November 29: Daily Contrarian Reads

The Clock Is Ticking to December 14th: Mind The Red Ponzi and the 7.00 USD/CNY

As I sit here today typing, the Chinese currency is not only still in free fall, it is resting precariously so close to the “cliffs edge” (e.g. 7.00 USD/CNY) if it falls over – it will take all markets with it. Emphasis on all. For if one thinks Aug. of 2015 was scary? Let me use this for analogy: Aug. 2015 will look like a kiddie rollercoaster as compared to what the “markets” newest amusement park has constructed in the last few weeks if it all goes awry. And China – not the Fed. – is the one contemplating on whether or not it will open sooner, rather than later. And the clock is ticking.

When India’s Government Came For The Cash—-Economic Chaos and Even More Black Money

Now, two weeks later, the situation is getting much worse, and more desperate. It is obvious that Modi single-handedly took the decision to ban the banknotes, with most people in his cabinet and virtually all in the central bank oblivious to his plan…..With every passing day, it has not only  become clearer that the ban was of no use to eradicate hidden cash, but has also inflicted deep, wide and irreparable damage to the society.  The economy is rapidly moving toward stagnation.  The lives of literally hundreds of millions are in deep chaos. This event may well go down in the history books as one of the worst man-made crises ever.

Black-Friday Woes: The Death of the Department Store

Even as the US fell into a recession in March 2001, ecommerce took off. But department store sales began their long decline, from nearly $20 billion in January 2001 to just $12.7 billion in October 2016, despite 14% population growth and 36% inflation! The decline of department stores is finding no respite during the holiday season. Not-seasonally-adjusted data spikes in October, November, and December. But these spikes have been shrinking, from their peak in December 2000 of $34.3 billion to $23.4 billion in December 2015, a 32% plunge

Pardon Snowden, Prosecute Clapper

President Obama has a chance to do one thing right in his administration: pardon Edward Snowden. In the eyes of many, mine included, Snowden is a hero. Instead he faces 30 years in prison for leaking surveillance secrets. Among those secrets was the fact that US was spying on virtually everyone, including high ranking ally leaders like Angela Merkel.

Peak Debt and The Wealth Destruction Risk Dead Ahead 

In early 1980, the Dow was at 850 and today we are 19,000. That is a rise of over 18,000 Dow points in 36 years. This means that the Dow has gone up by 9% per year on average since 1981. A 9% annual increase leads the index doubling every 8 years. What a great investment. You buy stocks in 1980 for $10,000 and today in 2016 you have $220,000 without having to lift a finger. On top of that, there has been a dividend yield of around 2% on average. But this growth in the stock market has not just happened on its own accord. Stocks don’t grow at 9% annually for 36 years without some rocket fuel. And the explanation is very simple. Debt has provided the fuel. Because US debt has also grown by 9% annually since 1981. So the recipe for becoming a successful and loved president is just to print and borrow money. There is an absolute correlation between the increase in US debt and the growth in the stock market.

Don’t Lower Corporate Taxes—-Abolish Them.

The argument has often been made — including by U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill in the early 2000s and, more recently, by Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson — for abolishing the tax altogether. There aren’t many arguments in its favor, and the strongest ones that exist are of a philosophical nature….The populist governments coming to power in today’s political cataclysm need to deliver economic growth and benefits to the disenchanted workers who have brought them to power. One way to do it in a way everyone would understand would be to abolish the corporate tax. Once a major power does that, other countries would quickly follow.

America Called Bullshit on the Cult of Clinton

Ever since Donald Trump won the presidential election, all eyes, and wringing hands, have been on the white blob who voted for him. These “loud, illiterate and credulous people,” as a sap at Salon brands them, think on an “emotional level.” Bill Moyers warned that ours is a “dark age of unreason,” in which “low information” folks are lining up behind “The Trump Emotion Machine.” Andrew Sullivan said Trump supporters relate to him as a “cult leader fused with the idea of the nation.” What’s funny about this is not simply that it’s the biggest chattering-class hissy fit of the 21st century so far — and chattering-class hissy fits are always funny. It’s that whatever you think of Trump (I’m not a fan) or his supporters (I think they’re mostly normal, good people), the fact is they’ve got nothing on the Clinton cult when it comes to creepy, pious worship of a politician.

Washington Post Disgracefully Promotes A McCarthyite Blacklist Of Anti-Establishment Websites

The Washington Post on Thursday night promoted the claims of a new, shadowy organization that smears dozens of U.S. news sites that are critical of U.S. foreign policy as being “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda.” The article by reporter Craig Timberg – headlined “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say” – cites a report by a new, anonymous website calling itself “PropOrNot,” which claims that millions of Americans have been deceived this year in a massive Russian “misinformation campaign.” The group’s list of Russian disinformation outlets includes WikiLeaks and the Drudge Report, as well as Clinton-critical left-wing websites such as Truthout, Black Agenda Report, Truthdig and Naked Capitalism, as well as libertarian venues such as and the Ron Paul Institute.

America First Economics—-Tax Imports More, Domestic Profits Less

Like this writer, Kearns argues for an 18 percent VAT on all goods and services entering the United States. All tax revenue raised by the VAT — hundreds of billions — should be used to reduce U.S. taxes, beginning by ending the income tax on small business and reducing to the lowest rate in the advanced world the U.S. corporate income tax.The price of foreign-made goods in U.S. stores would rise, giving a competitive advantage to goods made in America. And with a border VAT of 18 percent, every U.S. corporate executive would have to consider the higher cost of leaving the United States to produce abroad.

The Real Election Winner: Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex Popping The Champagne Corks

Veteran defense analyst David Isenberg has convincingly argued that the “military-industrial-congressional-complex,” not the white working class, will be the real winner of the 2016 presidential election. The Forbes headline for a column Loren Thompson, an industry consultant (whose think tank is heavily funded by weapons contractors), recently wrote says it all: “For the Defense Industry, Trump’s Win Means Happy Days are Here Again.” The stocks of industry giants Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman rose sharply upon news of his election and the biggest winner of all may be Huntington Ingalls, a Virginia-based manufacturer of aircraft carriers and nuclear attack submarines that would be a primary beneficiary of Trump’s proposed naval buildup