Daily Digest 10/14 – Finding Meaning in Quantitative Easing, Melting Ice Redraws the World Map



Beware of Funny Financials (Adam)

Companies can understate expenses. Many tech companies use non-GAAP accounting to strip out the cost of employee stock options, for instance, thereby showing higher earnings. WeWork sought to redefine traditional earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization as something called “community-based EBITDA.” The new measure conveniently excluded normal operating expenses such as marketing, general and administrative expenses, development and design costs.

The Beginning of the End (westcoastjan)

Whether they will succeed is another question. But know that all this frantic action to manipulate the liquidity and rate equation is in response to one chart, the chart that says we are at the beginning of the end. First comes the yield curve inversion, then comes the steepening, and that’s exactly what happened this week.

In planning for next U.S. recession, economists say, don’t fret about debt (Sparky1)

Japan, with debt twice the size of its economy, has had no trouble issuing more. While Japan’s situation is unique in some ways, even Europe’s more debt-wary nations may be opening to the idea that there are good reasons to borrow, particularly to meet emerging commitments to reduce reliance on carbon-based fuels, said Jean Pisani-Ferry, a senior fellow at Bruegel, a European think tank.

Housing market flashing recession signal (Adam)

Household income has been growing, but it hasn’t come close to keeping up with the increase in home prices. For example, the median annual household income in August rose 1.3% from a year earlier, Sentier Research said earlier this month. That compares with the 4.7% gain in the U.S. median home price in August from a year earlier, using data from the National Association of Realtors.

Report: G7 Says ‘Global Stablecoins’ Pose Threat to Financial Stability (Thomas R.)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify before the United States House of Representatives Financial Services Committee about Libra later this month. The head of the committee, Democratic Representative Maxine Waters, has been a noted critic of the project. Earlier this year, the committee drafted the “Keep Big Tech out of Finance Act.”

Stocks dip as report China wants more trade talks tempers optimism (Thomas R.)

“A delay to the scheduled December tariffs was not announced, although that’s likely if a deal is reached, and the state of provisions on intellectual property, forced technology transfer, and Chinese state subsidies, the most difficult aspects of the negotiations, are still unclear.”

Liquidity was also lacking with Japan off and a partial market holiday in the United States for Columbus Day.

China’s crackdown on sugar smuggling leaves global storage headache (Thomas R.)

International Sugar Organization (ISO) figures show the global market will record a deficit of nearly 5 million tonnes in the 2019/20 season, meaning Asia will be able to absorb some of the excess resulting from China’s crackdown.

However, following two straight years of surplus, the world market has some 95 million tonnes of stock to absorb, the ISO said. That is equivalent to about six months worth of demand and is disproportionately concentrated in Asia.

California Power Shutoffs Highlight Widening Income Gap (Thomas R.)

Generators and solar panels are the last things low-income families are thinking about during the blackout, said Mary Kuhn, spokeswoman for Catholic Charities East Bay. Many are struggling with lost wages because restaurants or other businesses that pay by the hour temporarily closed.

Here’s How The New U.S.-China Trade Talks May End (thc0655)

The first likely outcome is that trade talks will very quickly fall apart. The U.S. recently added 28 Chinese firms to the “Entity List”, which restricts their ability to do business in the U.S. Rumors of potential restrictions on Chinese purchases of U.S. equities have also caused heightened tensions. China has also narrowed the parameters of what they are willing to discuss in terms of concessions only days before the meeting, indicating that serious talks will not be taking place.

Finding Meaning in Quantitative Easing (Adam)

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is unlikely to respond to his critics with a line from “Alice Through the Looking-Glass,” but he should. The Fed is about to start buying $60 billion of Treasurys a month, and many are wondering if it is leading the charge back into quantitative easing, often known as money printing.

More Californians can seek gun removals after Newsom signs new firearm laws (Sparky1)

Supporters say the law is one of the most effective tools the state has to prevent gun violence, enabling authorities to intervene when they see “red flag” behavior. But it was lightly used in the first three years after it took effect in 2016, particularly compared with other states that have similar programs.

Armed and Misogynist: How Toxic Masculinity Fuels Mass Shootings (WC)

In the years before Beierle struck, he expressed his misogyny and grievances in verbose YouTube monologues. He delivered his pseudo-intellectual and narcissistic screeds mostly in a calm, articulate manner. But his smoldering rage against women was not far from the surface: He seethed in moments when he called out several young women who he claimed had wronged him during his school years. As he recounted how one stood him up for a date, he paused briefly for a nonchalant but chilling aside: “Ah, I could’ve ripped her head off.”

If It Bleeds It Leads: How the American Media Perpetuates and Profits from Mass Shootings (Alex)

More than simply a desire to see these shootings not reported, the FBI is actively investigating potential copycat criminals in the wake of mass shootings, such as the ones that took place in Dayton and El Paso. A study conducted by Mother Jones located no fewer than 74 copycat killings (attempted or executed) of the 1999 Columbine shooting alone. The casualty toll of these attacks included 89 deaths, 126 injuries and nine suicides.

NY Times: Violent parody video shown at Trump resort (Sparky1)

In the video, Trump’s face is superimposed on a killer’s body as he shoots people in the face and otherwise assaults them. Among the targets: former President Barack Obama, Black Lives Matter, Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, Bill and Hillary Clinton and Rep. Adam Schiff, who as Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is leading the impeachment inquiry of Trump.

Late Sunday, the White House Correspondents Association issued a statement saying it was “horrified” by the video.

Central Bank Issues Stunning Warning: “If The Entire System Collapses, Gold Will Be Needed To Start Over” (Ivo M.)

According to the IMF’s latest data, the DNB holds 615 tons (15,000 bars) of gold mainly in Amsterdam, with other stores in the U.K. and North America; the value of this gold reserve is over €6 billion ($6.62 billion). Calling gold the “trust anchor,” the article details briefly why the hard asset is so important to wealth building and the global economy, claiming: “Gold is… the trust anchor for the financial system. If the whole system collapses, the gold stock provides a collateral to start over. Gold gives confidence in the power of the central bank’s balance sheet.”

Tens of thousands of Hong Kong protesters plead for U.S. help (Sparky1)

They chanted “Fight for Freedom, Fight for Hong Kong” as they gathered peacefully near central government offices in the Admiralty district of the Chinese-ruled city only hours after police said violent protests had escalated to a “life-threatening level”.

Abandoned by U.S. in Syria, Kurds Find New Ally in American Foe (Sparky1)

The announcement of the deal Sunday evening capped a day of whipsaw developments marked by rapid advances by Turkish-backed forces and the escape of hundreds of women and children linked to the Islamic State from a detention camp. As American troops were redeployed, two American officials said the United States had failed to transfer five dozen “high value” Islamic State detainees out of the country.

Mack Truck workers begin strike at plants in 3 states (Sparky1)

The action comes amid a weekslong United Automobile Workers strike against General Motors that shut down GM’s factories in the U.S. Factories in Canada and Mexico were later forced to close due to a lack of parts. Both sides are sparring over wages, job security, investments in U.S. plants and technology training for workers.

Why are these L.A. people sleeping in pods stacked on top of each other? It’s not just the cost of housing (thc0655)

Mike Baez, 38, is an actor and filmmaker who drives for Uber to get by. In traditional rentals, he said, you have to put so much deposit money down, and landlords often frown on what he can produce for his proof of income. Eddy didn’t, and its security deposit was just $395. He moved a month ago into the complex, which charges $795 a month if you commit to six, $100 more if you go month to month, $50 more for the slight space upgrade from a twin- to a full-size mattress.

Underestimating Them & Overestimating Us (thc0655)

I certainly overestimated my forecasting ability and underestimated the abilities of the ruling class to take outrageously reckless steps to retain their power and manipulate the masses into believing extreme abnormalcy was actually normal. The first outrage perpetrated by the oligarchs was passing the $700 billion TARP bailout of the feckless Hank Paulson lied and threatened to protect his billionaire buddies.

Oh that it should come to this Pt. 13 (Jesper A.)

Sartre is no fool, there is serious intent, we cannot dispell his strivings, which brings us to Bacon the METAPHYSICIAN. I resist the temptation to say Bacon has an ethic, it is scant, perhaps better even in Sartre, but there is a large and thick centre or core in Bacon surrounding the idea of right reason. The word of fragile and provisional in fact comes to mind, of a strive t´ward science rather than the completed boisterous (vainglorious even to use Hobbes) idea of science we ourselves flaunt and show off at every given opportunity. We are full of pride…

Migrants describe being tortured and raped on perilous journey to Libya (Sparky1)

Eventually a Libyan sailor dives into the sea, swims to the boat and attaches the rope. His comrades pull the boat alongside. Reluctantly the migrants climb on board the Libyan Coast Guard ship. “This is worse than death,” laments a woman.

Ken Fisher’s fund reportedly loses $600 million client after offensive comments (Thomas R.)

On Tuesday, Fisher told attendees at the Tiburon CEO Summit in San Francisco that winning clients was like “trying to get into a girl’s pants,” and talked about genitalia, according to multiple reports and leaked audio.

A number of attendees spoke out after his remarks, calling them disgusting and offensive.

Cubans’ resilience sorely tested as US oil sanctions bite (Sparky1)

At the Alamar textile factory – and in offices and factories throughout the island – all machines and lights are switched off between 11am and 1pm. Taking her extended lunch break, Aimee Machu, 52, said the US wants to stem the flow of oil to “extinguish the flame of communism”.

‘Broken system’ starves U.S. oil boom of immigrant workers (Thomas R.)

“They’re demanding more rigs, more swabbing units, but you don’t have enough employees,” said Vega, who runs Mico Services with around $17 million in annual revenues. “It’s a lack of a system to get legal workers, to have more of a workforce to pull from.”

Employers like Vega in the Permian Basin oilfields of New Mexico and Texas say they feel caught between Trump’s support for their industry and his policies focused on tougher immigration enforcement.

Is fake meat better for you, or the environment? (Thomas R.)

Based on calories alone, plant-based protein is healthier than animal-based meat. The Impossible Whopper from Burger King is lower in calories, fat and cholesterol than the regular Whopper. Cell-based meat also has the potential to be healthier than regular animal meat because it can be engineered to contain more protein, essential amino acids and vitamins while reducing the amount of saturated fat and minimizing the chance of animal-borne illnesses (such as salmonella and E. coli) contaminating the meat.

Scientists endorse mass civil disobedience to force climate action (Sparky1)

A total of 1,307 volunteers had since been arrested at various protests in London by 2030 GMT on Saturday, Extinction Rebellion said. A further 1,463 volunteers have been arrested in the past week in another 20 cities, including Brussels, Amsterdam, New York, Sydney and Toronto, according to the group’s tally. More protests in this latest wave are due in the coming days.

Melting Ice Redraws the World Map and Starts a Power Struggle (Sparky1)

South Korea, meanwhile, is building ice-hardened LNG supertankers to ship the gas, at more than $300 million apiece. They can only deliver to Asia when Russia’s Northern Sea Route is relatively ice free. Still, this year it became navigable in August and traffic is still passing in October. The time-frame for when the passage will be consistently ice free is shrinking all the time.

Gold & Silver

Click to read the PM Daily Market Commentary: 10/11/19

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