That said, with rates recently on the rise and a flood of lease returns driving down used cars prices (see “Record High Lease Returns Set To Wreak Havoc On Used Car Prices”), the tailwinds that have propelling auto sales to record highs over the past several months look set to change course…….Meanwhile, looking at GM’s subprime data going back to 2001 implies that historical spikes in 2-month delinquency rates is a fairly decent indicator that all is not well.
After a discombobulated 2016, in which Uber burned through more than $2 billion, amid findings that rider fares only cover roughly 40 percent of a ride, with the remainder subsidized by venture capitalists, it’s hard to imagine Kalanick could take the company public at its stunning current valuation of nearly $70 billion……Yet even when those factors are removed, it’s becoming more evident that Uber will collapse on its own. Barring a drastic shift in the company’s business—an implausible rollout of self-driving car fleets across the U.S., an increase of fares by three-fold, or a complete monopolization of the taxi and ride-hailing markets—Uber’s lifeline is shrinking. Its business model could collapse if one court case, and there are many, goes against it. Or perhaps more pressing, if it simply runs out of cash.
For more than 100 years global debt levels have been rising, and now we are potentially facing the greatest debt crisis in all of human history. Never before have we seen such a level of debt saturation all over the planet, and pretty much everyone understands that this is going to end very, very badly at some point. The only real question is when it will happen. Many believe that the current global debt super cycle began when the Federal Reserve was established in 1913. Central banks are designed to create debt, and since 1913 the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 6800 times larger. But of course it is not just the United States that is in this sort of predicament. At this point more than 99 percent of the population of the entire planet lives in a nation that has a debt-creating central bank, and as a result the whole world is drowning in debt. When people tell me that things are going to “get better” in 2017 and beyond, I find it difficult not to roll my eyes. The truth is that the only way we can even continue to maintain our current ridiculously high debt-fueled standard of living is to grow debt at a much faster pace than the economy is growing. We may be able to do that for a brief period of time, but giant financial bubbles like this always end and we will not be any exception.
Yet another awkwardly rational response to government intervention in deciding what’s “fair”, the blowback from minimum wage demanding fast food workers has struck again. Wendy’s plans to install self-ordering kiosks in 1,000 of its stores – 16% of its locations nationwide.
The scramble for America’s bottom dollar is on, and according to a troubling report by Reuters it has prompted America’s largest low-cost retailer Wal-Mart to not only cut prices, but to squeeze suppliers in a stealthy war for market share and maximizing profits, a scramble for market share which is oddly reminiscent of the OPEC 2014 price fiasco and is certain to unleash a deflationary shock across wide portions of the US economy…….Wal-Mart has been running a “price-comparison” test in at least 1,200 U.S. stores and squeezing packaged goods suppliers in a bid to close a pricing gap with German-based discount grocery chain Aldi and domestic rivals like Kroger. Citing vendor sources, Reuters adds that Wal-Mart launched the price test across 11 Midwest and Southeastern states such as Iowa, Illinois and Florida, focusing on price competition in the grocery business that accounts for 56% of the company’s revenue.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Eviscerates MSM Russia-Baiting—No Evidence Of Trump Campaign Connections, Flynn Said Nothing Wrong
When asked if they have any evidence of contacts specifically from the Trump campaign, Nunes replied: “It’s been looked into and there’s no evidence of anything there. Obviously we’d like to know if there is.” He also dismissed concerns that Flynn had violated the Logan Act as “ridiculous” and said that they would not subpoena Trump’s tax returns, which puts him at odds with Senate Intelligence Committee member Susan Collins, R-Maine. Throughout the press conference, Nunes insisted that both he and the White House were simply trying to be “transparent” and claimed to be confused as to why the Trump administration providing his phone number to a reporter would be a news story. He also repeated his earlier statements about wanting to avoid “McCarthyism” and “witch hunts” based on reports that Americans may have connections to the Russian regime.
As an attention-commanding headline, “Italian Left Party Splits” ranks with “Showers expected in London.” Splitting is what left parties in Italy do. Their leading figures find a point of principle, or a personal grudge masquerading as one, and use it as a way to leave comrades they have come to hate, to found a party composed of other comrades they have not come to hate yet. Hence the split in the center-left Democratic Party of Italy last weekend might have passed with little interest. But that would be wrong. It was a blow to an already disheartened citizenry, who know from experience how hard times are……However badly it goes for Italians, its consequences could be as malign for Europe, and beyond. Italy is in a parlous situation, economically and politically. In the midst of the splits and the spilling of bile, the European Commission warned the government on Wednesday that it must reduce its huge and still rising public debt – now at over 133 per cent of GDP. Under the two-year premiership of Matteo Renzi, reforms were made, especially in labour law, but they were judged too little, and produced anemic growth.
For some 15 years, airport security has become steadily more invasive. There are ever more checkpoints, ever more requests for documents as you make your way from the airport entrance to the airplane. Passengers adapt to the new changes as they come. But my latest flight to Mexico, originating in Atlanta, presented all passengers with something I had never seen before…….. Halfway down the jetbridge, there was a new layer of security. Two US Marshals, heavily armed and dressed in dystopian-style black regalia, stood next to an upright machine with a glowing green eye. Every passenger, one by one, was told to step on a mat and look into the green scanner. It was scanning our eyes and matching that scan with the passport, which was also scanned (yet again).
Is Putin’s Russia an enemy, as McCain seems to believe? Before we can answer that question, we need to know what the new world struggle is about, who the antagonists are, and what the threats are to us. If we believe the struggle is for “global democracy” and “human rights,” then that may put Putin on the other side. But how then can we be allies of President el-Sissi of Egypt and Erdogan of Turkey, and the kings, emirs and sultans of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman? But if the new world struggle is about defending ourselves and our civilization, Russia would appear to be not only a natural ally, but a more critical and powerful one than that crowd in Kiev.
You’re probably thinking that this is the point where I’ll take a break to blame Donald Trump. It isn’t. It’s the point where I’ll take a break to remind Americans who’ve been voting for politicians who promise to “secure the border” and other such authoritarian nonsense that THIS is exactly what they’ve been voting for……But there are practical arguments against America’s increasingly draconian immigration laws too. Enforcement is expensive but, fortunately, almost certain to be ineffectual (if it worked, severe economic downturn would be the result). The most important of the practical arguments, in my opinion, is that a police state built to persecute immigrants will necessarily persecute everyone else as well.