December 28: Daily Contrarian Reads

2016 In Review—-A Clockwork Orange

I never would have believed it—not in a million years—but it happened: the Cubs won the World Series, and The Donald is our new president. Every December, I write a Year in Review that’s first posted on Chris Martenson’s & Adam Taggart’s website Peak Prosperity and later at Zero Hedge. What started as a few thoughts posted to a handful of wingnuts on Doug Noland’s Prudent Bear message board has mutated into a detailed account of the year’s events. Why write this beast? For me, it puts the seemingly disconnected events that pass through my consciousness, soon to be lost forever, into a more organized and durable form. Somebody said I should write a book. I just did. In a nutshell, this is a story of human follies and bizarre events. There are always plenty of those. Let others tell the feel-good stories.

95% Of New Jobs During Obama Era Were Part-Time Or Contract

A new study by economists from Harvard and Princeton indicates that 94% of the 10 million new jobs created during the Obama era were temporary positions. The study shows that the jobs were temporary, contract positions, or part-time “gig” jobs in a variety of fields….The research by economists Lawrence Katz of Harvard University and Alan Krueger at Princeton University shows that the proportion of workers throughout the U.S., during the Obama era, who were working in these kinds of temporary jobs, increased from 10.7% of the population to 15.8%.

The Good That Trump Could Do—Send The Neocons and Liberal Hawks Packing

Americans and the world have valid reasons to worry about Donald Trump’s presidency, given his lack of experience and his refusal to recognize the his loss of the popular vote should moderate his emerging domestic policies. But Trump also could do some good things. Particularly, Trump could break the death grip that neoconservatives and their “liberal interventionist” tag-team partners now have locked around the throat of U.S. foreign policy.Trump owes little to these “regime change” advocates since nearly all of them supported either other Republicans or his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. And the few who backed Trump, such as John Bolton and James Woolsey, have been largely passed over as Trump assembles his foreign policy and national security teams by relying mostly on a combination of outsiders and outcasts.

Jeff Bezos’ $600 Million CIA Contract, WaPo Fake News And The Ruskies Scam

But the outlet’s behind-the-scenes relationship with the CIA is nothing new. In 2013, a conflict of interest arose shortly after Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, purchased the newspaper. As the Nation reported at the time: “[Jeff Bezos] recently secured a $600 million contract from the CIA. That’s at least twice what Bezos paid for the Post this year. Bezos recently disclosed that the company’s Web-services business is building a ‘private cloud’ for the CIA to use for its data needs.

Red Ponzi Fracturing—-PBOC’s Shadow Banking Curbs Risk Deepening Junk Bond Rout

A lifeline for China’s local junk bonds is about to get cut, threatening financing for weaker companies already grappling with mounting defaults. The People’s Bank of China will include wealth management products that are held off bank balance sheets in its framework for gauging risk to the financial system starting in the first quarter, a newspaper controlled by the central bank said Monday. The monitoring may drag on growth of WMPs that banks authorize third-party asset managers to oversee so they can purchase riskier debt with leverage, according to money manager Shanghai Silver Leaf Investment Co.

Yes, Virginia, There Is No Political Santa Claus

I mean the Uncle Sam “Santa” that, not just at Christmas time, but year-round, is believed by many people to have the ability to bring them many of the good things they want from a mythical North Pole called Washington, D.C., or any governmental capital around the world.This is the political Santa who delivers subsidies of various sorts to farmers or “alternative energy” manufacturers. The Santa who redistributes vast sums of money for educational expenditures, or public housing, welfare and food stamps, or government defense contracts, and even “bridges to nowhere.”….This is also the political Santa who can magically fill the global skies with unmanned drones for surveillance and death, or fund decade-long trillion-dollar wars in far-off lands, or bankroll “friendly” governments in other places around the world while punishing “bad” countries for what Uncle Sam defines as “misbehavior.”

Monte Paschim Bailout Depicts Desperate State of Global Banking System

Sadly, the global political, economic, and monetary environment is far worse than in 2011 or 2014 – with trade data at its worst in decades; currencies, their lowest levels ever; debt, of all kinds, parabolically higher; and leadership changes, towards more nationalistic, anti-free trade regimes, the rule rather than the exception.  Aside from the U.S., where the Fed’s record $4.5 trillion balance sheet and 0.5% interest rate are considered, LOL, the Central banking cabal’s most “hawkish,” essentially all Central banks – other than those whose currencies are literally hyper-inflating – are at their most dovish states ever – with the ECB’s balance sheet on track to surpass the Fed’s $4.5 trillion in 2017; whilst the Banks of Japan and Switzerland overtly monetize stocks (as opposed to the Fed, which does it covertly); and the Bank of England expanding QE despite a collapse in the Pound to its lowest level in the nation’s multi-century history – in a desperate, and certain to be futile, effort to prop up the massive London property bubble its own suicidal policies created, creating massive inflation for the UK’s masses, for the benefit of the “1%” owning such properties. The greatest economic bubble of all-time, CHINA, is rapidly deflating, prompting its government, two weeks ago, to admit in a state-owned newspaper that “China’s economic downturn is just now beginning, and will last a long time…..

“Russia Did It”—-The last Stand Of The Necons

By the 2000s, Neocons had taken over the Republican Party in the US and the Labour Party in the UK and could count on allies in Italy (Berlusconi) and Spain (Aznar). In the following decade, Neocon ideology spread virulently, substituting for the failed experiment of military intervention to overthrow non-cooperating governments with covert operations funding and/or arming local groups in Libya, Syria,Tunisia Egypt, Georgia, and Ukraine. Neocon adherents took over the US state department, and their grip on it was strengthened by the appointment in the Obama administration of Victoria Nuland, Secretary of State for European affairs, wife of Robert Kagan, who is in turn a top Neocon ideologist alongside Paul Wolfowitz. They also created the narrative spread and reinforced by the mainstream media, which expose the alleged crimes of non-cooperating regimes in Syria, Russia and Libya, while ignoring the anti “democratic” behavior by friendly dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia’s kings.

Draghi’s Authority Drains Away as Half ECB Board Joins Mutiny

The European Central Bank is facing a full-blown leadership crisis. Mario Draghi’s authority is ebbing, with powerful implications for financial markets and the long-term fate of monetary union…. Both Die Zeit and Die Welt report that three members of the ECB’s six-strong executive board refused to sign off on Mr Draghi’s latest statement, an unprecedented mutiny in the sanctum sanctorum of the ECB’s policy making machinery.

Red Flag on Recession Crops up in NY Fed’s Coincident Economic Index

Our Indexes of Coincident Economic Indicators (CEI) for November show economic activity declining for the 3rd straight month in New York State, flattening out in New York City, and remaining essentially flat in New Jersey”: so the New York Fed. The CEI for New York State fell at an annual rate of 1.9%, following a 1.1% decrease in October, and a 1.0% decrease in September. The index is still up 1.9% over the past 12 months, but is now below where it had been in June and is just above its level in May.