Amazon-Whole-Foods Already Rattling the Grocery Sector

Here are the numbers since the August 28 price cuts.
When Amazon’s deal to acquire Whole Foods Market closed on August 28, the first thing that happened was a panoply of strategic and massive price cuts on some items at Whole Foods. The second thing that happened was that the media jumped on it, creating enormous hoopla, so that every consumer in the US would know about it. No advertising needed. It was ingenious marketing. The media fell for it. And consumers flocked to Whole Foods to see for themselves.
Whole Foods used to be known as ‘whole paycheck’ based on the prices it charged for even mundane items. So price cuts of this type were a shift in strategy – and a sign of how Amazon would be shaking things up.
Now we have some numbers, gathered by data intelligence firm Thasos Group via real-time location data from smartphones (yup, that spy device in your pocket that never stops giving). It used its technology to ‘quantify the competitive impact of the price reduction.’
Here are the key nuggets from its report (PDF) about how it turned out for Whole Foods:
Average daily foot traffic of new and regular customers (those who shop at a given Whole Foods at least twice per month) jumped 17% year-over-year during the week starting on August 28, the day of the price reduction.

This post was published at Wolf Street on Oct 4, 2017.


GOLD: $1272.10 UP $0.10
Silver: $16.60 DOWN 1 CENT(S)
Closing access prices:
Gold $1274.80
silver: $16.61
PREMIUM FIRST FIX: $8.24 (premiums getting larger)
Premium of Shanghai 2nd fix/NY:$13.00 (PREMIUMS GETTING LARGER)
LONDON FIRST GOLD FIX: 5:30 am est $not important
For comex gold:
TOTAL NOTICES SO FAR: 2115 FOR 211,500 OZ (6.5785 TONNES)
For silver:
115,000 OZ/
Total number of notices filed so far this month: 316 for 1,695,000 oz

This post was published at Harvey Organ Blog on October 4, 2017.

Leverage On US LBOs Is The Highest Since The Financial Crisis

There was a brief period of sober rationality during the current central bank-facilitated, market reflation phase, when Private Equity shops decided they had no desire to chase artificially inflated valuations, especially since their currency – cash – did not benefit in the same was a strategic acquirors did, whose own stock had increased alongside that of the target company. After all, who can forget Apollo’s Leon Black speaking at the 2013 Milken Conference when he said that “this is an almost biblical opportunity to reap gains and sell,” adding that his private equity firm has been a net seller for the 15 months, and that they “are selling everything that is not nailed down.”
In retrospect, he should have hung on. Of course, who could possibly known that nearly a decade into the greatest central-planning experiment in history, central banks would still be injecting trillions into the market to create the illusion of economic growth, stability and a wealth effect, hoping to kick the can in perpetuity.
So, several years later, and scared of missing the boat altogether after sitting out a big part of the bubble, PE firms – flush with cash – are rushing in. In some ways, the PE willingness to resume buying companies at virtually any price is understandable: with the financial system overflowing with cash, much of it has found its way into the PE industry, and according to a recent Prequin survey, as of 2016, private equity funds were sitting on nearly $800 billion in cash.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 4, 2017.

Watch Live: Janet Yellen Addresses Community Bankers In St.Louis

Update: Yellen didn’t discuss her outlook for interest rates or the economy in her prepared remarks.
Bloomberg reports that Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the U. S. central bank has been working to ensure that regulations are tailored to the size, complexity and roles of the lenders it oversees.
‘For community banks, which by and large avoided the risky business practices that contributed to the financial crisis, we have been focused on making sure that much-needed improvements to regulation and supervision since the crisis are appropriate and not unduly burdensome,’ Yellen said Wednesday.
Yellen didn’t discuss her outlook for interest rates or the economy in her prepared remarks.
The Fed has ‘an abiding commitment to consider how our decisions affect institutions and the customers they serve,’ she said in a text prepared for delivery at the St. Louis Fed’s annual community banking conference.
As we detailed earlier, since Janet Yellen last spoke (shifting hawkish), the dollar and bond yields have surged (as have the odds of a Dec rate-hike).
Since Yellen last spoke…

This post was published at Zero Hedge by Tyler Durden Oct 4, 2017.

Las Vegas Sheriff: “You Got To Assume He Had Help” As “Mystery Woman” Emerges

During a lengthy press conference update on the investigation into the Las Vegas massacre, Clark County Sheriff Lombardo expressed his belief that gunman Stephen Paddock had to have help at some point but sarcastically says “maybe he’s a super guy.”
Clearly showing the strains of being awake under serious stress for the last 72 hours, the sheriff explained…
‘Look at this. You look at the weapon obtaining the different amounts of tannerite available, do you think this was all accomplished on his own, face value?’
‘You got to make the assumption he had to have help at some point, and we want to insure that’s the answer. Maybe he’s a super guy, super hero – not a hero, super – I won’t use the word. Maybe he’s super – that was working out this out on his own, but it will be hard for me to believe that.’
‘Here’s the reason why, put one and one – two and two together, another residence in Reno with firearms, okay, electronics and everything else associated with larger amounts of ammo, a place in Mesquite, we know he had a girlfriend. Do you think this is all self-facing individual without talking to somebody, it was sequestered amongst himself. Come on focus folks these type of investigations have been occurring in the last few years and we have to investigate that.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 4, 2017.

Caroline Miller: Bond Yields Set to Rise, Inflation Measures to Pick Up

Given the apparent acceleration in the US economy, many are wondering, where are bond yields headed, and what will this mean for the economy and markets?
This time on FS Insider, we spoke with Caroline Miller, Global Strategist at BCA Research, about her recent webcast titled, ‘Should bond bears come out of hibernation, or will they face extinction?’, to get her take on global growth, inflation, bond yields, the stock market, and more.
Consider BCA’s Caroline Miller: US Growing Above Trend, EM Vulnerable
US Growth Based on Earnings, Not Fiscal Promises The earnings picture in the US is still looking solid, Miller noted, and she expects more upside in equities.
Above-trend economic growth and the recent softness in the dollar is helping most corporations this year while wage growth is flat.

This post was published at FinancialSense on 10/04/2017.

Can Market Mood Analysis Also Predict Social Turbulence?

Many of you have noted through the years that you simply do not understand how our analysis methodology works. Yes, it can be more complex than most other forms of analysis, but it is also often more reliable and accurate in identifying targets and trends. As an example, where we have used it at the end of 2015 to call for a drop in the market from the 2100 region down to the 1800 region, to set up a rally to the 2500 region. Yet, many still view it as a form of ‘voodoo.’
But, what we are doing is attempting to analyze market sentiment, as presented by the manner in which the way the stock market acts. And, the benefits of understanding the broader trend utilizing this methodology has greater implications than simple profitability through trading and investing.
You see, studies have been done about when the overall mood of society is ripe for war or peace. It does not necessarily mean that a large-scale war will certainly break out, but it does give you warning that the environment is one in which war has become more likely. Remember, we are unable to tell the future, but are able to understand what the implications of social mood may mean to society as a whole.
Along those lines, over the last few years, I have gotten to know Dr. Cari Bourette of Dr. Bourette has been studying the overall impact of market mood upon society and the stock market for many years. In fact, she has built an algorithm which is able to identify not only turning points in the markets based upon this algorithm, but also to identify potential effects of mood upon society.

This post was published at GoldSeek on 4 October 2017.

This Isn’t A Joke: The IRS Just Hired Equifax To Safeguard Taxpayer Data

Just hours after Equifax CEO Rick Smith wrapped up his testimony before the House Energy and Commerce committee – the first in a series of Congressional ‘fact-finding missions’ about the hack – Politico reported that the IRS last week awarded the disgraced credit monitoring bureau with a $7.25 no-bid contract even as the company struggled to address suspicions that it mislead investors and customers by withholding information about one of the most damaging data breaches in US history.
Equifax famously waited more than a month to disclose that hackers had infiltrated its servers and absconded with the sensitive financial information of more than 140 million customers, sparking widespread outrage that only intensified after reporters discovered that several of the company’s senior executives – including its CFO – cashed out of shares and options in the weeks before the company came clean about the hack.
According to the terms of the IRS contract, Equifax would be responsible for verifying taxpayer identities and help prevent fraud under a no-bid contract issued last week.
As if the IRS’s decision to entrust the disgraced credit bureau with sensitive taxpayer data wasn’t galling enough, the agency seemingly fast-tracked the contract by classifying it as a ‘sole source order’ – a designation that allows the agency to circumvent the bidding process by claiming a given vendor is the only one capable of executing the contract. However, the agency’s justification for this designation is baffling, considering that there are two other credit bureaus in the US that offer a nearly identical suite of service

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 4, 2017.

This Brand-New Gold ETF Could Be the ‘Best ‘Stock’ of the Next Decade’

The strong performance of gold prices – whose 10.9% rise this year smashes silver and platinum’s 4.3% and 1.2% gains – is expected to continue over the next 10 years.
To profit from that, Money Morning Small-Cap Specialist Sid Riggs just recommended what he believes is the best gold ETF to buy now.
This fund offers much higher returns than physical gold. In fact, shares of the fund have shown to double the gold price’s return.
Sid is so bullish on this pick, he calls today’s gold exchange-traded fund (ETF) ‘the best ‘stock’ of the next decade.’ He refers to it as a ‘stock’ since ETFs can be traded on the market just like regular stocks. An ETF has its own ticker and offers shares that you can buy and sell through your broker or online brokerage account.
And Sid has identified the biggest reason gold prices will keep rallying, lifting our gold ETF pick at the same time…
The Biggest Factor That Will Push Our Gold ETF Higher
The bullish factor will be the growing mismatch between supply and demand in the market for physical gold.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on October 4, 2017.

Anti-Trump “Resistance School” Moves To Berkeley

Students at the University of California, Berkeley can now join their peers at Harvard University for the second semester of ‘Resistance School’ aimed at fighting the Trump agenda.
Due to the high popularity of the student-run program, with more than ‘175,000 participants tuning in last semester,’ Resistance School announced that Berkeley would be its ‘second campus’ in a September press release.
‘The new west coast campus represents a growing effort on behalf of Resistance School to provide practical skills to Reclaim, Rebuild, and Reimagine an America built on progressive values,’ the release explains.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 4, 2017.

Digital Fools Gold – Bitcoin’s Sustainability in Question

Recently, Jamie Diamond of Citibank made headlines by labeling Bitcoin a fraud. Whether those comments played any part in Bitcoin’s recent sell off is hard to say, but the true believers reacted with predictable outrage given that the comments came from the ultimate Wall Street insider whose financial supremacy is supposedly threatened by crypto currencies like Bitcoin.
Although my critical comments on Bitcoin over the years have not received nearly as much attention, they have been just as summarily dismissed by the crypto currency crowd. But I am a well know libertarian and follower of the Austrian School of economics. I am not a member of the banking establishment, nor am I a fan of fiat money. I should be one of the good guys. But since I happen to own a company that sells gold, a metal that supposedly Bitcoin will soon make obsolete, the crypto crowd looks at me like a stubborn old buggy whip salesmen who refuses to acknowledge that the future resides in horseless transportation.
Well Bitcoin is not the automobile and gold is not a buggy whip. While Diamond’s comments were not 100% on the money, he is right about Bitcoin’s ultimate demise, just wrong about how it will meet its fate and why. While most fear that government will simply look to make Bitcoin illegal (which could be a possibility if Bitcoin could actually deliver on its promises), it is much more likely to die of natural causes.

This post was published at Schiffgold on OCTOBER 4, 2017.

Kashkari Fed Chair Odds Soar After Gundlach Forecast, Crash After Liesman Denial

Yesterday, DoubleLine’s Jeff Gundlach, who correctly predicted the election of Donald Trump, unveiled a new surprise forecast: Neel Kashkari would be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve. Speaking Tuesday at a Vanity Fair summit in Los Angeles, Gundlach said Kashkari, president of the Minneapolis Fed, was a strong advocate of easy money. He was envisioning Kashkari’s latest essay from Monday, in which the former Goldmanite uber dove, who was instrumental in putting together the TARP bank rescue package, said the Fed shouldn’t raise interest rates again until inflation hits 2% or there’s a large drop in unemployment.
“I actually have a very non-consensus point of view. I think it’s going to be Neel Kashkari,” Gundlach said, adding that “he happens to be the most easy money guy that’s in the Federal Reserve system today and that’s why he may win.”
‘There’s no chance the president wants Janet Yellen to continue” as Fed chair Gundlach also said and predicted that Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic advisor, would not get the nod, due to his background as president of Goldman Sachs.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 4, 2017.

Spanish Stocks Slammed To 7-Month Lows As Credit Risk Spikes

While the world desperately tries to shrug off the implications of Catalonia’s independence vote (and Rajoy’s warnings of potential reactions), investors are rapidly exiting positions in Spanish stocks and bonds…
IBEX (the main Spanish stock index) just plunged to its lowest level since March (as European stocks – Stoxx 600 – hits a 4-mointh high)…

And Spanish sovereign bonds are getting clobbered…

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 4, 2017.

Lord Acton on the Meaning of Freedom

‘Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’
Many Americans can identify the author as Lord Acton. But that is about all they know about John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton – First Baron Acton of Aldenham. That is a pity, because, according to Stephen Tonsor, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Michigan, Acton was both ‘the most knowledgeable foreign observer of American affairs in the nineteenth century,’ and deeply concerned about ‘the threat to freedom from centralized governmental absolutism, the tyranny of the majority, bureaucratic administration, democracy and socialism,’ threats which have hardly been vanquished today.
It is worth remembering more of Lord Acton than his most famous quote. After all, as his Acton Institute biography states, ‘he was considered one of the most learned people of his age, unmatched for the breadth, depth, and humanity of his knowledge,’ and ‘became known as one of the most articulate defenders of religious and political freedom’ in the 19th century.
At all times sincere friends of freedom have been rare…
In every age [liberty’s] progress has been beset by its natural enemies: by ignorance and superstition, by lust of conquest and by love of ease, by the strong man’s craving for power, and the poor man’s craving for food.
By liberty I mean the assurance that every man shall be protected in doing what he believes is his duty, against the influence of authority and majorities, custom and opinion.

This post was published at Mises Canada on OCTOBER 4, 2017.

Study Of 10-Year State Pension Returns Highlight Full Extent Of Public Pension Ponzi

A new study of public pension returns by Cliffwater LLC has found that the median U. S. state pension plan returned just 5.9% annually over the 10 years ended June 30, 2016. Meanwhile, as Pension and Investments notes, the top performing state pension, the $15.6 billion Oklahoma Teachers’ Retirement System, was the only fund that managed to eek out a return over 7% during the same period.
U. S. state pension plans returned a median annualized 5.9% for the 10 years ended June 30, 2016, vs. 6.8% for the 10 years ended June 30, 2015, said Cliffwater’s most recent annual state pension performance report.
The average 5.7% return for the 10 years ended June 30, 2016, fell within a wide range of individual pension plan returns (3.7% to 7.1%).
Once again, the two top-performing state pension plans for the period were the $15.6 billion Oklahoma Teachers’ Retirement System, returning 7.1%, and the South Dakota Investment Council returning 6.8% for the $10.5 billion South Dakota Retirement System. In third place was the $7 billion Missouri Local Government Employees Retirement System, returning 6.7%. All returns cited are annualized figures.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 4, 2017.

Meet The Next Fed Chair: The Definitive Cheat Sheet

With the race for the next Fed chair in its final stretch as Trump is now expected to make his decision over the next few weeks, and following recent reports from Bloomberg, Politico and the WSJ, the three frontrunners to replace Yellen, according to PredictIt, are Kevin Warsh, Jerome Powell, Gary Cohn and unexpectedly, Neel Kashkari, following yesterday’s endorsement by Jeff Gundlach…

… Bank of America has put together a handly cheat sheet laying out a summary of the major views by the 4 key contenders.
Focusing on the top four candidates, BofA, predictably, sees Warsh as the most hawkish and most likely to change the way the Fed conducts monetary policy, leaning toward rules-based policy. BofA also thinks Warsh would favor a lower ultimate size of the balance sheet but would be a strong proponent of deregulation. Meanwhile, Powell is the establishment candidate who won’t ‘rock the boat’ as his stance is consistent with the current framework of the Fed. As for Cohn, he would likely lean a bit more dovish and emphasize putting in place monetary policy to complement fiscal policy reform.
Here is the full breakdown, according to BofA, which shows just how “unconventional” Warsh is in the context of his peers.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 4, 2017.

The Housing Market Has Stalled

The housing market headed for very ‘rough waters.’ The title is from the National Association of Realtor’s Pending Home Sales report for August in reference to NAR chief ‘economist’ Larry Yun’s commentary on the housing market. Pending homes sales in August, which are based on contracts signed, dropped 2.6% from August. They’re also 2.6% below a year ago August. These are SAAR numbers. The ‘not seasonally adjusted’ numbers were worse, down nearly 4% from August and 3.1% lower than last August.
Once again Yun is blaming the problem on supply. I torpedoed that assertion with facts in last week’s Short Seller’s Journal. Although, there is indeed a ‘supply’ issue in one regard: there’s a shortage of end user buyers who are required to use, and qualify for the use of, the Government’s de facto subprime mortgage program (as I detailed last week). There’s also a shortage of existing home owners in the mid-price range who can afford to move-up. So yes, in that sense there’s a shortage – it’s just not in homes.
DR Horton (the largest homebuilder in the country) is carrying about the same amount of inventory now as it was carrying at the end of 2007 – around $8.5 billion. The average home price is about the same then as now, which means it is carrying about the same number of homes in inventory. It’s unit sales run-rate was slightly higher in 2007. The point here is that there are plenty of newly built homes available for purchase. Per the Census Bureau, the median sales price of a new home in August was $300k, while the average price was $368k. DH Horton is an averaged price homebuilder.

This post was published at Investment Research Dynamics on October 4, 2017.

Auto Sales Up Last Month, But Why?

Auto sales rebounded sharply in September, with most major car manufacturers reporting better numbers. Sales at Ford were up 8.9% last month from September 2016; +11.9% at GM; Toyota +14.9%; Nissan +9.5%; Honda +6.8%. The only negatives were reported by FCA (-9.7%) and Mercedes (-1.7%).
The question is whether these numbers are sustainable beyond September and maybe the few months after. Auto sales in Texas were particularly robust as replacements are being sought for vehicles damaged during and after Hurricane Harvey. It is likely that will continue for some time and be extended to Florida in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Estimates differ, but there is surely hundreds of thousands of cars and trucks in no working condition fit for further use.
Ford’s head of sales Mark LaNeve was quick to note that sales were up in all regions, but that they had been ‘particularly strong’ in and around Houston. GM’s chief economist Mustafa Mohatarem suggested that, ‘overall strength of the U. S. economy is the main force driving the market,’ without clarifying that he has been saying almost exactly the same thing for over a year while auto sales slumped.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on October 3, 2017.