01/16/20

Can Hedge Funds Topple Trump?

By: Cliff Kincaid

President Donald J. Trump has a good conservative record, especially in regard to the courts, and he has strengthened the Armed Forces. His rallies are packed with supporters. But as we enter 2020, even some conservative Republicans in Congress seem scared to death. Debt is piling up and the Federal Reserve is propping up the economy through emergency loans. Some are asking: can hedge funds crash the economy?

George Soros isn’t the only donor to the Democratic Party who ran a hedge fund. A Democratic presidential candidate, San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer, is a hedge fund manager who reportedly ran an offshore company advertised as a tax shelter.  One of the Democratic Party’s top donors, his fund invested in fossil fuel projects but he is now running on the dangers of “climate change” caused by fossil fuels.

Hedge funds can cause an economic downturn by targeting companies, countries, and currencies with short selling strategies.

With the debt and deficits high, such a threat is real. Conservative Republican Rep. Chip Roy refused to vote for the new $1.4 trillion spending bill, a “compromise” with House Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats, saying, “This bill borrows, and it borrows at a time when we can’t afford to borrow another penny. Our nation is $23 trillion in debt, now racking up more than $100 million of debt per hour.”

As part of the deal with the Democrats, Trump agreed to demands for paid maternity and family leave for 2.1 million federal workers, and his daughter Ivanka is pushing a similar nanny-state program for the nation as a whole, which could cost hundreds of billions of dollars. The Eagle Forum group founded by the late Phyllis Schlafly, a Trump supporter, called these plans a form of federal baby-sitting.

Always eager to up the ante, we can expect liberal politicians to propose legislation to guarantee paid vacations and holidays, in addition to debt relief and student loan forgiveness.

“In many ways,” says Frank Lasée, President of the Heartland Institute, “America is at a crossroads. Will our nation embrace a European-style welfare state, complete with cradle-to-grave entitlements and the taxes that go with them? Or will Americans demand more freedom in the form of fewer taxes, more school choice, and less oversight from Washington, D.C. bureaucrats? I am hopeful the latter will triumph.”

He cites the dangers in the Green New Deal and the Medicare for All plans. Another danger was documented in the book Wizards of Wall Street by businessman Zubi Diamond. An African immigrant who came to America and became a successful businessman, Diamond says that George Soros and other hedge fund short sellers can undermine nations, their economies and currencies, and the global financial system as a whole.

While Trump recognizes the socialist menace, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that since his inauguration in January of 2017, Trump has signed legislation into law that will ultimately add $4.1 trillion to the national debt from 2017 to 2029. Setting a record, the Department of the Treasury reports that the federal government spent a record $1,163,090,000,000 in the first three months of fiscal 2020.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is intervening with tens of billions of dollars in bailouts in an “interbank lending liquidity crisis.” Is this traceable to hedge fund speculators and currency manipulators betting behind-the-scenes on the decline of the U.S. economy?

To stave off this possibility, Trump has signed a “phase-one” trade deal with Communist China, promising relief for America’s farmers and manufacturers. In addition, the Trump Administration is preparing a new tax cut proposal.

In another move, Trump bowed to Pelosi and Big Labor in securing passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade by inserting pro-United Nations elements into the pact. As a result, the USMCA establishes a regional North American bureaucracy, under the auspices of the U.N.’s International Labor Organization, to manipulate and enforce labor standards between the three countries.  The deal undermines Trump’s proclaimed opposition to globalism and enables the Democrats to claim they improved the agreement to benefit workers.

The good news is that Congressman Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) has reintroduced his bill, H.R. 204, the American Sovereignty Restoration Act, to halt all involvement of the United States with the United Nations. Trump could endorse the bill and rally conservatives behind it.

While the economy is strong, Trump’s social and cultural agenda has achieved mixed results.

On abortion, Trump has pleased conservative Christians. During the campaign Trump posted an eloquent 600-word statement that notes that he did not always hold the pro-life position, “but I had a significant personal experience that brought the precious gift of life into perspective for me.” He previously had said that “what happened is friends of mine years ago were going to have a child, and it was going to be aborted. And it wasn’t aborted. And that child today is a total superstar, a great, great child.”

This kind of conversion is desperately needed on homosexual rights. Trump Ambassador Richard Grenell led an embarrassing effort at the U.N. to force Christian nations into accepting homosexual rights.  It’s only a matter of time before conservative Christians take note of what Grenell is doing in the name of Trump. They won’t be happy.

At the same time, many members of the old “Just Say No” anti-drug Reagan coalition are increasingly frustrated by the Trump Administration’s failure to take action against Big Marijuana and the phony claims from the related “hemp” industry about the supposed medical benefits of CBD.

A petition asks Senator Mike Crapo, chairman of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, to continue his valiant effort to stop the marijuana industry from getting access to the national banking system in order to launder its profits.

With the “progressives” taking advantage of every opportunity to broaden their anti-Trump coalition, including through an orchestrated impeachment campaign, the Trump Administration has some golden opportunities to reassemble powerful elements of the old Reagan Coalition.

From the perspective of the Trump campaign, a possible economic downturn, brought on by hedge fund short-sellers, should make expanding the base a matter of utmost urgency.

*Cliff Kincaid is president of America’s Survival, Inc. www.usasurvival.org

12/3/19

Gov. Newsom Takes Control of California Pension Fund

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

$700 billion… the California governor wants full control of that for climate change programs, for road/transportation programs and to reduce vehicle miles traveled. Remember, the largest California boondoggle is the high-speed rail system that is likely the worst and most corrupt program across America.

Earlier this year, President Trump pulled nearly $1 billion of federal money for the high-speed rail project in California that was to connect Los Angeles to San Francisco and be completed by 2033. This rail system was to only cost $77 billion and now the project construction has been reduced substantially in size where the estimated costs are in the $20 billion range. The estimated costs have jumped from $77 billion to as much as $98.1 billion.

High-speed rail taking shape even as opponents seek to ...

The California Governor is still on the hook and he wants to have financial management over the state’s pension fund.

California Pension Fund Urged to Divest from Gun Sellers ...

In part: Newsom’s order directs the state’s Transportation Agency, pension funds and the department that manages government contracts to reconsider how they spend the public’s money with an eye toward investing in projects that could help Californians prepare for climate change.

The executive order “is the governor saying ‘I am prioritizing this in a mainstream way across the government. The state as a major investor and asset owner needs to take climate change really seriously,’” said Kate Gordon, director of the governor’s Office of Planning and Research.

The order references funds that taxpayers typically think of as restricted, such as money earmarked for road improvements and for pension systems that have a financial obligation to earn as much cash as possible to provide retirement security for millions of government employees.

Newsom’s order happened to follow Caltrans’ release of a report describing decisions to adjust funding for highway projects that had been pledged to the Central Valley. The timing created an impression that the Newsom administration was tinkering with taxpayer-approved transportation plans.

Newsom’s executive order won’t change the restrictions lawmakers placed in the 2017 law that levied new taxes and fees on fuel and vehicle registrations to pay for road repairs, according to the state transportation agency. That law is projected to raise about $5 billion a year for roadwork.

But, the executive order could lead the California agency to adjust its plans for other funds, steering money to public transportation and other projects in dense communities near jobs to “reduce vehicle miles traveled.”

Newsom’s administration estimates the state has about $5 billion a year in transportation funds that could be redirected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. More details here.

Meanwhile, The Institute for Energy Research this past August took a hard look at the Green New Deal. After a careful study of the GND, there would be a required $10 tax increase on a single gallon of gas. Additionally, in order to eliminate gas-powered vehicles in favor of electric vehicles, gasoline prices would have to increase to $13 per gallon.

Consider the financial consequences to the nation’s economy and the cost of moving goods in the transportation sector…

The Green New Deal would cripple the U.S. economy by requiring carbon taxes ranging from $200 to $1000 per metric ton to spur replacement of current technologies in the transportation and electric generating sectors. If the United States were to implement carbon taxes of this nature, Americans would be devastated financially. And, given that the United States emits about 15 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions compared to China which emits 28 percent of the world total, U.S. reductions would have little impact on global atmospheric concentrations. According to China’s commitment to the Paris Climate agreement, the country will not begin to reduce carbon dioxide emissions until after the year 2030.

Most Americans would find $13 per gallon gasoline unacceptable. The impacts on households and businesses of all kinds would be enormous. A quadrupling of gasoline prices would plunge the U.S. economy into a deep recession. Policymakers should understand the consequences of their proposals.

While the impeachment process is going on in the House of Representatives, Speaker Pelosi was attending a UN climate change summit in Madrid. While there she declared that the United States was still in the Paris Agreement, in spite of President Trump exiting the United States from the non-binding agreement.

Gotta wonder where this is all going and where the collaboration is in the Pelosi orbit or that of Governor Newsom. Better ask some harder questions of those Democrat presidential candidates in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and beyond.

10/6/19

So you think Trump wants to get rid of the Fed?

By: Publius Huldah

Yes he does.  The Federal Reserve System is collapsing due to the inherent instability of a monetary system, not based on gold & silver, but on the Fed’s “right” to create “money” out of thin air1 which it then lends to the US Treasury (and is added to the national debt),2 in order to fund the federal government’s massive, grotesquely unconstitutional, and out of control spending.

This process of allowing the Fed to create “money” out of thin air with nothing behind it has been going on since 1933, when the promise (set forth in §16 of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913) to redeem Federal Reserve Notes in gold was revoked as to domestic holders;3 and culminated during 1971, when redemption of the Notes in gold to international holders was also suspended.4

Once the statutory promise to back Federal Reserve Notes with gold was rescinded, the sky was the limit on how much fiat “money” the Fed could create, lend to the US Treasury (and be added to the national debt), in order to fund still more massive, grotesquely unconstitutional, and out of control spending by the federal government.

Now we have reached the point where the federal deficits are so huge and increasing at such a furious pace that our entire fiat “money” financial system is coming apart.5

So what are we going to do about it?  Does Trump want to get rid of the Fed so we can return to the constitutional money system described in Point 2 below?

Trump may say that he wants to return to the gold standard;6 but the USMCA “Trade Agreement” he signed doesn’t do that.  The Globalists’ Plan, which is advanced by USMCA, is to ratchet up the fiat “money” system created by the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, from a national to a global level with a central bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing and enforcing an international monetary system.  And as Edwin Vieira, Ph.D., J.D., warned 8 years ago [here]:

“The true perversity of the present situation lies in the indication … that this scheme for a new supra-national monetary order will be sold to a doubting world by attaching some sort of “gold standard” to it….”

  1. The IMF and the international fiat “money” system

The IMF is an institution in the United Nations system.

The IMF has already created (it was done during 1969), out of thin air, an international fiat currency called “special drawing right” (SDR).  The stated purpose of SDRs was to increase liquidity in settling international accounts by making short term loans to member countries to cover their balance of payments, and other temporary financial problems.

USMCA Art. 33.1 shows that the IMF is to monitor our compliance with the IMF’s Articles of Agreement (please let that sink in).

  • Article III of the IMF Articles of Agreement provides that the IMF assigns “quotas” to members [that would include the United States], representing the amount the member must pay into the IMF [members may pay their “subscriptions” using their own unbacked currencies]; and in exchange, they get an equivalent amount of SDRs [also unbacked by any precious metal] issued by the IMF.
  • Article IV, Sections 1-3 of the IMF Articles of Agreement provide that the IMF is to manage the development of an international monetary system [to which we shall be subject]; and is to oversee the member countries’ [that includes the United States] underlying economic and financial conditions and policies in order to promote “sound economic growth” and “financial and economic stability”. i.e., the IMF is going to manage our economy.

USMCA Chapter 17. Financial Services harmonizes the Banking, Insurance, and Investment Practices of Canada, the United States, and Mexico.  This harmonization removes previously existing barriers to global regulation of those areas and to merging regional currencies into a global currency.7

As anyone who reads USMCA can see, the purpose of USMCA is to remove barriers to global regulation of all the areas covered by USMCA, and to advance development of a new global “money” system which will replace our collapsing Federal Reserve System.

Look at the Table of Contents for USMCA:  All those areas:  agriculture, textiles and apparel goods, customs administration, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, telecommunications, intellectual property (patents), labor (which includes immigration and gender & sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace), the environment,  etc., are to be made subject to global regulation.

And we exchange our fiat “money” for the IMF’s fiat “money”; the United States loses control over our monetary system; and the IMF, instead of the Fed, will manage the new monetary system – and our economy.

Trump may give grand speeches before the United Nations saying he opposes globalism and supports nationalism, but the USMCA “Trade Agreement” he signed moves us into global government.8

And the claim that USMCA is about getting favorable tariff agreements for the United States is the Biggest Lie since the Garden of Eden.

  1. What our Constitution provides about money

Our Framers created a Constitution which delegates only “few and defined” powers to the federal government.  This one page chart lists those powers.

Accordingly, except for national defense, our federal government doesn’t need much money to fund its constitutional powers.  So our Framers created a taxing system wherein the funds needed to operate the federal government were raised by the import tariffs and excise taxes authorized at Article I, §8, cl. 1, and by the apportioned direct assessments on the States authorized at Article I, §2, cl. 3.9

Congress is also authorized at Article I, §8, cl. 2, to borrow money on the credit of the United States; but our Framers intended borrowing money to be restricted to funding national defense.10

Our Framers also established a money system based on gold & silver:

  • Article I, §8, cl. 5: “The Congress shall have Power …To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin,…”
  • Article I, §10, cl. 1: “No State shall … coin Money; emit Bills of Credit;11 make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts;”

Accordingly, during 1792, Congress passed an Act establishing a mint and set the standards for the amounts of gold and silver in our coins.  Congress took so seriously the purity of our coins that §19 of the Act provided the death penalty for debasement of coins.   During 1793, Congress passed an Act regulating the value of foreign coins.

A money system based on gold & silver and a limited taxing system were perfect for a federal government of “few and defined” powers.  Furthermore, such systems – if adhered to – would have prevented the emergence of the totalitarian socialist regulatory welfare state we have today.

  1. Why the Federal Reserve System was established

“…A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project…” James Madison, Federalist No. 10.

Why does Madison refer to paper money as an “improper or wicked project”?  Because, among other evils, paper money provides governments with access to unlimited amounts of credit – and that is what was needed to finance the totalitarian socialist regulatory welfare state we have today.

When the Progressives12 took over our Country during the early 1900’s, they needed lots of “money” to fund their unconstitutional regulatory and “welfare” schemes.  But the federal government didn’t have enough gold and silver coins to fund the regulatory welfare state they wanted.  So the Federal Reserve System was created in 1913 to set up a central bank – the “Fed” – which (thanks to fractional reserve banking) would have the power to supply the federal government with the “money” it wanted.13

So it was access to this credit which enabled the federal government to exceed its constitutional limits.

With this easy credit, the federal government was enabled to “buy” the States by giving them fiat “money” to implement unconstitutional federal programs:  State governments literally sold the retained powers of the States and the People to the federal government.  A particularly malignant example is U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s “Extreme Risk Protection Order and Violence Prevention Act of 2019” (“red flag” law), which appropriates $20 Million for each of FY 2019-2023 to pay to States and Indian Tribes which pass the “red flag” legislation set forth in Rubio’s bill.  If a Respondent, whose arms have been taken from him in an ex parte hearing [i.e., a hearing Respondent wasn’t notified about until after the Order had been issued to seize his arms], wants his arms back, he must prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that he does not pose a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself or others by having arms in his possession.

Rubio’s bill puts the burden of proof on the Respondent.  For eons in Anglo/American Jurisprudence, it has been the task of the government to PROVE GUILT.  But Rubio would reverse that and require Respondents to PROVE THEIR INNOCENCE. This is evil.

Rubio’s bill is also unconstitutional as outside the scope of powers delegated to the federal government; and it violates the “Privileges and Immunities clause of Article IV, §2; violates the 2nd Amendment; and violates the “due process” clauses of the 5th Amendment and §1 of the 14th Amendment.

How many States and Indian Tribes will surrender their Citizen’s Right to THE PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE by passing Rubio’s “red flag” law in order to get the “money” from the fed gov’t?14 

If we had preserved the monetary system set up by our Constitution, the federal government wouldn’t have been able to become the totalitarian monster it is today.  If you want a limited government, don’t give it unlimited “money”.

  1. What States can do

In Part 4 of his “A CROSS OF GOLD” series at sub point [3] and in Part 5, Dr. Edwin Vieira shows how States can protect their Citizens from disaster by setting up an alternative gold currency.

The Tenth Amendment Center has model legislation for States to take some steps in the right direction:  See THIS under the heading, “End the Fed from the Bottom Up”.

Open your eyes, Americans.  Time is running out.

End Notes:

1 See excerpt from testimony before Congress on Sep. 30, 1941 by the then Governor of the Fed.

2 Robert P. Murphy, Is Our Money Based on Debt?

3 HERE is the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.  §16 promised redemption of the Federal Reserve Notes in gold.  During 1935, §16 was amended to remove that promise:  HERE is the amendment, codified as 12 USC §411.

4 See 31 USC §5118.

5 The Fed Has Lost Control

6 The quiet campaign to reinstate the gold standard is getting louder

7 See Joan Veon HERE:

“Globalization is the process of breaking through the protective barriers designed to separate the nation-states from the world system. Between 1944 and 2008 [Bretton Woods I & Bretton Woods II] all the nation-state barriers have been removed with exception of the national regulatory laws governing financial institutions, insurance companies, mortgages, and Wall Street. The real purpose of BWII is to establish the framework for a global regulatory system.  This also presents the possibility of merging all regional currencies into a global currency.”  [italics added]  You can also see her video HERE.

8 See:  USMCA and the Quest for a North American Union  and The USMCA “Trade Agreement” violates our Constitution and sets up Global Government.

9 HERE is the Act of 1813 where Congress laid a direct tax of $3 Million upon the United States.  It shows how Congress apportioned the tax (based on population) as required by Art. I, Sec. 2, cl. 3.  (See page 93 of the linked pdf edition.)

10 In Federalist No. 41 (5th para up from bottom), Madison says:

“The power of levying and borrowing money, being the sinew of that which is to be exerted in the national defense, is properly thrown into the same class with it. This power, also, has been examined already with much attention, and has, I trust, been clearly shown to be necessary, both in the extent and form given to it by the Constitution. …”

11 Congress is not authorized to create paper money.  In “A CROSS OF GOLD”, Dr. Edwin Vieira says:

[at Part 2]: “…America’s Founding Fathers, realists all, denominated redeemable paper currency as “bills of credit”. They knew that such bills’ values in gold or silver always depended upon the issuers’ credit—that is, ultimately, the issuers’ honesty and ability to manage their financial affairs.…” [boldface added]

[at Part 3]: “…every form of “redeemable currency” put out through the Federal Reserve System is, by definition, a governmental “bill of credit”, which Congress has no authority to emit, directly or indirectly.” [boldface added]

When, in 1933, the promise to redeem Federal Reserve Notes in gold was repudiated, the federal government dishonored their “bills of credit”.  We should have listened to our Founding Fathers.

12 In the 1880’s, the Fabian Society was founded in England.  Fabians advocate a gradual transition to socialism [as opposed to violent revolution].  They also hold that the elite – and they are the elite – should run everything [as opposed to the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.]  In the early 1900’s, Fabians took over our Country – here they went by the name, “Progressives”.  Teddy Roosevelt & Woodrow Wilson were Progressives; and the Fabian socialist ideology has dominated our Country ever since.

13 For an education in the basics of the Fed, fractional reserve banking, and the creation of “money”, see Robert P. Murphy’s article at end notes 1 & 2; and Dr. Edwin Vieira’s fascinating explanations of these issues in his “A CROSS OF GOLD” series HERE.  Dr. Vieira also shows why we must not accept a new global fiat currency and central bank to replace the collapsing Federal Reserve System.

14 And all that money used to bribe States and Indian Tribes to pass Rubio’s “red flag” law, will be added to the national debt.

08/20/19

Improper Federal Payments: Anyone Care?

By: Denise Simon | Political Vanguard

Obama signed Executive Order 13520 on November 20, 2009, titled ‘Reducing Improper Payments’. Defined in this order is the purpose to examine all parts of the federal government where improper payments were made, the reasons, the amounts and how to reduce the amounts and risks. Further, the order points to the Office of Management and Budget along with the General Accounting Office to lead the mission. Required upon review is full transparency and reporting for access to members of Congress and the American people. Each agency was/is accountable for self-examination and reporting. There was/is a timeline of dates to meet for the benefit of the U.S. Treasury to take further action to reduce the financial chaos within the Federal government. Each reporting quarter required updated submissions.

If any of the requirements were not met then an Inspector General would be assigned to agencies for failure to comply to determine faults and reasons. From this ongoing effort, policy proposals would be submitted stopping all future improper payment exposures.

All sounds great eh? Except, visiting the respective webpages of the OMB and the GAO, there is no reporting. The only summary published dealt with fraud, not waste or abuse. This summary was published in 2018.

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04/12/19

You Afraid of Cryptocurrency?

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

It is a new term for alternative tangibles or intangibles of value but they have been around for centuries. Perhaps we are just fearing the unknown or rogue/fraudulent activities in instruments of value and the volatility of that value. Okay, that part is a good thing for sure. But give competition what it deserves, a chance.

What is cryptocurrency?

John Berlau did an exceptional job with this summary and after having an extended chat with Mr. Berlau, there is more to come on the topic. Meanwhile, enjoy his synopsis. Your comments are invited.

Cryptocurrency and the SEC’s Limitless Power Grab

Why Speculative Consumer Goods Are Not “Securities”

Many questions are being asked about cryptocurrency. Is it a major innovation that will improve standards of living in ways we cannot yet imagine? Or is it a trendy phenomenon that will result in a speculative bubble of volatile assets? The answer to these questions may be: both of the above. New technologies have often produced bubbles that result in large disruptive busts. But after the bubble has burst and the dust has settled, the benefits of the innovation survive and lead to new, unforeseen benefits.

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03/19/19

Will Hedge Funds Reinvent Themselves?

By: Kent Engelke | Capitol Securities

A hedge fund pioneer whose quantitative models became the basis for today’s algorithmic trading models is on the verge of throwing in the towel.  David Harding is credited with pioneering the quantitative models in the mid-1980s, models that are now greatly replicated and are failing miserably because of the popularity of trend-following and risk-based parity models. 

Harding commented that he now has to “reinvent himself” given the “perceived efficiency of computers that systematically buy and sell according to programmed instructions,” trading on information that is perhaps nothing but noise.

Many market luminaries have commented about the impact of high-speed computer-based trading that has destroyed historical benchmarks, creating a false sense of liquidity.

Over the past three years, a record number of hedge funds have closed while capitalization-based passive ETFs have flourished. To put it differently, the best and brightest minds in finance are going out of business while the passive no-brainer investment funds focusing almost entirely on capitalization are doing great. 

Wow!  Talk about an imbalance. Will this massively overcrowded strategy follow the same path as hedge funds? If history is a guide, the answer is yes. A basic premise to this strategy—if you can call passive buying a strategy—is to find more people to buy more of the same over-owned companies. Sometime the buyers will exhaust themselves or conditions will change.

The greatest investors have been big picture people, focusing on the substance of geopolitics and macroeconomic research versus thoughtless style.

Many are focused on today’s commencement of the two-day FOMC meeting. As widely known, the Central Bank radically changed direction on January 8th adopting a “patient” outlook regarding monetary policy following a tumultuous December. Two weeks earlier, the Fed was focused upon a more active monetary policy including increasing bond sales.

No change is expected but I am certain every word will be parsed. 

I continue to argue that growth will continue to surprise on the upside, strength that may again alter monetary policy expectations.

Markets were quiet relatively quiet yesterday. Will the calm extend into today?

Last night the foreign markets were up. London was up 0.59%,  Paris was up 0.50% and Frankfurt was up 0.87%. China was down 0.18%, Japan was down 0.08% and Hang Sang was up 0.19%.

The Dow should open nominally higher awaiting numerous central bank announcements. The 10-year is unchanged at 2.60%.

12/13/18

Tectonic Change And Henry Blodget

By: Kent Engelke | Capitol Securities

Many times I have commented that geopolitical changes are tectonic. Globally, the policies and politics that have dominated since the conclusion of WWII are under attack as the commoner feels abandoned by the government. There is a general distrust of all governments, the result of regulatory fiat instituted by unelected bureaucrats.

In many dimensions, it is urban vs rural. Elitist versus commoner. A case can be made that four of the five largest democracies are in the beginning throes of a gunless revolution. England’s May. France’s Macron. Germany’s Merkel. America’s Trump.

In many regards, instability is the order of the day hoping that this instability does not lead to widespread violence.

What does the above have to do with the markets? Everything. The markets are dominated by multinational technology companies. The assumptions surrounding their business models have been shattered and the companies are fighting to maintain the status quo.

For example, Apple states that if Chinese tariffs rise to 25%, Apple would relocate its production facilities. As noted several times, over 90% of iPads and iPhones are manufactured in China. Wow! Talk about impacting profits, an impact perhaps magnified by slowing sales.

The above paragraph perhaps partially explains the volatility based upon trade comments; volatility amplified by the market dominance of these companies.

Radically changing topics, globally speaking, there is $7.76 trillion of negative real bond yields, up $2 trillion from October according to Barclays. In mid-2016 there was a record $12 trillion of negative real yields. Typically, negative real yields correspond with inflationary growth as funds gravitate to the real economy from financial assets.

Bloomberg writes after hedging out currency risk, the yield on the 10-year Treasury dropped to minus 0.4%, the lowest since the funding markets blew up during the 2008 financial crisis.

Some would argue the surge in the number of bonds with negative real yields is the result of trade fears that will slow global economic activity. Some would also argue the rapid selling of investment grade rated debt over the past month that has created the greatest surge in investment grade credit spreads since 2016 is also the result of fears of a slowing economy.

The issue at hand is the economy is not slowing. Quoting several Federal Reserve officials, the current economic environment is “robust’ and is expected to remain robust for the next several quarters.

Simplistically speaking, there is a disconnect. The other day I referenced JP Morgan research commenting about the proliferation of fake news and research reports that are greatly influencing trading… trading dominated by computers and six-word headlines.

Can I remotely suggest that such is occurring today in an attempt to sway public opinion about the dangers of changes in trade policy? Wow! This is conspiracy theory stuff.

If JP Morgan is correct about the massive proliferation of questionable news and research reports, the above does not sound outlandish. In my view, if any “credible” analyst writes comments that are found today in the blogosphere, comments that would make Henry Blodget blush, that analyst would be quickly cashiered.

Enough of the conspiracy rant, for the fourth straight day equity gains were cut in half by market close thus suggesting selling into any type of strength.

Just as an aside, late yesterday according to the LA Times, the California Public Utilities Commission will vote next month for a “texting tax” to provide funds for phone service to the poor. State regulators have proposed the tax would be retroactive going back five years.

Various business groups including Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the CA Chamber of Commerce is fighting the proposal, calling such as “dumb and unneeded.” Several consumer advocacy groups are also protesting stating it would unfairly impact those who are “less fortunate.”

Wow! If passed, would this be viewed in a similar manner as France’s fuel tax? Government data states over 80% of California have a cell or smartphone.

Last night the foreign markets were mixed. London was down 0.40%, Paris was down 0.37% and Frankfurt was down 0.12%. China was up 1.23%, Japan was up 0.99% and Hang Sang was up 1.29%.

The Dow should open nervously flat. The 10-year is up 2/32 to yield 2.91%.

12/12/18

Taxing Texting to Pay Entitlements/Cell Service for Indigents?

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Anyone old enough to remember the sin taxes? Well, seems California has proposed to take it to a whole new level to aid the poor… use cell phones… didn’t the Federal government do that with the Obama-phones?

Anyone remember taxation without representation? Oh, just an archaic notion anymore.

SACRAMENTO, CA (NBC NEWS) — California residents may soon have to pay a tax on texting.

According to KNTV, the public utilities commission is floating the idea to help fund programs that give low-income residents access to cell phones.

It’s not clear how much the texting tax would be or how it would be collected.

Several business groups have come out against the proposal.

One business group says the program is flush with cash.

But state regulators say the program is breaking the bank after the budget for the program has been raised 300 million dollars in six years.

The wireless industry says the texting tax would put them at a disadvantage over other free messaging services like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Apple’s i-Message and others.

Mobile phone companies along with telecom providers are working to defeat this ridiculous proposal. There is no formal amount of the tax that has been announced, but frankly the poor in California actually need places to live and employment rather than cell phones. There is some chatter that just a flat fee added to the mobile service or a surcharge would be proposed versus some tax per text.

The Bay Area and the California Chamber of Commerce are looking to create a fund estimated to be in the $40-50 million range per year. Oh, wait… there is also some consideration to making these taxes retroactive going back 5 years. If that is the case, that fund would amount to well over $200 million.

A dense California Public Utilities Commission report laying out the case for the texting surcharge says the Public Purpose Program budget has climbed from $670 million in 2011 to $998 million last year. But the telecommunications industry revenues that fund the program have fallen from $16.5 billion in 2011 to $11.3 billion in 2017, it said.

“This is unsustainable over time,” the report says, arguing that adding surcharges on text messaging will increase the revenue base that funds programs that help low-income Californians afford phone service.

Telecom companies are already arguing that texting is an informational service like email and not a service under the authority of the commission’s authority.

Just imagine how much texting goes on through several platforms including iMessages, WhatApps, Skype or by Facebook. It is estimated that in one year alone, 3 trillion text messages are sent.

Often what begins in one state is later adopted in others. So, if you can stand it, it would be prudent to review the whole proposal by clicking here.

One more item going through the FCC:

The Federal Communications Commission says it is giving cellular carriers added authority to block text messages, saying the action is needed to protect consumers from spam or robotexts. But critics of the plan note that carriers are already allowed to block robotexts and worry that the change will make it easy for carriers to censor political texts or block certain kinds of messages in order to extract more revenue from senders.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s announcement acknowledges that carriers are already allowed to block illegal robotexts. Pai did not promise new consumer-friendly blocking services; instead, he said his plan “allow[s] carriers to continue using robotext-blocking and anti-spoofing measures to protect consumers from unwanted text messages” (emphasis ours).

Despite that, Pai is proposing to classify text messaging as an information service, rather than a telecommunications service. That’s the same legal classification that Pai gave to home and mobile broadband services as part of a December 2017 vote to deregulate the industry and eliminate net neutrality rules. The FCC has not previously ruled on whether text messaging is an information service or a telecommunications service.

An FCC vote on Pai’s plan is scheduled for December 12.