by ilene - October 30th, 2014 4:07 pm
Patrick starts by reviewing what a "broken record" is. (Sadly, I know and you probably do too.) He notes that biotechnology has undergone more enormous changes than the music delivery industry, and that most people do not have a proper appreciation of how big this "biotech transformation" is. Then, he reviews what mitochondria are, how they work and why they are so important to us.
Within all the cells of our bodies, microchondria produce energy - the energy supply needed to run the cells' activities. Without the ability to take nutrients and convert them to energy, via these little cellular machines, we are dead. And that, in brief, is why mitochondria are important.
By Patrick Cox
I may sound like a broken record saying this again, but it’s critical that we realize that scientific understanding of the biological world is increasing at an exponential rate. For younger readers, I should explain that the term “broken record” is a reference to a common failure of the old pressed-vinyl audio recording technology. Occasionally, the spiraled groove on a record imprinted with physical representations of sound would be scratched or otherwise damaged. As a result, the needle that transferred analog information to the amplifier would be knocked outward from the groove to play the same section of the recording over and over again.
For those of you who already knew this, it’s useful to realize that the technology of audio recording that was once universal is not just obsolete, most younger people don’t even know what a skipping record is today. The reason that this is such a useful realization is that biotechnology has undergone even bigger changes than the transformation of recorded music from bumps in vinyl grooves to streamed electrons. Most people, however, have no real appreciation of how big the ongoing biotech transformation really is.
New tools let us see deep into the atomically precise world of molecular biology. Just as important is a growing base of biological knowledge that is available to anybody. Though Google Scholar is only 10 years old, I find it hard to imagine a…
by ilene - October 30th, 2014 3:53 pm
Courtesy of Lance Roberts via STA Wealth Management,
QE Is Dead, But Likely Not Gone
As I wrote on Monday, the end of quantitative easing (QE) has come. While it was announced during Janet Yellen's post FOMC meeting press conference on Wednesday, the last official permanent open market operation (POMO) was this past Monday.
The question that remains to be answered is whether the economy and the financial markets are strong enough to stand on their own this time? The last two times that QE has ended the economy slid towards negative growth and the markets suffered rather severe corrections as shown in the chart below.
Asset prices have a coincident effect with the starting and ending of QE programs. As liquidity is extracted from the markets, the propulsion of asset prices has faded. The economy, not surprisingly, lags changes in monetary interventions as the decline in asset prices eroded consumer confidence that weighed on growth.
As I discussed recently, the Fed's ongoing QE programs have had little effect on the real economy. While the liquidity push drove asset prices higher, only the small percentage of the economy with assets to invest received a benefit.
"While the ongoing interventions by the Federal Reserve have certainly boosted asset prices higher, the only real accomplishment has been a widening of the wealth gap between the top 10% of individuals that have dollars invested in the financial markets and everyone else. What monetary interventions have failed to accomplish is an increase in production to foster higher levels of economic activity.
With the average American still living well beyond their means, the reality is that economic growth will remain mired at lower levels as savings continue to be diverted from productive investment into debt service. The issue, of course, is not just a central theme to the U.S. but to the global economy as well. After five years of excessive monetary interventions, global debt levels have yet to be resolved."
Alan Greenspan recently reiterated this point in a WSJ Report:
“'Effective demand is dead in the water' and the effort to boost it via bond buying 'has not worked. Boosting asset prices, however, has been
by ilene - October 30th, 2014 3:14 pm
Courtesy of Mish.
In his latest Global Strategy Report, Albert Edwards at Societe Generale discusses "earnings season" which he calls "cheating season".
We have always found that swings in analyst earnings expectations mirror the economic cycle quite well, but because of the weekly frequency, swings in analyst earnings optimism often act as a timely leading indicator for the economic cycle. If that is still the case, the recent data for the US should be worrying. Despite the soothing Q3 headline earnings reports as US companies ‘game’ the system, all is not well once you look into the ‘MUC’ (Manipulated Underperforms Conservative).
Remember the so-called Fed model? We were told that the extraordinarily high PEs were justified by low bond yields. The key plank of the Ice Age theory was that this positive correlation would break down and that equities would de-rate in absolute and relative terms compared to government bonds thereby inverting the close positive correlation between bond and equity yields.
What this also means is that in an Ice Age world, the equity cycle will more closely correlate with economic and profits cycles. Most correlation analysis finds virtually no post-war relationship between economic growth and the stock market.
But, this does not hold true during the Ice Age. Indeed, we knew from Japan that the equity market would start to track the economic and earnings cycle closely.
In the Ice Age, equity investors need to pay close attention to economic and earnings cycles and not be comforted by lower bond yields. If that is the case equity investors should be getting nervous NOW as earnings optimism starts to fall away sharply.
Earnings Upgrades vs. Downgrades as Percentage of Changes
We have long believed that the US reporting season should in fact be called the US cheating season as companies game the market to ramp earnings down ahead of company announcements only to beat analysts estimates by 1¢ on the day!
Apparently companies believe the feel-good news headlines of a earnings beat will offset the negative impact of downward guidance ahead of the report. In fact the evidence suggests otherwise: my colleague Andrew Lapthorne has shown that those companies that engage in earnings manipulation underperform those that do not.
by ilene - October 30th, 2014 12:50 pm
Tim Cook discusses being gay on BusinessWeek. Recent bullying statistics show that gay teens are from 2 to 3 times more likely to commit suicide than others, and almost 30% of completed suicides are related to problems dealing with sexual identity. Perhaps Tim Cook's story will help people accept their differences, whatever they are, and move on to achieve their goals.
Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.
The world has changed so much since I was a kid. America is moving toward marriage equality, and the public figures who have bravely come out have helped change perceptions and made our culture more tolerant. Still, there are laws on the books in a majority of states that allow employers to fire people based solely on their sexual orientation. There are many places where landlords can evict tenants for being gay, or where we can be barred from visiting sick partners and sharing in their legacies. Countless people, particularly kids, face fear and abuse every day because of their sexual orientation.
I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others. So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.
Full article: Tim Cook: "I'm Proud to be Gay" – Businessweek.
Zero Hedge commented on Cook's admission here and shared…
by ilene - October 30th, 2014 12:28 pm
Courtesy of Mish.
Last Week the Huffington Post reported Ebola.com Sells For More Than $200,000 — Including 19,000 Shares Of Cannabis Sativa Stock.
Two Las Vegas entrepreneurs attempting to sell the rights to Ebola.com succeeded in selling to the highest bidder — literally.
Chris Hood and Jon Schultz paid $13,500 for the rights to Ebola.com back in 2008 and have just sold it to a company called Weed Growth Fund.
The terms of sale call for Hood and Schultz to get $50,000 in cash and 19,192 shares of Cannabis Sativa, Inc., a company run by former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson that hopes to market legal cannabis products throughout the world.
The stock is currently trading under the CBDS ticker symbol at $8.55 share, which means the value of the shares sold to Hood and Schultz is $164,091.
Add it up and they received $214,091. That's quite a profit, but the sellers made even more on LasVegasRealEstate.com and PayDayLoans.Com.
There is certainly a lot of attention on the disease. But what are the real risks?
The following chart of number of ebola cases and the country of origin from The Guardian will add a much needed perspective.
Admittedly the disease is very scary. About 70% of the people who contract the disease die from it. But according to Dr Jeremy Farrar of Wellcome Trust and as reported by The Guardian in Ebola ‘May Have Reached Turning Point’
The Ebola epidemic in west Africa may have reached a turning point, according to the director of the Wellcome Trust, which is funding an unprecedented series of fast-tracked trials of vaccines and drugs against the disease.
by ilene - October 30th, 2014 10:41 am
Courtesy of Pam Martens.
Back on June 25 of this year, Wall Street On Parade ran the following headline: “BOE’s Carney: Inflated Central Bank Balance Sheet the New Normal; Expect to Hear the Same Conclusion from the U.S. Fed.”
The day before our headline, Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, had just explained to Parliament why their central bank’s balance sheet, bloated through quantitative easing, was not going to be shrinking anytime soon.
Carney: “…I would define – picking up on what my colleagues have said – pre-crisis position as a position that’s consistent with the normal course of liquidity requirements of the banking system…What has changed, to the good, in terms of the banking system here is that through regulation and supervision we have put much more responsibility on the banks themselves to hold liquidity to manage liquidity shocks. And, as a consequence of that, their demand for reserves can be expected to be higher. The further consequence of that is that the balance sheet of the Bank of England will be larger…”
Translation: We have no idea how to unwind this mess any better than the Americans do.
We commented in the article that: “There is a very real suspicion that Carney was simply laying the groundwork for Fed Chair Janet Yellen to begin to slip the same hints into her forthcoming speeches.”
by ilene - October 30th, 2014 10:13 am
Courtesy of Lee Adler of the Wall Street Examiner
The advance number for third quarter GDP came in at 3.5%, surprising the Wall Street conomists, whose consensus guesspectation was 3%.
It should not have been a “surprise.”
The US Treasury reports tax collection data virtually in real time, every day. I publish a chart of the withholding tax data and report the implications of that data for the markets every week in the Wall Street Examiner Professional Edition Money/Liquidity service reports. It showed that the average inflation adjusted growth rate in Q3 was 3.55%. That data is available to the whole world in real time. Remind me again what Wall Street’s excuse is for not understanding exactly how the economy is doing. And what about the Fed, whose economic growth perceptions are NEVER on the mark. What is its excuse?
Here’s the latest data through October 28.
This data has also proven to be a good indicator of whether non-farm payrolls will beat or miss conomic guesspectations.Unfortunately the BLS data is manipulated, and the seasonally adjusted headline number is absolute fiction, that gets massively revised in subsequent months and years. The tax data is real, hard data, that is never subject to major revision. If you want to know what the economy is doing, follow the money, in this case, the taxes. Follow it in real time every week in the Wall Street Examiner Professional Edition.
Copyright © 2014 The Wall Street Examiner. All Rights Reserved.
by ilene - October 29th, 2014 11:04 pm
By John Mauldin
The story of energy is the story of human expansion. From the days when we roamed the African savanna, we tamed first fire and then other forms of energy, using them as tools to control our environment and improve our lives. The control of energy has always been at the heart of the human story.
This week our Outside the Box essay is from my friend Marin Katusa, who has written a fascinating book about a part of that story, a subplot of intrigue and conspiracy. Under Putin, Russia has aspired to dominate the energy markets. Called The Colder War, Marin’s book is a well-written tale of the rise of Putin and his desire to change the way the world’s energy markets are controlled.
I sat down a few months ago with an advance copy, not sure what to expect. Marin is personally very colorful and entertaining, but would that charisma translate to words on a page? I started on a Sunday afternoon and finished before I laid my head on the pillow that night. The Colder War was an entertaining and gripping story of the rise of Putin and the shifting sands of the world of oil. It was also an insightful overview of the last century. I highly recommend it.
At the end of the day, I disagree with Marin as to Putin’s ability to achieve his vision. While Putin wants to displace the petro-dollar as the global medium of energy exchange, he will fail. But maybe that’s the hometown boy in me thinking my team will win.
But that is the last 10% of the book. The first 90% is an easy must-read. Warning: it is not written from a US perspective. Marin’s view of the events of the last century sound more like those I hear when I travel outside the US.
I took the liberty of checking his story with a good friend of mine, Jerry Fullenwider, a very successful Texas oil entrepreneur, who lived in Russia during Putin’s rise. He confirmed Marin’s tales and more. He has his history right. And what a history it is. Today’s OTB is the introduction to the book, and if…
by ilene - October 29th, 2014 7:30 pm
Note from dshort: The NYSE has released new data for margin debt, now available through September. I've updated the charts in this commentary to include the latest numbers.
The New York Stock Exchange publishes end-of-month data for margin debt on the NYXdata website, where we can also find historical data back to 1959. Let's examine the numbers and study the relationship between margin debt and the market, using the S&P 500 as the surrogate for the latter.
The first chart shows the two series in real terms — adjusted for inflation to today's dollar using the Consumer Price Index as the deflator. I picked 1995 as an arbitrary start date. We were well into the Boomer Bull Market that began in 1982 and approaching the start of the Tech Bubble that shaped investor sentiment during the second half of the decade. The astonishing surge in leverage in late 1999 peaked in March 2000, the same month that the S&P 500 hit its all-time daily high, although the highest monthly close for that year was five months later in August. A similar surge began in 2006, peaking in July 2007, three months before the market peak.
Debt hit a trough in February 2009, a month before the March market bottom. It then began another major cycle of increase. Margin debt hit an all-time high in February of this year.
The latest Margin Data
Unfortunately, the NYSE margin debt data is about a month old when it is published. Following its February peak, real margin declined sharply for two months, -3.9% in March -3.2% in April and was flat in May. It then jumped 5.7% in June, its largest gain in 17 months. July saw a 0.9% decline, but number has drifted higher the two subsequent months, up 0.6% in August and 0.2% in September. It is now only is 0.4% below the February peak.
The next chart shows the percentage growth of the two data series from the same 1995 starting date, again based on real (inflation-adjusted) data. I've added markers to show the precise monthly values and added callouts to…
by ilene - October 29th, 2014 7:17 pm
Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket exploded shortly after takeoff Tuesday night.
And now the company's shares are crashing as well.
In premarket trade on Wednesday, Orbital Sciences shares were down more than 15% after the company's unmanned Antares rocket exploded shortly after taking off for the International Space Station with about 5,000 pounds of supplies.
In a statement, Orbital Sciences said that shortly after takeoff the rocket experienced a "catastrophic failure."
No was hurt in the incident.