Posts Tagged ‘Democracy’

Only $4.2 Billion To Buy This Election?

Only $4.2 Billion To Buy This Election?

Courtesy of Robert Reich

This, from the Washington Post’s conservative pundit George Will:

Total spending by parties, campaigns and issue-advocacy groups concerning every office from county clerks to U.S. senators may reach a record $4.2 billion in this two-year cycle. That is about what Americans spend in one year on yogurt, but less than they spend on candy in two Halloween seasons. Proctor & Gamble spent $8.6 billion on advertising in its last fiscal year.

Those who are determined to reduce the quantity of political speech to what they consider the proper amount are the sort of people who know exactly how much water should come through our shower heads — no more than 2.5 gallons per minute, as stipulated by a 1992 law. Is it, however, worrisome that Americans spend on political advocacy — determining who should make and administer the laws — much less than they spend on potato chips, $7.1 billion a year?

In a word, Mr. Will, yes.

The number of dollars spent isn’t the issue; it’s the lopsidedness of where the dollars come from. Even if the total were only $1000, democracy would be endangered if $980 came from large corporations and wealthy individuals. The trend is clear and worrisome: The great bulk of campaign money is coming from a narrower and narrower circle of moneyed interests.

Anyone who doubts the corrupting effect has not been paying attention. Our elected representatives have been acutely sensitive to the needs of Wall Street bankers, hedge-fund managers, and the executives of big pharma, big oil, and the largest health insurance companies. This is not because these individuals and interests are particularly worthy or specially deserving. It is because they are effectively bribing elected officials with their donations. Such donations are not made out of charitable impulse. They are calculated investments no less carefully considered than investments in particular shares of stock. They are shares in our democracy.

Why $4.2 billion and not ten times that amount? Because the high-rolling political investors don’t need to spend a dollar more in order to exert overwhelming influence.

This figure, by the way, leaves out the tens of billions of dollars dedicated to lobbying, lawyering, and public relations — all of which deliver specific legislative outcomes the campaign money fuels. The economy of Washington, D.C. depends on this gigantic flow of funds (supporting…
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Concentration of Wealth is Destroying Democracy

In this excellent essay, George Washington II concludes that America is no longer a nation governed by the rule of law.  Might this be why the stock market rally over the past year has been labeled by some as the "most hated rally"? – Ilene 

Concentration of Wealth is Destroying Democracy

Courtesy of Washington’s Blog

As I wrote in 2008:

The economy is like a poker game … it is human nature to want to get all of the chips, but noted that – if one person does get all of the chips – the game ends.

In other words, the game of capitalism only continues as long as everyone has some money to play with. If the government and corporations take everyone’s money, the game ends.

The fed and Treasury are not giving more chips to those who need them: the American consumer. Instead, they are giving chips to the 800-pound gorillas at the poker table, such as Wall Street investment banks. Indeed, a good chunk of the money used by surviving mammoth players to buy the failing behemoths actually comes from the Fed. 

No wonder billionaire George Soros says that the way US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was handling the situation was "very reminiscent of the way the central bankers talked in the 1930s", the time of the Great Depression.

And no wonder Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz stresses putting poker chips back in the hands of the little guy …

This is not a question of big government versus small government, or republican versus democrat. It is not even a question of Keynes versus Friedman (two influential, competing economic thinkers).

It is a question of focusing any government funding which is made to the majority of poker players – instead of the titans of finance – so that the game can continue. If the hundreds of billions or trillions spent on bailouts had instead been given to ease the burden of consumers, we would have already recovered from the financial crisis.

As FDR’s Fed chairman Marriner S. Eccles explained:

As in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit ran out, the game stopped.

As I pointed out last August, and again …
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The Grand Chinese Fraud

Here’s Karl Denninger on China,…

The Grand Chinese Fraud

Wen JaibaoWen "cats in the kettle" Jaibao spouted:

“I don’t think the renminbi is undervalued,” Wen said yesterday at a press conference in Beijing marking the end of China’s annual parliamentary meetings, using another term for the yuan. “We oppose countries pointing fingers at each other and even forcing a country to appreciate its currency.”

Oh really?

It’s time that we stop the the BS here with regard to China.

The entire premise of so-called "Free Trade" with the Chinese was predicated on the belief that if we opened our borders to their products on a "no tariff" basis that we would, over time, change their political system.  That is, we would import cheap Chinese plastic junk and export democracy.  More or less.

Well, we got all the cheap DVD players but they didn’t get any democracy.  Quite to the contrary.  There have been no meaningful improvements in areas of environmental protection, workers rights and wages or political freedom.  Indeed, the recent dust-up with Google just underlines the reality in China:Their government is a band of murderous brigands and thugs.

Disagree with them inside their nation, refuse to censor The Internet, for example, so that people can’t read about Falun Gong and China will be happy to arrest the executives of your firm inside the nation and provide this as "corrective influence" to your head:

Oh, they send the 50 cent bill for it to your family too.  Isn’t that special?

At least in this country they don’t shoot people for talking about the evil-doing that both private parties and government…
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Our Incredible Shrinking Democracy

Our Incredible Shrinking Democracy

Courtesy of Robert Reich

Political Conference

I wish conservatives would stop complaining about big government and start worrying about the real problem – small democracy. I wish we’d all worry more about our incredible shrinking democracy.

It seems as if more and more decisions that should be made democratically are being shunted off somewhere to a few people who make them in back rooms. Which programs should be cut, which entitlements pared back, and what taxes raised in order to reduce the long-term budget deficit? Hmmm. Let’s convene a commission and have them decide.

Commissions are a default mechanism when politicians want to hand off difficult issues to “experts.” But reducing the long-term budget deficit has almost nothing to do with expertise. It’s about our nations’ values and priorities. Nothing could be more central to the democratic process.

Democracy requires at least three things: (1) Important decisions are made in the open. (2) The public and its representatives have an opportunity to debate them, so the decisions can be revised in light of what the public discovers and wants. And (3) those who make the big decisions are accountable to voters.

But these principles are in retreat, and I say this not just because of the proposed deficit commission.

The notorious Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) began with a virtual blank check from Congress. Treasury officials then secretly decided which companies were to receive hundreds of billions of dollars. Why these particular entities were chosen and not others remains a mystery. For months, the Treasury didn’t even disclose the identities of the major banks that giant insurer AIG repaid with its bailout money – 100 cents on each dollar AIG owed them.

The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, has gone far beyond its traditional role of setting short-term interest rates. It has bought up massive amounts of debt – mortgage debt, Treasury bills, and debt instruments emanating several public agencies, many of them supporting a wide range of private entities. No one outside the Fed knows the ultimate beneficiaries of all this government backing, the criteria used by the Fed for making these commitments, or even how much debt the Fed is buying.

Even if the economic emergency justified such secrecy – and it’s hard to see exactly why it would – the emergency is over, and yet closed-door decision making…
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Phil's Favorites

Britain has its first new deep coal mine in decades - a result of pretending climate change isn't political

 

Britain has its first new deep coal mine in decades – a result of pretending climate change isn't political

Oscar Johns / shutterstock

Courtesy of Rebecca Willis, Lancaster University

The UK is widely seen as a climate leader. Its Climate Change Act, which passed into law ten years ago, is the envy of the world. It has targets for carbon reduction enshrined in law, and recently, the government hinted that it would adopt a target of zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (the current target is an 80% reduction). Four years ago, the government, with cross...



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ValueWalk

The Future Of National Beverage Corp. (FIZZ) Stock; Cannabis Webinar

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Whitney Tilson’s email to investors discussing the LaCroix maker National Beverage Corp. (FIZZ)’s stock; Tesla; Cannabis webinar; question 3; Jamaica.

1) I’m still sniffing around National Beverage Corp, best known for its LaCroix brand of flavored sparkling water, which I wrote up as my Stock Idea of the Day in my ...



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Zero Hedge

"It Feels Eerily Like 2007" - DoubleLine's Gundlach Blasts Fed's "Unprecedented Reversal"

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

As the whipsaw in stocks and the dollar sank in today - while the bond market remains unimpressed by the machine's liftathon today - market participants are still shaking their heads at what just happened.

One of the more outspoken of those market participants is DoubleLine CEO Jeffrey Gundlach who took to Twitter this morning to express his disdain...

Three months ago the Fed predicted totally different policy than where they are now. How can they predict 2020 policy with a straight face?

— Jeffrey Gundlach (@TruthGundlach) March 21, 2019

 

But he was not done, in a brief i...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Interest Rates Sputter... Is U.S. Economy Next?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

The Federal Reserve wasn’t quite as hawkish as investors expected. The result: Treasury bond yields (interest rates) fell sharply.

In today’s chart of the 10-Year US Treasury Yield, we highlight the reversal in rates that occurred late last year.

This wasn’t just any old reversal, though. It occurred along the same long-term downtrend line that produced reversals in the years 2000 and 2007.

A closer look at the chart and it appears that 10-year yields are breaking short-term support. This is also occurring as monthly momentum rolls over fr...



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Chart School

Silver is cheap vs Gold

Courtesy of Read the Ticker.

Metal investors will be paying attention to how out of favor silver is relative to gold. And it is hard to wonder why with the well forecast boom of electric cars expected over the next 10 years. Who owns all the silver? JM Bullion has a series of charts here. Notice the stock pile held by JPM. They will do will if silver gets to $30 USD an once!

Chart up to April 2017



As of the 20th of March 2019 the US Federal Reserve has switched to dovish...

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Insider Scoop

Wells Fargo Expects FedEx Margins To Remain Under Pressure From Market Woes

Courtesy of Benzinga.

FedEx Corporation (NYSE: FDX) reported disappointing third-quarter results Tuesday and lowered its fiscal 2019 guidance.

The flexibility of the company’s network allows it to respond more quickly to competitive threats and a tough supply chain environmen...



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Biotech

Marijuana is a lot more than just THC - a pharmacologist looks at the untapped healing compounds

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

 

Marijuana is a lot more than just THC - a pharmacologist looks at the untapped healing compounds

Assorted cannabis bud strains. Roxana Gonzalez/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of James David Adams, University of Southern California

Medical marijuana is legal in 33 states as of November 2018. Yet the federal government still insists marijuana has no legal u...



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Digital Currencies

Facebook's cryptocurrency: a financial expert breaks it down

 

Facebook's cryptocurrency: a financial expert breaks it down

Grejak/Shutterstock

Courtesy of Alistair Milne, Loughborough University

Facebook is reportedly preparing to launch its own version of Bitcoin, for use in its messaging applications, WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram. Could this “Facecoin” be the long-awaited breakthrough by a global technology giant into the lucrative market for retail financial services? Or will...



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Members' Corner

Despacito - How to Make Money the Old-Fashioned Way - SLOWLY!

Are you ready to retire?  

For most people, the purpose of investing is to build up enough wealth to allow you to retire.  In general, that's usually enough money to reliably generate a year's worth of your average income, each year into your retirement so that that, plus you Social Security, should be enough to pay your bills without having to draw down on your principle.

Unfortunately, as the last decade has shown us, we can't count on bonds to pay us more than 3% and the average return from the stock market over the past 20 years has been erratic - to say the least - with 4 negative years (2000, 2001, 2002 and 2008) and 14 positives, though mostly in the 10% range on the positives.  A string of losses like we had from 2000-02 could easily wipe out a decades worth of gains.

Still, the stock market has been better over the last 10 (7%) an...



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Mapping The Market

It's Not Capitalism, it's Crony Capitalism

A good start from :

It's Not Capitalism, it's Crony Capitalism

Excerpt:

The threat to America is this: we have abandoned our core philosophy. Our first principle of this nation as a meritocracy, a free-market economy, where competition drives economic decision-making. In its place, we have allowed a malignancy to fester, a virulent pus-filled bastardized form of economics so corrosive in nature, so dangerously pestilent, that it presents an extinction-level threat to America – both the actual nation and the “idea” of America.

This all-encompassing mutant corruption saps men’s souls, crushes opportunities, and destroys economic mobility. Its a Smash & Grab system of ill-gotten re...



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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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About Ilene:

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

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