The Central Intelligence Agency has run guns to insurgencies across the world during its 67-year history — from Angola to Nicaragua to Cuba [to Syria].
An internal C.I.A. study has found that it rarely works.
The still-classified review, one of several C.I.A. studies commissioned in 2012 and 2013 in the midst of the Obama administration’s protracted debate about whether to wade into the Syrian civil war, concluded that many past attempts by the agency to arm foreign forces covertly had a minimal impact on the long-term outcome of a conflict. They were even less effective, the report found, when the militias fought without any direct American support on the ground.
The findings of the study, described in recent weeks by current and former American government officials, were presented in the White House Situation Room and led to deep skepticism among some senior Obama administration officials about the wisdom of arming and training members of a fractured Syrian opposition.
“One of the things that Obama wanted to know was: Did this ever work?” said one former senior administration official who participated in the debate and spoke anonymously because he was discussing a classified report. The C.I.A. report, he said, “was pretty dour in its conclusions.”
Mr. Obama made a veiled reference to the C.I.A. study in an interview with The New Yorker published this year. Speaking about the dispute over whether he should have armed the rebels earlier, Mr. Obama told the magazine: “Very early in this process, I actually asked the C.I.A. to analyze examples of America financing and supplying arms to an insurgency in a country that actually worked out well. And they couldn’t come
With the AAPL EPS whisper number pointing to an EPS somewhere about 10-15 cents above the EPS consensus of 1.30, moments ago AAPL did not disappoint and reported Q4 EPS of $1.42, a solid 12 cent beat to expectations, a comparable beat to the top line beat, with $42.12 billion in revenue, also well above the $39.9 Bn estimate. The gross margin of 38% was right on top of expectations. In terms of product breakdown, AAPL sold 39.3 million iPhones, above the 38 million expected, with Mac unit sales of 5.52 million also above the 4.84 million expected, with only iPad sales of 12.3 million missing the 13.0 million estimate.
Here is AAPL’s guidance for Q1 2014 :
revenue between $63.5 billion and $66.5 billion, Est. $63.5 billion
gross margin between 37.5 percent and 38.5 percent, Est. 38%.
operating expenses between $5.4 billion and $5.5 billion
other income/(expense) of $325 million
tax rate of 26.5 percent
For those looking at cash, in fiscal 2014, AAPL generated $59.7 billion in cash from operations, spending $22.6 billion on investing actvities (down from $33.8 billion a year ago), and the remainder was $37.5 billion spent on on common stock and dividends, offset by $12 billion in long-term debt and $6.3 billion in commercial paper. The last is interesting as in 2013 had zero under commercial paper.
Finally, those wondering how much stock AAPL bought back, the answer is $17 billion, which brings the total for 2014 to $45 billion, double the $22.9 billion repurchased in fiscal 2013. This was funded by a combination of cash on hand, which declined to $155 billion, or $9 billion from the previous quarter, even as net cash (excluding debt) declined to $120 billion, the lowest since Q3 2012.
Here is the visual breakdown.
Total cash (keep in mind domestic cash is now a tiny fraction of the total):
And cash, net of long-term debt and commercial paper:
But the strangest chart of all: AAPL’s short-term marketable investments, tumbled from $24.8 billion to $11.2 billion, the lowest since Lehman. Did AAPL just call a market top? The question is in what: Bills or whatever stocks it is that the “world’s largest hedge fund you have never heard of” has invested in?
In this week's podcast, Chris discusses the mechanics of the process, as well as its probability, with Dan:
To understand financial repression, we have to understand that we've been there before. Many nations have gone through periods in the past where they've had very high levels of government debt. And there are four traditional ways of dealing with that.
One of them is austerity. Everyone understands that. You raise the tax rates. You lower the government spending. This is a painful choice. It can last for decades. And what do you think the voters think about that?
There is another option and this we can call this the Argentina option. And that's defaulting on government debts. It’s radical. Everybody understands it. How do the voters feel about it?
There is a third option is rapidly destroying the value of currency. Creating high rates of inflation that very quickly wipe out the true value of a national debt. But that also wipes out the true value of everyone else’s savings and salaries and so forth. It is such an obvious process you can’t really hide it. So how do the voters feel about that?
Those first three – they all work. They've all been done before. But they're all very painful and make the voters very angry.
Now there is a fourth way of doing this. There's nothing controversial about its existence; it's not the slightest bit controversial for professional economists or people who have studied economics extensively. It's financial repression. And it works. It's what the advanced western nations did after World War II. It was a process that took 25 to 30 years, depending on the country. The West went from an average debt as a percentage of national economy from over 90% to under 30%. So we know it works in practice.
If only stock indices only included stocks that were green… IBM's 80-point weight on the Dow disappointed some but that was no problem for the index-pushers who needed the S&P 500 to tap its 200DMA. The only thing that mattered to stocks today was EURJPY… and that managed to get the S&P 500 'almost' to its 200DMA (but noit quite) and ensure a green close for the Dow. The USDollar slipped lower all day (-0.4%) led by EUR and GBP strength. Gold ($1245) and silver gained on the day but even with a weak USD, oil and copper dropped (with oil very volatile). US Treasury yields drifted lower by 1-2bps (thin trading) decoupling from the post-European close exuberance in stocks. HY credit decoupled from stocks initially (post-Europe) but as stocks ramped so did spreads and VIX continues to run ahead of stocks (under 19 today) as it appears hedges are being lifted. Of course, AAPL was a big help, up over 2% pushing back towards its magical $100 ahead of this evening's results. S&P futures volume was dismally low.
First – spot the rally days in the S&P 500 (based on the lower pane only)…
On the day, stock indices were green (except the IBM-stunted Dow)
And from Bullard's QE4 comment…
and Financials and Tech are underperforming off the Bullard bottom… with Homebuilders squeezed higher
VIX notably ahead of stocks…
And while HY decoupled initially, it ramped pretty rapidly as stocks surged…
Treasury yields dipped lower on the day… rallying after Europe closed…
Decoupling from stocks…
The USD drifted weaker all day too (led by GBP and EUR strength – and AUD ahead of the China GDP tonight)
But stocks only cared about the fun-durr-mentals of EURJPY (notably decoupled from USDJPY)
USD weakness helped PMs modestly but not copper and oil…
With some notable volatility in oil prices today… but that's nothing new…
Simply put – someone really wanted the S&P back at its 200DMA to 'prove' recovery was back on.
AAPLtastic… testing up to $100 and the 50DMA
Bonus Chart: When machines read Chipotle's earnings report…
Seriously folks, enough. We’ll start slow. Interventions are not as palatable as they once were
FACT: The size of the US consumer base is approximately 11 Trillion Dollars per annum. That is the equivalent to China’s and Japan’s GDP, combined minus a mere 2 Trillion. The size of the US Consumer is 1/3 of the Global Consumer Market. More than Japan, more than EU, more than China.
Let me say this before opinions start flying like the Luftwaffe over Poland: It Is our G-D given right to enjoy the products we purchase and use our reward based credit cards to buy them. Now that we have that out in the open. Let us move on.
So we know that we are a consumer based economy, right? Yes. $11 Trillion is about 70% of the overall economy. We love our products and we love to get new products. I don’t have the actual data, but the churn rate on new products must be in the range of 18 – 26 months. Think Iphone.
Scenario that is impossible to implement but interesting to consider: The US consumer stops buying anything outside of food, Water, and Gas. No new cars, no new technology, no new clothes. Never going to happen, right? Correct.
Our next point, if you had the opportunity to cater to an economy that is falling over itself in its attempt to get the latest and greatest, would you? No brainer category.
We told you we would start slow, so let’s step it up a bit.
The US economy is able to sustain itself from Aunt Janet and her predecessor uncle Ben. Don’t forget our long lost cousin Alan. The US, with one of the highest bond ratings in the known universe, is able to borrow $ at the lowest rates since the Great Depression. See chart.
We use the $ borrowed from the Treasury Auctions to supply the feeding frenzy provided by the Fed. Pretty straight forward, right? Kind of.
The treasury market is approximately $11.8 Trillion dollars. Foreign money holds approximately $6 Trillion on an annual basis. This is a mix of short term and long term securities. As of August 2014, China’s US Treasury holdings were at$ 1.269 Trillion. So…
Based on quarterly 13F filings and estimated short positions of the equity holdings of 909 funds, BofAML calculates that hedge funds raised net exposure to a new record high of $683bn at the beginning of 3Q 2014, while reducing cash holdings to a record low of 3.5%. Gross exposure rose to 190%, or 207% if ETF positioning is considered, which is back to the 2007 peak… In other words, hedge funds have never been more bullishly positioned (just as large speculators had never been so bearishly positioned into last week's bond-short capitulation).
All-In Or Bust into Q3…
Especially in the Small Caps…
And their ability to withstand any pullback (cash) has never been lower…
* * *
This did not end well last time… but this time is different right?
“Markets are slowly coming to grips with reality is not going to be as easy as everybody thought,” Peter Schiff tells CNBC’s Rick Santelli, noting the pick up in volatility across asset classes recently. What The Fed clearly does not understand, Schiff blasts, is that “you cannot end quantitative easing without plunging the US into a severe recession.” Because of the Fed’s extreme monetary policy and the mal-investment that flows from it, Schiff says, “The US economy is more screwed up now than it’s ever been in history.” Most prophetically, we suspect, Santelli agrees that “a messy exit is a given,” and Schiff believes they know that and that is why QE4 is coming simply “because it hasn’t worked and they can’t admit it’s been a dismal failure.”
The two oddly-similar-tie-wearing skeptics go on to discuss the catalysts for slowdown aside from QE exit and the endgame…
President Barack Obama made a rare appearance on the campaign trail on Sunday with a rally to support the Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland, but early departures of crowd members while he spoke underscored his continuing unpopularity.
With approval levels hovering around record lows, Obama has spent most of his campaign-related efforts this year raising money for struggling Democrats, who risk losing control of the U.S. Senate in the Nov. 4 midterm election.
It has gotten so bad, “most candidates from his party have been wary of appearing with him during their election races because of his sagging popularity,” according to Reuters.
Here’s why: “A steady stream of people walked out of the auditorium while he spoke, however, and a heckler interrupted his remarks.“
Did a few loose strands of Ebola seep into the organs and tissues of global finance last week? The US equity markets sure enough puked, the Nikkei bled out through its eyeballs, all the collagen melted out of Greek bonds, and treasuries bloated up grotesquely on a putrid stream of terrified “liquidity” that led two Federal Reserve proctologists to maunder about the possibility of a QE-4 laxative, out of which, in due time, will surely gush explosive bloody fluxes of deeper financial sickness.
The oil price fell on its face so hard it crashed through the floorboards. One particular idiot at NPR wrote that this means peak oil was a hoax (Predictions Of ‘Peak Oil’ Production Prove Slippery). I guess she didn’t notice that the junk financing associated with shale oil capex is also dissolving like the poor late Thomas Eric Duncan’s circulatory system. That is, expect a whole lot less drilling in the Bakken and the Eagle Ford in the months ahead, and a substantial fall in production. Unless the US government finds a back door to shovel money at shale (a possibility considering the crucial myth of “Saudi America” to Wall Street psychology), the investment will not be there for the relentless drilling and re-drilling. As other savants on the web have pointed out, it’s not so much that the world is awash in surplus oil as the world is a ’glut’ in people too broke to buy oil. And anyway, the shale oil companies have never made a buck at any price on anything but the real estate shenanigans entailed in their racket, buying and selling leases and so forth, just more paper games. In short, there is plenty of reason to believe that the shale endeavor may founder altogether at $80-a-barrel.
But I was on the road all last week, first in our nation’s capital and then in the capital of Sweden, Stockholm and its environs. Interesting place these days, Washington, DC. It is among the USA’s richest metro areas now, for the simple reason that torrents of grift from the backwash of Wall Street nourish the pathogenic activities of influence peddling the way agar nutrient will cause E coli to flourish in a Petri dish. But for all the awesome yawning vistas…
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
With no economic news today, there was little to distract from IBM's pre-market announcement of disappointing Q3 earnings. The company (my employer in a special business unit from 1984 to 1997) plunged at the open. It trimmed its closing loss to -7.17%. The popular press reports that the Oracle of Omaha (aka Warren Buffett) lost about $1 Billion today, based on his latest SEC filings. In contrast, after today's close Apple announced strong earnings and upward sales guidance. It was up 2.14% today and is trading higher after the close.
The S&P 500 was minimally impacted by the IBM fiasco. The index hit its -0.24% intraday low shortly after the open but quickly recovered and chugged higher through the day, closing with its third consecutive advance, up 0.91% and not far off its 0.97% intraday hi...
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
What do falling energy prices mean for the US consumer? Sober Look writes a brief yet thorough overview of the consequences of the correction in the price of crude oil. There are good aspects, particularly for the consumer, bad aspects, and out-right ugly possibilities. For more on this subject, read James Hamilton's How will Saudi Arabia respond to lower oil prices? In previous eras, Saudi Arabia would tighten the supply to help increase prices, but in this "game of chicken," the rules m...
Volatility continues to increase in the stock market and many of the leaders are breaking down. In particular, semiconductors took a rather big hit when one of the bellwethers warned of weakening global demand. Nevertheless, despite the significant headwinds, I do not think this spells the end of the bull market. But the technical damage to the charts is severe, particularly to the small caps, which are in full-blown correction mode. The large caps must show leadership and rally immediately -- or it will put at risk the critical and widely-anticipated year-end rally.
In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer a technical analysis of the S&P 500 chart, review our weekly fundamentals-based SectorCast rankings of the ten U.S. business sectors, and then offer up ...
Shares in Apple (Ticker: AAPL) are near their highs of the session in the final hour of trading on Wednesday, adding to the muted gains seen earlier in the day, following the release of the September FOMC meeting minutes and after activist investor and Apple shareholder Carl Icahn tweeted, “Tmrw we’ll be sending an open letter to @tim_cook. Believe it will be interesting.” Icahn’s tweet hit the ether at 2:33 pm ET and was met with a spike in volume in Apple shares. The stock is currently up 2.0% on the day at $100.75 as of 3:15 pm ET.
Reminder: Pharmboy is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.
Well PSW Subscribers....I am still here, barely. From my last post a few months ago to now, nothing has changed much, but there are a few bargins out there that as investors, should be put on the watch list (again) and if so desired....buy a small amount.
First, the media is on a tear against biotechs/pharma, ripping companies for their drug prices. Gilead's HepC drug, Sovaldi, is priced at $84K for the 12-week treatment. Pundits were screaming bloody murder that it was a total rip off, but when one investigates the other drugs out there, and the consequences of not taking Sovaldi vs. another drug combinations, then things become clearer. For instance, Olysio (JNJ) is about $66,000 for a 12-week treatment, but is approved for fewer types of patients AND...
Note: The material presented in this commentary is provided for
informational purposes only and is based upon information that is
considered to be reliable. However, neither MaddJack Enterprises, LLC
d/b/a PhilStockWorld (PSW) nor its affiliates
warrant its completeness, accuracy or adequacy and it should not be relied upon as such. Neither PSW nor its affiliates are responsible for any errors or omissions or for results obtained from the use of this information. Past performance, including the tracking of virtual trades and portfolios for educational purposes, is not necessarily indicative of future results. Neither Phil, Optrader, or anyone related to PSW is a registered financial adviser and they may hold positions in the stocks mentioned, which may change at any time without notice. Do not buy or sell based on anything that is written here, the risk of loss in trading is great.
This material is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security or other financial instrument. Securities or other financial instruments mentioned in this material are not suitable for all investors. Any opinions expressed herein are given in good faith, are subject to change without notice, and are only intended at the moment of their issue as conditions quickly change. The information contained herein does not constitute advice on the tax consequences of making any particular investment decision. This material does not take into account your particular investment objectives, financial situations or needs and is not intended as a recommendation to you of any particular securities, financial instruments or strategies. Before investing, you should consider whether it is suitable for your particular circumstances and, as necessary, seek professional advice.