Wednesday, November 22, 2017

I: Anti-Apple : World: Anti-Oil

Finally, there is enough info to break down the cost of an Apple I-Phone. It is as I always suspected. Apple could have switched production back to the US, but due to greed, it didn't. Instead of providing wealth here in the US, they gave their innovation to offshore aliens. For a long time, we all knew the cost, however marketing kept a cloud on value. There was the two year subscription deals along with other come-ons. Today, you can purchase one on sale for $800. Dear reader, Apple only spends $370 to get it into your local store. They get a great markup as well as the retail outlet. Did you ever consider that the markup is so large that it borders gouging? To put this into perspective consider your local gas station. The owner works on a very small markup.  Usually, he earns just .10 cent a gallon. He has to sell many gallons to make a living. If all gas stations used the Apple formula to price gasoline and get the "Apple" margin, the price of gas would more than double. People would scream "GOUGING!" No one screams at Apple, but me. They suck!
One more tidbit on Apple. They stated that their new home speaker would not be ready for Christmas. They said it needed to be tweaked. I guess when you build it over 7,000 miles from the US, you get echoes in the system.
Sovereign Wealth 
The world's largest wealth fund is in Sweden. It is worth over $!.7trillion. It just stated that their fund will no longer support oil or the companies that cater to it. This is huge. The firm holds 1.4% in every oil equity, oil fund, oil bonds and periphery companies in the world. They reported to their government and they received approval to begin to dismantle their interests in this area of energy. They did not commit to public knowledge as to where they will move their money, but speculation runs to include solar and wind power. If you were not aware Sweden is a large oil producer with many firms that assist drilling, notably offshore. They also have large transportation firms that specialize in carrying oil on water to ports all over the world. This is a big dent to OPEC. The announcement sent US firms like Exxon and Chevron down. The anti-oil meme also got a blow from its biggest supplier. Saudi Arabia's new crown prince, stated that the kingdom needs to diversify away from oil. He offered some ideas, however this puts a dent into Saudi Arabia's prior plan for an IPO for their state oil. The nation originally estimated that the issue would result in a cool $2 trillion for its coffer's. Now, it will probably take in around one trillion and that is still a lot of dinero.
When it rains, it pours
The bad news keeps coming at oil. The Keystone Pipeline reported an oil spill of 200,000 gallons. Didn't they just swear that their new pipeline would never pollute? They got our government to arrest our Native Americans who were protesting the pipeline. They knew better, but the political shills run the government. On Monday, Nebraska regulators gave approval to extend the pipeline through Nebraska. That is one sad story except it doesn't end. The danger could "leak" in many locations from the north border to the gulf coast.
Walmart
joins the anti-oil movement by announcing on Friday that they will purchase 15 new electric Tesla trucks. Walmart uses the most over-the-road haulers and this shift is big, very big. Every car maker is jumping on the clean, electric band wagon. In fact, the biggest buyer of automobiles, China is considering a phase out of fossil fuel cars in the future. All this anti-oil thinking could cause a back fire. If prices decline too much, bankruptcies will follow. Then, the world will still have demand, but no product. You do know what happens when demand outstrips supply - gouging by the survivors in the energy field.        

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Skyrocking Military: Future Plague on Earth

If your local Republican politician cites that our economy is vastly improving over Obama and the Democrats, that phony will surely mention the uptick in manufacturing. The party "yes" man will use that sector because it pays well and it has been under duress. The shill won't speak the truth. His party was behind NAFTA. His party is anti-union. His party was for out-sourcing. His party was against Social Security and Medicare and almost anything that is for ordinary citizens. However, the real fear for both the Republicans and Democrats is N. Korea. If a serious war were to break out, N. Korea is banking on China having their back. At present, our nation lacks the ability to ramp up production that a serious war calls for. History verifies that statement.
The North beat the South due to production strength. WWI was tilted to the allies because the US production entered the fray. WWII was won by US production. Today, we exported all those factories. Our corrupt leaders figure it is time to bring those plants back on shore. This is the thought behind the corporate tax plan.  
In the meantime, they can count on their corrupt partner, the Federal Reserve to keep money cheap so the military can continue to spend. The military spends so much that it keeps our defense contractors running at full throttle. You can do that when you get 50% of our national budget, while at the same time, cry that entitlements wreck our budget.
Manufacturing 
started its decline in the 70s. Isn't is ironic that US wages have been stagnant since that same period? Today, it has shrunk to 12% of our economy. However, that figure would be only 6% if one did not count military spending. You can get two truths from those percentages. One, both political parties are responsible for the decline. Secondly, if my opening sentence was during a different administration, it might read, "if your local Democrat politician..." instead of the GOP. Both parties are equally bad.
The fact remains that the military has put our nation in danger. Don't misread! I'm not talking about our troops, but the military complex. These paranoid war mongers were the ones President Eisenhower warned us about. They hated President Kennedy because he got the Russians to agree to limit nuclear weapons. They never give peace a chance. With that said, I turn to the direction of military spending, particularly, rocket technology, both for offensive and defensive applications. Keep in mind there are other needs like cyber, drones and robots down to bullets and uniforms. However, with 50% of the budget there is enough to go around.
On his Asian trip, President Trump pounded into our allies, the need for them to spend more on "D."
His idea is for them to buy weapons and systems from us, to which the results would be a lower trade gap with the US. So, if in the future, the local shill claims his party shrunk the trade gap, herein lies the real reason for that.
What I found in my research is the location of these military contractors. Although the roots of all
these companies is north of the Mason-Dixson Line, now they open new plants below that line. They are in Huntsville, Alabama, Tucson, Arizona and other southern sites. Many shift under false pretense like Boeing going to the Carolina's. Yep, another non-union state. These companies rake in billions, but seek to pay the lowest wages as possible. If you look at any of their stock prices, they are at highs. There are others, but I used the magic trio.
*RTN= $184 and at all-time highs.
*BA= $260 and at all-time highs
*LMT= $311 and hanging at its all-time high.
RTN 
In Arizona, Raytheon is adding facilities. It makes missiles, radar and sensors. It also adds key
technology to missile defense. Their rocket system can maneuver 10,000 miles per hour. Sounds great, but space rockets can go 25,000 miles per hour. Do you recall, "You can leave here for four days in space, but when you return, its the same old place...We're on the Eve of Destruction."?
It won't matter who wins, cause we'll all get hurt.
Boeing(BA) has buried little space ships underground in Alaska and California to protect our West coast. Their purpose is to counter an intercontinental ballistic missile attack.
Lockheed Martin(LMT) does similar rocket design. They also offer attacking missiles.
All CEOs of defense see strong signals to increase military spending by our government.
At the moment, there are four different type of missile defense:
* Boeing's Homeland System
* Raytheon's Patriot
* Lockheed Martin's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense or THAAD
* Lockheed's second entry, Aegis System
Thomas Karako, CSIS Senior Fellow, says missile programs are no longer in the millions, but billions. He sees bigger orders coming to all defense contractors.
From Alabama, Raytheon sends missiles to US and Japanese warships in the Pacific. Other US
allies are heeding Trump's call. The list includes Saudi Arabia, Poland, even Sweden. In this piece I kept the focus on the big dogs, but there are many small firms that benefit from military spending. The problem is some day someone could launch us into a plague on earth. The home of the brave could have a dotted landscape of Chernobyl's or Fukushima's.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Is Tesla in Your Future?

The title is an open question like a blank check. Elon Musk would like you to first think about his electric car as an answer. It is called, "Branding." There was an old test back in the late 50s and early 60s that solidified the idea. It would go like this: Name an aspirin? The branded answer would be Bayer. Name a soda? Again, the branded answer would be Coke. Almost every car company even Ferrari is coming out with an electric car, but Musk wants you to first think, Tesla.
Dear reader, Tesla is a huge company with over 33,000 employees and it is more than a electric car company.
Cobalt Ontario, Canada
Tesla is looking into the depressed mining town because in what its name implies. As you may or may not know Musk built a huge factory in the Arizona desert to develop lithium. Lithium is a rare earth mineral that is used in making 21th century batteries. This is the power source for electric cars. Cobalt is the other earth mineral that is used in making cars light weight and strong as well as other uses. However, any miner will tell you, digging holes in the ground is expensive. I love Elon Musk's mind. He thinks big and as the ability to connect the dots to achieve a goal. Amazon has achieved it in retail. Musk is seeking not just cars, but many venues. This,I fear, could be his down bringing. He is over extending himself and his company. An old saying reveals the flaw, "A jack of all trades and a master of none."
Did You Know 
that Tesla has many divisions in the company? Tesla offers solar panels, powerwalls, solar roofs for residential and commercial. In addition, it offers a full range of services and infrastructure for utilities. Then, Musk has his other hobbies like the hyper-loop and space travel. By the way, I tip my hat to him for his reusable rocket fuselage. The man does get results. His first model electric car is stylish, gets the best range and it is the safest car ever built. However, just like the word "but," there are many problems at Tesla.
3 Models
There are three versions of electric cars from the company. The original Tesla S, Model X and now, Model 3. The last one is for us. It is affordable at $35,000. At least, that is what Tesla is saying. They say a lot of things like place your reservation and sometime in the next 12 to 18 months, you may get your car. They said that their production would ramp up to 1600 a week and then, to 5,000. So far, the number is a dismal 220.
As a result of this production failure, Musk has decided to sleep in the Gigafactory. Then, he fired 700 employees. The UAW claimed that Musk fired people who wanted to form a union. He said it was due to poor performance. I have my doubts, but let's get back to the divisions within Tesla.
Powerwall
is really a storage battery. It is tied to the solar panel in the solar roof. It can provide energy for up to seven days if regular power goes out. The system is based on average Watt usage of 24 per day. Tesla is aiming for a home run in the utility section. They will design and deploy their distributed energy resources to meet your grid needs. I guess the idea is to allow Tesla to provide for utility company expansion with their service. Tesla claims their assistance will reduce demands on distribution and transmission infrastructure. It is like I said, Tesla says a lot of things, but reality says a different answer.
Maybe with my original question, your answer was investing in the company? There are some things you must understand. Tesla burns through cash like a forest fire eats trees. They lose $619 million and rising. They need the government to continue to provide subsidies to the tune of $4.93 billion per year. These are credits for solar energy and electric cars(clean energy). The stock hit a high in September 2017, however it has slowly declined with each negative quarterly report. It gapped down to $293 and closed last Friday at $306. This company has NEVER made money. Negative volume is building. The stock could fall to $242. If more negative news appears, the stock could test $180, which is major resistance. The company has a large short position which makes for volatile action. I think the stock will fall to $141 and then, consolidate. The 50-day moving average has already been penetrated and the 200-day is $241. The latter is the first resistance mark.
Bottom line:
Musk has failed to show that he can mass produce. Like I stated, I love his drive and accomplishments. If Musk wants us to "brand" his electric car, he has to work his thoughts through and that takes time. Success is not an idea nor does it happen in a day. Maybe he should fire himself for "poor" performance?  

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Border Wall: Fiasco in the Making

President Trump made many campaign promises. Today, he insists on keeping one of them. Behind the scenes there are six companies in competition to build the Border Wall.
There are many conflicts concerning the wall. Up front is drugs, to which the Border Patrol was suppose to stop. It has failed, but the wall could help. There are other off beat problems like migration of animals, Indian lands and of course, the question of immigration.
I have no protest against immigration except it should be tied to the economy. In good times we can add more and in tough times, limit the flow. However, there is the question and problem of jobs, particularly service jobs since our government does not protect workers in manufacturing. Illegals take those service jobs. They are considered low paying, but what is not considered is this: It keeps one in the labor force. It is honest labor and many of these jobs pay better than one realizes like lawn service, cooks and hospitality. They can lead to other jobs like in construction. You have to be in it to hear about it.
Big Problem
Today, the flow of Mexicans through the border is not illegal Mexicans, but people from Central American nations. Why is that, you ask?  
Because so many global companies have developed manufacturing plants in Mexico along with the loopholes of NAFTA, the Mexican economy has more opportunities than in the US. Mexicans are staying home with better paying jobs. So, in essence, the concept of the wall is probably 20 years too late. Nevertheless, President Trump is going ahead with his promise to build the wall. There were submissions by the hundreds and it has been narrowed down to the final group.
Then, there were 6... 
Last week the deadline to submit a prototype by each company ended. There was a subsidiary contract to the six to help cover costs with the guidelines. The final list is: W.G. Yates and Sons, Caddell, Elta North America, KWR Construction, Tefas Sterling, and Fisher Sands & Gravel Company.
The winning model must possess according to the US Customs and Border Patrol, the following:
* must be able to stop digging to enter.
* must be able to stop climbers to enter.
* must be strong enough to prevent penetration to enter.
* must be transparent so agents can see through it.
Dear reader, the more likes that is added the more the final cost. I heard there is one design that includes a solar application. I like this idea because it could generate revenues while helping our energy and environment and probably be the only positive associated with the wall. For example, there is a height mandate. At present, in locations where there is a wall, it rises from 8 to 10 feet. The six finalist have walls going from 18 to 30 feet. Then again, there is no time table for selection of the winner and it must pass Congress to which is the
final obstacle
When the original idea surfaced, cost estimates ran from $100 million and up. Quickly, the cost zoomed to $1billion. Today, (are you sitting?) estimates begin at $20 billion. It seems the price for the wall keeps climbing like our national deficit. Maybe we should add another feature like the Great Wall of China. The ability to walk on it and make it a tourist trap. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Bitcoin: Why and Why Not?

What is this thing called, "Bitcoin?" There are pictures of a coin with a big, "B" on it everywhere. The picture implies that this is the bitcoin except there is no such actual coin. So, if you want to buy, what do you get? What is its purpose? How do you buy it?
Use Caution 
Anytime something catches the public's eye, scams will arise. There are many ways to buy a bitcoin, but the easiest is to go to a reputable firm like Coinbase. You can do it by wire transfer. This company has 10 million customers. They will take your dollars and exchange them for bitcoins. You won't receive any coins in your hand, but an asset in a column indicating how much of the digital cryptocurrency you own.
Facts 
There are many stories out there about using the Bitcoin as your digital money. This is the facts on it:
Bitcoin is just a computer program that sets the number of coins at 21 million. However, just like the dollar has 100 pennies in division, each bitcoin can be divided by 100 million. Dear reader, this makes the coin extremely volatile.
The security of any transaction along with privacy is really limited. Only the transfer action in a deal is encrypted. All transactions of spending are recorded.
Now, consider those facts. The present market for its use is limited because governments do not like it. Governments will have to spend to find information so that they can collect taxes. They will also have to spend to counter criminal activity, but I think prosecuting criminals at that point will be easier due to the digital trail. Keep in mind what we already know. Fiat governments fight gold, so this will be a piece of cake for them.
There are bans already in place in China, Russia and S. Korea. However, China is easing and Putin stated that Russia will issue its own cryptocurrency. He better move fast because the field is already crowded. The following is a list of cryptocurrencies:
Ethereum, Litecoin, Monero, Ripple the dollar, Dash the dollar, Zcash, Peercoin and Namecoin. Do you know what I see when I read the list? People are more than willing to take your money even if its fiat, for make believe electronic ledger somewhere on the internet. You could argue that this is no different, but more secure as to what central bankers and banking itself does. They press a button to wire transfer digital accounts. They could and do get hacked except that they have insurance to back up their transactions. When and if the bitcoin gets hacked, you will lose everything. There is no backup and no insurance to cover the program. I like what Prince Alwaleed said, "Bitcoin is Enron waiting to happen." How about this tidbit? Bitcoin approached US home builders to use their coin and the builders rejected the idea.
People, you are letting your imagination run wild with riches. The Bitcoin stories that saw the value explode from $8 to over $6Gs in one year are enticing. You hear and read articles about mogul's like Mike Novogratz who predicted the coin will hit $10Gs by next year. There are others who scream $25G in five tears. Don't let the siren catch your ear. Know your human history like the tulip craze in Holland.
Stand Alone
is never easy especially when you hear that the Bitcoin recently eclipsed $100 billion in capitalization this year which is more than all the gold ETFs and gold mining ETFs. Yeah, this is true for the moment, however many of those ETFs are backed by real gold to which can never be hacked and its value never compromised by governments, central banks or anyone. If your digital ledger goes blank, you are out. If the program gets hacked, you lose everything with no chance for redemption. At that point another will appear seeking to lure you and more importantly, your money with their idea. There is conflict in the world. People like or dislike something like gold, cryptocurrency, euro, whatever. Get what is real, you can hold in your hand, time tested and lasting. Get some GOLD!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Seeing "Cus" Gene

This week something different and yet, an amazing, miracle like news. For some kids that have a disease that affects sight also known as Leber congenital amaurosis, seeing Cousin Gene is a problem. The good news there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
An FDA panel has unanimously voted to recommend a gene therapy by Sparks pharmaceuticals which makes the treatment. If you are thinking of buying the stock, it is already up 70% this year. I suggest that you wait for a pullback.
No pills
No injections just one treatment. Sparks uses a virus to deliver a healthy copy of a gene to make up for the one that causes the harm or disease. There are others in this field, but Sparks stands to be the first to bring this style of medicine to the US market. At the moment, the recommendations of the panel along with the trials will be decided by the FDA to allow the treatment to be used in the market. The therapy is designed to treat a rare, inherited form of blindness. There is no approved treatment for the disease and people with the condition will go blind.
There has been some incredible success stories associated with Sparks' therapy. The FDA should make their decision by mid-January 2018.
By the way, this treatment and style of medicine is getting a lot of buzz by Big Pharma. The concept has many applications. Pfizer is already partnering with Sparks. Voyager Therapeutics is using genes to work with problems in the brain.(Ma, your prayers for me are answered). Other companies in this field are: Bluebird Bio and Regenxbio.
This is so cool and congrats to the people at Sparks.
Future World
In a related aspect, TransEnterix(TRXC) has received approval for its robotic surgery system, Senhance. In the near future it is possible that a doctor using Senhance robotic system could apply the Sparks treatment to cure the Leber disease. Wow!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Euture Bonds: Safe or Disaster

Question: What is the biggest market, and thus, can cause the greatest economic impact?
Clue:        It is a four letter word.
Answer:   Bond market.

The Federal Reserve chair, Janet Yellen has stated that the Fed will unwind the securities that it purchased to ease the financial crisis of 2008/09. This will be a slow process and it should not disturb the bond market. Words are easier said than actions and this action has many repercussions. When debt is reduced, premiums for bonds rise. In addition, the Fed has also stated that interest rates will rise. Yellen claims one more increase this year and three in 2018. I say that she, whether she still has a job or not, is bluffing and it won't happen. There are many reasons.
If one were to reread the above, one would realize that the Fed's actions are in conflict. You cannot reduce debt which raises yield and at the same time, control that premium when you are raising interest rates. This is two opposing concepts. Recent history reveals how markets react. Another less valid point is that President Trump may actually fire Yellen in January 2018 and install his puppet.
Financial Crisis 2009
the premium for bonds was over three points. Today, it is 0.25%. This is central for the price of bonds. By the way, the recent historical average is 1.6%.
In a report by Bloomberg on the outlook for government issues, old "Helicopter" Ben Bernanke list three main components. He says this is the make-up for any given bond. First, the bond's premium. Next, the market's expectation for interest rates and thirdly, the inflation level.
Now, put that data to Yellen's outlook. She is raising rates. This kills part of any given bond. As for inflation, we all know it is there, but the Fed does not count what we all need like food, energy and shelter. She is increasing the premium by reducing debt. In essence, she is combating all three components of a bond issue. In addition, who wants an old low paying bond when higher rates are on the horizon?
Dear reader, we should all realize that the Fed is nothing more than a shill for the banking industry. They have destroyed the sound thinking in finances by penalizing savers and glorifying debt. They have basically outlawed gold and old Ben even claimed gold was not money. Such is our life.
100 Year Bond 
Yes, this is part of our life and what central bankers are doing in Austria. Think back for a moment 100 years? How much has the world changed? This won't even have value to pass on as inheritance. Insanity is reflected today in our financial leaders. In that vein, if the Federal Reserve were audited, it would be declared bankrupt. Nevertheless, no one wants that box opened. As long as the game is playing, the status quo rule. Maybe this thinking and negative interest rates are new school, but I'm old school - gold backed currency, fight inflation, stable currency and economy.
Keep in mind, rates effect currency. As I say in my unpublished work, all things are connected. The US rate is higher than Europe or Japan which helps the value of the dollar. This was reflected in the dollar in 2016 as it rose to almost par with the euro. Today, even though the US rates are still higher than competing nations, there is pressure on the dollar. Its future will be based on the easy money policies of central banks, the Chinese effort to circumvent the dollar in global trading and the relationship of the dollar to oil or the Petro-dollar.
As you can see rate changes effect many aspects to finances to economies, and especially to bonds. The Fed is banking on higher rates to protect the dollar and at the same time, using the easy money policies of other central banks as a counterweight to their policies. The Fed believes it can reduce its holdings, raise rates to a more normal level and stabilize the bond market. I say Shakespeare had it right, "Oh, what a tangle web we weave when we deceive."