Archive for 2016

The State Department’s Collective Madness

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Robert Parry via ConsortiumNews.com,

Over the past several decades, the U.S. State Department has deteriorated from a reasonably professional home for diplomacy and realism into a den of armchair warriors possessed of imperial delusions, a dangerous phenomenon underscored by the recent mass “dissent” in favor of blowing up more people in Syria.

Some 51 State Department “diplomats” signed a memo distributed through the official “dissent channel,” seeking military strikes against the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad whose forces have been leading the pushback against Islamist extremists who are seeking control of this important Mideast nation.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies before Congress on Jan. 23, 2013, about the fatal attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11. 2012. (Photo from C-SPAN coverage)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies before Congress on Jan. 23, 2013, about the fatal attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11. 2012. (Photo from C-SPAN coverage)

The fact that such a large contingent of State Department officials would openly advocate for an expanded aggressive war in line with the neoconservative agenda, which put Syria on a hit list some two decades ago, reveals how crazy the State Department has become.

The State Department now seems to be a combination of true-believing neocons along with their liberal-interventionist followers and some careerists who realize that the smart play is to behave toward the world as global proconsuls dictating solutions or seeking “regime change” rather than as diplomats engaging foreigners respectfully and seeking genuine compromise.

Even some State Department officials, whom I personally know and who are not neocons/liberal-hawks per se, act as if they have fully swallowed the Kool-Aid. They talk tough and behave arrogantly toward inhabitants of countries under their supervision. Foreigners are treated as mindless objects to be coerced or bribed.

So, it’s not entirely surprising that several dozen U.S. “diplomats” would attack President Barack Obama’s more temperate position on Syria while positioning themselves favorably in anticipation of a Hillary Clinton administration, which is expected to authorize an illegal invasion of Syria — under the guise of establishing “no-fly zones” and “safe zones” — which will mean the slaughter of young Syrian soldiers. The “diplomats” urge the use of “stand-off and air weapons.”

These hawks are so eager for more war that they don’t mind risking a direct conflict with Russia, breezily dismissing the possibility of a clash with the nuclear power by saying they are not “advocating for a slippery slope that ends in


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Caught On Tape: What Happens In China When You Don’t “Exceed Expectations”

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

In exceptional America’s new normal, there is no consequence for under-performance. In China, however, as this shocking clip shows, for Rural Commercial Bank employees that do not “exceed themselves” there is one punishment… Public Spanking!

As China People’s Daily reports, a bank manager spanks employees at a Rural Commercial Bank for not “exceeding themselves” in Changzhi, Northern China…

Shocking: Manager spanks employees at a Rural Commercial Bank for not “exceeding themselves” in Changzhi, N #China.https://t.co/x0wlx7fJOK

— People’s Daily,China (@PDChina) June 19, 2016





Canadian Troops Have Been Issued “Inappropriate Sexual Behaviors” Cards

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

It’s one thing for Germany to create a leaflet in order to help refugees understand proper sex etiquette, however it seems the Canadian Armed Forces needs a bit of a reminder as well.

In response to a scathing report on sexual misconduct in the Canadian Forces prepared last year by former Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps, which found a “hostile sexualized environment” existed in the military (including everything from swearing and sexual innuendo, to rape), more than 120,000 wallet-size cards have been distributed to military personnel to remind them that, among other things, sexual assault is an inappropriate behavior.

So, without further ado, courtesy of the National Post, here is the card that will keep everyone from acting inappropriately within the Canadian Forces.

Your inappropriate sexual behaviors card… don’t leave home without it!





The Mysterious Case Of Buildings Being Scrubbed From China’s Street View

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

In September of 2014, Jonathan Browning came across something quite stunning. As a freelance photographer living in China, he was searching for locations on Shanghai’s Huangpu River using Baidu Total View (the Chinese version of Google Street View). While examining one picture closely, he noticed that part of a cooling chimney next to a suspension bridge had been crudely erased.

As Browning investigated further, more instances were found, so as Wired reports, Browning hired an SUV and asked a friend to drive him around as he took photographs so he could see the buildings for himself. “You don’t want to be seen. Two foreigners driving a car is always weird, especially in an industrial area, and then taking photos, it can cause problems” Browning said, adding that he had encountered problems in the past working on stories about pollution.

Browning’s isn’t sure why this strange scrubbing of photos takes place; “At first I thought it could just be for weird aesthetic reasons. I guess it’s security. But it’s a bit random.” He wondered about the process behind censorship: “I don’t know who does it, if it’s an algorithm that gets GPS co-ordinates for each place and then somehow wipes it, or if an actual person goes to each one and cleans it up with Photoshop”, “It would be great to meet these people and see what they think about it. If they wanted to do it, why didn’t they do it properly?

Johan Lagerkvist, a professor of Chinese language and culture at Stockholm University said “It’s a bit peculiar. It’s like shouting, ‘hey, we’ve got something secret over here!’”, although he didn’t think it was the government “It doesn’t look like the government, although that cannot be ruled out.

Here is what Browning found as he took pictures of his own and compared them to Baidu.

Browning has since moved back to the UK with his wife, and said that China’s government is always a mystery: “China’s a great country. But it’s two different things. You’ve got the government and what they say and do, and then you’ve got the people. The government is always the mystery.

* * *

Whether it’s a government mandated scrubbing of industrial parks, or just a bored employee at Baidu who


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Japanese Finance Minister Reminds Elderly “Hurry Up & Die”

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Everyone knows that Japan, whose population is now declining for the first time in its history…

…sold more adult than baby diapers for the first time in 2012, and is “older” than any nation in the world, has a “demographic problem.

What few may know, however, is that it also has a secret plan to fix said “demographic problem” – a solution that would make Hitler, Goebbels and Stalin proud.

In 2013, then Deputy PM Taro Aso, 72 years young at the time, suggested that the elderly in Japan should just “hurry up and die” becauseYou cannot sleep well when you think it’s all paid by the government.

Well, the now death-defying 75-year-old finance minister took another swing at the elderly… saying last week that he wondered how much longer a 90-year-old person intends to live.

The outspoken Aso, who is also deputy prime minister, made the comment at a Liberal Democratic Party rally in Otaru, Hokkaido, on Friday, where he said: “I recently saw someone as old as 90 on television, saying how the person was worried about the future. I wondered ‘How much longer do you intend to keep living?’ “

His comments, part of a speech urging wealthy elderly citizens to spend more to spur the economy, drew immediate fire from Democratic Party President Katsuya Okada.

“This is an insult to the nation’s elderly,” Okada told reporters in Yufu, Oita Prefecture, on Saturday. “It’s extremely disheartening that someone who cannot understand the public’s concerns about nursing care is serving as finance minister.”

During the Otaru rally, Aso pointed to the more than ¥1.7 quadrillion of personal assets held nationwide, saying the money needs to be spent.

“The biggest problem at the present is how everyone is staying put,” he said. “If you don’t spend the money you have, that money will mean nothing. What’s the point of accumulating more wealth? Just looking at the money you have?

So hurry up and die already…

As we remarked previously, remember that this is the nation that the US is set to imitate at all costs: in everything from the rising debt/GDP, to


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The Problem With Corporate Debt

Courtesy of Pater Tenebrarum via Acting-Man.com,

Taking Off Like a Rocket

There are actually two problems with corporate debt. One is that there is too much of it… the other is that a lot of it appears to be going sour.

frank-modell-that-s-harvey-beston-he-s-in-junk-bonds-new-yorker-cartoon

Harvey had a good time in recent years…well, not so much between mid 2014 and early 2016, but happy days are here again!

As a brief report at Marketwatch last week (widely ignored as far as we are aware) informs us:

“Businesses racked up debt in the January-to-March period at the fastest pace in three quarters, according to data released Thursday.

Business debt grew at a blistering 7.9% annual rate in the first quarter, the Federal Reserve said. Business debt has expanded by around 8% in three of the last five quarters. Companies still have substantial cash on the sidelines, as their stockpiles edged down to $1.89 trillion from $1.9 trillion.”

(emphasis added)

While Marketwatch told us how much cash companies are holding, for some reason it didn’t deign to tell us how much corporate debt there actually is, in dollars and cents. It would be nice to be able to compare these figures, wouldn’t it?

Here is a chart that shows the sum of commercial loans held by US banks and outstanding US non-financial corporate bonds:

1-Corporate debt total

US non-financial corporate debt… can’t have too much of a good thing!

Now, as we all know, this debt as been incurred in order to engage in wise capital investment, so it will be very easy to pay it back with future profits…. well, not really, actually. A lot of it appears to have been wasted in decidedly unprofitable investments. This should be no surprise with administered interest rates at zilch for many years.

The rest has been judiciously deployed for financial engineering purposes, such as stock buybacks, m&a activity and even dividend payments. This, we hear, has been quite good for the stock options of many a corporate executive. Who would want to begrudge them that?

Charge-Offs and Delinquencies Soar

We are just guessing


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Cliff Asness: Beware Magic Alpha

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Cliff Asness: Beware Magic Alpha

Cliff Asness

Screenshot Bloomberg TV

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Friday’s Action Overshadowed By Thursday’s Buying

Courtesy of Declan.

Bears returned on Friday, but weren’t able to undo the action of bulls from Thursday. Volume did climb, registering as distribution, but Thursday’s lows held.




The S&P turned net bearish with stochastics [39,1] crossing below the mid-line. While relative strength (to the Russell 2000) improved.




The Nasdaq returned below its 200-day MA as technicals also returned net bearish. Of the indices, it’s the one most feeling the pressure from sellers. Keep an eye on the broadening wedge; despite Thursday’s positive period of buying, it occurred well away from what looks like should be support.





The Russell 2000 didn’t lost too much ground, although it was worrying to see Friday’s action close near the lows with a small upper shadow denoting failed buying pressure – it’s likely this index will see a test of Thursday’s low.





Bulls can look to the Semiconductor Index. Where bearish pressure in other indices suggests more to follow on Monday, the Semiconductor Index did manage a positive test of 685 with a bounce higher. Technicals are not as weak as they are for other indices (although still not great either!).





For Monday, look for sellers to continue their work from Friday. If bulls are able to offer something from the start, then the Semiconductor Index is likely to be the index to benefit most (with the Nasdaq and Nasdaq 100 closely following suit).




You’ve now read my opinion, next read Douglas’ and Jani’s.




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DOJ Will Censor All References To Islamic Terrorism From Orlando 911 Call Transcripts

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

In the ongoing war of words between president Obama on one hand, who has repeatedly said that Orlando shooter Omar Mateen was “self-radicalized” and was not influenced by Islamic elements, and Donald Trump prominently on the other, where the Republican presidential candidate has repeatedly alleged that Mateen’s actions were provoked by “radicalized Islam” which has prompted Trump to renew his calls for a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants as well as profiling Muslims already in the US, it appears that the president is about to get some much needed help from none other than the Department of Justice, which will step into the debate, by releasing Mateen’s 911 transcripts however only after heavy edits which censor and remove all references to Islamic terrorism.

As RealClearPolitics writes, in an interview conducted earlier today with NBC’s Chuck Todd, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said that on Monday the FBI will release edited transcripts of the 911 calls made by the Orlando nightclub shooter to the police during his rampage. One minor matter: the transcripts will be heavily edited.

“What we’re not going to do is further proclaim this man’s pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups, and further his propaganda,” Lynch said.

“We are not going to hear him make his assertions of allegiance [to the Islamic State].” Why: so Obama’s statement that he was “self-radicalized”

The Washington Post reported last week that the gunman made multiple phone calls while holding hostages: “The gunman who opened fire inside a nightclub here said he carried out the attack because he wanted ‘Americans to stop bombing his country,’ according to a witness who survived the rampage.”

Salon reported that: “Everybody who was in the bathroom who survived could hear him talking to 911, saying the reason why he’s doing this is because he wanted America to stop bombing his country.”

The Washington Post also noted that during his 911 call from the club, the gunman referenced the Boston Marathon bombers and claimed “that he carried out the shooting to prevent bombings, [echoing] a message the younger Boston attacker had scrawled in a note before he was taken into custody by police.”

As a reminder, Obama said that “we see no clear evidence that he was directed externally”… Well,


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The Economy Is Not What It Seems

Courtesy of Lance Roberts of RealInvestmentAdvice.com

Over the past several years, I have repeatedly discussed the ongoing detachment between the economic reports versus what was happening in the actual underlying economy. Last year, I wrote:

“Currently, there is little evidence that is supportive of higher overnight lending rates. In fact, the current environment continues to support the idea of a  “liquidity trap” that I began discussing in 2013. 

‘…a situation described in Keynesian economics in which injections of cash into the private banking system by a central bank fail to lower interest rates and hence fail to stimulate economic growth. A liquidity trap is caused when people hoard cash because they expect an adverse event such as deflation, insufficient aggregate demand, or war. Signature characteristics of a liquidity trap are short-term interest rates that are near zero and fluctuations in the monetary base that fail to translate into fluctuations in general price levels.'”

The importance of a liquidity trap can not be dismissed as the feedback loop of monetary interventions negatively impact growth by misallocated capital to non-productive uses.

Despite mainstream economists hopes that somehow “this time will be different,” the ongoing massaging of economic data through seasonal adjustments to obtain better headlines did not translate into actual prosperity.  Of course, “reality” is a cruel mistress and despite ongoing hopes and overstatements, “fantasy” eventually gives way. 

The chart below shows the S&P 500 index with recessions and when the National Bureau of Economic Research dated the start of the recession.

SP500-NBER-RecessionDating-040416

There are three lessons that should be learned from this:

  1. The economic “number” reported today will not be the same when it is revised in the future.
  2. The trend and deviation of the data are far more important than the number itself.
  3. “Record” highs and lows are records for a reason as they denote historical turning points in the data.

Economic Growth Not What It Seems

The last two-quarters of economic growth have been less than exciting, to say the least. However, these rather dismal quarters of growth come at a time when oil prices and gasoline prices have plummeted AND amidst one of the warmest winters in


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Zero Hedge

Enemy Of The People?

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Via The Zman blog,

There has never been a time when normal people did not know the media was biased and biased in a predictable direction. For every non-liberal in the media, there were at least ten liberals. The ratio was probably higher, but then, as now, some lefties liked to pretend they were independents or some third option.

The media used to invest a lot of time denying they had a bias and an agenda, but the only people who believed them were on the Left, which had the odd effect of confirming they had a bias and an agenda.

...



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Phil's Favorites

A 2019 Earnings Recession?

 

A 2019 Earnings Recession?

Courtesy of 

Shout to Leigh!

On the new Talk Your Book – Josh Brown is joined by Leigh Drogen of Estimize, one of the leading providers of crowdsourced financial and economic data to talk about the trend in corporate profits that could potentially lead to an earnings recession later this year.

What is the thing that Leigh is seeing in the data that Wall Street isn’t yet picking up on? What segment of the stock market is most at risk? Why is the crowd smarter than the narrow consensus of Wall Street analysts?

Check out Estimize ...



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ValueWalk

D.E. Shaw Investment Calls For Leadership Change At EQT

By ActivistInsight. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Elliott Management has offered to acquire QEP Resources for approximately $2.1 billion, contending the oil and gas explorer’s turnaround efforts have done little to lift the company’s share price. The company responded and said that a thorough review of the proposition is imperative in order to properly act in the best interests of shareholders, “taking into account the company’s other alternatives and current market conditions.” The news came only a month after Travelport Worldwide agreed to sell itself to Siris Capital Group and Elliott’s private equity arm Evergreen Coast Capital for $4.4 billion in cash and two months after Athenahealth was bought by Veritas and Evergreen for $5.7 bi...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Gold & Silver Testing Important Breakout Levels!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Gold and Silver from a long-term perspective have created a series of lower highs over the past 8-years. Will 2019 bring a change to this trend? A big test is in play!

Gold since the lows in 2016 has created a series of higher lows, while Silver may have created a double bottom.

Gold & Silver are currently facing break attempts a (1) and (2). These falling resistance lines have disappointed metals bulls for the past few years.

The direction of Gold and Silver weeks and months from now should be highly influenced by what each does as they are attempting to break above important resistance levels.

To become a member of Kimbl...



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Insider Scoop

UBS Says Disney's Streaming Ambition Gives It A 'New Hope'

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related DIS Despite Some Risks, Analysts Still Expecting Double Digit Growth From Communications Services In Q4 ...

http://www.insidercow.com/ more from Insider

Digital Currencies

Russia Prepares To Buy Up To $10 Billion In Bitcoin To Evade US Sanctions

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

While the market has been increasingly focused on the rising headwinds in the global economy in general, and China's economic slowdown in particular, while the media is obsessing over daily revelations that Trump may or may not have colluded with Russia to get elected, a far more critical, if underreported, shift has been taking place over the past year.

As we reported in June, whether due to concerns over draconian western sanctions and asset confiscations following the poisoning of former Russian military officer Sergei Skripal, or simply because it wanted to diversify away from the dollar, Russia liquidated virtually all of its Treasury holdings in the late spri...



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Chart School

Weekly Market Recap Jan 13, 2019

Courtesy of Blain.

In last week’s recap we asked:  “Has the Fed solved all the market’s problems in 1 speech?”

Thus far the market says yes!  As Guns n Roses preached – all we need is a little “patience”.  Four up days followed by a nominal down day Friday had the market following it’s normal pattern the past nearly 30 years – jumping whenever the Federal Reserve hints (or essentially says outright) it is here for the markets.   And in case you missed it the prior Friday, Chairman Powell came back out Thursday to reiterate the news – so…so… so… patient!

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell reinforced that message Thursday during a discussion at the Economic Club of Washington where he said that the central bank will be “fle...



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Members' Corner

Why Trump Can't Learn

 

Bill Eddy (lawyer, therapist, author) predicted Trump's failure based on his personality, which was evident years ago. This article, written in 2017, references a prescient article Bill wrote before Trump became president, in July, 2016, 5 Reasons Trump Can’t Learn. ~ Ilene 

Why Trump Can’t Learn

Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore (...



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Biotech

Opening Pandora's Box: Gene editing and its consequences

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

 

Opening Pandora's Box: Gene editing and its consequences

Bacteriophage viruses infecting bacterial cells , Bacterial viruses. from www.shutterstock.com

Courtesy of John Bergeron, McGill University

Today, the scientific community is aghast at the prospect of gene editing to create “designer” humans. Gene editing may be of greater consequence than climate change, or even the consequences of unleashing the energy of the atom.

...

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Mapping The Market

Trump: "I Won't Be Here" When It Blows Up

By Jean-Luc

Maybe we should simply try him for treason right now:

Trump on Coming Debt Crisis: ‘I Won’t Be Here’ When It Blows Up

The president thinks the balancing of the nation’s books is going to, ultimately, be a future president’s problem.

By Asawin Suebsaeng and Lachlan Markay, Daily Beast

The friction came to a head in early 2017 when senior officials offered Trump charts and graphics laying out the numbers and showing a “hockey stick” spike in the nationa...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of September 11th, 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 ...



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Promotions

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Phil has a chapter in a newly-released eBook that we think you’ll enjoy.

In My Top Strategies for 2017, Phil's chapter is Secret Santa’s Inflation Hedges for 2017.

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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...

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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.

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