The Darkest Hours

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Kunstler. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
The Tax ‘Reform’ bill working its way painfully out the digestive system of congress like a sigmoid fistula, ought be re-named the US Asset-stripping Assistance Act of 2017, because that’s what is about to splatter the faces of the waiting public, most of whom won’t have a personal lobbyist / tax lawyer by their sides holding a protective tarpulin during the climactic colonic burst of legislation.
Sssshhhh…. The media has not groked this, but the economy is actually collapsing, and the nova-like expansion of the stock markets is exactly the sort of action you might expect in a system getting ready to blow. Meanwhile, the more visible rise of the laughable scam known as crypto-currency, is like the plume of smoke coming out of Vesuvius around 79 AD – an amusing curiosity to the citizens of Pompeii below, going about their normal activities, eating pizza, buying slaves, making love – before hellfire rained down on them.
Whatever the corporate tax rate might be, it won’t be enough to rescue the Ponzi scheme that governing has become, with its implacable costs of empire. So the real aim here is to keep up appearances at all costs just a little while longer while the table scraps of a four-hundred-year-long New World banquet get tossed to the hogs of Wall Street and their accomplices. The catch is that even hogs busy fattening up don’t have a clue about their imminent slaughter.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner by James Howard Kunstler ‘ December 18, 2017.

There’s Never Been A Worse Time For A European Investor To Buy US Treasuries

Since the common currency’s inception in 1999, the EUR-hedged yield ‘offered’ to European investors from investing in US Treasuries has never been worse…
As Bloomberg notes, for European investors using swaps to protect against currency swings, the benchmark 10-year U. S. yield fell Friday on a euro-hedged basis to around -60bps.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 18, 2017.

The Year Of The Headless Liberal Chicken

Authored by CJ Hopkins via Counterpunch.org,
According to the Chinese zodiac, 2017 has been the Year of the Rooster. Myself, I’ve decided to designate it the Year of the Headless Liberal Chicken.
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I don’t mean that to be insulting … or, all right, I guess I do, a little. But my heart goes out to liberals, seriously. At this point, the amount of utterly baseless, contradictory propaganda, mass hysteria, and just flat out insanity the ruling classes have demanded they swallow is more than any human mind, no matter how medicated, could possibly handle. Is it any wonder so many of them of lost it and started seeing Nazis and Russians coming out of the woodwork?

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

California Wildfires Don’t Have to be the New Normal

To call them devastating is an understatement.
There have been 8,771 wildfires recorded in Northern and Southern California this year, so far, burning an equivalent of 3,346 square miles. The economic costs, increasing by the day, are now over $13 billion, a figure that will double once the bills from SoCal come in.
The greatest costs are the human ones, especially the loss of human life.
There are, of course, certain characteristics about California that make wildfires more probable there than would be the case in South Dakota, but none of them mean that annual wildfires are inevitable. And yet, that is the message we receive from the life-is-hard-therefore-we-need-government crowd.
Consider this excerpt from the Los Angeles Times story:
So how did the Thomas fire become such a monster? Heavy winds are one factor. But another is the thick brush that has not burned in decades, providing fuel.
‘The fuels in there are thick and they’re dead, so they’re very receptive to fire,’ said Steve Swindle, spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department.
The fuel can spread the fire even when winds die down.
‘Since it’s so dry out there, it doesn’t take much in the way of winds to create those critical fire weather conditions,’ said Robbie Munroe, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. We’ll see wind gusts in that … area between 20 and 35 mph, maybe a few mountain sites might see up to about 40, but that’s the most we’re expecting right now.’

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on December 18, 2017.

Explaining My Amazement About Those Turning Bullish On The Banking Sector Now

Recent price action
With the Nasdaq continuing higher this past week, it has now reached our minimum target we were looking for before a pullback may be seen. But, I think the XLF may be providing us with certain clues about how 2018 may turn out. And, it may not be as rosy as many believe. Well, at least the first half of the year.
Anecdotal and other sentiment indications
Interest rates are rising. Tax obligations will likely be dropping. And, many believe this could be a wonderful environment for our banks to thrive. In fact, I am seeing many Wall Street analysts picking the banking sector as one of their favorites for 2018. Well, I certainly cannot concur, based upon what I am seeing in my charts, which provide insight into market sentiment.
As markets move higher and higher, for some reason, people turn more and more bullish. I mean, the drive that most consumers have to find the best price for the goods and services they desire is conspicuously absent from the greater investor community.
Why is it that when you want to buy a high priced product, you will do extensive research to find the lowest price available, yet, when it comes to stocks, most will only buy after it has risen substantially? Have you ever considered this question?
For those of us who have studied markets, we would understand that the reason is because financial markets are emotionally driven, rather than logically driven. As prices rise, investors become more and more convinced that they will simply continue to rise in a linear manner. And, when the greatest percentage of investors maintain this belief, that is often the point in time when the market changes direction.
And, I am seeing a potential turn setting up into January of 2018.

This post was published at GoldSeek on Monday, 18 December 2017.

Why 2017 Was a Year to Celebrate

The holidays always prompt us to look both forward and back. Soon you’ll start seeing 2018 forecasts. I’ll review some of them for you and give you my own in the coming weeks. But first, I want to take a look back at 2017 – and do it a little differently.
In certain circles I’ve been pigeonholed as a ‘permabear.’ That is not correct. I’m probably one of the most optimistic people you will ever meet. I’m confident in the future of humanity, but I also recognize that we must overcome many challenges to get to the future we ultimately want. I am not all that enthusiastic about the future of government. In other words, I try to stay balanced.
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We don’t live in an either/or world. It is not the case that everything is bad or that everything is wonderful. Yes, bad things happened in 2017. Good things happened in 2017, too. Both those statements are true. You don’t have to pick one or the other.

This post was published at Mauldin Economics on DECEMBER 17, 2017.