a halt.

Bernanke has increased excess reserves in the banking system by $800 billion, but lending is still slow. The banks are hoarding capital in order to deal with the losses from toxic assets, non performing loans, and a $3.5 trillion commercial real estate bubble that's following housing into the toilet. That's why the rate of bank failures is accelerating. 2010 will be even worse; the list is growing. It's a bloodbath.

The standards for conventional loans have gotten tougher while the pool of qualified credit-worthy borrowers has shrunk. That means less credit flowing into the system. The shadow banking system has been hobbled by the freeze in securitization and only provides a trifling portion of the credit needed to grow the economy. Bernanke's initiatives haven't made a bit of difference. Credit continues to shrivel.

The S&P 500 is up 50 percent from its March lows. The financials, retail, materials and industrials are leading the pack. It's a "Green Shoots" Bear market rally fueled by the Fed's Quantitative Easing (QE) which is forcing liquidity into the financial system and lifting equities. The same thing happened during the Great Depression. Stocks surged after 1929. Then the prevailing trend took hold and dragged the Dow down 89 percent from its earlier highs. The S&P's March lows will be tested before the recession is over. Systemwide deleveraging is ongoing. That won't change.

No one is fooled by the fireworks on Wall Street. Consumer confidence continues to plummet. Everyone knows things are bad. Everyone knows the media is lying. Credit is contracting; the economy's life's blood has slowed to a trickle. The economy is headed for a hard landing.

Bernanke has pulled out all the stops. He's lowered interest rates to zero, backstopped the entire financial system with $13 trillion, propped up insolvent financial institutions and monetized $1 trillion in mortgage-backed securities and US sovereign debt. Nothing has worked. Wages are falling, banks are cutting lines of credit, retirement savings have been slashed in half, and home equity losses continue to mount. Living standards can no longer be bandaged together with VISA or Diners Club cards. Household spending has to fit within one's salary. That's why retail, travel, home improvement, luxury items and hotels are all down double-digits. The easy money has dried up.

According to Bloomberg:

"Borrowing by U.S. consumers dropped in June for the fifth straight month as the unemployment rate rose, getting loans remained difficult and households put off major purchases. Consumer credit fell $10.3 billion, or 4.92 percent at an annual rate, to $2.5 trillion, according to a Federal Reserve report released today in Washington. Credit dropped by $5.38 billion in May, more than previously estimated. The series of declines is the longest since 1991.

A jobless rate near the highest in 26 years, stagnant wages and falling home values mean consumer spending... will take time to recover even as the recession eases. Incomes fell the most in four years in June as one-time transfer payments from the Obama administration’s stimulus plan dried up, and unemployment is forecast to exceed 10 percent next year before retreating." (Bloomberg)

What a mess. The Fed has assumed near-dictatorial powers to fight a monster of its own making, and achieved nothing. The real economy is still dead in the water. Bernanke is not getting any traction from his zero-percent interest rates. His monetization program (QE) is just scaring off foreign creditors. On Friday, Marketwatch reported:

"The Federal Reserve will probably allow its $300 billion Treasury-buying program to end over the next six weeks as signs of a housing recovery prompt the central bank to unwind one its most aggressive and unusual interventions into financial markets, big bond dealers say."

Right. Does anyone believe the housing market is recovering? If so, please check out this chart and keep in mind that, in the first 6 months of 2009, there have already been 1.9 million foreclosures. (See chart at link...)

The Fed is abandoning the printing presses (presumably) because China told Geithner to stop printing money or they'd sell their US Treasuries. It's a wake-up call to Bernanke that the power is shifting from Washington to Beijing.

That puts Bernanke in a pickle. If he stops printing; interest rates will skyrocket, stocks will crash and housing prices will tumble. But if he continues QE, China will dump their Treasuries and the greenback will vanish in a poof of smoke. Either way, the malaise in the credit markets will persist and personal consumption will continue to sputter.

The basic problem is that consumers are buried beneath a mountain of debt and have no choice except to curtail their spending and begin to save. Currently, the the ratio of debt to personal disposable income, is 128% just a tad below its all-time high of 133% in 2007. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco's "Economic Letter: US Household Deleveraging and Future Consumption Growth":

"The combination of higher debt and lower saving enabled personal consumption expenditures to grow faster than disposable income, providing a significant boost to U.S. economic growth over the period. In the long-run, however, consumption cannot grow faster than income because there is an upper limit to how much debt households can service, based on their incomes. For many U.S. households, current debt levels appear too high, as evidenced by the sharp rise in delinquencies and foreclosures in recent years. To achieve a sustainable level of debt relative to income, households may need to undergo a prolonged period of deleveraging, whereby debt is reduced and saving is increased.

Going forward, it seems probable that many U.S. households will reduce their debt. If accomplished through increased saving, the deleveraging process could result in a substantial and prolonged slowdown in consumer spending relative to pre-recession growth rates." ("U.S. Household Deleveraging and Future Consumption Growth, by Reuven Glick and Kevin J. Lansing, FRBSF Economic Letter")

A careful reading of the FRBSF's Economic Letter shows why the economy will not bounce back. It is mathematically impossible. We've reached peak credit; consumers have to deleverage and patch their balance sheets. Household wealth has slipped $14 trillion since the crisis began. Home equity has dropped to 41% (a new low) and joblessness is on the rise. By 2011, Duetsche Bank AG predicts that 48 percent of all homeowners with a mortgage will be underwater. As the equity position of homeowners deteriorates, banks will further tighten credit and foreclosures will mushroom.

The executive board of the IMF does not share Wall Street's rosy view of the future, which is why it issued a memo that stated:

"Directors observed that the crisis will have important implications for the role of the United States in the global economy. The U.S. consumer is unlikely to play the role of global "buyer of last resort" - other regions will need to play an increased role in supporting global growth."

The United States will not be the emerge as the center of global demand following the recession. Those days are over. The world is changing and the US role is getting smaller. As US markets become less attractive to foreign exporters, the dollar will lose its position as the world's reserve currency. As goes the dollar, so goes the empire. Want some advice: Learn Mandarin.

Sagging Unemployment: A "no new jobs" recovery

July's employment numbers came in better than expected (negative 247,000) lowering total unemployment from 9.5% to 9.4%. That's good. Things are getting worse at a slower pace. What's striking about the BLS report is that there's no jobs-surge in any sector of the economy. No signs of life. Outsourcing and offshoring are ongoing, and downsizing is the new path to profitability. Businesses everywhere are anticipating weaker demand. The jobs report is a one-off event; a lull in the storm before the layoffs resume.

Unemployment is rising, wages are falling and credit is contracting. In other words, the system is working exactly as designed. All the money is flowing upwards to the gangsters at the top. Here's an excerpt from a recent Don Monkerud article that sums it all up:

"During eight years of the Bush Administration, the 400 richest Americans, who now own more than the bottom 150 million Americans, increased their net worth by $700 billion. In 2005, the top one percent claimed 22 percent of the national income, while the top ten percent took half of the total income, the largest share since 1928.

Over 40 percent of GNP comes from Fortune 500 companies. According to the World Institute for Development Economics Research, the 500 largest conglomerates in the U.S. "control over two-thirds of the business resources, employ two-thirds of the industrial workers, account for 60 percent of the sales, and collect over 70 percent of the profits."

... In 1955, IRS records indicated the 400 richest people in the country were worth an average $12.6 million, adjusted for inflation. In 2006, the 400 richest increased their average to $263 million, representing an epochal shift of wealth upward in the U.S." "Wealth Inequality destroys US Ideals"

Working people are not being crushed by accident, but according to plan. It is the way the system is supposed to work. Bernanke knows that sustained demand requires higher wages and a vital middle class. But what does he care. He's not a public servant. He works for the banks. That's why the Fed's monetary policies reflect the goals of the investor class. Bubblenomics is not the way to a strong/sustainable economy, but it is an effective tool for shifting wealth from one class to another. The Fed's job is to facilitate that objective, which is why the economy is headed for the rocks.

The free market is a sham to conceal the crimes of the rich. Read Taibbi. Read Marx. Karl, not Groucho.

The financial meltdown is the logical outcome of the Fed's monetary policies. That's why it's a mistake to call the current slump a "recession". It's not. It's a planned demolition.
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