November 7: Daily Contrarian Reads

Donald Trump In Context—-A Historical Review Of Where He Fits

Populism and nationalism are not only upsetting on a personal level to those who wield power and profits under the status quo; they are also a threat to their jobs and income.  Trillions of dollars are stake in such sacrosanct, bipartisan pillars of established statecraft such as Wall Street, the Federal Reserve, open borders for cheap labor, managed trade pacts like NAFTA and TPP, the Pax Americana global empire, NATO, perpetual war in the Middle East, and the federal government’s special relationships with Israel and Saudi Arabia.  One nutty celebrity businessman too rich to be controlled cannot be allowed to stand in the way of such important and beneficial things.  So all stops have been pulled out.  To the point where Donald Trump—who has been well known for decades to Americans—has been demonized.

The October Jobs Report—-The Slumping Trends Continue

That could have been either a problem with interpretation or with the statistics themselves. I have made plain over these past two years my view, mainly that the BLS overstated the relative overall improvement in 2014, translating that through trend-cycle subjectivity into a labor market that just didn’t exist. I have little doubt about this contention, especially given the state of productivity, defined by separate BEA statistics that essentially “check” the math of the BLS. It doesn’t add up and hasn’t especially in the last two years, suggesting, strongly, that the headline numbers were to some unknown degree overstated.

Junk-Bond Sales Cool in Market’s Worst Slump Since February

The worst debt-market slump in seven months is starting to disrupt bond sales by risky companies as investors retreat from funds that buy the debt. Construction company Tutor Perini Corp. pulled a $500 million speculative-grade bond offering because of “adverse market conditions,” it said in a statement late Wednesday. That left Wall Street underwriters without a junk-rated sale for the second day this week as anxiety about Tuesday’s U.S. presidential election and a possible interest-rate hike next month by the Federal Reserve gripped capital markets. A unit of ServiceMaster Global Holdings Inc. is offering $1 billion of notes in a deal that is scheduled to price Thursday.

Turkey Tumbling—-Crackdown Sweeps Through Business and Finance, Imperiling the Economy

Now, investors and businesspeople say Mr. Erdogan’s relentless focus on rooting out perceived internal enemies, coupled with a consolidation of power under an emergency decree, imperil domestic financial institutions and trust in the country’s $720 billion economy. Turkey’s Parliament, dominated by Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, or AKP, recently extended emergency powers for another three months.

Inside The Jobs Report: Since 2014 The US Has Added 547k Waiters And Bartenders And Lost 36k Manufacturing Workers

As another month passes, the great schism inside the American labor force get wider. We are referring to the unprecedented divergence between the total number of high-paying manufacturing jobs, and minimum-wage food service and drinking places jobs, also known as waiters and bartenders. In October, according to the BLS, while the number of people employed by “food services and drinking places” rose by another 10,000, the US workforce lost another 9,000 manufacturing workers. The chart below puts this in context: since 2014, the US had added 547,000 waiters and bartenders, and has lost 36,000 manufacturing workers.

US Public Debt Will Cross $20 Trillion in February—–More Than The Combined Market Cap Of The Fortune 500

The next president will face a nation debt of $20 trillion, nearly double what it was when President Barack Obama took office….When Obama came into office in January 2009, the national debt was $10.6 trillion….To put the $20 trillion figure in perspective, MarketWatch reported in September the combined valued of all 500 major corporations in the S&P 500 were valued at $19.1 trillion as of the summer of 2016. These companies include Apple Inc., Exxon Mobil Corp., Facebook, and other giants

Japan On Steroids: Why The Red Ponzi Is Heading For A Similar Fate

China could be hurtling down a similar path. The methods Beijing employed to generate rapid growth—directing finance, nurturing targeted industries, and promoting exports—are replicas of Japan’s. And since the state in China’s “state capitalism” plays an even larger economic role than Japan’s officious bureaucracy does, the Chinese government interferes with markets to a greater degree. In China, the chummy government-business-banking triumvirate has led to excess steel mills, cement plants, and apartment blocks on a staggering scale. And Beijing’s policymakers have responded to overbuilding with a massive influx of easy cash to keep the old, sputtering growth engines spinning. The flood of yuan has fueled unstable spikes in asset prices, as it did in Japan. Last year stock markets in China escalated to nosebleed levels, only to deflate in a panicked crash. Now property prices in Shanghai, Shenzhen, and other major cities are rising so quickly that officials have stepped in to control them.

The Democrats’ Desperate Russian Gambit Against Trump Will Backfire 

he Democrats have regularly played the “Russia card,” implicating Donald Trump in supposedly nefarious ties to Putin and others, ever since the Democratic National Committee’s mail hack exposed how the then party chair, Debbie Wasserman-Shultz favored Clinton over Bernie Sanders. However, the Clinton camp has just taken this tactic a trick too far….Trump eschews confrontation in favor of businesslike negotiation. He also recognizes that there are numerous questions—not least Syria—on which cooperation between Washington and Moscow is a realistic alternative to our mounting contention.

America’s Disastrous Drug War: 30 years of Rampaging Wildebeest

Yesterday marked the 30th anniversary of one of the most destructive laws ever passed in the United States, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. It was passed in the wake of the overdose death of NBA prospect Len Bias, who had just been drafted by the Boston Celtics, the favorite team of then-House Speaker Tip O’Neill. Here’s a quick primer on the law from Families Against Mandatory Minimums….

The Growing Republican Chorus: If Clinton Wins, She Should Be Impeached 

The chairman of the House Oversight and Investigations committee last week promised that a Hillary Clinton presidency would be a nonstop parade of investigations. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said his staff has already assembled two years’ worth of material — enough to consume the entire 115th Congress. But if other Republicans have their way, Clinton might not even remain in office through those first two years.