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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Zero Hedge

More Italians Move Savings To Switzerland As Fears Of Banking "Doom Loop" Intensify

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

With the euro weakening against the Swiss franc (recently trading at session lows of 1.14) and Italian stocks and bonds tumbling once again on reports that the European Commission is planning to reject the Italian draft budget plan submitted earlier this week - a repudiation of Italy's populist leaders that was widely anticipated - th...



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Phil's Favorites

Jamal Khashoggi disappearance a defining moment for Saudi Arabia's relations with the West

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

Jamal Khashoggi disappearance a defining moment for Saudi Arabia's relations with the West

Armida L. M. van Rij, King's College London

On October 2, Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered his country’s consulate in Istanbul to obtain the documents he needed to marry his fiancée. She was waiting outside. He never came out.

Following days of report...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Banks Creating Pattern Similar To 2007 Highs?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

CLICK ON CHART TO ENLARGE

The left chart above looks at the Bank Index (BKX) over the past 13-years. In 2007, the index diverged with the broad market as it was creating a bearish descending triangle. Once support of the descending triangle broke, selling pressure ramped up. This pattern took place while “interest rates were actually moving higher, which is often good for banks.”

This year the bank index has been diverging from the broad market while forming a bearis...



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Insider Scoop

Musk Will Buy Another $20M In Tesla Stock - The Same Amount He Was Fined By The SEC

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related TSLA Tesla Trades Higher After Judge Approves Musk's SEC Settlement Saudi Arabia Mixes Oil, Politics After Journ...

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Digital Currencies

Tether Tumbles Below Critical $1 Threshold As Dollar-Pegged Crypto Doubts Soar

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Update: Careful to quickly assuage any potential loss of the narrative and 'full faith and credit' of the 'stablecoin', Tether released a statement on USDT drop:

"We would like to reiterate that although markets have shown temporary fluctuations in price, all USDT in circulation are sufficiently backed by U.S. dollars (USD) and that assets have always exceeded liabilities."

See, nothing to panic about.

*  *  *

The only cryptocurrency not rallying right now is the one pegged to the U.S. dolla...



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Chart School

Weekly Market Recap Oct 14, 2018

Courtesy of Blain.

Wednesday and Thursday finally brought some fireworks to a very complacent market.   The S&P 500 had not had a 1% move in 74 days until Wednesday’s drawdown.

Rising yields were nailed as the culprit but months of rallying eventually require some sort of shake out – whatever the catalyst.  Wednesday’s sell off was the worst day for the S&P 500 since February and the worst for the NASDAQ since June 2016.

The market losses are “a reaction from investors finally realizing we are in a higher interest-rate environment, and given the elevated level of stocks, market participants were likely looking for a reason to sell,” said Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist for Allianz Investment Management. “Higher interest rates typically bring on tighter ...



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ValueWalk

Vilas Fund Up 55% In Q3; 3Q18 Letter: A Bull Market In Bearish Forecasts

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

The Vilas Fund, LP letter for the third quarter ended September 30, 2018; titled, “A Bull Market in Bearish Forecasts.”

Ever since the financial crisis, there has been a huge fascination with predictions of the next “big crash” right around the next corner. Whether it is Greece, Italy, Chinese debt, the “overvalued” stock market, the Shiller Ratio, Puerto Rico, underfunded pensions in Illinois and New Jersey, the Fed (both for QE a few years ago and now for removing QE), rising interest rates, Federal budget deficits, peaking profit margins, etc...



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Members' Corner

Why obvious lies still make good propaganda

 

This is very good; it's about "firehosing", a type of propaganda, and how it works.

Why obvious lies still make good propaganda

A 2016 report described Russian propaganda as:
• high in volume
• rapid, continuous and repetitive
• having no commitment to objective reality
• lacking consistency

...

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Biotech

Gene-editing technique CRISPR identifies dangerous breast cancer mutations

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

 

Gene-editing technique CRISPR identifies dangerous breast cancer mutations

Breast cancer type 1 (BRCA1) is a human tumor suppressor gene, found in all humans. Its protein, also called by the synonym BRCA1, is responsible for repairing DNA. ibreakstock/Shutterstock.com

By Jay Shendure, University of Washington; Greg Findlay, ...



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Mapping The Market

Mistakes were Made. (And, Yes, by Me.)

Via Jean-Luc:

Famed investor reflecting on his mistakes:

Mistakes were Made. (And, Yes, by Me.)

One that stands out for me:

Instead of focusing on how value factors in general did in identifying attractive stocks, I rushed to proclaim price-to-sales the winner. That was, until it wasn’t. I guess there’s a reason for the proclamation “The king is dead, long live the king” when a monarchy changes hands. As we continued to update the book, price-to-sales was no longer the “best” single value factor, replaced by others, depending upon the time frames examined. I had also become a lot more sophisticated in my analysis—thanks to criticism of my earlier work—and realized that everything, including factors, moves in and out of favor, depending upon the market environment. I also realized...



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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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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

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

Click here for the full report.




To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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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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