Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

August 29th: Ed’s Daily Notes and Traders Corner   34 comments

The S&P 500 levels to watch today:

UPSIDE: 2001-2002 (2 data points), 2005 (August 26th’s high and the all-time high), and 2020 (top of the Bollinger Bands).
LAST CLOSE: 1996, inside the 1993-1998 (5 data points) range.
DOWNSIDE: 1982-1990 (July’s high and 5 data points), 1977 (August 20th’s low), 1971-1972 (2 data points), 1968 (June’s high), 1965 (50 day moving average), 1964 (August 15th’s high), 1959 (20 day moving average), 1958 (August 18th’s low), 1955 (August 14th’s high), 1947-1948 (2 data points), 1944 (August 11th’s high), 1941 (August 15th’s low), 1927-1939 (July’s low and 9 data points and the 100 day moving average), 1924 (May’s high), 1921 (August 4th’s low), 1916 (August 1st’s low), 1909-1913 (3 data points), 1904 (August 7th’s low), and 1898 (bottom of the Bollinger Bands).

S&P 500 Daily Momentum: Bullish (weakening)
S&P 500 Daily Overbought/oversold: Neutral (leaning overbought)
S&P 500 Weekly Momentum: Bearish (weakening)
S&P 500 Weekly Overbought/oversold: Neutral (leaning overbought)
S&P 500 Futures: Positive
Overall: Light volume with only small movement has left the technicals almost stalled this week. Momentum indicators for the S&P 500 seem headed to neutral, while overbought/oversold indicators still read about the same as they did at the beginning of the week.

And now for the news…

The Daily Beast: Why Obama Backed off More ISIS Strikes: His Own Team Couldn’t Agree on a Syria Strategy

After lots of bluster about striking ISIS on Syria, President Obama threw cold water on the idea Thursday, disappointing those who wanted him to take the fight to ISIS in Syria.
After a week of talk of eliminating the “cancer” of ISIS, President Obama said Thursday that he was not planning to significantly expand the war against the Islamic extremist movement anytime soon.

His remarks came after days of heated debate inside the top levels of his own national security bureaucracy about how, where, and whether to strike ISIS in Syria. But those deliberations – which included a bleak intelligence assessment of America’s potential allies in Syria — failed to produce a consensus battle plan. And so Obama, who has long been reluctant to enter into the Syrian conflict, told reporters Thursday that “we don’t have a strategy yet” for confronting ISIS on a regional level.

Only 875 more days of the lamest presidential administration ever…

Yahoo News: Nokia will have its revenge on the smartphone industry

Bobb posted this article yesterday in the comments:

Business Korea has just published a very provocative piece that depicts a monstrous troll attacking its home country’s pride and joy, Samsung. That troll, you’ll be surprised to learn, is Nokia.

The reason for this is easy to understand: Samsung may be forced to pay one of the history’s biggest patent royalty sums to Nokia, and fellow Korean electronics titan LG is not scot free, either.

What unleashed the beast in the Finnish company was its decision to sell its handset division to Microsoft a while back. As long as Nokia was a phone company, it was bound by a web of cross-licensing deals limiting how much it can charge for its thousands of handset-related patents. Nokia needed to use both essential and non-essential patents held by Samsung, Apple, Motorola and other industry giants, which put a rather severe cap on how much it could charge other phone vendors.

But when Nokia got out of handset business, the need for those cross-licensing deals vanished and Nokia emerged as a Non-Practicing Entity (NPE). Or as Business Korea defines the term, a patent troll.

This means the already competitive smartphone business just got a little more expensive.

Posted August 29, 2014 by edmcgon in News, Politics, Stocks, Technology

Ed’s Daily Notes for August 26th   1 comment

Financial Times: François Hollande purges government after leftwing revolt

Plas brought this up yesterday:

François Hollande has purged his embattled Socialist government of leftwingers opposed to EU austerity after a revolt led by Arnaud Montebourg, the flamboyant economy minister.

Mr Montebourg quit the cabinet on Monday, delivering a blistering attack on what he called “absurd” austerity policies – supported by Mr Hollande – which had brought about “the most destructive crisis in Europe since 1929”.

The outspoken minister said in a televised statement that the eurozone’s fiscal stance was “the cause of the unnecessary prolongation of the economic crisis and the suffering of the European population”.

The cabinet crisis was triggered by figures this month showing there had been no growth in the French economy in the first half of the year, with unemployment continuing to rise.

The economic gloom alarmed the left, already worried by the deep unpopularity of the government. An Ifop poll at the weekend showed Mr Hollande’s approval rating at just 17 per cent, with prime minister Manuel Valls plunging nine points to 36 per cent.

This presents a unique market situation. On one hand, France moving farther away from Germany politically would destabilize the European Union. On the other hand:

Bloomberg: Draghi Pushes ECB Closer to QE as Deflation Risks Rise

Mario Draghi just pushed the European Central Bank closer to quantitative easing.

With euro-area data this week likely to show the weakest inflation since 2009, the ECB president used a high-powered central-banking conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to warn that investor bets on prices have “exhibited significant declines.”

Stocks rose, the euro fell and bond yields dropped to record lows today as the comments fanned speculation the ECB is finally heading for a form of monetary stimulus it has long avoided. Draghi previously said that a worsening of the medium-term inflation outlook would provide a reason for broad-based asset purchases.

The Aug. 22 speech “was a major event and marked a turning point in ECB rhetoric,” said Philippe Gudin, chief European economist at Barclays Plc in Paris. “We think the recent economic developments have increased the chance of outright QE as the next step.”

From a market perspective, central bank action always trumps politics (contrary to popular opinion). One can argue the ECB should have done this several years ago, although I don’t: As we have seen in the U.S., QE only creates economic window dressing by artificially pumping up markets and allowing banks to sell overpriced assets to the Fed (instead of lending money to truly help the economy). If Europe wants to pursue this, expect European markets to do well.

But what about the U.S.? With the Fed ending QE this Fall, around the same time we will possibly getting ECB action, the effect on the world economy should go like this: Dollar rises in value, euro falls, U.S. exports to Europe fall, European exports to the U.S. increase. However, because most European products tend to be high-end, unless the euro falls through the floor (which would require an exceedingly large QE from the ECB, which is not expected), European exports to the U.S. have limited upside. Overall, I would expect the U.S. exporters to be hurt by this news.

As an aside, I would also expect China to be hurt by this news, being effected in the same way as the U.S. If it hurts the Chinese economy severely enough, we might even see the Chinese de-pegging the yuan from the dollar. But this is speculation on activity at least a year away (more likely several years away). Honestly, it is hard to say what the Chinese may do.

Happy Birthday Dad! Ed’s Daily Notes for August 20th   1 comment

funny-pictures-gerbil-makes-sprinkles-for-your-birthday-cake(hat tip to I Tried Being Tasteful for the pic)

Today is a special day for my Dad, who turns 75 today. I just want to say happy birthday Dad, and thanks for three-quarters of a century of excellence!

The Hill: Obama heads back to vacation after unexplained DC trip

President Obama went back to his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard Tuesday evening following less than 48 hours in Washington, leaving people puzzled over why he came back in the first place.

Obama’s two days in Washington were mostly quiet, and concluded with the president receiving his daily national security briefing in the morning, and joining Vice President Biden to huddle with members of his economic team in the afternoon.

…Judicial Watch estimates the extra roundtrip cost $1.1 million. Only daughter Malia accompanied Obama back to Washington.

Speculation for why Obama returned focused around the possibility of a secret foreign leader meeting or the roll out of a new administration initiative on immigration or corporate taxes.

But no such explanation materialized.

The most unusual deviation from a normal day at the White House was Obama’s dinner Monday night at Sam Kass’s home. The president, joined by deputy chief of staff Anita Breckenridge, spent nearly five hours at the White House chef’s Dupont Circle duplex apartment.

It’s possible that the party may have been a celebration of Kass’s impending nuptials to MSNBC host Alex Wagner. The couple announced their engagement last September. But the White House provided no details of the meal.

Worst…president…ever…

On the bright side, there are only 884 days left in this buffoon’s administration.

Bloomberg: Steve Ballmer Leaves Microsoft’s Board After Departure as CEO

Steve Ballmer resigned from Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s board, eight months after his departure as chief executive officer, ending more than three decades of direct involvement in the world’s largest software maker.

Ballmer, 58, remains Microsoft’s top individual shareholder. He had initially remained as a director after handing the top job over to one of his deputies, Satya Nadella, in February. Ballmer recently bought the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion and appeared in front of the team and fans this week, vowing to lift the team to “higher heights” and promising not to micromanage.

The former CEO’s departure ends a 34-year association with Microsoft, which he led as CEO from 2000 to February 2014. Revenue tripled under Ballmer’s tenure, even as the Redmond, Washington-based company struggled to compete with Apple Inc. and Google Inc. in areas such as mobile phones, tablet computers and Internet search.

If Ballmer runs the Clippers like he did Microsoft, expect him to put together a dream team. But I wonder how well guys like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson can still play?

Fox News: NFL reportedly asking music acts to pay for playing Super Bowl halftime show

Really?

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the league has notified Rihanna, Katy Perry, and Coldplay that they are under consideration to perform at halftime of Super Bowl 49 next February. In the process of notifying them, the paper reports that the league has also asked some of the artists to either give a portion of their post-Super Bowl tour proceeds to the league or make some type of financial contribution in exchange for being offered the show.

People familiar with the matter told The Journal that the league’s request received a “chilly” reception from the artists’ representatives. The NFL does not pay the halftime acts, though the league typically covers the performers’ travel and production expenses.

Greed, thy name is NFL…

Posted August 20, 2014 by edmcgon in News, Politics, Stocks

Ed’s Daily Notes for August 19th   1 comment

Bloomberg: Only Rich Know Wage Gains With No Raises for U.S Workers

Call it the no-raises recovery: Five years of economic expansion have done almost nothing to boost paychecks for typical American workers while the rich have gotten richer.

Meager improvements since 2009 have barely kept up with a similarly tepid pace of inflation, raising the real value of compensation per hour by only 0.5 percent. That marks the weakest growth since World War II, with increases averaging 9.2 percent at a similar point in past expansions, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data compiled by Bloomberg.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has zeroed in on faster wage growth as an important milestone for declaring the job market healed and ready to withstand policy tightening, even as other labor measures improve…

Households in the top 20 percent of U.S. socioeconomic groups saw their incomes grow by an average of $8,358 a year from 2008 to 2012, compared with a $275 annual decline for the lowest 20 percent, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If you want to know why the riots in Ferguson, Missouri are happening, look no further than the news above. While the Media might be stoking the racial aspect of the riots, I see the police shooting that took place there as a spark in a tinder box. Before you write that incident off as “blacks being blacks”, consider that every time this country goes through an economic recession or stagnation, blacks always do worse in the employment statistics than other races. The U.S. has serious racial issues, which are only exacerbated by the moat which the upper classes have put around their wealth. When you see the stock indexes hitting new highs with obscene regularity, at the same time the bond markets are flooded with money to the point of paying almost nothing in yield, yet the employment and wages are stagnant, this is clearly an economic disconnect. There is an absurd amount of money being invested, but there isn’t a “trickle down” effect.

On top of the economic flaws, we have a huge education problem, especially in the black community. I would draw your attention to this article, “Did School Integration Fail Black Children?“:

The reality is that black families faced heavier burdens with the desegregation mandate than whites. Black children spent more time commuting, black schools were closed to make desegregation more convenient for whites (and to prevent their flight to the suburbs or private schools), and black teachers and principals were fired when white and black schools were merged. Estimates show that more than 82,000 black teachers provided instruction to a black student population numbering around 2 million in 1954. Within a span of 10 years, around 40,000 black teachers lost their jobs. Ninety percent of black principals lost their jobs in 11 Southern states.

Today, increased public school closings across the nation disproportionately impact black, Latino and poor students who lose their neighborhood schools. Eighty-eight percent of the school closings in Chicago affect black students.

The decimation of black educators has had a long-lasting impact. A study by the National Center for Education Statistics found that among 3.3 million teachers in American public elementary and secondary schools in 2012—where minority students are quickly becoming the majority—they were 82 percent white, 8 percent Hispanic, 7 percent black and about 2 percent Asian. The loss of black teachers means that many students have lost contact with their most impactful role models. As black educator Kevin Gilbert told the Associated Press, “Nothing can help motivate our students more than to see success standing right in front of them.”

As usual with most progressive solutions, desegregation sounded good on the surface, but had horrendously bad results. Unfortunately, because of decades of being the only group willing to deal with the black community, the progressives are the only ones to whom the black community are listening. So when smart people like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar offer solutions, they naturally include progressive solutions like food stamps and welfare, which are temporary crutches, not real solutions.

I won’t offer a solution here, but I will say that any solutions that sound good on the surface need to be viewed with more discerning eyes. And the already failed policies of the progressives need to be thrown out. They have already done enough damage.

Posted August 19, 2014 by edmcgon in Economy, Editorial/opinion, News, Politics

The Week Ahead: Ed’s Daily Notes for August 18th   Leave a comment

Here is the calendar for the week ahead, which looks pretty slow:

TUESDAY: The U.S. Consumer Price Index report for July will be released at 8:30 am EST. Home Depot (HD) will also be releasing their quarterly earnings report.
WEDNESDAY: The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee meeting minutes from their July 30th meeting will be released at 2 pm EST.
THURSDAY: U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims report released at 8:30 am EST.

And now for an editorial…

Time: The Coming Race War Won’t Be About Race

I haven’t discussed the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, mainly because I haven’t had anything to contribute to the discussion. Fortunately, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar takes care of that for me in the editorial above.

However, while he nails it with most of his editorial, I have to take exception with one point he made:

I’m aware that it is unfair to paint the wealthiest with such broad strokes. There are a number of super-rich people who are also super-supportive of their community. Humbled by their own success, they reach out to help others. But that’s not the case with the multitude of millionaires and billionaires who lobby to reduce Food Stamps, give no relief to the burden of student debt on our young, and kill extensions of unemployment benefits.

Food stamps and unemployment benefits don’t create opportunities for the poor. That is only the “bread” part of the infamous “bread and circuses”. It didn’t solve poverty in Ancient Rome, and it won’t do it in modern America either.

That said, the burden of student debt is something we need to be considering. My view is we need to be targeting certain educational degrees with student grants, instead of using the broad stroke loans for all college educations. If we need more engineers, then let’s give grants to college students studying engineering. If we need more computer programmers, give grants to those students too. If we need more auto mechanics, provide grants to the trade schools for those students. We don’t just need a generation of students with ANY college degree. We need them educated in fields where “we the people” have a need. Unfortunately, this needs to be done intelligently, which means the politicians can’t do it.

Posted August 18, 2014 by edmcgon in Economy, Editorial/opinion, Federal Reserve, News, Politics

Ed’s Daily Notes for August 11th   1 comment

Bloomberg: How Bond Traders Profited Off U.S. Wage of $24.45 an Hour

I am not quoting the article above, but I will call it a must-read. Although it is discussing the bond market, it is also an insightful view of the U.S. economy.

Bloomberg: Hillary Clinton Faults Obama for ‘Stupid Stuff’ Policy

Hillary Clinton is taking on President Barack Obama with the same issue he used against her in the 2008 Democratic primary: foreign policy vision.

Obama lacks a specific doctrine, according to an Atlantic magazine interview with Clinton, the unannounced presidential candidate who is leading Democrats and Republicans in 2016 polling.

“Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle,” Clinton told the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, also a Bloomberg View columnist, in reference to the way Obama and his aides describe his approach to foreign policy.

It is hard to argue with that. Then again, attacking the Obama administration on most topics is the verbal equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel…

Posted August 11, 2014 by edmcgon in Bonds, Economy, News, Politics

Ed’s Daily Notes for August 5th   4 comments

Wall Street Journal: Why It’s Worrying That U.S. Companies Are Getting Older

This chart says it all:

Companies closing and opening

Not only is the American population aging, businesses in the U.S. also are growing older.

Older firms are increasingly controlling the largest market share in different sectors of the economy, according to a paper by the Brooking Institution’s Robert E. Litan and Ennsyte Economics’s Ian Hathaway. By 2011, the portion of U.S. businesses aged at least 16 years reached 34%, compared to 23% in 1992. Moreover, those mature companies went from employing only 60% of private-sector workers in 1992 to employing nearly three quarters of the private-sector labor force in 2011.

The report attributes this trend to declining entrepreneurship, among other reasons. The rate of new business creation in the U.S. has been constantly shrinking in the past three decades. “The decline in new firm formation rates had occurred in every U.S. state and nearly every metropolitan area, in each broad industry group, and in all firm size classes,” the authors explain.

Moreover, it has become more difficult for younger companies to survive and compete with the bigger ones. Business failures are more frequent and likely among start-ups, which may account for the fall in business creation after the 1990s. The economy has grown more advantageous for incumbent firms and less helpful for fledgling ones.

The authors argue that younger companies are crucial to attaining a healthier economy as they have had the largest contribution to past “disruptive and thus highly productivity enhancing innovations” across different sectors ranging from airplanes and automobiles to computers and internet search.

In the highly regulated business environment in the U.S., this trend will continue, as the larger companies can more easily afford to comply with the regulations, basically moating themselves from competition.

The Guardian: World’s top PR companies rule out working with climate deniers

Some of the world’s top PR companies have for the first time publicly ruled out working with climate change deniers, marking a fundamental shift in the multi-billion dollar industry that has grown up around the issue of global warming.

Public relations firms have played a critical role over the years in framing the debate on climate change and its solutions – as well as the extensive disinformation campaigns launched to block those initiatives.

Now a number of the top 25 global PR firms have told the Guardian they will not represent clients who deny man-made climate change, or take campaigns seeking to block regulations limiting carbon pollution. Companies include WPP, Waggener Edstrom (WE) Worldwide, Weber Shandwick, Text100, and Finn Partners.

I know when I want to learn about climate science, the first place I go is PR companies (tongue firmly planted in cheek)…

Posted August 5, 2014 by edmcgon in Economy, News, Politics