Meet Laikago: China’s $25,000 Robo-Labrador

The Japanese have their non-nagging synthetic wives, the Saudis have their Shariah-compliant humanoid citizens, Americans are content with a backflipping supra-human, and now the Chinese get their very own 50lb, poop-less, robo-dog…
Meet Laikago – named after Laika, a Soviet dog who was the first living creature to orbit the Earth.

The Chinese-made robot dog weighs 22kg, a bit less than a common Labrador, and is around 60cm tall.
‘It is a kind of medium automatic robot, a robot-dog in short,’ creator Wang Xingxing told RT’s Ruptly video news agency.
‘We have popularized Laikago among science and technology companies, and science fans. So Laikago is a scientific toy.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 25, 2017.

Muir: “People Are Going To Be Wiped Out” By Short-VIX ETFs

Back in August, we highlighted a story in the New York Times about a former manager at Target who decided to try day trading with $500,000 he had saved up. Over the following years, he turned that into $13 million by following one simple strategy: Shorting volatility every time it spiked.
As MacroVoices host Erik Townsend points out, that strategy has worked for many retail investors over the past eight years. And in a brief ‘postgame’ interview with the Macro Tourist Kevin Muir following a longer interview with Francesco Filia, a fund manager at Fasanara Capital, the former explains how many investors don’t understand the risks associated with shorting volatility, as well as the possible repercussions if exchanges and brokerages don’t take the appropriate steps to limit this.
Townsend begins the discussion by asking Muir about a chart he created of the VXX – the long-VIX ETF – which, because of the low-volatility environement, has repeatedly split leading to unbelievable wealth destruction.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 25, 2017.

Lewd For Thought: America Is Groping Towards Peak Stupidity

Authored by James George Jatras via The Strategic Culture Foundation,
We’ve long known that Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad. Now it appears that the gods make those marked for destruction really stupid, too.
I don’t know how many people outside the United States have noticed the roaring frenzy of sexual abuse allegations that has now become a centerpiece of American public life.
Each news roundup leads with the latest accusations. Every day a new alleged miscreant pops into view. It’s a wonder that London bookmakers haven’t yet started taking bets on who’s going to be next.
The allegations range from forcible rape to lewd comments to kissing ‘without consent,’ and everything in between.(How many first kisses take place with consent? ‘You may kiss me now.’ You want that in writing? Witnessed and notarized?)The most common alleged offense seems to be groping.
Rarely are distinctions made between actions that constitute serious crimes that ought to be punished accordingly as opposed to what until recently was considered ordinary male initiative. For example, the charge that decades ago Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore sexually fondled a 14-year-old girl (criminal and disqualifying, if true) is conflated with having taken a 17-year-old on a date (with her mother’s permission and without any allegation of sexual contact) or maybe having signed a high school yearbook.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 25, 2017.

The ‘End Of Dreams’ And The Saving Of Appearances

Authord by Alastair Crooke via The Automatic Earth blog,
Robert Kagan first called attention to the fact that America would need to awake from its ‘dream’ a decade ago in End of Dreams: The Return of History, and would have to manage the rise of ‘other’ powers, (some greater than others), with adroitness, if it were to avoid a bad road-crash as emerging competitors clashed with the waning dominant power.
This meant that the US no longer would be able to assert its will everywhere, and on everything – and would have to give ground – especially to China and Russia. ‘There’s going to have to be some very painful horse trading’, historian Sir Max Hastings suggests, adding that its pain will be none the less traumatic, since – like Germany after WW1 – America, does not feel itself defeated: Quite the converse, it sees itself having emerged from the Cold War wholly vindicated: in terms of its societal, governmental and capitalist models.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 25, 2017.

Francesco Filia: The World’s Twin Asset Bubbles Could Collapse Under Their Own Weight

In this week’s MacroVoices podcast, Erik Townsend interviews Francesco Filia, a fund manager at Fasanara Capital. After exchanging pleasantries, Townsend begins the interview by asking Filia, an analysts who’s widely regarded for his research about how post-crisis monetary policy has impacted distorted markets, about the different metrics he uses to determine whether a certain asset is in a bubble.
Filia begins by ticking off a laundry list of metrics that all point to the same conclusion: That today’s market is more overvalued than at any point in recent history – including the run-up to the financial crisis.
Thank you, Erik. I think the equity bubble is quite uncontroversial, is quite unambiguous. There are a lot of different valuation metrics for those that care to look into them. They’ve been valid for over a hundred years of modern financial markets. And this time is no different in that respect. There are the usual metrics that the valuation guys are looking at, like financial assets to disposable income that shows that this market is way more expensive than at any point in history including the big dot com bubble and the Lehman moment in 2007-2008.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 25, 2017.

Demographic Dysphoria: Swiss Village Offers Families Over $70,000 To Live There

Across the world, demographic dysphoria is taking shape, creating numerous headaches for governments. To avoid the next economic downturn, governments are searching for creative measures to increase population growth and deliver a sustainable economy. In Europe, a near decade of excessive monetary policy coupled with a massive influx of refugees have not been able to reverse negative population growth – first spotted in 2012.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 25, 2017.

US State Department Admits Plans To Meddle In Hungary’s Democracy

As we noted last week, hypocrisy may be the only consistent guiding principle of US foreign policy.
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The Rex Tillerson State Department will pump $700,000 into Hungarian media to remove Viktor Orban.
TheDuran’s Alex Christoforou writes:
When another nation state uses media to communicate it’s point of view, its flagged as a foreign agent, a ‘bad actor’, and often declared as an ‘act of war (i.e. RT).
When the US government uses its petrodollar strength to insert its agenda into another country’s politics it’s branded ‘democracy and human rights programming’.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 25, 2017.

What Determines a Currency’s Rate of Exchange?

Currency rates of exchange appear to be moving in response to so many factors that it makes it almost impossible to ascertain where the rate of exchange is likely to be headed. But rather than paying attention to the multitude of variables, it is more sensible to focus on the essential variable.
As far as the currency rate of exchange determination is concerned, this variable is the relative changes in the purchasing power of various monies. The relative purchasing power of various monies sets the underlying rate of exchange.
A price of a basket of goods is the amount of money paid for the basket. We can also say that the amount of money paid for a basket of goods is the purchasing power of money with respect to the basket of goods.
If in the US the price of a basket of goods is 1 dollar and in Europe an identical basket of goods is sold for 2 euros then the rate of exchange between the US dollar and the euro must be two euros per one dollar.
An important factor in setting the purchasing power of money is the supply of money. If over time the rate of growth in the US money supply exceeds the rate of growth of European money supply, all other things being equal, this will put pressure on the dollar.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on November 26, 2017.

“You Are Here”: Citi’s Stunning VIX Chart

Something snapped in the VIX complex, seconds after Friday’s early close, sending it to a new record low of 8.56 at 13:00:14 ET…
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… which as we showed yesterday, was less than 10% of the all time VIX high of 89.53, hit on October 24, 2008.
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However, while the Friday VIX snap – which is still on the feeds and thus wasn’t a fat finger error – is yet another indication of just how broken, and/or how overrun by vol sellers the market is, below we present two even more striking, longer-term perspectives on the VIX courtesy of Citi.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 25, 2017.

China’s Corporate Debt Unexpectedly Rises At Fastest Pace In Four Years, As A New Risk Emerges

Have you heard the one about the priest, the rabbi and China’s deleveraging? We forget how it goes, but it’s pretty damn funny, especially the last part after a Reuters report that following China’s repeated vows by Beijing it would reduce the country’s unprecedented sovereign, municipal, corporate and household leverage, China’s debt is not only rising, but growing at the fastest pace in four years.
It’s especially funny because for years China’s top officials have – well – lied, touting their ambitious policy priority to wean the world’s second-largest economy off high levels of debt, but there is not much to show for it. On the contrary, the debt pile at Chinese firms has been climbing in that time, with levels at the end of September growing at the fastest pace in four years.
As shown in the chart below, a Reuters analysis of 2,146 China listed firms showed their total debt at the end of September jumped 23% from a year ago, the highest pace of growth since 2013. The analysis covered three-fifths of the country’s listed firms, but excluded financials, which have seen the brunt of government de-risking and deleveraging efforts so far.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 25, 2017.

The Party’s Over For Australia’s $5.6 Trillion Housing Frenzy

Early this month, we discussed whether the world’s longest running bull market – 55 years – in Australian house prices had come to an end. This was UBS’s view following the October 2017 monthly report on Australian house prices from CoreLogic suggested that measures to tighten credit standards and dissuade overseas buyers (especially Chinese in Sydney and Melbourne) have finally begun to bite. As CoreLogic’s summary table shows, Sydney prices fell in October, for the second month running, and poised to lead national prices lower.
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We followed up that discussion with ‘Why Australia’s Economy Is A House Of Cards’ in which Matt Barrie and Craig Tindale described how Australia’s three decades long economic expansion had mostly been the result of ‘dumb luck’.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 24, 2017.

Amazon Makes Money Exploiting Honest Merchants

It’s not enough to lobby. Nor is it enough to buy a newspaper that then has one of its “allegedly honest” writers show up as a speaker at a hard-left political confab the purpose of which is to tilt United States political policy.
Now we’ve got another report — this one from merchants, and it’s ugly.
Mike Molson Hart, who sells toys on Amazon.com Inc.’s marketplace, realized earlier this month something was amiss. His company’s popular disc-shaped plastic building set, called Brain Flakes, had dropped precipitously in the ranks of Amazon’s best-selling toys as the critical gift-giving season approached.
He visited the product page on Amazon.com and suspected he was the victim of “sniping,” when one merchant sabotages another by hiring people to leave critical reviews of their goods and then voting those reviews as being helpful, making them the most prominent feedback seen by shoppers.
This is a problem trivially solved by Amazon: Do not allow “reviews” from people who haven’t bought the product through the site!

This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-11-24.

Russian Anger Builds In Town Next To Leaking Nuclear Plant

Earlier this week, we noted that Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy agency had taken baby steps toward recognizing the dangers posed by an aging nuclear storage facility in Chelyabinsk, a town located on Russia’s southern border with Kazakhstan, when it officially acknowledged the extraordinary high levels of radiation in the area. Though the government refused to admit culpability, as many believe the radiation leaked out of the Mayak nuclear power plant, which has a history of serious nuclear accidents.
Still, a month after the mysterious radiation cloud was first observed over Europe, Russian authorities have said little other than admitting the spike in radiation – a troubling trend that’s making some locals nervous and angry.
As the Financial Times points out, 76 years after radiation first began seeping from Mayak into the surrounding rivers, lakes and atmosphere, Russian authorities admitted that the nearby town of Argayash was at the center of a radiation cloud containing ‘exceptionally high’ levels of radioactive isotope ruthenium-106, which spread so far west that it reached France.
But residents of the town are demanding more information from authorities, whom they blame for putting the health of locals at risk.
The FT described Argayash is a cynical, mistrustful town. Apparently, decades of being lied to by the government about being down the road from a leaking nuclear plant does that to a place. So too does watching generations of people dying of radiation-related ailments while officials assure them nothing is amiss.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 24, 2017.

$1 Trillion Norway Wealth Fund Sees “Red Flag” In Real Estate Market

Back in September, we pointed out that assets managed by Norway’s sovereign wealth fund had surged to over $1 trillion after they made the controversial decision to increase their exposure to global equity bubbles (see: Norway Wealth Fund Assets Surge To Over $1 Trillion On Massive 70% Allocation To Equities). The move has worked out perfectly in the short term, though we still have our doubts as to whether the “greater fool” theory works over the long term…certainly it never has before but maybe this time is different.

Alas, as Bloomberg points out today, bubbles in equity markets aren’t the only ones to have attracted the attention of Norway’s wealth management team which is scooping up commercial real estate projects all over the world, despite their own acknowledgement of “red flags.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 24, 2017.