The Biggest Tech Stocks Come Unglued

Nasdaq hits record, bounces off, plunges.
Wow, did you see that? That was quick.
Friday morning between 10:15 AM and 11:15 AM, the Nasdaq gallivanted around blissfully for an entire hour in record territory of around 6,340 with not a worry in sight, and then someone must have looked at the valuations or something, and it became infectious, and the sell-orders started pouring out, and by 2:48 PM, the Nasdaq hit a low for the day of 6,160, down 3.1% from peak to trough.
It closed at 6,208, down 114 points, or 1.8%, its biggest daily decline so far this year.
Meanwhile, the Dow rose nearly 90 points or 0.4% to 21,272. And the S&P 500 ended down a minuscule 2 points.
The market is so dependent on the infamous FAANG stocks: Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Alphabet (the Google in the acronym). And here’s how they did:

This post was published at Wolf Street on Jun 9, 2017.

$43 Million In Cash Found In Empty Nigerian Apartment

It appears that at least one “Nigerian prince” had the cash to back his claims.
Nigeria’s anti-corruption unit discovered more than $43 million in US dollars at an upscale apartment in Lagos, after receiving an anonymous tip. As CTV News reports, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission received a tip from a whistleblower who reported suspicious activity when they noticed someone moving bags in and out of the apartment, according to a Facebook post.

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

SEC Targets Seeking Alpha, Benzinga In Crack Down On “Fake News” Pump And Dumps

With the recent crackdown on political “fake news”, where a handful of media mega-corporations such as Facebook and Google have emerged as the ultimate arbiter of what is real or isn’t, in the process unleashing allegations of conflicts of interest, it was only a matter of time before the SEC got the hint and brought the hammer down. That time is now, because as Reuters reports, the SEC on Monday announced a crackdown against “pump and dump” stock promotion schemes in which writers were secretly paid to post hundreds of bullish articles about public companies on financial websites.
Some 27 individuals and entities, including a Hollywood actress (shown below), were charged with misleading investors into believing they were reading “independent, unbiased analyses” on websites such as Seeking Alpha, Benzinga and Wall Street Cheat Sheet.
The SEC said many writers used pseudonyms such as Equity Options Guru, The Swiss Trader, Trading Maven and Wonderful Wizard to hype stocks. It was not immediately clear if bearish “pseudonymous characters” were also responsible for talking down stocks.
While not as pervasive as alleged “fake news” in the political realm, the SEC said had it identified more than 450 problem articles, of which more than 250 falsely said the writers were not being paid.
Unlike traditional cases where the SEC alleges fraud, usually involving trading on inside information, in this case the crackdown is not against improper market information but misrepresentation of conflicts of interest and marketing.
“This is different from the fraud cases that you usually see us bring,” Stephanie Avakian, acting director of the SEC enforcement division, said on the conference call. “Here, we allege that the fraud was in presenting the analysis as impartial,” she said. “It was bought and paid for.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 10, 2017.

WikiLeaks trove fails to shift dial on Trump-Putin narrative — Pepe Escobar

The massive WikiLeaks Vault 7 release is an extremely important public service. It’s hard to find anyone not concerned by a secret CIA hacking program targeting virtually the whole planet – using malware capable of bypassing encryption protection on any device from iOS to Android, and from Windows to Samsung TVs.
In a series of tweets, Edward Snowden confirmed the CIA program and said code names in the documents are real; that they could only be known by a ‘cleared insider;’ the FBI and CIA knew all about the digital loopholes, but kept them open to spy; and that the leaks provided the ‘first public evidence’ that the US government secretly paid to keep U.S. software unsafe.
If that’s not serious enough, WikiLeaks alleges that ‘the CIA has lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal;’ several hundred million lines of code – more than what is used to run Facebook.
Someone among the former U.S. government hackers and contractors ended up leaking portions of the CIA archive (Snowden II?). WikiLeaks also stressed how the CIA had created, in effect, its ‘own NSA’ – maximum unaccountability included.

This post was published at Asia Times

Brazil Supreme Court Justice Presiding Over Carwash Corruption Scandal Dies In Plane Crash

Update: as feared, the Supreme Court Justice has died. Reuters with the update:
Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Teori Zavascki was killed in a plane crash on Thursday, his son said, raising doubt over who will take over his blockbuster graft investigation into dozens of politicians.
Rescuers found three bodies in the wreckage of the small, twin-prop plane that crashed off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state amid heavy rains, according to firefighters. “Dear friends, we have just received confirmation that our dad died! Thank you all for your thoughts,” his son, Francisco Prehn Zavascki, said on his Facebook page.
A judicial source earlier told Reuters that Zavascki was on board the aircraft.
Zavascki had been reviewing explosive testimony from dozens of executives at engineering group Odebrecht that has been expected to implicate hundreds of politicians in the biggest corruption case in Brazil’s history.

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

Where Is The Left-Wing When A Country Needs One?

I was about to write a detailed and favorable review of Greg Palast’s book, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits when a friend sent me a request to ‘share’ Palast’s Facebook LIVE broadcast of Palast’s documentary exposing ‘exactly how Trump and his cronies attacked the voting rights of a million minority voters to steal the White House.’
Let’s see, Trump won the presidency by winning 84% of geographical America, losing only the black, hispanic, and white liberal vote; yet he stole the election by disenfranchising one million blacks. These blacks don’t live in flyover America. They live in the 500 counties that went for Hillary. 2,600 counties went for Trump.
Here is the map. It tells the story: I am disappointed with Palast, a good investigative reporter, but I understand his frustration.
Palast, despite his virtues, has the failing of so many of those on the left-of-center. They are required to hate ‘conservatives’ and anyone identified as one, whether justified or not. The only thing in Palast’s book about voter suppression with which I disagree is his gratuitous, unexplained designation of Pat Buchanan as ‘a pinhead bigot.’

This post was published at Paul Craig Roberts on January 19, 2017.

Buy C-R-A-P

We live in a modern world of acronyms and buzzwords, and the financial industry is certainly no exception. In fact, it may be one of the worst culprits, what with FANG, ZIRP, TINA, BREXIT, QUITALY, BRIC, etc. all entering the lexicon over the last few years. Yet, creating some catchy collection of consonants remains one of the most surefire ways to attract attention in this business since it, admittedly, makes for a great headline and gives strategists like us something fun to write about (‘fun’ being a relative measure). Well, now the new eye-catching acronym to watch, according to Tom Lee of Fundstrat is C-R-A-P – Computers, Resources, American Banks, and Phone Carriers – which are all levered to the investment recovery, inflation, and deregulation expected over the next year. Before I comment further on those recommendations, though, I want to point out that I like to follow Tom Lee’s thoughts because, like us, he lets the data do most of his thinking, and, like us, he was one of the few pundits last year who actually saw potential for the US stock market. He backed that up, too, with one of the highest S&P 500 targets among strategists for 2016 (2325), but now, according to Bloomberg, he has the lowest price target for 2017 among the fifteen strategists they track (2275), further proof that he doesn’t just parrot consensus numbers.
Reading between the lines of his comments, Lee does not see a substantial upside for the stock market as a whole in 2017, at least not without a pullback first, but he does believe a potential exists among individual areas of the market. This line of thinking is consistent with our view that passive indexing may be more frustrating for this type of investing environment because you will be dragged down by the underperforming sectors and the increased volatility may make it more difficult to hold onto positions long enough to achieve the eventual performance. We generally agree, too, that the C-R-A-P stocks should do well in the political and economic landscape that many expect on the horizon. If inflation does pick up, driven by fiscal stimulus and more robust economic growth, Fundstrat argues that the contemporaneous increase in wages will not hit technology company margins as hard given their reliance on more high-skilled workers, and we, too, continue to advise an overweight of Tech to benefit from the Computers sub-sector. The big acronym of 2015 and 2016, the so-called FANG stocks, may already be coming back into favor, as well, with Facebook Inc. (FB/$123.41/Outperform), Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN/$795.99/Outperform), Netflix Inc. (NFLX/$131.07/Outperform), and Alphabet Inc. (GOOG/$806.15/Outperform) all breaking out to new reaction highs last week.

This post was published at FinancialSense on 01/10/2017.

Confessions Of A Fake News Reporter

‘A lie can travel half way around the world while truth is still putting on its shoes.’ ~ Mark Twain
I write for those so-called ‘fake news’ websites. You know the ones: the 200 odd deplorable websites, the ones Hillary, the Pope and Michael Moore have attacked as threatening to destroy World Peace, Democracy, Facebook and the Mainstream Media (MSM).
I only write for a handful of them, sad to say, although I’ve been linked to scores more. One of my recent columns went viral and it probably swayed the entire election – for better or worse: Before Trump, Sen Bulworth Spoke Truth To Power . Seriously, the blatant corruption of the losing team, from Super Delegates to Podesta and PizzaGate to hidden Hillary health issues and secret sums of money funneling through the Clinton Foundation in ‘Pay to Play’ accusations cost them the election, despite the best efforts and endorsements of the entire American media.
I’ve written for Rense, Counterpunch, Antiwar and Zerohedge. Most of my best stuff appears here on Strike The Root first, or STR as we call it, a website where Henry David Thoreau rather than Mark Zuckerberg is our moderator. Tragically, STR did not appear on ProporNot and we are devastated, absolutely devastated. Not.
Sometimes I ask my friends: If knowledge is power and ignorance is bliss, which is preferable? I always hope someone will respond, as Socrates or Obi Wan would have: Knowledge of our ignorance is power; bliss in this age is unattainable.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 7, 2017.

Auroville’s “Utopia”: A Town without Money or Politics?

A video by David Wolfe about the town of Auroville, India is being shared around social media again and the town is presented as a self-sustaining, utopian paradise void of such unseemly hindrances as money, religion, and politics.
Unfortunately, like nearly everything circulating in the meme-feed these days, if it seems too good to be true it is. In this case, the information presented by the video maker should be rated by PolitiFact as a ‘pants on fire lie.’ Digging beneath the surface, however, reveals that the City of the Dawn established in 1968 by a person called ‘The Mother’ is rife with predictable economic realities that border on hilarities when compared to the presentation in David Wolfe’s 60-second Facebook video.
I’ll only address Wolfe’s claims here and won’t even go into the matters of corruption and crime which have become serious problems in Auroville.
Auroville as a ‘Moneyless Society’ Theoretically, the only ways a society could exist without money would be a barter economy, void of any medium of exchange, or a complete command economy. A thorough perusal of Auroville’s official website, however, reveals that neither of these hypothetical organizations fits Auroville’s situation, though redistribution of production is influenced by a central authority.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on October 7, 2016.

Dotcom 2.0 – – Where Are All They Eyeballs At Facebook And Google

Martin Sorrell told you so.
The WPP boss has railed against the opacity of Facebook and Google for years, calling for independent checks on the effectiveness of advertising on the sites. So when Facebook said on Thursday that it had overestimated the average viewing time for video ads on the social network for the past two years, the veteran ad man was proven right.
This matters because big brands are pouring ad dollars online, with nearly half of spending going to Google and Facebook alone – as the chart below shows. Not only do the likes of Unilever and P&G want to make sure their dollars aren’t going to waste, they want to know they’re reaching the right people.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner By Leila Abboud, Bloomberg Business ‘ September 26, 2016.

Pardon Edward Snowden – -He Courageously Exposed The Deep State Lawbreakers

On 6 June 2013, the Guardian broke the news National Security Agency (NSA) had ordered Verizon to provide it with the phone records of its customers. As the story developed it became clear that the two other major telephone networks as well as credit card companies were doing the same thing; and that the NSA and FBI were being provided with access to server systems operated by Google, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft and Skype.
On 11 June the Guardian reported the source as Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old who had been working at the NSA for four years.
Snowden believed it was important for him to publicly acknowledge his role in order to provide a human face to the story. He knew he was putting his life at risk and exposing himself to decades of incarceration. ‘My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them,’ he explained. Snowden hoped to trigger a debate ‘about the kind of world we want to live in’. The US government began an immediate campaign to track, harass and silence him.
More revelations followed that exposed a massive national security complex that spies on virtually everyone, everywhere. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA), which is a secret court that was supposed to protect our privacy rights, was rubber-stamping every NSA request for the authority to spy without any real oversight. The US government was spying on foreign leaders, working with British spies to collect massive amounts of global data across the planet, and collecting over 200 million text messagesdaily. And the NSA was working to stop encryption (a technology developed to protect the privacy of both private individuals and businesses).

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner By Jill Stein, The Guardian ‘ September 15, 2016.

“Election Fraud Underway” – NBC Affiliate Posts “Election Results” For Florida Race That Hasn’t Happened Yet

Republican candidate for Florida House District 86, Laurel Bennett, was a bit shocked over the weekend when she discovered that a local West Palm Beach NBC affiliate, WPTV, reported that she had lost a race even though votes hadn’t been cast yet. Why do we need voters when it’s far easier to just skip straight to the results?
The note from WPTV showed Laurel getting 12,189 votes or 45%. Laurel posted the following comment to her facebook page in response to the erroneous report:
‘Election fraud is already taking place here in Palm Beach County! WPTV is posting election results, today, when the race is Tuesday! Please spread the word and contact everyone you know to vote Bennett on Tuesday! I have a snapshot of it! End corruption in Palm Beach! It begins with you, the voter!’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 29, 2016.

THE FEDERAL RESERVE JUST MADE A FACEBOOK PAGE… AND IT’S ALREADY GETTING DESTROYED BY TROLLS

The Federal Reserve bank is well-known for its secrecy. But in an attempt to reach out to the people it claims to serve, the monolithic bank just created a Facebook page . . . and it’s probably really regretting that decision.
Unlike Twitter, where the Fed decides which comments to reply to – and therefore which show up publicly on its page – its public Facebook page, launched Thursday morning, is not as restrictive. In fact, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System page has been relentlessly trolled since it went up.
The Federal Reserve bank was originally crafted largely by bankers, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. It has never been fully audited since the Federal Reserve Act was passed in 1913, yet it enjoys an omnipresent status in the United States. As the Fed’s Facebook page points out, ‘Over the years, its role in banking and the economy has expanded.’
People have protested the banking institution since it was created, but it remains one of the best-guarded, most opaque institutions in the country.
A congressionally mandated audit by the Government Accountability Office in 2011 found the Fed had loaned out $16 trillion dollars to big banks around the world. As noted by Senator Bernie Sanders at the time, ‘This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you’re-on-your-own individualism for everyone else.’
Sanders’s press release highlighted a more specific conflict of interest:

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on AUGUST 23, 2016.

Bubbles In Bond Land – – A Central Bank Made Mania, Part 1

….. Sometimes an apt juxtaposition is worth a thousand words, and here’s one that surely fits the bill.
Last year Japan lost another 272,000 of its population as it marched resolutely toward its destiny as the world’s first bankrupt old age colony. At the same time, the return on Japan’s 40-year bond during the first six months of 2016 has been an astonishing 48%.
That’s right!
We aren’t talking Tesla, the biotech index or Facebook. To the contrary, like the rest of the Japanese yield curve, this bond has no yield and no prospect of repayment.
But that doesn’t matter because it’s not really a sovereign bond anymore. These Japanese government’s bonds (JGBs) have actually morphed into risk free gambling chips.
Front-running speculators are scooping up whatever odds and sots of JGB’s that remain on the market and are selling them to the Bank of Japan (BOJ) at higher and higher and higher prices.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on August 22, 2016.

More Crony Capitalism: Aetna Gives An Ultimatum To The DOJ – “If Humana Deal Is Blocked, We Exit Obamacare”

US health insurer Aetna already made waves earlier this week when it announced on Monday that it would exit 11 of 15 state exchanges in which it offers Obamacare plans as a result of mushrooming financial losses. While that move was largely expected due to the inherent flaws in Obamacare, today it surprised market watchers, and its shareholders, again by handing an ultimatum to the Department of Justice, and thus the US government, threatening it would immediately reduce its presence in the remaining Affordable Care Act exchanges and cancel a planned expansion, if its merger with Humana was blocked.
Amusingly, the analysis of the announcement broke down firmly along party line: according to some, the previous decision to exit more than two-thirds of Obamacare exchanges was the first shot across the DOJ’s bow, coming a few weeks after the Department of Justice filed a suit to stop the Humana merger. Prominent Republicans, including Donald Trump’s campaign, said the move, which came after similar ones by other major insurers, reflected flaws of the ACA. Others, notably those with a more Democratic bent, including Elizabeth Warren, suggested that Aetna’s stance on the exchanges was affected by the Justice Department’s decision. ‘The health of the American people should not be used as bargaining chips to force the government to bend to one giant company’s will,’ she wrote in a Facebook post.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 17, 2016.

Sheriff Raids House To Find Anonymous Blogger Who Called Him Corrupt

Authored by Naomi LaChance, originally posted at TheIntercept.com,
After a watchdog blog repeatedly linked him and other local officials to corruption and fraud, the Sheriff of Terrebone Parish in Louisiana on Tuesday sent six deputies to raid a police officer’s home to seize computers and other electronic devices.
Sheriff Jerry Larpenter’s deputies submitted affidavits alleging criminal defamation against the anonymous author of the ExposeDAT blog, and obtained search warrants to seize evidence in the officer’s house and from Facebook.
The officer, Wayne Anderson, works for the police department of Houma, the county seat of Terrebone Parish – and according to New Orleans’ WWL-TV, formerly worked as a Terrebone Sheriff’s deputy.
Anderson was placed on paid leave about an hour and a half after the raid on his house, Jerri Smitko, one of his attorneys, told The Intercept. She said that he has not yet been officially notified about why.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 5, 2016.

Vegan Food Startup Hampton Creek Used Venture Capital To Buy Its Own Products

Call it the perfect pyramid scheme for the “new normal.”
In the latest example of the venture capital euphoria that has dominated the US in recent years, not to mention potential fraud, Bloomberg reports that vegan food startup Hampton Creek, had a novel idea of how to spend the venture funding it had raised: by buying up its own product. To wit:
In late 2014, fledgling entrepreneur Josh Tetrick persuaded investors to plow $90 million into his vegan food startup Hampton Creek Inc. Tetrick had impressed leading Silicon Valley venture capital firms by getting his eggless Just Mayo product into Walmart, Kroger, Safeway, and other top U. S. supermarkets within about three years of starting his company.
What Tetrick and his team neglected to mention is that the startup undertook a large-scale operation to buy back its own mayo, which made the product appear more popular than it really was. At least eight months before the funding round closed, Hampton Creek executives quietly launched a campaign to purchase mass quantities of Just Mayo from stores, according to five former workers and more than 250 receipts, expense reports, cash advances and e-mails reviewed by Bloomberg. In addition to buying up hundreds of jars of the product across the U. S., contractors were told to call store managers pretending they were customers and ask about Just Mayo. Strong demand for a product typically prompts retailers to order more and stock it in additional stores.
Wait is that legal? Well, technically it is not illegal, although it is extremely unethical (imagine if, gasp, Facebook was using click-farms to fabricate users – it’s the same concept) however it underscore the money printing culture permeating the VC community, which through its generosity may be implicitly enabling fraud. Case in point: Theranos, and now Hampton Creek.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 4, 2016.

Who Said It’s Rigged? Silicon Valley Elites Get Home Loans With No Money Down

It turns out that even the well-off need help in a housing market as crazy as the one in the San Francisco Bay area, and lenders are elbowing each other in a rush to provide it.
They’re courting Silicon Valley workers with tailored loans, guaranteed 24-hour approval and financial-planning services. Social Finance Inc. has deals with Google and other top technology companies that allow it to market to new hires. First Republic Bank – which gave Facebook Inc. billionaire Mark Zuckerberg a 1.05 percent interest-rate mortgage – has opened branches in Facebook and Twitter Inc. headquarters. San Francisco Federal Credit Union will finance 100 percent of houses costing up to $2 million.
Michael Tannenbaum, senior vice president of SoFi’s mortgage group, calls it ‘white-glove service.’ Lenders often give special treatment to the wealthy, of course, but the tech industry has created a particularly ripe crop of clients who are rich or on their way. It’s a smart bet to cater to a sector that’s created thousands of millionaires and dozens of billionaires, says Glenn Kelman, chief executive officer of the brokerage Redfin. The downside is that the most expensive U. S. housing region is becoming ‘a no-fly zone for anyone outside technology,’ especially with so many people shut out altogether by tight credit standards imposed after the 2008 real estate crash.
What’s going on ‘might be good for the borrower and good for the lender,’ he says, ‘but it’s not necessarily good for San Francisco.’

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on July 28, 2016.

Gallup Economic Confidence Index plunges while stock market near record: Stock Market decoupled from financial well being of average Americans.

Gallup releases an Economic Confidence Index which should reflect the overall sentiment of Americans as it pertains to the economy. With the stock market near record highs and the housing bubble market soaring, you would expect average Americans to be smiling from ear to ear with glee. But when you click on over to Gallup, the chart looks downright gloomy like finding out you just failed a midterm exam you studied so hard for. While Gallup may be stumped and scratching their head as to why this divergence is there, I feel we have touched upon a few points as to why this is occurring. First, half of Americans don’t even own one stock. Next, you have many U. S. companies making large profits abroad. Good for the company but that doesn’t translate necessarily into a better financial position for most Americans. Housing values being inflated only keeps Americans from buying as reflected in a generationally low homeownership rate. In other words, crony capitalism is working as it should.
People understand that something is rotten in Denmark
The Gallup Economic Confidence Index looks like it is taking a similar trip to Enron’s stock. People are just not happy with the economy. People don’t pay the bills with the stock market and while half the nation is playing Pokmon Go and then going to Facebook to enjoy the latest celebrity gossip a large part of America is wondering why they are flat broke. Rome had its version of distracting the public and it involved feeding gladiators to wild animals. Today we throw cute balls to virtual fuzzy animals.

This post was published at MyBudget360 on July 19, 2016.

The celebrity privacy case that exposes hypocrisy of Silicon Valley power brokers

Ours is a world where a handful of technology companies – along with a considerably higher number of their billionaire owners – are heading towards power that will border on the absolute, uncontested not just by politics but also by the media of any kind.
Two seemingly unrelated recent news stories make it quite clear. First, a report from Moody’s Investors Service suggests that just five US tech firms – Apple, Microsoft, Google, Cisco and Oracle – hold $504bn (345bn) in spare cash, a third of total reserves by all U.S. corporations (excluding financial companies). It is the first time that all of the top five spots have gone to companies in the tech sector.
A recent raid by the French police on Google’s Paris office – part of a 1.6bn (1.2bn) tax probe – hints at the origins of that wealth. And that spare cash rests on – and produces – political power. Google’s lobbying expenses, for example, are some of the highest in the business world; its lobbyists have visited the White House, on average, more than once a week in the period between Barack Obama’s election and October 2015.
The second news story has to do with Peter Thiel, the unconventional investor who made his name as a co-founder of PayPal, and who went on to make his fortune as a venture capitalist, backing companies including Facebook in their early days. Thiel, it turns out, has bankrolled the controversial lawsuit brought by Hulk Hogan, the celebrity wrestler, against Gawker, the gossip site. Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, sued for invasion of privacy after Gawker published an excerpt of a leaked sex tape in 2012. He has been awarded $115m by the courts; Gawker’s future is uncertain.

This post was published at The Guardian