January 3: Daily Contrarian Reads

Nothing More Permanent Than A “Temporary” Tax

When it becomes apparent that the reform is a sham, they often pull a rabbit out of a hat in the form of a “temporary” tax, that’s pre-legislated to end sometime in the future. Sounds promising. So, let’s have a look at one such temporary tax and see how things worked out.

Irrational Complacency—-VIX Sets Record Low During 2017

Specifically, the average daily closing price of the VIX in 2017 was 11.10 (through 12/26/17). That is the lowest of any year — by more than one and a half points — since the VIX inception in 1986 (by comparison, the “average yearly average” is over 20).

A Post-Christmas Story—Pondering “It’s A Wonderful Life”

I confess, I like Christmas a lot, Hebrew that I am, perhaps the musical and sensual trappings more than the virgin birth business. Something in my mixed Teutonic blood stirs to the paganism of blazing Yule logs, fragrant fir trees, rousing carols, and snow on snow on snow. I hope we can keep these hearty ceremonies… that they are not banished to the same puritanical limbo where the Prairie Home Companion archives were sent to rot.

Mind The 2-Year Treasury Note—Hits Highest Yield Since Lehman

The last time the yield on a 2-Year TSY auction was as high as it was today – 1.922% to be specific, tailing the When Issued 1.899% by 0.3bps – was just a few days after Lehman Brothers failed, with one difference: back then it was sliding, while now the rate on 2Y paper is surging, up from just 1.21% at the start of the year, and up from 1.765% just last month thanks to the latest Fed rate hike.

How Dick Cheney And His Neocon Allies Created The North Korea Nuclear Crisis

However, North Korea reached agreements with both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations that could have averted that threat, had they been completed. Instead, a group of Bush administration officials led by then-Vice President Dick Cheney sabotaged both agreements, and Pyongyang went on to make rapid strides on both nuclear and missile development, leading ultimately to the successful late November 2017 North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test.

Just Four Large Countries Have A Higher Debt Burden Than the U.S.

As of 2017, the general government gross debt of the U.S. stood at 108.1% of gross domestic product, according to estimates from the International Monetary Fund. Only four large countries have more debt for the size of their economies.

Did The FBI Conspire To Stop Trump?—-Yes, It Did!

Did Trump, or officials with his knowledge, collude with Vladimir Putin’s Russia to hack the emails of John Podesta and the DNC, and leak the contents to damage Hillary Clinton and elect Donald Trump? A year and a half into the investigation, and, still, no “collusion” has been found. Yet the investigation goes on, at the demand of the never-Trump media and Beltway establishment.

2018’s Silver Lining—–Peak Government

Next year’s silver lining may be that it marks peak government. Governments have coopted much of the world’s resources and put a gigantic lien on its future production. In a severe economic contraction, the wherewithal from taxes and credit markets that would allow them to grow even bigger—and thus more intrusive and repressive—simply won’t be there.

Iraq 2003 Redux—-Drumbeats Of War Against Iran

America’s current United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley is no Colin Powell either in terms of intellect or credibility, but she did try to act like him when she spoke on December 14th in front of a sparsely attended press conference that was focused on a much larger US television audience. Haley displayed parts of what she claimed to be fragments from an Iranian-sourced missile.

Homeland Security’s Boondoggle And Comedy Show

What does the United States have to show for tens of billions of dollars of Homeland Security antiterrorism spending by local and state governments? Michael Sheehan, former New York City deputy commissioner for counterterrorism, observed, “I firmly believe that those huge budget increases have not significantly contributed to our post-9/11 security.” But the war on terrorism has been an unmitigated victory for Leviathan and politicians at every level of government.