June 21: Daily Contrarian Reads

Trump’s Right, It Is A Witch Hunt: That’s What We Told RT Television….Without Prompting From Putin!



Even As Silicon Valley Stocks Go Full-On Looney—San Francisco Bay Area Sheds Jobs and Workers

The San Francisco Bay Area has seen an astounding jobs boom since the Great Recession. The tsunami of global liquidity that washed over it after the Great Recession, central-bank QE and zero-interest-rate policies that sent investors chasing blindly after risk, a blistering no-holds-barred startup bubble with the craziest valuations, one of the greatest stock market bubbles ever – whatever caused the boom, it created one of the craziest housing bubbles ever, a restaurant scene to dream of, traffic jams to have nightmares over, and hundreds of thousands of jobs. But it’s over….In May, employment in San Francisco dropped to 542,600 jobs, the lowest since June 2016, according to the data released on Friday by the California Employment Development Department. The employment peak was in December 2016 at 547,200.

Supermarkets Enter Amazon’s Deep Freeze

Amazon’s surprise acquisition of Whole Foods is a blow to the organic grocer’s rivals and suppliers……..The widespread losses — which spread to chains in Canada and Europe — indicate a realization that with Amazon targeting the grocery business in a big way, an industry already squeezed by price pressures could now be set for major disruption …..

How GE’s Pension Plan Im-Melted Down The Biggest Deficit in The S&P 500

It’s a problem that Jeffrey Immelt largely ignored as he tried to appease General Electric Co.’s most vocal shareholders. But it might end up being one of the costliest for John Flannery, GE’s newly anointed CEO, to fix. At $31 billion, GE’s pension shortfall is the biggest among S&P 500 companies and 50 percent greater than any other corporation in the U.S. It’s a deficit that has swelled in recent years as Immelt spent more than $45 billion on share buybacks to win over Wall Street and pacify activists like Nelson Peltz…..

Hodgkinson’s Disease: Politics and Paranoia in the Age of Trump

James T. Hodgkinson, the would-be assassin of Republican congressmen, wasn’t a radical. If you look at his published output – a series of letters to his local newspaper in Belleville, Illinois, as well as the majority of his Internet postings – it’s mostly about matters nearly every progressive cares about: taxes (the rich don’t pay enough), healthcare (the government must provide), income inequality (it’s all a Republican plot). All in all, a pretty unremarkable worldview that any partisan Democrat – either a Bernie Sanders supporter, as Hodginkinson was, or a Hillary fan – could sign on to. So what drove him over the edge?……the Democratic party, which has taken up the Russia-gate conspiracy theory to the virtual exclusion of all else — is the proximate cause of what I call Hodgkinson’s Disease: the radicalization of formerly anodyne Democrats into a twenty-first century version of the Weathermen.

Mind The Red Ponzi—China Is Not ‘Just fine”

“The vast majority of consensus opinion is that China is fine,” said Kevin Smith, the founder and chief executive of Crescat Capital, an asset management firm based in Denver that is betting against Chinese investments. Referring broadly to China’s debt and other financials, he added: “People are really not looking at the potential bubble. The bubble just keeps getting bigger.”……The research company Capital Economics, in a June report, warned that debt in China “has risen far faster than in almost any other major economy on record,” and that its continued buildup was the “biggest risk facing emerging Asia.”

The Rot Underneath—Subprime Cars Loans That Stick Even When Vehicles Are Repossessed

Soon after settling into her new home in 2009, Ms. Jawad took out a loan for $5,900 and bought a used car .After only a few months on the road, the transmission on the 10-year-old Chevy Tahoe gave out. The vehicle was in such bad shape that her lender didn’t bother to repossess it when Ms. Jawad, 39, fell behind on payments. “These are garbage cars sold at outrageous interest rates,” said her lawyer, Gary J. Pieples….Despite many signs that the market is overheating, securities tied to the loans are so profitable — yielding twice as much as certain Treasury securities — that they remain a sought-after investment on Wall Street. “The dog keeps eating until its stomach explodes,” said Daniel Zwirn, who runs Arena, a hedge fund that has avoided subprime auto investments.

The US Economy Looks a lot like the Period Before the 2000 Tech Bubble

The stars are aligning for the stock market, but not in the way bulls might like. There are four economic indicators that show remarkable similarities to 1999, the year before the dot-com bubble burst and stocks were plunged into a bear market, says Brad McMillan, the chief investment officer of Commonwealth Financial Network in Waltham….

Russophobia—The Imperial City Goes All In

It’s another week in Washington and another horror show. This time it was Attorney General Jeff Sessions being grilled by Senators on whether, when, and how he might have met with certain Russians, or any Russian, or someone who might actually know a Russian……. Or more likely, they themselves are part of the Russophobic mob undermining the White House. It has been reported that soon after the inauguration Trump sought to open dialogue with the Kremlin and set an early summit with President Vladimir Putin. This produced a hysterical counteraction from the Deep State. As reported by conservative columnist and former presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan……

Zuckerberg’s Opiate for the Masses—With Universal Basic Income, Millenials Will Never Leave Mom’s Basement

He then said to applause: “We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things.” Who wouldn’t like three grand a month? Having the government provide citizens with a universal basic income is the most bankrupt idea since socialism, but others in Silicon Valley still have been proselytizing money for nothing.

Jeff Sessions’s Reefer Madness

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reefer madness. It was revealed this week that Sessions personally asked Congress for the authority to prosecute medical marijuana providers in the 25 states and three additional jurisdictions (D.C., Guam, and Puerto Rico) where some form of medical marijuana is legal. Sessions wanted Congress to repeal the broadly supported Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which prohibits the Justice Department from using federal funds to go after medical marijuana providers and users in those states where it has been made legal.