August 22: Daily Contrarian Reads

Did CEO “Grandstanding” Further Seal The “Markets” Fate?

There was a time when business and politics kept each other at arm’s length for fear of the political/business optics. Today, it would seem, far too many CEO’s are primarily concerned about their political optics – than their business concerns. Regardless of what side of the political spectrum one finds themselves, one thing is abundantly clear: Clearer heads, on both sides, are being drowned out by the endless, mindless, screaming, ranting, and just plain nonsensical arguments for having the “right” to not only feel a certain way, but demonstrate those “rights” and “feelings” via anarchy, property destruction, melee, and more. And that’s just the mainstream media.

Red Ponzi Update: Top Analyst Says Staggering Amount of Bad Debt Could Reach $6.8 Trillion

One of the most influential analysts of China’s financial system believes that its bad debt is US$6.8 trillion (S$9.3 trillion) above official figures, and warns that the government’s ability to enforce stability has allowed underlying problems to go unchecked.Ms Charlene Chu built her reputation as a China banking analyst at credit rating agency Fitch, where she was among the earliest to warn of risks from rising debt, especially in the country’s shadow banking system.

Stock & Bond Markets in Denial about QE Unwind, but Banks, Treasury Dept Get Antsy

Stock and bond markets are in denial about the effects of the Fed’s forthcoming QE unwind, whose kick-off is getting closer by the day, according to the minutes of the Fed’s July meeting. “Several participants” were fretting how financial conditions had eased since the rate hikes began in earnest last December, instead of tightening. “Further increases in equity prices, together with continued low longer-term interest rates, had led to an easing of financial conditions,” they said. So something needs to be done about it.

What Recovery?

Mario Draghi is right now expected to be the main event. All the hype has been built up and managed on a “will he” or “won’t he” say that Europe has recovered, that QE has worked if belatedly (two and a half years already has alarm bells ringing). But it is a lie, and most people know it. “They” keep telling us things are getting better, their grand schemes bearing righteous fruit, but most do not see it and certainly can’t find it. We know the extent of the dissonance in these raw terms by politics, the primal cousin to economics (small “e”) that has been intertwined within it from Day 1.

The Coming Clash Of Empires: Russia’s Role As A Global Game-Changer

But then again, a quick study of history shows that clashes between land and sea-based empires have been a fairly steady constant of Western civilization. Think of Athens versus Sparta, Greece versus Persia, Rome versus Carthage, England versus Napoleon, and more recently the US versus Germany and Japan (when World War II saw the US transform itself from a land-based empire to a sea-based empire in order to defeat Germany and Japan), and of course the more recent contest between the US and the Soviet Union……Such fights have been staples of history books, from Plutarch to Toynbee. Victory has mostly belonged to the maritime empires as they tend to depend more on trade and typically promote more de-centralized structures; land-based empires by contrast usually repress individual freedoms and centralize power. Of course the maritime power does not always win; Cato the elder did after all get his wish posthumously.

Rigged Markets And Diminishing Returns

Mostly, these diminishing returns are the results of our over-investments in making complex systems more complex, for instance the replacement of the 37-page Glass-Steagall Act that regulated American banking, with the 848 page Dodd-Frank Act, which was only an outline for over 22,000 pages of subsequent regulatory content — all of it cooked up by banking lobbyists, and none of which replaced the single most important rule in Glass-Steagall, which required the separation of commercial banking from trafficking in securities. Dodd-Frank was a colossal act of misdirection of the public’s attention, an impenetrable smokescreen of legal blather in the service of racketeering.

Why Tax Cuts/Reform Is Now Impossible

Tax reform — the kind of wholesale change to the existing system that was enacted in the 1980s and that Donald Trump has repeatedly promised — requires a politically strong and disciplined president. The magnitude of the changes and the very large number of potential losers from tax reform requires a president who can twist arms (and, if need be, legs), provide political cover for the many tough votes the House and Senate will need to cast and is able to sell the tax bill to what is very likely to be an at least partially skeptical nation……In light of the aftermath of the events in Charlotte, Virginia, and the firing/resignation of Steve Bannon, we now know for sure that Donald Trump is not currently that kind of president and can’t do any of these things.

Something Stinks About Charlottesville

Evidence is turning up from, of all places, the Southern Poverty Law Center, as well as Breitbart and others, that this character, Jason Kessler, who organized the suspicious and supposed Alt-Right demonstration in Charlottesville, Va. that blew up in everyone’s face, is a cunning lefty holdover from the Occupy Wall Street movement and a former Barack Obama supporter.  I smell Soros money, sabotage, and Democrat dirty tricks here.

Antifa’s Approach To Free Speech—-Piss On It

In their efforts to drive political opponents from the public square, self-described “anti-fascists” (or “antifa”) are utilizing a disgusting and degrading weapon: human urine. In just the latest instance of weaponized urine, counter-protesters demonstrating against a free speech rally in Boston on Saturday flung urine-filled bottles at police officers trying to maintain order amidst an already tense political climate.