Equifax Hack Slams Already-Struggling Store-Branded Credit-Card Lenders

Equifax’s disclosure that hackers had absconded with the personal data of 143 million Americans after exploiting a vulnerability in the company’s cyber defenses that was largely the result of negligence has sent its shares spiraling 37% lower. And now, Bloomberg is warning that the shares of certain troubled lenders – which have already largely underperformed this year – may also be vulnerable as the fallout from the hack works its way through the US economy.

Consumers who’ve learned that their data were potentially compromised are rushing to freeze their credit, creating a major problem for lenders like Synchrony Financial and Alliance Data who specialize in retailer partnerships that offer store-branded credit cards – a once-lucrative business that has struggled as same-store sales and a flurry of bankruptcies have beset the retail sector.
‘Equifax Inc.’s massive data breach could make an already tough market outlook even more daunting for the firms behind Gap Inc.’s and Ann Taylor’s store-branded credit cards. Those retailers’ banking partners, including Synchrony Financial and Alliance Data Systems Corp., could see account originations fall off a cliff if consumers freeze their credit to protect themselves from fraud. Consumers have to take extra steps – including calling the credit bureau, going online or paying fees – to lift a block and get a new card.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 16, 2017.

Riding The ‘Slide’: Is This What the Next Bear Market Looks Like?

Submitted by ffwiley.com
Even as the Fed’s decision makers are beginning to worry less about recession and more about bubbly stock prices, we’re not yet moved by their attempts to curb the market’s enthusiasm. After all, the fed funds rate sits barely above 1%, which not too long ago qualified as a five-decade low. And other indicators, besides interest rates, aren’t exactly predicting the next bear, either. Inflation is subdued, credit spreads are tight, banks are mostly lending freely and the economy is growing, albeit slowly. It just doesn’t feel as though we’re close to a major market peak.
All that being said, we’re not so much about feelings as we are about delving into history (nerds that we are) and seeing if there’s anything we can learn. Let’s look at the last 90 years to see if any bear markets began under similar conditions to those today.
We’ll consider thirteen bears, as listed in the table below. (Our list may be different to yours, mainly because we use Robert Shiller’s monthly average S&P 500 prices, instead of daily prices, but also because we reset the cycle whenever the market falls 20% from a peak or rises 20% from a trough.)

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 16, 2017.

Pension Storm Warning

Thoughts from the Frontline Pension Storm Warning BY JOHN MAULDIN
SEPTEMBER 16, 2017
Options Email Print Storms from Nowhere
Blood from Turnips
Promises from Air
Chicago, Lisbon, Denver, Lugano, and Hong Kong
This time is different are the four most dangerous words any economist or money manager can utter. We learn new things and invent new technologies. Players come and go. But in the big picture, this time is usually not fundamentally different, because fallible humans are still in charge. (Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart wrote an important book called This Time Is Different on the 260-odd times that governments have defaulted on their debts; and on each occasion, up until the moment of collapse, investors kept telling themselves ‘This time is different.’ It never was.)
Nevertheless, I uttered those four words in last week’s letter. I stand by them, too. In the next 20 years, we’re going to see changes that humanity has never seen before, and in some cases never even imagined, and we’re going to have to change. I truly believe this. We have unleashed economic and technological forces we can observe but not entirely control.
I will defend this bold claim at greater length in my forthcoming book, The Age of Transformation.
Today we will zero in on one of those forces, which last week I called ‘the bubble in government promises,’ which I think is arguably the biggest bubble in human history. Elected officials at all levels have promised workers they will receive pension benefits without taking the hard steps necessary to deliver on those promises. This situation will end badly and hurt many people. Unfortunately, massive snafus like this rarely hurt the politicians who made those overly optimistic promises, often years ago.

This post was published at Mauldin Economics on SEPTEMBER 16, 2017.

Bitcoin and Gold

It’s been a bad week for Bitcoin.
The price of the cryptocurrency continued its free-fall after one of the largest exchanges in China announced it was shutting down.
This follows on the heels of an article published by Caixin announcing the Chinese government plans to ban cryptocurrency trading on all domestic exchanges. Information coming out today seems to confirm the story reported by the Chinese publication. Cointelegraph reported, ‘information slowly appearing from China appears to confirm that trading will no longer be legal for Bitcoin-to-fiat platforms.’
BTC China, one of the country’s largest crypto exchanges, said in a tweet Thursday it plans to shutter operations by Sept. 30 as Chinese authorities crack down on cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin responded, falling nearly 21% in a 24-hour period.
But despite the rocky week, some analysts say this doesn’t necessarily spell doom and gloom for Bitcoin, or cryptocurrencies in general. According to Cointelegraph, some in the cryptocurrency world say the moves by China will actually prove beneficial in the long-run.

This post was published at Schiffgold on SEPTEMBER 15, 201.

Fearful Californians Prepare For A Nuclear Attack: “A Lot Of People Will Be Killed”

With each passing day and each new ICBM launch from a seemingly unhinged North Korean dictator, the fears of an attack on the U. S. mainland, though faint, increasingly weigh on the hearts and minds of Americans, particularly those in California. As The Guardian points out today, those fears have even prompted a group of California public health officials and emergency responders to gather for a strategy session with Hal Kempfer, a retired marine lieutenant colonel, to discuss which areas are the most likely targets and how citizens should respond to an attack.
Hal Kempfer, a noted international security expert, is getting a roomful of California public health officials and emergency responders to think about the unthinkable – a nuclear bomb exploding at the port of Long Beach, about four miles away.
‘A lot of people will be killed,’ he said, ‘but a large percentage of the population will survive. They will be at risk and they will need help.’
‘If you want to mess up southern California, if you want to mess up the west coast, if you want to mess up our country – where do you attack?’ Kempfer asks. ‘If I’m sitting in North Korea and looking at possible targets, I’m going to be looking at Long Beach very closely.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 15, 2017.

“Unhappy” British Prime Minister Blasts “Never Helpful” Trump Over Controversial Tweet

Update 1: After hearing from her former chief of staff earlier, British Prime Minister Theresa May has also now weighed in on Trump’s tweets from this morning which have largely been interpreted as a criticism of the UK’s security services for failing to prevent today’s terrorist attack in London.
“I never think it’s helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation.”
Forward to the 2:25 mark for the relevant comments (or click here):

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 15, 2017.


Since the warning about Cryptos was posted on the site over a week ago, entitled The Cryptocrash and Gold, Cryptos have plunged about 30% and more still if you factor in overnight losses, not helped of course by the expected development of China banning them. So now what? – is this the start of the bursting of this monstrous bubble?
It could be – looking at the 6-month chart for the Bitcoin Investment Trust, which serves as a Bitcoin proxy, we can see that the volume pattern around this latest peak definitely looks negative compared to that around the last peak back in June, with modest volume on the rally and heavy volume on the decline this month.

This post was published at Clive Maund on September 15, 2017.

Pennsylvania Will Run Out Of Cash Tonight, Leaving $860MM Of Bills Unpaid

As equity markets spike to all new highs with each passing day, the number of fiscal crises springing up within local and state governments around the country are reaching somewhat alarming levels, even if they’re being completely ignored by investors. As Reuters notes this morning, the state of Pennsylvania may become the latest example government failure when it runs out of cash later tonight leaving some $860 million worth of bills unpaid.
Pennsylvania could run out of cash on Friday, leaving $860 million of bill payments up in the air as lawmakers continue to argue over a revenue package that is more than two months overdue.
The state legislature passed a $32.5 billion spending plan on June 30, the end of the fiscal year and the deadline for the current year’s budget.
But it failed to agree on a revenue package to pay for those expenses, and the state has been borrowing money from its own short-term investment pool.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 15, 2017.

Irma’s Aftermath: “For The First Time In 300 Years, There’s Not A Single Living Person On Barbuda”

Exactly one week ago, Prime Minister Gaston Browne surveyed the damage on his tiny Caribbean island of Barbuda and declared that Hurricane Irma had completely devastated the island and left 90% of all dwellings leveled. Browne went on to say that Irma’s “absolute devastation” meant that Barbuda was “basically uninhabitable” for the 1,800 people who called it home.
Now, according Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States, Ronald Sanders, the entire island has been evacuated for the first time in 300 years leaving “not a single living person on the island of Barbuda.” Per the USA Today:
‘The damage is complete,’ says Ambassador Ronald Sanders, who has served as Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to the U. S. since 2015. ‘For the first time in 300 years, there’s not a single living person on the island of Barbuda – a civilization that has existed on that island for over 300 years has now been extinguished.’
‘This was a huge monster,’ he says. ‘The island and the people on the island had absolutely no chance.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 15, 2017.

Google Also Allowed Advertisers To Buy Racist Keywords Like “Why Do Black People Ruin Neighborhoods”

Ever since failing miserably in their efforts to appoint Hillary Clinton to her rightful throne in the Oval Office, Silicon Valley’s biggest tech titans have come under relentless attack from disappointed liberal politicians in DC and their primary propaganda distribution platforms, the mainstream media.
Just last night, on the Rachel Maddow show, Hillary once again blamed Facebook for her 2016 loss and vowed that “we’re going to make Facebook own up to everything” (you can watch the full interview here).
“We are not going to let the Russians come in and divide us. We’re going to make Facebook own up to everything.”
The irony, of course, is that perhaps no one contributed more money to getting Hillary elected than the same Facebook execs that are now coming under pressure for ‘colluding with Russia” after admitting that a staggering $50,000 worth of ads may have been bought by potentially Russian-linked accounts on their platform. In fact, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz even contributed $20 million of his own money to the Democratic efforts in 2016, which we believe is slightly more than $50,000 but we’re not great at math.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 15, 2017.

Quad Witch ‘Pins’ S&P At Exactly 2500 Despite Dismal Data, Nukes, & Terrorism

So to be clear, this week we had:
Hurricane Irma crushes Florida North Korea test fires ICBMs across Japan (again) Economic data misses across the globe (China and US most notably) Terrorism in UK and France And the result – drum roll please – new record highs for The Dow, The S&P, and The Nasdaq… with The Dow’s best week of the year!!
And in case you wondered what sent stocks soaring this week… The Fed (which is supposedly on the verge next week of starting to reduce the balance sheet) saw a $17.7bn spike in its balance sheet – the biggest weekly jump since Dec 2016

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 15, 2017.

Stocks and Gold; Macro Pivot Window Upon Us

On August 11 the potential and reasoning for anticipated pivots in the US stock market and the gold sector were noted in this article: Potential Pivots Upcoming for Stocks and Gold
As for the stock market, several reasons were put forward in support of a 2nd half of September through Q4 danger period, for a correction (no need yet to talk bear market because that would be pure promotion of an agenda). Please note that standard technical analysis was not among those reasons. The stock market was then and is now, in an uptrend across all important time frames.
The reasons for the correction view noted in the article ranged from the S&P 500’s 30 month cycle, to the Fed’s Funds cycle and its proximity to the 2yr yield (this has not yet made a bear signal) to the US dollar’s potential to rally (still waiting on that one) to a rough seasonal patch that begins in mid-September. Well, today is September 15, da boyz is back from da Hamptins and the rest is up to the market’s nature to take its course.

This post was published at GoldSeek on 15 September 2017.

Where’s The Unwind? Fed Actually Adds $15 Billion To Balance Sheet (As ‘Inflation’ Remains Low And Home Prices Soar)

The Federal Reserve has been jawboning their intent to unwind their almost $4.5 trillion balance sheet, nearly all of which is either Treasurys or mortgage-backed securities.
The Fed’s Balance Sheet has pretty much been on hold (treading water) since 2014 and the end of QE3, their third round of asset purchases.
But the System Open Market Account (SOMA) report from 9/13/2017 shows that The Fed actually added around $15 billion to its balance sheet.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on September 15, 2017.