The Greatest Bubble Ever: Why You Better Believe It, Part 2

During the 40 months after Alan Greenspan’s infamous “irrational exuberance” speech in December 1996, the NASDAQ 100 index rose from 830 to 4585 or by 450%. But the perma-bulls said not to worry: This time is different—-it’s a new age of technology miracles that will change the laws of finance.
It wasn’t. The market cracked in April 2000 and did not stop plunging until the NASDAQ 100 index hit 815 in early October 2002. During those a heart-stopping 30 months of free-fall, all the gains of the tech boom were wiped out in an 84% collapse of the index. Overall, the market value of household equities sank from $10.0 trillion to $4.8 trillion—-a wipeout from which millions of baby boom households have never recovered.
Likewise, the second Greenspan housing and credit boom generated a similar round trip of bubble inflation and collapse. During the 57 months after the October 2002 bottom, the Russell 2000 (RUT) climbed the proverbial wall-of-worry—-rising from 340 to 850 or by 2.5X.
And this time was also held to be different because, purportedly, the art of central banking had been perfected in what Bernanke was pleased to call the “Great Moderation”. Taking the cue, Wall Street dubbed it the Goldilocks Economy—-meaning a macroeconomic environment so stable, productive and balanced that it would never again be vulnerable to a recessionary contraction and the resulting plunge in corporate profits and stock prices.
Wrong again!

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on December 29th, 2017.

Thomas Frank Interviews 7 and 8 with Paul Jay on the Real News Network

Here is the two part continuation of the interviews on the Real News Network between Paul Jay and Thomas Frank.
Frank has the Clintons nailed, and continues to reiterate the high points of how they led the Democratic Party into an historic betrayal of their base, the working people. For money and power.
However, he is far, far too kind, almost to the point of what can be called a willful bias, to Barack Obama.
I am sorry, but can it be more obvious that Obama was a bait-and-switch brand for the oligarch class?
He seems to come back to a more realistic assessment in the second segment. But he just cannot bring himself to draw the conclusion that Obama was not some hapless dupe, a victim of circumstance, but knew exactly what he was doing, and early on had made his choice of what or whom to serve.


This post was published at Jesses Crossroads Cafe on 29 DECEMBER 2017.

The Greatest Bubble Ever: Why You Better Believe It, Part 1

During the 40 months after Alan Greenspan’s infamous “irrational exuberance” speech in December 1996, the NASDAQ 100 index rose from 830 to 4585 or by 450%. But the perma-bulls said not to worry: This time is different—-it’s a new age of technology miracles that will change the laws of finance forever.
It wasn’t. The market cracked in April 2000 and did not stop plunging until the NASDAQ 100 index hit 815 in early October 2002. During those heart-stopping 30 months of free-fall, all the gains of the tech boom were wiped out in an 84% collapse of the index. Overall, the market value of household equities sank from $10.0 trillion to $4.8 trillion—-a wipeout from which millions of baby boom households have never recovered.
Likewise, the second Greenspan housing and credit boom generated a similar round trip of bubble inflation and collapse. During the 57 months after the October 2002 bottom, the Russell 2000 (RUT) climbed the proverbial wall-of-worry—-rising from 340 to 850 or by 2.5X.
And this time was also held to be different because, purportedly, the art of central banking had been perfected in what Bernanke was pleased to call the “Great Moderation”. Taking the cue, Wall Street dubbed it the Goldilocks Economy—-meaning a macroeconomic environment so stable, productive and balanced that it would never again be vulnerable to a recessionary contraction and the resulting plunge in corporate profits and stock prices.
Wrong again!

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on December 28th, 2017.

Up Next——Deflation In The Canyons Of Wall Street

Record high stock and bond prices are flashing danger signs to former Reagan White House Budget Director David Stockman. Stockman contends, ‘I don’t think we are going to have a liquidity crisis. I think it’s going to be a value reset. I think there is going to be a jarring downward price adjustment both in the stock market and in the bond market. This phantom or phony wealth that has been created since the last crisis is going to basically evaporate.’
So, what asset is safe? Stockman says gold and goes onto explain, ‘I think the time to buy (gold and silver) is ideal. Gold is the ultimate and only real money. Gold is the only safe asset when push comes to shove. They tell you to buy the government bond, that’s a safe asset. It’s not a safe asset at its current price. I am not saying the federal government is going to default in the next two or three years. I am saying the yield on a 10-year bond of 2.4% is way below of where it’s going to end up. So, the only safe asset left is gold. This crazy Bitcoin mania has drained off what would otherwise be a demand for gold. . . . When Bitcoin collapses, spectacularly, which it will because it’s sheer mania in the markets right now. When it collapses, I think a lot of that demand will come back into gold, as well as people fleeing the standard stock and bond markets for the first time in 9 or 10 years.’

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on December 27th, 2017.

Peso Pounded Most Since Election As Corruption Probe Deepens

The Mexican peso has tumbled over 3% in the last 4 days, plunging to its weakest against the USDollar since March as the ongoing corruption investigation soured market sentiment.
As we detailed yesterday, a deepening graft investigation involving Alejandro Gutierrez, a former deputy of sitting President Enrique Pena Nieto could imperil his party’s chances in the coming July elections. An ongoing scandal could also bolster the prospects of leftist rival Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
“The news of this arrest scares investors,” said Jesus Lopez, a strategist at Banco Base in Monterrey, Mexico. “These days, the exchange rate is more sensitive because of low liquidity, and we already know that the peso is more vulnerable from the political side.”
And the pso is extending losses…

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 22, 2017.

What The GOP Pols Have Wrought—A Fiscal, Economic And Political Monster, Part 1

The GOP tax bill is not “at least something”. It’s not “better than nothing”. And, no, we are not letting the perfect become the enemy of the good.
In truth, this thing is a fiscal, economic and political monster. It is hands down the worst tax bill enacted in the last half-century—-maybe even since FDR’s 1937 soak-the-rich scheme, which re-ignited the Great Depression.
True, rather than soak them, the GOP’s bill will pleasure America’s wealthy with a bountiful harvest of tax relief. Owners of public equities, for example, will garner a trillion dollar shower of extra dividends and stock buybacks from the corporate rate cut.
Likewise, 4 million top bracket ATM (alternative minimum tax) payers will be relieved of about $80 billion per year of Uncle Sam’s extractions; around 5,000 dead people per year with estates above $20 million will get to leave more behind; owners of real estate will be able to deduct another 20% of property income that isn’t already sheltered by depreciation and interest deductions; and tax accountants and lawyers will become stinking rich helping America’s proprietorships (24 million), S-corporations (4 million), partnerships (3.5 million) and farms (1.8 million) convert their “ordinary income” into newly deductible “qualified business income”.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on Wednesday, December 20th, 2017.

OPEC vs IEA: Who’s Right On Oil Prices?

Last week, the International Energy Agency made a lot of OPEC brows furrow when it warned that 2018 may not be a very happy new year for the cartel.
U. S. shale supply, the IEA said in its December Oil Market Report, is set to grow more than OPEC has estimated and this could be the undoing of the production cut that boosted prices this year.
OPEC, for its part, has insisted that U. S. shale production won’t grow as much as the IEA says, baffling some observers who now wonder who they should believe. But let’s put it another way: If the coach of a football team tells you that his team will win the cup because they’re the best, but the football association has estimated that the team is not the best one in the league, who would you believe?

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

British Parliament Chaos as Tory Rebels Try to Stop BREXIT

The Tory Rebels in the UK Parliament joined forces with Labour and the Remain Camp to defeat BREXIT in reality. They claim that Parliament will now vote on the BREXIT deal, but in reality, they have created an open door for more uncertainty and economic chaos.
The Tory rebels were Mr. Grieve, Heidi Allen, Ken Clarke, Jonathan Djanogly, Stephen Hammond, Sir Oliver Heald, Nicky Morgan, Bob Neill, Antoinette Sandbach, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston. Another Conservative MP, John Stevenson, abstained from voting in both lobbies. Meanwhile, two Labour MPs, Frank Field, and Kate Hoey voted with the government.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Dec 18, 2017.

Good Riddance!

CNBC’s Fed fanboy, Steve Liesman, accidentally knocked one out of the park yeserday when he lured Janet Yellen into a quip that will surely go down as the signature insanity of her baleful tenure. Liesman thus queried:
“Every day it seems the stock market goes up triple digits… is it now, or will it soon become a worry for the central bank that valuations are this high?”
After a bit of double talk interspersed with gobbledygook, Yellen uttered the money quote:
”There is nothing flashing red there or possibly even orange,” on asset valuations…
Holy cow!
Surely our soon to be pensioned-off Keynesian School Marm was not thinking about the fact that the S&P 500 stood at 2662 as she spoke, which amounts to 24.9X the $107 per share of earnings posted by America’s leading companies for the LTM period ending in September 2017.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on Thursday, December 14th, 2017.

Nomiki Konst: Signs of a Revolution Within the Democratic Party

“Now that the queen [Hillary] is gone, ding dong, people are actually starting to say what they believe, and feel.”
Nomiki Konst
Here is some additional insights from her about what is going on in the attempts to reform the Democratic National Committee after the recent scandals regarding favoritism and internal irregularities by ‘the Hillary people.’
Although she is cited as an investigative reporter, which she is, Nomiki Konst is also a political insider in the Democratic Party organization. And she is quite knowledgeable.


This post was published at Jesses Crossroads Cafe on 14 DECEMBER 2017.

Bubble Finance And The Era of No-See-Um Recessions

Today’s single most dangerous Wall Street meme is that there is no risk of a stock market crash because there is no recession in sight. But that proposition is dead wrong because it’s a relic of your grandfather’s economy. That is, a reasonably functioning capitalist order in which the stock market priced-out company earnings and the underlying macroeconomic substrate from which they arose.
Back then, Economy drove Finance: You therefore needed a main street contraction to trigger tumbling profits, which, in turn, caused Wall Street to mark-down the NPV (net present value) of future company earnings streams and the stock prices which embodied them.
No longer. After three decades of monetary central planning and heavy-handed falsification of financial asset prices, causation has been reversed.
Finance now drives Economy: Recessions happen when central bank fostered financial bubbles reach an asymptotic peak and then crash under their own weight, triggering desperate restructuring actions in the corporate C-suites designed to prop up stock prices and preserve the collapsing value of executive stock options.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on Wednesday, December 13th, 2017.

Look, Mom, No Hands!

Wall Street’s manic melt-up is pushing stock prices ever deeper into the realm of insanity, and nowhere is that more evident than in the Russell 2000 (RUT). At today’s level of 1525, it is now up by 312% from the post-crisis bottom and nearly 80% from the prior tippy-top peak in May 2007.
More significantly, the RUT has risen by 6.8% per year since January 2000 while domestic final sales have increased from $10.6 trillion to $20.0 trillion or by just 3.8% per annum. That is, the RUT index has gained at nearly twice the growth rate of nominal domestic final sales.
Surely it doesn’t take an MBA from Harvard to recognize that a gap that wide stretching over 17 years is deeply suspect. For instance, had this broad-based basket of domestic stocks risen in parallel with domestic sales, which over time they must, the index would today stand at 935 or nearly 40% below the current price level.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on Tuesday, December 12th, 2017.

What’s Going On Inside Your Wall Street Brokerage Firm?

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Wall Street’s self-regulator with a long history of conflicts of interest, has released a summary of its findings from the examinations it conducts at the nation’s brokerage firms. As is typical of FINRA, the document released to the public is extremely light on details. (Almost half of FINRA’s Board comes from inside the industry, with current representation from JPMorgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, Citadel and Fidelity, to name just a few of the insiders.)
One area of the report did stand out, however. FINRA has expressed concerns about the fairness of the price you’re getting on the stock or bond trade you’re placing with your broker. In Wall Street parlance, this is known as ‘Best Execution.’ The report explains:
‘Best execution is a significant investor protection requirement that essentially obligates a broker dealer to exercise reasonable care to execute a customer’s order in a way to obtain the most advantageous terms for the customer… If a broker-dealer receives an order routing inducement, such as payment for order flow, or trades as principal with customer orders, it must not let those factors interfere with its duty of best execution nor take them into account in analyzing market quality…
‘FINRA had concerns regarding the duty of best execution at firms of all sizes that receive, handle, route or execute customer orders in equities, options and fixed income securities. FINRA found that some firms failed to implement and conduct an adequate regular and rigorous review of the quality of the executions of their customers’ orders…
‘As a result of such deficiencies, these firms failed to assure that order flow was directed to markets providing the most beneficial terms for their customers’ orders. FINRA notes that conducting a regular and rigorous review of customer execution quality is critical to the supervision of best execution practices, particularly if a firm routes customer orders to an alternative trading system in which the firm has a financial interest or market centers that provide order routing inducements, such as payment for order flow arrangements and order routing rebates.’

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on December 12, 2017.

The 30-Years Bubble—Why America Ain’t That Rich

The entire financial and economic narrative in today’s Bubble Finance world is virtually context- and history-free; it’s all about the short-term deltas and therefore exceedingly misleading and dangerous.
So when a big trend or condition is negative and unsustainable, you generally can’t even get a glimpse of it from the so-called “high-frequency” weekly, monthly and even quarterly data on which the financial press and its casino patrons thrive. And that’s not merely because most of the data from the government statistical mills is heavily massaged and modeled and often “adjusted” beyond recognition over 3-5 year intervals of statistical revision.
Beyond that, however, even medium term trends get largely ignored. That’s because the purpose of economic and financial data today is to facilitate daily (and hourly) trading in the casino—not inform long-term investors about underlying trends, conditions and prospects.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on Monday, December 11th, 2017.

Bulgaria Government Shocked To Discover It Owns $3 Billion In Bitcoin

Bulgaria’s GDP is about $52.4 billion (2016), so it is quite a shock that the Bulgarian Government is sitting on an approximate $3 billion worth of Bitcoins seized in an anti-corruption operation back in May.
Putting this into a little more glaring context, Bulgaria is holding 18% of the national debt in bitcoins…
Fun fact: today's bitcoin prices have been interesting enough that there was a significant difference in how much Bulgaria had in USD between me writing this story and my editor editing it.
— Nikhilesh De (@nikhileshde) December 7, 2017

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 9, 2017.

Fake Tax Reform

After supposedly chomping on the bit for years to pass meaningful tax reform, Republicans are now set to blow an historic opportunity. Whatever version of the Bill that emerges from the House and Senate Conference Committee (which will be signed by President Trump faster than he can down a Filet o’Fish), will be far less than the Republicans envisioned when they finally captured the White House and both Congressional Chambers in 2016. But from what I have seen of the particulars, the revisions to the tax code will offer a marginal, although temporary, win for low income individuals, a major slap for moderately successful wage earners and home owners, (especially in the high tax Blue States) and a huge victory for the extremely wealthy and certain categories of business owners. While it is certain that the plan will add to the growing deficit, its immediate economic and political impact is hard to predict.
For generations, taxpayers and politicians alike lambasted our overly complex tax code for its myriad of economic distorting loopholes that seemed to produce nothing except employment for legions of accountants and tax lawyers adept at gaming the system. As a result, talk about tax reform has always included proposals to make the system simpler, fairer, and more transparent. But on that front, the Republican proposals fail miserably. Trump and Congress will hail this achievement as being a major victory for the American people. But the true winner will be the swamp that Trump promised to drain.
Unlike Ronald Reagan, who passed tax reform in 1986 by striking a deal with Democrat House Speaker Tip O’Neill, Trump and Congressional Republicans faced no particular need to compromise. If Reagan had the benefits enjoyed by Trump, Ryan and McConnell, his tax cuts would have been paired with significant spending cuts and perhaps a balanced budget. But to get O’Neill (and his whopping 71 seat House majority) to go along, Reagan’s ideals of fiscal prudence and smaller government had to be set aside. But Trump is no Reagan, and today’s Republican Party has about as much commitment to shrinking the size of government as did the Democrats in the 1980s.

This post was published at Euro Pac on Thursday, December 7, 2017.

Catalonia’s Post-‘Independence’ Economic Hangover Sets In

Uncertainty, threats, and counter-threats.
By Don Quijones, Spain, UK, & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET.
Catalonia’s recent declaration of independence may have been a largely symbolic act but the economic hangover it has left in its wake is very real. Last month the number of unemployed in the region rose by 7,391 – the highest rise in a month of November since 2009. During the same period the number of people registered with social security fell by 4,038 – the sharpest fall since November 2013.
The economic pain is already taking a psychological toll. According to a new poll published by Spain’s Center for Sociological Research (CIS for its Spanish acronym), the number of households that fear that their economic situation will worsen in the next six months surged from 14.2% in August to 22.2% in October. By contrast, in Spain as a whole there was hardly any change, with the rate barely budging from 15.1% to 15.6%.
Almost 3,000 firms have shifted the registered address of their headquarters outside Catalonia since the banned referendum on October 1, many to Madrid. Although the exodus has slowed in recent weeks, every day dozens of Catalan companies continue to change their registered office, despite the express appeal of Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, to stop doing so after the activation of Article 155 of the Constitution.
The Catalan exodus has so far been purely administrative, with companies effectively shifting domiciles, the ‘brass plate’ of the business, to avoid legal and tax complications rather than moving staff or operations, which would have huge cost and logistical implications.

This post was published at Wolf Street on Dec 6, 2017.

Just How Dangerous Is Trumps Latest Fed Board of Governors Pick?

Last week, Pres. Donald Trump nominated Marvin Goodfriend to fill a vacancy on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. When we reported the news, we called him ‘another swamp creature’ – a member of the Washington D. C./Wall Street clan Trump promised to drain away.
We’re not alone in our thinking. In an article on the Mises Wire, Tho Bishop called Goodfriend’s nomination ‘a dangerous act of outright betrayal to Trump’s core constituency of working-class voters.’
It’s true Goodfriend’s views on monetary policy don’t fit in with the current Fed status quo. But that’s not a good thing. Goodfriend isn’t a fan of the conventional radical policy of quantitative easing. He’s actually a proponent of an even more radical policy.
Following is Bishop’s analysis in its entirety.
Donald Trump nominated Marvin Goodfriend to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, one of the numerous vacancies that have emerged over the course of the past year. While his prior nominations of Jay Powell as Chairman and Randal Quarles as Vice Chair represented a disappointing commitment to the status quo, his selection of Goodfriend is a dangerous act of outright betrayal to Trump’s core constituency of working class voters.
The timing of the decision is ironic. After all, while Trump is busy lobbying Senate Republicans to support his desired tax cuts, he has decided to nominate a would-be central banker who wants to effectively tax the bank accounts of American citizens.

This post was published at Schiffgold on DECEMBER 5, 2017.

Transparency on Wall Street: SEC Chair Raises Weak Defenses

On November 8, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman, Jay Clayton, delivered a speech at the Practising Law Institute’s 49thAnnual Institute on Securities Regulation. His focus was transparency on Wall Street and he had this nugget of wisdom to share with the audience:
‘Looking back at enforcement actions, a common theme emerges – where opacity exists, bad behavior tends to follow. As Joseph Pulitzer said: ‘There is not a crime, there is not a dodge, there is not a trick, there is not a swindle, there is not a vice which does not live by secrecy.’ The remainder of my remarks will concentrate on topics that have proven over time to be fertile ground for fraud on investors. The SEC may not yet have policy or rulemaking answers in these areas, but we are on the lookout for ways to fight the type of opacity that can create an environment conducive to misconduct.’
The SEC was created to police Wall Street under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The legislation came on the heels of the U. S. Senate holding three years of hearings that showed Wall Street to be a cesspool of opaque self dealing and collusion that had led to the 1929 stock market collapse and ensuing Great Depression. The SEC has now had 83 years to hone its investigative skills and techniques. And yet, it wore blinders in the runup to the epic Wall Street crash of 2007-2009, which was caused by the same type of corruption that was ferreted out by the U. S. Senate after the 1929 crash. Its blinders remain securely in place.

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on December 4, 2017.

The EU (with Help from Germany) just Made Monsanto’s Day

One of Germany’s largest companies is trying to buy Monsanto, which changes everything.
A majority of EU governments voted on Monday to extend the European license for glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s flagship product, Roundup, for another five years. One of the deciding votes was cast by the caretaker government of Germany, which came off the fence after abstaining in previous meetings.
The decision was made despite a petition signed by more than 1.3 million EU citizen-subjects calling for a European ban on the weedkiller.
The five-year extension is welcome news for Monsanto, which has found itself in the rather unusual position of being on the back foot in recent years, especially since the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) declared that glyphosate is ‘probably carcinogenic’. The company is facing a rash of potentially costly law suits in the US from farmers, members of their families, and others who claim that Roundup is connected to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

This post was published at Wolf Street by Don Quijones ‘ Nov 28, 2017.