February 8: Daily Contrarian Reads

Coming From The Robo Traders Soon—-A Punch To The Face For Central Bankers

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the incredible amount of counterintuitive moves that we see in markets.  It’s all inextricability linked to the rise of computer trading Once you get momentum, markets start going up based on the back of algorithms. Then we start to see the day traders coming on the back of it, and everyone starts to gain confidence. Markets are global now. There really is only one equity market around the world, certainly when they’re going up. We’ll see when markets turn and start to go down. And I think that’s definitely something we need to talk about because I suspect it will be very, very different market action when this trend turns. …….And so we as humans are trying to figure out what this means, trying to figure out how it works. And we don’t know because we only know which way it works in one direction. When we start to see cold-hearted, trend-following algorithms determine that the path is down, when you really are going to need human beings.

It’s Complicated: Inside US Trade Flows With Mexico, China, Canada Etc.

With concerns about protectionism rising, whether in the context of the Border Adjustment Tax or simple tariffs, Barclays has compiled a useful table summarizing what goods America’s top trading partners export to the US for – mostly cheaper – consumption, compared to domestically produced equivalents.

Big Fiscal Roadblocks Stands Squarely In Front Of Trump’s Stimulus Agenda

For an economy that isn’t in recession, the U.S. is facing one of the bleakest fiscal outlooks since World War II. One question that President Donald Trump will soon have to decide: How much is he willing to embrace even wider deficits? Before Mr. Trump does anything, growing budget deficits are already on a course to push federal debt to record levels as a share of gross domestic product. That will make it extremely difficult to make good on promises to cut taxes and boost spending without spilling more red ink.

“Complacency Reigns Supreme” Loews CEO Warns: The Market’s “Major Disconnect Concerns Me”

Jim Tisch, the CEO of Loews, is worried – worried enough that he slashed his firm’s share buybacks in 2016 and explained to an anxious analyst crowd during his earnings call that “complacency reigns supreme. However, my experience has shown me that this state of affairs won’t go on indefinitely.”  Simply put, Tisch warned that investors who bid up the prices of stocks and bonds aren’t accounting for the risks, given global uncertainties about taxes, regulation and trade.

Trump’s Foreign Policy Emerges: Obama’s Third Term, Bush’s Fifth

Although elected president at least in part on his image as “the peace candidate,” Obama owned eight years of constant war. He waffled on then partially reversed the withdrawal from Iraq negotiated by his predecessor. He stretched the eight-year Afghanistan war to 16 years and counting. He began or expanded operations in Pakistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen, escalating even to extra-judicial assassinations of American citizens. On foreign policy, Obama served George W. Bush’s third and fourth terms. Now Donald Trump looks set to serve Bush’s fifth term and/or Obama’s third.

As Rich As It Gets—-After Balloon ECB’s Balance Sheet To $4 Trillion, Draghi’s Fixing To Blame Trump For The Next Financial Crisis

Earlier today, the portfolio manager of the world’s biggest hedge fund, Mario Draghi, whose total assets held by the European Central Bank’s special situations fund amount to €3.72 trillion, or 36% of the euro zone’s GDP…  … said that it is not his gargantuan “portfolio”, or the roughly $14 trillion in global central bank liquidity sloshing around (as lamented earlier today by Bill Gross) that would be the catalysts of the next financial crisis, but rather that Donald Trump’s deregulation of the banking industry has “sown the seeds of the next financial crisis.”

Monetary Methadone—-Why It Doesn’t Work

An investor must know that it is this money that now keeps the system functioning. Without it, even 0% policy rates are like methadone – cancelling the craving but not overcoming the addiction. The relevant point of all this for today’s financial markets? A 2.45%, 10-year U.S.Treasury rests at 2.45% because the ECB and BOJ are buying $150 billion a month of their own bonds and much of that money then flows from 10 basis points JGB’s and 45 basis point Bunds into 2.45% U.S. Treasuries. Without that financial methadone, both bond and stock markets worldwide would sink and produce a tantrum of significant proportions. I would venture a guess that without QE from the ECB and BOJ that 10-year U.S. Treasuries would rather quickly rise to 3.5% and the U.S. economy would sink into recession.

Why Corporate America Has Conniptions about Trump’s H-1B Visa Reform

What is happening time and again is that tech companies or IT departments at non-tech companies are laying off Americans and replace them with H-1B workers, often requiring the to-be-laid-off Americans to train their foreign successors. This is proof that the verbiage about not being able find Americans to do those jobs is just a pretext. Some of these abuses of the H-1B visa program have become tangled up in Congressional investigations, including this one: Southern California Edison, a utility, decided to lay off people in its IT Department, which had 1,800 employees and 1,500 contract workers at the time. As is typically the case, the Americans, who had to train their replacement H-1B visa holders from India…… SCE then confirmed having hired Infosys, in Bangalore, and Tata Consultancy Services in Mumbai, two of the largest users of H-1B visas, to provide the H1-B workers…..

Peoples’ Republic Of California—-Why That Won’t Work Either

If California were ever on its own, within six months of its “independence” it would be unable to function at even a survival level. Though it boasts the sixth largest economy in the world (larger than that of both Brazil and France!), there’s no economy big enough to keep a Marxist country afloat. This has been demonstrated time and again in such failed nations as Cuba, the Soviet Union, Mozambique, and every other country that has experimented with socialism/communism in any of its hideous forms.

France First! Le Pen Launches Trump-Like Campaign For President

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen vowed Sunday she would be a president who puts France first as she formally launched a campaign echoing many of the themes that propelled Donald Trump to the White House. With polls showing her now leading the first round of the election race, the head of the National Front (FN) attacked “mass immigration”, globalization and “Islamic fundamentalism” and said she wanted a country “which owes nothing to anyone”.