September 18: Daily Contrarian Reads

Hey Advertisers: The Data-Mining Emperor Has No Clothes

Click-fraud is the industry’s dirty little secret, and the numbers are kept secret lest the reality that the Emperor has no clothes gets out. Despite all the hoopla about mobile adverts, fast-growing market, blah blah blah, there is precious little real-world evidence that online adverts actually do the intended job of generating new sales and attracting new loyal customers. Just look at the online advertising you’re being served. Do you get adverts promoting airline tickets to destinations you’ve just been to and that you’ll never return to, adverts promoting wrenches after you’ve just bought the only wrench you’re going to need in this life, etc.? If this contextual advertising is the best that data-mining can do, it’s pathetically ineffectual.

The Chilling Fact “Record Median Household Income” is Hiding

This chart shows the top 5% of households (red line), whose inflation-adjusted household income has soared by nearly $200,000 (112%) since 1967. Compare this to the bottom 60% of households (three lines at the bottom), whose incomes have booked tiny gains, with the bottom 20% gaining just $2,900 in household income over the past 50 years.

Echoes of Iraq-WMD Fraud in Syria

The New York Times and other Western media have learned few lessons from the Iraq War, including how the combination of a demonized foreign leader and well-funded “activists” committed to flooding the process with fake data can lead to dangerously false conclusions that perpetuate war. What we have seen in Syria over the past six years parallels what occurred in Iraq in the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion in 2002-03. In both cases, there was evidence that the “system” was being gamed – by the Iraqi National Congress (INC) in pushing for the Iraq War and by pro-rebel “activists” promoting “regime change” in Syria – but those warnings were ignored. Instead, the flood of propagandistic claims overwhelmed what little skepticism there was in the West.

3rd Quarter GDP Estimates Collapse

In the wake of today’s economic reports, third-quarter GDP estimates from the Atlanta Fed GDPNow model and the New York Fed Nowcast model each plunged 0.8 percentage points…..The New York Fed Staff Nowcast stands at 1.3% for 2017:Q3 and 1.8% for 2017:Q4.

Punk Retail Sales and the End of The ‘Reflation’ Story

There will be an irresistible urge to the make this about the weather, but more and more data shows it’s not any singular instance. Nor is it transitory. What does prove to be temporary time and again is the upside. The economy gets hit (by “dollar” events), bounces back a little, and then goes right back into the dumps. This, it seems, is the limited extent of cyclicality in these times.

Tragedy of the Speculations

Bitcoin is often promoted as the antidote to the madness of fiat irredeemable currencies. It is also promoted as their replacement. Bitcoin is promoted not only as money, but the future money, and our monetary future. In fact, it is not.

The U.S. is now over $20 Trillion in Debt—-Here’s How it got There

The U.S. has exceeded $20 trillion in national debt — the nation was a cool $20.16 trillion in the red as of Wednesday — and now that it’s crossed that mark, get ready for some finger pointing over who’s to blame. If history shows anything, it’s that both parties share responsibility for boosting the debt. Fighting wars, big tax cuts and economic stimulus packages have all added to the burden over the years. Here, we’ll take a look at some key moments in the debt’s trajectory until now, and also where it is going.

Death Cross Danger: Bad Omen as Bank ETFs Break Down

The question investors must ask is, what does the bond market know that the stock market may be missing? If the economy is picking up then interest rates should be rising, not falling. Even more concerning is the shape of the yield curve. This is a plot of Treasury rates from short-term to long-term, and it is often used as a harbinger of economic change. To simplify the analysis, we usually just analyze the difference or spread between the two-year rate and the 10-year rate.

Stinky Breadth….In The Stock Market

There are some strange things going on in certain breadth measures of the broad stock market right now. The most popular measure of market breadth has to be the NYSE advance/decline line and this continues to make new highs along with the S&P 500. But this is just part of the story.

97 Million American Workers Are Living Paycheck To Paycheck

As the Motley Fool pointed out in a recent post, the St. Louis Federal Reserve, the personal saving rate in June 2017 was a measly 3.8%, or $3.80 for every $100 they earn. With the median household income in the US at just north of $50,000, that would amount to about $4,000 a year. And that’s when they’re saving money. Another study from GoBankingRates found that 69% of Americans surveyed had less than $1,000 in savings. And about one-third had no money in reserve.