April 21: Daily Contrarian Reads

Why The EU’s Collapse Is Now Imminent

Well, what’s changed is that the entire situation has gotten much worse. The inevitable has now become the imminent.The European Union evolved, devolved actually, from basically a free trade pact among a few countries to a giant, dysfunctional, overreaching bureaucracy. Free trade is an excellent idea. However, you don’t need to legislate free trade; that’s almost a contradiction in terms…..But that wasn’t the way the Europeans did it. The Eurocrats, instead, created a treaty the size of a New York telephone book, regulating everything. This is the problem with the European Union. They say it is about free trade, but really it’s about somebody’s arbitrary idea of “fair trade,” which amounts to regulating everything. In addition to its disastrous economic consequences, it creates misunderstandings and confusion in the mind of the average person. Brussels has become another layer of bureaucracy on top of all the national layers and local layers for the average European to deal with.

Reflation trades of 2016 deflate with Remarkable Speed

Stocks, bond yields and the dollar are all falling, yield curves are flattening and sterling is marching higher. The “reflation” trades of 2016 that were supposed to mark a turning point in global markets are fading. Fast.The question for investors is whether this is the play book for the rest of the year, or whether the trends of 2016 will resume in the second half of the year.

Another False Flag? How Imperial Washington Spun The Syria Gas Attack

There have been two central documents relating to the alleged Syrian chemical weapon incidents in 2013 and 2017, both of which read like press releases. Both refer to a consensus within the U.S. intelligence community (IC)and express “confidence” and even “high confidence” regarding their conclusions but neither is actually a product of the office of the Director of National Intelligence, which would be appropriate if the IC had actually come to a consensus. Neither the Director of National Intelligence nor the Director of CIA were present in a photo showing the White House team deliberating over what to do about Syria. Both documents supporting the U.S. cruise missile attack were, in fact, uncharacteristically put out by the White House, suggesting that the arguments were stitched together in haste to support a political decision to use force that had already been made. The two documents provide plenty of circumstantial information but little in the way of actual evidence…..

Goldman: “Investors Are Increasingly Concerned About An S&P Drawdown”

Investors are increasingly concerned about an S&P drawdown.” Here’s why: The 10% rise in the S&P index since the US election was catalysed by a surge in optimism surrounding US policy. While the hoped-for policy changes now appear less likely, ‘soft’ data have shown continued strength, leaving the S&P index hovering just under 2400 as investors wonder whether economic activity can catch up to sentiment and support another leg higher in asset prices. While opinions on that question remain split, what is clearer is that, as investors continue to wait for the global economy to ‘show me the activity’, they have become increasingly nervous about the prospect of a large, sharp S&P drawdown: the VIX index, which had……

Red Ponzi Update: China’s $8.5 Trillion Shadow Bank Industry Is Back in Full Swing

China’s shadow banking is back in full swing, an unintended side effect of the government’s campaign against financial leverage, which has curbed traditional lending and squeezed bond financing.Data from the central bank Friday showed that off-balance sheet lending surged 754 billion yuan ($109 billion) in March, taking the first quarter’s total increase to a record 2.05 trillion yuan. Efforts by the People’s Bank of China to curb fresh lending may have prompted borrowers, especially real estate developers, to resort to alternative forms of financing, said Xu Gao, chief economist at Everbright Securities Co.

The Mystery of The Labor Force Participation Rate And The Fog Of Monetary Policy

What none of these studies or speeches ever address, however, they don’t even bring it up, is why it all just happened in 2008. Their focus is always the lingering problems with recovery, such that it was, and therefore are limited to labor statistics like participation rates. But if half of the decline or even more might be due to retirement, then why hasn’t spending recovered even slightly? A Baby Boomer who is working one day and retired the next doesn’t stop shopping when they are handed their symbolic gold watch. They may become more frugal in what they buy and when, but that is a smaller adjustment rather than the permanent aggregate shift we all recognize in various ways.

Marx, Orwell and State-Cartel Socialism

OK, so our collective eyes start glazing over when we see Marx and Orwell in the subject line, but refill your beverage and stay with me on this. We’re going to explore the premise that what’s called “socialism”–yes, Scandinavian-style socialism and its variants–is really nothing more than finance-capital state-cartel elitism that has done a better job of co-opting its debt-serfs than its state–cartel “capitalist” cronies.

Hey, Donald, Profits Must Come First On The Free Market—-Boeing to Dismiss Hundreds of Engineers Amid Sales Slowdown

Boeing Co. plans to lay off hundreds of engineers in Washington state and other locations — and may eliminate more jobs later this year as the planemaker contends with slowing aircraft sales. The manufacturer plans to hand out pink slips on Friday, the same day that 305 engineers and technical workers will leave voluntarily under an earlier buyout offer. Boeing has pared 1,332 of the jobs from its Seattle-area manufacturing center since the start of 2016, according to SPEEA, the union representing the workers. Boeing may make additional engineering cuts depending on “our business environment and the amount of voluntary attrition,” John Hamilton, vice president of engineering for the commercial airplanes unit, said in a letter to employees Monday. The dismissals are needed to “meet our operating plan and additional challenges in the marketplace.”

History Note: On The Commemoration of World War 1: From Woodrow Wilson To Donald Trump

It is altogether fitting that the US attack on a Syrian airport, the dropping of a MOAB on defenseless Afghanistan, and the potential outbreak of nuclear war with North Korea have all come in the very month one hundred years earlier that an American president led the nation on its road to empire. President Trump’s aggressive actions and all of America’s previous imperialistic endeavors can ultimately be traced to Woodrow Wilson’s disastrous decision to bring the country into the First World War on April 6, 1917…….This month, therefore, should be one of national mourning for the decision to enter that horrific conflict changed America and, for that matter, the world for the worse.

What Can an Overhyped Silicon Valley Juice Company Tell Us About the U.S. Economy – Part 1

Most of you probably haven’t heard of the company Juicero, but you should be paying attention to it. What follows are choice excerpts from a recent Bloomberg article, Silicon Valley’s $400 Juicer May Be Feeling the Squeeze: One of the most lavishly funded gadget startups in Silicon Valley last year was Juicero Inc. It makes a juice machine. The product was an unlikely pick for top technology investors, but they were drawn to the idea of an internet-connected device that transforms single-serving packets of chopped fruits and vegetables into a refreshing and healthy beverage.