On Economy

     

 

 

Seeing the Light

It has been said that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  No one quite knows who first uttered this remark; it has been attributed to Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin, and has even been said to be an Ancient Chinese Proverb.  What is known is that this cliché has been repeated over and over again so often that its mere mention substantiates its own definition.

 

Several of the ladies and gentlemen above wanted to let us know that they’re merely eccentric,  and if they want to do things all over again and again and again, we should let them…

 

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Slightly Premature Victory Laps

The nightmare of nightmares of the globalist elites and France’s political establishment has been avoided: as the polls had indicated, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen are moving on to the run-off election; Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s late surge in popularity did not suffice to make him a contender – it did however push the established Socialist Party deeper into the dustbin of history. That was very Trotskyist of him (we can already picture a future Weekly World News headline: “French socialists discover giant alien dust mites”).

 

Lateral entrants to the business of avenging the disinherited, leavened by strawberry cake.

 

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Retail Debt Debacles

The retail sector has replaced the oil sector in a sense, and not in a good way. It is the sector that is most likely to see a large surge in bankruptcies this year. Junk bonds issued by retailers are performing dismally, and within the group the bonds of companies that were subject to leveraged buyouts by private equity firms seem to be doing the worst (a function of their outsized debt loads). Here is a chart showing the y-t-d performance of a number of these bonds as of the end of March:

 

Returns of several of the worst performing junk bonds issued by retailers in Q1 2017. This is rather impressive value destruction for a single quarter – click to enlarge.

 

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The Raw Deal

We stepped out on our front stoop Wednesday morning and paused to take it all in.  The sky was at its darkest hour just before dawn.  The air was crisp.  There was a soft coastal fog.  The faint light of several stars that likely burned out millennia ago danced just above the glow of the street lights.

 

And this is what they saw watching the sky from Mt. Wilson that night…

 

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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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Everything Gets Worse  (Part XII) –  Pakistan vs. India

After 70 years of so-called independence, one has to be a professional victim not to look within oneself for the reasons for starvation, unnatural deaths, utter backwardness, drudgery, disease, and misery in India.

Intellectual capital accumulated in the West over the last 2,500 years — available for free in real-time via the internet — can be downloaded by a passionate learner. In the age of modern technology, another mostly free gift from the West which has significantly leveled the playing field, societies that wanted economic convergence with the West, such as Japan, Korea, Singapore, HK, China, etc., have either achieved it rapidly, or have strongly trended toward it.

 

More than 28,000 children less than six years of age have died in just one province, Madhya Pradesh, over the past year. Because these deaths were due to diseases resulting from malnourishment, the government attributed every single death to disease rather than malnourishment.

Photo credit: Hemender Sharma, India Today

 

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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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Behind the Curve

Economic nonsense comes a dime a dozen.  For example, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen “think(s) we have a healthy economy now.”  She even told the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy so earlier this week.  Does she know what she’s talking about?

 

Somehow, this cartoon never gets old…

 

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Opportunity Cost Rears its Head

Last Thursday’s wanton attack on a Syrian air field by the US and its bellicose actions toward North Korea have brought the real cost of candidate Trump’s landslide victory last November to the forefront.

 

It didn’t take long for Donald Trump to drop his non-interventionist mask. The decision was likely driven by Machiavellian considerations with respect to domestic conditions, but that doesn’t make it any better.

 

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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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Approaching a Tipping Point

Taking the path of least resistance doesn’t always lead to places worth going.  In fact, it often leads to places that are better to avoid.  Repeatedly skipping work to sleep in and living off credit cards will eventually lead to the poorhouse.

 

Sometimes the path of least resistance turns out to be problematic

 

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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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