I’ve seen the liberal lying MSM pondering how WE could allow the riots, looting, burning and lawlessness to happen, as if it is our collective fault. Obama stands before his teleprompter and pontificates about the need for us to end the poverty that supposedly led to Purge Night in Charm City. That term cracks me up. The city has so much charm, its football team once snuck out of town overnight and headed to Indianapolis. It has so much charm its baseball team was forced to play a game with no fans in the stands. I think most people can agree that Freddie Gray, a petty drug dealer, was killed in police custody for the crime of looking suspicious. The policemen who killed him deserve to go to jail for murder. As usual, the powers that be circled the wagons and intended to exonerate the hero first responders. The people of Baltimore had a right to be pissed. They had a right to protest. They didn’t have a right to burn businesses and cars. They didn’t have the right to riot, loot, and injure others. It is the police department created and controlled for decades by Democratic progressive politicians that has committed the atrocities against the people who have been electing these progressives year after year. Baltimore has a corrupt, reckless, out of control police department enabled by a crooked and incompetent Baltimore politicians. The rap sheet for Baltimore’s finest is long: Police commissioner Ed Norris was sent to prison on corruption charges (2004) Two detectives were sentenced to 454 years in prison for dealing drugs (2005) An officer was dismissed after being videotaped verbally abusing a 14-year-old and then failing to file a report on his use of force against the same teenager (2011) An officer was been fired for sexually abusing a minor (2014) The city paid a quarter-million-dollar settlement to a man police illegally arrested for the non-crime of recording them at work with his mobile phone. The cries of racism and white oppression ring hollow. It’s a tired storyline. Facts are always inconvenient to race baiters with an agenda to extract more money from whites with a guilty conscience and the inability or unwillingness to speak the truth. Let’s examine some facts about good old Charm City, USA.
During the heyday of post-war prosperity between 1953 and 1971, real final sales – – a better measure of economic growth than GDP because it filters out inventory fluctuations – -grew at a 3.6% annual rate. That is exactly double the 1.8% CAGR recorded for 2000-2014. And after this morning’s punk GDP report in which growth stayed above the flat-line by a hair only due to a massive inventory build, the contrast is even more dramatic. Real final sales actually declined by 0.5% during Q1 and, more importantly, reflected a mere 1.1.% annual growth rate since the pre-crisis peak in the winter of 2007-2008. The long and short of it, therefore, is that there has been a dramatic downshift in the trend rate of economic growth during an era in which central bank intervention and stimulus has been immeasurably enlarged. In this regard, the size of the fed’s balance sheet is the telltale measure of its policy intrusion. That’s because the only mechanism by which the Fed can actually impact the real economy is through open market purchases of treasury bills, bonds and other existing securities for the purpose of raising their price and lowering their interest rate or yield. And it doesn’t matter whether the Fed is buying short term T-bills to peg the federal funds rate or 10-year notes to drive down long-term interest rates and flatten the yield curve. Thus, the old-fashioned business of pegging the Federal funds rate and the new-fangled intrusion of massive bond buying under QE are all the same maneuver. They both involve expansion of the central bank balance sheet and, therefore, the systematic injection of fraud into the financial system.
These are strange economic times, with an undeclared (and unrequited) recovery existing apparently alongside an undeclared (and strengthening) recession. The economy is superficially partly one thing and partly the other, producing innumerable inconsistencies that should be more troubling than they are taken. Maybe that relates to the fact that almost six full years after the Great Recession was declared ended and the trillions in ‘stimulus’ spent and conjured toward ending it, there isn’t much other than that amplified gyration to show for it. Instability is troubling enough on its own but it is also suggestive of statistical problems outside the ‘normal’ paradigm. This is observed primarily of the employment statistics but you could certainly add GDP to the discussion. It is difficult to ascertain much of a certain interpretation when the figure can swing wildly from -3% to 5% and almost back again in the space of just five quarters. What is truly amazing about that is not the presence of just low lows and high highs but rather that GDP itself was constructed in the most favorable economic terms (adding government as a plus?); in other words, GDP is meant to show the best growth possible. That it can’t maintain itself on a steady pace is highly suggestive of both structural deficiency and statistical unsuitability. There is more to say about GDP itself, especially since GDP ex inventory was about -3% again, but there are worse and more important indications than even that. The Final Sales accounts strip out some of the artificial and beneficial (for GDP’s view on growth) aspects and focus solely on the private economy at the point of sale. That means inventory is extraneous in terms of the private economy in the moment; the purchaser view also does not infuse imports with a negative sign, as we want to know how much private ‘demand’ actually exists before entangling geography and currency systems in analysis.
The news of Navinder Sarao’s arrest, the scapegoat for all that is broken with the world’s equity markets, may have come, gone and be largely forgotten, but while the CFTC is happy to have washed the corruption and incompetence off its hands by destroying the career of one insignificant trader (whatever happens, redirect public attention from the HFT firm that just came public andboasted of one trading loss day in 6 years) Sarao is facing decades in prison. And, what is worse for the alleged mastermind of the May 2010 flash crash, he won’t even be able to enjoy a few weeks in quasi-freedom. Why? Because this lonely 36 year old, who “crashed” the entire market 5 years ago from his parents’ basement (literally), can’t even afford bail. From Bloomberg:
This post was published at Zero Hedge on 04/29/2015.
As documented here on several occasions of late, there are new questions surrounding charitable contributions to the Clinton Foundation. Most notably, a Reuters investigation revealed that the Clinton family charities may have suffered what we called a ‘Geithner moment’ when they failed to report tens of millions in contributions from foreign governments on tax documents. The foundation will now refile five years worth of returns and hasn’t ruled out the possibility that it may need to amend returns dating back some 15 years. This prompted acting CEO Maura Pally to pen a lengthy blog post in which she explains the ‘mistakes’ and attempts to reassure the public that the Clinton Foundation is taking special care to guard against ‘conflicts of interest’ as Hillary begins her run for The White House. Pally also notes that similar measures were taken when Clinton was Secretary of State although, as we noted, the charity accepted donations from the likes of Kuwait, Qatar and Oman while she was the nation’s top diplomat. Now there are new questions as IBTimes suggests there may be a connection between a $200,000 payment made to Bill Clinton by Goldman Sachs in 2011, and the bank’s efforts to lobby the State Department ahead of legislation involving the Export-Import Bank which was set to provide a loan that would end up financing the purchase of millions of dollars in aircraft from a company partially owned by Goldman. Here’s more:
This post was published at Zero Hedge on 04/28/2015.
What a difference a job title ($695-an-hour corporate lawyer versus Senator) and a few years makes… Well, moves like this definitely help explain his rise to the top (of the American political pond where only the scum rises to the top). What a total and utter hypocrite Ted Cruz is. Most people don’t even realize if this guy gets in, Goldman Sachs will literally be living in the White House. Oh sure, Cruz’s wife Heidi, who up until recently worked in Latin American mergers and acquisitions for the too-big-to-fail banking giant, took a little time off to help him run his campaign for president… but let’s stop kidding ourselves. Heidi Cruz didn’t just sign the Council on Foreign Relations document for the North American Union; she even added an extra note to it to show her personal enthusiasm for flushing our national sovereignty down the toilet. Ted did say his wife was part of a pernicious nest of snakes over there at CFR… but at least she’s out in the open with her sold out corruption, unlike Ted who is completely crooked and yet wraps himself up in an American flag and talks about freedom and American values while he’s a closet Bush buddy on the same path that camp has always been on. Wake up and don’t buy it. Via Mother Jones:
Later this week another Fed meeting will pass with the policy rate still pinned to the zero bound. The month of May will make the 77th consecutive month of ZIRP – – an outcome that would have been utterly unimaginable even a decade ago; and most especially not with the unemployment rate at 5.5% and after 23 quarters had elapsed since the official end of the recession. There never was an Armageddon-like crisis in 2008 that justified all this; it all happened because two emotionally unstable and misguided high officials – -Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson – -panicked Washington into the utterly false fear that Great Depression 2.0 was at hand. I debunked this urban legend by chapter and verse in The Great Deformation, but suffice it to say here that not withstanding all the crony capitalist larceny that this financial terrorism enabled, it is impossible with the stock market at 2100 – -50% above its pre-crisis level – that there remains any justification for maintaining these ‘extraordinary policies’ seven years later. In fact, the Fed’s cowardly dithering for yet another meeting this week has precious little to do with the so-called Great Financial Crisis – -the ostensible reason why we ended up with perpetual free money subsidies for financial market speculators. Instead, it is a product of a policy ideology and insular culture that has been building at the Fed and most other major central banks for more than two decades. Central bankers now have their big fat thumbs perpetually on the Easy Button because they are addicted to it. In the case of the Fed, it has been in a rate cutting or rate holding mode during 80% of the time since 1990. Stated differently, during 240 of the last 304 months, the Fed has been riding the Easy Button.
Mania in financial markets has raged so far out of control as to place them outside the realm of rationality, says former White House budget director David Stockman. "There are no markets left in any meaningful sense of the word, just a raging casino infected with the madness of the crowds and the central bank pied pipers who mesmerize them," he writes on his blog. That madness is illustrated in the months-long rise of Chinese stocks and the rebound of McDonald's shares last week, Stockman says. "Why everything has gone virtually straight south because the most fantastic credit bubble in recorded history is beginning to burst."
When I was growing up, my Grandma used to remind me from time to time that all’s fair in love and war. Lately I’m continually reminded of that, as I see the US government (USG) toss out the rule book in their primarily, undeclared war on the entire world, including US citizens. At least the rule book is tossed out from my perspective. When one has the ability to change the rulebook as it suits them to win the war, then the rule book has been tossed out. There are others, though, who still don’t even realize that they are at war, and meekly try to play by whatever rules they’re given by their rule-maker/adversary. Well, it’s only your freedom at stake. I recently was forwarded a report, and found it really fascinating stuff. It was released in January and is entitled Tax Havens: International Tax Avoidance and Evasion. It was issued by none other than the Congressional Research Service. It wouldn’t be a worthy tentacle of the USG beast without a 3-lettered acronym, so we’ll call it CRS from here on out. My first step was to find out a little bit about what I was reading, and that required that I know a bit about who the authors were. The CRS brags that it has been ‘informing the legislative debate since 1914′. The year of its formation is interesting in itself, since in 1913, the illegal 16th Amendment to the Constitution initiated the unconstitutional income tax, and in 1914 Benjamin Strong Jr. was selected to be the first president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It’s sheer coincidence, I’m sure, that World War I broke out that same year. A Glimpse At Who ‘They’ Are What I’ve been seeing lately makes me wonder if ‘they’ aren’t planning a nasty centennial celebration, and I was very interested to learn a little bit more about who the CRS really is. Here’s a copy/paste of the very 1st paragraph from the ‘About Us’ page of the CRS website.
Last week, Hillary Clinton had what we called a ‘Geithner moment’ when a Reuters investigation revealed that the Presidential candidate’s family charities had failed to report ‘tens of millions’ in contributions from foreign governments on annual tax returns. For its part, The Clinton Foundation was quick to point out that when it comes to charities, it is exemplary in terms being forthright, but the missing disclosures will likely serve to fan the flames for Republicans who claim Clinton’s ties to the charities could make her susceptible to the influence of outside interests. Meanwhile, the Foundation’s claims to transparency will surely be put to the test as the former First Lady ramps up her bid to return to The White House and as questions linger regarding contributions from foreign governments while Clinton was Secretary of State. Here’s an excerpt from a Washington Post piece published in February: The Clinton Foundation accepted millions of dollars from seven foreign governments during Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, including one donation that violated its ethics agreement with the Obama administration… Some of the donations came from countries with complicated diplomatic, military and financial relationships with the U. S. government, including Kuwait, Qatar and Oman… Rarely, if ever, has a potential commander in chief been so closely associated with an organization that has solicited financial support from foreign governments. Now, the Clinton Foundation is out with a public admission of its reporting ‘errors’ as acting CEO Maura Pally describes, in a lengthy blog post, the supposedly innocent nature of the mistakes and the ‘unprecedented’ steps the Foundation has taken in the past to avoid conflicts of interest between Hillary and foreign donors. Judge for yourself: * * *
This post was published at Zero Hedge on 04/27/2015.
Last Monday, former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker held a press conference at the National Press Club to releasehis nonprofit’s plan for reforming U. S. bank regulation. Volcker’s plan includes elevating the Federal Reserve to even greater heights as a super regulator of a consolidated system. That’s exactly the opposite of what Congress has in mind as it holds hearings on fatal conflicts of interests between the Fed and Wall Street. At the press conference, Volcker delivered a thoroughly discredited statement suggesting some deep-pocketed backers are putting words in his mouth. Volcker said: ‘The Federal Reserve is the best-equipped, the most independent and most respected financial agency of the United States government.’ Volcker’s views on financial reform must be seen against the backdrop of Volcker’s myriad conflicts and ties with the global ruling elite. His non-profit organization, The Volcker Alliance, has multiplied its income by a factor of 30 in one year. From 2012 to 2013, The Volcker Alliance went from $500,000 in contributions to over $15 million. It fails to list its donors on its public IRS 990 tax form. And then there is the matter of Volcker’s personal investments in unseemly foreign bank deals alongside global banks that are serially charged with breaking the law. In December of last year, Simon Clark of the Wall Street Journal reported that Volcker had just completed his third investment stake in a foreign bank. Clark wrote that Volcker is well known for taming inflation in the 1980s (as Fed Chairman) but ‘Less well known is the 87-year-old former Fed chairman’s penchant for investing in banks around the world.’ According to Clark, since 1999, Volcker has invested in three separate foreign bank deals put together by private equity firm, Ripplewood. The most recent deal is for a stake in Latvia’s Citadele Bank. Earlier deals include the 1999 takeover of the Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan (now known as Shinsei Bank) and the 2006 investment in Egypt’s Commercial International Bank. The Latvia deal looks like an attempt by Ripplewood to replay the maneuver it perfected in the Shinsei Bank deal. Both Citadele Bank and Shinsei Bank were bailed out by taxpayers before Ripplewood came up with its offers.
The term ‘defining moment’ is overused, but it seems appropriate to describe the news media’s quandary over what to do about Hillary Clinton. Will the Fourth Estate further its traditional role as watchdog and guardian of democracy by calling on her to abandon her quest for the White House? Or will they instead give Hillary a free pass, bending to the grandiose political ambitions of a woman whose dishonesty, hypocrisy and ethical lapses would be egregious even in comparison to the corruption of Tammany Hall? We can quibble about whether Hillary’s accomplishments qualify her for the presidency, but how much scandal should it take to disqualify her? The New York Times, more than any other newspaper, will have to decide, since the Times is a crucial lever of liberal political power in America. The Grey Lady would surely prefer a liberal in the White House over virtually any Republican. But will Clinton sleaze prove too repugnant, even, for the left-tilting editors and owners of theTimes for them to support her candidacy? Whatever evolves, it will not be possible for the Times to straddle the fence, since they have been out front in reporting on the many scandals that have engulfed Hillary. Indeed, Times reporters have crossed a wide political divide to appear on Fox News lately in order to get the story out.
This post was published at Rick Ackerman on Monday, April 27, 2015.
The political corruption is just now in the open and politicians don’t seem even bother figuring it all blows over in a week or two. This is indicative of what we need in place to shift the CONFIDENCE from government to private come 2015.75. There hasn’t been much to write about for the markets have done pretty much what our computer had forecast – churn going nowhere into May.
On April 7th, Betty McCray was elected mayor of the town of Kinloch, just outside of St. Louis, Missouri. However, after she was sworn in earlier this week, she headed toward city hall to start her term, when she was stopped by nearly two dozen police officers in front of the building (I should add that there are over 50 members of the police department for this town of 300 residents). They claimed that she had been suspended and served impeachment papers for voter fraud. If all you read was the local mainstream news, you’d think this was a cut and dry case. It wouldn’t be hard to believe either. Political corruption isn’t exactly unheard of in America. But in reality, there are a few holes in this story. Countercurrent news reported on this strange situation last night. Political opponents met her at the door and wrongly told her that she had been ‘impeached’ before even taking the job. But that’s simply not true.
Well, maybe Amazon is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but that doesn’t explain how it gained $25 billion of market cap overnight after reporting another losing quarter. Give all the credit you want to its web services business – – a newly disclosed but decade old operation with scads of competent competitors and which sports a modest $6 billion run rate of sales that may or may not be profitable on a fully-loaded cost basis – -and it still doesn’t explain today’s buying panic. What can’t be denied, however, is that Amazon’s first quarter red ink brought its LTM bottom line to negative $406 million. That’s its worst result since way back in December 2001 when it posted a LTM loss of $567 million. And it marks the 18th straight quarter in which its LTM net income has been going downhill from the modest peak of $1.1 billion it posted for the four quarters ended in September 2010. So what we apparently need to do here is reverse Wall Street’s normal admonition to value a stock based on its possible earnings next year or the year beyond, and, instead, compute a backwards looking PE multiple. To wit, the casino today is valuing Amazon at 190X the earnings it used to have 55 months ago!
There were a lot of references to the top-line durable goods figure, which was better at 4% in March, but surprisingly almost every piece of commentary was acquiescent to the very disappointing internals. If there was weather depression in the Q1 ‘slump’ so far, it should have abated in March and kicked off an unmistakable rebound -that was the expectation. Instead, core figures fell for the sixth consecutive month, an unbroken string that even had a few economists lightly teasing out the dreaded ‘R’ word. For most, it was simply resignation that there are serious problems that have little now to do with snow. With investors already on edge about the first-quarter economic slowdown, Friday’s report did little to signal that a spring bounce back may be in store. That perked up demand for safer assets. The transition is now one into the ‘dollar’ as a means for explaining how a great economic setup could deliver so poor results. As noted yesterday, the ‘dollar’ is really just the financial transmission of depressed financial expectations into real economic results. After the unrelenting slew of quarterly earnings reports infested with the words ‘cost’ and ‘cutting’, the fact that the capital goods portion of the durable goods report was equal to the lowpoint of the 2012 slowdown really should not be surprising anymore.
21st Century Wire says… As the 2016 US Presidential election approaches, there will be a lot of talk from candidates, especially those wearing the Republican badge, about how they ‘believe in America’, and ‘American values’ and ‘freedom’, and the rest of it. As old Patriot Act provisions begin to expire, we can see clearly how certain political leaders are actively lobbying to extend draconian policies and other unconstitutional ‘laws’ – still under the cult doctrine of ‘National Security’. In other words, what the government really means here is that they cannot be secure as long as you are. From a constitutional point of view, one could easily class these political leaders as the true enemies of freedom and liberty, and the slick, new corporatized breed of 21st century neofascists who see the Bill of Rights as an obstacle to their end goal of total social monitoring and control of the population. Big government likes and needs control, and as both parties seem to favor big government (despite all their hollow cries to the contrary), party affiliation doesn’t really matter that much on this issue. Jeb Bush (R), Marco Rubio (R), and Hillary Clinton (D) (and all with the ideological backing of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell), are just a few of the candidates who appear committed to strengthening – not dismantling, the mass-surveillance and police state. While most GOP Senators are remaining as vague as possible (no one wants to be called ‘weak’ when it comes to national security) on the issue, Jeb Bush is perhaps the most openly despotic so far on the issue, saying that, ‘this is a hugely important program to use these technologies to keep us safe’. Here’s a look at their positions on the NSA highly illegal and un-American domestic spying machine…
Just before noon stocks went vertical, but why not. The HFT machines were cranking for all time highs and, in fact, hit the ultimate jackpot. Namely, they pushed the NASDAQ above the vertiginous height (5132) it achieved back in March 2000 at the peak of the dotcom frenzy:
By contrast, a few hours earlier Caterpillar – -a true bell weather of the global economic predicament – -posted results which were most definitely horizontal. Notwithstanding the usual ‘beat’ on its manipulated ex-items number, the results were miserable. Total industrial sales were down by three-quarters of a billion dollars or 6% from prior year and the internals were worse. To wit, sales in the Asia-Pacific region were off by 13% and were down by 12% in its Europe, Latin American and the Middle East region. Within product categories the implications were even more ominous. While its resource/mining equipment shipments were down 9% over prior year and construction machinery sales were off by 7%, sales in its single largest segment – – oilfield, power and transportation – -were flat with Q1 2014. But that’s only because its dealers and customers are just commencing what will be a huge cutback in purchases owing to the global oil industry collapse.