One Bank Is Unsure If Any Humans Still Trade Stocks In Japan, Or Have All Moved To Bitcoin

While the wholesale disappearance of retail traders from stock markets is hardly a novel observation, it has taken on a whole new meaning in Japan, where the lack of carbon-based investors has prompted Deutsche Bank to ask if “Japan’s stocks are still traded at all by humans.”
As Deutsche strategist Masao Muraki writes, since the US presidential election, Japanese stocks (in this case the TOPIX index) have been almost entirely defined by just three things: US stocks (S&P 500), the implied volatility (VIX), and USDJPY. This is shown in the model correlation chart below.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 26, 2017.

Trump’s Tax Cuts: The Good, The Bad, and the Inflationary

At last, tax reform is happening! Last week, President Donald Trump celebrated the passage of the most important legislation so far of his presidency.
The final bill falls far short of the ‘file on a postcard’ promise of Trump’s campaign. It even falls short of the bill trotted out by Congressional Republicans just a few weeks ago. It is, nevertheless, the most significant tax overhaul in more than a decade.
Corporations and most individual taxpayers will see lower overall rates. That’s the good news.
Unfortunately, there is also some not so good news investors need to be aware of.
Because no spending cuts will be attached to ‘pay’ for the tax rate reductions, the legislation will grow the budget deficit by an estimated $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion over the next decade. The actual number could end up being smaller…or bigger, depending on how the economy performs. But more red ink will spill.

This post was published at GoldSeek on Tuesday, 26 December 2017.

Man Who Delivered Gift-Wrapped Horseshit To Steven Mnuchin Compares Himself to Jesus

An LA County psychologist who thinks President Trump’s tax bill stinks to high heaven, compared himself to Jesus after admitting he delivered a gift-wrapped box of horseshit as a Christmas present to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Robby Strong told AL.com he dropped off the box of horse manure at Mnuchin’s house as an ‘act of political theater’ to hammer home the point that ‘Republicans have done nothing for the American worker.’
Boldly taking the Christ-analogy to a place it has never gone before, Strong told SoCal radio station 89.3 KPCC that “what I did, I would like to compare to what Jesus did when he went into the temple and overturned the tables of the money-changers, who were exploiting the people financially in the name of religion.”
‘In the long run, if we don’t do stuff like this, what are we going to have left?’ Robby told KPCC. ‘I feel like that’s what the GOP has done to the American people,’ added the man who, bizarrely, is a psychologist with the LA Department of Mental Health.
Things start to make much more sense, however, once we learn that Strong claims he was an organizer for the Occupy LA movement; predictably he sides with critics of the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul who say it favors corporations and the wealthy, CBS Los Angeles reported.

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

Is Holiday Gift-Giving Just A Big Waste?

Is Christmas bad for the economy? Do gifts destroy value? Are they a drag on the economy, as many economists suggest?
In ‘The economist’s guide to gift-giving’ at FT, Tim Harford collects the research of these economists who say that ‘Gifts typically destroy value. The total deadweight loss of Christmas in the US alone was $12bn.’
They say that givers pay more than the most the recipient is willing to pay for the gifted item.1 This difference in their willingness to pay is interpreted as a waste.
The same economists and authors point out all of the bad gifts. Many times, gifts aren’t even used or enjoyed by the recipient, only to end up in the attic for a few years and then sold at a yard sale or donated to the local thrift store. From the FT article:
If you give someone a jumper that doesn’t fit, a book they’ve already read or a box of chocolates when they’re on a diet, this is a waste of valuable resources. Fossil fuels have been burnt, tedious hours have been worked, trees have been felled, all to produce products that were unwanted. The same resources could have been devoted, instead, to goods that people actually do value.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on Dec 25, 2017.

Citi’s “What If?” Scenarios: Part 2

Yesterday we published the first set of 7 “What If” scenarios that didn’t make it into the Citi Credit team’s (already rather gloomy) year-ahead forecast. Because while Citi’s “base case” was clearly bearish (our summary can be found here), what was left unsaid was even more unsettling, if not troubling. As the bank’s credit team wrote “what about the outcomes that didn’t quite make it into our base case? The scenarios that aren’t central, but which aren’t entirely implausible either – both bullish and bearish.” Citi then listed the following 7 scenarios in the first part of its quasi-forecast:
idiosyncratic risk is returning to credit? European corporates get more aggressive? global growth & commodity prices disappoint? inflation accelerates as output gaps close? the US yield curve inverts? central bank tapering really is a non-event? the market doesn’t like the choice of ECB successor?” A full discussion of the above scenarios was posted yesterday.
Today, we follow up with part 2, or the second set of 7 hypothetical questions for 2018, which shifts away from economics and finance, and focuses on politics and Europe. As Citi’s credit team writes “you tend to worry less about your leaky roof when the sun is shining. And at the moment the cyclical economic upturn is beaming across Europe. Yet there are clouds which might conceivably hold moisture – or as our economists have put it: political risk is not dead in Europe.”

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

WHEN LEFTIST VIRTUE SIGNALLING GOES HORRIBLY WRONG

On Wednesday, HuffPost writer Andy Ostroy attempted to virtue signal as a progressive liberal by attacking Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina as a token black man and a ‘manipulated prop’ being used to sell the Republican’s newly passed tax bill.
‘What a shocker… there’s ONE black person there and sure enough they have him standing right next to the mic like a manipulated prop,’ Ostroy tweeted. ‘Way to go @SenatorTimScott.’


This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on DECEMBER 23, 2017.

“You All Just Got A Lot Richer” – Trump Confirms The Biggest Problem With The GOP Tax Cut

As we’ve pointed out time and time again, the biggest problem with the Trump tax cuts is that they overwhelmingly benefit the rich. In fact, shortly after the initial nine-page outline of the program was unveiled by Gary Cohn and Steven Mnuchin, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center released an analysis that showed the wealthiest 1% of Americans would accumulate more than 80% of the benefit from the tax bill.
One need only glance at this chart from JP Morgan to see how shabbily middle- and working-class voters are treated by the tax bill.
This is a big problem – particularly if the administration hopes to come anywhere near the 2.9% rate of GDP growth sustained over the next 10 years, a feat that would amount to the longest period without a recession in US history. That’s because when the wealthy receive tax breaks, they tend to save the money instead of putting it to productive use – at least at first – as we discussed last week.

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

2017: A Review Of The Fed, Treasuries, Mortgages and Housing (Volatility and Velocity)

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Snake Hole Lounge. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
2017 has been an interesting year. Donald Trump was elected President and seated in January 2017. The Federal Reserve kept rates near zero with a massive balance sheet for almost all of Obama’s 8 years as President, then started to raise rates and unwind their massive balance sheet AFTER Trump was elected. Note the decline in M2 Money growth after Trump’s election.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner by Anthony B Sanders ‘ December 23, 2017.

The West Proves That Poland’s Loyalty Was Worthless

Authored by Andrew Korybko via Oriental Review,
Poland, one of the most loyal EU members, was just stabbed in the back by Brussels after the bloc initiated punitive Article 7 proceedings against it, proving that Warsaw’s unwavering loyalty to the West was worthless this entire time and thus giving Poles a reason to reconsider whether it’s time that they attempted to restore their long-lost Great Power status in Europe.
Many Poles were shocked to hear that Brussels had begun the process to sanction their country, despite knowing in the back of their minds all along that this was a very probable scenario. The EU had been warning Poland for months now that it wouldn’t tolerate the ruling Law & Justice party’s (PiS) judicial reforms, labelling them as ‘anti-democratic’ in spite of the same envisioned changes already being in place in many Western European countries. All that PiS wants to do is make it so that judges are accountable to the people, not to one another, and break the backs of the communist-era clique that still controls the country’s courts. This is crucial in the modern context because PiS follows a EuroRealist ideology that aspires to improve Poland’s sovereign standing in the EU, a vision which is directly at odds with EU-hegemon Germany’s EuroLiberalism that instead wants all member states to be subservient to an unelected bureaucracy in Brussels.
EuroRealism vs. EuroLiberalism
The matter is an urgent one for Poland because PiS’ Civic Platform (PO) predecessors stacked the courts with their allies before leaving power after the ruling party won the first-ever post-communist electoral majority in the country’s history in 2015. PO’s former leader is the current President of the European Council Donald Tusk, and he and his organization are popularly regarded as Germany’s proxies in Poland. PiS, on the other hand, is allied with Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party, with which it shares a strident belief in the conservative ideology of EuroRealism. It had long been the case that EuroLiberalism was on the ascent in Europe ever since the end of the Cold War, but the 2008 global economic recession and the 2015 Migrant Crisis sparked a grassroots movement all across Central and Eastern Europe which has seen the rapid rise of EuroRealism.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 23, 2017.

Zuesse: Americans Are Only Now Beginning To Learn They Live In A Dictatorship

Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,
The first time when it became clear to me that I live in a dictatorship was in 2014 when reading, prior to its publication, the landmark (and still the only) scientific empirical study to address the question as to whether or not the United States federal Government is, authentically, a democracy – or, whether, alternatively, it’s instead more of a dictatorship, than a democracy.
This study documented conclusively that America’s Government is the latter.
So, on 14 April 2014, I headlined ‘US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy, Says Scientific Study’. Subsequently, my editor linked it to the published article at the Journal where the study was published, Perspectives on Politics, from the American Political Science Association, and the full study can be read there.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 22, 2017.

Doug Noland: Epic Stimulus Overload

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Credit Bubble Bulletin . To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
Ten-year Treasury yields jumped 13 bps this week to 2.48%, the high going back to March. German bund yields rose 12 bps to 0.42%. U. S. equities have been reveling in tax reform exuberance. Bonds not so much. With unemployment at an almost 17-year low 4.1%, bond investors have so far retained incredible faith in global central bankers and the disinflation thesis.
Between tax legislation and cryptocurrencies, there’s been little interest in much else. As for tax cuts, it’s an inopportune juncture in the cycle for aggressive fiscal stimulus. And for major corporate tax reduction more specifically, with boom-time earnings and the loosest Credit conditions imaginable, it’s Epic Stimulus Overload. History will look back at this week – ebullient Republicans sharing the podium and cryptocurrency/blockchain trading madness – and ponder how things got so crazy.
From my analytical vantage point, the nation’s housing markets have been about the only thing holding the U. S. economy back from full-fledged overheated status. Sales have been solid and price inflation steady. While construction has recovered significantly from the 2009/2010 trough, housing starts remain at about 60% of 2004-2005 period peak levels. It takes some time for residential construction to attain take-off momentum. Well, liftoff may have finally arrived. As long as mortgage rates remain so low, we should expect ongoing housing upside surprises. An already strong inflationary bias is starting to Bubble. Is the Fed paying attention?

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on December 23, 2017.

UMich Confidence Disappoints As Bipartisan Divide Weighs On Hope

Hope is fading among Americans…

Consumer confidence continued to slowly sink in December, with most of the decline among lower income households.
Tax reform was spontaneously mentioned by 29% of all respondents, with a nearly equal split between positive and negative impacts on economic prospects.
As usual, party affiliation was the dominant correlate of people’s assessments of the tax legislation.
The long term outlook for the economy was most affected, with three-quarters of Republicans expecting a stronger economy and three-quarters of Democrats expecting a downturn.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 22, 2017.

2017 Year In Review

Markets fiddle while Rome burns
Introduction
‘He is funnier than you are.’
~David Einhorn, Greenlight Capital, on Dave Barry’s Year in Review
Every December, I write a survey trying to capture the year’s prevailing themes. I appear to have stiff competition – the likes of Dave Barry on one extreme1 and on the other, Pornhub’s marvelous annual climax that probes deeply personal preferences in the world’s favorite pastime.2 (I know when I’m licked.) My efforts began as a few paragraphs discussing the markets on Doug Noland’s bear chat board and monotonically expanded to a tome covering the orb we call Earth. It posts at Peak Prosperity, reposts at ZeroHedge, and then fans out from there. Bearishness and right-leaning libertarianism shine through as I spelunk the Internet for human folly to couch in snarky prose while trying to avoid the ‘expensive laugh’ (too much setup).3 I rely on quotes to let others do the intellectual heavy lifting.
‘Consider adding more of your own thinking and judgment to the mix . . . most folks are familiar with general facts but are unable to process them into a coherent and actionable framework.’
~Tony Deden, founder of Edelweiss Holdings, on his second read through my 2016 Year in Review

This post was published at PeakProsperity on Friday, December 22, 2017,.

A Merrier Christmas Sales Season

Our theme that a new business cycle expansion began in 2016 is easy to see when looking at the renewed strength in the basic industrial and material sectors, which we have highlighted in past newsletters. Less obvious – and just as important however – is the persistent consumption trends since the 2008-2009 Great Recession.
While consumers have been the backbone of most expansion cycles, they have been the only GDP component keeping our economy from a long economic winter this decade. Now that the industrial sector is making a comeback with a rare boost to the investment component of GDP, consumers are even more optimistic. Euphoria surged upon Trump’s election and boosted our merriment to finish 2016. It looks like 2017 will be even merrier as the National Retail Federation estimates record spending in their most recent survey after the subdued decade that preceded

This post was published at FinancialSense on 12/22/2017.

“This is Groundhog Day”: Spanish Stocks Battered By Catalan Vote, Bitcoin Crashes

Spanish stocks and the euro fell, while Spanish government bond yields hit their highest levels in over a month after Catalan secessionists delivered an unexpected blow to the government of Spanish PM Rajoy by winning the Catalan regional election. Meanwhile across the Atlantic, U. S. equity futures and the dollar rose on the last trading session before the Christmas holiday. The MSCI index of world stocks was flat.
Europe’s Stoxx 600 Index traded sideways as Spain’s Ibex 35 underperformed, dropping as much as 1.6%. Spanish stocks dominated Europe’s biggest fallers, confirming analyst expectations that any shake-out from the Catalonia vote would be mostly confined to Spain. Spain’s bonds also fell along with peripheral European government debt, though bunds were little changed after a selloff this week drove yields to five-week highs. For those who missed it, Catalan separatist parties triumphed in regional elections, outperforming some polls and reigniting Spain’s political trauma. While the Euro has stabilized since, it suffered a mini flash crash in the illiquid aftermath of the Catalan election news, momentarily dipping to $1.1817 before trimming losses to last stand at $1.1853, down 0.2 percent.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 22, 2017.

Are Tax Cuts Really Just Undemocratic Exploitation?

Will Wilkinson, the vice president for policy at the Niskanen Center, does not like the tax bill just passed by Congress. Writing in The New York Times, he finds the legislation ‘notably generous to corporations, high earners, inheritors of large estates and the owners of private jets.’
Wilkinson has discovered a surprising source for the legislation he dislikes so much. It is none other than the libertarian idea, promoted by Murray Rothbard and Ayn Rand, that taxation is theft. Under their theory of ‘absolute’ property rights, taxation was ‘morally criminalized.’ Democratic majorities, in this view, cannot override property rights.
Wilkinson rejects this account. ‘The idea that there is an inherent tension between democracy and the integrity of property rights is wildly misguided.’ Democracy is a means for the poor and middle class to protect themselves from exploitative elites. Democracy is a relatively recent innovation; in pre-democratic states, ruling elites exploited the ‘lower orders.’ Those not in the ruling elite need the redistributive democratic state for protection.
The fault is no doubt mine, but I find Wilkinson’s line of thought difficult to follow. How does the thought that taxation is morally wrong underlie a tax bill? If you reject taxation, would you not oppose taxes rather than enact new taxes? Perhaps what Wilkinson has in mind is this: in present circumstances, Republicans under nefarious libertarian influence could not proceed all the way to abolition of taxation. The best they could manage is not to tax the well-off as much as Wilkinson thinks appropriate.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on 12/21/2017.

Taking Turns With The B(L)S

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Alhambra Investments. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
The worst aspect of this economy is by far the real effects pressed upon especially American workers. Of that there is no doubt, including young adults who would be working rather than ‘studying’ if the economy was at all like it has been described. The second worst part is watching politicians trade their descriptions for whomever occupies the White House. It does nothing to advance the cause of the American worker (or the global economy for that matter).
In early 2015, within the recent shadows of the BEA’s Q4 2014 GDP report that estimated growth that quarter of better than 5%, Republicans were more and more criticized for their economic criticism. The left-leaning Washington Post in February 2015 wrote:
A robust economy marked by a boom in jobs and a plunge in gas prices is threatening the longtime Republican strategy of criticizing President Obama for holding back growth and hiring, forcing the GOP to overhaul its messaging at the beginnings of a presidential campaign…
The improvement may mark a turning point in the nation’s seven-year-long debate over the state of the economy. Obama came to office amid a financial crisis, promising to turn the economy around. Republicans repeatedly – and, in the 2014 midterm campaign, successfully – argued that he had fallen short, with an economy suffering slow growth and unnecessarily high unemployment.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on December 21, 2017.

Trump Tax Reform Causing Panic in Europe & Asia

While the American press keeps pushing the class warfare along with the Democrats, outside the USA there is a major panic taking place on a grand scale. I have been called into meeting in Europe and even in Asia all deeply concerned about the loss of competition with the United States due to the Trump Tax Reform. Naturally, the American press would NEVER tell the truth how cutting the corporate tax rate will upset the powers that be around the globe.
A German study warns that its economy will be among the losers in the face of the Trump Tax Reform, which they warn will fuel the tax competition between America and Europe, but also the study leader, Christoph Spengel from the Economic Research Institute ZEW, came out and told Reuters:
‘In addition, competition between EU members for US investment will increase; Germany is the loser.’

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Dec 22, 2017.

Credit Card Debt Suddenly Surges 18% As U.S. Consumers “Pre-Spend” Tax Relief Savings

With Republicans in Washington D. C. on the verge of passing their first major piece of legislation in the form of comprehensive tax cuts that will allow Americans across the income spectrum to keep a little more of their hard earned cash in 2018, it appears as though eager U. S. consumers may have already “pre-spent” their savings on their credit cards.
As the folks at Gluskin Sheff point out, 13-week annualized credit card balances in the U. S. have gone completely vertical in the last few months of 2017 which should make for some great Christmas gifts for little Johnny and Susie…gifts that will undoubtedly find themselves tucked away in a dark closet, never to be seen again, by mid January.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 21, 2017.