Posts Tagged ‘Public Policy’

Japan’s Demographic Time Bomb Is Imploding

Mark suggests that Japan’s poor demographics are the cause of its "death spiral," whereas Ambrose Evens-Pritchard argues that too much government spending resulting in too much debt is at the heart of the problem. Could it be combination rather than an either-or? – Ilene

Japan’s Demographic Time Bomb Is Imploding

Hinamatsuri (Doll festival)

Courtesy of Mark Sunshine of the Sunshine Report

According to Ambrose Evans-Pritchard Japan is quickly turning into developed world’s sickest economy and could soon tip into an uncontrolled downward spiral. Evans-Pritchard reported last week in the Telegraph that Japan is reaching the point of no return where it won’t be able to meet its obligations and could enter a debt death spiral.

While Evans-Pritchard is one of my favorite writers, at the end of the article he comes to the wrong conclusion about what the West should learn from Japan. Evans-Pritchard suggests that too much government spending resulting in too much debt is the root cause of Japan’s problems and that the West needs to take notice and get government spending under control. While Evans-Pritchard is correct that Japan’s debt habit is unsustainable, the country’s debt problems are the result of its population imploding and the fuse finally burning out on its demographic time bomb. The Land of the Rising Sun is in trouble because it suffers from an insular society that discourages immigration and implicitly encourages low birth rates. For the last 50 Japan has been slowly committing demographic seppuku and now the inevitable is taking place, i.e., Japan’s population is crossed the tipping point so that its work force is both relatively old and shrinking and as a nation Japan can’t sustain its standard of living.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that Japan is facing deflation, falling domestic demand, stagnant to shrinking GDP and, as of recently, a low national savings rate. They are all the result of Japan’s bad demographics.

Virtually all economics students learn that when the work force of a nation shrinks it is difficult if not impossible to sustain economic growth and a vibrant economy. Also, retirees tend to consume less than families that are raising children and as each generation ages towards retirement it tends to consume less and less causing domestic demand to shrink. Aging populations also have low savings rates because most retirees continue…
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Another Big Win For Energy Economics 101

Another Big Win For Energy Economics 101: Demand Destruction Isn’t Good For New Investment

Courtesy of Mark Sunshine of The Sunshine Report

Oil Refinery Workers Walk Out In Protest Over Foreign Workers

On Monday the Wall Street Journal ran an article that described the end of the golden era for oil refiners. It is a great article that, unfortunately, was published many years too late to be considered news. Just as gravity is a force that brings all objects to earth, public policy that destroys the demand for gasoline will hurt the refinery business. Not surprisingly, President Obama’s public policy initiatives that increase car and truck fuel efficiency have the side effect of hurting oil refinery and distribution businesses.

Just to be clear, I am not against the Administration’s effort to increase fuel efficiency in the vehicle fleet. Quite the contrary, it is a matter of national and economic security that we burn less imported fuel.  Increasing transportation fuel efficiency is a “must” for the United States. However, I don’t think that it is realistic to believe that the energy industry is act like an old trusted dog that knows when it it time to walk into the woods and die. And, it isn’t fair to the refinery and distribution businesses to ask them to effectively subsidize the rest of the economy’s shift to more fuel efficient vehicles and alternate energy without compensation.

The Wall Street Journal reported that over the next few years there is going to be global overcapacity among oil refiners. Not only is demand being reduced for refined products (particularly in the U.S.), but there is a lot of new and efficient capacity that is coming on line in Asia and the Middle East. That isn’t a prescription for a lot of new investment in refinery capacity or for good returns for existing refiners.

I have a couple of news flashes about the future of oil refinery and distribution that I am pretty sure are big news scoops (at least for most major media outlets).

  1. As gasoline demand drops refineries won’t be the only businesses whose investments are underperforming. There is going to be a lot of excess distribution and retailing capacity. So far the Wall Street Journal has only reported on excess refinery capacity. Distribution and retailing are the next segments of the industry that will experience overcapacity and the end of its


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How Much Longer Can This Bear Market Rally Last?

How Much Longer Can This Bear Market Rally Last?

bear marketCourtesy of Kevin Depew at Minyanville

How long, O Lord, how long? It’s always good to remember that the stock market is not the economy. Every day I come into the office to find literally dozens of emails complaining that the market is ignoring the relentlessly bearish news flow. But that doesn’t bother me. What will bother me is when we start getting good news. Markets tend to reach exhaustion on good news, not bad. And these days it’s hard to discern between what’s merely bad and what’s actually disastrous. So, let’s take a look at what the difference between the two really is, and what it means going forward.

A recently released Societe Generale report outlined a "Worst-Case Debt Scenario," one which they believe is a very low probability. Their central scenario assumes a slow global recovery, with private debt being transferred to governments. Fair enough. We’re well on our way there.

Comparing US and Japan, albeit from SocGen’s more sanguine standpoint, there’s some reason to believe the US could feasibly accommodate a Japan-esque 200% of GDP debt burden, which would essentially double 2010′s projected 100% of GDP debt burden. The reason this might not collapse the dollar is because there are no attractive alternatives. Government debt is a global problem, and when you look at the US government debt on a comparative basis, the figures, while high, aren’t extraordinary — at least within that context. More on this momentarily.

As a brief digression, I don’t believe that all government debt is bad by definition. Some are dogmatic on that point. While I do find a framework for understanding economics through the Austrian school, the reality is that no one is going to be able to squeeze pure, free-market toothpaste back into the tube. In fact, Ron Paul’s quixotic quest to end the Federal Reserve could actually succeed… only I can promise you it would soon be replaced by a similar central bank mechanism with a different name, slightly altered agenda, and new cast members. In other words, more of the same; let’s be realistic.

Also, remember that governments worldwide have a long history of supporting failed industries only to turn around and re-privatize them at a later date. It’s the government version of the private-equity game (buy ‘em, repackage ‘em, sell…
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Banks Don’t Intentionally Overcharge Credit Card Customers…Or Do They?

This is not sun-shiny news, but a few words of caution about your bank statement from Mr. Sunshine. - Ilene

Banks Don’t Intentionally Overcharge Credit Card Customers…Or Do They?

sunshineCourtesy of Mark Sunshine of The Sunshine Report

Have you ever tried to recalculate the finance charges on your credit card bill? I am betting that few American’s know if their bank is overcharging them or not. 

I have to confess, for the last 28 years I was one of the people who trusted my bank and didn’t bother to check the interest calculation. After all, in 1966 when I opened my first bank account my mother told me that I could trust my bank and that they would never try to rip me off. 

But, this month my wife (she is a lot more attentive to details than me) appeared at the door of my home office (where I was busy watching a football game) and demanded that I recalculate the interest on one of our credit card bills.  Of course I didn’t want to do it. However, after a lot of spousal pushing (and during half time) I did what I was told. And, guess what? My wife was onto something. When I looked at the bill I was able to quickly confirm that we had been overcharged. The amount wasn’t much, $4.57, but then again, since we had a $0.00 balance subject to finance charges, $4.57 seemed like a lot. 

On Monday my wife called our bank and they immediately admitted their error and reversed the charge. But, the overcharge on one credit card bill made me wonder; could we be getting overcharged on all our credit cards and how would we know? 

So, I got the other credit card bills from my wife (she takes care of all of the finances in our family and pretty much everything else that is important). I discovered that despite paying the entire balance each month on our other cards we still were incurring finance charges. So, I read the rules on the back of the credit card bill. While I am a trained attorney, I haven’t practiced law in a while and am rusty in the arcane art of interpreting legal hieroglyphics. It took me a little while to decipher the credit card agreement and after working on it for about an hour I still wasn’t sure what it meant. My wife was much quicker (after all, she
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W, V, U, L or Z: What Direction Is The Economy Going?

Mark Sunshine discusses the possible shape of the eventual economic recovery – pick a letter, any letter.  Welcome Mark!

W, V, U, L or Z: What Direction Is The Economy Going?

Economic Nostradamus, predictions on economyCourtesy of Mark Sunshine at The Sunshine Report

Almost every day I am asked about the economic recovery and whether or not it is sustainable.

People ask because there is a constant barrage of economic predictions by economists that pretend that they know what will happen in the future even thought they still can’t figure out what happened in the past. Listening to economists and TV talking heads it’s clear that while everyone has an opinion, no one really knows if the recovery will take the form of a “W”, “V”, “U”, “V” or “Z” (I am not really sure what a “Z” recovery is but some really confusing economists are predicting it).

This time around almost all of the TV pundits are going be able to claim that they are the economic Nostradamus of our time because sooner or later graphs of economic growth are going to have the profile of most, if not all, of the letters of the alphabet. For the foreseeable future, economic growth is going to be volatile and somewhat random and almost every prediction will be right.

Rorschach test There is going to be a level of randomness to the growth trajectory of the economy as it inevitably grows, then grows at a slower pace, then grows at a faster pace, then shrinks a little, and then grows again. Unfortunately, given the seriousness of the economy’s problems, I think it will be a while before the U.S. is back on a sustainable high growth trajectory that is sustainable (thereby making the L crowd right as well).

So, like a Rorschach Test, for the next few years there will be something for everyone in the economic statistics.

The U.S. economy is starting to bounce back because of the positive cumulative effects of (i) an inventory rebuilding cycle (i.e., production of new inventory is rising because inventory stocks in many industries are depleted and need to be replenished), (ii) a lot of fiscal and monetary stimuli and (iii) productivity growth (one tiny, positive side effect of layoffs). The bounce from inventory restocking will be temporary and, as a result, if all other things remain constant, growth will taper off to a much slower pace late in the 4th quarter
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Zero Hedge

US Shale Firms To Spend $100 Million On West Texas And New Mexico Improvements

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Over a dozen top US energy firms have agreed to devote $100 million towards much needed improvements in West Texas and New Mexico, in order to help the regions cope with shortfalls in health care, education and civic infrastructure in the wake of the shale oil and gas boom, the group said on Sunday. 

Chevron, EOG Resources, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell are among 17 companies backing the Permian Strategic Partnership, as the cons...



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Phil's Favorites

Message from Jeff Bezos - SNL

 

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Chart School

The Power of the Dow Jones Cycle

Courtesy of Read the Ticker.

Once again the data confirms cycles exists in the market. Value and other fundamental investors must concede cycles are in the stock market. [You can learn more about our Hurst Cycle tools here].

Previous Post Kitchin Cycle warned of market volatility

In the past this blog has posted the chart below, the Kitchin cycle or 900 periods, and you can see its success.

The cycle source:

.."Joseph Kitchin (1861–1932) was a British busine...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

King Dollar Creating A Topping Pattern This Week?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

CLICK ON CHART TO ENLARGE

King Dollar has spent the majority of the past 7-years inside of rising channel (1), as it’s created a series of higher lows and higher highs.

The 2018 rally has it kissing the underside of potential resistance this week at (2), where it could be creating a bearish reversal pattern. This one week action has NOT changed the upward trend in King Dollar.

If it breaks rising support at (3), odds favor that some selling pressure takes place in the US$, which metals would lov...



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Insider Scoop

Analysts Cautious On Williams-Sonoma After Q3 Print

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related WSM 48 Stocks Moving In Friday's Mid-Day Session 28 Stocks Moving In Friday's Pre-Market Session ...

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Members' Corner

NY Times: OPERATION INFEKTION

 

This is a three-part Opinion Video Series from NY Times about Russia’s meddling in the United States’ elections as part of its "decades-long campaign to tear the West apart." This is not fake news. Read more about the series here.

OPERATION INFEKTION

RUSSIAN DISINFORMATION: FROM COLD WAR TO KANYE

By Adam B. Ellick and Adam Westbrook

EPISODE 1

MEE...



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Digital Currencies

Bitcoin's high energy consumption is a concern - but it may be a price worth paying

 

Bitcoin's high energy consumption is a concern – but it may be a price worth paying

Shutterstock

Courtesy of Steven Huckle, University of Sussex

Bitcoin recently turned ten years old. In that time, it has proved revolutionary because it ignores the need for modern money’s institutions to verify payments. Instead, Bitcoin relies on cryptographic techniques to prove identity and authenticity.

However, the price to pay for all of this innovation is a high carbon footprint, created by Bitc...



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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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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:

 

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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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