The Squeeze Is On

Has anyone besides me wondered what happened to the documented accusations about Ray Dalio and his Bridgewater fund management operation? The allegations were out there and it was big news for about a day. I would appear to have been quickly covered-up and the media has been given a ‘leave it alone’ warning.
It’s been my view since circa 2003 that ‘they’ would hold up the system with printed money and credit creation until every last crumb of middle class wealth was swept off the table and into the pockets of those in position to do the sweeping: Corporate America, the very wealthy (‘wealthy’ = enough disposable cash to buy a few politicians and Federal judges) and the political elite – the latter of which are compensated pawns for the first two cohorts. You can call yourself a ‘one-percent’er.’ But is you don’t have the kind of cash lying around that it takes to bribe high level politicians (i.e millions), you are middle class. Who are ‘they?’ Here’s a great description:

Look at Obama – perfect example. Obama delivered nothing on his original campaign promises. He was going to ‘reform’ Wall Street. But the concept of Too Big To Fail was legislated under Obama and Wall Street indictments/prosecutions fell precipitously from the previous Administration. Obama was supposed to clean up DC. What happened there?

This post was published at Investment Research Dynamics on October 23, 2017.

PODESTA’S ‘GREEN COMPANY’ FORCED TO CLOSE BECAUSE HILLARY LOST THE ELECTION

Joule Unlimited, a secretive green energy company that appears to have placed a big bet hiring Democratic insider John Podesta to its board, appears to have been doomed when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election.
When the 2016 presidential election ended, senior company executives admitted the prospects for their renewable energy ‘biofuels’ company evaporated. ‘We had a lot of prospects last year,’ former Joule CEO Brian Baynes told BioFuels Digest in a rare interview in July. ‘But those new investor prospects walked away, particularly post-election.’
Dmitry Akhanov, the president and CEO of Rusnano USA Inc., a Kremlin-owned venture capital firm nicknamed ‘Putin’s child,’ oversaw the Russian government’s investment in Joule and sat on its board along with two other Russians with ties to the Kremlin. Akhavov agreed that Clinton’s loss doomed the company.
‘We lined up investors who were willing to buy the bonds, but after the elections, with some statements from the new administration regarding potential uncertainty, the future support of biofuels was stopped,’ he told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an interview. ‘The company was not able to do the deal and it was one of the reasons why the company was closed.’
Akhanov confirmed to TheDCNF his company invested and lost 1 billion rubles, worth $35 million when Joule closed its doors.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on OCTOBER 23, 2017.

Testing Washington’s Commitment to Asia

China’s 19th National Congress of the Communist Party is garnering a lot of attention right now, and rightly so. In a speech during the opening ceremony of the conference, President Xi Jinping heralded the beginning of a new era in China, but he was also surprisingly honest about the inadequacy of his first term. Although the congress will continue into this week – there are still important things to be decided, chief among them whether Xi will anoint a successor, as is tradition in China, or whether he will continue to rule as dictator in perpetuity – most of the major events have already taken place.
Much of Asia had been in something of a holding pattern in the lead-up to the congress. But now, that holding pattern is over, and we can look ahead to some key events in the region that will reverberate throughout the world in the weeks to come.
In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s coalition decisively won another term in elections over the weekend. It is a remarkable political comeback for Abe, who gambled that he could overcome some of the scandals dogging his regime and win another mandate, allowing him to continue his economic reforms and to push the country toward the controversial step of revising its pacifist constitution.

This post was published at Mauldin Economics on OCTOBER 23, 2017.

Trump to Release Secret Files on JFK?

I have often been called the Forest Gump of finance. I have tended to meet so many people surrounding so many events it is often funny. I actually met President John F. Kennedy and shook his hand as a kid in Willingboro, New Jersey on Oct. 16, 1960. (I did not want to become president like Bill Clinton). Then years later, I bought a house on the beach in Loveladies, New Jersey. To the north of my beach house in Loveladies, is where Richard M. Nixon vacationed as well as Billy Joel. Nixon had rented in Loveladies a 5,000 square foot home designed by Malcolm Wells and built in 1970. Due to its large base tapered upward to a triangular roofline, it was known simply as the Pyramid House. It was torn down in 2009 to make room for the next generation of modern homes. To the south of me, was the house owned by none other than Senator Arlen Specter (1930 – 2012).

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Oct 23, 2017.

The Big Short 2.0: The NAR Whiffed Badly This Month

Based on the National Association of Realtor’s ‘Seasonally Adjusted’ Annualized Rate (SAAR) metric, home sales were said to have ticked up 0.7% in September from August. On a SAAR basis they declined 1.5% from September 2016. In his customary effort to glaze the pig’s lips with lipstick, NAR chief ‘economist’ and salesman, Larry Yun, asserted that sales would have been stronger but for the hurricanes that hit Florida and Texas.
This guy should do some better vetting of the data before he tries to spin a story. The Houston Association of Realtors was out a week earlier stating that Houston home sales were up 14% in September from August and up 4.2% from September 2016. Yun’s fairytale is a stunning contrast to what is being reported from Houston. But it illustrates the fact that the data on housing the NAR reports is highly suspect.
As I’ve been detailing for years, the NAR’s existing home sales report is highly manipulated and flawed. It works well for the industry and the media in rising markets, but the real estate market has rolled over and is preparing to head south. Likely rather quickly. As it turns out, the September existing home sales report released Friday reinforces my view that the market is starting to topple over. I go over the details in the next issue of the Short Seller’s Journal, with a couple examples which foreshadow a collapse in the over $1,000,000 price segment of the market. This in turn will affect the entire market. I always suspected that the ‘Big Short 2.0’ would start at the high-end. An example outside of Colorado can found here: Greenwich Sales Plunge.

This post was published at Investment Research Dynamics on October 21, 2017.

Are You Infuriated Yet?

More and more, I’m encountering people who are simply infuriated with how our “leaders” are running (or to put it more accurately, ruining) things right now. And I share that fury.
It’s perfectly normal human response to be infuriated when an outside agent hurts you, especially if the pain seems unnecessary, illogical or random.
Imagine if your neighbor enjoyed setting off loud explosives at all hours of the day and night. Or if he had a habit of tailgating and brake-checking you every time he saw your car on the road. You’d been well within your rights to be infuriated.
Or to use a much more common example from the real world : When your politicians repeatedly pass laws that hurt you in favor of large corporations — that, too, is infuriating. Especially if those actions run directly counter to their campaign promises.
There’s a lot of be infuriated about in the world today, so go ahead and embrace your rage. By doing so, you’ll be in a better mindset to understand things like Brexit, Catalonia, and Trump, each of which is a reflection of the fury of your fellow citizens, who are finally waking up to the fact that they’ve been victims for too long.
An easy prediction to make is that this simmering anger of the populace is going to start boiling over more violently in the coming years. Welcome to the Age of Fury.

This post was published at PeakProsperity on Friday, October 20, 2017.

Tales From a Late Stage Bull Market

Pro-Growth Occurrences An endearing quality of a late stage bull market is that it expands the universe of what’s possible. Somehow, rising stock prices make the impossible, possible. They also push the limits of the normal into the paranormal.
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Last week, for instance, there was a Bigfoot sighting near Avocado Lake in Fresno County, California. But it wasn’t just one Bigfoot. According to a local farmer, there was a family of five or six Bigfoot running across his ranch in the middle of the night. Paranormal expert Jeffery Gonzalez offered the following Bigfoot sighting anecdote:
‘One of them, which was extremely tall, had a pig over its shoulder. And the five scattered and the one with the pig was running so fast it didn’t see an irrigation pipe and it tripped, with the pig flying over.’
What to make of it? Bigfoot sightings, no doubt, are pro-growth. They’re bullish for stock prices. So, too, are warnings from North Korea that nuclear war ‘may break out at any moment.’

This post was published at Acting-Man on October 21, 2017.

Officially A No-growth World

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Alhambra Investments. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
I really don’t think people quite understand just how much trouble China is in right now. That’s no mystery because in the Western media the Chinese economy is almost always described as somewhere between awesome and magnificent (only slight hyperbole). Their government, on the other hand, is not fooled.
General Secretary Xi Jinping opened the Communist Party’s 19th Congress with an amazing speech. It wasn’t amazing in the respect of soaring rhetoric announcing some actual, concrete commitment to freedom and free markets; it was instead the opening bell for, I think, a very different world outlook.
I write for my column tomorrow that it was in some cursory way reminiscent of the Trump candidacy.
On the surface, it almost seemed as if Xi Jinping was channeling Donald Trump. Opening China’s 19th Party Congress this week, the Communist General Secretary of that Congress talked a lot about ‘rejuvenation.’ The word recalled the 2016 US Presidential campaign and the Republican’s promise to ‘make America great again.’

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner by Jeffrey P. Snider ‘ October 19, 2017.

Russia Goes All In On Arctic Oil Development

Authored by Tsvetana Paraskova via OilPrice.com,
Neither sanctions nor persistently low oil prices are hindering Russia’s ambitions or plans to develop oil resources in its sections of the Arctic.
In April, state-controlled oil giant Rosneft started drilling the northernmost well on the Russian Arctic shelf in the Khatangsky license area in the Laptev Sea. In June, Rosneft struck first oil in the Eastern Arctic in this license.
Earlier this month, the oil firm said that recoverable reserves at the field exceed 80 million tons of oil, which is equal to around 586.4 million barrels. Geological data point to reserves at the field at 298 million tons of oil, or some 2.184 billion barrels, and the oil is high quality – light and low-sulfur, according to Rosneft.
The Russian oil giant – whose CEO Igor Sechin is a close ally of Vladimir Putin – continues to drill at the field to study its geology, search for more oil, and define future drilling strategies at the license, Rosneft says.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 20, 2017.

Merrill Lynch, Protection Rackets and the ‘P.R. Firm from Hell’

Last week Jim Rutenberg penned a column for the New York Times titled Facing Down the Network that Produced Harvey Weinstein. Rutenberg explored the reasons that Weinstein’s decades of sexually harassing women and charges of assaults had not made it to the front pages of newspapers sooner. Correctly calling it ‘something akin to a protection racket,’ Rutenberg defined it as a ‘network of aggressive public relations flacks and lawyers who guard the secrets of those who employ them and keep their misdeeds out of public view.’
That sentence brought to mind a 2009 Rachel Maddow program on MSNBC where she enumerated the ignominious historical milestones of the monster public relations firm, Burson-Marsteller, capping the history by calling it the ‘p.r. firm from hell.’ Among her litany of its p.r. projects, Maddow cited: ‘…when Blackwater killed those 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, they called Burson-Marsteller. When there was a nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island, Bobcock & Wilcox, who built that plant, called Burson-Marsteller… The government of Nigeria, accused of genocide in Biafra, Burson- Marsteller. Philip Morris, Burson-Marsteller. Silicone breast implants, Burson-Marsteller. The government of Columbia trying to make all those dead union organizers not getting in the way of the new trade deal, they called Burson-Marsteller.’
One of Burson-Marsteller’s oldest clients is, of course, Merrill Lynch, a company that has been repeatedly charged with tolerating sexual harassment of women over the same four decades that Burson-Marsteller has been shining up its image as bullish on America and vested in the human spirit.

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on October 20, 2017.

Vladimir Putin: “Don’t Back North Korea Into A Corner”

Nobody puts little Rocket Man in a corner.
As we’ve noted time and time again, tensions between the US and North Korea have only intensified since Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed last month that the two countries were on the verge of a nuclear conflict, a warning that the North’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN echoed on Monday, but has so far done little to dent the rally in global stock markets.
But with Russia at least ostensibly reining in support for Kim Jong Un’s increasingly isolated regime, Putin inadvertently channeled the late, great Patrick Swayze during a speech at the annual Valdai Discussion Club meeting on Thursday when he warned that foreign powers should avoid “backing North Korea into a corner.” Doing so would risk provoking a desperate, violent response, he said.
Putin added that the North is a ‘sovereign state’ and reiterated his call that the standoff between the US and its regional allies and the Kim regime could only be resolved with dialogue – a solution that Russia and China – the North’s primary benefactor – have been pushing for months, NBC reported.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 19, 2017.

The Last Time Stocks Were This Calm, England Won The World Cup

1966 was a big year… Miranda Rights came into being in America, Vietnam War protests raged, the US department of Transportation was created, the mini skirt was invented, Batman and Star Trek debuts, NASA launches Lunar Orbiter 1 – the first U. S. spacecraft to orbit the Moon, race riots raged in Atlanta, Ronald Reagan entered politics becoming Governor of California, and (for some) most importantly, England defeated Germany to win the ‘Football’ World Cup.
However, there is one more thing – 1966 was the last time that the stock market ‘calmness’ was as low as it is today…

To put that into context…

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 19, 2017.

Wrecking Ball: Trump vs. Obamanomics

London’s Daily Mail reported this.
There are fundamental philosophical problems with all economic statistics. They are objective measures. But people are not the same. They do not agree on the relevance of the measures. Climate, free trade, health care, immigration, foreign policy — the 45th US president has set about undoing just about everything done by the 44th.
All new presidents, of course, break with their predecessor once in the Oval Office, especially if they come from a rival political party.
But what is striking is how systematic the hammer blows to Obama’s legacy have been.
And rather than throw his weight behind new policies or projects, Trump has shown a willful desire to unpick, shred and erase everything his predecessor accomplished.
This is an accurate assessment. Trump has gotten nothing through Congress, but by the powers that are invested in the presidency, he is getting rid of Obama’s programs.
Trump is not consistent ideologically. He is very consistent politically. He doesn’t like Obama’s legacy. He is going to shred it. Because so much of Obama’s program was done through executive orders, it can be repealed by executive orders. This is what Trump has begun to do.
The most important thing that he has done so far is to destroy the Trans-Pacific Partnership. That monstrosity is not going to come back. This program had been part of the American establishment’s goal for at least a decade, and it really goes back to the original goals of the Trilateral Commission from its origin in 1973. In one fell swoop, he ended it.

This post was published at Gary North on October 17, 2017.

Kirkuk: Asking the Next Big Questions

Will the Kurdish Government Join Forces With the Central Iraqi Government in Baghdad to Govern Kirkuk?
Before the ISF staged its operation, there had been rumors that the faction of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party led by the Talabani family proposed jointly governing Kirkuk province with Baghdad. In seeming support of the rumors, the Talabani faction ordered Kurdish peshmerga fighters to withdraw and to allow ISF to retake some of the energy installations in the city. It’s still uncertain, however, if there’s a deal in place between the PUK and Baghdad to jointly manage the province’s government or its oil and natural gas resources. That a deal would exist makes sense given the longstanding divisions between the PUK and rival Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which controls much of the economy in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Will Baghdad Maintain Control of Kirkuk’s Oil Exports?
It almost certainly will, at least in some capacity. For the last three years the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has been able to export oil produced at the Bai Hassan oil field and the Avanah and Baba Gurgur formations of the Kirkuk oil field, given it had effectively appropriated and incorporated the fields into its own energy sector. The federal government is now in control of those fields and could use them in negotiations with the KRG. But, though Baghdad plans to rebuild its own pipeline to export oil from Kirkuk, right now all export infrastructure from the city goes through the Kurdish-controlled territory, which could complicate Baghdad’s ability to sell the oil Kirkuk produces. Baghdad, recognizing its constraints, could offer the KRG joint administration of the oil resources or continue transit contracts with it to distribute Iraq’s oil wealth. Alternatively, it could shut off production in Kirkuk to increase financial pressure on the Kurdish government. Thus, there’s the chance that Iraq’s northern oil exports – which amount to around 550,000 barrels per day – could decline by as much as 300,000 bpd. In the long run, Baghdad hopes to boost Kirkuk’s production to above 1 million bpd.

This post was published at FinancialSense on 10/18/2017.

Weinstein Company Loans: Banks Have Egg on their Face Over Effusive Praise

In 2013, when a division of CIT served as a joint lead arranger for a $370 million senior secured credit facilityto the Weinstein Company, an executive of the lender, Kevin Khanna, issued a statement effusively praising the management of the Weinstein Company, stating:
‘The Weinstein Co. is one of the premier Hollywood studios in the world and we are pleased to further expand our relationship with them through this recent financing. As a key player in the film financing sector, we pride ourselves in putting our knowledge to work on behalf of our clients to help them achieve their goals.’
Today, the Weinstein Company stands as the premier poster boy for mismanagement of its brand, reputation and franchise as sexual assault and sexual harassment charges, stretching over three decades, have been lodged against its co-founder and key executive, Harvey Weinstein. The charges have ricocheted around the world for almost two weeks with police investigations now open in New York and London. (Harvey Weinstein was fired by the Board a few days after the first story appeared in the New York Times and just two days before a second article would appear in the New Yorker, which added claims of rape by three women to the mushrooming scandal.)
Last year, Opus Bank was even more lavish in its praise for the Weinstein Company when it announced that it had provided $15 million of a $400 million senior credit facility which was ‘agented’ by Union Bank.

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on October 17, 2017.

Here’s how people get fooled into buying bankrupt companies

In 1906, American entrepreneur William T. Grant opened his very first ‘W. T. Grant Co 25 cent store’ in a small town outside of Boston.
The store became popular and fairly profitable. So Grant opened another. And another.
Three decades later, Grant’s retail empire was generating $100 million in sales (an enormous sum back then). And by the time of Grant’s death in 1972, there were over 1,000 stores bearing his name.
Investors loved W. T. Grant Company stock for its reliable profits and high dividends.
Many of our subscribers may remember W. T. Grant. The chain was among the largest in the US at its peak.
And then something completely unexpected happened…
In 1976, W. T. Grant Company declared bankruptcy.

This post was published at Sovereign Man on October 17, 2017.

Why Did Sears Holdings’ Largest Outside Shareholder Suddenly Jump Overboard?

4th director to quit in 10 months. Bankruptcy prospects heat up. The board of directors of Sears Holdings keeps shrinking – and that makes sense: Who’d want to be a director as the retailer careens along its path to bankruptcy, it only being a question of when it’ll get there, and whether or not the company will make it through the holiday selling season.
Today the company announced that Bruce Berkowitz ‘has decided to step down’ from the board of directors, effective October 31, 2017. He’d joined the board in February 2016. So that wasn’t long. No reason was given for the abrupt departure, which caused bankruptcy fears to flare up, and shares (SHLD) plunged 11.5% to $5.99.
Berkowitz is the fourth director to jump overboard over the past 10 months and none has been replaced. The other three:
Steven Mnuchin quit the board in December ahead of his appointment as Secretary of the Treasury. He’d been on the board for 12 years. The vacant slot has not been filled. Alesia Haas quit the board in December 2016 after having joined in February 2016 – just long enough to get a look-see before bailing out. She’d been the CFO of OneWest Bank until it was acquired by CIT group. Cesar Alvarez quit the board in March 2017. He’d joined in December 2013. At the time, he was co-chairman of the law firm Greenberg Traurig. His slot has not been filled.

This post was published at Wolf Street on Oct 16, 2017.

After Lightning Offensive, Kirkuk Is Now Fully Under Iraqi Military Control

Photo-posted by local reporters- of a mass exodus from Kirkuk to Erbil as pro Iranian militias are advancing on the city. To be confirmed pic.twitter.com/x94bYbKDhT
— Walid Phares (@WalidPhares) October 16, 2017

Iraq’s military has effectively gained control of major assets and government buildings in Kirkuk city, and is now set to fully pacify it after overnight clashes at a moment when oil prices rose toward a six month high as the conflict now threatens output.
Iraq’s elite U. S.-trained Counter-Terrorism Force has taken over the provincial government headquarters in the center of Kirkuk after operations to seize the city from Kurdish forces began overnight – the contested city is now reportedly under the control of Iraqi national forces. Some of the first footage Western audiences woke up to Monday morning were of (ironically enough) US supplied equipment – including tanks, being used to bulldoze images of Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani. Iraqi forces have further pulled down Kurdish flags flying over government buildings throughout the city, while leaving the Iraqi flag flying.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 16, 2017.

15/10?17: Calling Brussels from Austria: Change Is Badly Needed in Europe

Austria just became a *new* flashpoint of European politics that can be best described as a slow steady slide into reappraisal of the decades-long love affair with liberalism.
In summary: the People’s Party (OVP) has 31.4 percent of the vote, a gain of more than 7 percentage points from the 2013 election; the Freedom Party had 27.4 percent (a jump on 20.51 percent in 2013), and the Social Democratic Party, which governed in coalition with People’s Party until today, had 26.7 percent (virtually unchanged on 26.82 percent in 2013).
The People’s Party is best described as Centre-Right with a leaning Right when it comes to issues of immigration. Current Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, the leader of the People’s Party is a charismatic 31-year old populist. He has driven his party further toward the Right position in recent months, as elections neared, and away from his post-2013 governing coalition partners, the Social Democrats. Kurz is, broadly-speaking a pro-EU candidate, with strong preference for more autonomy to member states. He is clearly not a Brussels-style Federalist.

This post was published at True Economics on Monday, October 16, 2017.

Rocketman May Have Destabilized the Ground in North Korea

Sources in South Korea are reporting that there was another earthquake in North Korea of a 2.7 magnitude near the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. This was the fourth earthquake to hit the region since the last underground nuclear test on September 3rd, 2017. The first earthquake was a 6.3 magnitude. The last North Korea test was a hydrogen bomb. U. S. intelligence reportedly determined the blast was 10 times greater than that of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Oct 15, 2017.