November 8: Daily Contrarian Reads

The Broadest Episode Of Extreme Overvaluation In History

Based on the consensus of the most historically-reliable market valuation measures we identify, the U.S. equity market is now at the most offensive level of overvaluation in history, exceeding even the levels observed in 1929 and 2000. Because investors appear to have a speculative bit in their teeth, our very near-term outlook is rather neutral, allowing for both further speculation and abrupt market losses. As I noted a few weeks ago, I view hedges and safety nets as essential here, but there’s no need to ‘fight’ a continued advance, if it emerges, with even larger hedges or higher safety nets. With the S&P 500 likely to lose more than -60% by the completion of the current market cycle, it will be fine if the initial few percent lower do nothing for us.

Europe Is Booming, Except It’s Not

Because even these positive quarters are never all that positive, there can never be enough momentum let alone growth to make up for when there was clear, linear contraction. The economy shrinks and though GDP turns positive afterward, even for eighteen straight quarters, the shrinking isn’t actually concluded.

The GOP Tax Cut—Six Big Hurdles

A House committee began considering a bill Monday that would reduce taxes by $1.4 trillion over 10 years, but disagreements over key pieces of the measure could force the GOP to make changes and slow down plans to pass it by year’s end. House Republicans are at odds over plans to eliminate deductions for state and local taxes. Senate Republicans disagree on child tax credits and whether to accept significantly bigger budget deficits. Narrow margins in both chambers leave the party little room to maneuver.

The Facebook Hearing’s Farce—–Goofy Ads An Act Of War?

The 2016 election was the first time in history that goofy advertisements were considered an act of war. The frenzy on Capitol Hill over a smattering of Russian advertisements would be comical except that most of the American media has jumped on the hysteria bandwagon. The latest clamor is a stark warning to anyone who presumes that politicians are natural friends of freedom of speech.

The Trumped-Up Syria Sarin Gas Case

Supposedly the Syrian government did this despite knowing there are many “White Helmet” activists in the town along with their cameras, videos, computers, Internet uplinks and Western social media promoters. Supposedly the Syrian government did this despite knowing that neoconservatives, neoliberals and Zionists are keen to prolong the conflict and drag the U.S. and NATO into it more directly. Supposedly the Syrian government did this despite knowing the one thing that could trigger direct U.S. aggression in the conflict is the use of chemical weapons: the “red line” laid down by Barack Obama. If the above sounds unlikely, it is.

Economic Insanity—-Doing the Same (Wrong) Thing Over And Over Because Eventually It’s Got To Work

Claiming, as Federal Reserve officials have done, data dependence does not make it so. Words are cheap, and like it or not central banks all around the world have been in heavy action for ten years. That’s a record of experimentation more than sufficient to draw reasonable, sound conclusions.

Saudi Arabia Government Purge—-How Washington Corruption Enabled It

Whatever the official explanation, it is being read around the world as a power grab by the kingdom’s rising crown prince. “The sweeping campaign of arrests appears to be the latest move to consolidate the power of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the favorite son and top adviser of King Salman,” as the New York Times put it. “The king had decreed the creation of a powerful new anti-corruption committee, headed by the crown prince, only hours before the committee ordered the arrests.

Why Small States Are Better For Liberty

Because of their physical size, large states are able to exercise more state-like power than geographically smaller states — and thus exercise a greater deal of control over residents. This is because larger states benefit from higher barriers to emigration than smaller states, thus allowing them to avoid one of the most significant barriers to expanding state power: the ability of residents to move away. Moreover, by virtue of the fact that the land area of the earth is more or less fixed, a small number of large states prevents the formation of a large number of small states.

Now Bubble Here—-Median San Francisco Selling Price Hits $1.588 Million In October

The median selling price of a single-family house in San Francisco spiked by $113,000 from the crazy spike and peak in May, to a new record of – fasten your seat belt – $1.588 million, according to Paragon Real Estate Group. This was up 13.4% from October last year.

Not Exactly Awesome—-U.S. Retail Store Closings Hit A New Record High As West Coast Homelessness Soars

If the U.S. economy is doing just fine, why have we already shattered the all-time record for retail store closings in a single year?  Whenever I write about our “retail apocalypse”, many try to counter my arguments by pointing out the growing dominance of Amazon.  And I certainly can’t deny that online shopping is on the rise, but it still accounts for less than 10 percent of total U.S. retail sales.  No, something bigger is happening in our economy, and it isn’t receiving nearly enough attention from the mainstream media.