• A Plurality Of Voters Want Special Counsel To Investigate Clinton And Trump

    Despite Jeff Sessions’ surprising insistence during his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee earlier this week that there’s ‘no factual basis’ to appoint a special counsel to investigate actions by Clinton and former FBI Director James Comey, a plurality of voters believe special prosecutors should be investigating both the Clinton and Trump campaigns, according to a recent study that was shared with the Hill.
    The latest Harvard CAPS/Harris survey found that 44 percent of voters surveyed said a special counsel is needed to investigate both campaigns, meanwhile twenty-seven percent said only Trump needs to be investigated, while 21 percent said only Clinton needs to be investigated and nine percent said neither should be investigated.
    The poll’s findings also showed that the number of voters who believe Special Counsel Mueller has found hard evidence of collusion is a paltry 38 percent, while 36 percent say there is no hard evidence yet and 27 percent saying they don’t know.
    Unsurprisingly, the survey concluded that the public believes the Mueller investigation is hurting American democracy more than it is helping by implying that powerful, politically-connected Democrats who have the implicit support of the FBI and Deep State intelligence apparatus are immune to prosecution, while an outsider like Trump is not.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 17, 2017.


  • How Uncle Sam Inflates Away Your Life

    ‘Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon,’ once remarked economist and Nobel Prize recipient Milton Friedman. He likely meant that inflation is the more rapid increase in the supply of money relative to the output of goods and services which money is traded for.
    As more and more money is issued relative to the output of goods and services in an economy, the money’s watered down and loses value.
    By this account, price inflation is not in itself rising prices. Rather, it’s the loss of purchasing power resulting from an inflating money supply.
    Indeed, Friedman offered a shrewd insight. However, he also accompanied it with an opportunist mindset. Friedman saw promise in the phenomenon of monetary inflation. Moreover, he saw it as a means to improve human productivity and economic growth.
    You see, a stable money supply was not good enough for Friedman. He advocated for moderate levels of monetary growth, and inflation, to perpetually stimulate the economy. By hardwiring consumers with the expectation of higher prices, policy makers could compel a relentless consumer demand.
    This desire to harness and control the inflation phenomenon has infected practically every government economist’s brain since the early 1970s.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 17, 2017.


  • THE BIGGEST WEALTH TRANSFER IN HISTORY

    What will happen between now and 2025? Nobody knows of course but I will later in this article have a little peek into the next 4-8 years.
    The concentration of wealth in the world has now reached dangerous proportions. The three richest people in the world have a greater wealth than the bottom 50%. The top 1% have a wealth of $33 trillion whilst the bottom 1% have a debt $196 billion.
    The interesting point is not just that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer. More interesting is to understand: How did we get there? and what will be the consequences?
    PANAMA & PARADISE PAPERS – SENSATIONALISM
    As the socialist dominated media dig into the Panama Papers and now recently the Paradise Papers to attack the rich and tell governments to tackle the unacceptable face of capitalism, nobody understands the real reasons for this enormous concentration of wealth. Sadly no journalist does any serious analysis of any issue, whether it is fake economic figures or the state of the world economy.
    Instead, all news is accepted as the truth while in fact a lot of news is fake or propaganda. The media is revelling in all the disclosures of offshore trusts and companies. The British Queen is being accused of having ‘hidden’ funds. The fact that offshore entities have been used legally for centuries for privacy, wealth preservation and creditor protection purposes is never mentioned. The media sell more much news by being sensational rather than factual.

    This post was published at GoldSwitzerland on November 17, 2017.


  • “This Just Feels Like Death”: Analysts Flee Research Positions Amid MiFID II Changes

    For the past couple of months, we’ve frequently shared our views that Europe’s MiFID II regulations, which force investment banks to charge for equity research instead of “giving it away” in return for trading commissions, could be a wake up call for 1,000’s of highly paid research analysts who were about to have their true ‘value add’ subjected to a market bidding test. Here are just a couple of examples:
    Deutsche Bank Forced To Slash Fixed-Income Research Price By Half On Lackluster Demand New European Regulations Set To Crush Equity Research Budgets By $300 Million Macquarie Identifies The Winners And Losers Of MiFID II Sticker Shock: Small Hedge Funds Seen Ditching I-Banking Research Under MiFID Now, per a note from Reuters, it seems that a growing number of equity research analysts are finally waking up to the fact that hedge funds don’t really have a burning desire to drop $400,000 per year on reports drafted by a 23-year-old recent college grad that do little more than summarize free SEC filings. Who could have known?

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 17, 2017.


  • The Great Retirement Con

    The Origins Of The Retirement Plan
    Back during the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress promised a monthly lifetime income to soldiers who fought and survived the conflict. This guaranteed income stream, called a “pension”, was again offered to soldiers in the Civil War and every American war since.
    Since then, similar pension promises funded from public coffers expanded to cover retirees from other branches of government. States and cities followed suit — extending pensions to all sorts of municipal workers ranging from policemen to politicians, teachers to trash collectors.
    A pension is what’s referred to as a defined benefit plan. The payout promised a worker upon retirement is guaranteed up front according to a formula, typically dependent on salary size and years of employment.
    Understandably, workers appreciated the security and dependability offered by pensions. So, as a means to attract skilled talent, the private sector started offering them, too.
    The first corporate pension was offered by the American Express Company in 1875. By the 1960s, half of all employees in the private sector were covered by a pension plan.
    Off-loading Of Retirement Risk By Corporations
    Once pensions had become commonplace, they were much less effective as an incentive to lure top talent. They started to feel like burdensome cost centers to companies.
    As America’s corporations grew and their veteran employees started hitting retirement age, the amount of funding required to meet current and future pension funding obligations became huge. And it kept growing. Remember, the Baby Boomer generation, the largest ever by far in US history, was just entering the workforce by the 1960s.

    This post was published at PeakProsperity on Friday, November 17, 2017,.


  • “Did Mike Pence Buy A Diet Dr.Pepper For A Woman That Was Not His Wife?”

    Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,
    If only abortion were retroactive, we could suitably deal with monsters like Senator Al Franken (D – MN), who apparently ventured to apply a breast adjustment to a female colleague asleep on the military airplane winging them home from USO duty in Afghanistan. This was back in the day when Senator Franken was a professional entertainer, a clown to be precise, but his career shift to politics has rendered all his prior clowning anathema.
    Will he slink out of the senate in disgrace with (ahem) his tail between his legs? Or will he bunker in and wait until the mega-storm of sexual accusation roars on to strand some bigger, flashier fish on the shoals of ignominy?
    Perhaps we’ll soon learn that Warren Buffet repeatedly shagged his notoriously over-taxed secretary in the Berkshire Hathaway janitor’s closet.
    Or that Mike Pence once bought a diet Dr. Pepper for a woman who was not his wife!
    Seems to me this storm could roar and roil on until ninety-plus percent of the men in America are exposed as sex monsters and expelled from every workplace in the land. And then America can feel good about itself again. At least until the bond market blows up, or Kim Jung Fatboy sends a rocket over Rancho Cuckamonga.
    But in the meantime, this scourging of male wickedness raises some interesting questions about human dynamics vis-a-vis workplace dynamics.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 17, 2017.


  • Manhattan Retail: The New Rust Belt

    Via Global Macro Monitor,
    Bleecker Street, said Faith Hope Consolo, the chairwoman of the retail group for the real estate firm Douglas Elliman, ‘had a real European panache. People associated it with something special, something different.’ Ms. Consolo, who has negotiated several deals on the street, added: ‘We had visitors from all over that said, ‘We’ve got to get to Bleecker Street.’ It became a must-see, a must-go.’
    Early on, Ms. Consolo said, rents on the street were around $75 per square foot. By the mid-to-late 2000s, they had risen to $300. Those rates were unaffordable for many shop owners like Mr. Nusraty, who was forced out in 2008 when, he said, his lease was up and his monthly rent skyrocketed to $45,000, from $7,000.
    – NY Times
    Retail is not just being Amazoned in Manhattan, retailers are being priced out of business by exorbitant rents.
    Note to commercial landlords: Lower your rents! But, God forbid, that would be deflationary!

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 17, 2017.


  • Muddy Waters Proved Right As Huishan Dairy Prepares For Liquidation

    On March 2017, we discussed the sudden 90% drop in the share price of China’s largest dairy farm operator, the Hong Kong-listed China Huishan Dairy Holdings. The collapse occurred the day after its creditors convened an emergency meeting to discuss the company’s cash shortage and was three months after Muddy Waters’ Carson Block questioned its profitability and said the company was ‘worth close to zero.’ After the collapse in the share price we joked that ‘it suddenly almost is.’ Now we have confirmation that Block was correct, as Huishan is entering provisional liquidation, citing liabilities of $1.6 billion. From Bloomberg.
    China Huishan Dairy Holdings Co., the Hong Kong-listed company targeted by short sellers including Muddy Waters Capital LLC, is preparing for provisional liquidation in a move that could protect its assets as it negotiates with creditors. The firm had told its Cayman legal advisers to make the preparations, it said in a Hong Kong stock exchange filing Thursday.
    Huishan’s board earlier found that the net liabilities of its units in China ‘could have been’ 10.5 billion yuan ($1.58 billion) as of March 31, the company said. A provisional liquidation generally is used to safeguard a company’s assets before a court rules what action to take.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 17, 2017.


  • How Tax Reform Can Still Blow Up: A Side-By-Side Comparison Of The House And Senate Tax Plans

    To much fanfare, mostly out of president Trump, on Thursday the House passed their version of the tax bill 227-205 along party lines, with 13 Republicans opposing. The passage of the House bill was met with muted market reaction. The Senate version of the tax reform is currently going through the Senate Finance Committee for additional amendments and should be ready for a full floor debate in a few weeks. While some, like Goldman, give corporate tax cuts (if not broad tax reform), an 80% chance of eventually becoming law in the first quarter of 2018, others like UBS and various prominent skeptics, do not see the House and Senate plans coherently merging into a survivable proposal.
    Indeed, while momentum seemingly is building for the tax plan, some prominent analysts believe there are several issues down the road that could trip up or even stall a comprehensive tax plan from passing the Congress, the chief of which is how to combine the House and Senate plans into one viable bill.
    How are the two plans different?
    Below we present a side by side comparison of the two plans from Bank of America, which notes that the House and the Senate are likely to pass different tax plans with areas of disagreement (see table below). This means that the two chambers will need to form a conference committee to hash out the differences. There are three major friction points:
    the repeal of the state and local tax deductions (SALT), capping mortgage interest deductions and the delay in the corporate tax cut. The House seems strongly opposed to fully repealing SALT and delaying the corporate tax cuts and the Senate could push back on changing the mortgage interest deductions. Finding compromise on these issues without disturbing other parts of the plan while keeping the price tag under the $1.5tn over 10 years could be challenging.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 17, 2017.


  • Market Talk- November 17, 2017

    The tax reform bill passing the US House yesterday certainly added to sentiment, after great earnings releases for markets but Asia need more help for cash today. Having opened strong all core markets then drifted and even saw the Nikkei trade negative. For the week it closes down 1.3% which has broken a two month rally. The Hang Seng performed well all day closing up around +0.6% but only off-set the decline in the Shanghai (-0.5%). India traded well following Thursday’s credit upgrade eventually adding an additional +0.7% onto yesterdays gain. All eyes are still on the DXY as we approach the weekend as just below we have the 50 Day Moving Average at 93.50. Oil has bounced following comments from potential output cuts led by OPEC.

    This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Nov 17, 2017.


  • This Michigan Bank Just Brought Back The Zero-Down Mortgage; They’ll Even Cover Your Closing Costs

    A small savings bank in Michigan, Flagstar Bank, has come up with a genius, innovative new mortgage product that they believe is going to be great for their investors and low-income housing buyers: the “zero-down mortgage.” What’s better, Flagstar is even offering to pay the closing costs of their low-income future mortgage debtors. Here’s more from HousingWire:
    Under the program, Flagstar will gift the required 3% down payment to the borrower, plus up to $3,500 to be used for closing costs.
    According to the bank, there is no obligation for borrowers who qualify to repay the down payment gift.
    The program is available to only certain low- to moderate-income borrowers and borrowers in low- to moderate-income areas throughout Michigan.
    Borrowers would not have to repay the down payment or closing costs. But a 1099 form to report the income would be issued to the Internal Revenue Service by the bank. So the gifts could be taxable, depending on the borrower’s financial picture.
    Flagstar said borrowers who might qualify for its new program typically would have an annual income in the range of $35,000 to $62,000. The sales price of the home — which must be in qualifying areas — would tend to be in the range of $80,000 to $175,000.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 17, 2017.


  • U.S. Treasury Becomes a Laughing Stock

    U. S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appears to have inaugurated a perpetual bring your wife to work day. It’s become so farcical that it frequently feels like the United States Treasury Department has morphed into a low-budget, badly scripted reality TV show where the female star is so out-of-touch that she must continually scurry about in her haute couture erasing the haughty things she has written about the little people on multiple continents. We’ll get to that shortly, but first some background:
    It all started back on January 19 when actress and then fiance Louise Linton sat by her man during his Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing to become U. S. Treasury Secretary. At the hearing, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon had this to say about his repugnance to see Mnuchin fill the post as U. S. Treasury Secretary:
    ‘Mr. Mnuchin’s career began in trading the financial products that brought on the housing crash and the Great Recession. After nearly two decades at Goldman Sachs, he left in 2002 and joined a hedge fund. In 2004, he spun off a hedge fund of his own, Dune Capital. It was only a few lackluster years before Dune began to wind down its investments in 2008.
    ‘In early 2009, Mr. Mnuchin led a group of investors that purchased a bank called IndyMac, renaming it OneWest. OneWest was truly unique. While Mr. Mnuchin was CEO, the bank proved it could put more vulnerable people on the street faster than just about anybody else around.

    This post was published at Wall Street On Parade By Pam Martens and Russ Marte.


  • E-Commerce Meets Brick-and-Mortar Meltdown

    But some big sectors are still resisting.
    There is one sector in retail that is seriously booming: E-commerce sales in the third quarter jumped 15.5% from a year ago, to $115 billion seasonally adjusted, a new record, according to the Commerce Department this morning. This includes online sales by brick-and-mortar retailers. Over the same period, total retail sales increased 4.3%. And retail sales without e-commerce – an approximation for brick-and-mortar sales – ticked up only 3.1%, barely staying ahead of 2% inflation and 0.8% population growth.
    The chart below shows the e-commerce sales boom on a quarterly basis (seasonally adjusted). Note the beating during the Great Recession. Not even e-commerce is recession proof. It was sharp. People just stopped clicking on the ‘buy’ button. But it was short. By Q3 2009, e-commerce was setting records again:

    But how much of a danger is e-commerce to brick-and-mortar retail? Many observers keep pointing out that e-commerce accounts for only a tiny part of total retail sales. And that’s true. While growing rapidly, the numbers are still relatively small. In the third quarter, the e-commerce share of total retail was still just 9.1%, but that’s up from 8.2% a year ago.

    This post was published at Wolf Street by Wolf Richter ‘ Nov 17, 2017.


  • Here’s Where E-commerce Crushes Brick-and-Mortar

    But some big sectors are still resisting.
    There is one sector in retail that is seriously booming: E-commerce sales in the third quarter jumped 15.5% from a year ago, to $115 billion seasonally adjusted, a new record, according to the Commerce Department this morning. This includes online sales by brick-and-mortar retailers. Over the same period, total retail sales increased 4.3%. And retail sales without e-commerce – an approximation for brick-and-mortar sales – ticked up only 3.1%, barely staying ahead of 2% inflation and 0.8% population growth.
    The chart below shows the e-commerce sales boom on a quarterly basis (seasonally adjusted). Note the beating during the Great Recession. Not even e-commerce is recession proof. It was sharp. People just stopped clicking on the ‘buy’ button. But it was short. By Q3 2009, e-commerce was setting records again:

    This post was published at Wolf Street on Nov 17, 2017.


  • Despite Massive Liquidity Injection, Chinese Stocks, Commodities Head For Worst Week Of Year

    The PBOC stepped up cash injections this week, suggesting authorities are trying to shore up financial markets as a selloff in bonds spreads to equities… but it is not working!
    As Bloomberg reports, the central bank has already added a net 510 billion yuan ($77 billion) via open-market operations into the financial system this week, matching the third biggest weekly injection this year.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 17, 2017.


  • BOE Warns Weekly Fund Redemptions Of 1.3% Would Break Corporate Bond Market

    The Bank of England has done some timely and truly eye-opening research into the resilience of corporate bond markets. The research is contained in the Bank of England Financial Stability Paper No.42and is titled ‘Simulating stress across the financial system: the resilience of corporate bond markets and the role of investment funds’ by Yuliya Baranova, Jamie Coen, Pippa Lowe, Joseph Noss and Laura Silvestri.
    The starting point of the analysis is to revisit the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) which saw $300 billion of related to subprime mortgages amplified to well over $2.5 trillion of write-downs across the global financial system as a whole. One of the problems was that the system was structured in a way that did not absorb economic shocks, but amplified them. The amplification came via a feedback loop. As the crisis unfolded, fears about credit worthiness of banks led to the collapse of interbank lending. Weaker banks had their funding withdrawn, which led to a downward spiral of asset sales and the strangling of credit in the broader economy.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 17, 2017.


  • Pentagon “Mistakenly” Retweets Post Calling For Trump To Resign

    The Al Frankenstien picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps? …..
    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 17, 2017

    Defense Secretary James Mattis will get an earful from his boss this morning, after an ‘authorized user’ of the Pentagon Twitter account retweeted – and then swiftly deleted – a tweet calling for President Donald Trump to resign after the president slammed Sen. Al Franken while remaining silent about Alabama Sen. Candidate Roy Moore.
    Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning said in a statement that an authorized operator of the Defense Department’s official Twitter site ‘erroneously retweeted content that would not be endorsed by the Department of Defense. The operator caught this error and immediately deleted it.’
    Chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White posted the same statement on Twitter.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 17, 2017.


  • Housing Starts, Permits Rebound In October After Storm-Soaked September

    Following September’s storm-driven tumble, October has seen a big rebound in Housing Starts (+13.7% MoM) and Permits (+5.9% MoM) both beating expectations, as multi-family starts explode.
    Housing starts printed above all analysts’ guesses (4 standard deviations above expectations) for the biggest monthly jump in a year.
    The surge in starts was driven by a major rebound in multifamily units…

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 17, 2017.