Archive for 2018

A Robot Is Making $6 Burgers For Broke Millennials In San Francisco

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

Creator, a culinary robotics company designed around a transparent 14-foot-long “culinary instrument” that cooks and assembles burgers to order in under 5 minutes, is set to open in San Francisco’s South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood in September.

The assembly line in the robot kitchen of Creator, San Francisco. (Source/ Creator)

San Francisco is the epicenter of start-up culture. It comes as no surprise that technology and food have been blended to create robot-made hamburgers. In the last several years, California has seen an explosion of robots entering the culinary world, as it has become apparent, new advances in tech are attempting to eliminate low skilled workers from the kitchen.

The robot consists of 20 computers, 350 sensors and 50 actuators that form a robotic assembly line. After the customer places an order with a human, the machine slices buns, tomatoes and onions, grills and grinds meat, adds condiments, sears buns and produces a gourmet hamburger in less than five minutes without any human intervention. The human staff then prepares the order for the customer, adding fries and coleslaw to the plate as they keep an eye on the robot. As shown below, the burger is sent along a conveyor belt, where it gets additional toppings that are all custom ordered.

Pickles, tomatoes, and onions are sliced by the robot kitchen of Creator, San Francisco (Source/ Creator)

From start to finish, the entire process takes less than 5 minutes and costs only $6. Maybe this is an attempt to make food affordable to the heavily indebted millennial in California.

Creator’s founder 33-year-old Alex Vardakostas, said in a city of pricey boba drinks and marked up avocado toast, the company’s mission is to enhance food quality and make it affordable. Burgers are $6. “We want everyone to be able to partake,” he said to NPR.

 

 

A Creator Burger fresh out of the robot that toasted the buns, sliced the produce, shredded the


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US Inmates Demand ‘Living Wage’ Amid Largest Prison Strike In History

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

On Tuesday, inmates across the United States began a 19-day campaign to protest the dehumanizing conditions of the American prison system, one of the potentially largest prison strikes in American history.

As Statista's Sarah Feldman notes, the organized dissent is planned to take the form of hunger strikes, sit-ins, boycotts of prison payment streams like collect calls, along with slow to no labor by the 2.3 million people currently serving time in the United States.

The prisoners have a series of demands: improve prison conditions, end to life without parole and solitary confinement, increase funding for rehabilitation services, and grant voting rights for people convicted of a felony.

One of the biggest demands for the strikers is an immediate end to compulsory and imposed labor for little to no pay.

Infographic: Little to No Pay for Prisoners in the U.S. | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

Able bodied imprisoned people are put to work in correctional facilities doing cooking, cleaning, and grounds keeping along with possible labor outside of prisons, which is often dangerous, like in the case of prisoners fighting wildfires in California.

Currently around 800,000 prisoners work daily for meager wages that are often docked for court-assessed fines, family support, and discharge money.

States like Arkansas, Georgia, and Texas offer no compensation for work performed while in prison. Even for the highest paying states, the low end of compensation only outperforms states like Texas by around two quarters and a dime.





How Elon Musk Sabotaged His Own Going Private Transaction

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

The soap opera over Tesla's going private deal may be over, but the autopsy of just what happened, how and why the "deal" collapsed in well under a month from its "funding secured" announcement lingers.  And, as it turns out, Elon Musk has nobody but himself to blame for what may otherwise have been a possible deal, despite the staggering odds.

Recall that as part of Musk's "funding secured" assurance, the most widely mentioned name was that of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund (PIF): after all, few other institutions had the capacity – and eccentricity – to pull off such a feat. However, as we discussed several days after Musk's fateful Aug. 7 tweet, Saudi Arabia would likely get cold feet – in similar fashion to its withdrawal of the Aramco IPO – as the world's attention focused on its strategic planning and its dwindling finances – the fund is currently engaging in a back door funding deal involving Sabic as well as grandiose plans that include a massive new city in the desert – just days after it had already acquired a minority, 5% stake. There was also the issue of SoftBank granting the Saudi fund permission to engage in a transaction of this magnitude. 

Well, as we now know, after the Tesla CEO abruptly called the deal off just before Midnight Eastern Time on Friday, and just days after Goldman and Morgan Stanley were retained, Musk was "sorely mistaken" – as Bloomberg politely puts it – when he tweeted “funding secured” and later told the world “investor support is confirmed,” based on his belief that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund was eager to back his venture.

Two things to note here:

First, following Musk's seemingly manipulative, potentially fraudulent tweet, the SEC is now investigating his tweets and blog posts, which triggered the stock gyrations throughout August. It's always why investors now must brace for another bout of volatility when trading in the stock – which really trades like an option on the credibility of the Musk narrative – opens Monday morning, "while regulators and lawyers autopsy what happened to a deal potentially valued at $82 billion and Tesla’s board is left with a brilliant but exhausted and erratic…
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NOAA Issues Geomagnetic Storm Warning: “A Crack Opened In Earth’s Magnetic Field & Plasma Started Pouring In”

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

According to NOAA Space Weather forecasters, a powerful G3-class geomagnetic storm is in progress on August 26th as Earth passes through the wake of a coronal mass ejection (CME) that arrived with little notice approximately 24 hours ago. Strong magnetic fields in the CME’s wake have cracked into Earth’s magnetosphere, allowing solar wind to enter. So far auroras have been sighted in Scandinavia, Canada, and northern-tier US states such as Michigan and New York.

“The geomagnetic field is expected to be at active to G3 (Strong) geomagnetic storm levels on day one (26 Aug) due to continued influence from the 20 Aug CME. Quiet to active conditions, with a slight chance for G1 (Minor) storm conditions, are likely on day two (27 Aug) with quiet to unsettled levels likely on day three (28 Aug) as CME effects gradually wane,” said the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA, Space Weather Prediction Center.

Steven Herman, the White House bureau chief of Voice of America (VOA News), reported the strong geomagnetic storm on earlier Sunday morning. He shared a note listing the potential impacts of the storm, which included power systems, spacecraft, satellite communication networks, and even radio disruptions.

A sunspot has formed as large as the Earth and now an active warning about a geomagnetic storm. https://t.co/AY9BIhLBJF pic.twitter.com/2CDuVmmJP5

— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) August 26, 2018

The K-index, a chart that measures the earth’s magnetic field with an integer in the range 0–9 with 1 being calm and 5 or more indicating a geomagnetic storm, hit the 4 threshold was reached at 21:43 UTC on August 25, followed by K-index of 5 (G1 Minor) at 01:54 UTC on August 26, K-index of 6 (G2 Moderate) at 02:57 and K-index of 7 (G3 Strong) at 05:59 and 07:38 UTC.

G3 Strong geomagnetic storm potential impacts:

Area of impact primarily poleward of 50 degrees Geomagnetic Latitude.

Induced Currents – Power system voltage irregularities possible, false alarms may be triggered on some protection devices.

Spacecraft –


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Show me the incentives and I will show you the outcome

 

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Show me the incentives and I will show you the outcome

Courtesy of 

“Show me the incentives and I will show you the outcome.”

That’s a Charlie Munger quote about how incentives drive nearly everything. I have come to accept this philosophy as one of the simplest, strongest heuristics through which to view nearly everything pertaining to human affairs. Nothing I’ve seen in my industry has ever contradicted it.

It’s why capitalism works but has periodic massive failures. It’s why socialism and communism never work, never have worked and never will work. The hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman has used his foundation to send 500 children in the Newark, NJ area to college with full scholarships. He told my partner Barry in a recent interview that he believes in “equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes.” Lee’s a realist. He understands that leveling the playing field early on will help more than redistribution later, because an economy and a society require the right incentives.

Back in 2016, my friend Patrick O’Shaughnessy wrote about what happens when people in power demand a certain outcome and pay little heed as to how that outcome will be achieved…

In Vietnam, under French colonial rule, there was a rat problem. To solve the rat infestation, the French offered a bounty on rats, which could be collected by delivering a rat’s tail as proof of murder. Many bounties were paid out, but the rat problem didn’t improve. Officials soon noticed rats running around without tails–people were cutting off the tails and releasing the rats to breed, so as to increase the pool of potential bounty revenue for themselves.

The same thing happened in Colonial India: a bounty was offered on cobras because they were attacking people, which caused people to breed cobras for more bounties, and ultimately resulted in a higher cobra population when the bounty system was abandoned and the breeders released their now worthless snakes.

That’s from When Measures Become Targets and there’s a great lesson in there for anyone trying to set up good incentives for their…
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More Evidence The Economy Is Deteriorating

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Authored by Dave Kranzler via Investment Research Dynamics,

“Financial-market and economic prospects remain far shy of the hype and headlines, amidst tanking consumer optimism and negative revisions to recent reporting.” – John Williams, Shadowstats.com

The economy may seem like it’s doing well if you are part of the upper 10% demographic. Though, in reality, for most of the upper 10%, doing “well” has been a function of having easy access to credit. NASA Federal Credit Union is offering 0% down, 0% mortgage insurance for mortgages up to $2.5 million.

Someone I know suggested the tax cut stimulus had run its course. But the narrative that the tax cuts would stimulate economic activity was pure propaganda. The tax cuts stimulated $1 trillion in expected share buybacks and put more money in the pockets of corporate insiders and billionaires. The average middle class household spent its tax cut money on more expensive gasoline and food. Since the tax cut took effect, auto sales and home sales have declined. Retail sales have been mixed. However, it’s difficult to distinguish between statistical manipulation and inflation. I would argue that, net of real inflation and Census Bureau statistical games, real retail sales have been declining.

As an example, last week Black Box Intelligence released July restaurant sales. While comparable store sales were up 0.54% over July 2017, comparable restaurant traffic was down 1.8%. On a rolling three months, comp sales are up 0.46% but comparable traffic is down nearly 2%. With traffic declining, especially a faster rate relative to the small increase in sales, it means the sales “growth” is entirely a function of price inflation. If Black Box Intelligence could control it’s data for price increases, it would show that there is no question that real sales are declining. I have been loathe to recommend shorting restaurant stocks because, for some reason, the hedge funds love them.

On Wednesday last week, the Government reported July retail sales, which were “up” 0.5% vs June. However, June’s 0.5% “gain” was revised sharply lower to 0.2%. Revising the previous month lower to make the headline number for the reported month appear higher is a mathematical gimmick that the Government uses
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BIS Warns Of “Perfect Storm” For Global Economy

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

To those hoping for a quick resolution to the US-China trade war, Axios had some bad news earlier today, reporting that the trade feud is "likely to last much longer than originally thought — extending well into the second half of next year and perhaps beyond, experts say." According to Axios, the main reason for the protracted conflict is that neither side is prepared to appear politically weak at home, and both are ready to absorb economic pain.

With few probable winners, the biggest losers would be farmers, users of steel, and consumers in the US, manufacturers of all types will see business leave to neighbors like Vietnam and Malaysia in China, while dampening economic growth in both nations and around the globe.

However, as the general manager of the Bank of International Settlements, Agustin Carstens warned, the greater risk is not how many points of GDP the rising tariffs will subtract from the US and China, but the growing danger to globalization itself, and on Saturday, Karstens delivered a scathing critique of rising protectionism, a not-so-subtle rebuke to Trump’s use of tariffs and trade talks to wring concessions from China, Mexico and many other countries.

Reversing globalization “could increase prices, raise unemployment and crimp growth,” Carstens, the former head of Mexico’s central bank, told fellow central bankers at the Jackson Hole annual economic symposium. Additionally, higher tariffs could (actually, just say would) drive up U.S. inflation and force the Fed to raise rates, driving up the dollar and hurting both U.S. exporters and emerging market economies in the process, Carstens said.

Protectionism also threatens “to unsettle financial markets and put a drag on firms’ capital spending, as investors take fright and financial conditions tighten,” he said.

"These real and financial risks could amplify each other, creating a perfect storm and exacting an even higher price", the rotund central banker warned.

 

Bank for International Settlements General Manager Agustin Carstens

Alongside Carstens’ speech, the BIS released a research paper titled "Global market structures and the high price of protectionism" which that estimated that revoking NAFTA would mean…
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Gold Price Framework: The Energy Side Of The Equation Suggests “Explosive Upside Correction”

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Authored by Stefan Wieler via GoldMoney.com,

In the third part of this report we are putting our gold price framework to use. Having identified longer-dated energy prices and real-interest rate expectations as the main drivers for gold prices, we conclude that both drivers are near the bottom of their respective cycles, implying little downside risk to gold while the outlook for prices is increasingly skewed to the upside. On one hand, longer-dated energy prices have finally broken out of their range and we believe there is a further 30% upside from here. On the other hand, it is becoming increasingly clear that Fed rate hikes are having very little impact on real-interest rate expectations, as most of them are already priced in. This explains why gold has been trending up since the hikes started. The recent sell-off in gold prices on the back of the strengthening dollar is not supported by fundamentals in our view and could result in an explosive upside correction going forward.

*  *  *

In the first part of this report we reviewed the gold pricing model we introduced last year and developed it further. We highly recommend reading it here to get a better understanding of the findings presented in this report. Using econometric tools, we showed that changes in energy prices – more specifically longer-dated oil prices – are a major driver for changes in the USD/gold price (with changes in real interest rates being the other main driver).

In the second part of this report, we did a comprehensive bottom-up analysis of the true energy exposure of the gold mining industry. We found that gold miners are not just exposed to significant direct energy costs such as fuels and power; their indirect energy exposure is even larger. The bottom up analysis shows that ~50% of production costs of the average gold miner are closely linked to energy prices, which is in line with the findings of part I of our gold price framework which showed that a 1% change in longer-dated energy prices impacts gold prices by about 0.5%.

The third part of this report is putting all these findings to use in the current environment: We analyze where we stand in the cycle of the
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“The People Demand Higher Wages, Greater Equality, And They’ll Keep Voting For Change Until They Get It”

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by One River Asset Management, authored by Lindsay Politi

“The Japanese experience has given investors the incorrect impression that sustained deflation is a likely outcome when it’s instead a unique case,” I explained. We were discussing US inflation, whether it is increasing or decreasing.

Shorter-term economic and price trends are inherently volatile, so to examine inflation properly requires greater perspective.

Which had brought us to Japan.

Implicitly, Japan decided to unwind of the excessive imbalances built up in the easy-money 1980s without burning the forest. But there was a price to pay. To avoid the social disruption of large changes in existing institutions and economic structures, they had to grow poorer over many decades, succumbing to stagnation. They could make this choice because they were wealthy enough (before their great recession, Japan was earth’s wealthiest nation on a GDP per capita basis) and had the social cohesion to make it politically possible.

Few major economies have these factors. Germany is wealthy enough but not all EU countries are, and the broad EU lacks social cohesion. The US is sufficiently prosperous, but wealth inequality leaves it divided.

No large nation can reasonably make the choice that Japan made.

As a result, we see demands for change unfolding in European elections, Brexit, and with America First policies. The change transcends political personalities.

If Trump is replaced it’s unlikely to be with a moderate, but rather with a Bernie Sanders, an Ocasio-Cortez. If tariffs and nationalism don’t drive inflation higher, increased minimum wages, socialized medicine, subsidized housing, and free higher education will.

“So you ask how we’ll know if inflation is increasing or decreasing,” I said.

“But it’s no longer a question. The people are demanding higher wages, greater equality, inflation, and they’ll keep voting for change until they get it.

As a bonus, some observations from One River on cash flows and duration.

Duration

“An investment is something that generates cash flow or has the ability to generate cash flow,” the Investor explained. “Real Estate can be an investment but the house you live in is not — it is a consumption item. Gold is not an


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ValueWalk

#1 Performing Global Macro Hedge Fund Sees More Shorts Opportunities Ahead As China Bursts

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Crescat Global Macro Fund update to investors on 1/19/2019

Crescat Global Macro Fund and Crescat Long/Short fund delivered strong returns for both December and full year 2018 in a difficult market. Based on ...



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Zero Hedge

Johns Hopkins, Bristol-Myers Face $1 Billion Suit For Infecting Guatemalan Hookers With Syphilis 

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

A federal judge in Maryland said Johns Hopkins University, pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb and the Rockefeller Foundation must face a $1 billion lawsuit over their roles in a top-secret program in the 1940s ran by the US government that injected hundreds of Guatemalans with syphilis, reported Reuters.

Several doctors from Hopkins an...



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Phil's Favorites

Divisive economics

 

Guest author David Brin — scientist, technology consultant, best-selling author and futurist — explores the records of Democrats and Republicans on the US economy in the following post. For David's latest posts, visit the CONTRARY BRIN blog. For his books and short stories, visit his web...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Stock declines did not break 9-year support, says Joe Friday

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

We often hear “Stocks take an escalator up and an elevator down!” No doubt stocks did experience a swift decline from the September highs to the Christmas eve lows. Looks like the “elevator” part of the phrase came true as 2018 was coming to an end.

The first part of the “stocks take an escalator up” seems to still be in play as well despite the swift decline of late.

Joe Friday Just The Facts Ma’am- All of these indices hit long-term rising support on Christmas Eve at each (1), where support held and rallies have followed.

If you find long-term perspectives helpf...



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Digital Currencies

Transparency and privacy: Empowering people through blockchain

 

Transparency and privacy: Empowering people through blockchain

Blockchain technologies can empower people by allowing them more control over their user data. Shutterstock

Courtesy of Ajay Kumar Shrestha, University of Saskatchewan

Blockchain has already proven its huge influence on the financial world with its first application in the form of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. It might not be long before its impact is felt everywhere.

Blockchain is a secure chain of digital records that exist on multiple computers simultaneously so no record can be erased or falsified. The...



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Insider Scoop

Cars.com Explores Strategic Alternatives, Analyst Sees Possible Sale Price Around $30 Per Share

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related 44 Biggest Movers From Yesterday 38 Stocks Moving In Wednesday's Mid-Day Session ...

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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 chaotic presidency based on his high-conflict personality, which was evident years ago. This post, written in 2017, references a prescient article Bill wrote before Trump even became president, 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

Free eBook - "My Top Strategies for 2017"

 

 

Here's a free ebook for you to check out! 

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.

This chapter isn’t about risk or leverage. Phil present a few smart, practical ideas you can use as a hedge against inflation as well as hedging strategies designed to assist you in staying ahead of the markets.

Some other great content in this free eBook includes:

 

·       How 2017 Will Affect Oil, the US Dollar and the European Union

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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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