Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Odds and Ends

Jobs and Unemployment
The big story with jobs and unemployment is this: Job creation has lowered the unemployment rate to 4.3% and yet, there is conflict of information. Why? Because the other big story in 2017 is the slow dying of retail. Stores are closing. Brick and mortar have lost over 465,000 jobs, while e-commerce has added 166,000. Now, my old math says 300,000 people are out of work just from retail. If you review the government stats, unemployment claims have been under 240,000 for the past two years. Of course, these are bureaucrat stats. Go figure?!  
$10 Billion Threat 
That is the real value of all the yearly oil flow from Venezuela to US oil companies like Chevron, Phillips 66, Citgo and Valero. Proposed sanctions will cause a spike in the price of US gasoline. These companies cannot find substitute distributors due to the fact that those same companies have spent millions to coordinate their refineries to work with the Sulphur content of Venezuelan oil. Venezuela is the 3rd largest supplier to the US.
At the moment the Venezuelan president/dictator, Nicolas Maduro is sitting with a smug attitude even though the US processes all their oil for gasoline. His country is in turmoil and the GDP has fallen off the cliff, but he feels the US is all talk and won't follow through on the talk. Trump cannot afford anymore problems, especially with North Korea on the radar. Trump could counter by releasing the reserves from the national storage facility. He also indicated that a military option is on the table, however this plays into Maduro's hand because he blames the counties problems on US intervention.
In any event, I told you in previous articles that Venezuela could cause an economic world recession due to the parabolic move of their stock exchange. Last week, the index hit over 193,000 which means that it has tripled this year after doubling from last year. Help me out? What did they invent or discover to cause such a movement when the citizens are rioting in the street? I see a bad, negative derivative chain of events.
More Middle Class Death 
In the south US workers rejected joining the UAW union. Nissan used the same tactic as Boeing with its workers to reject union membership or proposals. The word union is still a dirty word in economics and yet, it was only the union founders who gave us a 40 hour week and the ideas of a pension, sick pay and unemployment insurance. When you get things for free, you take them for granted.
Federal Reserve 
did not raise interest rates as expected. In addition, rates are not expected to increase from a survey of economist until March of 2018. Sebastian has been saying all along the whole story is just another point of manipulation and control by the Fed. They cannot raise rates due to the ballooning US deficit which by the way is already up 10% this year and sits at negative $566 billion and counting in the RED! By the way the Fed has their vacation in Jackson Hole, WY. next week and we can expect more control, more manipulation and BS!
Pot vs. Wine 
In California the fight is just beginning even though both "pleasures" have been with us for a long, long time. California will issue restricted licenses to grow marijuana. We all know the soil in Napa/Sonoma is the best. The problem centers on a study showing that one acre of pot could return $1 million while one acre for wine only yields $200,000. The wine growers fear that pot growers will economically force them out of the valley.
Bond Bubble
Greenspan has started the dialogue in open forum. He feels if rates keep rising, this will cause the bubble in bonds to pop. He is not alone as Sebastian shouted this fear when the Fed began lowering rates to unhealthy levels. When you raise rates, the value of older bonds decline. Greenspan fears a return to stagflation which is the worst economic condition. It means inflation is rising and yet, the economy is not. Sebastian feels stagflation is possible. We have phony inflation data that does not include food and energy, the two things people need every day. In addition, the government does not include shelter which is off the charts for home ownership or to rent. The Fed is now trapped. Economists like Shiller agree with Greenspan and hedge funds managers are joining the chorus. Trump will probably fire Yellen to get a dove and or a return to QE by the Fed. In any case, no matter how you add up all of the above, things are not looking good.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

An explanation for Dow 22,000

Yesterday:
Image if you will, your local supermarket. We are going to the dairy aisle to get a quart of milk. Now, in this musing, we have four brands to make our choice. Let us not differentiate between low fat or 2%, just plain milk without GMOs.
First, we have the national brand. For consumers who just moved into the neighborhood, this will be their choice.
Next, we have the local dairy. This will be supported by folks who grew up in this environment.
Thirdly, we have the discount brand. People buy what they can afford.
Finally, we have the new kid on the block with fancy cartoon characters. They will try to get your kid to bug you to buy their product.
These are our choices with some backstory. Now, since the four brands are in the refrigerator section, we must conclude that they are all making money and that is why they are still in active business.
Now, dear reader use an analogy here. Instead of milk, imagine the US stock market in the 1990s.
The market listed almost 7,000 companies. The Wilshire 5,000 was the choice to find a good small cap stock with growth potential. With so many choices, money circulated.
Today:
In the refrigerator section we basically find two choices. The reasons are many like high prices and changing consumer preferences to government subsidies favoring big corporations over ma and pa operations. You can buy the national brand or if still available, the local brand. Since land near cities is so expensive and tax burdened, in short order the local dairy will sell out to a housing developer. Then, we will only receive one choice and when it goes GMO, no choice.
This is what happened to the US stock market. We no longer use the Wilshire 5,000. We use the Russell Small Cap Index or Russell 2,000. The Big board has only 3,400 companies and shrinking. There are many reasons for this, from mergers to going out of business. The shills never mention the reason so many went out of business. It is due to globalization. This is the death of the middle class. The shills sometimes tell some truth, but only to mask their intentions which is really unknown to them as this is behind the doors strategy. They may suggest that rules and regulations are hurting companies. This is true. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act hurts small business which large corporations love because it gets them one step closer to going out of business. This has directly effected IPOs to the market. The cost is too high to go public. It is why the real successful companies in the US are private concerns. This is the real reason why the stock market keeps setting new record highs. There is little to choose and money is funneled into the few remaining choices. If there is a correction, this will cause a stampede to exit the market. By the way, the long-term up channel line has just been reached. This is the first time since the fallout of 2008 and guess what? The market ended its streak of record closes as it had a down day. Not good. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Market and Gold Update

Dear reader, you are not going to like or agree with my market outlook, but I call 'em like the charts reveal them. For those who will mumble after reading that maybe I visited a Colorado "medicine" shop or something similar, the answer is no,...but I'd like too.
Market Internals
I start with the Transports. It is the second shoe in the Dow Theory. It was late to the market party of new highs, but it did attend in early July. This gave the overall appearance of a strong market and economy. The problem was it didn't stay long. It left immediately and the transports are down 500 points since then. Please note, it came down on high volume in this low volume market.
Speaking of volume, there is a serious disconnection between the overall market and its leaders. The starting five of the FAANG GROUP account for 25% of the market gains. This gives a misconception of the market strength. The rest of the market is quietly falling apart.
Consider MSTR:
This is an important tech stock. It was $195 on the 24th of July. Today, it is $139. This is an example of the breakdown in market internals. Remember all the hype about infrastructure and tariffs? Take a look at the steel stocks. One of the best is AK Steel. It was $9.25 in February. It was glowing not from the fires to shape steel, but the Trump inauguration. Now, it is $5.47 and falling. How about retail? It is the backbone of a consumer society. The XRT(retail)was $50 and now, it touches $39. Commercial real estate is showing strains. Look at the ETF, KIM. It was $32 and now, it touches $17. How about the auto industry? They are feeling it and this is no "it" girl. From slowing sales to delinquent buyers, the outlook isn't pretty. A huge return of leased cars won't help the picture. 
King Dollar 
One of the big reasons, but not mentioned in the media is the US dollar. It effects everything. There is something going down behind the scenes. The dollar touched 103 in early March. Now, it touches 92 and falling.
Part of me thinks this is a replay of the Clinton administration. He gets credit for a surplus and economic improvement. This is the shills talking, and sadly, they dominate the news. Slick "Willy" killed the dollar. This action resulted in high inflation. Yes, we sold more exports, but imports always glom exports. This social and financial engineering looks good on paper just like NAFTA until we realize that the imports have gutted industry after industry. The outlook isn't bright, unless we turn to  GOLD. 
For every drop in King Dollar, there is a corresponding rise in gold. At the moment, 88 cents is in play. Remember last month when I told you that a rally in the Euro was coming? The euro has risen from the talk of parity to 118 and rising. In addition, the dollar hit the "death cross" and with conviction. While the dollar walks to the place of skulls, gold hit the "golden cross." Oh, yeah, this is earnings season and the miners have been crushing more than rocks. They are over-achieving and looking real strong. The media hypes big winners, but never mention precious metal miners unless it is bad news. In this thin market, gold is acting like a growth tech stock of the 90s.
All good for precious metals. I see gold retesting $1300 and then, a move to test the last high of $1375 in July 2016. Silver needs to break $17.16 and then, we will have some action.
Good investing. Go Yanks! Go Irish! Practice those mock drafts 'cause the NFL is around the corner.
Peace.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A New Police Danger

I don't want to pick on the police because like my mother told me, "There is good and bad in everything." As for my life experience with the lawmen not to mention a few relatives, there are two types of cops. You have officers and pigs. The pigs are the thugs who shoot first and ask questions later. The problem is we don't have enough officers and it seems that the thugs are in the majority. The recent tragedies and travesties of the law to our citizens is bad enough, but the latest dictum from the US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions could germinate a seed of rebellion in our society. When you find more reasons to suppress people, there is bound to be a backlash. It is like Newton's Law, "For every action there is an equal opposite reaction."
Where's your license?
There are stories in the news and internet all the time like kids being arrested for selling lemonade in front of their home or laws not allowing garage sales. These things build up and form a poison to our emotional state. This new oppression I fear could swell within the cortex to explode with unforeseen consequences. The English taxed and the American colonist responded, "No taxation without representation!" The disease of no representation is already present in our society. Our government never does what citizens want. They condescend our thinking as "Populist."
A new thorn in our garden...
The attorney general wants police to seize cash and property during any course of action. Sessions uses a truthful logic in this approach, but he does not understand the concept of abuse. He says that he does not want drug dealers to benefit by their illegal operations. This sounds good, but this change in procedure has an underlined profit motive for the police. The cash and property that they take will be kept for their department and things like their pension.
Reality
The police have seized more property and cash than robbers. That is not a misprint. In 2014, federal law enforcement took more cash and property than crooks. State and local authorities seized untold millions more. Since 2007 the DEA(Drug Enforcement Admin.) alone has taken more than $3B in cash from people. By the way, most of these people were not even charged with a crime. How would you like to be stopped after going to your bank and then, have all your money taken from you and all the police have to say is that you were under suspicion. This is Abuse! This is Tyranny!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Revisit Dow Theory Today

The first great technician in the stock market in the US has to be Charles Dow. He realized that man acted in similar fashion throughout history and the gyrations in stock prices just mirrored man's internal thinking. This concept settled on the two forces of greed and fear.
He formulated a theory that took into effect the two most important aspects of the market. In the Dow Index(became immortalized) he listed the main corporations that produced product. Yes, at one time we were a producing nation. The other index he named after its purpose: Transportation. This included mainly railroads at the time, but like his other index, companies come and go. In fact, GE is the only surviving company in the original formula.
* His first point stated that the Market discounted the future. Today, this isn't true. When Trump won the election, the Dow's futures rallied as did the market. Prices climbed 2,000 points to the Dow Index. The movement was based on favorable market policies. I wonder what Charlie would have said about that? I feel our illusion and greed has taken control of our minds over substance or earnings within the market.
*His next point stated that there are four conditions or phases in the market. Today, we use the term cycles to describe the same aspect.
His basic premise is that the market goes up.
It reaches a top.
Then, it moves downward.
Until it reaches a bottom. This leads to rising prices and the cycle begins a new.
* These cycles soon become part of a bigger picture or direction. Today, we call this a trend.
He concluded that the Primary trend is a result of fundamental aspects. This is the longer direction of the market.
*There is also a Secondary trend which could go against the primary trend or in conjunction with it. This is shorter in duration.
The action of investors causes the cycles to move within their patterns. The Bulls find reason to buy. They cause prices to rise. Other investors want to gain in the profits, and they buy too. This causes excess from the original information which caused the Bulls to buy in the first place. Today, we call this irrational exuberance. This leads to the top and the ultimate decline. It is just like they say on the old detective show, "The names have been changed(to protect the innocent), but the facts remain the same." Companies that didn't exist 100 years ago have replaced the departed, but human actions remain the same. When people buy on illusion and greed, the top has been reached. I'm seeing that in the action of the market.
With my opinion being what it is, the present market still is in sync with Dow Theory. The main point of continuing rising prices is centered upon the two indexes moving up together. At the moment both indexes are climbing to new highs, however I still say, Caveat Emptor! 
With that said, look for this great other technical tool. If prices decline, follow the MACD. This oscillator index has a slow moving and fast moving price line by time duration. If the fast line crosses the slow line in a downward manner, the climb in prices is over. This is called, "The Death Cross."

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Consumerism and State Psychology

The culture to satisfy present wants over future needs is pushed by US government leaders who can get reelected on the pseudo premise that things are better under so-and-so's leadership and our standard of living is rising. The media never shows the lifestyles of foreign nations because if they revealed the truth, our standard of living has been declining for decades. DECADES! This is not a misprint. We are not only not in the top ten, but not even in the top twenty. Our government does not include items like the quality of life with clean air, safe water, good schools and crime free environment. Why would they? Because citizens would realize that their formula's for wealth does not consider those abstract points that benefit citizens. Come on! Their formula considers credit which is debt, a positive. It is why we have a Flint, Michigan, Chesapeake Bay, Louisiana salt-water intrusions and many, many other violations of our environment. The news bytes that we receive never have follow up unless it is a murder or some other ugly sensationalist news item. It is no wonder then, when municipal workers go on strike, these same leaders would promise anything to end the disturbance, least they suffer a failed reelection like the Mayor of New York, John Lindsay, who failed to remove snow in a influential borough. The psychology to spend now and let somebody else worry about it, is the mainstay for reelection. The consumerism of politics. However, this policy is not only bad for individuals and unsustainable because that someday will come. It is now on hand for our states.
Many state budgets came due for July first and like I have been saying for the longest time, bond holders cross their fingers at the end of each month. Now, the meme is spreading to municipal workers. Eleven states failed to develop their budget on time and since they have to balance their budgets by law, phony accounting comes into play. The main point of contention in almost every state is pension funds. There are four states, Connecticut, New Jersey, Kentucky and Illinois who are seriously deficient in funding. They were in the news last week and they will be in the news many, many more times. The problem is contagious and like I predicted in my yearly forecast, six states raised their taxes on gasoline. Unlike cities and territories, states cannot move to bankruptcy court. If they can get their fellow corrupt leaders in Congress to change the law, municipal workers can forget their pension, period. As it stands, they still can default. The last state to default was Arkansas back in the Great Depression.  
The new poster boy whose rooster is calling is Illinois. Things have gotten so bad in the land of Lincoln that they had to suspend their lottery sales in Mega Millions and Powerball due to a lack of funding. This is unbelievable since the state makes $90 million profit on lottery sales. There are $15 billion in unpaid bills and with late fees and interest, you can add another $800 million.
What's their solution?
Debt! They issued $25B worth of new debt, raised taxes and corporate levies. This is what you do when you spend $6B more than you take in. At the moment the rating services have threatened to downgrade their status to JUNK! This would be a first. The market says there is no panic, but you can't see their hands behind their back with fingers crossed.
Many states develop "creative" ideas to cover their liabilities. California is borrowing form their investment fund to cover bills. New Jersey is thinking of directly transferring lottery sales to fund their pension plan. Let's hope people keep buying their dream with lottery tickets and maybe, the state will open the beaches again. Then again, if debt and taxes are the only solution, people can move and their goes your tax revenue and lottery buyers. Is it too late to remind these clueless fools what my mother use to say, "Save for a rainy day?"

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A Fool and His Money

"... That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, ..."

- The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

Our so-called leaders are definitely the fools, but sadly, they are wasting our money. In our specialized society, which means that if you are not specialized in a field, they can exclude you. This my friends is pure BS! But hey, we can talk about these so-called experts = free speech.
The best example in the best of the worst is the US military. They like to lay claim to being the best in the world, a superpower and all the media that they can buy. History tells a different tale.
Civil War
How many general did Lincoln go through to find Grant? More than the denomination of his currency.
WWI
After the "Great War" Billy Mitchell gave the Navy the idea for an aircraft carrier. "We would be the strongest navy," he said. They told him to take a hike and behind his back, called him an idiot.
Vietnam
After ten years of fighting the VC, the military still did not know that Charley was hiding underground in a tunnel complex the whole time. So much for the intelligence of our intelligence and our experts in the military. Let's bomb Laos! Remember that?
Today
We take Iraq only to give it to ISIS. How long have we been in Afghanistan?
I rest my case.
The problem is these exclusive institutions are really bureaucracies. They are only in it for themselves. Dear reader, if we get pushed into a war by these war mongers, they will draft everyone and the sad part is that these people will be in command. Consider just last week, the Navy pushed the USS Gerald R. Ford into the water. It is neither ready nor finished. It needs more work (read money) to its already $2.4 billion over budget. The Navy don't care. They will just increase the budget like we breathed air. It gets worse and when you spend $12.9 B and not done that is saying something.
The aircraft carrier won't meet structural tests which means more money down the drain and the best the navy can hope for is deployment by 2019, possibly later.
Just one mistake, you say. The list could fill a book. The Navy is pushing for another carrier and I hate that JFK gets his name tagged to it. They are pushing the carrier ahead of schedule for 2019. however this carrier calls for gadgets that are not even invented yet. This implies change in design which backs up the schedule and raises the cost. But hey, I'm not a specialist.
The only voice of reason has been the GAO (General Accounting Office). They warned the Navy back in 2007 of the problems with the Ford carrier in design and cost overruns. In another report in 2015 the GAO told the Navy that nuclear carriers have a disconnect between design and "wishful" features. I say there is a disconnect between reality and the Navy.
Aircraft Carriers
are obsolete! What worked 70 years ago, is out of date. Its time has passed!
With today's tracking devices, smart bombs, drones and tactical missiles, a small PT size boat filled with uranium tipped torpedoes could sink a carrier on the cheap. They will be floating graves with 5.000 sailors, hundreds of jet fliers and planes, and all those resources built into it and one smart bomb to sink it. The only ships the Navy should be building is submarines, but I'm not a specialist.
How about the Littoral Combat Ship? Again, insufficient design with cost overruns and yet, the Navy pushes ahead with orders for 12 more of these frigates by 2019.
It is not just the Navy, but the alpha spender itself, the Pentagon. It orders F-35s and pilots pass out and crash them due to a lack of oxygen, The cost? Hidden and what we do know is through the roof. As for Lockheed, Boeing and all the others, their shares continue to climb. They hire more retired officers who use to put those same jet fighters to tests to determine their reliability. Its an inside game like with the Fed and Treasury. The treasury sells and the Fed buys. The officers pass the planes and they get rewarded with easy desk jobs with big paychecks. Where is the responsibility to the people?
The GAO says there are many deficiencies which will drive up the cost another 38% to its already over budget costs. Superpower? No: Just a big, wasteful super-spender, and a destroyer not the boat, but of lives and resources. A nation is only as strong as its people. Today we celebrate our independence, but with one in four in poverty, our people are in disharmony. Our nation is composed of a government that is a plutocracy of rich people in disguised of a democracy. It is an elitist by money not ability government that does very little for its citizens.