Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos And Warren Buffett Have More Money Than The Poorest 50% Of The U.S. Population Combined

The problem is not that we have a few people that are rich – the problem is that we have so many that are poor. As you will see below, three extremely wealthy individuals have as much money as the poorest half of the nation combined. In a free market capitalist society, there are always going to be some that do better than others, and there is nothing wrong with that. But in our society today, there are so few that are doing well. At this point a majority of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and ‘one in five households have zero or negative net worth’…
In the United States, the 400 richest individuals now own more wealth than the bottom 64 percent of the population and the three richest own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent, while pervasive poverty means one in five households have zero or negative net worth.
Those are just several of the striking findings of Billionaire Bonanza 2017, a new report (pdf) published Wednesday by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) that explores in detail the speed with which the U. S. is becoming ‘a hereditary aristocracy of wealth and power.’
That means that if you have no debt and a single dime in your pockets, you have more wealth than one-fifth of the entire country.
Okay, so let’s talk about the three men that have more wealth than the poorest 50 percent of the U. S. population combined. Those three men are Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com, and Warren Buffett. I don’t want to take anything away from what those three have accomplished, because we need more risk takers and entrepreneurs.
Sadly, the level of small business creation has fallen in every presidential administration going all the way back to George H. W. Bush, and the percentage of Americans that are self-employed is hovering near all-time record lows.
As a nation, we desperately need to return to a culture that encourages free market capitalist thinking. We want young men and women to create, invent, innovate and start new ventures. But instead, today our culture encourages young people to become dependent on the government and on the big corporations, and as a result the middle class is evaporating.
As I discussed above, at this point 20 percent of all U. S. households have ‘either zero or negative wealth’…

This post was published at The Economic Collapse Blog on November 9th, 2017.

Bitcoin Price Doubles In Troubled Zimbabwe

A surprise political move by Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, who fired his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, has played havoc on the US dollar/bond note parallel exchange rate, as well as on Bitcoin price in the country.
As CoinTelegraph reports, Bitcoin was already trading at a highly inflated rate in the troubled African country as its demand skyrocketed as a potential alternative to the dregs of a currency that Zimbabwe has left. However, that inflation has hit almost 100 percent as it trades about $13,000 per coin.
Trading on uncertainty
Unsurprisingly, with this latest political coup by the entrenched president, there is much speculation and worry about the already fragile and almost non-existent fiat currency system. Zimbabwe operates on bond notes linked to the US dollar.
Traders have been trying to move out of monetary assets as even on the dollar there is a 62 percent premium.
It has meant that investors are trapped by the currency shortages, seeking an alternative to exit the country – such as Bitcoin. Despite hitting a price of over $13,000 traders say that Bitcoin is booming as it is the strongest alternative.

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

NOV 9/GOLD WITHSTANDS ANOTHER ATTACK FROM THE BANKERS AS IT RISES BY $3.25/SILVER HOWEVER DOWN 11 CENTS/NIKKEI SWOONS 800 POINTS BEFORE BEING RESCUED BY THEIR PPT/SAUDI ARABIA, KUWAIT AND UAE ALL…

GOLD: $1287.00 UP $3.25
Silver: $17.00 DOWN 11 cents
Closing access prices:
Gold $1285.50
silver: $16.99
SHANGHAI GOLD FIX: FIRST FIX 10 15 PM EST (2:15 SHANGHAI LOCAL TIME)
SECOND FIX: 2:15 AM EST (6:15 SHANGHAI LOCAL TIME)
SHANGHAI FIRST GOLD FIX: $1289.93 DOLLARS PER OZ
NY PRICE OF GOLD AT EXACT SAME TIME: $1281.60
PREMIUM FIRST FIX: $8.33(premiums getting LARGER AGAIN)
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SECOND SHANGHAI GOLD FIX: $1293.60
NY GOLD PRICE AT THE EXACT SAME TIME: $1283.70
Premium of Shanghai 2nd fix/NY:$9.90 PREMIUMS GETTING LARGER AGAIN)
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LONDON FIRST GOLD FIX: 5:30 am est $1284.40
NY PRICING AT THE EXACT SAME TIME: $1283.95
LONDON SECOND GOLD FIX 10 AM: $1284.80
NY PRICING AT THE EXACT SAME TIME. 1284.60
For comex gold:
NOVEMBER/
NOTICES FILINGS TODAY FOR OCT CONTRACT MONTH: 2 NOTICE(S) FOR 200 OZ.
TOTAL NOTICES SO FAR: 975 FOR 97,500 OZ (3.032TONNES)
For silver:
NOVEMBER
5 NOTICE(S) FILED TODAY FOR
25,000 OZ/
Total number of notices filed so far this month: 869 for 4,345,000 oz
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Bitcoin: BID $7119 OFFER /$7149 DOWN $328.00 (MORNING)
BITCOIN CLOSING; BID $7192 OFFER: 7217 // DOWN $265.00
end
Let us have a look at the data for today
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In silver, the total open interest FELL BY A CONSIDERABLE 1386 contracts from 208,500 DOWN TO 201,944 DESPITE YESTERDAY’S TRADING IN WHICH SILVER ROSE BY A RATHER LARGE 16 CENTS. THIS TIME WE HAD OVER 1000 EFP’S ISSUED BY OUR BANKERS IN SILVER FOR DECEMBER DUE TO THEIR ‘EMERGENCY SITUATION’ WHERE THEY DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH METAL TO SERVE UPON OUR LONGS. OUR LONGS AT THE COMEX RECEIVE A FIAT BONUS PLUS A DELIVERABLE PRODUCT AT A DIFFERENT EXCHANGE AND THAT NO DOUBT IS LONDON. THIS IS THE EARLIEST THAT I HAVE SEEN THAT EFP’S HAVE BEEN ISSUED FOR AN UPCOMING DELIVERY MONTH. GENERALLY IT IS GOLD THAT IS THE MEGA RECIPIENT OF EFP’S WITH SILVER MUCH SMALLER. SO NO DOUBT WE WILL SEE HUGE AMOUNTS OF EFP’S ISSUED WITHIN A WEEK OF FIRST DAY NOTICE.
RESULT: A GOOD SIZED DROP IN OI COMEX DESPITE THE CONSIDERABLE 16 CENT PRICE RISE. COMEX LONGS EXITED OUT OF THE COMEX WITH OVER 1000 EFP’S ISSUED FOR A DELIVERABLE CONTRACT OVER IN LONDON WITH A FIAT BONUS.
In ounces, the OI is still represented by just OVER 1 BILLION oz i.e. 1.009 BILLION TO BE EXACT or 144% of annual global silver production (ex Russia & ex China).
FOR THE NEW FRONT OCT MONTH/ THEY FILED: 5 NOTICE(S) FOR 25,000 OZ OF SILVER
In gold, the open interest FELL BY A TINY 453 CONTRACTS DESPITE THE GOOD SIZED RISE IN PRICE OF GOLD ($8.35) WITH YESTERDAY’S TRADING . WE MAY HAVE HAD SOME MINOR BANKER SHORT COVERING IN GOLD. The new OI for the gold complex rests at 536,390. NEWBIE LONGS RE-ENTERED THE ARENA TO WHICH THE BANKERS DUTIFULLY SUPPLIED THE NECESSARY SHORT PAPER.. OUR BANKERS WERE MAY HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL IN COVERING A TINY PORTION OF THEIR GOLD SHORTS.
NO EFP’S WERE ISSUED FOR THE DECEMB CONTRACT MONTH.
Result: A TINY SIZED DECREASE IN OI DESPITE THE RISE IN PRICE IN GOLD ($8.35). WE MAY HAVE HAD SOME BANK SHORT COVERING. WE CERTAINLY HAD NEWBIE LONGS RE-ENTERING THE GOLD COMEX AREA TO WHICH OUR BANKERS REGRETFULLY SUPPLIED THE NECESSARY SHORT PAPER.
we had: 2 notice(s) filed upon for 200 oz of gold.
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With respect to our two criminal funds, the GLD and the SLV:
GLD:
No changes in gold inventory at the GLD/
Inventory rests tonight: 843.09 tonnes.
SLV
TODAY WE HAD NO CHANGE IN SILVER INVENTORY AT THE SLV
INVENTORY RESTS AT 318.074 MILLION OZ

This post was published at Harvey Organ Blog on November 9, 2017.

When will free markets emerge?

If someone asked you to define ‘free market,’ could you? Could you do it on the spot without recourse to dictionaries or other crutches?
There’s an old tale about the origin of the term ‘laissez-faire’ that gets to my point. Here’s the write-up in Wikipedia:
The term laissez faire likely originated in a meeting that took place around 1681 between powerful French Comptroller-General of Finances Jean-Baptiste Colbert and a group of French businessmen headed by M. Le Gendre. When the eager mercantilist minister asked how the French state could be of service to the merchants and help promote their commerce, Le Gendre replied simply “Laissez-nous faire” (“Leave it to us” or “Let us do [it],” the French verb not having to take an object).
Given the meeting with a known mercantilist, Le Gendre probably intended his comment in a restrictive sense, meaning he was refusing the state’s offer of protection from foreign competition. In later years others have expanded ‘laissez-faire’ to mean the state should be restricted to ‘upholding the rights of private property and individual liberty.’ In Human Action, Mises defined a laissez-faire economy as one unhampered by state interference; it means upholding ‘the individuals’ discretion to choose and to act.’ [Mises, The Meaning of Laissez Faire, excerpted from Human Action] Most libertarians would agree with this broader interpretation. The problem is any state that actually took a hands-off policy towards the economy wouldn’t be a state. States are, by design, predatory and parasitical. They exist for the purpose of accruing power and pelf. Libertarian visions of domesticating the state are fantasies.

This post was published at GoldSeek on 9 November 2017.

Stocks and Precious Metals Charts – The Repairer of Reputations

“A growing economy with related worries about increases in future inflation would typically produce rising yields on longer-term notes and bonds, not declining yields. A dramatic flattening in the yield curve is seen as a red flag for an economic slowdown, sagging inflation and as a potential precursor to the onset of recession. None of that would be consistent with the Federal Reserve continuing to tighten interest rates – which it is expected to do again in December.”
Pam and Russ Martens, Does Jay Powell Hear the Alarm Bells From a Flattening of the Yield Curve<

‘The ambition of Caesar and of Napoleon pales before that which could not rest until it had seized the minds of men and controlled even their unborn thoughts.’
Robert W. Chambers, The King In Yellow: Repairer of Reputations
We *almost* had a correction in the US equity markets today. Imagine that!
However, crisis was averted as determined buying of the SP 500 futures stepped in this afternoon after the European traders went home to their schatzies.

This post was published at Jesses Crossroads Cafe on 09 NOVEMBER 2017.

North Korean Propaganda On Trump: ‘Garbage That Reeks Of Gunpowder To Ignite War’

After North Koreans heard from their state-run media (propaganda) that Donald Trump had said some harsh things about life in the isolated nation, they fired back. And many believe Trump will ‘ignite a war’ between the United States and their own country.
In a speech on Wednesday, President Trump called the isolated communist country ‘a hell that no person deserves.’
But the rebuttal from North Koreans was equally harsh. One woman, who CNN spoke to on the streets of Pyongyang called Trump’s assertion ‘foolish,’ ‘absurd,’ and another word CNN claims they cannot print. ‘The reality here is very different. We’re leading a happy life,’ Ri Yong Hui, a housewife in Pyongyang, told CNN.
North Korean state media reported that Trump had spoken on Thursday, but did not include concrete details of his speech, in which the President slammed Pyongyang’s human rights abuses.

This post was published at shtfplan on November 9th, 2017.

Details Of ‘Simplified’ Senate Tax Bill Start To Leak: 7 Tax Brackets, Scraps All SALT Deductions

As the House tax bill hits the wires, leaked details of the Senate’s tax bill are coming out…
There will be 7 tax brackets – considerably more complex than the 3 brackets in the House bill
Senate tax legislation will keep seven tax brackets but alter the rates, GOP Sen. John Hoeven tells reporters.
Hoeven says the brackets will be set at 7%, 12%, 22.5%, 25%, 32.5%, 35%, and 38.5% (lower than the current top tax rate of 39.6%)
Hoeven also says the top tax rate starts at $500k for individuals.
GOP Senate leaders on Thursday plan to unveil legislation that would delay cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent until 2019, four people briefed on the planning said. That’s a major departure from Trump’s insistence on immediate tax cuts that he says are necessary to spur the economy.
The one-year delay would lower the cost of the tax bill by more than $100 billion, and negotiators are trying to preserve as much revenue as they can for other changes.

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

A Record Number Of Americans Are Taking Vacations: Why That Is Bad News For The Market

Having identified virtually every single asset bubble of the current cycle (as well as a few extra), SocGen’s cranky strategist Albert Edwards has found yet another place where there is irrational exuberance: vacations, and ever the optimist, Edwards has a message for Americans: enjoy it while you can, because it won’t last. In a note titled “Who needs wage inflation when even vacations have become a bubble” , the SocGen strategist observes that “more Americans plan to take a holiday in the next six months than ever before (see chart below)” and complains that there is “no wonder it was so difficult to book hotels in Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe next May!”

The problem with this latest bubble is that while a record number of Americans are taking vacations, far fewer can actually afford it when one strips away the fleeting asset bubbles created by central banks. As a result, record vacations have become only the latest indicator of consumers’ confidence in rising wage growth, which however has yet to materialize. “I know US consumer confidence has been booming on the back of a surging equity market, but cheap money has also prompted the consumer to book holidays galore.”
Which means that once the punch bowl is taken away, so will the downtime: “When the bubble bursts, households will be mighty pissed that it?s not just their wealth that evaporates in front of their eyes but their ability to vacation like never before.”

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

Why Doesn’t Gold Get The Respect It Deserves?

A longstanding curiosity in the investment business has been the disinterest in precious metals among institutional investors. Whether from the handful of consultants now leading the institutional space, or directly from the stewards of our nation’s pension, endowment, and family-office wealth, skepticism over gold’s portfolio relevance remains fairly pervasive. Because investment professionals are generally well informed, competing in an industry in which performance is king, one would assume any asset class deserving of rightful consideration would enjoy a fair hearing.
In this report, we present a collection of empirical evidence we view as compelling support of gold’s productive role as a portfolio-diversifying asset.
Gold Has Generated Consistently Positive Returns in This Millennium
Eight years of zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) have compressed returns across a wide spectrum of institutional investment regimens. Especially in the pension and endowment world, few portfolios are achieving chartered rates of return. In this environment, we find it puzzling that institutional investors still choose to ignore gold’s market-leading returns. As shown in Figure 1, gold has generated positive annual returns in 14 of the past 17 years. What is even more impressive is gold’s performance compared to the S&P 500 Index, the benchmark for broad U. S. equity performance. Gold’s compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the 16.75 years (2001 to September 30, 2017) stands at 9.68 percent versus 6.01 percent for the S&P 500 Index (dividends reinvested). Indeed, it is fair to say that since the turn of the millennium, any long-term allocation to gold would have improved total returns for the vast majority of pension and endowment portfolios.
What is it about gold’s performance that is so difficult to embrace?

This post was published at GoldSeek on NOVEMBER 9, 2017.

Senate GOP Unveils Tax Proposal: Here Are The Main Highlights

Confirming the leaks that occurred in the last hours, Senate Republicans just released their proposal for the tax bill and it is notably different from the House bill.
Here are the most notable highlights (more details below):
20% permanent corporate tax cut delayed by 1 year Complies with the $1.5 trillion cost (will cost $1.44 trillion) Preserves 7 tax brackets: top tax bracket is 38.5%, down from 39.6% Doubles standard deduction from $12,700 to $24,000 (married couples) Ends state and local tax (SALT) deduction; keeps business deduction Keeps the mortgage Interest deduction cap at $1 million Preserve the estate tax, doubling the current $5.49 million exemption for individuals Raises the child tax credit to $1,650 from $1,000

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

How Close Are We to Peak Gold?

Well-known mining geologist Keith Barron, Chairman and CEO of Aurania Resources, tells Financial Sense Newshour that with the average goldmine worldwide extracting gold below 1 gram per ton, peak gold is probably here and that, unlike oil, there isn’t any new technology that makes finding it or extracting it any easier.
No New Tech Coming, Peak Gold Is Probably Here
Similar to what we’ve seen in the oil markets with fracking, past innovations helped make extracting marginal gold deposits economical. Now, however, the low-hanging fruit is gone, Barron stated. An average gold mine worldwide is extracting gold at below 1 gram per ton and there isn’t a lot of economic wiggle room if deposits are yielding less than that.
As a result, large operations have emerged that rely on open-pit mining and economies of scale to reduce costs. If the gold price dipped down, however, operations such as these would be in trouble, Barron noted, because the margins are very thin.
It’s doubtful that we’ll see any technology emerge that would make lower grade ore bodies pay more efficiently, Barron noted. The only thing he sees down the road is more recovery operations.
There has been talk of Peak Gold for several years, Barron stated, and the numbers indicate we will reach it this year or next. After this point, production profiles start to fall worldwide.

This post was published at FinancialSense on 11/09/2017.

Next Phase of Carmageddon: the Banks

Banks have started to tighten lending standards for prime and subprime borrowers, and it shows.
Banks are further tightening their lending standards for prime and subprime auto loans. This process started in Q2 2016, when auto lending had reached the apogee of loosey-goosey underwriting that had boosted sales of new and used vehicles to record levels and had ballooned auto loan-balances outstanding to the $1-trillion mark. It also boosted risks for lenders. Inevitably, subprime auto loans started running into trouble in 2016, and it was time to not throw the last trace of prudence into the wind entirely.
The chart below – based on data from the Fed’s Senior Loan Officer Surveyon bank lending practices for the third quarter – shows the net percentage of banks tightening lending standards. The negative percentages below the red line signify net easing. It shows how loan officers have gradually, in fits and starts, dialed back their easing before Q2 2016 and ratcheted up their tightening after Q2 2016:

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

Cable Dumps’n’Pumps As EU Official Says No Brexit Talks Breakthrough

Brexit talks yielded no breakthrough on the financial settlement, and discussions focused on the issue of citizens’ rights, where the two sides are hoping for progress, an EU official told reporters.
Bloomberg notes that the anonymous official added that no breakthrough was expected on the bill, as that would require high-level political input, and as Citi notes, this meeting was meant to be more of a discussion anyway, with no expectations of an overall proposal being finalized.
The EU is piling the pressure on the UK to agree the divorce settlement as Brexit negotiations resumed in Brussels. In EU parlance, it appears that the term for this is the ‘moment of clarification’, which only makes us despise EU bureaucrats even more. Our suspicion is that, with the UK keen to settle the money issue and move on to trade talks, the EU sees an opportunity to take advantage of political turmoil in the UK, as the talks reaching their most critical stage. According to AFP.

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

Oil at Two-Year Highs as Saudi Arabia Engages in Its Own ‘Game of Thrones’

Recently I identified five agents of change that I believe investors should know about right now. I’d like to add one more to the list: Mohammad bin Salman. The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, 32, was little known outside the region before this past weekend when he jailed members of the royal family, presumably in an attempt to consolidate power ahead of taking the throne. Resembling a plotline from an episode of ‘Game of Thrones,’ the mass detentions signal a seismic change in Saudi leadership – which, in turn, is putting upward pressure on global oil prices.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s second-largest oil producer and single biggest oil exporter, so any development that might alert investors that the kingdom’s production levels or oil policy could be disrupted has historically had a profound effect on prices. When the country’s former king, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, passed away in January 2015, oil jumped more than 8.6 percent for the week.
And so was the case on Monday, after news broke of the shakeup. West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the American benchmark for crude, closed above $57 a barrel for the first time since June 2015, adding nearly 35 percent from its summer 2017 low. A weaker U. S. dollar, down about 3.2 percent from the same time last year, is also providing support, as is slower U. S. supply growth following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

This post was published at GoldSeek on 9 November 2017.

Here Is The Full Text And Summary Of The Amended House GOP Tax Bill

While we await the full details of the Senate bill, moments ago the House Ways and Means Committee released the Amended House GOP tax bill, as well as its summary.
Here are the key highlights from the Amendment (link), first in principle:
Amendment to the Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to H. R. 1 Offered by Mr. Brady of Texas The amendment makes improvements to the amendment in the nature of a substitute relating to the maximum rate on business income of individuals, preserves the adoption tax credit, improves the program integrity of the Child Tax Credit, improves the consolidation of education savings rules, preserves the above-the-line deduction for moving expenses of a member of the Armed Forces on active duty, preserves the current law effective tax rates on C corporation dividends subject to the dividends received deduction, improves the bill’s interest expense rules with respect to accrued interest on floor plan financing indebtedness, modifies the treatment of S corporation conversions into C corporations, modifies the tax treatment of research and experimentation expenditures, modifies the treatment of expenses in contingent fee cases, modifies the computation of life insurance tax reserves, modifies the treatment of qualified equity grants, preserves the current law treatment of nonqualified deferred compensation, modifies the transition rules on the treatment of deferred foreign income, improves the excise tax on investment income of private colleges and universities, and modifies rules with respect to political statements made by certain tax-exempt entities.
And the details, from the summary (link):
Maximum rate on business income of individuals (reduced rate for small businesses with net active business income)

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

Are “Happy Days” In Credit Over? According To BofA, Just One Thing Matters

Just one month ago, we showed a chart according to which the corporate bond spreads as tracked by the BofA/ML Corporate Master Index had tumbled to a level not seen since July 2007…

… while European high yield bonds have sunk below 2%, a head-scratching plunge in European “high” yields. As we have observed previously, the catalyst for the dramatic collapse in yields has been an obvious one: central banks, which have not only crushed asset volatility, but through the ECB’s explicit guarantee to be the buyer of last resort for corporate bonds, pushed yields to unprecednted low levels.

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