The Purchasing Power of Pizza |
""With oil at $60 a barrel, that works out to about 10 pizzas. It makes no difference to sellers what kind of money you use to pay for the oil, as long as they can exchange it for 10 pizzas."
By Volkmar Guido Hable - I am really, really getting scared here. I don't know what scares me most: the Federal Reserve increasing Total Fed Credit (which is the legendary "money from thin air" that banks use to make credit, which gets borrowed, which turns it into money, which increases the money supply, which makes prices go up) by another $5.9 billion, or that the national debt has suddenly, inexplicably, declined by a lot. Weird! In fact, the national debt has literally collapsed $58 billion in less than two weeks! Unprecedented! I have decided that I don't care which one scares me the most, as either of them is enough to give me the Screaming Mogambo Willies (SMW), and now all I care about is getting my fat, frantic fanny out to the Mogambo Bunker Of Safety (MBOS) in hopes of saving myself. And yes, it is too bad about the wife and kids, but they can't say I never warned them about dawdling. Locked safely inside, I have time to ponder that the Fed increasing Total Fed Credit is easily explainable: the Federal Reserve wants to create more money, which drives down interest rates. That's all those buttheads ever do. But, it is the drop in the national debt, on the other hand, that has turned my eyes into mere slits of suspicion and panic. My brain swirls as I ponder the Mogambo Question Of The Day (MQOTD): "If debt is going down while spending is going up, then where in the hell is all of the money coming from?" This is too, too, too, too weird for me! This is about as weird as this week's installment of One Interesting Mogambo Statistic (OIMS), which is that savings and other deposits at the banks are on track to register what looks to be their biggest (by far) one-month gain in history: up $125 billion in the last three weeks! Wowee! One huge whopping percent of total United States Gross Domestic Product has appeared, like magic, as savings and "other deposits" in the banks! In one month! Like I said, weird! - I got a real laugh out of the headline from the Associated Press that read: "The Battle Over the Blame for Gas Prices." Hahaha! The article figures that it is either greedy oil sellers or gluttonous buyers - or, as others say, Congress. And while all these people are all guilty to one huge degree or another, everybody entirely misses the point, which is that while Americans might enjoy getting dollars in exchange for goods and services, the people of the oil-exporting countries do not want dollars, euros, yuan, or any other money. They want their own money, doofus. But what all these groups of people have is common is that they all want to be paid in their own units of purchasing power. With oil at $75 a barrel, that works out to about 10 pizzas. It makes no difference to sellers what kind of money you use to pay for the oil, as long as they can exchange it for 10 pizzas. Preferably, they would like to be paid in units of purchasing power that gain in purchasing power, so that tomorrow they can buy eleven pizzas for a barrel of oil. And if not gain, then at least not lose purchasing power, and tomorrow only be able to buy six pizzas! Unfortunately, the dollar is not a currency that is going to gain in purchasing power. It is, on the other hand, one of those currencies that will be losing purchasing power. So, everybody, including foreign oil exporters, has to charge a higher price for oil just to make up the losses in purchasing power they will suffer until they can actually get around to spending the damned dollars on pizzas! And, it is going to get worse, much worse, as you can readily conclude from Chuck Butler at his famous Daily Pfennig site, who reports that at the latest G-7 meeting (representatives of the seven or so biggest economies in the world), they announced that they all decided "it was 'critical' for the Asian currencies to let their currencies rise versus the dollar. I would not be surprised if China started spending its dollar reserves on all the crude oil supplies they can purchase - at any price. What will be more valuable to their economy next year, 75 U.S. dollars or a barrel of oil?" In short, will seven pizzas be more valuable than six pizzas, next year? As we now see, class, there are other reasons for rising gasoline prices, and one important one was found on WorldNewsTrust.org. It read that the ministers of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said, "Soaring commodity and raw material prices are increasing the cost of oil and gas projects by up to three times. Qatari Oil Minister Abdullah al Attiyah said: 'Our costs have tripled from two years ago, due to high (commodity) prices. And it's not just that, it is also contractors who have tripled their prices.'" I laugh! Doubled costs and tripled prices? Hahahaha! They themselves must laugh uproariously when they hear that our government always says that there is no inflation! Hahahaha! So, the next time you are watching in horror as that gasoline pump is sucking the money out of your wallet ("sluuuurrrrp!") and you wonder why gasoline costs so much, don't be like me and get mad, go running up to the clerk, calling him a cheating, thieving little over-charging bastard from hell. Experience has shown that it won't help. And anyway, it usually turns out that the kid had nothing to do with the price of gas, but instead the price of gasoline is up because the purchasing power of the dollar fell! And, the dollar fell in purchasing power thanks to the horrid Federal Reserve, which has been creating excess money and credit with their every waking moment since the dreadful moment when that hideous creature of fraud and corruption was created in 1913, which was (as Mogambo musicologists know) the inspiration behind the classic Mogambo reggae tune: "The Fed'ral Reserve Be Killin' Me Money, Mon!" This song contains the immortal line: "Based on lies, and founded on the sly, based on lies and founded on the sly in 1913, mon, me money goin' down, mon, me money goin' down!" - I confidently predict that the gross domestic product report, due to be released Wednesday, is going to show a nice big increase in GDP, and everyone will rejoice and celebrate by buying stocks, houses, bonds or something. To this I say "Hahaha!" The way it works is this: suppose GDP of Mogambo Land last year was 100 widgets produced, and sold at a buck apiece. Total Mogambo Land GDP=$100. Now this year, the economy consisted of 90 widgets produced, yet sold at $1.20 each. Nominal GDP would show an increase to $108, which sounds good to those who do not have Mogambo-Sharpened Economic Senses (MSES), and those who do laugh as one, "Hahaha!" Normally (back when the government was not filled with loathsome liars and cheats because the newspapers didn't let them get away with it), total revenues ($108) would be properly discounted by the inflation in prices (20%), which is the loss of purchasing power of the dollar, and thus the real, inflation-adjusted change in prices (20%) exactly matched inflation. So, real GDP = 90, which is 90 widgets produced and sold for one dollar's worth of buying power each. So, GDP is actually down by 10% (only 90 widgets produced)! If you can get away with lying about inflation, and fraudulently say that inflation was zero, then you can "prove" that GDP did, indeed, increase by eight percent, when in actuality it declined by 10%! Hahaha! And, they can legally say that inflation is zero because of the fraud and fiction of hedonic statistical smoothing: if beef doubles in price, but chicken doesn't, the government figures that you will buy less beef (zero) and more chicken (100%), thus spending the same amount of money. Therefore, you suffered no inflation! Hahaha! Welcome to the shabby underside of the banking system, which created its own rules to create the recent invention of hedonic statistics, of which this is only one - one! - of many despicable lies concocted by the horrid Michael Boskin, a smug big-shot university-professor consultant who, I guess, agreed to take the rap for creating the monster when the people finally revolted, and the despicable Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve (1987-2006) who actually did it to us - and we never even got kissed. - If you want to know why the future of gold promises much, much, much higher prices than is even justified by the low (and falling) worth of the ridiculous dollar, here is a little something to chew on. Sent to me by my buddy Phil, it is a very interesting article from the Globe and Mail, entitled "It's a Gold Rush." It is written by somebody named Tavia Grant, whom I assume is a female of the species. In it, Tavia reports that gold and silver are suddenly very popular in Canada, especially Alberta. Why Alberta? I have no idea, although I once knew a girl named Alberta. She had these really huge boobies and was real popular, too, but I don't know if there is a connection. But, if I can distract you from thinking about Alberta for a minute, I will direct your attention to the part where she says, "While Albertans may be the biggest buyers of gold and silver these days, interest is growing across the country." Further, she found that dealers in gold and silver say, "silver demand is particularly strong," which oddly corresponds with the recent rise in price, as you would expect, because for prices to go up, there have to be more buyers than sellers. And here they, as she reports, are! And it is not just Canada, either! Kenneth Y. in Tokyo writes that he sometimes visits bullion/coin dealers in the area called Ginza, which he translates as meaning "Silver-Mint." Anyway, he reports that one of the biggest bullion shops, called Ginza Tanaka, "stopped selling silver (until further notice). They said they were out of stock! So, no silver in silver-town from the silver shop, since opening in 1892!" I shake my head in disbelief! The store is out of silver for the first time in 114 years? Yow! And if you want to speak of gold (and who doesn't?), the Telegraph.co.uk reports that gold fever is spreading, and "even pension funds are buying." Wow! Talk about huge potential demand! The article goes on to report, "GMFS, the precious metals consultancy, has suggested that gold could surpass $850 a Troy ounce this year." This year? Instantly, I try to check the calendar, but I don't seem to have one handy, so I yell out, "Hey, somebody! What is the date of today?" In unison, they yell back, "It's the day you ought to die, you horrible man, and set us all free to finally be happy!" I ignore them, as that is almost the same stupid answer they always give, although usually in response to my asking, "Hey! What time is it?" But I don't need a calendar to see that gold rising from $630 to $850 in two-thirds of a year is a big, big juicy gain. Especially when added to the 20% gain we've already had in gold since January 1, 2006! - We continually seek out responsible, authoritative sources of news and opinion, one after another, until we finally get to the bottom of the news barrel. Among the dregs, we find The Mogambo Daily Economic Rag, the nation's only authoritative news source for the Gold-Bug, Second-Amendment Gun-Nut, Paranoid And Scared Majority Of Real Americans. In this week's scary issue, we learn that the real reason gold and commodities will zoom, zoom, zoom is that we have got to have a bubble in something, and pretty damned soon, too, if we are to survive as an economy! You are correctly thinking, "That Mogambo is a big idiot! Who 'needs' a bubble? They always end badly!" As correct as you are, I shake my head and figure that you are stoned out of your freaking brain, because you are obviously living in some happy dream world where Congress and the Federal Reserve are honest, decent people who would not even dream of creating bubbles in something and unleashing all that future suffering and misery. But trust me, my Delightful Mogambo Darlings (DMD), when I say that creating a bubble in something is all they are dreaming about right now! And, it is what they are working to arrange this very minute! I laugh with the hysterical dementia of the damned and say, "Welcome to the hell of a fiat-money economy!" So who "needs" a bubble? Well, for one, all the folks now six years closer to retirement than they were six years ago after all their retirement dreams went down in flames when the stock markets took a big dive. Their desperation swept them, and others, into trying to make up for lost time by getting deep into debt to get into this real estate thing, but - horror of horrors - now IT is starting to collapse, too, taking away people's retirement dreams, again! Damn! Now all of those people are even further behind the eight ball! And since stocks are already still hovering near their highs in terms of overvaluation with an SP500 P/E of almost 20 and paying squat for dividends, there is not a whole lot of reason to expect a new bubble in stocks. Also, since bonds are selling at prices far higher than they should be, too - causing bond yields to fall to (unbelievably) less than the rate of inflation (and a lot les than that, net of inflation and taxes!) - a new bubble in bonds is also pretty unlikely. Houses? Well, obviously you just got here from Mars, or you are not paying attention. I just got through saying that the housing bubble is what is busting now! And so, to look for long-term higher-and-higher housing prices, in a sudden resumption of the massive housing bubble, seems to require a big stretch of credulity. "And worse yet," I cry out, my voice piteously breaking from sorrow and anger, the cinematic tension crackling like static electricity in the air, "all the umpteen trillions of dollars in new debt that was used to finance all of that real estate bubble, the stock market bubble, and the bond bubble is still outstanding and payable! Now it is all reduced in value, thanks to the fall in the dollar and the attendant rise in interest rates, which is all now losing money for the lenders! Gaaaah! Even more horrifying, most of that huge towering mountain of debt was securitized and sold to some sucker. "Who?" you ask? It's us! A lot of pension funds and investment funds and shares of Fannie Mae! Double gaaaaah!" So, what are these sad-sack, desperate people going to do? What can they do to desperately try and finally rescue themselves, and all the other new people looking at their own retirements, at the same time as they are seeing all of this? Ergo, we have to have another bubble in something to keep us from collapsing under the debt!
The question that springs ("boooiinnnnng!") immediately to mind is, "If the bubble is not commodities (like gold), then what? What else is so historically undervalued that it has lots and lots of room on the upside for a big ol' booming bubble, and is also so big that it can absorb all of that money escaping from stocks, bonds, and houses?"
But, as usual, being the last one to know, I see that the inflation in commodities has already started! Looking at the Economist magazine and their "Commodity Price Index," the year-over-year gain in the category of "All-Items" is up 24.7%, while "Food" is up 6%, "All Industrials" is up 46.4%, "Non-Food Agriculturals" is up 14.9% and "Metals" is up a staggering 62.4%! In one year! If that ain't price inflation, then what in the hell is it? Higher prices are already affecting spending, as I infer from Adrian VanEck, at the Money Forecast Letter, who reports, "American personal consumption expenditures on durable goods peaked early last August and at last report were down at an annual rate of $100 Billion."
-The wild, recent sell-off in silver was probably caused by the announcement that margins were being raised on silver contracts for future delivery, effectively raising the cost of the silver future. Nobody wants to pay more money for something they already own, especially in response to a nasty phone call from the broker who demanded that I get my Nasty Mogambo Butt (NMB) down there pronto and deposit a lot more cash to meet the new margin requirement. He sounded real snotty when he pointedly reminded me that he said "cash," which meant that I had better not try to pass another of my Rubber Mogambo Checks (RMC), like I don't know what the word "cash" means or something. So, in response, everybody said, "Sell, you nasty, greedy bastard!" and the price of silver, of course, tumbled since demand tumbled. But, everybody forgets that the price of silver has about doubled in the last year, but the margin requirement did not rise to meet the new, higher price of silver. And so, those old low margins were very low as a percentage of price, and were way overdue to be raised to normal levels. The old margin requirements were becoming, in essence, a free gift to the investor. The lesson is not that the markets are full of crooked bastards, but that absolutely nothing has changed concerning the current Mogambo Certified Rating (MCR) of Uber-Bullish about silver, except for the justified increased cost to the people who want to borrow money to make bets on the coming meteoric rise in silver, using the futures market to leverage, leverage, leverage. This makes the price of silver go up, which validates my point: buy silver bullion, and lots of it. - Several readers have challenged me to explain how the gold lease rates can manipulate the price of gold up and down. I smile, as nothing could be easier, my precious Mogambo grasshoppers! And, there is nothing I like better than something that is "easy," unless it is something that is tasty. And so, pizza delivery gets very, very high marks for being both easy and tasty. So, I smile beatifically and rub my fat little tummy in satisfaction, which is, even as we speak, growling for more pizza or fewer donuts. Nevertheless, I say, "Hear me now, my quizzical ones! First, tell me all the ways - all the sleazy, slimy, slippery ways that you can manipulate markets when you control everything and have the Federal Reserve, a supplier of seemingly endless amounts of gold at very cheap rates, as a willing co-conspirator. There must be a zillion ways right there! Hahaha!" My laughter ringing hollowly in their ears, I ruthlessly went on, "And on top of that, tell me more ways to make a profit by insiders manipulating the gold market if they are also free to use any combination of leased gold bullion, market-provided gold bullion, custodial gold, certificate gold, gold mining shares, mutual fund's gold shares, warrants, futures, options, private contracts, promissory notes, poker chips and side bets! Hahaha! That ought to be good for a few gazillion ways to profit right there!
And then, tell me all the more ways you can profit from manipulating the gold market if you can also take a short position in any or all of those things, too! Hahaha! And then, as if that is not enough, tell me all the additional ways to make a profit manipulating a market when the money to finance all of this insanity is provided by Japan and their zero-interest-rate policy!" I dramatically pause to let my words sink in - ruined by an inadvertent big, burping belch ("Burrrrrp!). Hurriedly, I exclaim a little too loudly, "Tell me these things, my Young Mogambo Larvae (YML), and I will tell you exactly how it is done!" I look over the crowd assembled at my feet and glare purposefully at the ones nearest my feet who are harshing my buzz by loudly complaining about the smell. Then, I smile and say, "All you really need to know, my Greedy Little Ones (GLOs), to make a whole gigantic humongous ton of money with gold, is to buy it when you see that the price is held down by these manipulations! Huge multiples of the total existing global supply of gold is now mere paper, traded as if it were gold, which it ain't, and probably never was. By now, the only thing that flimsy promissory note has in connection to gold is some words on paper or a computer disk somewhere. It will end badly for them. And, it won't be long in coming." Amid cries of "Prove it, mighty Mogambo!" and "Show us the proof, idiot Mogambo!" and "Stop trying to peek up my skirt, creepy pervert Mogambo," I calmly and graciously hold up my hand to silence the crowd. Standing up, and thus eliciting a crowd-wide sigh of relief that my zipper is, thankfully, up for a change, I grab the microphone and speak in my most Profound Mogambo Voice (PMV): "To prove it, my Precious Mogambo Grasshoppers (PMG), you would have to prove that all the millions of Wall Street hotshots, Nynex hotshots, Comex hotshots, bullion-bank hotshots, foreign-central-bank hotshots, trader hotshots - and all their secretaries and underlings and friends and insiders - are all just Too Damned Stupid (TDS) to come up with some damned way to make money out of a sure thing!" Then, I chortle, "And, it can work until the scam gets overwhelmed by sheer physical demand by millions of people, perhaps billions of people, who are all coming to their economic senses and are scrambling to buy silver and gold against the coming economic hard times, driving prices relentlessly up and up and up, as gold will be, just like it always has been, Pure Economic Salvation (PES) for people, as protection from the unstoppable depreciation in the purchasing power of the money caused by a huge government, which is massively deficit-spending a massively inflating stock of fiat currency based on debt, multiplied by an insanely low fractional-reserve ratio in the banks! Just like it has in all of history, and just like now! Hahaha! Now you know why I laugh!" Then, dismissively, I point to the door and exclaim, "Go thee now! Go! Hie thee to thy places of gold and silver exchange, and buy, buy, buy!" Soon, the place is deserted, and everybody has gone home, mostly muttering how they feel stupid even listening to an idiot like me. They whisper hateful things back and forth, like, "Did you get a whiff of those feet? Pee-yew!" Everybody laughs. Whether or not you believe a raving lunatic like The Mogambo (and you would be an idiot if you did), the gold lease rates had again fallen (over the last 10 days) to a singularity (a strange situation where leasing gold short-term costs the same as leasing long-term!) in the last two days. Sure enough, right on schedule, the price of gold soon had a huge downdraft! You want more proof than flimsy, sheer coincidence? I shake my head in wonder, as you are not nearly as paranoid as you need to be, nor nearly as paranoid and angry as you are soon going to be. - If you check your Mogambo Handy Handbook (MHH), you will notice that I advocate that you take physical possession of gold and silver bullion. One reason is that once you have it paid for and in hand, your annual costs go to zero, whereas brokerage accounts and mutual funds are always hitting you with fees and commissions, expenses, taxes and levies until one day you cry out: "They're stealing me blind!" If you want another reason for taking possession of actual gold, then you might be interested to learn how a mutual fund could lose value even as gold and shares rise. If so, then check this out from a prospectus sent to me by a mutual fund I own: Under the section of risks in owning shares of the mutual fund, the last one is "Securities Lending Risk. Any loss in the market price of securities loaned by the fund that occurs during the term of the loan will be borne by the fund and would adversely affect the fund's performance." And who are these guys borrowing my stocks and are causing me to suffer a loss in my mutual fund? The answer is: Guys who went short gold! Hahaha! In other words, guys who aren't very smart! I mean, and pardon me for laughing, but who is stupid enough to be short gold in a roaring bull market in gold?
Switching on the Mogambo Risk Analyzer (MRA), I quickly discover that, unfortunately, the chances of getting the money back, thanks to the mutual fund loaning it to dimwit dirtbags, are, officially, Pretty Damned Slim (PDS). And this coincides exactly with how people who loaned money to a dimwit dirtbag named The Mogambo, never got it back, either. So, you see how this all fits a little too neatly together to suit me! If those are not enough reasons to own bullion gold, from some of the gold mining stocks I own, I, as a shareholder, am getting always asked to vote for all kinds of weird proposals buried deep in the prospectus, like allowing them to issue a lot of free options so that the company can give them to "select" people. This lets them, at some time in the future, opt to buy shares of the company, but at today's price! Hahaha! Oddly enough, I think that this shameless scam signifies that they think gold is going to rise in price, if they are greedy enough to try and it off now! How bullish! Of course, there are the gigantic salaries of the officers and boards and whatnot, and the constant share dilution from them giving themselves baskets of shares. I am sure they are all just a bunch of thieving, lying scumbags like you find in every publicly owned company. - George Ure, of UrbanSurvival.com, took a look at the latest CPI release, and notes that the annualizing the latest monthly rise in prices equals 7.4% inflation! I will wait a minute until you have gobbled a few nitroglycerine pills and checked your pulse, before I hit you with the news that inflation is actually higher than that!
First off, he begins with a little joke to, you know, sort of break the tension. He notes that in figuring inflation, "The Labor Department uses the Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate" and then (pausing slightly for dramatic effect), he hits you with the punch line: "You don't have one of those in your checkbook."
Hahahaha! I'm rolling on the floor laughing! And then, I am immediately sorry for rolling on the floor because it seems that I have rolled into something wet. I am ashamed of myself for laughing because there is nothing funny about inflation. If you think otherwise, then tell me how funny it is the next time you buy gasoline at these record-high prices to fill up your gas guzzler so that you can take your stupid daughter to her stupid soccer game, where she sits on the stupid bench the whole stupid game, whining and complaining about how much she hates me. I mean you. She hates you. And, since we are talking about it, there is nothing funny about getting your pants wet, either, because now it looks like I have peed in my pants. Everyone is pointing and laughing, "Hahaha! The stupid Mogambo peed in his pants…again!" All the women are making faces and saying horrible things like, "Ewww! Now he disgusts me more than ever!" Although, I note for the record that they were slyly suggesting all kinds of forbidden things (wink, wink!) back when they were interviewing for the damned jobs! This is not about my dampness problems with trousers, or teasing-then-traitorous female employees, but about inflation. I motion with my hand for Mr. Ure to please go on with the news about inflation. Thankfully, he goes on to say, "The headline number means 7.4% inflation, but buried in the report, the Labor Department says the benchmark has changed. Check the emphasis-added part: 'CPI (Old Weights) For the first six months of 2006, BLS also will calculate Old Weights CPI-U and Old Weights CPI-W based on the 2001-02 expenditure pattern used in the CPI from 2004 through 2005. These Old Weight data are contained in tables 1(OW)-4(OW). From February to March, the Old Weight CPI-U rose 0.7 percent and the Old Weight CPI-W rose 0.6 percent. Note these series are not seasonally adjusted.'" Mr. Ure smiles, waves his hand dismissively, and says, "So there you have it: Inflation at an annualized old weight is 8.7%." Pandemonium filled the room at this horrific inflation news! Well, the truth is that the only thing filling the room was the sound of me howling like an angry, frightened banshee at the looming horror of 8.7% annual inflation, and the sound of everyone else yelling, "Oh, hell! It's that damned Mogambo idiot! Who's responsible for letting that creep in here?" The noise was so deafening, that I never even got a chance to point out that the footnote admitted: "these series are not seasonally adjusted." - Greg Z. went to the British Museum to see a special exhibit on the History of Money. The best part, and you are going to love this, was Mr. Whitten, who is descried as "a small, elderly gentleman who has been hired by the Museum to man a table at the end of the exhibit hall." He was displaying, among other monetary oddities, "silver coins from Pericles' Athens and Victorian England (clipped by the way). He is very proud of all the precious metal coins and boasts of how beautiful (and valuable) they still are today." Mr. Z then goes on to relate, "He also has base metal coins from today's modern world. During his presentation, he picked one up, stared at it ruefully and said, 'Today this is made from base metals. The metal itself isn't even worth the value of the coin.' He then sighed and said in that great British accent, 'Rubbish really.'" Ahhh, the fabled British reserve and understatement! Mr. Z says, "Couldn't have said it better myself." Me either, Greg! Me either! Hahaha! - The Economic Indicators came out, and the leading indicator was down - bad news. Paul Kasriel of Northern Trust writes, "The year-over-year growth in the LEI has done an excellent job of foreshadowing the onset of recessions. That is, a steady downtrend in the year-over-year growth in the LEI has been a warning of an imminent recession. Not surprisingly, the LEI is not only a good predictor of the cyclical behavior of economic growth, but also a good predictor of the directional behavior of the fed funds rate." The coincident indicator (indicating current economic activity) was up slightly, as you would expect, and the lagging indicator (indicating future inflation) was also up - more bad news. This Indicator stuff is apparently not impressive to Volkmar Hable, of Samarium Technology Group, who writes simply, "Historically, the combination of sharply rising bond yields, gold prices and oil prices has led to a stock market decline, and in 62% of the cases to a stock market crash." Ugh.
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