23 January 2023

Stocks and Precious Metals Charts - Audacious Oligarchy - The Power Elite


"The economy - once a great scatter of small productive units in autonomous balance, has become dominated by two or three hundred giant corporations, administratively and politically interrelated.   The political order, once a decentralized set of several dozen states with a weak spinal cord, has become a centralized executive establishment which has taken up into itself many powers previously scattered.   The military order, once a slim establishment in a context of distrust fed by state militia, has become the largest and most expensive feature of government.

People with advantages are loath to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages. They come readily to define themselves as inherently worthy of what they possess; they come to believe themselves 'naturally' elite, and, in fact, to imagine their possessions and their privileges as natural extensions of their own elite selves.

The idea of the elite as composed of men and women having a finer moral character is an ideology of the elite.

The American elite does not have any real image of peace — other than as an uneasy interlude existing precariously by virtue of the balance of mutual fright.  The only seriously accepted plan for peace is the fully loaded pistol.  In short, war or a high state of war-preparedness is felt to be the normal and seemingly permanent condition of the United States.

For the first time in American history, men in authority are talking about an 'emergency' without a foreseeable end.  Such men as these are crackpot realists: in the name of realism they have constructed a paranoid reality all their own.  America - a conservative country without any conservative ideology - appears now before the world a naked and arbitrary power, as, in the name of realism, its men of decision enforce their often crackpot definitions upon world reality.  

The second-rate mind is in command of the ponderously spoken platitude.  In the liberal rhetoric, vagueness, and in the conservative mood, irrationality, are raised to principle.  Public relations and the official secret, the trivializing campaign and the terrible fact clumsily accomplished, are replacing the reasoned debate of political ideas in the privately incorporated economy, the military ascendancy, and the political vacuum of modern America.

These men have replaced mind with platitude, and the dogmas by which they are legitimated are so widely accepted that no counterbalance of mind prevails against them. They have replaced the responsible interpretation of events with the disguise of events by a maze of public relations.

What the main drift of the twentieth century has revealed is that the economy has become concentrated and incorporated in the great hierarchies, the military has become enlarged and decisive to the shape of the entire economic structure; and moreover the economic and the military have become structurally and deeply interrelated, as the economy has become a seemingly permanent war economy; and military men and policies have increasingly penetrated the corporate economy.

C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite, 1956

Stocks rallied today, for no particular reason.

The chip sector led stocks higher, based on upgrades from Barclay.

Wash - rinse - repeat.   

Leave your shame at the curb.

Gold and silver were hit hard from the early trading, but managed to take much of it back with gold even finishing in the green.

Looks like a gut check ahead of the Comex precious metals option expiry on the 26th.

 Different month, same crooked scams.

The US Dollar did nothing.

The VIX did nothing.

We may see some market moving data this week.

FOMC and Non-Farm Payrolls for January coming next week.

And the band played on.

Have a pleasant evening.

22 January 2023

Thomas Frank on The Credibilty Trap


The Baffler
Too Smart to Fail: Notes on an Age of Folly
By Thomas Frank
Mar 26, 2012
The "sound" banker, alas! is not one who sees danger and avoids it, but one who, when he is ruined, is ruined in a conventional and orthodox way along with his fellows so that no one can really blame him.  - John Maynard Keynes

In the twelve hapless years of the present millennium, we have looked on as three great bubbles of consensus vanity have inflated and burst, each with consequences more dire than the last. But what rankles now is our failure to come to terms with how we were played.

In the twelve hapless years of the present millennium, we have looked on as three great bubbles of consensus vanity have inflated and burst, each with consequences more dire than the last.

First there was the "New Economy," a millennial fever dream predicated on the twin ideas of a people's stock market and an eternal silicon prosperity; it collapsed eventually under the weight of its own fatuousness.

Second was the war in Iraq, an endeavor whose launch depended for its success on the turpitude of virtually every class of elite in Washington, particularly the tough-minded men of the media; an enterprise that destroyed the country it aimed to save and that helped to bankrupt our nation as well.

And then, Wall Street blew up the global economy.  Empowered by bank deregulation and regulatory capture, Wall Street enlisted those tough-minded men of the media again to sell the world on the idea that financial innovations were making the global economy more stable by the minute.  Central banks puffed an asset bubble like the world had never seen before, even if every journalist worth his byline was obliged to deny its existence until it was too late.

These episodes were costly and even disastrous, and after each one had run its course and duly exploded, I expected some sort of day of reckoning for their promoters.  And, indeed, the last two disasters combined to force the Republican Party from its stranglehold on American government-- for a time.

But what rankles now is our failure, after each of these disasters, to come to terms with how we were played.  Each separate catastrophe should have been followed by a wave of apologies and resignations. Taken together--and given that a good percentage of the pundit corps signed on to two or even three of these idiotic storylines--they mandated mass firings in the newsrooms and op-ed pages of the nation. Quicker than you could say "Ahmed Chalabi," an entire generation of newsroom fools should have lost their jobs.

But that's not what happened.  Plenty of journalists have been pushed out of late, but the ones responsible for deluding the public are not among them. Neocon extraordinaire Bill Kristol won a berth at the New York Times (before losing it again), Charles Krauthammer is still the thinking conservative's favorite, George Will drones crankily on, Thomas Friedman remains our leading dispenser of nonsense neologisms, and Niall Ferguson wipes his feet on a welcome mat that will never wear out. 

The day Larry Kudlow apologizes for slagging bubble-doubters as part of a sinister left-wing trick is the day the world will start spinning in reverse. Standard & Poor's first leads the parade of folly (triple-A's for everyone!), then decides to downgrade U.S. government debt, and is taken seriously in both endeavors. And the prospect of Fox News or CNBC apologizing for their role in puffing war bubbles and financial bubbles is no better than a punch line: what they do is the opposite, launching new movements that stamp their crumbled fables "true" by popular demand.

The real mistake was my own.  I believed that our public intelligentsia had succumbed to an amazing series of cognitive failures; that time after time they had gotten the facts wrong, ignored the clanging bullshit detector, made the sort of mistakes that would disqualify them from publishing in The Baffler, let alone the Washington Post.

What I didn't understand was that these weren't cognitive failures at all; they were moral failures, mistakes that were hard-wired into the belief systems of the organizations and professions and social classes in question.  As such they were mistakes that-- from the point of view of those organizations or professions or classes-- shed no discredit on the individual chowderheads who made them. 

Holding them accountable was out of the question, and it remains off the table to- day. These people ignored every flashing red signal, refused to listen to the whistleblowers, blew off the obvious screaming indicators that something was going wrong in the boardrooms of the nation, even talked us into an unnecessary war, for chrissake, and the bailout apparatus still stands ready should they fuck things up again.

[big snip]

'The main lesson we should take away from the Efficient Market Hypothesis for policymaking purposes is the futility of trying to deal with crises and recessions by finding central bankers and regulators who can identify and puncture bubbles,' announced Chicago school economist Robert Lucas from amid the ruins in 2009. 'If these people exist, we will not be able to afford them.'

And the main lesson we should take away from the Efficient Market Hypothesis for our purposes is the utter futility of economics departments like the one that employs Robert Lucas.

A second lesson: if economists— and journalists, and bankers, and bond analysts, and accountants— don’t pay some price for egregious and repeated misrepresentations of reality, then markets aren’t efficient after all. Either the gentlemen of the consensus must go, or their cherished hypothesis must be abandoned. The world isn’t gullible enough to believe both of them any longer.

 Read the entire article here.

20 January 2023

Stocks and Precious Metals Charts - Then You Must Fear No More


"Every century is like every other, and to those who live in it seems worse than all times before it.  The Church is ever ailing, and lingers on in weakness.   Religion seems ever expiring, schisms dominant, the light of Truth dim, its adherents scattered.  The cause of Christ is ever in its last agony, as though it were but a question of time whether it fails finally this day or another."

John Henry Newman

"Despair is the absolute extreme of self-love. It is reached when a person deliberately turns his back on all help from anyone else in order to taste the rotten luxury of knowing himself to be lost.  It is therefore of supreme importance that we consent to live not for ourselves but for others.  When we so this we will be able first of all to face and accept our own limitations.

As long as we secretly adore ourselves, our own deficiencies will remain to torture us with an apparent defilement. But if we live for others, we will gradually discover that no expects us to be 'as gods'. We will see that we are human, like everyone else, that we all have weaknesses and deficiencies, and that these limitations of ours play a most important part in all our lives.

It is because of them that we need others and others need us. We are not all weak in the same spots, and so we supplement and complete one another, each one making up in himself for the lack in another."

Thomas Merton

“I think that the depth of Satan's pride is difficult for humans to understand, and therefore it is easy to fall into this error and partake of it, thinking, all the while, that we are instead doing something great and beautiful.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

"Sometimes God must first break a heart to enter it.  And it is what remains afterwards, when the crisis is passed, that offers us the way to becoming fully human.  And we are then called to stand up and witness to the fully human life, in grace that is given, not cheaply by ourselves, but by our resolve and determination to follow Him in our calling.   Where there is sickness bring healing, where there is despair bring hope. Little acts of goodness spread like ripples in a pond.   A candle in the darkness allows others to find and ignite their own— and then there is light."

Jesse, Resist the Temptation to Despair, 26 October 2016

"The most powerful weapon to stand against the devil is humility. For, as he does not know at all how to employ it, so he does not know how to defeat it."

Vincent de Paul

"The humble live in continuous peace, while in the hearts of the proud are envy and frequent anger."

Thomas à Kempis

As one of the pigmen in corporate management group once said, 'old people are easy to manage.  You just scare them.'

It's one of the devil's best tricks, and it works for people of all ages.

It helps turn men into monsters.

Stocks were up sharply today, after having fallen sharply the previous two days.

Must be a stock option expiration day.

Wash - rinse - repeat.

Gold and silver were higher.

The Dollar chopped sideways.

VIX wallowed.

We have a Comex metals option expiration coming up next week, and an FOMC rate decision the week after that.

Need little, want less, love more.  For those who abide in love abide in God, and God in them.

Have a pleasant weekend.