October 10: Daily Contrarian Reads

Window Dressing In The Red Ponzi: China’s Pre-Party Congress PMIs Very Suspect

Both PMI’s fell in September, the one for non-manufacturing dropping to a level not seen since December 2015. It was among the lowest/weakest readings in the whole series, and it doesn’t suggest anything good about China’s economic “rebalancing.” The composite PMI compiled privately by IHS Markit and Caixin therefore resembles instead everything else in the global economy – growth and some improvement in the back half of 2016 and then a very disappointing 2017, perhaps increasingly so as indicated in far too many places.

No Joy In Trumpville

That lost city of my childhood was one in which a boy could breeze right into the Metropolitan Museum of Art on a weekday afternoon — my school was one block away from it — without the least hindrance. The place was free. There was no “donation” shakedown at the entrance. And hardly anyone was there. Do you know why? Answer: because most of the adults on the island were at work. It was a mostly middle-class city back then.

No Good Reasons to Continue America’s Longest War

The longest war in modern U.S. history approaches its 16th anniversary Saturday, and so far there is no end in sight. The war in Afghanistan began in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., with the promise of vengeance aimed at the Taliban, hosts of al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden. But that original justification—still as morally questionable now as it was then—has gotten lost amid the open-ended rhetoric of “fighting terrorism.”

Huge Danger Signs In A Single Chart

As the chart clearly shows, “prices are bound by the laws of physics.” While prices can certainly seem to defy the law of gravity in the short-term, the subsequent reversion from extremes has repeatedly led to catastrophic losses for investors who disregard the risk.

Flatliners——Dead Market Walking

In the movie Flatliners aspiring medical doctors tried to unlock the mysteries of death by, well, killing themselves. It was meant to be a controlled death of course, to flat line on the heart rate monitor for a few minutes to find out what wonders where to be found “on the other side” only to then return safe & sound thanks to medical intervention. Well, they soon found out the other side wasn’t everything it was cracked up to be and the main character soon got regular beatings as the sins of his past came back to haunt him.

Cryptocurrency World Plagued By Hacksters and Fraudsters

There have been at least three dozen heists of cryptocurrency exchanges since 2011; many of the hacked exchanges later shut down. More than 980,000 bitcoins have been stolen, which today would be worth about $4bn. Few have been recovered. Burned investors have been left at the mercy of exchanges as to whether they will receive any compensation.

The Illogical Assault on Iran Deal

The undesirable Iranian actions are usually mentioned in very vague, nonspecific terms, such as in referring to “nefarious, malign, destabilizing behavior” — or similar terminology. For stylistic concision, let us label this idea as NMDB.

Why Amazon’s Big Sales Tax Subsidy Is Doomed

Amazon only collects sales taxes on sales of inventory that it owns (first-party sales). But Amazon is also a platform that sells merchandise owned by other sellers (third-party sales). About half of the goods sold on the Amazon platform fall into this category. Amazon leaves sales tax collections to the 2 million merchants on its platform. But they claim that it’s not their job to collect sales taxes, and most of them don’t collect them. Hence, third-party sales still get the taxpayer subsidy.

Calm Before The Storm: VIX Just Finished Its Lowest Volatility Quarter Ever

The CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, just finished its calmest quarter in history, averaging just 10.94 over the past three months. The gauge has fallen for three consecutive quarters, its longest streak of declines since 2011….But the absence of volatility hasn’t tapered volatility trading itself. Even as the gauge capped off its quietest quarter ever last week, one trader pushed through one of the biggest VIX bets in history, and drove the total number of VIX options traded to a new daily high of over 2.6 million contracts.

Donald J. Trump: Warmonger-In-Chief

If a world conflagration, God forbid, should break out during the Trump Administration, its genesis will not be too hard to discover: the thin-skinned, immature, shallow, doofus who currently resides in the Oval Office!