December 21: Daily Contrarian Reads

Brace For it—–Italy Is Actually Heading For National Bankruptcy

Today Charles is exercised about Italy. He first reminds us that when Italy adopted the euro in 1999, he had argued that Italy would change from being an economy with a high probability of many currency devaluations to one with the certain probability of eventual bankruptcy. Now, he says, the fateful moment is not far off…This has to be the most well-telegraphed, and now inevitable, national bankruptcy that I have seen in my 45-year career..

Red Ponzi Fracturing—How They Sneak Capital Out Of China Via Insurance Policies

It’s a game of cat-and-mouse that has gone on for most of this year, with Beijing showing no signs of winning yet. Each time China tightens up on money flowing out of the country for purchases of Hong Kong insurance, new routes seem to emerge. In the latest clampdown, which started on Saturday, MasterCard Inc. and Visa Inc. added restrictions on purchasing all but the cheapest insurance policies using credit cards issued in China, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Chinese have been spending billions of Hong Kong dollars on insurance products that are linked to investments, as a way of channeling money out of China.

15 Straight Months of Declining Industrial Production—-The Past Isn’t Quite Done With Us Yet

The fact that Industrial Production, a significant and historically deep economic statistic, has contracted for each of the past fifteen months is not nothing to be simply set aside. Given its shallow trajectory and state, we have yet to see the full effects of that past. And those may just now be catching up with the current economy….IP records that domestic auto assemblies first hit a 12 million SAAR all the way back in July 2014. The latest figure for November 2016 is just 11.91 million.

Financialism, Not Capitalism—–Repo Fails Are Rising To The Danger Point

Repo fails, in particular, are an insult to the capitalist tradition. One of the primary imbalances that led to directly to panic in 2008 was the near total failure of the repo market, itself brought to that state by among several things the Lehman failure. In a world of fluid “fails” and rehypothecation, what did bankruptcy mean for these collateral chains where ownership was just this kind of fuzzy financial relationship? It was the ultimate form of unstable money, and the results of such monetary instability became very shortly thereafter obvious to everyone.

The Real Saboteurs Of A Trump foreign Policy—The Beltway War Party

The never-Trumpers are never going to surrender the myth that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the hacking of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee to defeat Clinton and elect Donald Trump……They seek to demonize Putin as the saboteur of democracy – someone who corrupted an American presidential election to bring about victory for a “useful idiot” whom Clinton called Putin’s “puppet.” If the War Party can convert this “fake story” into the real story of 2016, then they can scuttle any Trump effort to attain the rapprochement with Russia that Trump promised to try to achieve….Before any congressional investigation, President-elect Trump should call in his new director of the CIA, Rep. Mike Pompeo, and tell him to run down and remove, for criminal misconduct, any CIA agents or operatives leaking secrets to discredit his election.

Peak Autos Are Here—–GM, Ford and Chrysler Idle Factories Owing to Bulging Dealer Lots

Just weeks after Ford idled four plants “due to slowing sales”, GM and Fiat Chrysler announced today that they will idle seven plants across Canada and US as they work to reduce near-record high inventories amid weakening sales. Just over 10,000 workers will be idled.

India Update—-A Monumental Financial Calamity And Political Upheaval Is Just Around The Corner

As the deadline of 31st  December 2016 approaches, Gresham’s law has been turned upside down. When they needed to be converted, the banned currency notes were trading for a 20% discount to their face value. In the meantime, the discount has disappeared and the banned notes are trading at a premium of 10%. The mafia which deals in the banned notes could not possibly be happier — it promises to be a big supporter of Modi going forward……..In reality, small businessmen are the heroes of India though. They are struggling under a massive and rapacious bureaucracy. Over the past three years, additional taxes have been imposed on them and the regulatory burden has steadily increased. Virtually every businessman I have met since the start of demonetization on November 8 2016 has told me that revenues are down by as much as 80%. Entrepreneurs were already reeling under very difficult circumstances, but now many are going bankrupt.

Here They Go Again—Credit Card Debt Back to Pre-Crisis Levels

But at least one indicator suggests that much of the US is actually struggling financially: Americans are piling on credit card debt at record levels that we haven’t seen since the financial crisis……

Tripwires on the Way to the Inauguration—-Trump Faces a Minefield of Manufactured Crises

While President-elect Donald Trump confronts a coordinated assault by the “intelligence community,” the media, and the Democratic party that seeks to delegitimize him before he even takes the oath of office, it’s on the foreign front that the greatest danger looms……Trump has correctly pointed to the difficulty of attributing cyber-assaults to specific actors, but politics has naturally overwhelmed reality in this matter. Determined to destroy Trump at any cost, the media are ignoring all evidence to the contrary, including denials by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and evidence presented by an eyewitness. This put enormous pressure on the White House to make some sort of statement, and Obama has obliged, vowing to retaliate against “Russian aggression” that never happened…..Yes, something quite disturbing may indeed happen on Trump’s way to the White House – namely, World War III.

Amid The Bombs of Aleppo—-All You Can Hear Is Lies

As far as I know, there was not one single staff reporter for any Western news organisation in eastern Aleppo last week. Not one. THIS is for the very good reason that they would have been kidnapped and probably murdered. The zone was ruled without mercy by heavily armed Osama Bin Laden sympathisers, who were bombarding the west of the city with powerful artillery (they frequently killed innocent civilians and struck hospitals, since you ask). That is why you never see pictures of armed males in eastern Aleppo, just beautifully composed photographs of handsome young unarmed men lifting wounded children from the rubble, with the light just right.