Unneeded Trump Policies
Pres.-elect Trump's programs become less urgent because of two things reported today. China is cracking down on its companies' foreign investment push, fearing that this is nothing but a cover for capital flight. Big deals worth outside the sector where the Chinese firm operates will be scrutinized closely by the Beijing authorities. Earlier, China cracked down on its citizens buying annuity insurance policies during trips to Hong Kong, a way to hold non-renminbi assets.
Both moves will reduce the chances of Chinese currency becoming a global one, cutting Beijing's hopes of becoming a major trading power.
But they also undermine the threat by future US Pres. Trump to sanction China for allegedly keeping its currency too cheap. The new rules boost the RMB exchange rate rather than manipulate it down.
Meanwhile the US Commerce Dept reported that US GDP grew at an annualized rate of 3.2% in Q3, much better than the 2.9% estimated earlier, thanks to higher household spending. That means GDP last quarter rose the fastest in 24 months. This reduces the need for new measures to make America great again, if anyone is listening.
More for paid subscribers follows from Brazil, Canada, Britain, Germany, Singapore, The Netherlands, Colombia, Finland, and Denmark. I am offering lots of tech news to prove I am not really a Luddite despite my qvetch against Cyber Monday.
Today the cyber world kicked back hard at your editor for writing negatively about cyber Monday yesterday. It appears that there is an administrative account on this computer which is inaccessible to me and stops me adding programs to my system. It was created when I bought this laptop with the good techies of Staples who set things up for me to use Windows 8. It then was updated by Macrohard to allow me to upgrade to Windows 10, but I never let the Gates gang control my email or my programs.
Because I was having problems inputting a trade with my broker, I rather stupidly tried to get a better pricing system with a nice female techie there called Ashleigh.
Big mistake. I cannot add a program to my laptop although Microsoft can so so as it installed Windows 10 without my cooperation.
I will have to track back to the shop to gain access but before that I will file my daily dose of blog, which is very late because of the back and forth plus several quarterly and one annual report after verification of the radiators in my apartment.
Tomorrow I will cut short my blogging to attend a meeting on smart beta by Herb Blank, one of the fathers of exchange-traded funds, who created “country baskets”: when he worked for Deutsche Bank some decades ago.
More for paid subscribers follows from Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Israel, Canada, Thailand, Mexico South Korea,, Brazil, Britain, South Africa, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Canada. We have two final reports (one for a Q4) and another normal quarterly report. Plus info on our trades.
Cyber Monday Blues
No, I will not celebrate Cyber Monday today. I've got the Cyber Monday blues,
The trouble with the 21st century is crossed wires. I ran into lots of this over the last few days. The first crossed wire was an attempt by the company to get us onto an earlier bus back to NYC from Boston, as it was very empty. The staff wanted to get us and a few other early birds away a half hour earlier, but I recalled that the last time this had happened we were billed about $20 each for changing our reservation even though it was the bus company that initiated the change. So I asked about the fee and of course we and all the others would have been billed. So we hung around a bit longer.
Then we took my husband's photos of our visit, showing grandparents' day and Thanksgiving shots, to Staples for printing. The process of setting up the billing was long and painful and again I had to stop things midway because there was an unnecessary $8 charge for cutting the borders around the pictures, which we are perfectly capable of doing ourselves. Now my card is being billed twice, once for the prints and once for the prints plus cutting.
My new answering machine recording system produces inaudible messages. All the paperwork coming with the device fails to tell you how to fix it. There is no telephone number for help.
Some update installed on the old desktop computer overnight has disabled it with Sysfader, whatever that may be. Restarting did not help; I had to go back in time and restore the system to last month to get rid of google chrome which doesn't work anymore in the windows XP desktop, which forced me to us yahoo rather than google as a search engine. Surely that was not the point of the ha-ha upgrade.
You may wonder why I keep it in Windows XP. The reason is that my corporate accounts going back to when I started this newsletter in print form are on that computer in lotus 1,2,3 and cannot be retrieved in a more modern version.
The last round of 21st century confusion is terrifying. My mammogram requires a rerun according to the provider. I could not book an appointment from Boston because my cellphone kept running out of juice while I was trying to book an appointment. The telephone system was blocked by many people trying to do the same thing and there was no alternative method.
I called early this morning on the land line to book a date. My attempt to get it done quickly for my peace of mind was defeated. Despite what he had told me, they require another prescription from the doctor to run the tests again. So I can stew for a few days, even though I offered to pay cash and collect from the insurance company later.
For the record, all these supposed labor-saving complications were run by Americans speaking English right from the USA. Bad programming leads to crossed wires. Cyber Monday my foot.
I hope my screed last week about frothy dry bulk carrier stocks persuaded you not to get into that thicket—or to sell out if you had been lured in. The group, led by Dryships, which we sold ages ago, duly crashed. Unlike Alan Greenspan, sometimes I can spot a bubble.
More for paid subscribers follows from Thailand to Brazil, from Cuba to South Africa, with a few stops in between. We have two news items from Malta, a first. We have two company reports, plus a new buy, and a sell.
Black Friday won that name because it was historically was a big shopping day which put vendors' accounts into the black for the Christmas Season. As I set out for New York from Boston I fear that the blackness among the top shops will be the non-accounting kind, meaning black moods. So many shoppers are deterred by the city and federal police from hitting the stores at the key bit of Fifth Avenue around the Trump Tower.
New York high rises are not like the Paris Rue St-Honoré which was cut through the Embassy quarter by the Baron Haussman to carefully separate their President's house behind high gates on the south side from the smart boutiques and galleries on the north side. There are public pavements running along the eastern side of Fifth Avenue and there are doors leading into the Trump Tower with its high-rent high-price shoppes.
Making matters worse as the Christmas season begins is the higher US dollar which discourages foreign shoppers, and perhaps the perception among some of them, like Mexicans or Arabs, that we do not like the color of their money. More and more even the poshest trade is moving to the Internet.
Worst of all with the first lady planning to let the youngest Trump son finish his school year in the family penthouse, with the president coming to spend weekends with him and her until June, the jewelry and couture shoppes will suffer more lost business for months because of the top Trump Tower tenant.
While we were eating turkey, Turkey the country upped its repo rate by half a percent to protect its embattled currency.
More for paid subscribers from Chile, Argentina, Australia, India, Israel, Britain, Belgium, Finland, and Canada.
Happy Grandparents' Day! Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Teachers' Appreciation Day!
The Boston community today celebrated grandparents' day at the schools, which closed at 11 am for the 4-day weekend, why the blog today is late. Most of you can read up on things tomorrow. It turns out that they started getting fathers involved with a day for the men and then when mothers started going to work they created parents' day. About 15 years ago some fee-paying schools added a day for the oldsters who were paying the tuition.
Friday when schools are closed is Teachers' Appreciation day when they can get hamburgers half-price, hardly enough incentive to put up with kids the rest of the time.
More for paid subscribers from Belgium, India (where turkeys come from according to the French, who call them dinde, meaning from India), Denmark, Britain, Japan, Sweden, Australia, Argentina, Mexico, and Ireland.
D'inde Read more »
Global Warming and Travel
The first snow dusting of the season have melted here in Boston, but it looks like we face an early and cold winter after a balmy autumn. Nothing in this undermines the theory of global warming, by the way, because there is a difference between global climate change and mere variable weather.
Among the ill-educated Trump electorate delusions which I worry about most, because I am spending time with my grandchildren, is the notion that the theory of global warming is a trick by China to de-industrialize America. I am not young enough to suffer from climate change but my grandchildren will unless wiser heads prevail.
Living in a car-driving suburb has led me to focus most of this issue on vehicles, something I rarely think about in NYC where of course we use public transport, not to save the environment, but because it is the only way we can afford to get around.
We seem to have sold Fiat-Chrysler too soon. The Dutch-incorporated Italo-American company is pioneering in Italy a new way to buy cars, on-line via Amazon. You even get a discount, so far only with Fiat and Panda small cars. You log on but eventually you wind up with an existing dealer who calls you on the telephone, and you get your car within two weeks. It is a hybrid test system and may later really go on-line.
Today we have more auto sales news and a company report for a seller of, among other things, gasoline and travel. And for the coming political turmoil in Europe and perhaps in the USA as well, a better way to run citizens' links to government. We have news from Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Hong Kong, Finland, Indonesia, Argentina, Australia, Panama, Sweden, Japan, and India. We also have a new Warren Buffett-style stock pick.
No Trumps. Except where it is completely impossible to avoid, I promise not to talk about Pres-elect Trump today.
But while he is looking for a Treasury Secy I do hope he is considering a dark horse Republican, Charlie Munger, the long-term partner of Warren Buffett in running Berkshire Hathaway. Munder was an early advocate of bringing jobs home rather than letting free trade hollow out US manufacturing, criticizing the current dogmas about the globalization process. Munger also advocates getting rid of the complexities of the Dodd-Frank banking rules and going back to good-old good-old Glass-Steagall, the law splitting investment banking from deposit banking put in place during the Great Depression which was nullified under Bill Clinton's presidency. Writer David Clark, an expert on BKSH who is writing a book about Munger is my source for this tip for the new administration.
Just for a moment, look at the rest of the world. Vladimir Putin has begin to dismantle the oligarchy he and the security services created back under Gorbachev and Yeltsin, perhaps because in a low oil-price era, Russia cannot afford corruption.
British voters regret their decision to vote to leave the European Union in the latest polls. This gives some firepower to PM Theresa May who may be able to avoid what the Financial Times calls “a cliff-edge Brexit”. In fact there are going to be likely obstacles to a rapid exit also from the UK judicial system which wants a fraught parliamentary vote before proceeding to open exit talks—and from the European Union judiciary as weel.
The French show-biz circus has lost a key player, Nicolas Sarkozy, who lost a primary for placement on the right-wing ticket in the next national presidential poll. France is going to try to be serious about politics to fight off the far right and the feeble socialists.
Germany will get to vote on Angela Merkel who is running for a 4th term. South Korea is possibly impeaching Pres. Parks. So much for women running countries.
The split in Cyprus between the Greek and Turkish sectors dates back to 1974. Now the divided island's two leaders are holding talks about uniting it under UN auspices.
Mexico which has borne the brunt of emerging market panic over the new US administration because of its plans to renegotiate the NAFTA treaty, and because it has an open and liquid currency market, may do better than expected because it has raised its interest rates to an appealing 5.25% in a low yield world. And together with Canada, Mexico is working on reforms to NAFTA terms that the two countries want to discuss with the USA.
Meanwhile some other people interviewed by Mr. Trump are associated with some of our stocks, about which more below for paid subscribers only. For the record we have news from Israel, Britain, Canada, the Emirates, Finland, Brazil, The Netherlands, Chile, India, Pakistan, and a few other places.
Sunday in Boston
Greetings from the home of the Duchess Prospera, aka my granddaughter who performed brilliantly the her school's Tempest as Shakespeare's cross-dressed Magus of Bermuda. Of course in the Elizabethan era, they used young boys to play female parts rather than young girls to play men, but there were certainly enough references by The Bard to what was going in (especially in the comedies) so Shakespeare might be banned in some southern schools where they worry about which bathrooms kids should use.
No Chinese food beckons today, but there will be Thai chow instead.
This is a weekend for chopping our losses in order to offset gains, and it is particularly easy to do this now because nobody has any idea what the new Trump Administration economic and international policy will be. These are the key determinants of our portfolio's performance on the macro level. So we are piling into cash and building up our fire power which can be deployed after Jan. 20 when my neighborhood in NYC goes back to normal.
More follows for paid subscribers on our trades: Read more »
Before I Bus Away
The bus leave for Boston at 12:30 and I am writing a hasty blog to keep you all alert until Monday.
There will be negotiations on Nafta because Canada and Mexico are insisting on this.
Meanwhile in case you haven't noticed, the inflows YTD into gold and emerging markets has reversed with the dollar achieving record new highs cay after day. And the supposed alternative investments being slapped down by exiters.
More for paid subscribers from India, Switzerland, Canada, Britain, and Ireland. Read more »
Presidential Neighborhood and Other Mixed News
Among the Orthodox rabbis who posted an ad in today's New York Times calling for the US to move its Israel Embassy to Jerusalem was one Rabbi Ya'akov Trump of Cedarhurst, NY! Are they related? Trump's grandparents moved from a Rhineland village in the late 19th century, a traditionally Catholic part of Germany, where the 57 varieties of the Heinz family (who are Catholic) also originated.
More from 10022, the neighborhood where I live and work about 7 blocks from where our future president does. Neary's, our local Irish bar, told the newspaper that Mr Trump (not the rabbi) likes to hang out there with his buddies and relatives. However, because his brother was an alcoholic, Mr. Trump does not drink alcohol and is unlikely to have proven a profitable customer for Jimmy Neary.
Meanwhile another business relationship of the future president has totally disrupted my neighborhood. A man was murdered over the weekend at the Grand Sutton, the 4th building west of my Sutton Place home, in fact on 59th Street halfway to First Avenue. The body of the victim, who was from Connecticut, was found buried in New Jersey yesterday. The garbage chute and garden spaces of the apartment building, at 418 East 59th, were full of bags full of bloody clothes, sheets, and towels which are being examined in mobile labs parked on the block amidst TV cameras and groups of reporters.
The police took in a suspect so far only charged with driving violations. Local rumor among the door persons says he is James Rackover, son of Donald Trump's jeweler (who doesn't buy from his own tenants to avoid conflicts of interest despite his refusing to set up a blind trust when he moves to the White House.) Jeffrey Rackover, the arrested man's father, sold our future first lady's engagement ring to the future president.
I am moving north as previously planned tomorrow not to escape the traffic and TV commotion here, but because of family events this weekend, and next week, including Thanksgiving. There will be no blog tomorrow and probably no tables Sunday. My younger granddaughter will be playing Prospero (Prospera?) in The Tempest this coming weekend. There is a shortage of boys willing to act in her school. My husband had a lesser role in the same Shakespeare play when he was her age. I was in the Scottish play but not a lead.
More for paid subscribers follows from Britain, Denmark, India, Israel, Mexico, Germany, France, South Africa, Finland, Canada, and a few other places. The main subject is IT, internet technology but also lots of mixed good-cum-bad news.