October 2: Daily Contrarian Reads

That Didn’t Take Long—-GOP Back Tracking Already And Canceling State and Local Tax Deduction

A day after announcing their ambitious tax plan, Republicans debated scaling back one of their largest and most controversial proposals to pay for lower tax rates: repeal of the individual deduction for state and local taxes. Faced with the potential for defections by House Republicans from high-tax states such as New York and New Jersey, Republicans are exploring ways to satisfy those lawmakers without backing off the lower tax rates they promised.

How General Kelly Is Stabbing The Donald In the Back On RussiaGate

As we reported last week, California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher earlier this year tried to broker a deal between the Trump administration and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange whereby Assange would furnish purportedly conclusive evidence that Russia wasn’t responsible for the DNC leaks in exchange for a presidential pardon…….As WSJ initially reported, Rohrabacher was stymied by Chief of Staff John Kelly when he tried to take the deal to the president. Trump’s chief of staff, who’s efforts to impose “discipline” on the West Wing in part by limiting access to the president have been widely publicized.

Doug Kass On Why It’s Time To Sell The FANGs

I’ve recently turned more negative on two FANG components — Amazon and Facebook, as well as the Nasdaq and technology in general. That’s why I’m shorting AMZN and FB and have gone long on both the ProShares UltraShort QQQ and the ProShares UltraPro Short QQQ, which are 2x and 3x inverse plays on the Nasdaq 100.

The Incredibly Shrinking Big Blue—Off-Shored Jobs And The India Labor Price

IBM has booked 21 quarters in a row of year-over-year revenue declines. Annually, revenues peaked in 2011 at $106.9 billion and have now dropped relentlessly five years in row, for a total decline of 25%…… Now IBM employs 130,000 people across India, according to The Times. That’s 34% of its global workforce, and substantially more than in the US…..Their work spans the entire gamut of IBM’s businesses, from managing the computing needs of global giants like AT&T and Shell…..IBM even has a Bangalore “garage” full of app designers who build corporate iPhone and iPad apps to simplify tasks like helping airline agents rebook passengers, bankers make loans and doctors update patient files.

Yet Another Russia Story Falls Apart—Is Skepticism Permissible, Yet?

Most major media outlets touted a major story about Russian attempts to hack into U.S. voting systems, based exclusively on claims made by the Department of Homeland Security.     …….So what was wrong with this story? Just one small thing: it was false. The story began to fall apart yesterday when Associated Press reported that Wisconsin – one of the states included in the original report that, for obvious reasons, caused the most excitement – did not, in fact, have its election systems targeted by Russian hackers.

Homework Assignment for The Dems—Repeal Citizens United

Is anyone out there interested in redemption? I have an idea for the political party out of power, the Democrats, sunk in its special Okefenokee Swamp of identity politics and Russia paranoia: make an effort to legislate the Citizens United calamity out of existence. Who knows, a handful of Republicans may be shamed into going along with it. For those of you who have been mentally vacationing on Mars with Elon Musk, Citizens United was a Supreme Court decision — Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission 558 U.S. 310 (2010) — which determined that corporations had the right, as hypothetical “persons,” to give as much money as they liked to political candidates.

Draining Which Swamp? Trump’s Generals Fatten the Pentagon

Sadly, that “size matters” thing is working like a charm for the defense industry. Trump’s schoolyard posturing certainly helped push Lockheed’s profitable THAAD missile defense system into South Korea. He’s made sure the Persian Gulf remains a tony neighborhood filled with committed customers by probing ways to decertify the Iran Nuke Deal and by stoking Saudi Arabia’s regional ambitions. And just like he promised, America is in fact pouring billions into “rebuilding” its “defenses.” And maybe that’s the other reason why “The Generals” couldn’t pass up an opportunity to “serve” in Trump’s gold-plated administration……

The $1.4 Trillion Student Debt Tower Starts To Wobble

Since the financial crisis, most market observers and economists have cheerfully ignored the aggregate student-debt load in the US, which recently swelled to an economy-threatening $1.4 trillion. Even as student-debt, which can’t be discharged in bankruptcy, grew to represent 10% of the total US debt burden, defenders of the status quo pointed to declining default rates as evidence that the government-backed student loan industry wasn’t in danger of imploding. But that may soon change.

Why Tax Reform Won’t Fix America’s Budget Mess

Slashing corporate taxes is the way to go for America. But voters and investors, don’t be fooled: Even if tax reform recharges growth as President Donald Trump and the Republican Party are advertising, it won’t come close to thwarting America’s looming Federal budget crisis….”It’s a non-starter to think we can grow ourselves out of this budget mess,” says Veronique de Rugy, an economist at the conservative Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Janet In Wonderland: On 2% Inflation—-Fuggetaboutit

The man from the BIS has the answer for Fed Chair Janet Yellen and all the other central bankers who have a fixation with their 2% inflation targets: “Fuggetaboutit!” …. In other words, inflation no longer appears to be sufficiently responsive to tightness in labour markets.” If the PCM isn’t dead, it is in a coma.