October 27: Daily Contrarian Reads

Follow The Money——Why Hillary Clinton Is In The Tank For Wall Street and K-Street

In all, Clinton’s 1,370 fundraisers — dubbed “Hillblazers” by the campaign — have bundled together at least $137 million from their friends, family members and business associates to build a money machine that surpasses the fundraising operation that twice helped elect Obama.

Red Ponzi Update—-Here Come The Paddy Wagons

The Sept. 10 front page of the Tianjin Daily portrayed Huang Xingguo, then leader of one of China’s biggest ports, as the quintessential city official: Two stories extolled him receiving delegates from Taiwan’s opposition party and telling a group of teachers about plans to improve their livelihoods. …..The state-run newspaper told a different story on Sept. 11. A banner headline announced the Communist Party’s decision to investigate the acting Tianjin party secretary for “serious disciplinary violations,” a euphemism for graft. The probe effectively ended Huang’s four-decade political career, leaving a key space on the country’s political chessboard vacant.

Why The Next 10 Years Will Be Ugly for Your 401(k)

So on average we all expect a 5 percent; the report tells us we should start getting used to disappointment. To show how a mainstream stock and bond portfolio would do under Research Affiliates’ 10-year model, the report looks at the typical balanced portfolio of 60 percent stocks and 40 percent bonds. An example would be the $29.6 billion Vanguard Balanced Index Fund (VBINX). For the decade ended Sept. 30, VBINX had an average annual performance of 6.6 percent, and that’s before inflation. Over the next decade, according to the report, “the ubiquitous 60/40 U.S. portfolio has a 0% probability of achieving a 5% or greater annualized real return.”

Our rigged Economy And The Madness of QE

The only price that works is the one you don’t set, the one that is discovered by buyers and sellers moving freely as supply and demand shift. So it was that when the Fed nailed the price of credit to the floor, we expected the typical debacle.

And now, others are coming around to our point of view. Here’s William Hague, the former leader of the British Conservative Party, explaining in The Telegraph why QE is a bad idea…..

McCarthyism—Then And Now—-And The Ruling Elites Smear Campaign Against Trump

The average American, while hardly a Putin groupie, is not lying awake at night worrying about the “Russian threat.” The fate of Ukraine, not to mention Crimea, is so far from his concerns that the distance can only be measured in light-years. And when some new scandal breaks as a result of WikiLeaks releasing the emails of Hillary Clinton’s inner circle, Joe Sixpack doesn’t think “Oh, that just proves Julian Assange is a Kremlin toady!” WikiLeaks is merely confirming what Joe already knew: that Washington is a cornucopia of corruption.

Wall Street’s Quarterly Earnings Beat Scam—–Earnings Magic Exposed

The following graphs illustrate the “earnings game” being peddled by corporate America through their Wall Street enablers. The first graph shows the average migration of earnings expectations over the course of the year preceding the actual results. The data covers the 17 quarters from the second quarter of 2012 to the second quarter of 2016. Note the large forecasting error (labeled “massive miss” below) between expected results a year in advance and actual results. Also, notice the better than expected results (“respectable beat”) when compared to expectations at the end of the quarter immediately prior.

This is What The Obamacare Death Spiral Looks Like

The Obama administration has announced that premium prices under the Affordable Care Act will spike 22% in 2017….Critics of the law have been predicting its demise ever since it was signed in 2010. But as the nation’s largest insurers including UnitedHealth (UNH), Humana (HUM) and Aetna (AET) pull out of the exchanges one-by-one to stem their financial blood loss, Americans are beginning to wonder whether the detractors have been right all along.

Another Giant Bubble Collapsing—–Update On The San Francisco Office Market

Already, Twitter has thrown 183,642 square feet of vacant office space at its two-building Mid-Market headquarters on the sublease market, thus bringing it to 1.51 million square feet (msf).

This comes at a time when, according to the “snapshot” from Cushman & Wakefield, leasing activity nearly ground to a halt in the third quarter, with only 875,000 sf leased – the lowest since 2001!

Hidden In September New Homes Sales Report—-Massive Downward Revision of Prior Months

September new home sales came in at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of 593,000 units, a bit under the Econoday Consensus Estimate of 601,000. The key headline in today’s report is the massive downward revision to reported numbers in July and August. August sales went from 609,000 to 575,000. July sales went from 659,000 to 629,000. As is typically the case, the Econoday parrot proclaimed this as good news.

What Economic Progress Does Not Look Like

It is a long road to recovery, an actual one, if we are to be left to the pace of economists struggling to make sense of the analog world. They are truly digital creatures, who would look at information and make no judgment until the models tell them what to think. You or I would find troubling data and seek out reasons for the trouble; an economist sees troubling data and concludes that it isn’t troubling at all if the regressions still see the same positive future. It is why despite all the downdrafts and turmoil the past two years the opinions of policymakers above all continued to reflect an economy that “should be” instead of what it clearly was.