Glorious Tax Season

Tax season is here. This is a time to celebrate. No, I mean it. Not because the State makes its claim on our hard-earned monies known, but because of what is on everybody’s mind and the type of activity we’re all involved with. Seldom is the State as present in our pockets (and pocket books) as in mid-April every year, when we either learn that we have inadvertently paid even more than the State thinks is its “fair share” of our earnings, or learn that even the outrageous amounts we have already paid weren’t enough. And to make matters worse, we waste a lot of productive time to fill out forms and collect receipts – – for the only purpose of proving to the State that we didn’t keep any income from them.
But if we think about it, what tax season really means is that taxation, or legal extortion by the State, is on everybody’s mind. Some of our confused peers get tax refunds and appear to consider this a “gift,” which may be upsetting for those considering where the money originally came from. On the other hand, it might just be the case that these “confused” individuals have the proper mindset: they consider anything taken or claimed by the State as forever lost – and from this perspective a “refund” is indeed a gift. After all, it seems a bit naive to put faith in having excess ransom paid returned. From this perspective, treating it as an unexpected gift may be the rational approach.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on April 15, 2017.

Weekend Reading: Markets Go On Alert

Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,
In my money management process, portfolio ‘risk’ is ‘ratcheted’ up and down based on a series of signals which tend to indicate when market dynamics are either more, or less, favorable for having capital exposed to the market. This model is published each week in the Real Investment Report as shown below:

As you will notice, portfolios NEVER reach 100% cash levels. The reason is purely psychological. Once individuals go to 100% cash, it is extremely hard to re-enter back into the markets. I learned this lesson in February 2009 when I wrote the article ‘8-Reasons For A Bull Market’ which stated:
‘Any weakness next week will most likely warrant a push down to 800 for first support and then the November lows of 750. We believe that these lows will hold although we are aware that if the market doesn’t get ‘it’ together soon further weakness could show itself.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 14, 2017.

Gold Price in 2017 Surges on Rising Syria and North Korea Tensions

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Money Morning – We Make Investing Profitable. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
The gold price in 2017 has pushed through resistance levels this past week. It has rallied to its highest level since November 2016.
But will gold prices sustain their newfound heights?
The good news: Seasonally, the price of gold is entering a strong period that, on average between 2001 and 2012, has seen gains of almost 4% between early April and late May.
If you combine that with U. S. tensions with Syria and North Korea, investors have plenty of reason to expect gold to power higher.
But gold’s recent move through its stubborn 200-day resistance level of $1,260 may cause headwinds for the metal.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner by Peter Krauth ‘ April 14, 2017.

Record High Multi-Family Construction Set To Wreak Havoc On Apartment Rents

Softening apartment rents, particularly in the massively over-priced, millennial safe-spaces of New York City and San Francisco, have been a frequent topic of conversation for us over the past several quarters…here are just a couple of recent examples:
NYC Real Estate Bubble Bursts As Apartment Sales Crash 20% New York Real Estate Prices Plunge In 4Q As Listing Days and Discounts Soar San Fran Home Sales Crash To Lowest Level Since 2008 As Pricing Reset Gets Underway “It’s About Time For Recession” Property Manager Warns As Rents Drop “For First Time In Career” Now, a new report from Goldman’s Credit Strategy Team, led by Marty Young, helps to highlight some of the key data points that suggest that sinking rent will likely not be just an ephemeral problem.
To start, an just like almost any bubble, sinking rents are the symptom of a massive, multi-year supply bubble in multi-family housing units sparked by, among other things, cheap borrowing costs for commercial builders. Per the chart below, multi-family units under construction is now at record highs and have eclipsed the previous bubble peak by nearly 40%.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 14, 2017.

China Starting To Resemble Bernie Madoff

Audible.com just released a new show on Bernie Madoff (Ponzi Supernova, available for free to subscribers) that explains how the world’s biggest financial scam was enabled by banks and hedge funds who were making so much money that they chose to ignore obvious red flags.
Which sounds a lot like today’s China, Inc. Here, for instance, is a sequence of events involving China Huishan Dairy Holdings, an apparently too-big-to-fail chain of dairy farms:
March 21. Huishan Dairy misses payments on some of its loans. The wife of the chairman and largest shareholder (herself an executive in charge of relationships with the company’s bankers) goes missing.
March 23. The local provincial government holds a meeting with the company and its creditor banks to propose a plan to inject liquidity into the company. This is not announced publicly.
March 24. Huishan’s shares plunge 85% in an hour, wiping out more than $4 billion of market value and leading to an indefinite trading halt.
March 28. Huishan admits to missing loan payments and misplacing the Chairman’s wife, but denies reports of faked invoices and misappropriation of funds. The local government, it promises, will buy some of the company’s excess land to bolster its balance sheet and the Chairman will sell some of his shares and invest the proceeds in the company.

This post was published at DollarCollapse on APRIL 14, 2017.

If An Electorate Falls In The Forest, Is Their Voice Heard?

Authored by Danielle DiMartino Booth,
Quizzically-inclined quantum physicists quench their intellectuality by quoting philosophers first, then their fellow scientists.
It is in fact questionable whether quantum physics would have come into being if not for George Berkeley’s 1710, ‘A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge.’ Berkeley’s most famous saying is, ‘esse est percipi,’ or, ‘to be is to be perceived.’ He elaborated using the following examples:
‘The objects of sense exist only when they are perceived: the trees therefore are in the garden, or the chairs in the parlour, no longer than while there is some body by to perceive them.’ So matters of matter exist only in our mind. It is critical to note that Berkeley never posed a question but rather he made a statement of the world view through his metaphysical personal prism.
It was not until the June 1883 publication of the magazine The Chautauquan that the question was put as such: ‘If a tree were to fall on an island where there were no human beings would there be any sound?’ Rather than pause to ponder, the answer followed that, ‘No. Sound is the sensation excited in the ear when the air or other medium is set in motion.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 14, 2017.

5 Months Of Wasted Time

‘Hope’ may create asset bubbles but it doesn’t buy cars, put shoes on kids feet, or food on the family table…
5 months of hope… any day now the ‘real’ economy will catch up to the fantasy? Today alone we had disappointment in Retail Sales, Real Earnigs, and CPI!!

But it seems while ‘hope’ doesn’t pay the bills (stagnating incomes), it certainly fuels the stock market…

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 14, 2017.

How Government Meddles in Your Easter Chocolate

It’s Easter time again, which means it’s time to talk about chocolate. Simaran Sethi at the Los Angeles Times this week highlights the plight of cacao farmers:
What wasn’t factored into the celebration [over falling chocolate prices] is the deep suffering of the subsistence farmers who grow cacao, the seeds of a pod-shaped fruit that, once harvested, become the cocoa traded on the commodities market and destined for the chocolate eggs and bunnies that fill most Easter baskets.
It’s become somewhat obligatory in recent years to mention cacao farmers every Easter as consumers buy chocolate in especially large quantities. In 2015, for example, on Easter 2015, The Guardian noted:
In west Africa, cocoa workers scratch a living on small farms, usually no bigger than five hectares. Years of low incomes, uncertainty over land rights and ageing cocoa trees passing their most productive years have shaped an industry ravaged by poverty and child labour.1

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on April 14, 2017.

Atlanta Fed Slashes Q1 GDP Forecast To Just 0.5%, Lowest In Three Years

Just over two months ago, the Atlanta Fed “calculated” that Q1 GDP was going to be a pleasant 3.4%, confirming that the Fed had made the correct decision by hiking not only in December, but also last month. Since then, the Fed’s own GDP estimate has crashed in almost linear fashion, and as of this morning – after the latest disappointing retail sales report – it had plunged to just 0.5%, which if accurate would make Q1 the weakest quarter going back three years to Q1 2014.

From the regional Fed:
The GDPNow model forecast for real GDP growth (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the first quarter of 2017 is 0.5 percent on April 14, down from 0.6 percent on April 7. The forecast for first-quarter real consumer spending growth fell from 0.6 percent to 0.3 percent after this morning’s retail sales report from the U. S. Census Bureau and the Consumer Price Index release from the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 14, 2017.

Better Call Stan! Atlanta Fed’s Q1 GDP Forecast Falls to 0.5% (Retail Sales Decline for 2nd Straight Month, Weekly Earnings Growth Flat)

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Confounded Interest. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
The Atlanta Fed’s Q1 2017 GDP forecast has declined further to 0.5%.
The GDPNow model forecast for real GDP growth (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the first quarter of 2017 is 0.5 percent on April 14, down from 0.6 percent on April 7. The forecast for first-quarter real consumer spending growth fell from 0.6 percent to 0.3 percent after this morning’s retail sales report from the U. S. Census Bureau and the Consumer Price Index release from the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Yes, retail sales advance MoM is down in March by -0.2% following February’s print of -0.3%. And CPI MoM was down -0.3% in March as well.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner by Anthony B Sanders ‘ April 14, 2017.

Wind & Solar Technology Won’t Stop the Collapse Of The U.S. Empire

Americans who believe technology will be the cure for all our problems, don’t count on wind and solar energy to save the day. This is the delusion I see over and over again in the Mainstream and alternative media. I even receive emails from followers who tell me not to worry, because the cost of producing solar will continue to fall. Soon I gather, we will be on our way to driving or flying millions of electric cars, just like in the old cartoon, the Jetsons.

It would be nifty to be able to fly millions and millions of vehicles in the sky. No doubt, we don’t kill enough insects or animals like rabbits and deer on America’s interstates and highways, so why should the birds be left out of all the fun?? We shouldn’t allow the lousy plant and animal kingdom to get in the way of human ingenuity and progress…. who needs em.

This post was published at SRSrocco Report on APRIL 13, 2017.

“Reflation” Is Officially Dead: Core CPI Tumbles For The First Time In Over Seven Years

The reflation trade is officially over.
At the same time that retail sales posted the worst 2 month drop in 2 years, CPI – the bedrock behind the Fed’s rate hiking intentions – just hit a brick wall, and after months of headline CPI growth mostly the back of the energy “base effect”, in March this ended with a thud, when headline CPI printed at -0.3%, badly missing expectations of an unchanged print. The number was so bad, all 79 economist estimates missed the number (predicting a -0.2% low).

The biggest driver for the headline plunge was energy, which declined 3.2%, with the gasoline index falling 6.2%, and other major energy component indexes decreasing as well. The food index rose 0.3 percent, with the index for food at home increasing 0.5% its largest increase since May 2014.
But the real story was in the core numer, because CPI ex-food and energy dropped -0.1%, another huge miss to the 0.2% rise expected, and also the first – and worst – decline since January 2010.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 14, 2017.

The Current Fed Rate Hike Campaign Is Totally Unprecedented

While the last two Fed rate hike decisions were largely expected, there are a lot of worrying details about this current Fed tightening cycle that are going unnoticed…
Three factors in particular make this rate hike environment so unprecedented:
The large amounts of quantitative easing (QE) after the housing bubble burst in 2008 The unparalleled amount of transparency required by the Fed The current U. S. economic conditions Yet the markets don’t seem affected by the unknown aspect of the Fed policy at the moment, even though this policy could have serious repercussions for investors…

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner by Ashley Moore ‘ April 13, 2017.

Atlanta Fed GDPNow Forecast Spirals Ever Closer to Zero

Retail sales and inflation did it.
The Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow model, which forecasts GDP growth in the US, dropped to 0.5% seasonally adjusted annualized GDP growth for the first quarter. This ‘annualized rate’ means if the economy grows like at this pace for four quarters in a row, it would edge up only 0.5% for the year, which would make it by far the worst year since the Great Recession.
By comparison, in 2016, which matched 2011 as the worst year since the Great Recession, GDP growth was 1.6%.
A week ago, the GDPNow forecast had already dropped to 0.6%. At the time, I mused, ‘I hope the model is wrong.’ This hope is now even more fervent.
What did it today? Retail sales and inflation.

This post was published at Wolf Street by Wolf Richter ‘ Apr 14, 2017.