You May Be Suffering From Presidential Derangement Syndrome

Authored by Joey Clark via TheAntiMedia.org,
Taking to the Senate floor Tuesday under a veil of earnest hyperbole common among those who fall under the ‘geriatric’ label, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York uttered a plea to his Senate colleagues.
‘The country is being tested in unprecedented ways,’ Senator Schumer said. ‘I say to all of my colleagues in the Senate: History is watching.’ The occasion for Schumer’s invocation of Father History was the latest press coverage from the two papers with the most obnoxious slogans in the country.
Under the banner ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness,’ The Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump had shared classified intelligence secrets with the red Soviet – excuse me – Russian ambassador and foreign minister. The following day, under their motto ‘All the News That’s Fit to Print,’ The New York Times reported that ousted FBI Director James Comey had crafted memos regarding his conversations with President Trump, in particular, one conversation in February of this year wherein Trump hoped Comey could ‘let this go’ – ‘this’ being the ongoing investigation of the short-lived National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen Michael Flynn.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 20, 2017.

Week in Review: May 20, 2017

The tsunami of government spending and easy-money monetary policy shows no sign of letting up. In spite of many claims of strong economic growth, the world’s central banks refuse to do much at allin terms of scaling back their huge balance sheets or their rock-bottom interest rates. Not coincidentally, household debt has now returned to pre-recession levels in the US while government spending on everything from firemen to foreign wars continues unabated.
And not surprisingly, well-funded governments have all the money they need to put more non-violent people in jail, as AG Jess Sessions wants to do, and expand the drug war even over the protests of the states themselves.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on May 20, 2017.

“Everybody’s Freaked” – Washington Nuclear Facility Admits Second Radiation Leak, Workers Contaminated

When all other sources of economic growth appear tapped out, there is always the military-industrial complex coming to the rescue of US GDP with the sale of arms and equipment to the world’s biggest purchaser of weapons: Saudi Arabia. Because when one looks beyond the pageantry, pomp and circumstance of Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the main purpose behind the president’s visit is precisely that: selling weapons, some $350 billion over the next decade, according to estimates.
To be sure, Trump arrival in Saudi Arabia on Saturday was quite a spectacle, with the Saudi king throwing the president’s family arrival at the Royal Diwan a “welcome fit for a king.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 20, 2017.

These Eleven Retailers Will File For Bankruptcy Next, According To Fitch

One month ago, we presented a stunning fact from Credit Suisse: barely a quarter into 2017, [annualized] year-to-date retail store closings have already surpassed those of 2008.
According to the Swiss bank’s calculations, on a unit basis, approximately 2,880 store closings were announced YTD, more than twice as many closings as the 1,153 announced during the same period last year. Historically, roughly 60% of store closure announcements occur in the first five months of the year. By extrapolating the year-to-date announcements, CS estimates that there could be more than 8,640 store closings this year, which will be higher than the historical 2008 peak of approximately 6,200 store closings, which suggests that for brick-and-mortar stores stores the current transition period is far worse than the depth of the credit crisis depression.

Another striking fact: on a square footage basis, approximately 49 million square feet of retail space has closed YTD. Should this pace persist by the end of the year, total square footage reductions could reach 147M square feet – or just over 5 square miles – another all time high, and surpassing the historical peak of 115M in 2001.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 20, 2017.

A Quarter Of American Adults Can’t Pay All Their Monthly Bills; 44% Have Less Than $400 In Cash

There was some good news and some not so good news in the Fed’s latest annual Report on the Economic Well-Being of U. S. Households.
First the good news.
The report, based on the Board’s fourth annual Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking conducted in October 2016, presents a “picture of improving financial well-being among Americans”, at least according to the report (read on to see if this is merited). Overall, 70% of the more than 6,600 respondents said they were either “living comfortably” or “doing okay,” up 1% from 2015 and up 8% from the first survey results in 2013.

Not surprisingly, the highest percentage, or 92%, of those who responded they were “living comfortably” was among the group with more than $100,000 in family income. For Americans making less than $40,000 the breakdown was almost evenly split with 49% saying they are “just getting by.” According to the same study, 28% of respondents said that their income in the last 12 months was less than $25,000, and 40% report that their income was less than the key $40,000 cutoff, which suggests that roughly 4 in 10 Americans are “finding it difficult to get by.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 20, 2017.

“We Did Not Touch On That At All”: Lavrov Denies Trump Said “Comey Is A Nut Job”

In the “he said, she said” world of unconfirmed, unsourced political intrigue, on Friday the US went to sleep with fresh news of the latest diplomatic snafu by Trump, when the NYT reported that during his president with the Russian Foreign minister Lavrov on May 10, Donald Trump said that Comey is a “nut job” and that his firing “eased pressure” from the ongoing Russian investigation.
The exchange in question:
“I just fired the head of the F. B. I. He was crazy, a real nut job,’ Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. ‘I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.’Mr. Trump added, ‘I’m not under investigation.’ Predictably, the alleged exchange was the only thing on the media’s mind during Lavrov’ spress conference on Saturday, in which the Russian Foreign Minister refuted claims that he had discussed the firing of the former FBI director Comey with President Trump.
“We did not touch on that topic at all,” Lavrov told reporters on Saturday according to Russia’s RIA press agency.
Which in retrospect appears strange since not even the White House disputed the NYT’s version of events, and instead WH press secretary Sean Spicer simply doubled down the attack on Comey saying that “by grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 20, 2017.

The Housing Moment Investors Dread Is Here

By Danielle DiMartino Booth
Amid the carnage in the auto sector, economists have sought solace in the comforts of home, sweet home. A recent Census release suggests that Millennials, long sidelined, have finally started to tiptoe into the home-buying market. The reception to the data was so effusive that other reports, suggesting housing has reached a much different sort of turning point, were lost in the fray.
The good news is that the trend is unequivocal, based purely on supply and demand. The bad news is in the actual message. The May University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment survey showed a six-year low among those who think it’s a good time to buy a house and a 12-year high among those who say it’s a good time to sell. Disparities of this breadth tend to coincide with break points and that’s just where we’ve landed in the cycle.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 20, 2017.

Global Markets Firmer As U.S. Political Storm Calms

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Money Morning – We Make Investing Profitable. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
(Kitco News) – World stock markets were mostly firmer overnight. The political drama in Washington, D. C., has died down a little bit, for now, which has allowed global stock markets to stabilize and focus more on recent upbeat economic data coming out of the U. S. and the European Union. U. S. stock indexes are heading toward firmer openings when the New York day session begins. Gold prices are trading near steady in pre-U. S. day trading, as the anxiety levels among most traders and investors have receded the past 24 hours.
Maybe the world marketplace was somewhat assuaged by remarks from U. S. President Donald Trump to the press on Thursday. He said he had nothing to do with collusion with the Russians regarding the last U. S. presidential election, and did not ask the fired former FBI director to back off on his investigation of Trump’s former national security advisor.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on May 19, 2017.

Oops, this Wasn’t Supposed to Occur in a Rosy Credit Scenario

It’s always associated with a recession: last time, the Financial Crisis.
Over the past five decades, each time commercial and industrial loan balances at US banks shrank or stalled as companies cut back or as banks tightened their lending standards in reaction to the economy they found themselves in, a recession was either already in progress or would start soon. There has been no exception since the 1960s. Last time this happened was during the Financial Crisis.
Now it’s happening again – with a 1990/91 recession twist.
Commercial and industrial loans for the week ended May 10 fell to $2.095 trillion, according to the Fed’s Board of Governors on Friday. That’s down 4.5% from the peak in the week ended November 16, 2016. It’s below the level reported for the week ended October 19. And it marks the 30th week in a row of no growth in C&I loans.

This post was published at Wolf Street by Wolf Richter ‘ May 20, 2017.

Trump Signs “Single Largest Arms Deal In US History” With Saudi Arabia Worth $350 Billion

When all other sources of economic growth appear tapped out, there is always the military-industrial complex coming to the rescue of US GDP with the sale of arms and equipment to the world’s biggest purchaser of weapons: Saudi Arabia. Because when one looks beyond the pageantry, pomp and circumstance of Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the main purpose behind the president’s visit is precisely that: selling weapons, some $350 billion over the next decade, according to estimates.
To be sure, Trump arrival in Saudi Arabia on Saturday was quite a spectacle, with the Saudi king throwing the president’s family arrival at the Royal Diwan a “welcome fit for a king.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 20, 2017.

The Simplest Reason Behind Collapsing Volatility: Hedge Funds Are Barely Trading

“Gamma”, “vega“, CTAs, risk-parity, vol-neutral, central bank vol-suppression, the soaring popularity of (inverse) VIX ETFs , and so on: over the past year there have been countless attempts to explain why despite the surging political uncertainty in recent years, and especially since the US election…

… global equity volatility, both implied and realized, has tumbled to record lows, sliding even below levels not even seen before the 2008 financial crisis.
There may be a much simpler reason.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 20, 2017.

Media Silent As Christian Extremists Slaughter Muslims In Central Africa

Authored by Darius Shahtahmasebi via TheAntiMedia.org,
Hundreds of civilians are seeking refuge inside a mosque in the Central African Republic (CAR)’s border town of Bangassou, Reuters reports.
What may be surprising to the American public is that these civilians are trying to escape ongoing attacks committed by Christian militias that killed at least 30 civilians over the weekend, according to U. N. officials and aid workers.
According to Reuters, the weekend attacks in Bangassou, located on the Congolese border, have involved hundreds of fighters with heavy weaponry. The fighting is aimed at the Muslim populations and signals that the conflict currently besieging the country is worsening.
‘The situation is extremely deplorable and we are doing everything to rapidly retake control of Bangassou,’ MINUSCA (the U. N. mission) chief Parfait Onanga-Anyanga told Reuters in an interview.

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

Rising Occupancy In China’s Fake Manhattan Is “Mostly Government Driven”

China’s copy of Manhattan is no longer a ghost town, Bloomberg reports. But that doesn’t mean it has forever forestalled a “day of reckoning” for its debt-fueled growth.
The northern city of Tianjin drew negative press coverage a few years ago because of a newly built replica of Manhattan complete with a mock Rockefeller Center that was created as part of a massive government infrastructure project but for years was little more than a ghost town. But the city is now occupants are finally clocking to the city: Bloomberg reports that once empty skyscrapers, vacant office towers and unfinished hotels and apartments are gradually filling up amid the central government’s renewed push to refashion the city into a crucial gateway for a revitalized Northern China.

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

The End of Reflation? Implications for Gold

In the previous editions of the Market Overview, we wrote about the reflation trade. We analyzed the important signals of the uptick in economic activity and inflation all over the world, arguing that the upcoming reflation does not look encouraging for the gold bulls. However, we now see signs that reflation is weakening. What happened and what are the implications for the gold market?
As a reminder, reflation started to attract the attention of investors at the end of 2016 and was based on two pillars: 1) Trump’s rally, i.e. rising expectations about the fiscal stimulus provided by the new administration, and 2) accelerating global inflation and economic growth. As a result, interest rates surged, while the price of gold plunged.
The problem is that both drivers of reflation trade have weakened recently. The failure of Trump to repeal and replace Obamacare undermined markets’ confidence in quick and smooth implementation of the new administration’s pro-growth agenda. Some pundits argue that the Trumpcare’s failure is actually a good thing, because now the administration will quickly shift to the subject of tax reform. However, such a line of argument is totally wrong as it overlooks significant divisions among Republicans and the fact that healthcare reform was supposed to reduce government expenditures, enabling or at least facilitating the tax cuts. This is something we warned against in the February edition of the Market Overview: ‘the faith in Trump’s beneficial economic policies may be too optimistic.’

This post was published at GoldSeek on 19 May 2017.

Structured Credit Bubble 2.0: Asian Investors Binge On “Boom-And-Bust” CLOs; Issuance Up 97% YoY

Back in 2006, some of the wall street banks (ahem, Goldman) managed to layoff quite a bit of their mortgage risk to unwitting European and Asian investors who, in their desperate ‘search for yield’, had no idea they had just been conned into stepping in front of a freight train. Now, it seems that the same thing may be happening yet again with another favorite wall street structured product, Collateralized Loan Obligations (CLOs).
According to Bloomberg, money managers in Korea, Japan and China are piling into CLOs, and often into the most junior tranches no less, at an alarming rate which has resulted in a staggering 97% increase in YoY new issuance volume.

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

Comey Agrees To Testify In Open Hearing Before Senate Intel Committee

Former FBI Director James Comey has agreed to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in open session, Senators Richard Burr and Mark Warner announced on Friday. In a statement released late on Friday, the committee said the open hearing will be scheduled after Memorial Day.
Sen. Richard Burr, committee Chair, said ‘the Committee looks forward to receiving testimony from the former Director on his role in the development of the Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 US elections, and I am hopeful that he will clarify for the American people recent events that have been broadly reported in the media.”

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

Rickards: Trump Will Not Be Impeached

Above the initials R. B. we are dealt with as follows:
‘You lying scumbags! You won’t get away with it. Real Americans are behind Trump and can see the truth. One day we will find you! Personally!’
(Perhaps it’s time to move?)
‘Go [fornicate] yourself,’ thunders another reader, demanding of us the anatomically impossible – and thumbing a nose at our Presbyterian standard.
A third consigns our poor soul to a signally abject fate: ‘Go to hell!’
We reckoned yesterday about the possible impeachment of President Trump.
We apparently gave some readers the impression we’re down on all fours with it… that we somehow have it in for Mr. Trump.
Yet we plead innocent on every count. And we go to the gallows under protest.
We have no heat against Trump.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner by Brian Maher ‘ May 18, 2017.

Journalists Drink Too Much, Are Dumber Than Average, Study Finds

A recent scientific study just proved something that viewers of CNN have probably suspected for years: Journalists’ brains function at a lower level than the rest of the population.
A study conducted by neuroscientist Tara Swift and the London Press Club determined that “the highest functions of journalists brains were operating at a lower level than the average population, due to dehydration, self-medicating, and fueling their brains with caffeine and high-sugar foods”

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