June 12: Daily Contrarian Reads

The Crypto-Bubble—–A Speculator’s Dream in Cyberspace

When writing an article about the recent move in bitcoin, one should probably not begin by preparing the chart images. Chances are one will have to do it all over again. It is a bit like ordering a cup of coffee in Weimar Germany in early November 1923. One had to pay for it right away, as a cup costing one wheelbarrow of Reichsmark may well end up costing two wheelbarrows of Reichsmark half an hour later. These days the question is how many wheelbarrows of US dollars one may need to pay for a bitcoin.

The Impeach Trump Conspiracy—–Pat Buchanan’s Take 

Pressed by Megyn Kelly on his ties to President Trump, an exasperated Vladimir Putin blurted out, “We had no relationship at all. … I never met him. … Have you all lost your senses over there?” Yes, Vlad, we have. Consider the questions that have convulsed this city since the Trump triumph, and raised talk of impeachment.

Second Quarter “Recovery” Fantasy Smacked By April Wholesale Inventory and Sales Report

The second-quarter recovery fantasy took another smack in the face today with wholesale trade data. Sales fell 0.4% and inventories fell 0.5%. In addition, the Census Department revised March inventories from 0.2% to 0.1%.

Wall Street Wakes Up to #Carmageddon

After five months in a row of year-over-year declines in auto sales, and therefore after five months in a row of sales that fell below already lowered expectations, the big guns on Wall Street are now seeing the writing on the wall, and are trying to come to grips with it. “A stretched auto consumer, falling used [vehicle] prices, and technological obsolescence of current cars are ingredients for an unprecedented buyer’s strike,” wrote Morgan Stanley’s auto analyst Adam Jonas in a note to clients.

The Emerging Market Debt Bubble—More Risk Than Reward

Investors are deepening their love affair with emerging-market debt at a time of profound complacency in stocks and bonds. As they do so, some buyers may be disregarding some fundamental facts. Emerging-market debt is generally becoming less creditworthy. Bloomberg Intelligence’s Damian Sassower pointed this out in a recent report, highlighting how lower-rated countries including Turkey, Ecuador and Sri Lanka are selling a greater proportion of new debt.

James Comey – Deep State Stooge

The public spectacle in Washington took center stage yesterday. It is a much-hyped battle between two mountebanks, each backed by armies of scoundrels and scammers. But it is best understood as a political version of professional wraslin’. Each side with its clownish hero. Neither side is what it pretends to be. But each plays his role…Mr. Comey did not mention – and the pitiful press will not bring up – that he has been a Deep State stooge throughout his career. Dust almost any piece of evidence from the fiasco of the last 15 years, and you will find his… and another former FBI director, Robert Mueller’s… fingerprints.

The Greatest Bubble Ever—-Massive ETF Inflows Since The Financial Crisis

The shift away from active investing and towards passive strategies and indexing has created “the greatest bubble ever,” says Steven Bregman, the co-founder of Horizon Kinetics. US-listed ETFs saw $283 billion in net inflows in 2016, taking aggregate assets under management to $2.5 trillion, according to Citigroup . The bank expects record inflows in 2017. This trend was accelerated by a “yield crisis,” Bregman said on a podcast with investor and financial writer Jesse Felder.

Confirmation Bias—How The Fed Spoon Feeds The Market The Answers It Wants

The minutes of the Federal Reserve’s eight meetings each year may not always be enlightening, given policy makers’ penchant to speak their minds. But they were never inane or embarrassing, which is what they’ve become as the focus has shifted from the appropriate monetary policy strategy to the appropriate communications strategy to ensure that every last person on earth knows exactly what the Fed is going to do next.The first thing that jumps out at anyone reading the Fed minutes is confirmation bias, the tendency to seek out information that confirms one’s existing beliefs and to filter out anything that challenges them.

Moby Trump

He breached out of the horse latitudes in the Great Sea of Politics last spring and destroyed all the lesser whales with his mighty flukes, but now the Democratic Pequod, with its diverse and inclusive crew has vowed to chase him to the ends of the earth until he spouts black blood and rolls dead out. It’s Moby Trump! Skin your eyes for him men (and women, and intersectional non-binary zhes, theys, and hirs)! Do ye see a Bitcoin nailed to yonder mast? It goes to ye who raises me that whale of white privilege!

Corruption Like No Other—-The Unbelievable Saga Of Odebrecht

By late summer 2015, the men running bribery at the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht SA were plotting another operation—not to rig a contract, which was their bread and butter, or to meddle in the politics of a sovereign nation, as they’d done on many occasions, but this time to save themselves……In the past decade or so, their group, the Structured Operations Division, had helped the company secure contracts to build dams, power plants, airports, and refineries across Latin America. They did it by creating fake engineering, construction, and consulting companies that used secret bank accounts to pay fake invoices submitted by fake customers. At the end of the chain, always, were the people in a position to say yes to another Odebrecht bid.