Handout Nation: Combined Enrollment In America’s 4 Largest Safety Net Programs Hits A Record High Of 236 Million

Margaret Thatcher once said that the problem with socialism ‘is that eventually you run out of other people’s money’. As you will see below, the combined enrollment in America’s four largest safety net programs has reached a staggering 236 million. Of course that doesn’t mean that 236 million people are getting benefits from the government each month because there is overlap between the various programs. For example, many Americans that are on Medicaid are also on food stamps, and many Americans that are on Medicare are also on Social Security. But even accounting for that, most experts estimate that the number of Americans that are dependent on the federal government month after month is well over 100 million. And now that so many people are addicted to government handouts, can we ever return to a culture of independence and self-sufficiency?
On Wednesday, CNN ran an editorial by Bernie Sanders in which he called President Trump’s proposed budget ‘immoral’ because it would cut funding for government aid programs.
But is it moral to steal more than a hundred million dollars from future generations of Americans every single hour of every single day to pay for these programs?
Of course the answer to that question is quite obvious.
There will always be some Americans that are unable to take care of themselves, and we should want to help them.
But as millions upon millions of Americans continue to jump on to the safety net, eventually we are going to get to the point where it is going to break.
As I mentioned above, the combined enrollment in the four largest safety net programs has reached a new all-time record high…

This post was published at The Economic Collapse Blog on May 24th, 2017.

NAMES OF MORE THAN 16,000 CONCEALED WEAPONS PERMIT HOLDERS IN FLORIDA EXPOSED IN HACK

Florida Department of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam announced on Monday that hackers may have obtained the names of concealed weapon licensees in a data breach that ‘appears to have originated from overseas’ (must be those Russians again!).
The breach may have revealed the social security numbers of 469 customers, and another 16,190 may have had their names but ‘no other individually identifying information’ was compromised.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on MAY 24, 2017.

Arizona Ends Income Taxation on Gold and Silver Coins

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey Greenlights House Bill 2014, Removing Income Tax from Certain Precious Metals at the State Level
Phoenix, Arizona (May 23rd, 2017) – Sound money advocates rejoiced today as House Bill 2014 became the law in Arizona. HB 2014, which passed in the Arizona state Senate on May 10th by a margin of 16-13, removes all income taxation of precious metals coins at the state level.
Under House Bill 2014, introduced by Representative Mark Finchem (R-Tucson), Arizona taxpayers will simply back out all ‘gains’ and ‘losses’ on any precious metals that are in legal tender form and reported on their federal tax returns from the calculation of their Arizona adjusted gross income (AGI).
If taxpayers own gold or silver to protect themselves against the devaluation of America’s paper currency, thanks to the inflationary practices of the Federal Reserve, they frequently end up with a ‘gain’ when exchanging those metals back into dollars. However, this is not necessarily a real gain in terms of a gain in actual purchasing power. This ‘gain’ is often a nominal gain because of the slow but steady devaluation of the dollar. Yet the government nevertheless assesses a tax.

This post was published at GoldSeek on 24 May 2017.

Here Is The Latest Breakdown Of Fed Hawks And Doves

Ahead of today’s FOMC minutes, UBS reminds us that there has been substantial turnover on the FOMC, and so the Swiss bank has updated its periodic commentary on FOMC participants, as well as its popular “hawk-dove” chart.
While many of the actors are well-known, there are some unknowns and unfamiliar faces, with more to come. The biggest unknowns are Raphael Bostic, the brand new President in Atlanta and how the Richmond Fed will factor into the debate after Jeffrey Lacker’s departure. In addition, with three vacancies on the Board and Chair Yellen and Vice Chair Fischer’s terms ending early next year, there will be considerable turnover.
Here is the full breakdown of the Fed’s latest “nest”, from UBS’ Seth Carpenter.

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

All Heck Breaks Loose in Toronto’s House Price Bubble

‘It’s fear.’
During the first two weeks in May, according to preliminary data from Toronto Real Estate Board, home listings surged 47% from the same period last year even as sales plunged 16%. The average selling price dropped 3.3% from April – and this, after a 33% year-over-year spike in home prices in March and a 25% surge in April. Something is happening to Toronto’s blistering house price bubble.
Canada’s largest alternative mortgage lender, Home Capital Group, which focuses on new immigrants and subprime borrowers turned down by the banks, is melting down after a run on its deposits that crushed its funding sources. The industry is worried about contagion.
At the same time, the provincial government of Ontario announced a slew of drastic measures, including a 15% tax on purchases by non-resident foreign investors to tamp down on the housing market insanity that left many locals unable to buy even a modest home.

This post was published at Wolf Street by Wolf Richter ‘ May 24, 2017.

The Key Things To Look For In Today’s FOMC Minutes, And How To Trade Them

Despite a near-collapse in the US economic surprise index – a key leading indicator, and major negative for the US economy…

… and recent disappointing inflation readings, largely attributed to the telecom sector in general and unlimited phone plan packages, not to mention the 0.7% Q1 GDP print, today’s FOMC minutes scheduled (released at 2:00pm today with the usual 3 week lag) are likely to reveal a relatively optimistic Fed with many Committee members expecting the weakness early on in 2017 to prove “transitory.”

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

Social Media: Stick A Fork In It

Let me make one thing clear before I start: It’s not that I’m saying ‘social media’ is going away, as in no longer will be around or, will not have any use or value going forward. What I am stating is this: Everything that you’ve been told, as well as sold, about social media as it is currently argued and used, along with why the companies or platforms that supply it (i.e., the Snapchat, Facebook Twitter et al) should be valued not just mere $Billions, but rather $10’s and $100’s of Billions is over. The signs are there for anyone paying attention…
The only ones (in my opinion) that have yet to grasp this are: the ‘experts’, fund managers, and analysts still telling, and selling its ‘So worth it!’ drivel. Because, as I implied above: the signs are everywhere for those willing to look for themselves rather, than waiting for some ‘news flash’ appearing in their ‘social feed’ or ‘groundbreaking development’ via the main stream business/financial media.
Hint: Remember when all the media went crazy touting why everyone needed to be on, and read their ‘expert’ commentary on LinkedIn? You know, right before its stock value suddenly plummeted facilitating the need or rescue via Microsoft for its very survival? It’s a point worth remembering for context.

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

International Inflation Cycles Sync Up

My friend Lakshman Achuthan, Co-Founder & Chief Operations Officer of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI), has done some really interesting work on international inflation cycles, and in today’s Outside the Box he shares it with us. This is a special treat – ECRI does not normally make its material available outside of its client base. I am truly grateful that he allows me to share this. Lakshman will be joining us at SIC this week in Orlando, to the great benefit of the attendees.
It turns out that inflation volatility has been greatly dampened in the 11 OECD (advanced) economies in the 21st century, as compared to the late 20th century: It’s now only about a quarter of what it was then. Additionally, the domestic inflation cycles of these countries have increasingly come into sync. These two trends have made it possible for ECRI to devise a leading index of global inflation cycles that offers earlier and more accurate forecasts of cyclical turning points in international inflation.
In concluding this short but groundbreaking piece, Lakshman adds,
The synchronization of international inflation cycles highlights the importance of global factors in assessing domestic inflation prospects. Our analysis underscores the 21st-century reality that the timing of inflation cycles may be beyond the control of any individual central bank. Yet this very development makes it possible for ECRI to provide even earlier signals of peaks and troughs in the inflation cycle.
Lakshman’s piece runs with an argument that my friend John Vogel wrote about this morning, highlighting another piece of research. I’ve been arguing for years that the world is basically in a long-term deflationary trend, despite all the monetary intervention and money printing. It’s a bit difficult to measure, but the cost of producing goods is dropping. Which means that the cost of living will continue to fall – at least as far as purchasing goods is concerned (as opposed to buying services like healthcare and education). As John writes (somewhat controversially):

This post was published at Mauldin Economics on MAY 24, 2017.

Loonie Surges To 5 Week High After BOC Surprises With Hawkish Statement

While the Bank of Canada did not surprise with its interest rate decision, holding rates at 0.5% as expected, the market has read between the lines of the statement and concluded that it was substantially more optimistic than expected, with clear hawkish notes as a result of the following line: “The Canadian economy’s adjustment to lower oil prices is largely complete and recent economic data have been encouraging, including indicators of business investment.”
Additionally, the BOC has added a new line which now reads: ‘all things considered, Governing Council judges that the current degree of monetary stimulus is appropriate at present, and maintains the target for the overnight rate at 1/2 per cent” and replacing the previous conclusion which said there was “significant uncertainty on the outlook.”
And while the BOC hedged by saying “the uncertainties outlined in the April MPR continue to cloud the global and Canadian outlooks” the market is clearly more impressed by the hawkish readthru, sending the Loonie surging after the report.

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

Stocks and Precious Metals Charts – We Inflate Assets and Crush People

“Legitimate power always includes attentiveness to justice, When power is not attentive to justice it cannot endure. This is a summons to us to keep the agenda of justice for the vulnerable alive and front and center to maintain a kind of subversive stance toward power.
The market ideology is now the new form of imperial power and many of us, without any critical reflection, have signed onto that and organized our lives in that way…”
Walter Brueggemann
“People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage. Intellectual myopia, often called stupidity, is no doubt a reason. But the privileged also feel that their privileges, however egregious they may seem to others, are a solemn, basic, God-given right. The sensitivity of the poor to injustice is a trivial thing compared with that of the rich.”
John Kenneth Galbraith
‘In the eyes of the empire builders men are not men, but instruments.’
Napoleon Bonaparte
The Fed’s minutes were released today. They showed a bias to raising rates in June if the recent economic weakness proved to be transitory.
The question of the Fed’s changing their benchmark interest rate is probably a little less significant than the question of what they will be doing with their enormous Balance Sheet. Currently they are rolling the instruments over, but will likely be looking to start capping those renewals of the current holdings.
Removing items from the balance sheet has a less predictable impact on financial assets as compared to interest rates which is easier to hedge.

This post was published at Jesses Crossroads Cafe on 24 MAY 2017.

WTI/RBOB Stumble After Mixed Inventory Data, 16th Straight Week Of Increased Crude Production

WTI/RBOB prices were relatively unchanged from last night’s API inventory print (despite some volatility from OEPC headlines) ahead of the DOE print, but that did not last long as Crude saw a much bigger than expected draw (-4.43mm vs -2mm exp) and gasoline a considerably smaller draw than API (-787k vs -3.18mm API) and the same with distillates. Lower 48 crude production rose for the 16th straight week and seemed to take the shine off the inventory data – sending WTI/RBOB prices lower.
API
Crude -1.5mm (-2mm exp) Cushing -210k Gasoline -3.15mm (-1.08mm exp) Distillates -1.85mm

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

Arizona Governor Signs Bill to Repeal State Capital Gains Taxes on Gold and Silver

Good news for precious metals investors in Arizona.
On Monday, Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill into law that eliminates states capital gains taxes on gold and silver specie. It tax repeal will not only benefit Arizonans who invest in gold and silver, it will also facilitate their use as currency and undermine the Federal Reserve’s monopoly on money.
Rep. Mark Finchem (R-Tucson) sponsored HB2014. The legislation eliminates state capital gains taxes on income ‘derived from the exchange of one kind of legal tender for another kind of legal tender.’ The bill defines legal tender as ‘a medium of exchange, including specie, that is authorized by the United States Constitution or Congress for the payment of debts, public charges, taxes and dues.’ ‘Specie’ means coins having precious metal content.
In effect, passage into law will ‘legalize the Constitution’ by treating gold and silver specie as money.
The new law will go into effect Aug. 9, 2017.
Getting Gov. Ducey’s signature on the bill was a major victory, and the culmination of more than five years of work by supporters of sound money in the Grand Canyon State. Similar legislation passed the legislature in 2013, 2015, and 2016, but Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the first two bills, and Gov Doug Ducey killed last year’s effort.
Grassroots support was crucial in pushing this legislation across the finish line this year. A dedicated group of volunteers lobbied for the bill, and Ron Paul traveled to Arizona and testified on its behalf.

This post was published at Schiffgold on MAY 24, 2017.

House Democrats Ask Deutsche Bank If Trump Accounts Have Russia Ties

In the aftermath of prior media reports that in the past Deutsche Bank provided hundreds of millions in loans to Trump, today Democratic lawmakers – looking for a smoking gun- asked Germany’s largest bank to hand over its findings on “two politically charged matters”, demanding details whether Trump’s DB accounts have Russia ties, and if Deutsche Bank loans to Trump were backed (?) by Russia.
From the letter:
We write seeking information relating to two internal reviews reportedly conducted by Deutsche Bank (“Bank”): one regarding its 2011 Russian mirror trading scandal and the other regarding its review of the personal accounts of President Donald Trump and his family members held at the Bank. What is troubling is that the Bank to our knowledge has thus far refused to disclose or publicly comment on the results of either of its internal reviews. As a result, there is no transparency regarding who participated in, or benefited from, the Russian mirror trading scheme that allowed $10 billion to flow out of Russia. Likewise, Congress remains in the dark on whether loans Deutsche Bank made to President Trump were guaranteed by the Russian Government, or were in any way connected to Russia. It is critical that you provide this Committee with the information necessary to assess the scope, findings and conclusions of your internal reviews.

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

MAY 24/GOLD AND SILVER REBOUND IN THE ACCESS MARKET AS MARKETS STILL CANNOT DIGEST WHAT ON EARTH THE FED IS DOING/STRANGE DATA AT THE COMEX; GOLD OPEN INTEREST RISES BY 13000 CONTRACTS BUT THE SI…

GOLD: $1253.45 down $2.50
Silver: $17.12 down 2 cent(s)
Closing access prices:
Gold $1258.50
silver: $17.23
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
SHANGHAI GOLD FIX: FIRST FIX 10 15 PM EST (2:15 SHANGHAI LOCAL TIME)
SECOND FIX: 2:15 AM EST (6:15 SHANGHAI LOCAL TIME)
SHANGHAI FIRST GOLD FIX: $1260.70 DOLLARS PER OZ
NY PRICE OF GOLD AT EXACT SAME TIME: 1251.40
PREMIUM FIRST FIX: $9.30
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
SECOND SHANGHAI GOLD FIX: $1257.32
NY GOLD PRICE AT THE EXACT SAME TIME: 1248.91
Premium of Shanghai 2nd fix/NY:$8.41
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
LONDON FIRST GOLD FIX: 5:30 am est $1259.90
NY PRICING AT THE EXACT SAME TIME: $1260.40
LONDON SECOND GOLD FIX 10 AM: $1252.55
NY PRICING AT THE EXACT SAME TIME. $1252.70
For comex gold:
MAY/
NOTICES FILINGS TODAY FOR APRIL CONTRACT MONTH: 3 NOTICE(S) FOR 300 OZ.
TOTAL NOTICES SO FAR: 524 FOR 52400 OZ (1.6298 TONNES)
For silver:
For silver: MAY
8 NOTICES FILED TODAY FOR 40,000 OZ/
Total number of notices filed so far this month: 4583 for 22,915,000 oz

This post was published at Harvey Organ Blog on May 24, 2017.

OPEC “In Terrible Bind” As Monitoring Committee Proposes Nine-Month Extension

In the end, the OPEC Vienna meeting – which technically won’t conclude until tomorrow – was anticlimatic, with the recommendation by Joint OPEC-Non-OPEC Ministerial Monitoring Committee in line with what was “trial ballooned”, and leaked in advance:
The JMMC considered several scenarios presented by the JTC regarding the extension of the Declaration of Cooperation and decided to recommend that the production adjustments of the participating countries be extended for nine months commencing 1 July 2017. In this regard, the JMMC should continue monitoring conformity levels as well as market conditions and immediate prospects, and recommend further adjustment actions, if deemed necessary.

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

Summer Fireworks for Gold & Silver?

The following video was published by SilverDoctors on May 24, 2017
Gold and Silver prices are moving higher today after retesting critical resistance levels.
After a big rally over the past week, gold and silver consolidated gains and traded down to technical support levels at $1250 and $17 early this week ahead of today’s FOMC Minutes. Amazingly, the metals began to rally after the release – even with the Minutes suggesting that another rake hike is likely soon. With a June rate hike now all but assured, we suspect the market is finally beginning to realize that gold and silver prices have begun strong multi-month rallies with each of the last 3 Fed Rate Hikes. Should one materialize, momentum should finally return to the sector once silver crosses $18 and gold trades back above $1300, as the market will then clearly be able to see a potentially large bull move is underway. This combined with the suddenly plunging dollar index and the market facing reality that large Trump tax cuts are unlikely in 2017 could set up the metals for fireworks by mid-summer.

Gold and Silver Market Morning: May 24 2017 – Gold pulled back by a stronger dollar, but still within a narrow trading channel!

Gold Today – New York closed at $1,251.80 yesterday after closing at$1,260.30 Monday. London opened at $1,250.30 today.
Overall the dollar was stronger against global currencies, early today. Before London’s opening:
– The $: was stronger at $1.1189 after yesterday’s $1.1252: 1.
– The Dollar index was stronger at 97.33 after yesterday’s 96.90.
– The Yen was weaker at 111.88 after yesterday’s 111.24:$1.
– The Yuan was barely changed at 6.8905 after yesterday’s 6.8901:$1.
– The Pound Sterling was barely changed at $1.2978 afteryesterday’s $1.2980: 1.
Yuan Gold Fix
New York closed $13.55 lower than Shanghai yesterday. London opened today at a $14.47 discount to Shanghai.
London today and New York yesterday, took gold lower with Shanghai remaining steady at yesterday’s prices. If pricing power lies in Shanghai, gold price will climb this week in London and New York. This is a test of where that power lies [very short-term].
Silver Today – Silver closed at $17.07 yesterday after $17.14 at New York’s close yesterday.

This post was published at GoldSeek on 24 May 2017.

For The First Time Ever, European Equities Yield More Than Junk Bonds

Last week, when looking at the the distortion and absurdity unleashed by the ECB’s asset purchase program upon European capital markets, we showed the unprecedented collapse in European junk bond yields as captured by the effective yield of the BofA/ML Euro High Yield Index, which is now trading just shy of all time lows, having dropped below 3% at the end of April, and printed at 2.79% on May 23, within bps of record lows…

… roughly 50 bps wider than where the the US 10Y is trading at this moment, and inside the 30Y US Treasury. Assuming a 1.9% European CPI (as of April), this means that the real rate of return on Europe’s junk yields is now 0.89%. But we digress.
So why does European junk debt trade with seemingly no more risk than the world’s most risk-free security? Simple: expectations that the ECB will keep buying it, and so far it has. In fact, yesterday DB’s Jim Reid reported that according to “the latest ECB CSPP numbers were out yesterday and I was surprised to see the average daily corporate purchases at 401mn last week, notably above the average daily run rate of 365mn since the program started. So back in April and early May it looked like a broadly equal CSPP/PSPP split but last week’s numbers gives us the possibility that CSPP hasn’t been tapered as much after all.”

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