Monday Reads: America Held Hostage Day 53

Good Morning!

Well, things are not looking up at all. We continue to have Pressers based on questions from Right Wing Conspiratorial Web sites.  Our allies continue to question our rationality and priorities as a nation. Millions of people face the very real possibility they may not have their healthcare, retirement funds, or any kind of service or help from their government in the near future.

One of the things that I’ve been very worried about is the continual disconnect between the performance of the equities market and what’s going on in the bond markets.  This is usual a symptom of what we call “animal spirits” and often a sign that a crash is imminent on Wall Street.

Bond investors and those concentrated in Equities have very different priorities. Bonds are usually safe and liquid assets while Equities are risky. Their prices can be volatile.  Here’s something I read about a week ago as a lead up to something I read this morning.

Are stocks and U.S. Treasurys sending mixed signals? Treasury prices have rebounded since Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration in January, pushing down yields, as stocks continue to ascend record heights. That’s in contrast with the bond market rout that followed the November election.

Why is a simultaneous rally a problem? Some investors see it as a sign that investors are losing faith in the so-called Trump trade, in which investors bet on aggressive fiscal stimulus and other growth-friendly measures from the new administration.

Much of the boom in equities has been due to speculation that deregulation and expansive fiscal policy favorable to private businesses may fuel business profits.  None of this has come to fruition yet so it’s basically speculative.  The economy is healthy and growing strong at the moment but is it enough to support the increased levels seen in the stock markets?  Is it real and sustainable?

Historical patterns suggest that it’s not and we may be looking at a future crash which would not bode well for any one who is or soon to be reliant on 401ks.  This is when I’m happy about my small but very stable pension coming in monthly. I’ve lived through way too many bubbles now and seen my 401k bounce around like a jumping bean.  My Uncle was one of the pioneer gnomes of the chartist movement after Black Friday.  I loved to see his huge charts that frequently blanketed the tables of his Kansas City mansion.  It could be why I ended up doing something similar.

It’s already been a big year for the Dow industrials, which have stretched a near-decade-long bull market to historic heights.

But if the technical stars collide, as one chartist predicts, the blue-chip gauge could soon plunge by more than 6,000 points to 14,800. That’s nearly 30% lower, based on Friday’s close.

Sandy Jadeja, chief market strategist at Master Trading Strategies, claims several predicted stock market crashes to his name — all of them called days, or even weeks, in advance. (He told CNBC viewers, for example, that the August 2015 “Flash Crash” was coming 18 days before it hit.) He’s also made prescient calls on gold and crude oil.

And he’s extremely concerned about what this year could bring for investors. “The timeline is rapidly approaching” for the next potential Dow meltdown, said Jadeja, who shares his techniques via workshops and seminars. Timelines are at the heart of his predictions, which he bases on repeating cycles in the market that are connected to specific times.

“People need to look for three things,” Jadeja told MarketWatch in a late-January interview and follow-up conversations. “Price, pattern, and … time. You can get the price pattern wrong, but if you get in at the right time, the other two don’t matter.”

He sees 2017 as littered with pitfalls for the Dow DJIA, -0.18%  . Below is his so-called “timelines” chart of the stock index, defined by green horizontal lines. He’s currently on the lookout for the benchmark to approach that upper green line, which represents a range of 21,800 to 22,000.

For me, it starts with a small alarm in my gut that says what are these people smoking?  Where are they seeing all this good news?  The Trumpcare fiasco alone should be sending signals that say things are not looking up.  Removing the ACA and replacing it with any thing close to what the Republicans are offering is going to severely disturb the healthcare markets as well as the labor markets.   Purchases by Households are still the primary driver of any US economy. They represent nearly 70% of all spending.

It was never a secret that Republicans would take a risk by repealing Obamacare, as unpopular as it was, and taking ownership of what happens next. But it’s striking just how many political dangers they’re putting themselves in — and how they’re ignoring pretty much all of them. Democratic operatives are already testing which ones resonate the most in swing districts, I’m told.

 Here are the one to watch:
Coverage losses. They’ve already dismissed the idea that they should worry about it, because they won’t be requiring people to buy coverage anymore. “There’s no way we can compete” with a government mandate, House Speaker Paul Ryan said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” yesterday. But if the Congressional Budget Office estimates that people will lose coverage, that’s going to be the headline for days, because …
“We’re going to have insurance for everybody.” That’s what President Trump told the Washington Post in January. He’s since fallen in line with the mainstream Republican position that they should guarantee access, not coverage. But that quote is not going to disappear.
Pre-existing conditions. Republicans insist they’re going to keep covering them, but Democrats are going to keep stoking fears that they’ll either lose coverage or have to pay more — especially with the 30 percent penalty for people who don’t keep themselves insured.
The “age tax.” AARP is going to be hammering them for allowing insurers to charge older customers five times as much as young adults, compared to three times as much under Obamacare. Republicans can try to dismiss AARP, but they do have a lot of power.
“Nobody will be worse off financially.” That’s what Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” yesterday. His point was that people will be able to buy cheaper health plans if they have more choices than the standard Obamacare ones — but it won’t be hard for Democrats to find people who are worse off.
Medicaid. Ryan insists that the switch to per-person funding limits would be a major entitlement reform that conservatives have wanted for decades — but the reality is that millions of people have gained coverage through Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, which is why Republicans are divided over when it should end.
The “giveaways to millionaires.” Democrats are already hitting the decision to get rid of a tax deductibility limitin the law — giving a tax break to insurance executives making more than $500,000 a year. That could be a hard one to explain to populist Trump supporters.
Deductibles. The sky-high deductibles under many Obamacare plans has been a standard GOP criticism of the law — but wait until people find out that the health savings accounts they’re promoting are tied to health plans that have the same thing.

Trump has made it clear that his budget will eliminate a significant part of the Federal workforce.  This is a really really recessionary move.  The states of Kansas and Louisiana have done this and its created significant economic distress in both places. Plus, it’s created a distinct lack of service and action in crucial public services.  For example, the state of Louisiana cannot train as many doctors and provide as many residents to hospitals.  That’s not good at all.

President Trump’s budget proposal this week would shake the federal government to its core if enacted, culling back numerous programs and expediting a historic contraction of the federal workforce.

This would be the first time the government has executed cuts of this magnitude — and all at once — since the drawdown following World War II, economists and budget analysts said.

The spending budget Trump is set to release Thursday will offer the clearest snapshot of his vision for the size and role of government. Aides say that the president sees a new Washington emerging from the budget process, one that prioritizes the military and homeland security while slashing many other areas, including housing, foreign assistance, environmental programs, public broadcasting and research. Simply put, government would be smaller and less involved in regulating life in America, with private companies and states playing a much bigger role.

Meanwhile, the Trump Family Syndicate continues to score.  The Trump Economy appears to be wonderful for the Trumps. The Kushners are getting a windfall from the Chinese that is a deal that’s more than just a little suspicious.

A company owned by the family of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, stands to receive more than $400 million from a prominent Chinese company that is investing in the Kushners’ marquee Manhattan office tower at 666 Fifth Ave.

The planned $4-billion transaction includes terms that some real estate experts consider unusually favorable for the Kushners. It provides them with both a sizable cash payout from Anbang Insurance Group for a property that has struggled financially and an equity stake in a new partnership.

The details of the agreement, which is being circulated to attract additional investors, were shared with Bloomberg. It would make business partners of Kushner Cos. and Anbang, whose murky links to the Chinese power structure have raised national security concerns over its U.S. investments. In the process, an existing mortgage owed by the Kushners will be slashed to about a fifth of its current amount.

The document offers a rare look at a major deal by a close Trump associate and family member. It’s unclear whether the deal could prompt federal review, as occurred when Anbang bought other properties, like the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan. Anbang could also face review by the Chinese government, which has been clamping down on overseas investments and which has a range of pending issues with the Trump administration.

Check out how the controversial EB-5 VISA program works its way into the numbers.  I’m still appalled at the idea that Camp David sits idle while Kremlin Caligula profits from using his private resort as a cash cow dressed up as a mini-White House.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, exposed Donald Trump’s claims about his so-called “Winter White House” today, pointing out that Mar-a-Lago is not a winter white house but a private for-profit business, with all the ethical and security problems that entails …

As Schiff says, Mar-a-Lago is “one ethical quagmire” out of many in the Trump empire. He is right when he points out that Trump is a “walking, talking violation of the Emoluments Clause” and has been since Day 1 of his administration.

There is no question that Trump’s business interests will not always align with American interests or with National Security needs (and forget for a moment the security risk his holding court in public places poses).

Donald Trump has shown Americans and the world that he cannot be trusted to place what’s best for America above his own interests. This is a basic problem of corporations, which see not the public good but their bottom line as what matters.

Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey has just asked the ethics office to look into T-Rump’s foreign business deals for conflicts of interest.

Democratic Sen. Bob Casey asked a government ethics office Monday to assess whether President Donald Trump’s business dealings make his administration vulnerable to conflicts of interest.

“President Trump has exposed his administration to possible conflicts of interest on an unprecedented scale,” the Pennsylvania lawmaker says in a letter to the Office of Government Ethics.

 Casey asked whether any of Trump’s foreign business deals could violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits U.S. officeholders from accepting gifts from foreign countries.The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Walter Shaub, the director of the ethics office, strongly criticized Trump earlier this year for not divesting from his businesses. Shaub said Trump was breaking decades of tradition by presidents who set up blind trusts for their assets.

There’s currently a call to investigate the possibilities that that the Trump Family Thug Syndicate has been laundering Russian Thug money through Deustche Bank.  Calls have been made by Democrats to the DOJ to investigate the Bank itself.  Congresswoman Maxine Waters is leading the charge on this.

Senior Democrats on Capitol Hill are calling for a congressional investigation into the justice department’s handling of an ongoing inquiry into Deutsche Bank, saying that Donald Trump had conflicts of interest with the German bank, his biggest creditor.
Maxine Waters, the top Democrat on the House financial services committee, urged her Republican colleagues to launch their own investigation into the nature of Deutsche Bank’s money-laundering scheme, who participated in the arrangement and whether it involved any other violations of US law beyond the failure to maintain anti-money laundering controls.
Deutsche Bank has already been ordered to pay more than $800m (£660m) in fines in the US and UK for failing to stop the improper and corrupt transfer of more than $10bn out of Russia. It is also being investigated by the justice department (DoJ).
The Guardian reported last month that the German bank undertook a close examination of the president’s personal bank account and those held by his family, in order to ascertain whether they had any suspicious links to Russia. None were found.
According to an analysis by Bloomberg, Trump now owes Deutsche about $300m. He has four large mortgages, all issued by Deutsche’s private bank.
Waters said in a letter to Jeb Hensarling, the chairman of the House financial services committee, that she was concerned “about the integrity of this criminal probe” given Trump’s “conflicts of interest” and the “suspicious ties” between Trump’s inner circle and the Russian government.

The Atlantic has printed a ‘crib sheet’ of all the Trump conflicts of interest.  The list is huge. The demand for forensic accountants is also going to be huge.

When it comes to President Donald Trump’s constellation of foreign investments, properties, and companies, much of the attention so far has been on his business’s apparent violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which bars officeholders from taking gifts from foreign leaders. According to numerous ethics experts, the clause takes an expansive definition of gifts, encompassing everything from a direct bribe to a foreign official’s approval of construction of a new Trump property. But some of the Trump Organization’s properties raise additional red flags due to the specific partners involved. That’s true in Indonesia, for example, where Trump’s affiliates have been involved in bribery scandals and radical Islamic nationalist parties, and Brazil, where the company pulled out of a branding agreement amid a criminal investigation of a local business partner.

Such is the case in Azerbaijan, which Transparency International ranks as among the most corrupt countries in the world, where the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Baku remains unopened. Though the long-stalled development has generated a steady drip of news and rumors for years, an overview by Adam Davidson in The New Yorker, entitled “Donald Trump’s Worst Deal,” puts into perspective just how convoluted the situation is, and just how much the project has led Trump and his company into a partnership with numerous corrupt officials in the Middle East. The details suggest that, on top of the continual underlying breach of the Emoluments Clause, the Trump Organization’s involvement may also violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, which forbids American companies from participating, even unknowingly, in bribery schemes in other countries, with a penalty of up to $2 million and up to five years in jail.

When all of this finally begins to unravel in a manner befitting of such a serious level of scandal, it can’t help but take our economy with it.  How much damage can Trump, Ryan et al inflict on us and at what point will ‘enough’ actually be ‘ENOUGH!!!!’?  Take these examples.

The price of drinks at his new hotel in Washington DC has reportedly increased significantly since it opened last September. His sons, Donald Jr and Eric Trump, have opened new hotels in Dubai and Vancouver since their father’s Inauguration, and told The New York Times that the Trump brand is “the hottest it’s ever been”. The initiation fee to join the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, named the “Winter White House”, where the President has spent several weekends, has recently soared.

The President’s motivation for choosing the six countries to include in his newly-reworded travel ban – Iran, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Sudan and Somalia – will more likely be featured in lawsuits which challenge the constitutionality of the executive order than in the lawsuit from Mr Eisen and Mr Painter.

Asked how much the travel ban was motivated by racism and business interests, Mr Eisen replied: “I believe the predominant motivations for the ban are illegitimate, but I’m unable to isolate the different strains of the unsavoury virus that produced this legal inflammation.”

The original travel ban, signed in late January, was struck down by a federal judge in Washington state for being unconstitutional. Mr Trump’s emergency appeal was denied. The ban was re-written, taking Iraq off the list and scrapping the indefinite suspension of Syrian refugees. Green card and visa holders were no longer affected.

Several states have already indicated they will sue, joining Washington state’s original effort.

Mr Painter told Business Insider that the six countries still on the list are “quite poor and have no dealings with the Trump Organisation”.

It kills me to read all of this knowing that the idiots that put this crime syndicate into government don’t appear to care or have a clue about any of this.  When will the Republicans actually do their job and drop their ideological goose march long enough to save our country?
And what’s on your reading and blogging list today?
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30 Comments on “Monday Reads: America Held Hostage Day 53”

  1. roofingbird says:

    Might there be folks out there who assume that since goverment will be slashed, by drumf, the bonds have more intrinsic value?

    • dakinikat says:

      It’s possible. I’m wondering when we bump the debt ceiling again too though. Until these fiasco Republicans got elected we used to assume that US treasuries were the ultimate risk free investment. Not so much any more..

      • bostonboomer says:

        Republican leaders have said they will increase the debt ceiling. Whether the idiot caucus in the House will go along, who knows?

    • Fannie says:

      I don’t know, I really don’t anymore.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Nice post. Thanks for the info on the possible coming crash. Not that it will affect my nonexistent investments, but it will be interesting to see whom Trump decides to blame for it.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Business Insider:

    The EPA’s science office just removed the word ‘science’ from its mission statement

    http://www.businessinsider.com/epa-science-office-removed-science-mission-statement-2017-3

  4. bostonboomer says:

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  5. bostonboomer says:

    CBO report: 24 million fewer insured by 2026 under GOP health care bill

    In total, an estimated 52 million people would be uninsured by 2026 under the GOP plan, compared to 28 million who would lack insurance under the current law….

    Premiums are expected to jump up to 20 percent in the individual market in 2018 and 2019, but after that, they would decrease. By 2026, average premiums would be roughly 10% lower than under the current system.

    But the increase in premiums would be much steeper for some Americans in the individual market, particularly older people with lower incomes.

    A 64-year-old making $26,500 would pay $1,700 for coverage in 2026 under Obamacare, thanks to its subsidies. But under the Ryan plan, that persion would get hit with a annual premium bill of $14,600.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  7. NW Luna says:

    Even the rich won’t be able to see the Great Barrier Reef in a few years.

    This is not a crime against humanity. This is a crime by humanity. We have sentenced to death the largest living structure on the planet: the Great Barrier Reef. The sentence is being carried out slowly and painfully before our eyes.

    Yes, the catastrophic bleaching of the 2015-16 summer got some media attention and got a bit of playing down, too. But in some ways, the 2016-17 summer was worse for the reef. Not in what happened but in what didn’t happen. There has been no discernable recovery from 2015-16 and whole new areas have now been bleached. Moreover, soft corals are succumbing in greater numbers.

    It’s as if someone had gone out to the Serengeti and machine-gunned the wildebeests and said “we’re coming back next year to gun down the zebras, and no one is going to do anything”.

    The reef last weekend was a palpable contrast to the vibrant colours I saw there two years ago. And what a palpable contrast to the first time I dived on the reef in 1985 with my then 14-year-old daughter, who had just got her diving certificate. Alas, this is now no longer about the legacy we hand to our children and grandchildren. At this rate, the reef will die in the lifetime of us grandparents.

    http://www.theage.com.au/comment/i-saw-the-great-barrier-reef-die-last-weekend-and-i-wept-20170308-guu0r0.html

  8. bostonboomer says:

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  9. NW Luna says:

  10. NW Luna says:

    “exceeding the President’s power” Oh my, Trump’s going to have a tantrum!

  11. NW Luna says:

    Surprise, surprise.

    ‘Stunning’ gap: Canadians with cystic fibrosis outlive Americans by a decade

    “A ten-year difference … that’s lots of years spent with your child or not, having fun with your friends, living your life,” said Gorey, who was not involved in the study. “That’s a huge, huge human tragedy.” But those results, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, also ask some hard questions about the American health care system, and why it may not be as good at keeping patients alive. …

    But some of the paper’s most striking results don’t have to do with specific treatments. Instead, they have to do with health insurance. …

    Yet Gorey’s studies have found that even among cancer patients who have similarly low incomes in each country, “Canadians are much more likely to get the indicated surgery, much more likely to get chemotherapy, radiation therapy, much more likely to live longer,” he said.

    The Canadians, all of whom get government-provided health coverage, had the same risk of dying as those Americans who had private insurance. When compared with Americans on continuous Medicare and Medicaid, though, Canadians’ risk of death was 44 percent lower. And the disparity was even greater when it came to Americans with no insurance at all.

    …studies have found that even among cancer patients who have similarly low incomes in each country, “Canadians are much more likely to get the indicated surgery, much more likely to get chemotherapy, radiation therapy, much more likely to live longer,” he said.

    https://www.statnews.com/2017/03/13/cystic-fibrosis-canadians-americans/?s_campaign=tw&utm_content=buffercdcb7&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    • Pilgrim says:

      Here in Canada, we pay taxes, for which we get medical and social services, etc. Americans have a huge phobia about taxes. Nobody likes to pay taxes but we do have health care for all. Single payer system. It actually costs the government less to keep people healthy than to allow them to languish in ill health. A small example: free flu vaccinations for all who will take them. Big things are early cancer detection and treatment, etc. My relative had open heart surgery last year. Bill for that to him was $0. Shared by whole society via taxes. Canada not as good as European countries like France. But much to be preferred to our American friends.

      • NW Luna says:

        Some Americans have a phobia about taxes. In surveys most Americans would pay taxes for benefits that help ordinary people. Unfortunately many Americans are too gullible in regards to politician promises to cut taxes and still get equivalent social benefits. Plus there are just too many people who fall for the whole American own-bootstraps bullshit. Cooperation gets more good things to happen than does cutthroat behavior. Also our system of political representation seems to result in too many elected representatives who are in reality opposed to what most of their constituents want. Not to mention our idiotic Electoral College.

  12. Fannie says:

    Thanks for all the links, all I see anymore is closed doors. Trump and his bandits aren’t going to solve any American problems. They just molded the poor working class to think that jobs will occur, and the finish product is suppose to make America Great Again. Not going to happen, his performance is what we don’t need here or around the globe.

    Thank you, sharing many of these links, because they are the most important information I’ve seen yet.

  13. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      Jesus the liberal street preacher said to help the poor and care for the sick. Oh, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The Xian Republicans wouldn’t recognize him.

    • Earlynerd says:

      Ryan and the thrice-divorced Bannon are both Catholics in good standing, as is the adulterous twice-divorced Newt Gingrich, as are Kellyanne Conway, Marco Rubio, Michael Flynn, Joe Machin, Jeb Bush and Rick Santorum. Pence was raised and educated as a Catholic and now seems to be a peculiar hybrid that he himself describes as an “Evangelical Catholic”.

      Maybe the Catholic Church could come down as hard on these useful pols for violating “principles of Catholic social teaching” as it has on the Catholic politicians who support women’s legal, human and civil rights?

  14. NW Luna says:

    And…yet something else the Trumptanic’s responsible for:

  15. NW Luna says:

  16. dakinikat says:

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/wall-streets-buzz-over-great-040101233.html

    Why Robert Shiller Is Worried About the Trump Rally

    The last time Robert Shiller heard stock-market investors talk like this in 2000, it didn’t end well for the bulls.
    Back then, the Nobel Prize-winning economist says, traders were captivated by a “new era story” of technological transformation: The Internet had re-defined American business and made traditional gauges of equity-market value obsolete. Today, the game changer everyone’s buzzing about is political: Donald Trump and his bold plans to slash regulations, cut taxes and turbocharge economic growth with a trillion-dollar infrastructure boom.
    “They’re both revolutionary eras,” says Shiller, who’s famous for his warnings about the dot-com mania and housing-market excesses that led to the global financial crisis. “This time a ‘Great Leader’ has appeared. The idea is, everything is different.”

    For Shiller, the power of a new-era narrative helps answer one of the most hotly debated questions on Wall Street as stocks set one high after another this year: Why are traders so fixated on the upsides of a Trump presidency when the downside risks seem just as big? For all his pro-business promises, the former reality TV star’s confrontational foreign policy and haphazard management style have bred uncertainty — the one thing investors are supposed to hate most.
    Charts illustrating the conundrum have been making the rounds on trading floors. One, called “the most worrying chart we know” by Societe Generale SA at the end of last year, shows a surging index of global economic policy uncertainty severing its historical link with credit spreads, which have declined in recent months along with other measures of investor fear. The VIX index, a popular gauge of anxiety in the U.S. stock market, has dropped more than 30 percent since Trump’s election.