31 January 2018

Stocks and Precious Metals Charts - FOMC

Today was a strong performance for the metals.

The February contracts for gold and silver have started changing hands. The details reports are below.

The stocks continued to show some weakness possibly due to rotation and profit taking.

Facebook missed some key metrics which helped to dampen the FANG gang.

Non-Farm Payrolls on Friday.

Have a pleasant evening.

30 January 2018

Stocks and Precious Metals Charts - Tremors

Stocks continued selling off overnight in the Asian and European markets, and US stocks followed the course scraping another layer of foam off the prices.

Volume today was 20% greater than the 20 day moving average. So this sell off had a little force behind it, which is not usual of late.

The VIX is now back to a fairly high level by current standards.

However, there was no 'flight to safety' and little panic in the air.  The US Dollar lost its gains from yesterday, and gold did not catch a bid.

The FOMC will be announcing their rate decision tomorrow. I may be out of pocket in the afternoon and the close of trade tomorrow, and will probably either not post, or put out something late if things get interesting.

Trrumpolini will be giving his State of the Union Address tonight.

There will be a Non-Farm Payrolls Report on Friday.

Have a pleasant evening.

29 January 2018

Stocks and Precious Metals Charts - The Wild Ones - Into the Void

The Wild Ones: Natural Born Value Killers
"Intolerance is the most socially acceptable form of egotism, for it permits us to assume superiority without personal boasting."

Sydney J. Harris

Stocks were slumping today, taking a break from their recent parabolic rally higher, with a record setting lack of meaningful corrections.

The precipitant was word that AAPL is cutting back on its manufacturing forecasts for the iPhone X.

The equity market is frothy to say the least. It could still keep melting up higher. But at some point, some trigger event is going to precipitate a 5 to 10 percent correction at a minimum. And the frothier the market gets, the less significant this trigger event needs to be.

Gold and silver were off a bit today, as a side effect of a bounce in the US Dollar, which took back what it had lost on Friday past. The Dollar was deeply oversold on a short term basis.

Although I suspect it was largely technical, the rally *could* have been helped by a higher yield in US interest rates.

As previously noted, Chairman Yellen will be at her last FOMC meeting this week. Their rate decision will be given on Wednesday.

The Fed is raising rates, not to combat inflation, but to get off its market-distorting zero bound enough to give it some room to cut rates again when its latest financial asset paper bubble subsides and collapses in on itself.

The aptly named Fortune magazine named JP Morgan as its 'Most Admired Bank.' The magazine apparently has a penchant for serial felons under delayed prosecutions and fines.

Jamie Dimon, JPM CEO, took the opportunity to say that he will be staying on at the helm of JPM for another five years.

There will be a Non-Farm Payrolls report for January on Friday.

The Donald will be giving his first State of the Union address tomorrow.  He is expected to tout the great American progress as demonstrated by the stock market bubbles and low unemployment rates, if you ignore all the unemployed and underemployed. The low Labor Participation Rate tells the tale of the forgotten.

He is also expected to lay out some sort of plan for infrastructure development.  There was some excitement last night when a plan was leaked that called for nationalizing the US cellular network for the deployment of 5G.

That seemed improbable, since this is a government that cannot even bring itself to defend a no-brainer for the public good like net-neutrality.

I think we are seeing a symptom of battered electorate syndrome, where the battered keep hoping that their abusers will suddenly change and become what they had hoped that those in power would be.  Just give them one more chance and they will change.

Well, it seemed improbable and it was.  And I fear that Trumpolini's infrastructure plan will be a rotten egg behind a snappy headline.  Follow the money.  This guy has a three card monte patter of misdirection and the short con.

People who are alienated, and think themselves victims in their selfishness and egotism, often admire the tough guy who breaks social conventions.  They identify with his anger, and defiance of social conventions and shows of poor in a willingness to punch the weaker and the subordinate in the face.
“Narcissists have poor self-esteem, but they are typically very successful. They feel entitled; they’re self-important; they crave admiration and lack empathy. They are also exploitative and envious. The malignant types never forget a slight."

Janet Tavakoli
You can be reassured that the Koch Brothers are not napping, and are planning to rollout $400 million to support a public relations campaign to defend the GOP against an expected Democratic dominance in the mid-term elections.  Thank you Citizens United.

And because of the increase in wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.

And it is, and they are.

Have a pleasant evening.

Administration Disavows Any Plans For National Cellular Infrastructure Amid Blowback From Industry and FCC

I had a strong doubt that such a vision of a public information infrastructure would be legitimate. It is being dismissed by White House officials as an 'outdated' proposal from the National Security Council (NSC) that drew a swift negative reaction from the telecoms industry and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

How can we expect such a visionary project from a government that places something so basic to the public good as net neutrality in the waste bin?

There will likely be a proposal for a national infrastructure of roads and bridges, which I expect to be largely an underfunded headline grabber that throws the burden of the realization of it on states and local governments.

This excerpt below is an update on the national cellular network story from ZeroHedge which you can read here.

Update: Several senior White House officials told Recode Monday that the Trump administration has no plans to build a "nationalized" US 5G network. The presentation, compiled by an unnamed senior NSC aide, was merely a dated proposal that will probably never see the light of day, the officials said.

The administration sources also pointed out that the FCC has a much larger role in setting broadband policy, and Ajit Pai, the current FCC chairman, has said he opposes the nationalization idea.

The NSC, they said, is only one component of a much larger decision-making process on the part of the federal government to set broadband policy. Its say is not final on these matters — and its memo does not appear to have gained traction with other tech-focused arms of the White House, according to multiple sources within the Trump administration.

A spokesman for the NSC, meanwhile, did not respond to an email seeking comment Monday.

28 January 2018

US Government Considers Nationalizing US Cellular Network And Unifying Upgrade to 5G Next Generation Wireless

This 'leak' suggests that the US government may take a greater interest in building out the US information infrastructure, and modernizing it with more speed and greater standardization.

When I first heard of this the first thing that occurred to me was the Eisenhower plan to modernize and upgrade the US transportation infrastructure with the Interstate Highway System.  It provided for a significant upgrade and expansion to the national transportation infrastructure and a significant boost to the post-war economy.

I would be surprised if the major carriers would be interested in this, unless they were to put their competitive advantages in coverage differences aside to go after the government funding for the expansion to new technology and a wider, more uniform infrastructure.

Forming strategic initiatives around key infrastructure is such a good idea for the nation and the public as a whole that I cannot imagine it being adopted in any kind of reasonable and productive manner by the current government.   Telecommunications is a heavily lobbied industry.

Recall that this is a government of knuckle-dragging kleptocrats that could not even sustain a defense of a no-brainer policy like 'net neutrality.'

I wonder if this cellular infrastructure proposal was a candidate for headline busting big idea projects in Trump's upcoming State of the Union speech.  In that speech he is expected to note our economic progress, and ask for bipartisan support for infrastructure projects and increase military spending.  And perhaps the celluar project did not make the cut, which is why it was leaked now.  Or perhaps it did, and this is a trial balloon to see who applauds and who screams.  In any event, it seems to have been a calculated leak with intent.

 But look at what a cynic I have become.

There are certain shared and basic resources like roads, air traffic control, electric power distribution, and a national wireless system that need to be under some for of strategic government regulation. The amount of regulation and the forms it takes are another matter.

The pendulum has been swinging away from government initiatives and involvement in the US infrastructures for the past thirty years, leaving it to the 'invisible hand' of self-serving individuals and corporations.

And it shows in the quality and reach of many shared, public systems that become dominated by private monopolies, each pursuing their own narrow agendas and short term objectives.

As they used to say in economics class, some of these things are 'natural monopolies' given the complexity, reach and capital requirements involved, and of course the public good, which is heavilyt discounted as a priority in a predatory kleptocracy.

The imperative in this is that the US is falling behind in certain types of national infrastructure compared to other countries that take a more strategic, long term interest in these matters.  And that makes it less competitive in a number of areas.

And it is certainly falling behind most developed nations in the availability and affordability of  public healthcare and higher education.  But that is another matter, but a similar symptom.

Let's see what happens.  We're still reading and thinking about some of the implications of the attachment at the end of the article at Axios which is the leaked memorandum.  My son is taking the technologists view, and I am thinking like the guys who have to deploy, use, and maintain them.

Let the lobbying games begin.

Trump Expected To Tout Economic Progress, Infrastructure Projects in State of the Union
Trump's Infrastructure: Trillion Dollar Initiative or the New Hunger Games for States and Municipalities

Scoop: Trump team considers nationalizing 5G network
Jonathan Swan, David McCabe, Ina Fried, Kim Hart

Trump national security officials are considering an unprecedented federal takeover of a portion of the nation’s mobile network to guard against China, according to sensitive documents obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: We’ve got our hands on a PowerPoint deck and a memo — both produced by a senior National Security Council official — which were presented recently to senior officials at other agencies in the Trump administration.

The main points: The documents say America needs a centralized nationwide 5G network within three years. There'll be a fierce debate inside the Trump administration — and an outcry from the industry — over the next 6-8 months over how such a network is built and paid for.

Two options laid out by the documents:

The U.S. government pays for and builds the single network — which would be an unprecedented nationalization of a historically private infrastructure.

An alternative plan where wireless providers build their own 5G networks that compete with one another — though the document says the downside is it could take longer and cost more. It argues that one of the “pros” of that plan is that it would cause “less commercial disruption” to the wireless industry than the government building a network.

Between the lines: A source familiar with the documents' drafting says Option 2 is really no option at all: a single centralized network is what's required to protect America against China and other bad actors.

The source said the internal White House debate will be over whether the U.S. government owns and builds the network or whether the carriers bind together in a consortium to build the network, an idea that would require them to put aside their business models to serve the country's greater good.

Why it matters: Option 1 would lead to federal control of a part of the economy that today is largely controlled by private wireless providers. In the memo, the Trump administration likens it to "the 21st century equivalent of the Eisenhower National Highway System" and says it would create a “new paradigm” for the wireless industry by the end of Trump's current term.

But, but, but: The proposal to nationalize a 5G network also only covers one part of the airwaves; there’d be other spaces where private companies could build...

Read the entire article here.

26 January 2018

Stocks and Precious Metals Charts - FOMC Meeting And Non-Farm Payrolls Next Week - Exuberance In Davos

"And the beast was given a mouth for uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months."

Rev 13:5

The attendees were describing the mood in Davos today as 'exuberant.'

Trump addressed the assorted billionaires movers and shakers, there this afternoon, asserting that 'the US is open for business.'   He also took some time to take a shot at the press and 'fake news' in response to reports that he had tried to fire the special counsel Mueller last June, and was stopped by the White House counsel who threatened to resign. And he was loudly booed by the august gathering.

Trumpolini is now on his way back to Washington, and will be delivering his first State of the Union address to Congress next week.  He needs to get busy on developing those infrastructure plans, or we might never be able to say that he made the trains run on time.  The 'tax cut' is more likely to fuel speculation and monopolization than productive growth.

Speaking of the need for an infrastructure program, the second revision to the 4Q17 GDP number missed estimates, coming in at 2.6%, down from the initial 3.2%.

Perhaps more concerning in the numbers was the fact that at current consumption rates the US consumer is not saving, and continues to fall more underwater because of the stagnant wage situation.

Gold and Silver managed to move a little higher, off renewed US dollar DX weakness, finishing up the day at 88.90. Monsieur Draghi has a problem on his hands. And with 18 European nations sporting 2 Year negative real yields, one might understand his frustration.

There will be a double hurdle for the metals next week, if recent history is any guide, with the FOMC rate decision on Wednesday 31 January, and the January Non-Farm Payrolls report on Friday 2 February.

The US is experiencing its worst outbreak of flu since 2009.

I still believe that the Banks are continuing to scrape the bottom of the physical barrel for gold, to meet the continuing offtake in Asia. Although they have been innovative and risk-taking in their leverage, it does make one wonder how suddenly this might end.

And some others and I have been discussing how quickly the US economy may jump the rails, and what effect this might have on the global economy and the political landscape.

If the economy does falter, one has to wonder if there is enough collective experience and wisdom and basic humanity in Washington to help avert a greater disaster. I would not like to use post-disaster Puerto Rico as an example of their competency and compassion.

Have a pleasant weekend.

In the Garden of Beasts: First the Unholy Slaughter of the Innocents

"The perpetrators were scholars, doctors, nurses, justice officials, the police and the health and workers’ administration.   The victims were poor, desperate, rebellious or in need of help. They came from psychiatric clinics and childrens' hospitals, from old age homes and welfare institutions, from military hospitals and internment camps. The number of victims is huge, the number of offenders who were sentenced, small."

Commemorative Tablet at Tiergartenstraße 4, Berlin

"The inability to identify with others was unquestionably the most important psychological condition for the fact that something like Auschwitz could have occurred in the midst of more or less civilized and innocent people. What is called 'fellow traveling' (collaboration) was primarily business interest: one pursues one’s own advantage before all else and, simply not to endanger oneself, does not talk too much. That is a general law of the status quo."

Theodor Adorno

“Each day we are becoming a creature of splendid glory or one of unthinkable horror.”

C. S. Lewis

The efficiencies of the death camps evolved from the initial experiments in killing the disabled, the mentally ill, the anti-social, and the poor.

One does not wake up one morning, and decide to become a monster.  No, men become beasts,  but one rationalization, one marginalization and objectification of the other,  one small step and excuse  towards the horror at a time.

Do you think that we are so good as to be exempt from this?  That we are incapable of such wanton blindness towards sin?

The model for the identification, sterilization, and finally the slaughter of the weak and the vulnerable in Germany was found in the United States, an ugly chapter in American history that is rarely mentioned.

And what then, is the difference between gassing and burning those who you consider to be life unworthy of life, or exposing them to predators, denying them a fair chance or the assistance for the basics of a decent life such as a living wage, health care, warm clothing, and basic human dignity, slowly working them to an early death while defaming them as deserving of it, because you think that they are inferior, and not as human as the such as you.

Oh no, no one ever helped me.  I did it all on my own.  And so can they. 

And so you deny God Himself, and how He has saved you from misfortune, He has helped you in your failings, and He has given you the gifts that you possess, in your pride.

“It is worth remembering one of the important lessons of the Carrie Buck story [from Charlottesville, Va]:  a small number of zealous advocates can have an impact on the law that defies both science and conventional wisdom.”

Paul A. Lombardo, Three Generations, No Imbeciles: Eugenics, the Supreme Court, and Buck v. Bell

"There is not a more perilous or immoral habit of mind than the sanctifying of success.”

Lord Acton

The fact that the foolish person is often stubborn must not blind us to the fact that he is not independent. In conversation with him, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with him as a person, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like that have taken possession of him.

He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool, the foolish person will also be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. This is where the danger of diabolical misuse lurks, for it is this that can once and for all destroy human beings.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers From Prison

"Many commentators automatically assume that low intergenerational mobility rates represent a social tragedy. I do not understand this reflexive wailing and beating of breasts in response to the finding of slow mobility rates. The fact that the social competence of children is highly predictable once we know the status of their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents is not a threat to the American Way of Life and the ideals of the open society.

The children of earlier elites will not succeed because they are born with a silver spoon in their mouth, and an automatic ticket to the Ivy League. They will succeed because they have inherited the talent, energy, drive, and resilience to overcome the many obstacles they will face in life."

Greg Clark, The Economist, 13 Feb. 2013

"You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bandaged the injured or brought back the strays or looked for the lost; rather, you have ruled them with harshness and tyranny. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; they were scattered and became prey for every wild beast of the field."

Ezekiel 34:2-5

“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.”

William Wilberforce

25 January 2018

Stocks and Precious Metals Charts - On the Road to Damascus - Precious Metals Options Expiration

"Today we commemorate, not the whole history of St. Paul, nor his Martyrdom, but his wonderful Conversion...

It taught him not to despair of the worst sinners, to be sharp-sighted in detecting the sparks of faith amid corrupt habits of life, and to enter into the various temptations to which human nature is exposed. It wrought in him a profound humility, which disposed him to bear meekly the abundance of the revelations given him; and it imparted to him a practical wisdom how to apply them to the conversion of others, so as to be weak with the weak, and strong with the strong, to bear their burdens, to instruct and encourage them...

Now, observe, I do not allege that St. Paul's previous sins made him a more spiritual Christian afterwards, but rendered him more fitted for a particular purpose in God's providence,—more fitted, when converted, to reclaim others...The Pharisees were breakers of the Law; the Gentile reasoners and statesmen were infidels. Both were proud, both despised the voice of conscience. 

All sin, indeed, when repented of, He will put away; but pride hardens the heart against repentance, and sensuality debases it to a brutal nature."

John Henry Newman

The US dollar was swooning this morning, and stocks were in a light rally. The cause of this was the ongoing policy of the Trump Administration for a weaker dollar.  The weak dollar increases the price of imports, and decreases and makes more competitive exports, priced in dollars.

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin had just affirmed that policy from Davos, and Wilbur Ross added some 'trade war' friendly comments to boot.

 I wrote about this intraday here.

I was a little surprised at the metals strength, because today is an option expiration on the Comex for the precious metals, particularly significant for gold. And I thought that my lowball bids to buy more gold were just going to go unfilled for the day.

And lo and behold, President Trump issued a statement from Davos in the afternoon saying that he 'supports a strong dollar' and that furthermore, Secretary Mnuchin's remarks were 'taken out of context.'

And so the Dollar started rallying, erasing all its losses for the day.  And gold and silver were immediately punched lower for a loss, reversing the entire rally which had come up to key resistance.

And my lowball bid was filled (silver lining perhaps).

Is it reasonable to believe that President Trump's remarks were credible enough to justify a major market reversal in the metals and currency markets, not to mention the stocks which also reversed and moved lower?

Don't bother answering because that is a rhetorical question.  And maybe an IQ test.

Of course the remarks were not credible  They were obvious rubbish, and totally at odds with everything that they have done from day one.  Trump spins out literally incredible whoppers like a fast and loose New York real estate developer.   How unusual.

And Trump and some Congressmen seem to be pursuing a strategy of saying that 'everyone is dirty,' and there is no rule of law, no objective morality, so that anything goes.

It is foolish to believe that these markets, as they are now regulated and constructed, need any genuine fundamental reason to value anything.   They are pushed and shoved in the ways that benefit the insiders and the Banks, with the willing cooperation of the exchanges.  We have all seen it.

This is how it goes, at least in the near future.  But that does not make it right, or just, or sustainable.  Our markets are not square, and out elite are increasingly shameless and amoral in serving power and breaking oaths.  There is just no other way to put it.

Maybe sometimes people can become so proud, so headstrong, so blinded by a dedication to power, with the human element be damned, that they have to get knocked off their high horse and brought  down low, to get back to earth.   And when they hit bottom, they may relent and seek the healing restoration of repentance, and of the humanizing touch, also known as grace.

Or, as Martin Luther King put it, when he was speaking truth to exceptionally abusive power shortly before he was martyred, "God has a way of standing before the nations with judgment, and it seems that I can hear God saying to America, 'You're too arrogant!  And if you don't change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I'll place it in the hands of a nation that doesn't even know my name.  Be still and know that I'm God.'"

Have a pleasant evening.

The US Dollar Since the November 2016 Presidential Election - Butter It With Growth and Take It Out In Trade

"Obviously a weaker dollar is good for us as it relates to trade and opportunities. The currency’s short term value is not a concern of ours at all Longer term, the strength of the dollar is a reflection of the strength of the U.S. economy and the fact that it is and will continue to be the primary currency in terms of the reserve currency,"

Steve Mnuchin, US Treasury Secretary

"Trade wars are fought every single day," he said. "So a trade war has been in place for quite a little while, the difference is the U.S. troops are now coming to the rampart."

Wilbur Ross, US Commerce Secretary

"With the global punditry assembled in Davos this week, the topic of the dollar seems to have bubbled to the surface again. Down more that 10% from the December 2016 peak, the greenback has started to sag at just the time when Treasury deficits are climbing and the Fed is paring back its purchases of US government debt and agency mortgage bonds."

Chris Whalen, Dollars, Deficits, and Duh in Davos

Short term at least, the Trump Administration is pursuing a weaker dollar policy.  This despite President Trump's very incongruous assertion late today from Davos that 'he supports a strong dollar'  and that Secretary Mnuchin's comments were taken out of context.   As if.

A weaker dollar stimulates exports, and acts like a general tariff on imports.   This is less of an issue for the US now that it has become 'oil independent.'  There are other key imports but oil has been the heavy hitter.

The financial sector may not be so welcoming of this, as the weaker dollar makes it a bit more difficult to peddle their dodgy financial instruments to non-US clients.

Still, in the bigger of things, the dollar weakness is rather mild.  I show a longer term DX chart in the second graph.

The weaker currency strategy is certainly good for those who hold gold and silver priced in US Dollars.

One of the more interesting economic phenomena to watch will be the manner in which the US Treasury and the Fed manage the huge US debt, having doubled to over twenty trillion US Dollars, with interest rates beginning to creep up back to more 'normal' levels.

And the recent tax cuts for the wealthiest and corporations will continued to fuel that deficit.

The hope is that a growing economy will help to offset will negate the problem.

This is a key facet of 'supply side' economics.

As Tony Sanders puts it at Confounded Interest, "The hope is the the economy will grow faster than it has since The Great Recession."

But at the end he does add that 'too much sugar is bad for you.'

Another party, which seeks to resurrect the printing money solution, albeit with a new brand and gnostic marketing campaign, is of the opinion that the US can resolve the issue by decoupling the currency from the US debt markets.

If too much sugar is bad for you, is replacing it with crystal meth going to be better long term solution? Not unless everyone around the world becomes your enabler, then caretaker, and finally caregiver.

As US Treasury Secretary John Connally put it at the G-10 meeting in late 1971, "It is our dollar, but it's your problem."

All in all, if I daresay, not such a bad time to own independently valued assets, like gold and silver.