April 24: Daily Contrarian Reads

Stock Markets Sit Blithely on a Powerful Time Bomb

How big is margin debt really, and how much of a threat is it to the stock market and to “financial stability,” as central banks like to call their concerns about crashes? Turns out, no one really knows. What we do know: Margin debt, as reported monthly by the New York Stock Exchange, spiked to another record high of $528 billion. But it’s only part of the total outstanding margin debt – which is when investors borrow money from their broker, pledging their portfolio as collateral. An example of unreported margin debt: Robo-advisory Wealthfront, a so-called fintech startup overseeing nearly $6 billion, announced that it would offer its clients loans against their portfolios.

I Voted For Trump, But After Syria Feel Betrayed

I voted for Donald Trump because he promised to pursue a new foreign policy. As he said in December, “We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments. Our goal is stability, not chaos, because we want to rebuild our country.” He vowed to appoint those with “new approaches, and practical ideas, rather than surrounding myself with those who have perfect résumés but very little to brag about except responsibility for a long history of failed policies.” After decades of disastrous interventions, Trump inspired me. But less than 100 days into his administration, I’m feeling the sting of betrayal. In recent weeks, Trump and his surrogates have abandoned virtually every foreign policy stance he took during the campaign.

Corporate Debt To EBITDA Hits All Time High

In its latest Global Stability Financial Report, the IMF issued a stark warning, bringing attention to the troubling and seemingly unstoppable growth in global corporate debt and the threat that could be unleashed by a sharp move higher in rates, one which the IMF estimates could result in as many as 22% of total corporations – amounting to almost $4 trillion in assets – being unable to cover their interest payments, leading to an avalanche of defaults. Furthermore, as the IMF highlighted, leverage had reached, and surpassed, historical levels which in the past translated into economic recessions.

A Disquisition On Money In America

Thus, for honest trade there must be honest money. The regular business cycle, however, meant that there were times when money (liquidity) would be valued more than labor, and so the entire discipline of economics especially after the Great Depression has been dedicated to expropriating money so that liquidity would never again become at the expense of honest labor. It is a timeless quest, and indeed a good and worthy ideal, one that has been given voice on innumerable occasions. William Jennings Bryan in 1896 within his “cross of gold” speech here again in America masterly thundered…

Heads Up Alert: Your Weed Is The DEA’s Cash Cow

In our interview, Belita was hesitant to speak too openly but mentioned that when she first went to work with the DEA (she was contacted and became familiar with agency’s goals), she was told “‘Marijuana is safe, we know it’s safe, but it’s our cash cow and we will never, ever, give it up.’” When the DEA seizes a car or makes a drug bust, it’s likely they’ll find wads of money. They turn in the pot (or other drugs) — and keep the cash. Civil asset forfeiture law essentially gives the police and feds free reign, and they have confiscated billions of dollars from Americans, a majority of whom have not been charged with a crime.

Hedge Fund Guru Says Stock Market Should Terrify Janet Yellen

Billionaire investor Paul Tudor Jones has a message for Janet Yellen and investors: Be very afraid. The legendary macro trader says that years of low interest rates have bloated stock valuations to a level not seen since 2000, right before the Nasdaq tumbled 75 percent over two-plus years. That measure — the value of the stock market relative to the size of the economy — should be “terrifying” to a central banker, Jones said earlier this month at a closed-door Goldman Sachs Asset Management conference, according to people who heard him.

A Matter Of Mercy—–Treating With America The Unhinged

Paging Doctor Oz! A patient calling itself The United States wandered into the emergency room disoriented, wearing a filthy warm-up suit, claiming it was “the greatest” this and that… but was unable to complete the nine-page admission protocol or present valid insurance ID. Patient is growing increasingly violent, threatening staff and other patients….Nations do develop something like Alzheimers. Perhaps you haven’t noticed that for some time now nothing sticks in the national brain-pan — if that’s what we can call the news media and its analogs on the Web waves. For months, an obsession about “Russian interference in the election” raged through the left lobe of the national consciousness. Then, about a week ago, it vanished utterly. Grandpa suffered similar delusions about the Russians meddling with “our precious bodily fluids.” (Paging Doctor Strangelove.)

The Retail Apocalypse is Creating a ‘slow-rolling Crisis’ that is Rippling through the US Economy

Retailers are closing thousands of stores and going bankrupt at a rate not seen since the recession, and tens of thousands of people are losing their jobs as a result. The effects of these job losses will hit local economies hard, according to Mark Cohen, the director of retail studies at Columbia Business School. “This is creating a slow-rolling crisis,” Cohen told Business Insider. “The people that work in retail stores will lose their jobs, then spend less money in retail stores because they are no longer employed. That creates a cascade of economic challenges.” ….Since October, about 89,000 workers in general merchandise stores have lost their jobs, which is more than the number of people employed in the entire US coal industry….

Time to Stop Palpitating About Kim Jong Un

In what universe does it make sense that Kim Jong-un would think attacking an “enemy” in the region would be beneficial? On Monday, Anti-Media reported on the fact that former Pentagon chief William Perry told CNN in November that North Korea would never strike first because, very simply, Kim doesn’t want to die. “I do not believe the North Korean regime is suicidal,” he said. “Therefore, I don’t believe they’re going to launch an unprovoked nuclear attack on anyone.” That’s because Kim has certainly applied to the situation what the mainstream narrative would like you to discard — common sense. With just a dash of it, any logical being can look at the events unfolding and see that North Korea poses no threat, to any surrounding nation, period.

Then There’s The Next Generation—–1 in 3 U.S. young adults live with parents, 2.2M are ‘idle’

A U.S. Census Bureau report shows young adults are struggling to get a foothold into adulthood, as 1 in 3 young people live with their parents — 2.2 million of whom do not go to school and are not employed. The Changing Economics and Demographics of Young Adulthood report analyzes the differences seen in young adults 18 years to 34 years of age over the last 40 years.