As I indicated in a recent article, the B-team, or even the C-team, is now heading up the national evening news in America. These anchors’ faces and voices (Muir, Glor, and Holt) are not even faint reminders of the so-called Golden Age, when father figures like Cronkite and Reasoner fed official truth into the brains of viewers. The new C-team is vague gloss from a paint job on a used car. This is an ominous sign for the news bosses in the upstairs suites. They can’t find adequate hypnotists anymore. What happened? Many things – among them, the father figures left the fold. They decided to sell real estate or take corporate work in PR. They saw the handwriting on the wall: the networks were fostering a youth movement, seeking younger and prettier talent. Why? Because Madison Avenue was convinced the younger viewer demographic was the important one, in terms of consumer buying power. Therefore, on-air news faces had to be younger as well. This sounded right, but it overlooked one vital fact. The young news anchors couldn’t pull off the appropriate level of mind control. They were merely bland robots. Friendly, nice, literate to the point of being able read copy. (Lester Holt at NBC is a bit older, but he comes across as a corpse someone dug up at a cemetery for a role in a Frankenstein remake.) There is another gross miscalculation. The commercials, between news segments, are overwhelmingly pharmaceutical. Those drugs aren’t intended for the youth demographic. They’re for the middle-aged and the seniors, who want to toxify themselves for the rest of their lives. So the commercials are playing to the older crowd, while the faces of the news are supposedly attracting younger viewers. It’s a mess. The news execs and programmers really have no idea what they’re doing.
MODERN JUGGERNAUTS LIKE APPLE DON’T EVEN COME CLOSE The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays. *** Before speculative bubbles could form around Dotcom companies (late-1990s) or housing prices (mid-2000s), Visual Capitalist’s Jeff Desjardins notes that some of the first financial bubbles formed from the prospect of trading with faraway lands. Looking back, it’s pretty easy to see why. Companies like the Dutch East India Company (known in Dutch as the VOC, or Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) were granted monopolies on trade, and they engaged in daring voyages to mysterious and foreign places. They could acquire exotic goods, establish colonies, create military forces, and even initiate wars or conflicts around the world. Of course, the very nature of these risky ventures made getting any accurate indication of intrinsic value nearly impossible, which meant there were no real benchmarks for what companies like this should be worth.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 11, 2017.
As you may or may not have noticed I have added a new advertiser to replace Amazon. They are called MyFinance. Sadly, none of their ads have boobs. Their ads are under every post and the Savings Rate and Mortgage Refinance ads on the sidebar are theirs. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if you checked out their ads on a regular basis to help old TBP pay the bills. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. If you get my drift. I also signed up with BJ’s online. That’s the wholesale club for you dirty minded old men. Their ad is on the right side too.
Silicone Valley is the home to tech giants like Facebook, Apple, and Google. It’s also home to a surging working homeless population who live in dilapidated RV’s, tents, and their own cars, all thanks to the policies Democrats love to implement. The surging number of those working in Silicone Valley and still unable to afford adequate housing should be a warning about big government, but it sure doesn’t seem like anyone is taking notice as their taxes continue to rise. As governments creep toward socialism though, poverty becomes the norm, not the exception. Silicon Valley has the highest median income in the nation. But a soaring tax burden and expensive regulations have caused housing prices to increase which has also caused homelessness to surge. More than 10,000 people were living without shelter across San Jose and Santa Clara Counties on any given night in 2016, though that figure is probably low. Thanks to big government, the cost of living is not low. An influx of tech workers along with decades of under-building (thanks again to the regulations of big government) has created a historic homelessness in the Bay Area.
This post was published at shtfplan on December 7th, 2017.
But many mid-tier markets are red-hot. In San Francisco, the most expensive major rental market in the US, the median asking rent in November for one-bedroom apartments, at $3,390, is up 1.8% year-over-year, but is down 7.6% from the peak in October 2015. The median asking rent for two-bedroom apartments, at $4,380, rose 2.7% year-over-year, but is down 12.4% from the peak in October 2015. In New York City, the median asking rent for one-bedroom apartments dropped 3.3% year-over-year to $2,900. For two-bedrooms, it dropped 1.2% to $3,360. Since the peak in March 2016, asking rents have dropped respectively 13.9% and 15.6%. Oakland used to be red-hot as it attracted San Francisco’s housing refugees. But in November, one-bedroom and two-bedroom rents have dropped respectively 6.4% to $2,060 and 7.1% to $2,500. Both are down 15% from their peaks in April 2016.
A lawyer for former DNC IT staffer Imran Awan is scrambling to block evidence found on a hidden laptop which may contain proof of a massive spy ring operating at the highest levels of Congress, in what may be the largest breach of National Security in U. S. history. Awan, a Pakistani national, worked for dozens of Democratic members of Congress along with his wife, two brothers and a friend. Following the publication of DNC emails by WikiLeaks in the lead-up to the 2016 election, Congressional investigators discovered that the Awans had a secret server being housed by the House Democratic Caucus backed up to an offsite Dropbox account. ‘For members to say their data was not compromised is simply inaccurate. They had access to all the data including all emails. Imran Awan is the walking example of an insider threat, a criminal actor who had access to everything,’ –Daily Caller According to a briefing, “all five of the shared employees system administrators collectively logged onto the [House Democratic] Caucus system 5,735 times, or an average of 27 times per day,’ despite only one of them being authorized to do so. The Awans were banned from the House IT network on February 2, 2017 after being named in a criminal investigation – however they continued to work in the building for Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz until Imran Awan’s arrest at Dulles Airport trying to flee the country in late July. Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, were charged with conspiracy and bank fraud in relation to a real estate transaction.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 30, 2017.
The top 5% who have benefited so immensely from the consolidation of wealth and power cannot confess the status quo has failed the bottom 95%. The problem isn’t populism–the problem is the status quo has failed 95% of the populace. Life isn’t wonderful, prosperous and filled with expansive equality except in the Protected Elite of the top 5% of technocrats, corporate executives, tenured academics, bureaucrats, financiers, bankers, lobbyists and wealthy (or soon to be wealthy) politicos. The corporate/billionaires’ media would have us believe that the crisis we face is populism, a code word for every ugly manifestation of fascism known to humanity. By invoking populism as the cause of our distemper, the mainstream media is implicitly suggesting that the problem is “bad people”–those whose own failings manifest in an attraction to fascism. If we can successfully marginalize these troubled troglodytes, then our problem, populism, would go away and the wonderfulness, equality and widespread prosperity of pre-populist America will be restored. The bottom 95% need a time machine to recover any semblance of prosperity. They need a time machine that goes back 20 years so they can buy a little bungalow on a postage-stamp lot for $150,000 on the Left and Right Coasts, because now the little bungalows cost $1 million and up. Housing valuations have become so detached from what people earn that even the top 5% has trouble qualifying for a jumbo mortgage without the help of the Bank of Mom and Dad or the family trust fund.
Tripped up by ‘eroding affordability and persistently low inventory.’ Pending home sales in California, based on signed contracts, fell 2.6% in October compared to a year ago, the fourth month in a row of year-over-year declines, after having dropped 6% in September, 3.5% in August, and 2.6% in July. ‘A continued scarcity of housing inventory, which drove up home prices, may squeeze the market heading into the closing months of the year,’ explained the California Association of Realtors (C. A. R.) in the report. Of the three major regions, only the Central Valley booked gains. San Francisco Bay Area: Pending home sales dropped 10.5% year-over-year in October, after having dropped 10.8% in September, 11.6% in August, 11.5% in July… the 13th month in a row of year-over-year declines. In the two counties that make up the core of Silicon Valley – the counties of San Mateo and Santa Clara – pending sales plunged 10.9% and 21.4%! San Francisco County was ‘the anomaly,’ as the report put it, with pending sales jumping 15.1%.
This post was published at Wolf Street on Nov 25, 2017.
While in Baltimore City, Maryland, death and despair are a few things that are plentiful as the region descends into chaos. Deindustrialization coupled with depopulation started in the 1960s stripping the city of economic wealth. Many don’t want to admit, the city is shrinking as their looking glass is clouded with Kevin Plank’s gentrification narrative. Wealth inequality in the area is some of the widest in the United States with more than 100,000 African Americans with zero dollars to their name, according to JPM. Baltimore is a skeleton of what it once was many decades ago when it had its industries. Now, 46,800 homes are vacant – almost 16% of the housing stock as citizens are either leaving the area or being pushed into multi-family complexes by the city. Neighborhoods are rotting away as the local economy crumbles giving way to a surge in homicides. Baltimore is on track for the worse year ever with a homicide rate the highest in the United States.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 22, 2017.
Unsurprisingly, the Republican tax plan moving forward in the U. S. Congress and championed by Donald ‘Drain the Swamp’ Trump, is very swampy. Today’s post will highlight a few examples. First, let’s hear some of what billionaire fund manager Jeffrey Gundlach had to say. Via Bloomberg: Jeffrey Gundlach, chief investment officer of DoubleLine Capital, said the congressional tax plan would expand the federal deficit and help a small fraction of the U. S. population, including hedge fund managers. ‘I’m very disappointed incidentally about the shape of this tax cut that is being proposed,’ Gundlach told a gathering of industry participants at the Drake Hotel in Chicago on Wednesday. ‘I am just appalled that we are going to continue to have a carried-interest scheme for hedge funds.’ The House bill set to be voted on Thursday keeps the carried-interest tax treatment that benefits private-equity managers, venture capitalists, hedge-fund managers and certain real estate investors. During last year’s campaign, President Donald Trump had vowed to get rid of the loophole. White House top economic adviser Gary Cohn has said Trump is committed to ending the tax break. ‘After I saw that tax bill, I lost hope with the drain the swamp concept,’ Gundlach said. ‘The swamp keeps getting bigger.’ Carried interest is the portion of a fund’s profit – usually a 20 percent share – that’s paid to managers. Currently, tax authorities treat that income as capital gains, making it eligible for a rate as low as 20 percent. The top tax rate for ordinary income is 39.6 percent.
While it’s not surprising that 2007 – the year when spirits were high, housing prices had just hit a record and the financial bubble was about to burst but not yet- was a “swinging one” on the Hill, with a whopping 25 sexual harassment settlements, the most in the past 20 years, we wonder what happened in 2002 when only 10 settlements led to a near record $4 million in awards. This question was prompted by the first ever release of Congressional harassment records, unveiled yesterday for the first time by the Congressional Office of Compliance. Below is the breakdown of settlement number by year since 1997…
… and the amount quietly paid out in settlement awards:
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 17, 2017.
Editor’s Note: The future is predictable. The more you know what is about to be, the more you can plan accordingly. We want to help you prepare, but first we need to know what you need to know. Take our survey and tell us what we should produce next. At the end of this month, we’ll answer you with a video series addressing your top three concerns about geopolitics. Last week, Chinese central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan penned a letter, published on the bank’s website, discussing problems in China’s financial sector. His letter focused on the private sector, where poor regulatory oversight has encouraged the creation of bubbles in areas such as online lending and real estate. It also discussed the uncertainty over where local government authority ends and central authority begins, citing this as a reason for the difficulty of managing the financial system. This coincides with recent central government efforts to better control outbound and inbound investment – efforts that have proven hard to enforce. Taken together, this shows that top government officials in China understand, and aren’t afraid to talk about, the problems in the financial system. But there are no simple solutions. Creating new committees and regulations is easy; pre-empting problems and enforcing changes are not. Of all the Chinese economy’s problems, none are more serious than those in its financial sector, because a failure of the financial system would hurt the entire economy. Firms starved of finances would shut down or slim down, creating unemployment and thus social instability. Instability in a tightly controlled country of 1.4 billion people is potentially catastrophic. To fight this threat, China last week did what it does – it created a new regulatory body, the Financial Stability and Development Commission, to regulate shadow banking, asset management, peer-to-peer Internet finance, and financial holding companies.
The number of positive tests for fentanyl in samples of heroin seized by law enforcement agencies across Canada have exploded. Health Canada’s Drug Analysis Service (DAS) revealed to CBC News that in 2012 .08% of 2,337 heroin samples tested positive for fentanyl. Fast forward to today and that number stands at 60.1% of 3,337 heroin samples, an astronomical jump visualized below. Seems as China has turned on the fentanyl spigot in 2016 and 2017…
A new crisis is developing in Canada and it’s not the housing bubble. A far more sinister one, that is taking the country by storm, as a new wave of fentanyl has washed up on the shores of Canada from an unknown origin most likely China, and has made it onto city streets. To our friends in the business district of Toronto, be – careful what you sniff – it might contain fentanyl.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 10, 2017.
Breitbart reports: ‘Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s injuries are more serious than previously reported, following an attack, allegedly by one of his neighbors, last week in Bowling Green, KY.’ ”A medical update: final report indicates six broken ribs & new X-ray shows a pleural effusion’,’ tweeted the Republican senator Wednesday.’ ‘Previous medical reports stated that Paul suffered five broken ribs and lacerations to his lungs. Reports indicate a violent attack from Paul’s long-time neighbor, 59-year-old retired doctor Rene Boucher, after a dispute. The exact nature of the dispute remains unclear, but Boucher’s lawyer claimed it had nothing to do with politics.’ ‘Police arrested Boucher and charged him with fourth-degree assault.’ Breitbart also interviewed several neighbors of Senator Paul. They rejected the story that Boucher’s attack on Paul was the result of a ‘landscaping dispute.’ The neighbors stated the Senator has been a very friendly homeowner, and there is no record of any complaints either against him or from him in the homeowner’s association files. The Senator’s injuries are serious. I looked up the definition of 4th degree assault in Kentucky law, to understand what his alleged assailant is being charged with: From reference.com: ‘According to the Kentucky Legislature Research Commission, fourth degree assault is defined as intentionally causing a physical injury to another, wantonly causing physical injury, or recklessly causing injury to another with a dangerous instrument.’
The record luxury-volume spike in October did it. The median selling price of a single-family house in San Francisco spiked by $113,000 from the crazy spike and peak in May, to a new record of – fasten your seat belt – $1.588 million, according to Paragon Real Estate Group. This was up 13.4% from October last year: But it’s complicated, as they say. The market for condos, lofts, and TICs (Tenancy in Common, a peculiar San Francisco form of apartment ownership and financing) isn’t quite so ebullient. The median price – half cost more, half cost less – for condos ticked up year-over-year but remained below the August peak. The median price for TICs declined further. And the median price for both combined, at $1.14 million, was flat year-over-year, appears to be bumping into a ceiling of sorts, and after a downturn last year, hasn’t moved all that much since early 2015:
This post was published at Wolf Street by Wolf Richter ‘ Nov 6, 2017.