Author Archive for ilene

Russia, Trump and the 2016 election: What’s the best way for Congress to investigate?

 

 

Russia, Trump and the 2016 election: What's the best way for Congress to investigate?

Courtesy of Jordan Tama, American University School of International Service

Exactly how will the U.S. conduct a fair and accurate investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and links with President Donald Trump’s campaign? U.S. congressional leaders are discussing options.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said that the Senate intelligence committee is best suited to investigate any concerns related to Russia.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a leading Republican voice on foreign policy, suggested Congress should establish a select, or special, committee of lawmakers to probe the matter.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, urged the creation of “a bipartisan, independent, outside commission” to investigate it.

Each of these alternatives may seem reasonable, but there are key differences between them. My research on more than 50 government investigations reveals that independent commissions, like the one Pelosi is advocating for, are more likely than regular or select congressional committees to achieve consensus about controversial events.

A congressional investigation into Russian activities and ties to Trump’s advisers is likely to be riven by partisan discord. An independent commission has greater potential to generate a widely agreed-upon understanding of Russian misbehavior.

At a time when Congress is sharply polarized along partisan lines, congressional investigations tend to become microcosms of that polarization. This is all the more true when an investigation involves an issue about which the president is vulnerable to political embarrassment or attack.

How a congressional probe might unfold

The Senate Intelligence Committee, responsible for overseeing intelligence matters, is characterized by more bipartisanship than most congressional committees. It possesses a highly professional staff that works together well across party lines. Its leaders – Republican Sen. Richard Burr and Democratic Sen. Mark Warner – have expressed a willingness to cooperate in investigating issues related to Russia.

But sharp divisions are likely to emerge between Democrats and Republicans on the committee when they…
continue reading





Brexit Fast-Track Dead: EU Insists Upon Divorce Settlement Before Trade Talks

Courtesy of Mish.

Before the EU is willing to enter trade talks with the UK, it wants an upfront divorce settlement of €60 billion in exit bill claims along with guaranteed rights for expatriate citizens.

Expatriate rights are easy. Both sides can pass legislation quickly, at no cost.

As for the exit bill, the UK should tell the EU to go to hell. The UK would have no bargaining power if it agreed to give the EU all or most of €60 billion in exit bill claims before trade settlement negotiation.

fast-track-delayed

With those new pre-divorce demands, Brexit Tade Talks Delayed Until Next Year.

The EU’s Brexit negotiators expect to spend until Christmas solely discussing Britain’s divorce from the bloc, denying London any trade talks until progress is made on a €60bn exit bill and the rights of expatriate citizens.

A narrow divorce-first approach favored by Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, would represent a big setback for Britain’s aim for a fast-track EU trade deal, completed by the end of 2018.

A move to delay trade talks sets the stage for a high-stakes stand-off once formal Brexit negotiations begin. David Davis, the UK’s Brexit secretary, wants all elements of Brexit to be handled “in parallel”, saying he has told Mr. Barnier that his “sequential” plan for talks “does not seem practical”.

At one extreme some of the EU-27 — including some French officials — want Britain to honor its financial commitments as a first step. Others are concerned a hardline money-first approach will fail unless the “sweetener” of trade discussions is offered to keep the UK engaged. Spain, for instance, opposes “strict procedural requirements” and has backed early discussions about the future relationship.

Lust Leave


Continue reading here…





Biggest Political Scandal in History: Why? Blame Mainstream Media and the Likes of Bill Maher

These are Mish's thoughts. I disagree with Mish's assertion that the "collusion charge" in our election is a "smelly pile of crap." He doesn't prove his point with any evidence and I believe there's enough evidence to warrant an investigation. ~ Ilene 

Read also: Russia, Trump and the 2016 election: What's the best way for Congress to investigate?

Here's the video Mish refers to:

From Mish: 

Biggest Political Scandal in History: Why? Blame Mainstream Media and the Likes of Bill Maher

Courtesy of Mish

I confess. Bill Mahr can be funny. And he certainly is successful.

But now Mahr claims Russian election influence is the worst political scandal in US history.

Is that true? Actually, Mahr is correct. But why?
 

mahr-on-russia

Mahr says “Stop looking at the distractions and the clown show, and look at what matters. Which is, I would say, this is the worst political scandal in American history, and it’s not going away. The crime is treason. The crime is colluding with Russia to fix an American election!

The collusion charge is an unfounded, smelly pile of crap, fit for supermarket tabloids, at best.

But what about Mahr’s claim regarding the “biggest political scandal in history”.

Mahr is Correct

Why?

Continue reading here…





The Three Lives Of Alan Greenspan – And Why The Third Won’t Redeem The Second

Courtesy of John Rubino.

When the history of these times is written, former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan will be one of the major villains, but also one of the greatest mysteries. This is so because he has, in effect, been three different people.

He began public life brilliantly, as a libertarian thinker who said some compelling and accurate things about gold and its role in the world. An example from 1966:

An almost hysterical antagonism toward the gold standard is one issue which unites statists of all persuasions. They seem to sense – perhaps more clearly and subtly than many consistent defenders of laissez-faire – that gold and economic freedom are inseparable, that the gold standard is an instrument of laissez-faire and that each implies and requires the other…

…In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no safe store of value. If there were, the government would have to make its holding illegal, as was done in the case of gold [in 1934 under FDR]. If everyone decided, for example, to convert all his bank deposits to silver or copper or any other good, and thereafter declined to accept checks as payment for goods, bank deposits would lose their purchasing power and government-created bank credit would be worthless as a claim on goods. The financial policy of the welfare state requires that there be no way for the owners of wealth to protect themselves.

This is the shabby secret of the welfare statists’ tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights. If one grasps this, one has no difficulty in understanding the statists’ antagonism toward the gold standard.

Awesome, right? But when put in charge of the Federal Reserve in the late 1980s, instead of applying the above wisdom — by for instance limiting the bank’s interference in the private sector and letting market forces determine winners and losers — he did a full 180, intervening in every crisis, creating new currency with abandon, and generally behaving like his old ideological enemies, the Keynesians. Not surprisingly, debt soared during his long tenure.

Along the way he was instrumental in preventing regulation of credit default swaps


continue reading





Event Risk and Trump’s Weak Dollar Policy

Courtesy of Mish.

Saxo Bank CIO and chief economist Steen Jakobsen sees event risks on the near horizon in terms of Trump policies and the US dollar.

Specifically, Jakobsen has a focus on a “Weak Dollar Policy” that he expects Trump to pursue.

Ready, Steady, Go by Steen Jakobsen

We stand in front of major event risks in the Dollar direction with three announcements:

  1. February 28th: Trump to address a joint session of Congress
  2. March 14-15th: FOMC meeting
  3. March 17-18th: G-20 finance ministers & central banks meet in Baden, Germany

As background G-20 consider the G-20 Hamburg Summit Priority Agenda

The fact Trump is struggling to keep the “business” momentum going and is falling back to being Trump “the candidate” shows the limited range and output from the Trump administration.

By this time in February, all prior Presidents had their agenda and economic policy announced. Trump don’t seem to have a direction and strategy except for the “Tweeter-attack mode”

This means he is likely to refocus his effort leading into his address to a joint session of Congress. There will high expectations for a tax plan, repealing Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, and his trade policy which could include some comments on “the unfair FX policy by China & Germany alike”.


Continue reading here…





Not Nearly Enough Growth To Keep Growing

Courtesy of The Automatic Earth.


Jackson Pollock Shooting Star 1947

It’s amusing to see how views start to converge, at the same time that it’s tiresome to see how long that takes. It’s a good thing that more and more people ‘discover’ how and why austerity, especially in Europe, is such a losing and damaging strategy. It’s just a shame that this happens only after the horses have left the barn and the cows have come home, been fed, bathed, put on lipstick and gone back out to pasture again. Along the same lines, it’s beneficial that the recognition that for a long time economic growth has not been what ‘we’ think it should be, is spreading.

But we lost so much time that we could have used to adapt to the consequences. The stronger parties in all this, the governments, companies, richer individuals, may be wrong, but they have no reason to correct their wrongs: the system appears to work fine for them. They actually make good money because all corrections, all policies and all efforts to hide the negative effects of the gross ‘mistakes’, honest or not, made in economic and political circles are geared towards making them ‘whole’.

The faith in the absurd notion of trickle down ‘economics’ allows them to siphon off future resources from the lower rungs of society, towards themselves in the present. It will take a while for the lower rungs to figure this out. The St. Louis Fed laid it out so clearly this week that I wrote to Nicole saying ‘We’ve been vindicated by the Fed itself.’ That is, the Automatic Earth has said for many years that the peak of our wealth was sometime in the 1970’s or even late 1960’s.

Intriguing questions: was America at its richest right before or right after Nixon took the country off the gold standard in 1971? And whichever of the two one would argue for, why did he do it smack in the middle of peak wealth? Did he cause the downfall or was it already happening?

As per the St. Louis Fed report: “Real GDP growth fell and leveled off in the mid-1970s, then started falling again in the mid-2000s”. What happened during that 30-year period was that we started printing and borrowing with abandon, making both those activities…
continue reading





US Republicans give the oil industry what it wants – less transparency

 

Picture credit: Darren Baker / shutterstock

US Republicans give the oil industry what it wants – less transparency

Courtesy of Costantino Grasso, University of East London

Republicans in the US have axed Obama-era anti-corruption rules for energy and mining companies. The move, which is awaiting sign-off by President Trump, reverses years of progress in a sector often accused of dodgy dealings. It also threatens to kick off a global race to the bottom, as countries compete to offer oil firms the murkiest business environment.

The rule in question is a requirement for American oil, gas and mining companies to publicly disclose all payments of US$100,000 or more to foreign governments in connection with projects abroad. A version of the rule was first adopted in 2012 under the Dodd-Frank Act, passed in response to the financial crisis. After several years of legal battles with industry lobbyists, the latest version was implemented in 2016.

On February 3 the Republican-controlled Senate passed a resolution to scrap the requirement entirely. The resolution has already passed through the House of Representatives, and Trump is expected to give final approval within days.

Energy firms have always been bitterly opposed to these rules – and for good reason. For decades, many of them have used corruption to exploit developing countries that are resource-rich but badly governed. As far back as 1976 the Watergate scandal revealed several well-known American oil companies had counterfeited their records abroad or utilised shell companies in tax havens such as the Bahamas. It is not surprising that Rex Tillerson, Trump’s new secretary of state, personally lobbied against those transparency rules when he was Exxon’s top executive.

Who wants to zoom in on Big Oil’s financial affairs? Not former oilman Rex Tillerson. GongTo / shutterstock

The Republicans have sided firmly with the energy firms. The latest resolution was sponsored by Senator James Inhofe from oil-rich Oklahoma, a man who once displayed a snowball in congress to show global warming wasn’t happening. In the Senate, Inhofe argued the previous transparency “struck at the heart of American competitiveness” by making public…
continue reading





White House in turmoil shows why Trump’s no CEO

 

White House in turmoil shows why Trump's no CEO

Courtesy of Bert Spector, Northeastern University

Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump made much of his business experience, claiming he’s been “creating jobs and rebuilding neighborhoods my entire adult life.”

The fact that he was from the business world rather than a career politician was something that appealed to many of his supporters.

It’s easy to understand the appeal of a president as CEO. The U.S. president is indisputably the chief executive of a massive, complex, global structure known as the federal government. And if the performance of our national economy is vital to the well-being of us all, why not believe that Trump’s experience running a large company equips him to effectively manage a nation?

Instead of a “fine-tuned machine,” however, the opening weeks of the Trump administration have revealed a White House that’s chaotic, disorganized and anything but efficient. Examples include rushed and poorly constructed executive orders, a dysfunctional national security team and unclear and even contradictory messages emanating from multiple administrative spokespeople, which frequently clash with the tweets of the president himself.

Senator John McCain succinctly summed up the growing sentiment even some Republicans are feeling: “Nobody knows who’s in charge.”

So why the seeming contradiction between his businessman credentials and chaotic governing style?

Well for one thing, Trump wasn’t a genuine CEO. That is, he didn’t run a major public corporation with shareholders and a board of directors that could hold him to account. Instead, he was the head of a family-owned, private web of enterprises. Regardless of the title he gave himself, the position arguably ill-equipped him for the demands of the presidency.

Public accountability

Several years ago, I explored the distinction between public and private companies in detail when the American Bar Association invited me to write about what young corporate lawyers needed to understand about how business works. Based on that research, I want to point to an important set of distinctions between public corporations and private businesses, and what it all means for President Trump.

Public corporations are companies that offer their stock to pretty…
continue reading





Staying politically neutral is more dangerous for companies than you think

 

Staying politically neutral is more dangerous for companies than you think

Courtesy of Daniel Korschun, Drexel University

President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning immigration from seven Muslim countries has put corporate executives in a bind. Almost from the moment he announced the ban, questions poured in about where those executives stood on the issue.

The media have highlighted a cluster of companies that have made public statements against the executive order. For example, Netflix called it “un-American,” while Ford Motor Company said: “We do not support this policy or any other that goes against our values as a company.”

But overlooked are the many more companies that tried to distance themselves from the debate. Chevron, Disney, Verizon, GM, Wells Fargo and others have all taken a wait-and-see approach. An illustrative example is Morgan Stanley, which expressed concern and said it is “closely monitoring developments.”

Such responses are no doubt based on the prevailing wisdom that companies need to stay out of politics. Most large corporations have diverse constituencies that draw from both sides of the political spectrum. As a result, executives fear that attracting the political spotlight by taking a stand on the executive order will alienate either the millions of customers who voted for Trump or the millions who voted against him.

My research suggests their fears are misplaced. And in fact, the opposite may be true: It may be more dangerous to remain silent than to take a political stand.

Violating expectations

Consumers today form relationships with a company based not only on the quality of the products and services it sells but also on a set of expectations of how it should comport itself (see also here).

When companies violate these expectations by behaving inconsistently, consumers reconsider that relationship. Obviously, this can have a major impact on company performance if many customers experience a violation.

My colleagues and I at Clemson University and Drexel University have been testing this notion in a series of
continue reading





Dodd-Frankly Speaking

 

Dodd-Frankly Speaking

Courtesy of 

The Wall Street Journal is reporting this morning that household debt grew in 2016 by the most in almost a decade. The composition is different (more auto, less mortgage) but this is exactly what the Federal Reserve has been trying to produce all this time – velocity of money moving throughout the economy.

Total household debt climbed by $226 billion in the final three months of 2016, according to a report Thursday from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Total household debts are now just $99 billion shy of the all-time peak of $12.7 trillion set in the third quarter of 2008 just as the banking system began crashing down. The New York Fed estimates that debt is highly likely to set a new record in 2017.

But “a new record” should be looked at in the context of the overall economy, not nominally. We’re not nearly in the same place we were headed into the financial crisis when viewed correctly, as Josh Zumbrun points out:

The New York Fed doesn’t adjust its figures for inflation. When measured against the broader economy, total household borrowing today is 67% of nominal gross domestic product, compared with about 85% in 2008.

The bad news is that much of the growth in household indebtedness has come from student and auto loans. The Fed’s data on auto loan delinquencies this week is somewhat troubling. Here’s the New York Post:

Auto loan delinquencies in the fourth quarter hit their highest level since the financial crisis, a report out Thursday revealed.

About $23.27 billion in loans were 30 days or more late as of Dec. 31 — a whopping 14 percent increase from the year earlier and the most since the $23.46 billion in the third quarter of 2008, according to the New York Federal Reserve.

Delinquencies have moved up as the credit quality of the loans has deteriorated and the length of the auto loans has increased — sometimes to 84 months.

Sounds scary. But – when you look at the breakdown between subprime auto loans and regular…
continue reading





 
 
 

Zero Hedge

Don't Short This Dog, Report 20 Feb, 2017

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

This week, the prices of the metals mostly moved sideways. There was a rise on Thursday but it corrected back to basically unchanged on Friday.

This will again be a brief Report, as yesterday was a holiday in the US.

Below, we will show the only true picture of the gold and silver supply and demand fundamentals. But first, the price and ratio charts.

The Prices of Gold and Silver

Next, this is a graph of the gold price measured in silver, otherwise known as the gold to silver ratio. It moved sideways this week.

The Ratio of the Gold Price to the Silver Price

For each metal, we w...



more from Tyler

Phil's Favorites

News You Can Use From Phil's Stock World

 

Financial Markets and Economy

Commodities Have Been Down So Long It May Be Time To Snap Them Up (Forbes)

The post-crisis years have not been good for real assets, the catchall term for commodities, energy, real estate and other investments based on selling real things instead of clever ideas.

A trader psychologist who consulted on Showtime's 'Billions' reveals the biggest mistake traders make (Business Insider)

Denise Shull is a decision coach and performance architect who consulted on Showtime’s&...



more from Ilene

ValueWalk

GNC Suspends Dividend: An Important Lesson on Dividend Safety

By Simply Safe Dividends. Originally published at ValueWalk.

GNC (GNC) surprised many income investors when management recently announced that the company’s dividend will be suspended.

After all, GNC has been in business for more than 80 years, maintains a payout ratio below 40%, generates solid free cash flow, and even increased its dividend every year since it began paying one in 2012 – including an 11% boost just last year.

These are some of the qualities we look for when evaluating companies for our Conservative Retirees dividend portfolio.

None of these strengths mattered, however.

GNC’s double-digit yield was wiped out immediately, adding insult to injury after the stock’s 70%+ decline over the past year.

...

more from ValueWalk

Market News

News You Can Use From Phil's Stock World

 

Financial Markets and Economy

Global Economy Week Ahead: Eurozone PMI, U.S. Home Sales, Fed Minutes (The Wall Street Journal)

This week, housing data from the U.S. will offer clues on how a pickup in mortgage rates has affected the market, surveys of purchasing managers will give an early look at how the eurozone economy is holding up in February, and the Bank of Korea releases a policy statement.

China, Hong Kong stocks get off to fast start on slow trading day (Market Watch)

Equity markets in Japan and Australia started the week slightly ...



more from Paul

OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of February 20th, 2017

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...



more from OpTrader

Chart School

Weekly Market Recap Feb 19, 2017

Courtesy of Blain.

The week that was…

The never ending rally continued at pace this last week, with solid gains Mon thru Wed, followed by some quiet consolidation the final 2 days of the week.   This action simply is a grind for any remaining bears to have to deal with as there is no relent.  As happened late in the prior week (“phenomenal” was the word), indexes rallied Wednesday as President Donald Trump said a “massive” tax plan would be coming in the “not-too-distant future.”  Yellen testified and Donald showed restraint in not tweeting about her.

“Even though we have social unrest and building geopolitical tensions, the market refuses to fall in any meaningful fashion, which means there remains a very strong underlying bid in the market,” said Adam S...



more from Chart School

Digital Currencies

How to Use, Trade, Store and Invest in Bitcoin Digital Assets - Step by Step, Part 1

By Reggie Middleton

(Originally published on Zero Hedge)

I will teach novices and experts alike how to fit Bitcoin into an investment portfolio safely and with the optimum risk-adjusted potential - along with step-by-step guides, instructions and tutorials.

This first part of the series starts with the basics, obtaining and managing your bitcoin.

What is Bitcoin?

First off, we need to know what Bitcoin is since most media pundits and even experienced financial types truly do not know. Bitcoin (capital "B") is a protocol driven network (very similar to that other popular protocol-based network, the Internet). This network is a blank tapestry upon which smart and creative actors can paint a cornucopia of applications (just like applicat...



more from Bitcoin

Kimble Charting Solutions

Fear Indicator; Hitting highest levels in history, says Joe Friday

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Markets have been on a steady rise and the same can be said for Inverse Fear ETF (XIV). Below looks at Inverse Fear ETF (XIV) since the lows in 2011.

CLICK ON CHART TO ENLARGE

What a difference a year can make! One year ago this week, XIV was testing rising channel support, as relative momentum was hitting levels last seen at the 2011 lows.

...



more from Kimble C.S.

Members' Corner

Save Your Relationship?

Courtesy of Nattering Naybob.

Once again it's "in the Toilet Thursday" or "Thursday's in the Loo".

Our last episode How to Poop At Work? answered the question, what to do when your at a big fancy pants meeting, when out of nowhere, you need to download a brown load?

This week's installment, Save Your Relationship, demonstrates that people will do just about anything to save their relationshits...

...

more from Our Members

Mapping The Market

NSA May Be Withholding Intel from President Trump

By Jean Luc

These GOP guys were so worried about Hillary's email server and now we find out that we had something close to a Russian mole in the White House. In the meantime, Trump keeps on using his unsecured phone, had high level conversation in his resort in front of dinner guests! It's getting so bad that rumors are now circulating that the NSA is not sharing information with the WH:

NSA May Be Withholding Intel from President Trump

By 

….Our spies have had enough of these shady Russian connections—and they are starting to push back….In light of this, and out of worries about the White House’s ability to keep secrets, some of our spy agencies have begun withholding intelligence fro...



more from M.T.M.

Promotions

Phil's Stock World's Las Vegas Conference!

Learn option strategies and how to be the house and not the gambler. That's especially apropos since we'll be in Vegas....

Join us for the Phil's Stock World's Conference in Las Vegas!

Date:  Sunday, Feb 12, 2017 and Monday Feb 13, 2017            

Beginning Time:  9:30 to 10:00 am Sunday morning

Location: Caesars Palace in Las Vegas

Notes

Caesars has offered us rooms for $189 on Saturday night and $129 for Sunday night but rooms are limited at that price.

So, if you are planning on being in Vegas (Highly Recommended!), please sign up as soon as possible by sending...



more from Promotions

Biotech

The Medicines Company: Insider Buying

Reminder: Pharmboy and Ilene are available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

I'm seeing huge insider buying in the biotech company The Medicines Company (MDCO). The price has already moved up around 7%, but these buys are significant, in the millions of dollars range. ~ Ilene

 

 

 

Insider transaction table and buying vs. selling graphic above from insidercow.com.

Chart below from Yahoo.com

...

more from Biotech

All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: Harlan is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.




To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

more from David



FeedTheBull - Top Stock market and Finance Sites



About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

Learn more About Phil >>


As Seen On:




About Ilene:

Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. She manages the site market shadows, archives, more. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.

Market Shadows >>