July 5: Daily Contrarian Reads

Welcome To The Dark Side Of “It’s Different This Time”

The prior truly believed and embraced that it was different this time. In other words, fundamentals of any sort whether they be tried and true business metrics, paying customers, profits, net profits, __________(fill in the blank) were suddenly immaterial for measuring a business for what its valuation could, would, or should be. Business 101 was reduced to: Get an idea, Get funded, Get listed, Get out, rinse repeat. And if you didn’t “get out?” Then the only metric that mattered is “eyeballs for ads.” i.e., Spend (or lose) $100mm per quarter is perfectly acceptable, and even encouraged, as long as you can show 102 million eyeballs came for free. Why? “It’s different this time.” This is what business, valuations, metrics, and fundamentals had now become, and again here’s the key – they believed – would remain forever more.

Hacking For Profit and Malice—Not Russkie Plots

Illinois is the one state where hackers succeeded in breaking into a voter registration database last summer. The crucial fact about the Illinois hacking, however, was that the hackers extracted personal information on roughly 90,000 registered voters, and that none of the information was expunged or altered…….That was an obvious clue to the motive behind the hack. Assistant DHS Secretary Ozment testified before the House Subcommittee on Information Technology on Sept. 28 (at 01:02.30 of the video) that the apparent interest of the hackers in copying the data suggested that the hacking was “possibly for the purpose of selling personal information.”

Carmeggedon Update: June Auto Sales Fall Sharply

Americans are buying fewer cars. Will they buy something else? Pushing steel is getting harder. General Motors, Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles reported on Monday that their car, pickup and other light vehicle sales were down sharply in June from a year ago. Japan’s top sellers did better, but not enough to make up for Detroit’s woes. At a seasonally adjusted, annual rate, auto makers sold 16.4 million light vehicles last month, according to WardsAuto, capping off the weakest quarter for sales since 2014. Weakening auto sales have often been a prelude to the economy contracting. They began trending lower before the 2007 recession started, and were associated with the recessions of the 1970s and 1980s.

Nikki Haley: Warmonger Extraordinaire!

It must now be a prerequisite of those who become an American ambassador to the UN to possess certain characteristics and traits, the most important of which are rabid warmonger, child killer, and outright liar. Remember it was Madeleine Albright….In her brief tenure as UN ambassador, Nikki Haley is fulfilling these requirements quite nicely.  Her latest crazed outburst came on the heels of the bizarre White House press release about another supposed Syrian government gas attack which warned President Assad that he would “pay a heavy price” if carried out.

America’s Pension Bomb: Illinois Is Just the Start

Unfortunately, the state of Illinois doesn’t have a monopoly on ignorant politicians…they’re everywhere.  And, since the end of World War II, those ignorant politicians have been promising American Baby Boomers more and more entitlements while never collecting nearly enough money to cover them all…it’s all been a massive state-sponsored scam.

Warning: GOP Leaders have Few Sure Votes on Debt Ceiling

Speaker Paul Ryan, who would be charged with convincing Republicans to back the bill, voted against the clean-debt hike in 2014 when he was still chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Only 28 Republicans backed it, and 12 of them are no longer in Congress. In the Senate, every Republican opposed the bill the clean debt-ceiling bill on final passage. It’s also far from clear that every Democrat in the House will back a clean debt-hike.

Bad-Omen Rising: Treasury-Bund Spread Warns Bull Run Is Over

German bunds are trying to deliver a message to stock-market investors: Achtung! According to market technician Tom McClellan, a narrowing yield spread between German 10-year bonds, known as bunds and their U.S. counterpart has historically been a bad omen for equity markets.

Mind The Income Gap: $4.62 Trillion Below Normal Recession/Recovery Cycle

The difference is enormous. Putting it into statistical terms of income, it is in May 2017 a gap of $4.62 trillion. In other words, had the Great “Recession” been a recession, meaning that growth after it was enough to first offset it and then be consistent with historical economic expansions, Disposable Personal Income would have been $19.11 trillion (SAAR) rather than the $14.49 trillion currently estimated. I doubt that anyone is aware of that gap in statistical terms, but that almost everyone is intuitively. For economists and central bankers the issue is also an easy one; there is inflation at $19.11 trillion that can’t be at $14.49 trillion. Despite the present condition of the unemployment rate, there isn’t proof in incomes (therefore spending) that it is a valid one.

The American Way of War—–Pretty Much Most Of Its History

The most striking fact about the United States of America is not its supposed founding principles — more often lauded than observed — but how often “the greatest country on earth” has waged war. If we count wars against internal “enemies” (i.e., the Indians), covert foreign wars, and aid to other states’ aggressive external and internal wars, we can see the United States has been at war almost continuously since it broke free from Britain. By one estimate this nation has been at war 214 out of the 228 years since the Constitution took effect — that’s 94 percent of the time — and there were wars during the Articles of Confederation period too. Contrary to popular misconception, the war state did not begin in 1945. From the start, war was an acceptable means to national policy ends, whether to open markets or to install friendly regimes.

Mayhem In bond Land—-Why It Will Happen

Take Germany, which was at the center of last week’s repricing. The country’s benchmark 10-year bond pays a coupon of 0.25%, and at the start of last week was priced nearly close to par, with a yield of 0.25%. By the end of the week, it yielded 0.47%, but the bond’s price had dropped by around 2%, data from Tradeweb show. In other words, the price move in one week was equivalent to eight years of income: the 0.25% yield on offer at the start of the week was no protection against losses.