CRISIS1

Mon, 2017/06/12 - 5:30am | Your editor

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*I have no idea if Trump is suicidal or not but his decision to stand up to Comey while under oath reeks of Mayism. I imagine that there has to be a tape, or otherwise Trump is toast.

*Our pal Adrian Ash wrote to explain the gold sell-off surprise after Theresa May failed to win a Parliamentary majority. The editor of www.BullionVault.com said the UK investors were selling and taking profits as gold rose in sterling terms. Volume in British trading was 4 times that of anormal Friday and the price in sterling of the yellow metal hit £1007 after it opened the week at £993.

Also unexpectedly, the UK index rose, mainly because the FTSE 100 is dominated by companies which operate globally, and are able to offset the terrors of a “hung” parliament thanks to currency factors. The exceptions were outfits like BT, the homeland telco, which mostly earn sterling. And even though oil stocks are under bearish pressure worldwide now, UK oil companies are up because they are dollar-earners.

 

More for paid subscribers follows from China, Finland, Britain, Israel, Ireland, Australia, the US, Chile, Canada, Belarus, Mexico, and Sweden.

May-hem

Fri, 2017/06/09 - 6:59am | Your editor

Politics is a risky business and Theresa May's poll gamble has failed. I got some flak yesterday for reporting the odds offered on a May victory by Ladbrokes bookies because early polls—before the two terrorist attacks and her blunders over debates and taxation of senior citizens—had put May 20% ahead of lefty Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. But of course t moves by the betting public in Britain is a good way to predict how people will vote.

I expect the Tories will bring out their long knives. The ousted former PM David Cameron was made the scapegoat for an unnecessary poll over Brexit; how much more venom will be generated by the party which had a solid majority before May opted to go to the country well before it was necessary under the rules.
May may have to walk the plank, in which case a coalition government including some wiBremain elements like the Northern Irish Democratic Union Party, which wants to keep links with Ireland, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, and the solo independent, and the solo Independent will hold the key to power. They can swing either way, to Labour or the Conservatives. But whichever way they move, May may not survive as the exemplar of a “hard” brexit.

As I write she is meeting with the Queen to discuss creating a minority government with support from the DUP, which is potentially a blow to the whole Brexit project. A border running between Ireland and Northern Ireland is a blow to both economies and peace between them.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung tried to figure out what the UK polls mean for Brexit. It quoted Michael Hewson of CMC Markets in London: “The Scottish Nationalists and Liberal Democrats want to stay in the European Union. So there is a possibility that Brexit may never happen at all!”

As for sterling, Stephen Gallo at Bank of Montreal told the Financial Times that Brexit is "factor number one" for determining the pound's near-term direction. A minority Conservative government implies a "softer Brexit", he adds, a scenario that points to a firmer pound. Today in Asia trading, however, the pound was pounded, because markets hate uncertaity.

 

There is news today from India, Britain, Israeli, Australia, Canada, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Hong Kong, Mexico and a few other places like Nevada. Monday's blog will be from Portugal.

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UK Election Day

Thu, 2017/06/08 - 2:28pm | Your editor

It is way too early to talk about the UK election results, or what the Fed will do, so here is some local color. Ladbrokes, a local bookie, is offering new punters 20 to 1 odds on a Theresa May victory but you will collect not in cash, but in future bets. You can also order a victory hamper with champagne and rosettes of the appropriate color (red for Labour; blue of Tories) and if your constituency votes right it will be delivered and billed. If your fave loses they just cancel.

We went to the Old Vic last night with my in-laws to see Woyzeck starring John Boyega, an Afro-Brit whose actor career began with their son, Joe Cornish, who hired Boyega to play Moses in his cult sci-fi film, Attack the Block. Joe also taught John, a vicar's son from a London suburb, how to audition and how to handle direction. Now John is a Star Wars star, but he is almost family for us.

Apart from the acting, which was terrific, this was a terrible Woyzeck, set in Berlin during the Cold War, and full of modern quirks like a hatred for drug trials and soap powder, and a plea for working class solidarity and anti-war agita.

More for paid subscribers follows from Britain, India, Switzerland, Spain, Israel, Sweden, Canada, Korea, and Mexico. Read more »

Harvard Yard Sale

Wed, 2017/06/07 - 6:30am | Your editor

The Road Warrior is reporting to her subscribers from a patched-together email system because our London fiberoptic conversion has killed both our phone and Internet systems. It is probably not related to the terrorist attacks coming out of this neighborhood but just to incompetence by the people doing the tech, who are coming tomorrow to set things to rights.

 

Road Warrior Note 2: two of my teenaged grandchildren have just been given learner driver permits and are now a threat on the roads of Cleveland. You have been warned. By the time they are fully grown chances are that cars will drive themselves even in Ohio.

 

Tomorrow Britons vote and what looked like a slam-dunk for Theresa May has turned into a potential rout. It turns out that she is just as inexperienced at governing as her US counterpart, with whom she rushed to bond after he was elected. Like Trump, May only trusts a small and inexperienced team of advisors, and like him she cuts funding for ideological reasons which hurts her chances of winning future elections. In her case the funding cut was for police to investigate potential terror attacks, during her 6 years as head of the UK home office. In his case it is cuts in Medicaid which helped his own supporter base.

 

My poor university has put on the market its New Zealand dairy farmand other real estate from its portfolio, writing off investments that at one point topped $4 bn at a substantial discount from what the land cost. The Wall Street Journal headlined its article this morning “Harvard Yard Sale”.

 

More for paid subscribers from Spain, Britain, Israel, Australia, Argentina, South Africa, Canada, Mexico, Switzerland, and Finland.

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Qatar in the Gutter

Mon, 2017/06/05 - 12:16pm | Your editor

Five Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and Egypt have cut diplomatic ties and close their border with oil- and gas-rich Qatar, cutting air, sea, and land links and ordered their citizens to leave the country. The impact will hit everything from challenger Qatar Airways to supply of dairy milk to Qatar from Saudi Arabia. The US has a military base in Qatar used among other things to protect the Gulf from Iran.

The Saudis claim that Doha destabilizes the region by backing terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS, which Qatar denies. This split within the Sunni Gulf region is unprecedented.

It will almost certainly delay the plan to sell a percentage of Saudi Aramco on global markets. Qatari bond yields rose 20 basis points and its stock market fell 7% today.

The Gulf upheaval may wind up delaying another Federal Reserve rise in interest rates. Lower bond yields mean “a reduced opportunity cost of holding gold and greater motivation for income funds to allocate something to it,” according to Tom Kendall at ICBC Standard Bank, quoted by Adrian Ash of bullionvault.com, our former advertiser.

Gold is likely to breach its 6 year downtrend in US$s today, at $1290, as it already has broken higher in sterling after the London Bridge bombing and in euros. If Theresa May fails to win the parliamentary election Thursday all bets are off. And if she continues to threaten to walk out over the talks with the European Union over Brexit there is more trouble ahead.

 

 

More for paid subscribers follows from India, Israel, Switzerland, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Mexico, Britain, Chile, Colombia, Portugal, Germany, Panama, the Dutch Antilles, Hong Kong, and a few other places. We start with notes about money, a favorite subject.

 

I fly away to London today hitting the East End rather than chaotic Heathrow, as we are heading for City Airport. I had no idea there would be a terrorist attack in my area over the weekend and have no idea how things will go.

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Tables Posted

Sun, 2017/06/04 - 10:47am | Your editor

Today we have horrible news of another terrorist attack in London, hitting the East End area where we tend to hang out. Our family are all fine, but it puts a dampener on our future trips to the Borough Market and the Old Vic, and the area around London Bridge and Brick Lane where we like to eat Indian food.

Yet I have to confess that I am speculating about how the spate of crimes by Muslim zealots (during Ramadan, when they are supposed to focus on repentence!) will affect the parliamentary poll to take place Thursday where the Tories are backing cuts in immigration from the European Union as part of their Brexit program.

Today I posted the last performance tables before we fly off tomorrow, and they are impressive for one simple reason: the dollar is at a 7-month low against most major global currencies. Since we tend not to hedge exchange rates, in order to increase the diversification of our portfolios, it boosts performance.

 

Foreign Trumpish Chiefs

Fri, 2017/06/02 - 12:57pm | Your editor

It is sometimes hard to determine which country has elected the worst leaders. While the US is a contender for the booby prize other countries with misguided, under-qualified, or impulsive presidents or prime ministers include: Venezuela, Hungary, the Philippines, Brazil, Turkey, and Egypt. I also count the United Kingdom's Theresa May among the misguided heads of government.
Today Abhimanyu Sisodia comments on new moves by Narendra Modi of India who withdrew so-called large currency notes to crack down on tax evasion:

“The truth Indians now must admit is that Modi's demonetization hurt industries linked to finance. GDP growth in the last quarter [of fiscal 2017, to March 31] dropped to 6.1%, unacceptable given the 7% rate sustained over the years so the economy can grow. The ordinances were officially to prevent funding of terrorism, to recover “black” money, and stop counterfeits.

“Actually there was little fake money and terrorist funds haveincreased. Black money is mostly not in physical banknotes but in Swiss and Cayman Islands and Mauritius bank accounts.

“Modi continues to make stupid moves like the recent ban on beef-eating in India. You technically can still consume it but supply is so restricted you cannot buy cow meat. This came just before the month of Ramadan when Muslims, who eat beef, fast for 40 days! There were riots around India and cattle were slaughtered on the streets in Kerala and West Bengal in part to protect states' rights covering animal husbandry (and also against Hindi as the national language.) Goa simply refused to comply with the New Delhi order. Southerners eat beef as do Indians near the Chinese border. Low caste Hindus can eat beef if they can afford it. Rajputs and Kshatriyas (like me) and royals are allowed to eat anything they find when on manoeuvres so my caste can eat beef. A lot of Indians earn their living working with leather.

“Pro- and anti-beef-eating riots were started when students at India's premier engineering college, IIT Chennai, telecast pictures of themselves peacefully eating beef which discussing the new law. This highlighted a new attitude among intellectuals against Hindu jingoism. The next day the organizer was beaten up by a fellow Hindu on campus which is being treated as a fight between students by the college. Then students in Bangalore turned out in large numbers to consume beef and were confronted with what are called 'cattle vigilantes' who were political goons. Here the government locked up all the protestors from both sides.

“People are fed up with Modi's government simply making laws to suit their purposes. They officially said it was to prevent cruelty to animals and smuggling! In fact he has to pacify his traditionalist Hindu supporters by protecting cows and provoking Muslims, but in this case the official target was not Muslims.”

 

So Trumpian populism targeting environmental measures against global warming for allegedly hurting US jobs (already stretched because there are too few unemployed capable of working) has foreign parallels. Stupidity is widespread.

 

Today the US$ hit a 7-m low and the London FTSE index and the German DAX both hit record highs. The unemployment rate is 4.3% which is

 

More news follows from around the world including India, Britain, Denmark, Hong Kong, Germany, Israel, Canada, South Africa, Switzerland, Brazil, Australia, Argentina, Japan, Finland, Russia, Mexico, Guam, the Marianas, Portugal, Italy, Panama, Colombia, and Bermuda.

 

There will be a blog Monday. Then off to Britain for my husband to vote--not for either the Tory or the Labour candidate in E14, but for the Liberal-Democrat who supports remaining in the European Union. Britain is bad on giving non-resident subjects ballots. There'll be a blog Tuesday if I wake up in time. Have a nice weekend.

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Ivanka and Jared;Theresa and Donald

Thu, 2017/06/01 - 2:26pm | Your editor

Ivanka Trump's shoes are made in Huajian where the leader of China Labor Watch was apparently arrested Saturday by the authorities because he accused the politically-connected factory owner of violating Chinese laws by requiring workers to put in over 60 hours per week.

Meanwhile a Bloomberg Business Week investigation of Baltimore apartment complexes owned by the family of her husband, Jared Kushner, turned up poor maintenance and infestation, and harassing lawsuits and fines where these led tenants to attempt to leave. Ivanka and Jared are supposed to be the good guy globalists advising the US president.

 

With her lead in the latest polls at ~3% Theresa May is now at risk in the election next week. We are going to London so my British husband can vote against her over Brexit. May is showing signs of inexperience and misinformation which may result in a loss at the poll next week.

 

Warning that after seven years of economic expansion, the US risks getting into a recession soon, Andrew Balls, the chief fixed income officer at Pimeo said “valuations look fair and in some cases rich.” He expects lower return “on the equity side as well as fixed income.” He added: “we won't respon by increasing overall credit risk in the portfolios.” Pimco is a California-based bond fund manager we own stick in indirectly.

 

Reader DvN, who knows more about technology than your editor, replied to my Tuesday note about plagiarism among Yale students learning how to code that “in the working world almost no code is written fresh. [Using] many prefabricated toolkits, existing code is adapted to new taks, often with very small changes.” I think that still means students who are taking courses in coding need to learn to code.

 

Today's blog is late because my clothes-washer was finally fixed. We have news from Britain, China, India, Japan, Finland, Canada, Israel, Ireland, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Mexico, and Brazil.

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Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky

Tue, 2017/05/30 - 1:21pm | Your editor

Plagiarize.

Let no one else's work evade your eyes.

Don't shade your eyes,

But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize!

 

Tom Lehrer's song about Nikolai Ivanovitch Lobachevsky springs to mind as the New York Times reveals that students taking coding classes to enhance their employability are not working out the codes assigned to them but copying them from the Internet or each other. To be paying Ivy League class fees to learn coding is itself a waste of money since you can do so off-campus for pennies on the dollar. To then cheat to avoid actually writing the code is an even stupider move.

It tells you something about the apparent best and the brightest among the millennial generation.

Yesterday's Times had a note about Donald Trump run in with the English College of Arms. Apparently the Mar-a-Lago coat of arms didn't go with the estate he bought from the heirs of cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post and her husband, Joseph Edwards Davies, a diplomat. It turns out that Amb. Davies was given the coat of arms in 1939 based on his job and heritage. Mr Trump changed the bottom line of the crest from reading “Integrity” to “Trump and had the chutzpah to try to copyright it. But when he bought two golf courses in his mother's native Scotland the President was forced to remove the heraldry.

 

 

More today from around the world and a warning that there will be no blog Weds. We have news from Britain, Australia, India, Canada, Israel, Ireland, Hong Kong, Brazil, and Denmark,  We begin with quarterly reports.

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Happy Decoration Day

Mon, 2017/05/29 - 12:47pm | Your editor

Happy Decoration Day, as it was called when I was young.

My Boston grandchildren have a new Czech male au pair without any real sense of history. He doesn't know about Marienbad or Budweiser or Kafka—admittedly because they are all not real Czech language names or writers. He didn't react to my childhood memory of a Czech song I had been taught by a card-player friend of my mother's who was (poor dear) a Sudenten German Jew who had fought against the invading German tanks after the Munich agreement in the Czech cavalry (on a horse!) Maybe it was a pop song of the 30s rather than a folk song as I thought.

No reaction to Dubcek or Mazaryk (both of whom apparently were Slovaks.)

He was not even interested in my favorite Czech Catholic saint, St John Nepomuk, who died for the secrecy of the confessional when Bad King Wenceslas tried to learn what Queen Sophie had been up to. After being tortured and refusing to break the seal of the confessional he was tossed into the river in Prague.

So here is a Czech note for him and you all. Think about Jachymov, town where a great silver mine was discovered in 1517. Its name in German (nobody wrote in Czech 500 years ago) was Joachimthal. It was where silver coins were produced for the world, coins called Joachimthaler, later shortened to Thaler. When the infant United States named its silver currency, the term Sovereign for some reason was not considered acceptable. So they named the coin a dollar.

We owe Czechs not only beer to get fat on and spas to lose weight at, Kafka for nightmares and Nepomuk to protect us from snoops. We owe the Almighty dollar to them too.

 

There was a real company report today and enough news for me to do a blog despite Memorial Day. Another reason is the continued awful weather and the fact that there is another Jewish Holiday on Wednesday when there will be no blog. It is Shevuoth, or Pentecost, which celebrates the giving of the Ten Commandments 7 weeks after the Exodus from Egypt. We have news from Israel, Hong Kong, Ireland, Britain, Canada, Nevada, Mauritius, Russia, India, and funds which cover dozens of countries.

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