GOP Tax Plan Increases the Most Insidious Tax

Last Thursday, congressional Republicans unveiled their tax reform legislation. On the same day, President Trump nominated current Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome Powell to succeed Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve chair. While the tax plan dominated the headlines, the Powell appointment will have much greater long-term impact. Federal Reserve policies affect every aspect of the economy, including whether the Republican tax plan will produce long-term economic growth.
President Obama made history by appointing the first female Fed chair. President Trump is also making history: If confirmed, Powell would be the first former investment banker to serve as chairman of the Federal Reserve. Powell’s background suggests he will continue Janet Yellen’s Wall Street-friendly low interest rates and easy money policies.
Powell is an outspoken opponent of the Audit the Fed legislation. In 2015, Powell delivered an address at Catholic University devoted to attacking Audit the Fed. Like most Fed apologists, Powell claims the audit would compromise the Fed’s independence and allow Congress to control monetary policy. However, like all who make this claim, Powell cannot point to anything in the text of the audit bill giving Congress any power over the Federal Reserve. Powell’s concerns about protecting the Fed’s independence are misplaced, as the Fed has never been free of political influence. The Fed has a long history of bowing to presidential pressure to tailor monetary policy to help advance the president’s political and policy agenda.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on November 6, 2017.

Ron Paul Rages: GOP Plan Increases The Most Insidious Tax

Last Thursday, congressional Republicans unveiled their tax reform legislation. On the same day, President Trump nominated current Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome Powell to succeed Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve chair.
While the tax plan dominated the headlines, the Powell appointment will have much greater long-term impact. Federal Reserve policies affect every aspect of the economy, including whether the Republican tax plan will produce long-term economic growth.
President Obama made history by appointing the first female Fed chair. President Trump is also making history: If confirmed, Powell would be the first former investment banker to serve as chairman of the Federal Reserve. Powell’s background suggests he will continue Janet Yellen’s Wall Street-friendly low interest rates and easy money policies.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 6, 2017.

Yellen’s Poor Legacy – and Powell’s Challenges

The appointment of Jerome Powell as the new chair of the Federal Reserve must be interpreted by the markets as a sign of continuity. He is not the hawk that many market participants feared and neither holds a dovish and dangerous stance.
Yellen’s mandate has been widely criticized by many investors and economists. She inherited an economy where unemployment was at the Fed’s target levels, inflation was picking up and growth was strengthening, and yet she unnecessarily delayed raising rates and reducing the balance sheet for too long. The president’s confidence, despite nice words, was broken for months. The Trump team criticized the Federal Reserve for delaying the announced rate hikes ahead of the elections, but criticism intensified when Yellen raised cautionary messages about the economy after the nomination. Considered an ‘acknowledged dove’, she was criticized for delaying much-needed rate hikes, despite markets at all-time highs, yields at multi-decade lows, inflation rising and unemployment at 5%, and some hinted this was an ‘order’ from the Obama administration. Now that we see that the latest figures show a growth of 3% of the US economy, the critical voices have increased, accusing the now ex-president of the Federal Reserve of being unnecessarily dovish, ignoring the mounting risks in financial markets and not getting the diagnosis right.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on Nov 3, 2017.


GOLD: $1268.90 DOWN $8.65
Silver: $16.85 down 27 cents
Closing access prices:
Gold $1270.00
silver: $16.86
PREMIUM FIRST FIX: $19.90(premiums getting larger)

This post was published at Harvey Organ Blog on November 3, 2017.

Trump Proposes Repealing Obamacare’s Individual Mandate To Pay For Tax Cuts

Wouldn't it be great to Repeal the very unfair and unpopular Individual Mandate in ObamaCare and use those savings for further Tax Cuts…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2017

In a proposal which will further infuriate Democrats, moments ago Trump suggested repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate to fund his proposed tax cut.
“Wouldn’t it be great to repeal the very unfair and unpopular individual mandate in ObamaCare and use those savings for further tax cuts for the Middle Class. The House and Senate should consider ASAP as the process of final approval moves along. Push Biggest Tax Cuts EVER,’ President Trump says in series of posts on Twitter.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 1, 2017.

The Swamp Wins: Trump Expected to Nominate Powell to Replace Yellen

In the end Donald Trump will get what he wanted, a ‘low interest rate person’ who also happened to be a ‘Republican.’ Jerome Powell is expected to replace Janet Yellen in an announcement later this week. If so, this means Trump will ensure that, while the stationary at the Eccles Building will change, the monetary policy guiding it likely will not.
The fact that, in naming Powell, Trump is picking an Obama-appointed Fed Governor for his most important nominations is itself quite fitting. While we have long known that bad monetary policy is bipartisan, Powell’s nomination serves as a particularly useful illustration of how little has changed in Washington since the Bush Administration.
Of course, just as Trump received his loudest applause from Washington for doing his best impersonation of his two predecessors, the President is already being praised for making a ‘grown up’ decision when it comes to the Fed. While his awareness optics likely prevented him from ever truly considering reappointing Janet Yellen – – the preferred choice of the DC and NY – Powell’s nomination ensures that Trump’s scathing criticism of the monetary orthodox has been predictably discarded alongside a number of his most exciting campaign promises.
Now we will see how else Trump squanders his historic opportunity to rearrange the Fed. The administration has signaled that its plans to form a policy consensus with its remaining Fed choices – as opposed to opening FOMC meetings into some truly spirited debate.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on October 31, 2017.

37 Percent Rate Increase In 2018??? Obamacare Is Imploding And It Must Be Repealed Now!

Are you ready to pay 37 percent more for health insurance in 2018? Obamacare is imploding faster than most of us imagined, and these rate increases are absolutely killing hard working middle class families all across the country. I wrote about the steady erosion of the middle class yesterday, and health insurance is one of the main reasons why the cost of living is increasing at a much faster rate than our paychecks are. It greatly frustrates me that we have given the Republicans control of the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives and Obamacare still has not been repealed. The truth is that should have happened on day one of the Trump presidency.
Monday’s news was dominated by headlines about the indictments of Paul Manafort and Robert Gates, but a new round of Obamacare rate increases is going to have much more of a direct impact on the lives of ordinary Americans. According to CNN, premiums for silver Obamacare plans will increase by an average of 37 percent next year…
Premiums for the benchmark silver Obamacare plan will soar 37%, on average, for 2018, according to federal data released Monday.
And remember, this 37 percent increase is on top of all of the other yearly increases that we have seen so far. Many families have already seen their health insurance premiums more than double since Obamacare became law, and now things are going to get even worse.

This post was published at The Economic Collapse Blog on October 30th, 2017.

Watch Live: The Most Anticipated White House Press Briefing Yet?

Ms. Sanders may have her hands full today… but then again she has handled as much for the last few months.
Things the press won’t care about… Houston Texans mass kneel-in, more Uranium One details tying to Hillary/Dems, more FusionGPS details being exposed about Obama admin funding, opiate addiction, GDP, record high stock market, and tax reform.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 30, 2017.

Some Doubt about the Economic Benefits of GOP Tax Reform

There’s a lot of optimism out there that passage of the Trump tax plan will juice the economy. Many analysts say tax cut optimism is one of the factors that continue to push stocks up, and that has created headwinds for gold and silver. But as we’ve pointed out, there are reasons to question this mainstream narrative.
Now some in the mainstream are even starting to question the mainstream narrative.
There are two major problems with putting hope in GOP tax reform.
In the first place, despite some appearance of progress, it remains questionable whether Congress can pull it together and actually get anything done. Multiple failures to repeal, or even significantly reform, Obamacare didn’t create a lot of confidence in the Republican Congress. There are a number of potential sticking points, including a proposal to eliminate the deductibility of state taxes.
Second, as Peter Schiff pointed out, the plan as presented won’t likely create the economic growth it promises. Why not? Because it’s going to balloon the deficit and that is historically bad for economic growth.

This post was published at Schiffgold on OCTOBER 30, 2017.

It’s The United States of SCAetna Too

I don’t know why I bother, to tell you the truth. There is simply zero outrage over what goes on in corporate America these days, no matter the facts.
And let’s remind of those facts, including that every American family has a middle-class house payment stolen from them every single month.
I just got my “Obamacare” renewal “offer.” The gross increase for their generous offer is +24%. The “net” increase cannot be determined because they can’t yet tell me what the APTC will be. If it was to be the same the “net” increase would be 19,000%.
No, I didn’t mis-type that.
I think it’s rather obvious I won’t be “accepting” their “generous” offer. In a few days I will have the “new” APTC amount available, which I remind you is only available to me because I have decided that I’m not going to work any more for any material amount of money, will live on a much small income level, and this of course means that I don’t buy all the fancy stuff (which by the way included quite a few fancy things over the years in both goods and services) that I used to buy.
Yes, I take the APTC from all of you who still go to work every day to make as much money as you can and thus pay all those taxes. It’s several thousand dollars a year and I make no apology for it. In fact I put my middle finger up toward you daily for you are the ones who could choose to raise hell and withdraw your consent (exactly as I did), and if you did in concert it would force peaceful political change and an end to these scams. Since you choose not to I will instead take the money that you fund the government with and smile in wry bemusement as you mewl out yet another repetition of “Please sir, just the tip this time…..” toward Mordor on the Potomac, smug in the knowledge that just as you didn’t get “just the tip” last time you won’t this time either.

This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-10-29.

Mnuchin Says White House Is “Focused On Finding A Successor To Yellen”

President Donald Trump is a showman whose love for spectacle has transformed even mundane personnel decisions into elaborate pageants – as the New York Times pointed out last night.
And of all the turmoil in the administration’s process of hiring, and firing, employees, nothing has quite underscored this fact more clearly than Trump’s quest to select Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen’s successor before he term ends in February.
In the race to rack up the largest number of ‘scoops’ during the meandering ‘will-he-or-won’t he’ process, which has created a seemingly endless stream of stories about whom Trump might be leaning toward that day. In recent weeks, Politico and Bloomberg – or rather, their sources – have begun including a telling caveat: Until the final decision has been made, everything we’ve reported is subject to change.
Which brings us to the latest news. Reuters and CBS both reported late this week that Trump has ruled out asking Yellen to stay on for another term. Despite ‘collaborating’ to push stocks to record highs, Yellen is a vestige of the Obama-era – and that alone probably sealed her fate, despite reportedly meeting with both Trump and his daughter Ivanka.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 28, 2017.

Here’s How Much Your Obamacare Rates Are Going Up In 2018 (Hint: It’s A Lot And It’s All Trump’s Fault)

A new study conducted by Avalere and released earlier today found that Obamacare rates will surge an average of 34% across the country in 2018. Of course, this is in addition to the 113% average premium increase from 2013 and 2017, which brings the total 5-year increase to a staggering 185%.
Meanwhile, and to our complete shock no less, Avalere would like for you to know that the rate increases are almost entirely due to the Trump administration’s “failure to pay for cost-sharing reductions”…which is a completely reasonable guess if you’re willing to ignore the fact that 2018 premium increases are roughly in-line with the 29% constantly annualized growth rates experienced over the past 4 years before Trump ever moved into the White House…but that’s just math so who cares?
New analysis from Avalere finds that the 2018 exchange market will see silver premiums rise by an average of 34%. According to Avalere’s analysis of filings from states, exchange premiums for the most popular type of exchange plan (silver) will be 34% higher, on average, compared to last year.
‘Plans are raising premiums in 2018 to account for market uncertainty and the federal government’s failure to pay for cost-sharing reductions,’ said Caroline Pearson, senior vice president at Avalere. ‘These premium increases may allow insurers to remain in the market and enrollees in all regions to have access to coverage.’
Avalere experts attribute premium increases to a number of factors, including elimination of cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, lower than anticipated enrollment in the marketplace, limited insurer participation, insufficient action by the government to reimburse plans that cover higher cost enrollees (e.g., via risk corridors), and general volatility around the policies governing the exchanges. The vast majority of exchange enrollees are subsidized and can avoid premium increases, if they select the lowest or second lowest cost silver plan in their region. However, some unsubsidized consumers who pay the full premium cost may choose not to enroll for 2018 due to premium increases.

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

Federal Bureaucrats Have Millions Of Dollars Worth Of Guns And Ammo, Whom Are They Planning To Battle?

During the last two years of the Obama administration (Fiscal Year 2015 – 2016), law enforcement agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security spent $138 million on new guns and ammunition. But what’s strange, is that $20 million was spent on guns and ammunition for federal bureaucrats.
Four notable examples of paper pushers and bureaucrats arming up, according toForbes, are as follows:
1) The 2,300 Special Agents at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are now carrying AR-15’s, P90 tactical rifles, and other heavy weaponry. Recently, the IRS armed up with $1.2 million in new ammunition. This was in addition to the $11 million procurement of guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment procured between 2006-2014. What could go wrong when tax collectors have guns?
2) The Small Business Administration (SBA) spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to load its gun locker with Glocks last year. The SBA wasn’t alone in the purchase of guns either. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service modified their Glocks with silencers. And recently a vote on the bill to allow civilians the freedom to hunt with a silencer was ‘indefinitely postponed.’

This post was published at shtfplan on October 24th, 2017.

Trump Met With Janet Yellen; Meeting Lasted 30 Minutes

#BreakingNews WH official tells me Janet Yellen's meeting with @realDonaldTrump has just come to an end. More to come.
— Brian Schwartz (@schwartzbFBN) October 19, 2017

The anticipated meeting between president Trump and Janet Yellen has concluded, and according to Fox News, it lasted no more than 30 minutes, running from 2:00PM to 2:30PM, or barely enough for Trump to stop patting himself on the back about the yuuge Dow Jones rally under his presidency.
And to think it was a just over a year ago that Trump was bashing Yellen for creating a stock bubble with the help of low rates, shortly after urging his fans to sell their stocks.
As a reminder, last September, Trump said that “keeping the rates artificially low so the economy doesn’t go down so that Obama can say that he did a good job. They’re keeping the rates artificially low so that Obama can go out and play golf in January and say that he did a good job. It’s a very false economy. We have a bad economy, everybody understands that but it’s a false economy. The only reason the rates are low is so that he can leave office and he can say, ‘See I told you.’
Which in light of recent Trump tweets is… ironic.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 19, 2017.

The Power Players Behind Silencing Wall Street Reformers

America has now been through various iterations of ‘it’s time to stop bashing Wall Street’ by writers who seem to easily get air time or plenty of print space to make their case. An OpEd in the New York Times today is the latest in this endless series. We’ll get to that column shortly, but first some necessary background.
Wall Street did not accidentally run a barge aground and leave a small oil slick on the Hudson River. Wall Street did not accidentally release tainted lettuce that sickened a few dozen people. What Wall Street did was intentional and criminal: it financially engineered a toxic subprime house of cards which it knew from its own internal reviews was going to collapse; it then molded the toxic product into inscrutable bundles; it sold the bundles to unsuspecting investors around the globe while making side bets that it would all come crashing down. Then, after causing the greatest financial collapse in the United States since the Great Depression, Wall Street’s unrepentant scoundrels paid themselves billions of dollars in bonuses with taxpayer bailout funds.
One of the largest wrongdoers of this era, Citigroup, received the largest taxpayer bailout in history (over $2.5 trillion in loans, cash infusions and asset guarantees) and while this was occurring, one of its executives, Michael Froman, was staffing up the administration of the next President of the United States, Barack Obama, including an accepted recommendation for the head of the Justice Department.
The 2007-2009 financial crash was more than the product of greed. There was both knowing and criminal wrongdoing, but none of those responsible have gone to jail. None of the regulatory gaps that allowed this to happen have been rectified. The biggest Wall Street banks have grown even bigger and remain too-big-to-fail; Wall Street is still paying the rating agencies for their Triple-A ratings; highly speculative Wall Street firms are still allowed to hold trillions of dollars in taxpayer-backstopped insured deposits in the commercial banks that they are allowed to own under a Byzantine bank-holding company structure with thousands of far-flung subsidiaries around the globe; and a handful of Wall Street banks continue to house trillions of dollars of derivatives inside their insured depository banks – something the public was assured would end under the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation.

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on October 18, 2017.

Speculation Swirls, Trial Balloons Fly: Who’s Next Up for Fed Chair?

Speculation continues to swirl around the question of who President Trump will appoint as Federal Reserve Chair when Janet Yellen’s term comes to an end in February.
Trump will reportedly meet with Yellen this week to discuss the possibility of her staying on as the head of the central bank. During the presidential campaign, Trump was highly critical of Yellen, saying she is ‘obviously political,’ and accusing her of ‘doing what Obama wants her to do.’
A number of other names have been floated for the job in recent weeks. The mix includes both ‘dovish’ and ‘hawkish’ contenders. Some of the names bandied about include Fed Governor Jerome Powell, Fed Governor Kevin Warsh, Stanford economist John Taylor, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, and Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis president Neel Kashkari.
Of course, nobody knows what Trump will ultimately decide. We’ve seen this same swirl of speculation around other appointments. It almost seems like Trump revels in floating trial balloons, throwing out names, and keeping people guessing. It shouldn’t surprise anybody if Trump ultimately comes out of left field and appoints somebody not even on the current speculative list.

This post was published at Schiffgold on OCTOBER 17, 2017.

13/10/17: Debt Glut and Building Dublin

Just back from Ireland, a fast, work-filled trip, with some amazing meetings and discussions, largely unrelated to what is in the ‘official’ newsflow. Some blogposts and articles ahead to be shared.
One thing that jumps out is the continued frenzy in building activity in Dublin, predominantly (exclusively) in the commercial space (offices). Not much finished. Lots being built. For now, Irish builders (mostly strange new players backed by vultures and private equity) are still in the stage where buildings shells are being erected. The cheap stage of construction. Very few are entering the fit-out stages – the costly, skills-intensive works stage. And according to several sector specialists I spoke to, not many fit-out crews are in the market, as skilled builders have not been returning to the island, yet, from their exiles to the U. S., Canada, Australia, UAE, and further afield.
Which should make for a very interesting period ahead: with so many construction sites nearing the fit-out stages, building costs will sky rocket, just as supply glut of new offices will start hitting the letting markets. In the mean time, many multinationals – aka the only clients worth signing – have already signed leases and/or bought own buildings on the cheap. Google owns its own real estate (hello BEPS tax reforms that stress tangible activity over imaginary revenue shifting); Twitter has a refurbished home; Facebook is quite committed to a lease (although it too might take a jump into buying); and so on. Tax inversion have slowed down and Trump Administration just re-committed to Obama-era restrictions on these, while Trump tax plan aims to take a massive chunk out of this pie away from Ireland. So demand… demand is nowhere to be seen.

This post was published at True Economics on Friday, October 13, 2017.

Trump Hints At War With North Korea: “Sorry, But Only One Thing Will Work”

When we commented on this morning’s Trump tweetstorm, in which he covered everything from the fake (and not so fake) media, to RNC donors, to reaching out to Democrats on Obamacare repeal, to “late night” comedians and their “one-sided coverage” of Trump, we said that Trump has yet to make a comment on the most cryptic topic of the last week, his repeated suggestions that the current situation is a “calm before the storm.”
Moments ago, he may have done just that, when in his latest pair of tweets, Trump ominously suggested that following 25 years of failed diplomacy with North Korea, there is “only one thing that will work.”
“Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid hasn’t worked, agreements violated before the ink was dry, makings fools of U. S. negotiators. Sorry, but only one thing will work!”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 7, 2017.

Puerto Rico Bonds Crash To Record Low After Trump Says Debt May Need To Be “Wiped Out”

Echoing President Obama’s interference in the legal bondholder process of the General Motors bankruptcy, President Trump’s comments that Puerto Rico’s debt “will be wiped out” yesterday has sparked a bloodbath in PR Muni bonds. Puerto Rico’s 8s of 2035 have plunging to a record low 35 cents on the dollar this morning from 44 yesterday, as bondholders fled hitting any bid, worried that Trump would follow through on his warning.

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

It Has Never Been Cheaper To Hedge A Market Crash Using This One Trade

In mid-August, at the height of the North Korea geopolitical turbulence, and amid uncertainty about the Fed balance sheet unwind, fears of a government shutdown and the US debt ceiling, as well as the fate of Trump tax reform and Obamacare repeal, when the VIX soared following a series of missile launches by Kim Jong Un only to crash right back to near all time lows, we used an analysis from BofA’s derivatives analyst Benjamin Bowler to show “How To Hedge A Near-Term Market Shock: Here Are The Best Trades”
As we said then “if the events from last week demonstrated something, it is that just when there appears to be virtually no risk, is when the likelihood of a historic surge in volatility is greatest, as many experienced first hand last Thursday. Hence the need to hedge. But what? And using which product?” As Bowler explained “the decision about whether it’s rational to hedge is really a matter of looking at the price of tail insurance embedded into option markets and asking if the probabilities they assign are ‘fair’ or not.” As he further wrote, when it comes to predicting what the next “severe tail event” could look like, “we find that not only are some markets like Gold pricing in a very low probability of Korean risk escalation, there are significant differences across assets in terms of what they imply about potential risks.”
He then presented the chart below which shows how historical worst 3M drawdowns since 2006 are priced by 3M 25- delta options across asset classes; hedges that are most underpricing their historical drawdowns are at the top and those most overpricing their tails are at the bottom. What the chart shows is that gold call options imply less than a 1 in 100 chance of a severe tail event over the next month, despite being among the most reactive assets to rising Korean tensions last week. With record low Gold vol slaved to record low real rates vol, this represents a loose anchor which likely won’t hold in any significant geopolitical risk escalation. In contrast to gold, Nikkei is at the other end of the spectrum with options assigning over a 5% chance of a near term tail-event.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 3, 2017.