Ron Paul Warns America’s “On The Verge Of Something Like 1989’s Soviet System Collapse”

Ron Paul does not believe the U. S. will break into separate countries, like the Soviet Union did, but expects changes in the U. S. monetary policy, as well as the crumbling of the country’s “overseas empire.”
The godfather of the Tea Party movement and perhaps the most prominent right-leaning libertarian in America, Ron Paul, believes the economic boom the United States experienced under President Trump could be a ‘bit of an illusion.’
Mr. Paul sees inequality, inflation, and debt as real threats that could potentially cause a turmoil.
‘the country’s feeling a lot better, but it’s all on borrowed money’ and that ‘the whole system’s an illusion’ built on corporate, personal, and governmental debt.
‘It’s a bubble economy in many many different ways and it’s going to come unglued,’
In a recent interview with the Washington Examiner, Paul said,
‘We’re on the verge of something like what happened in ’89 when the Soviet system just collapsed. I’m just hoping our system comes apart as gracefully as the Soviet system.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Fri, 12/29/2017 –.

The Wall Street Journal Does a Hit Piece on Trump’s Vacations

The Wall Street Journal is trying to match The Washington Post for anti-Trump investigative journalism.
Consider this article: President Trump Spent Nearly One-Third of First Year in Office at Trump-Owned Properties. It is a screed on Trump’s time spent vacationing.
It has a subhead: “Unlike his predecessors, president traveled frequently to places he owns but where others pay to stay.” That is because his predecessors did not own several billion dollars’ worth of prime vacation real estate.
Would you rather stay at a Motel 6 or Mir-a-Lago if someone else was picking up the tab? To ask the question is to answer it.
I, for one, applaud the time that he spends vacationing. Any time that a politician spends doing anything other than legislating is time well spent. When they are busy “making things better” by expanding the government, citizens are losers. They lose a little more of their liberty.
Earlier this year, The Washington Examiner reported this.

This post was published at Gary North on December 28, 2017.

What Has Made America’s Inner Cities Into A Violent Warzone

The stories coming out from Chicago and Baltimore paint an increasingly pessimistic picture: that America’s inner cities are transitioning into a warzone, where violence has returned to levels not seen since the drug wars of the early 1990s.
Take for example Chicago, five men were killed and at least 20 people shot over the four-day Christmas holiday weekend. Last year, 59 people were shot over the same period, leaving 11 dead.
Across the United States, homicides rose about 9% last year with more than one-third of the increase concentrated in Chicago neighborhoods, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Despite the overall deterioration of American inner cities, there was some improvement in areas such as Los Angeles and Washington, D. C., where declines in violent crimes have been in downward trajectories since the 1990s.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Thu, 12/28/2017 –.

Do The Double-up! As Rents Rise, More Renters Turn to Doubling Up (L.A. The Worst!)

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Snake Hole Lounge. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
Zillow has a fascinating, yet troubling study. It says that rent consumes a growing share of household income in many cities, some people must relocate or find ways to offset rising prices. An increasingly popular way to cut costs is by adding a roommate. Nationally, 30 percent of working-age adults – aged 23 to 65 – live in doubled-up households, up from a low of 21 percent in 2005 and 23 percent in 1990.
Doubing up is a close relative of young adults continuing to live with their parents. Even though U-6 unemployment is at 8%, wage growth continues to be considerably lower than before the financial crisis. This offers a partial explanation for the doubling-up phenomenon.
Of course, doubling-up is typical is high cost of living areas like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, Chicago and Washington DC. Not surprising is the doubling-up trend in Mexican border cities like El Centro California, Tucson and Yuma Arizona and El Paso and Laredo Texas.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner by Anthony B Sanders ‘ December 27, 2017.

Venezuelans Abandon Bolivar – Merchants Insist On Being Paid In Dollars

Venezuelans are struggling to carry out basic transactions like purchasing food as the value of their currency, the bolivar, has plunged against the dollar amid the country’s worsening economic collapse.
According to Reuters, over the past year, Venezuela’s currency weakened 97.5% against the greenback: Put another way, $1,000 of local currency purchased in early January would be worth just $25 now. The annual inflation rate in 2017 could reach $2,000. Though at least one other estimate puts the real rate of inflation closer to 2,800%.
Of course, President Maduro has blamed websites like DolarToday – which publishes the closest thing to an official black-market rate by surveying clandestine exchanges in Caracas and other cities – for the spread of black-market activity, part of a conspiracy organized by Washington and his local political opponents to force him from power.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 27, 2017.

Two More White House Advisers Leave As Staffer “Churn” Continues

One week after Omarosa Manigault Newman left the White House under suspicious circumstances – she was reportedly escorted off the property when she tried to enter the residence after being fired by Chief of Staff John Kelly – two more senior Trump staffers are on their way out.
Last night, both Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Dearborn and White House National Economic Council Deputy Director Jeremy Katz said they would step down early next year. Dearborn told Fox News that his departure is ‘bittersweet’ because he loves working for Trump. But he said the time was right following the tax bill victory. According to the Washington Post, the departures are the latest indication that the administration is in the middle of a “churn” of senior staffers, although the WaPo is known to have a certain “angle” when reporting on the Trump admin.
Dearborn oversaw the White House’s political operation, public outreach and legislative affairs. An exact date of departure has not yet been set, and he will stay in the position for the first month or two of the next year.

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

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.

Three Cheers for the GOP Tax Plan

Last night the Senate passed the Republican proposed tax plan, a major political victory for Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress.
At the Mises Wire, we have featured numerous articles pointing out many of the fallacies involved with the general debate on the issue of “tax reform.” For example, the absurdity of “revenue neutral” reform, the danger of raising rates through eliminating loop hopes, the fallacy of trying to address the deficit through eliminating deductions on state and local taxes, and the general notion that tax breaks can be equated to tax subsidies. While the Republican bill does fall for some of these traps, the result of the bill as a whole is a genuine reduction in the tax burden for the majority of Americans. That is always something worth celebrating.
There are additional benefits to be found within the bill as well.
For example, the elimination of the Obamacare individual mandate is a small, but significant, step to improving the American healthcare system. As I noted in March, when Paul Ryan’s attempt at Obamacare reform failed, the rise of direct primary care and other market solutions meant that the best thing the GOP could do is simply provide as much freedom as possible for Americans to opt out of government-managed insurance markets:
Given that this is happening naturally on the market already, the legislative focus for those in Washington concerned about American healthcare should be preventing any future laws and regulations that would destroy this model going forward. Further, rather than trying to completely overhaul Obamacare, simply eliminating the individual mandate tax and allowing Health Savings Accounts to be used for healthcare membership would be subtle ways of empowering the market to revolutionize American medicine. This should be coupled with real tax cuts, not ‘revenue neutral reform’ to help Americans keep their own hard-earned money to help pay for it.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on 12/20/2017.

Here’s An Interactive Map Of Which Housing Markets Get Hit The Most By The GOP Tax Bill

With the Republican party (and the S&P 500 apparently) convinced they have the votes required to pass their tax reform legislation this week, the folks at ATTOM Data Solutions took a look at which housing markets will be most impacted by new limitations on mortgage interest and property tax deductions.
First, on the reduction of the mortgage interest deduction to $750,000 from $1,000,000, ATTOM found that nearly 99,000 single family home and condo purchases so far in 2017 involved a mortgage higher than $750,000. And while that represents a small 3.9% of all home purchase loans underwritten so far in the year, per the interactive map below, those 99,000 loans are concentrated in a handful of liberal counties in the Northeast, California and Southern Florida.
Among 2,022 counties included in this analysis and at least 50 home purchase loans so far in 2017, those with the highest share of loan originations above $750,000 were New York County (Manhattan), New York (63.8 percent); San Francisco County, California (58.0 percent); Nantucket County, Massachusetts (57.3 percent); San Mateo County, California (55.2 percent); and Marin County, California (50.o percent). Among those same 2,022 counties, those with the highest number of purchase home loan originations above $750,000 so far in 2017 were Los Angeles County, California (9,197); Santa Clara County, California (5,543); Orange County, California (4,450); Maricopa County, Arizona (3,723); and King County, Washington (3,715).

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

Deadly Train Derailment Likely Caused By Object “Placed On The Tracks”: AP

Update: As we mentioned lower in the boss, Monday’s deadly Amtrak train derailment in Washington state appears to have been caused by an object on the railway, according to a government official briefed on the crash.
The Associated Press reported that officials arrived at this conclusion following a brief investigation.
A preliminary investigation suggests maintenance problems are unlikely to blame because the incident took place on brand-new tracks, the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
At least six people were killed and the death toll is expected to rise, the official said.
The Amtrak 501 plunged off an overpass onto I-5 near Lacey, Washington, sometime before 7:45 a.m., during its inaugural run between Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon.
During an afternoon briefing on his national security strategy, President Trump expressed ‘our deepest sympathies and most heartfelt prayers for the victims,’ adding: ‘We are closely monitoring the situation and coordinating with local authorities.’
To be sure, this is still a preliminary finding. At a press conference Monday, representatives from the NTSB said the investigation is ongoing…

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

Billionaire Tycoon Will Be Next President Of Chile

Newly elected president Piera shares breakfast with president Bachelet and Min. of National Affairs Mario Fernandez, discussing transition of power. pic.twitter.com/0jC6H7116z
— SantiagoTimes (@SantiagoTimes) December 18, 2017

A billionaire who has been described as one of the world’s wealthiest politicians just won his second non-consecutive term as president of Chile when he defeated his center-left opponent in what observers are calling a landslide victory in Sunday’s election.
As the Washington Post reported, Sebastin Piera, of the right-leaning National Renovation party and conservative Let’s Go Chile coalition, defeated center-left candidate Alejandro Guillier, of the ruling New Majority coalition, by 9 percentage points, turning the current government out of office. Piera previously governed Chile between 2009 and 2014. Turnout increased between yesterday’s vote and a Nov. 19 runoff, as large numbers of conservative voters showed up at the polls, while leftists stayed home.
Guillier conceded and congratulated his opponent on his win and his return to the presidency after a four-year gap, according to the BBC.

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

Five European Nations Issue Warning To America On Tax Reform

First it was the Chinese, now it’s the Europeans, as the rest of the world is suddenly very unhappy with the prospect of US tax reform (or maybe it is an unexpectedly strong US economy). As we discussed yesterday, with the historic Trump tax reforms on the verge of passage and the Fed’s dot plot signalling another 7-8 rate hikes (soon to be revised much lower), China is nervous that the capital outflows, which it thought it had bottled up, might be about to return. China is preparing a contingency plan which includes ‘higher interest rates, tighter capital controls and more-frequent currency intervention to keep money at home and support the yuan’.
Amusingly, the Wall Street Journal quoted a Chinese official who described Washington’s tax plan as a ‘gray rhino’. The latter is a combination of an ‘elephant in the room’ and a ‘black swan’, i.e. a high probability threat which people should see coming, but don’t. The focal point of China’s fears is the Yuan, which the authorities have spent so much time and effort stabilising during the last two years. Speaking to the WSJ, the Chinese official sounded a warning: ‘We’ll likely have some tough battles in the first quarter.’
Switching to Europe and five European finance ministers have sent a letter criticising the US for undermining the ‘rules of the game’ and international trade. Notwithstanding Brexit, the signatories included the UK Chancellor, Philip Hammond, as well as his counterparts in Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Essentially, the European nations are warning the US that it risks starting a trade dispute.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 12, 2017.

Public Enemy No. 1: Walls Closing In On Peter Strzok As Questions Arise Over His Involvement In FISA Application

Over the past 10 days we’ve learned a lot about FBI agent Peter Strzok, a man who very likely would have lived the remainder of his life in relative obscurity as an FBI counterintelligence agent but for his sudden dismissal from Special Counsel Mueller’s “Russian Collusion” investigation.
As we noted on December 2nd (see: Mueller’s Top FBI Agent Probing Clinton Emails, Russian-Collusion “Removed” After Anti-Trump Texts Found), Strzok’s life became far more complicated when it was revealed that his dismissal from Mueller’s team was linked to the discovery of multiple “anti-Trump text messages” shared with a colleague…a colleague with whom he happened to be having an extramarital affair.
Of course, like most twisted Washington D. C. scandals, his overt political bias and anti-Trump text messages were only the tip of the iceberg as it was subsequently discovered that Strzok not only held a leading role in the Hillary email investigation but potentially single-handedly saved her from prosecution by making the now-infamous change in Comey’s final statement to describe her email abuses as “extremely careless” rather than the original language of “grossly negligent.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 12, 2017.

Senate Tax Debacle: Certain Pass-Through Entities Face Marginal Tax Rates Over 100% Under Current Bill

As the House and Senate continue to try to reconcile their two versions of a tax plan, the taxing structure for pass-through entities (s-corps, LLC’s, etc.) continues to be somewhat controversial, if not completely nonsensical. As we pointed out last week, the Senate bill somewhat randomly chose to exclude pass-through entities organized as family trusts from tax cuts which would ultimately leave them on the hook for much larger tax bills due to the elimination of other deductions. It’s unclear whether this bizarre exclusion was just an oversight or an intentional political hit on an easy target that no one in Washington DC would dare defend publicly: rich families organized as trusts.
Now, a new note from the Tax Policy Center lays out some scenarios whereby the marginal tax rate for high-income pass-through entities could soar to over 100%. Of course, while two rational people can debate the impact of a ~40% tax rate on a person’s desire to work, we’re almost certain that a taxing structure that takes more than 100% of your marginal income will be a slight disincentive. Here’s an example of how it works from the Wall Street Journal:
Consider, for example, a married, self-employed New Jersey lawyer with three children and earnings of about $615,000. Getting $100 more in business income would force the lawyer to pay $105.45 in federal and state taxes, according to calculations by the conservative-leaning Tax Foundation. That is more than double the marginal tax rate that household faces today.
If the New Jersey lawyer’s stay-at-home spouse wanted a job, the first $100 of the spouse’s wages would require $107.79 in taxes. And the tax rates for similarly situated residents of California and New York City would be even higher, the Tax Foundation found. Analyses by the Tax Policy Center, which is run by a former Obama administration official, find similar results, with federal marginal rates as high as 85%, and those don’t include items such as state taxes, self-employment taxes or the phase-out of child tax credits.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 11, 2017.

Exploding Chinese Debt Could Threaten World Financial System

The US national debt stands at over $21 trillion and neither political party in Washington D. C. seems inclined to do anything about it. In fact, the GOP tax planwinding its way through the political process will add an estimated $1.5 trillion more to the debt over the next decade. And that doesn’t even account for the increases in spending that Congress will certainly approve over that timespan.
Of course, all of this government debt has serious ramifications. Corporations are also piling on credit. Last month, Mint Capital strategist Bill Blain predicted that ‘the great crash of 2018 is going to start in the deeper, darker depths of the credit market.’
Now consider this. China has an even bigger debt problem than the US, and analysts say it could threaten global financial security.
Jim Rickards recently listed a Chinese debt crisis as one of the possible snowflakes that could set off the next financial avalanche. As if on cue, the mainstream has picked up this narrative. As Business Insider reports it:
China’s ballooning levels of debt and dependency on credit to fuel growth continues to pose a major financial stability threat to the global economy, and could be the catalyst for the next crisis, according to the International Monetary Fund.’

This post was published at Schiffgold on DECEMBER 8, 2017.

Doug Noland: Q3 2017 Flow of Funds

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Credit Bubble Bulletin . To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
In nominal dollars, Total U. S. System (Non-Financial, Financial and Foreign) borrowings expanded $1.007 TN during the third quarter to a record $68.012 TN. Total Non-Financial Debt (NFD) rose a nominal $732 billion during the quarter to a record $48.635 TN. It’s worth noting that NFD has expanded 46% since ending 2007 at $33.26 TN.
Total Non-Financial Debt expanded a seasonally-adjusted and annualized rate (SAAR) of $2.954 TN during Q3, the strongest Credit growth since Q4 2015. As has often been the case over the past nine years, Washington led the Credit expansion. Federal borrowings jumped to SAAR $1.656 TN, the strongest in seven quarters. Total Business borrowings expanded SAAR $751 billion, up from Q2’s $692 billion. Total Household debt growth slipped slightly q/q to $550 billion.
On a percentage basis, Non-Financial Debt expanded at a 6.2% rate during Q3, accelerating from Q2’s 3.8%, Q1’s 1.7% and Q4 2016’s 3.1%. Federal borrowings grew at a 10.3% pace, Total Business at 5.4% and Total Household debt expanded at 3.7%.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner by Doug Noland ‘ December 9, 2017.

Two Portraits from the American Civil War

Here are the portraits of famous figures from the Civil War:
The first is a Democrat. Politically, he was the polar opposite of Abraham Lincoln and the new Republican Party. He was ardently pro-slavery. He supported the Lecompton Constitution that sought to make Kansas a slave state, and favored the Dred Scott decision that threw out the Missouri Compromise and opened even Northern territories to slavery.
In 1860, this person attended the Democratic Convention. Before the party split and produced two rival nominees for president, he supported Jefferson Davis. After the split between the Northern and Southern democrats, he supported the Southern candidate, John C. Breckinridge, instead of the more moderate norther nominee, Stephen Douglas.
Our second figure looks decidedly different. He is a Union officer who worked to recruit volunteers for the Northern cause. He led a regiment into Washington D. C. to defend the capital. His quick action against the South earned him a promotion to general, and he was put in charge of Fort Monroe. While he ran the fort, the general invoked international warfare rules to declare the runaway southern slaves ‘contraband,’ effectively emancipating them, even as President Lincoln was undermining similar actions by his other generals as an attempt to capitulate to Southern slave owners.
But this Union general was brutal toward the South. In New Orleans, he was referred to as a ‘Beast.’ When he was placed in command of the Southern metropolis, one of his first actions was to execute William Mumford for his audacity in lowering the flag of the United States. Southerners saw him as exceedingly cruel, but he epitomized the image of a Northern patriot. Jefferson Davis, who had the political support of the first character, turned his ire on this second figure by publishing a list of his crimes against Southerners, futilely hoping to enrage the North.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on Dec 9, 2017.

150,000 Flee Los Angeles As Wildfires Rage – “We’ll Be Fighting This All Week”

The gate to nowhere. Home destroyed. Now gas line is burning. #VenturaFires pic.twitter.com/3HUR68Urhc
— Sara Sidner (@sarasidnerCNN) December 6, 2017

In what sounds like a replay of the devastating fires that killed dozens of people and torched a broad swath of California wine country this past summer, at least five discrete fires barreled across Southern California with extreme speed, torching more than 65,000 acres as firefighters struggled to contain the simultaneous infernos.
The first blaze started at about 6:25 p.m. Monday in the foothills near Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, a popular hiking destination. It grew quickly to more than 15 square miles in the hours that followed, consuming vegetation that hasn’t burned in decades, Ventura County Fire Sgt. Eric Buschow said, according to CNN.
Powerful Santa Ana winds and extremely dry conditions have fueled the wildfires, according to the Washington Post, adding hundreds of millions – if not billions – of dollars in damage to what has already been a devastating year for fires. The winds that caused the fires were part of the season’s longest and strongest wind event – driving down from the desert and mountains into the city of Los Angeles.

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

Mueller Goes After Trump’s Bank Accounts, Subpoenas Deutsche Bank

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed Deutsche Bank, demanding that it disclose details of transactions and documents on accounts help by President Trump and members of his family as the “Russian collusion” probe now turns its attention to Trump’s bank accounts. According to Handelsblatt, which first reported the news, the bank received the subpoena several weeks ago. Trump has had a banking relationship with Deutsche Bank dating back nearly two decades and the German lender’s $300 million loan accounts for nearly half of his outstanding debt (based on a July 2016 analysis by Bloomberg). Trump’s debt to Deutsche includes $170m relating to a Washington hotel.
The media is taking the Deutsche Bank news as a sign that Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 alleged campaign is ‘deepening’. However, it was clear that a subpoena was coming more than four months ago (see below) and, besides Michael Flynn, Mueller’s investigation has included interviews with three other former Trump aides recently, former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, former spokesman Sean Spicer and National Security Council chief of staff Keith Kellogg, according to people familiar with the investigation.
As Bloomberg adds, “the news comes as Mueller’s investigation appears to be entering a new phase, with Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleading guilty Friday to lying to FBI agents, becoming the fourth associate of the president ensnared by Mueller’s probe. More significantly, he also is providing details to Mueller about the Trump campaign’s approach to Flynn’s controversial meeting with a Russian envoy during the presidential transition.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 5, 2017.