Author Archives: Bill Bonner

     

 

 

A Minor Derailment

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – Yesterday, stocks fell.

And volatility shot up.

 

When too many people have too many knives out at once, accidental cubism may result

 

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Seeming Contradiction

CACHI, ARGENTINA – Here at the Diary we have fun ridiculing the pretensions, absurdities, and hypocrisies of the ruling classes. But there is a serious side to it, too. Mockery makes us laugh. And laughing helps us wiggle free from the kudzu of fake news.

 

Is it real? Is it real? Is it real? Above you can see what the problem with reality is, or potentially is, in a 6-phase research undertaking that has landed its protagonist in a very disagreeable situation (a corner of reality best avoided, so to speak). 1. he learns that something is amiss. 2. he has to measure reality, otherwise it doesn’t exist! He does so, and 3. strange people show up at his doorstep, giving him ominous messages. 4. At least reality is now real! Then he  learns about a philosopher, who asserts that while it may be real now, in a sense, it is nevertheless a computer simulation. Oh well, what does he know? Unfortunately, a bunch of serious-sounding German physicists calculate that he actually appears to be right. 5. By now our protagonist will believe anything, so when he hears about Dr. Schreber’s efforts to keep the universe from dissolving/imploding by thinking about it all the time, he is no longer even surprised. 6. He enters the Tearoom of Despair –  a “world of horror, futility and endless buttered scones” – click to enlarge.

 

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Honest Profession

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – The Dow rose 174 points on Thursday. And Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said we’d have a new tax system by the end of the year.

Animal spirits were restless. But which animals? Dumb oxes? Or wily foxes? Probably both.

 

Since Thursday there have been two additional very spirited up days with large gaps – this is very rare in the DJIA, particularly from such a high level after a ~240% rally since the lows made 8 years ago… it continues to feel like a blow-off (and it happens against the backdrop of a sharp slowdown in money supply growth) – click to enlarge.

 

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Paycheck to Paycheck

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – The Dow was down 118 points on Wednesday. It should have been down a lot more. Of course, markets know more than we do. And maybe this market knows something that makes sense of these high prices. What we see are reasons to sell, not reasons to buy.

 

DJIA daily (incl. Thursday)… it was just taking a rest – click to enlarge.

 

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Conspiracy of the Few

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – “U.S. stocks fall on Trump talk…” began a headline at Bloomberg. Or it may be Trump action. We had already counted six major campaign promises – including no O’care repeal and no “America First” foreign policy – already buried (some for the better).

 

A bunch of campaign promises get the MOAB treatment…  A great many  theories have been proposed to explain Trump’s recent series of u-turns: 1. he is in thrall to the Deep State because he always was, or because he is blackmailed; 2. he plays a deep, Machiavellian game, and the strike on Syria and other policy reversals are just temporary reversals to get the media and the people promoting the story that he is a pawn of Putin off his back; 3. he simply reacts impulsively to situations as they develop, without even considering whether his actions are in line with his promises. Perhaps he was replaced by an android?

Cartoon by Nate Beeler

 

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Ticks on a Dog

A brief comment on Fed chief Janet Yellen’s revealing speech at the University of Michigan. Bloomberg:

 

“Before, we had to press down on the gas pedal trying to give the economy all of the oomph that we possibly could,” Yellen said Monday in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Fed is now trying to “give it some gas, but not so much that we’re pushing down hard on the accelerator.” […]

“The appropriate stance of policy now is closer to, let me call it neutral,” Yellen said in response to questions during an event at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. Yellen said she expected the economy to continue to grow at a moderate pace and that gradual interest rate increases “can get us where we need to be.”

 

Central planners groping in the dark…

 

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Worst Mistake

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – By our calculation, it took just 76 days for President Trump to get on board with the Clinton-Bush-Obama agenda. Now there can be no doubt where he’s headed. He’s gone Full Empire. Not that it was unexpected. But the speed with which the president abandoned his supporters and went over to the Deep State is breathtaking.

    Once there was only a Trump fragrance called Empire… now he has gone full empire himself

 

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Disappearing Credit

All across the banking world – from commercial loans to leases and real estate – credit is collapsing. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writing for British newspaper The Telegraph:

 

Credit strategists are increasingly disturbed by a sudden and rare contraction of U.S. bank lending, fearing a synchronized slowdown in the U.S. and China this year that could catch euphoric markets badly off guard. Data from the U.S. Federal Reserve shows that the $2 trillion market for commercial and industrial loans peaked in December.

The sector has weakened abruptly as lenders tighten credit, especially for non-residential property. Over the last three months it has dropped at a rate of 5.4% on annual basis, a pace of decline not seen since December 2008.

 

C & I loans, y/y growth. Readers may recall that we recently showed this chart in “Libor Pains”, in which we discussed corporate debt. Actually, y/y commercial & industrial loan growth peaked in early 2015 already, not just “last December”… but lettuce not quibble (Pritchard likely meant to refer to total commercial bank credit, the growth rate of which reached an interim peak in late 2016 – shown further below). The point remains that credit growth is falling fast – click to enlarge.

 

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Unknown (sort of) Head of State

BUENOS AIRES – Type Swiss President “Doris Leuthard” into Google. You will get about 450,000 results. Do the same with Donald Trump, and the number is closer to 396 million. That’s 87,900% more references. The world’s press is as fascinated by President Trump as it is indifferent to President Leuthard.

 

Doris Leuthard, President and energy minister of Switzerland. She has won her second presidential term this year. It basically doesn’t matter… she is primus inter pares, as the Swiss Federation is actually administered by a body of seven people (the Federal Council), modeled after the ancient Athenian polis system. The president does not enjoy greater political power than her colleagues – there is no single “boss”. We have written about the unique Swiss political system in greater detail here.

Photo credit: Jacques Demarthon / AFP

 

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Darkening Picture

SÃO PAULO – We arrived on Sunday morning. São Paulo can have terrible traffic. It is a sprawling place of 12 million people. But it was early when we pulled into town; the traffic moved swiftly. We decided to go to mass at the old São Paulo (Saint Paul’s) Cathedral downtown.

 

São Paulo, similar to Mexico City, reminds on a bit of the universe, or at least of one of the universe’s main characteristics: it has seemingly no boundary.

Photo credit: Journeying Jeff

 

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Swamp Battle

 

Washington [is] a lot more broken than President Trump thought that it was.

— White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney

 

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – On Friday, the much-hyped Trump/GOP Obamacare reform sank into the swamp.  If anything keeps us from national bankruptcy, it won’t be entitlement reform. Not under Donald J. Trump.

 

A collection of swamp victims who haven’t paid attention… didn’t they know that Dracula can’t be killed?

 

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Campfire Tale

 

Caesar: The Ides of March are come.

Soothsayer: Ay, Caesar, but not gone.

— Julius Caesar, Shakespeare

 

GRANADA, NICARAGUA – Today, we stop the horses and circle the wagons. For 19 years, we have been rolling along, exploring, discovering. We began with the assumption that we didn’t “know” anything – so we kept our eyes open. Now we know even less.

 

Famous people who knew nothing and were not shy to admit it: Sergeant Schultz (left), Socrates (right)…

 

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Most read in the last 20 days:

  • How to Stick It to Your Banker, the Federal Reserve, and the Whole Doggone Fiat Money System
      Bernanke Redux Somehow, former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke found time from his busy hedge fund advisory duties last week to tell his ex-employer how to do its job.  Namely, he recommended to his former cohorts at the Fed how much they should reduce the Fed’s balance sheet by.  In other words, he told them how to go about cleaning up his mess.   Praise the Lord! The Hero is back to tell us what to do! Why, oh why have you ever left, oh greatest central planner of all...
  • India: Why its Attempt to Go Digital Will Fail
      India Reverts to its Irrational, Tribal Normal (Part XIII) Over the three years in which Narendra Modi has been in power, his support base has continued to increase. Indian institutions — including the courts and the media — now toe his line. The President, otherwise a ceremonial rubber-stamp post, but the last obstacle keeping Modi from implementing a police state, comes up for re-election by a vote of the legislative houses in July 2017.  No one should be surprised if a Hindu...
  • Moving Closer to the Precipice
      Money Supply and Credit Growth Continue to Falter The decline in the growth rate of the broad US money supply measure TMS-2 that started last November continues, but the momentum of the decline has slowed last month (TMS = “true money supply”).  The data were recently updated to the end of April, as of which the year-on-year growth rate of TMS-2 is clocking in at 6.05%, a slight decrease from the 6.12% growth rate recorded at the end of March. It remains the slowest y/y growth since...
  • What is the Buffet Indicator Saying About Gold?
      Chugging along in Nosebleed Territory Last Friday, both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq composite indexes closed at record highs in the US, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average only a whisker away from its peak set in March. What has often been called the “most hated bull market in history” thus far continues  to chug along in defiance of its detractors.   Can current stock market valuations tell us something about the future trend in gold prices? Yes, they actually...
  • The 21st Century Has Been a Big, Fat Flop
      Seeming Contradiction CACHI, ARGENTINA – Here at the Diary we have fun ridiculing the pretensions, absurdities, and hypocrisies of the ruling classes. But there is a serious side to it, too. Mockery makes us laugh. And laughing helps us wiggle free from the kudzu of fake news.   Is it real? Is it real? Is it real? Above you can see what the problem with reality is, or potentially is, in a 6-phase research undertaking that has landed its protagonist in a very disagreeable...
  • A Cloud Hangs Over the Oil Sector
      Endangered Recovery As we noted in a recent corporate debt update on occasion of the troubles Neiman-Marcus finds itself in (see “Cracks in Ponzi Finance Land”), problems are set to emerge among high-yield borrowers in the US retail sector this year. This happens just as similar problems among low-rated borrowers in the oil sector were mitigated by the rally in oil prices since early 2016. The recovery in the oil sector seems increasingly endangered though.   Too many oil...
  • Will Gold or Silver Pay the Higher Interest Rate?
      The Wrong Approach This question is no longer moot. As the world moves inexorably towards the use of metallic money, interest on gold and silver will return with it. This raises an important question. Which interest rate will be higher?   It’s instructive to explore a wrong, but popular, view. I call it the purchasing power paradigm. In this view, the value of money — its purchasing power —is 1/P (where P is the price level). Inflation is the rate of decline of...
  • Rising Oil Prices Don't Cause Inflation
      Correlation vs. Causation A very good visual correlation between the yearly percentage change in the consumer price index (CPI) and the yearly percentage change in the price of oil seems to provide support to the popular thinking that future changes in price inflation in the US are likely to be set by the yearly growth rate in the price of oil (see first chart below).   Gushing forth... a Union Oil Co. oil well sometime early in the 20th century   But is it valid to...
  • Warnings from Mount Vesuvius
      When Mount Vesuvius Blew   “Injustice, swift, erect, and unconfin’d, Sweeps the wide earth, and tramples o’er mankind” – Homer, The Iliad   Everything was just the way it was supposed to be in Pompeii on August 24, 79 A.D.  The gods had bestowed wealth and abundance upon the inhabitants of this Roman trading town.  Things were near perfect.   Frescoes in the so-called “Villa of the Mysteries” in Pompeii, presumed to depict scenes from a...
  • A Bumper Under that Silver Elevator – Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      The Problem with Mining If you can believe the screaming headline, one of the gurus behind one of the gold newsletters is going all-in to gold, buying a million dollars of mining shares. If (1) gold is set to explode to the upside, and (2) mining shares are geared to the gold price, then he stands to get seriously rich(er).   As this book attests to, some people have a very cynical view of mining...  We would say there is a time for everything. For instance, when gold went ...
  • Silver Elevator Keeps Going Down – Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      Frexit Threat Macronized The dollar moved strongly, and is now over 25mg gold and 1.9g silver. This was a holiday-shortened week, due to the Early May bank holiday in the UK. The lateral entrant wakes up, preparing to march on, avenge the disinherited and let loose with fresh rounds of heavy philosophizing... we can't wait! [PT]   The big news as we write this, Macron beat Le Pen in the French election. We suppose this means markets can continue to do what they wanted...
  • The Knives Come Out for Trump
      A Minor Derailment GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – Yesterday, stocks fell. And volatility shot up.   When too many people have too many knives out at once, accidental cubism may result   Reports Bloomberg:   The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled more than 370 points, Treasuries rallied the most since July and volatility spiked higher as the turmoil surrounding the Trump administration roiled financial markets around the globe. Major U.S. stock indexes...

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