February 16: Daily Contrarian Reads

Mind The Madness—–The Entire World Is “Overbought”

After an initial delay, global stock markets have joined the Trump-flation euphoria in recent weeks. In fact, despite the dismal decline in global earnings, global stocks are now within inches of April 2015’s record highs, and are now the most overbought since July 2014. Everything is awsome in the world again…

A Win For The Deep State—–The Political Assassination Of Mike Flynn

Let’s be clear about how and why former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn was ousted from his post: a cabal of current and former members of the “intelligence community,” fanatically opposed to Donald Trump’s stated desire to “get along with the Russians,” leaked the top secret transcript of Flynn’s conversation with Russian ambassador Sergay Kislyak. Although we don’t yet know exactly what transpired – as of this writing, BuzzFeed hasn’t gotten their hot little hands on the transcript – there was apparently some discussion of lifting sanctions on Russia, which is something the cabal and its collaborators in Congress and the media are determined to prevent at all costs.

It’s All Contained, Not!  Wholesale Inflation Hits 4-Year High

US wholesale inflation continued its upward trend in January, recording its largest monthly gain in more than four years, according to data released Tuesday by the Labor Department. The Producer Price Index, which measures prices from the seller’s perspective, rose 0.6 percent in seasonally adjusted figures, which was the largest such gain since September 2012 and well above an analyst consensus forecast of 0.3 percent. Excluding food and energy, the index saw a monthly gain of 0.4 percent.

Another Trumpite Assassinated—Egregious Lies About Andy Puzder

The torrent of lies about Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants and President Trump’s nominee for Labor Department Secretary, never seems to end.  It’s not enough to say that he abused his wife (she has denied it) and that 60 percent of his restaurants have violations (fewer than 1 percent had violations, according to Labor Department Wage and Hour data). The latest accusation, from senior investigations editor David Sirota at the International Business Times, is that Puzder owes millions of dollars to UBS, a bank that could be in a position to benefit from favorable rulings if Puzder were confirmed as Labor Secretary. Sirota suggests that Puzder is disqualified due to conflicts of interest. But Puzder has no financial interest or investments in UBS.

Self-Repeal—-Humana to pull out of Obamacare Exchanges in 2018

While Republicans continue to grapple with plans to repeal and replace Obamacare and stabilize health insurance rates, Humana is the first major insurer to say it is dropping out of the individual market for 2018. “Based on our initial analysis of data associated with the company’s health-care exchange membership following the 2017 open enrollment period, we continue to see further signs of an unbalanced risk pool,” said Humana CEO Bruce Broussard, on a conference call with analysts Tuesday. “Therefore, the company has decided that it cannot continue to offer this coverage for 2018.”

The Obama Administration’s Bug And Leak Campaign That Felled Flynn

Yet the leak itself is raising serious questions — because when the intelligence community captures phone calls of an American inside the U.S., even if the discussion involves a foreign national (in this case an ambassador), steps must be taken to shield the American caller’s identity….. “If [the Flynn conversation] was picked up inadvertently, then that would have had to have been approved by someone in the last administration to actually unmask his name so that the FBI or intelligence officials knew who it was on the other end of the phone talking to the Russian ambassador,” Nunes told Fox News. “If, in fact, the press reports are right, someone made the decision to deliberately listen to General Flynn’s phone calls and that is, I think, unprecedented, unwarranted and flat-out wrong.”

Fed Still Waiting For The Bubble To Burst—–The Case Of Soaring Commercial Real Estate Prices

The fear of what Fed Chair Janet Yellen on Tuesday – and other Fed governors earlier – called “waiting too long” before raising interest rates is increasingly inserting itself into Fed pronouncements…..Boom and bust: that’s the material CRE is made of. We had seven years of boom, and now the Fed is worried about the bust. Yellen didn’t mention CRE in her prepared testimony on Tuesday before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. But it featured in the twice-yearly report that the Fed delivered to Congress in support of Yellen’s testimony.

“Groupstink” At The Fed—-An Insider’s Expose Of The Rot

Not so with Danielle DiMartino Booth, author of “Fed Up: An Insider’s Take on Why the Federal Reserve is Bad for America,” who attacks the culture of the Fed, starting from the bottom up.      She takes on the research staffs of elite, Ph.D. economists — “the MIT mafia” — who are married to their mathematical models and focused on publishing in peer-reviewed journals. She exposes the institutional groupthink — “groupstink,” she calls it — and disdain for dissenting views. And she reserves her most strident criticism for those at the very top.

While Washington’s Elites Played Empire—-America Fell Apart

Our extraordinary misallocation of national treasure and political power has set a banquet of consequences that few are willing to face, much less address head-on. If we had to sum up this vast misallocation, we might start by characterizing it as the result of a multitude of elites playing Empire with money borrowed from future generations.

When the Hotel Industry Places a Hit on Airbnb, Politicians Happily Take the Contract

New York officials are on the job, protecting the world from the likes of Hank Freid and Tatiana Cames by slapping the two with a combined total of $17,000 in fines. What threat to life, liberty, and property did this dastardly duo pose? They were renting rooms to willing customers, the bastards. Fried and Cames were slapped for violating laws prohibiting apartment owners from renting rooms for less than 30 days if they’re not living on the premises, and a further law passed last year that banned advertising such rentals. It’s a direct strike at innovative home-sharing services like Airbnb and the people who use them that parallels similar attacks around the country.