Waiting for Trumpot
Today is Fasching (Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras). I celebrate it every years because it is the key to my existence. My parents met at a Faschingsball on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, despite both being Jewish and therefore not in need of a blow-out before the start of Lent. The reason was that when young German Jews arrived in a country where they were not banned from fun—as they had been in Nazi Germany—they partied.
India surprised not because growth slowed in the Dec. quarter—as expected given the withdrawal of high-denomination cash—but how little growth slowed, from 2015's 7.4% to 2016's 7%. Analysts had predicted that GDP would only rise 6.4%. What this shows is that people with spare cash are not the drivers of the Indian economy. The drivers are poor people who don't have 500 rupees to rub together. (The high valuation notes withdrawn were for 500 and 1000 rupees, approximately worth 7.5 cents and 15 cents respectively.) The New Delhi statistical office expect full fiscal year growth (to end March) will be 7.1%.
At 9 pm today Pres. Trump will have to stop tweeting and provide guidance on what policy measures are coming, when he delivers his State of the Union address to Congress. The stock market is teetering today (as it has been for days) because of fear that economic stimulus and infrastructure spending will be delayed—or that trade policy plans will turn out to be more protectionism than anticipated. Either will trigger a sell-off tomorrow. My personal suspicion is that the Dow drops of the last few days, which miraculously reversed at the 11th hour, were staged by the Administration. Yesterday's drop was reversed when hoopla over defense spending was delivered to kill the bears. So we have had 12 days of higher share prices (although not very much higher share prices.) The trouble is that another surprise win is harder to manipulate today as all eyes will be on what the President says and how he says it.
And Lent begins tomorrow.
India, one of my
More for paid subscribers follows with first a couple of extremely rare result reports and one which is widely available, and news from Britain, Australia, Argentina, Germany, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Israel, Spain, Ireland, and a few other places.
My Letter from Yellen
Whoopee! My problems are solved.
“On Saturday, February 25, 2017 8:00 PM, Federal Reserve Bank <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
“Federal Reserve Bank
20th St. and Constitution Ave. N.W
Mail Stop K300
Washington, D.C. 20551
“Your payment files from three (3) different banks, Natwest Bank of London, Central Bank of Nigeria and Bank of America was compiled and submitted to my desk this morning for review. The total sum owed to you by the 3 banks mentioned above was sum up to the tune of US$15,500,000.00 (Fifteen Million Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars).
“Now the fund has been totally lodged in one particular Escrow account (non deductible) here in the Federal Reserve Bank on your name, while waiting for accreditation to your personal bank account in any part of the world.
“Meanwhile, after due scrutiny and verification, I confirmed that you have fulfilled all the necessary obligations that will enable the release of your payment to you, but yet your payment was not released to you due to one flimsy excuses or the other from the Bank officials in charge of your payment, because they had the intention of diverting your funds to their private accounts in order to satisfy their selfish interest.
“You are however lucky that we the management of the US Federal Reserved Bank detected their evil plans and therefore call for the submission of your payment file to us so we can personally handle the payment assignment to ensure that you receive your funds accordingly.
“Now, all modalities regarding your fund release has been put in place here in the Reserve Bank of America, thus, your funds has been made ready for transfer in our sophisticated macro transfer system, what we need from you now is to provide to us the bank account of your choice which you want us to transfer your funds so we can expedite action for the accreditation of your funds into your account immediately.
“Below are the information needed for now for your transfer.
“1. Personal Details:
Direct Mobile Number:
Passport Copy, ID card or DL:
“2. Banking Details:
“Note: If you prefer to receive your funds in form of a Visa Card, we could load and ship your Visa Card to your address which will permit you a daily withdrawal limit of US$3000 or write a draft check which can be deposited in any bank and send to you.
“In anticipating for your urgent cooperation
Janet Louise Yellen
Federal Reserved Bank”
While I don't want to compare the stock market to these miscreants, I consider that the Friday reversal of almost a full day of dropping prices at the 58th minute of the last hour of trading is almost as suspicious as the above email. The result was an 11th straight record high for the Dow-Jones Industrial Average, based on a rise of 0.05%. This is something less than an epic winning streak.
To read about our stock picks for 2017, and those of others, please visit http://pdf.moneyshow.com/SPECIAL_REPORTS/TOP_PICKS_REPORT-2017.PDF
More for paid subscribers on my picks and news from Israel, Australia, Japan, Sweden, India, Germany, Finland, Canada, Britain, Switzerland, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and a few other places.
I just posted the tables on www.global-investing.com, as I do every Sunday. We have a new problem explained to paid subscribers belows, but meanwhile you can look at the charts showing our performance. Everyone can look at the closed positions but only paid subscribers get to see our current stock, bond, and fund picks. To view the spreadsheets more easily, use the "print" button even if you don't intend to print the tables.
Barron's while becoming less politically impossible about the Trump stock market rally, has seriously reduced its usefulness as a source of stock performance. While the weekly repeatedly tells us that closed-end funds are a great way to buy cheaply portfolios of stocks, and to intelligently buy bonds, there are no advertisements from the CEF companies. So here is what is happening:
1) The print size of the closed end fund data has been reduced to squint size and even with my reading glasses on I need to use a magnifying glass (provided by Value Line, for which thanks. Read more »
A Sergeant Writes
I'm the canary in the coal mine. Yesterday my brokerage account access went down. Today the whole customer base lost access to e-trade accounts. This came less than a day after I published a special report for my paid subscribers about cyber-insurance. It is free to subscribers.
Some readers wrote about my Truman-Trump comparison yesterday. FN, of Long Island, himself a veteran (having made it to sergeant), noted that Truman served in the First World War despite being exempt because he was a farmer.
FN writes: “He volunteered. Starting out a private in the Missouri National Guard, he was elected by the members of his unit to be granted a commission. Election of officers apparently ceased before World War II. What is especially significant is that this was the first election Harry Truman ever won, from fellow soldiers who trained with him, ate with him, used the latrine with him. They picked him as their leader." It does make TRUMp look bad in comparison.
More for paid subscribers including the usual flurry of annual reports of the season, plus news from India, Britain, Ireland, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Ireland, Switzerland, Hong Kong, and Euroland.
Trump and Truman
It's one of those news-heavy Thursdays, so I am going to keep my commentary short. I had a sudden epiphany when I recalled the first US president who was considered unqualified for the job in my lifetime, and that of the current office-holder. It was Harry Truman, a haberdasher with a record of bankruptcies, who had never gone to college. His wife Bess preferred to stay in Independence, MO, rather than live in Washington, so their daughter Margaret handled some of the protocol.
It reminds me a bit of Melania Trump and Ivanka. And the two presidents' names start with the same four letters.
While not hiding his taxes, Truman won his Senate seat despite the Kansas City Democratic boss, Tom Prendergast, having been convicted for tax evasion. Truman as a Senator then headed a special “Truman
committee to cut wasteful spending during World War II. He got the vice-presidential job because the incumbent, Henry Wallace, was an extremist (on the left not the right, but you can't make everything fit.)
Then he won on his own in 1948 to the surprise of pollsters defeating an establishment Republican favored by the media.
Of course Trump did go to college but he majored in business. And unlike Harry Truman he is not a lifetime reader of history books. Moreover Truman's daughter married a member of the press, New York Times reporter Clifton Daniel, who was never accused of lying by her dad. Still, there is a parallel.
More follows for paid subscribers including annual reports from two countries, plus news from Colombia, Britain, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, Indonesia, India, Denmark, Brazil, Finland, Canada, the Dutch Antilles, Hong Kong, Germany, Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories, and Ireland.
My access to my brokerage account broke down which is why this blog is late and incomplete.
Putin's Trappist-1 Planetary Plans
Bill Browder, the grandson of a Washington Heights neighbor Earl who was deported with his family to Britain for heading the CP USA when Donald Trump and I were children, today asserted that the President of Russia may have accumulated a fortune double that of Bill Gates, at $200 bn, in Swiss bank accounts. This was reported by IBTimes.com. Bill Browder ran the Hermitage Fund which invested in Russia before its lawyer was killed in custody. Now a movie of Browder's life is being planned.
Vladimir Putin meanwhile plans to rocket to one of the ecoplanets of Trappist-1, a nearby star, if he loses power and wealth. I am including this clickbait and lots of gossip today to get IBTimes to quote from www.global-investing.com/
Today while reading my newspapers I got shocks. Firstly, the Financial Times reported in its US tables that Comcast shares had lost half their value yesterday. I own the shares but they are purely USA so I don't watch their news and performance as part of my job.
The other shock was what I was asked to swear to when I went into my brokerage account at e-trade to check up on CCV. I was asked to agree not to republish any of the price data from the NYSE and the Nasdaq that I got from their website. While I signed, I need to consult my attorney. While I do not manage money or engage in advisory operations, I do check out stock prices when I write up a share (or bond) in this newsletter. While the price data is sold to professional investors by the markets—a way to make money—the delay between my getting the prices and your reading them here would seem to remove any violation of copyright.
In fact the CCV stock split 2:1, which only goes to show that the stock tables in the pink British newspaper are put together by mindless robots, as I have long suspected.
Violating copyright is not something I do lightly given how many times we had to go after readers who re-distributed a paid subscription for their own benefit or who reproduced our recommendations in other formats without attribution. I once went after the SEC for violating the copyright on our coverage of American Depositary Receipts, which merely resulted in our having our federal taxes audited for the following decade. They used the copy filed for copyright (when we were a print publication.)
However, given the inadequacy of the prices I get from e-trade (which requires that I use other sources to prepare our weekly performance tables) I think I'll wait till they come after me.
More from Europe and America and the rest of the world today.
Fiddles from the Portuguese
With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, today's lead articles are about Fiddles from the Portuguese. Today we learned that Brazil is having to import lower grade robusta coffee beans to feed its instant coffee roasters because Brazilian arabica beans would make the mixture too expensive. The lesson is that you should never be surprised at what happens in Lusitania, the parts of the world where they speak Portuguese. To keep the instant coffee cheap enough, they cannot use Brazilian beans although of course the labels will still read “Made in Brazil”.
Another example. The Portuguese central bank selected Lone Star, a US fund, as the final buyer of Novo Banco, created 3 years ago by the euros 4.8 bn bailout of Banco Espirito Santo. BES looted its customers with bonds whose proceeds were stolen and also took the cash of NYSE-listed Portugal Telecom, which we owned shares of at the time. BES's dominant Espirito Santo clan used a Luxembourg holding company to stash the ill-got cash. Under European Union rules the defrauded Portuguese who bought bonds, or the defrauded Americans who owned NYSE-PT could do nothing to extract assets in Portugal and Brazil held via Luxembourg, a tax haven.
Now, however, the Bank of Portugal is under the gun to sell down its 100% stake in Novo Banco to make sure that the state-owned bank doesn't offer better loan and savings products than the private banks it competes with. The European Union deadline is this August.
Novo Banco was bid for by Chinese outfits and other US hedge funds, and reportedly Lone Star came closest to taking control, offering to buy 65% of the bank for euros 750 mn on condition that the Portuguese government keep the rest and go on covering the bad debt and litigation risks left in their wake by the Holy Spirit oligarchs.
Lisbon's “Fed” is hoping to raise the price to euros 1 bn, still barely 20% of what the bailout cost it.
Neither Lone Star nor the Portuguese CB will comment publicly. The Social Democratic opposition party leader in a TV show revealed the current negotiations between Lone Star and the CB. To cover the Espirito Santo theft, the Portuguese Central Bank has to get permission from the EU, whose Commission is headed by a Luxembourger.
The common key in these two notes is that in Portuguese, things are not always what they seem. Another example from our portfolio follows for paid subscribers from Portugal, Brazil, Britain, Israel, Panama, Mexico, Spain, Finland, Norway, Germany, India, Finland, Israel, and Colombia.
Having a long weekend ahead (Monday will be spent with family) I decided to improve our tables by seeking out obscure net asset value data first for US-listed funds (increasingly poorly covered by Barron's because unlike open-end and exchange-traded funds, closed-end funds tend not to buy ads.) But once on the hunt, I also found net asset value data for our oddball funds: REITs investing in India, Europe, and Mexico; British investment trusts; and a pair of Nordic holding companies. Note that some of the NAV data is dated, back to the close of 2016 or of January. So don't take action based only on the discount--or a premium.
More for paid subscribers follows from the stock and bond side of the portfolio including hot news which would otherwise have been written up on Monday, from Israel, Mexico, Canada, South Korea, Britain and Germany. Non-subscribers can tomorrow read Friday's edition at http://talkmarkets.com/content/global-markets/the-norsemen-and-mounties-are-coming?post=122810&uid=4662 Read more »
The Mounties and Norsemen Are Coming
Today is a busy one because Monday is a public holiday celebrating two of our presidents, Washington and Lincoln, giving us a chance to take a break from their current successor's rants and raves against, among other fiends, the free press, of which I am a part. The markets are digesting big news, including a bid for Unilever by Kraft and, in our case, lots of quarterly and annual reports.
And with a holiday coming, equity traders are busily locking in some recent wow profits with sales, taking down the markets to take some money off the table, not just in Trumplandia, but world wide.
The dollar is down too, maybe because of terrifying press conference and the clear disarray of the current administration.
But we have to get busy with annual reports from our companies in Panama, Mexico, Israel, Brazil, and Germany—a full deck—and cover important news from other areas. There will be no blog Monday. We also have a new stock pick in anticipation of St. Patrick's Day, from Ireland. Plus an explantion of my headline.