How We Spent Spring Break

By: T F Stern | T F Stern’s Rantings

My wife and I went to Florida this past week.  We found that travel and lodging during Spring Break involves cashing in a couple of CDs since prices qualify for gouging; but that’s a whole other story.

The purpose of our trip was to scatter my father’s ashes, a gesture of respect which gave us closure, much as having a formal funeral puts a period at the end of a sentence.

The funeral home supplied a TSA approved urn made of nicely polished wood containing dad’s cremated ashes along with an official letter issued by the State of Texas for permission to transport human remains.

We showed up earlier than normal to avoid complications should the urn not pass TSA check point guidelines as advised.  We were told that his urn would be considered ‘carry on luggage’; dwell on that for a moment.  We’d placed the urn in a blue plastic bag from Sketchers shoe store so as not to alarm folks at the airport.

Thinking of dad as ‘carry on luggage’ made me smile, a morbid sense of humor that a retired night shift cop would find amusing.  At least we didn’t have to purchase a ticket and put a seat belt around the urn.

The folks at the TSA check point ran the urn through their X-ray machine twice and then took several swabs with chemically treated patches to make sure it didn’t contain bomb making substances.  Dad passed (actually he ‘passed’ back in October) and we placed him in the overhead luggage compartment without incident.

Dad’s Pastor volunteered the use of his boat as he ferried my sister and her husband along with my wife and me to the same location where mom’s ashes had been scattered last August.  We had an informal burial service and for all practical purposes we’d accomplished our mission.

But that’s not why I’m writing…

TSA flagged my wife’s carry on luggage; something raised suspicion as it went through the X-ray machine.  We were herded over to a steel table where they went though every inch of it.  A coin purse had too many quarters which prevented them from figuring out what it was.

They went through the toiletries and told us we had a tube of liquid material that exceeded the Three and One Half Ounce Rule, a brand new unopened tube of doTerra Deep Blue Rub, essential oils used to ease pain and assist the body in a number of ways.  There are strict rules from the FDA which forbid essential oil retailers from saying essential oils ‘cure’ anything or they come after us for making an unsubstantiated product claim.

Let’s just say some folks find essential oils help and leave it at that.  I use essential oils rather than drugs ‘Big Pharma’ and pill pushing doctors want me to use.

The TSA threw my perfectly good Thirty Dollar tube of Deep Blue Rub in the trash…  It was half an ounce over their arbitrarily determined limit for liquids making it suspect for bomb making material used by terrorists to blow up an airplane.

Neither my wife nor I fit the profile of Islamic Terrorists; but common sense got thrown in the trash can along with profiling individuals.  99 % of terrorism is carried out by followers of Islam; but that other 1%… just might be us.

It’s part of being Politically Correct so as not to antagonize Muslims who’ve already declared war on Western Civilization, promising to either enslave or murder us at their discretion.

I suggested that one solution would be for me to squeeze out half of the tube in the trash thereby saving me fifteen dollars worth of Deep Blue Rub; it would, after all be well under the three and one half ounce arbitrarily arrived at limit.

“We’re not permitted to do that.  You’ll have to throw it all in the trash”.  My wife reminded me that boarding the airplane was a better idea than going to prison so I permitted the veins in my neck to remain swollen until we’d passed by the TSA folks.

Has anyone considered the absurdity of what I’ve pointed out?

The 4th Amendment reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The 4th Amendment was written specifically to prevent government officials from conducting searches without probable cause or search warrants.  I felt violated because my right to be secure from an unreasonable search and seizure was ignored…; but it was for my own good and the security of our nation, Spit!

The courts have interpreted the language of our Founders to mean anything they damn well want it to mean as individual rights and the constitution have been thrown into the trash can of obscurity where it lies crumpled and bruised.

I’ve heard Deep Blue Rub is good for bruises…

This article has been cross posted to The Self Educated American, a publication whose banner reads, “Standing Fast By the Judeo-Christian Heritage, Limited Government and the U.S. Constitution”.



By: Kent Engelke | Capitol Securities

Treasuries advanced last week, the first of several; following the Federal Reserve’s signal that it is not in any rush to lift rates. Oil prices however had the first weekly gain this month following an unexpected reduction in inventories and from Saudi Arabia’s comments that it may prolong production cuts into the second half of 2017. Equities ended the week nominally higher.

Several weeks ago, I quoted a WSJ journal article about the breakdown of the cross correlated trade, a trade that almost everyone is involved in as it has worked almost flawlessly for the last 10-12 years.

In my view — a view at this juncture is entirely rhetorical and conjectural — the last two weeks it has appeared that the trade is back in vogue. Or perhaps the more accurate statement to make is velocity of the trade has returned.

Oil and Treasuries were crushed, with the latter rallying sharply last week. Will oil follow suit this week, perhaps the result of falling inventories and bullish statements from the oil producing countries?

If oil does advance, will this squash the rally in Treasuries for such is historically viewed as inflationary?

Because of the tectonic change in trading mechanics, the massive influence of ETFs and algorithmic trading, trends that typically took months to unfold, now occur in a matter of days. A case can be made that such trends mask the real volatility beneath the surface, volatility that only benefits a few.

The economic calendar is sparse until the end of week. Data released include new and existing home sales, durable goods orders and several regional manufacturing indices.

Speaking of housing, will the dearth of homes available for sale increase inflationary pressures? As noted many times, since 2008 new home construction is about two-thirds the level to meet innate demand, the result of crushing regulation. Moreover, the inventory of unsold existing homes is also around record lows.

Will the acceleration in home prices, the result of the lack of inventories, begin to increase owners’ equivalent rent (OER) or what someone thinks they could rent their home for if it was indeed a rental? OER is closely correlated to home values, it plunged in 2008 and has been benign for a myriad of reasons.

Apartment rents are surging because of the lack of housing inventories. There is a debate… does OER follow apartment rents or vice versa?

OER represents between 30% and 35% of the accepted inflationary indices. I will continue to argue if OER suddenly accelerates, the odds of which I think are over 75%, inflationary expectations may become unanchored.

Wow! Such would make the recent drubbing in the bond market as benign an environment that will be acerbated by the proliferation of ETFs and technology based trading.

What will happen today and this week? There is a plethora of Fed speakers this week. Will the narrative be any different than the one expressed by the FRB Chair last Wednesday?

Last night the foreign markets were mixed. London was down 0.18%, Paris was down 0.30% and Frankfurt was down 0.31%. China was up 0.41%, Japan closed for a holiday and Hang Sang was up 0.79%.

The Dow should open nominally lower. The 10-year is off 2/32 to yield 2.52%.