Mencken on Trump

Fri, 2017/05/19 - 11:42am | Your editor

My Harvard classmate and fellow-Manhattanite Barry Berkman has found an H.L. Mencken comment anticipating Trump: “As democracy is perfected,the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

 

Sex-fiends globally meet very different fates. Ex-Congressman Anthony Wiener is pleading guilty in a NY court to sexting an underage girl using the Clinton server. Roger Ailes suffered a fatal blood clot before he had to confront any of the women he had attempted to seduce using his power at Fox News. Swedish prosecutors have dropped rape charges against Wikileaks' founder Julian Assange after 5 years.

Mexico pre-emptively raised interest rates a quarter percent to 6.75% today. The Mexican index gained 1.5%, the top major market in the world today. More follows about Americas stocks, both industrial and financial; healthcare; IT; and funds and holding companies. It was the worst week for the dollar in a year unless something shifts in the next 3 hours.

Read more »

Macron vs Trump

Thu, 2017/05/18 - 12:56pm | Your editor

We could have done much better when the great unknown won the White House! Examining how deftly Emmanuel Macron has handled his becoming president of France without having any previous electoral experience shows the error of Trump's handling a similar opportunity. Macron went broad, inviting pols from across the spectrum to form his team. Trump did the opposite, picking a relatively uninspired team of classic Republicans without any taste for risk or innovation.

Ultimately that strategic mistake will destroy his Administration even without proof of illicit collaboration with Putin's Russia. But, alas, proof is also coming. If one is to believe Reuters, Michael Flynn and other Trump advisers during the last 7 months of the 2016 election campaign had at least 18 unreported telephone and email contacts with the Kremlin.

 

A blot on the right-wing conspiracy theorist and radio talking head Alex Jones came with its withdrawal of charges that Chobani yogurt had hired for its Idaho plant a child rapist and allegations that its products were infected with TB. Jones has withdrawn these charges on the air. He was also the source of claims that the Obama Administration had staged the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton CT and the charge that the Comet Ping-Pong pizza restaurant in Washington, DC, was the center of a child abuse ring.

When markets react to bad news that has been building up in the margins, they over-react. We are moving into buy-time big-time. Today sterling broke through the key $1.30 level and has higher to go.

More news from Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Israel, Britain, Denmark, Colombia, India, Hong Kong, Ireland, Switzerland, Lithuania, Italy, and Japan.

Read more »

Tromp l'oeil

Wed, 2017/05/17 - 12:18pm | Your editor

My clotheswasher continues to stall and the repair service will only order replacement parts if I pay in advance. It is not a matter of electronics and programming going bad, but a mere worn-out joint on the water-exit pipe, an old-fashioned defect.

I visited the Trader Joe's supermarket in Chelsea to see if it was worth shopping at. It was plain boring with more drink than my local purveyors offer. Now Lidl, (called Little), which opened around the corner from my sister-in-law's in London, is opening in the USA starting in the Carolinas and Virginia. It claims it will be up to 50% cheaper than competitors. While house brands can be cheaper than heavily advertised mass groceries, I don't think margins are that high at my friendly local supermarket. They are higher at posh Whole Foods Market and Morton Williams where one only buys things not sold more widely.

If price wars spread in the US grocery aisle it will help richer customer who can comparison shop rather than people in poor neighborhoods where there are no choices and no competition. And nothing will stop Amazon.

 

Stock markets are being hurt by worries about Pres. Trump's error-prone and mendacious behavior. US-linked foreign stocks are taking a hit along with Wall Street. The dollarwhich is now back to its pre-election level of last Nov. A senior subscriber recalls that when he was a little boy in the 1950s, his father used to lecture him on “the importance of priming the pump, spending money to give minorities and the poor a chance to achieve their potential.” He concludes: “Trump is becoming more unhinged by the day!”

The world's stock markets are now contemplating political risks from Trump's character flaws.

We have results from a couple of companies and one poll today. We have news from South Africa, Britain, Oregon, Hong Kong, Austria, Israel, Colombia, Canada, Austria, Ireland, and a few other place.

Read more »

Corpus Christi Judaica

Tue, 2017/05/16 - 1:03pm | Your editor

Last night we went to an exotic ecumenical event at the Yeshiva University Museum, a part of the Center for Jewish History. It was an exhibit of treasures from the collection of religious and scientific writings of an Oxford college.

They came from Corpus Christi, which sent along two recent presidents of the college to introduce the collection of what sounds like a misnomer, “Corpus Christi Judaica”.

This included pages from Maimonides' writings. And a textbook for teaching future British Anglican priests Hebrew. Plus a multilingual re-translation of the Psalms to second guess for the King James Bible the version by St Jerome.

It featured an early Ashkenazic “Siddur”(personal prayer book) which had been published in France in the 12th century and used by a Sephardic resident of Britain who wrote notes in its margins in Judeo Arabic (Arabic written with Hebrew letters). It is the oldest Siddur in existence and itself bridges a barrier within Judaism.

Accompanying the collection was a bishop's crozier from the the reign of James I which belonged to the founder of the college, Richard Fox (or Foxe) a firm Anglican who funded its collection with money extracted from recusant Catholics when he was Bishop of Durham. There were also two New York Episcopalian bishops with a copy of the crozier which had been given to the city at the end of World War I.

The scientific material was almost as exciting as the religious, because this was the period when Vesalius produced his anatomy and telescopes examined the moon, so you can compare what Galileo saw to what Hevelius could see 30 years later. There are also views of Halley's comet by Isaac Newton (who first insisted that there had been two comets.) And microscopic details on flies, bedbugs, and fleas. It also has an exhibit showing the descent of Louis XII of France from Adam, from a Bible donated by James Oglethorpe, the founder of the American colony of Georgia, and an early depiction of America on a map printed in 1540 in Antwerp.

The exhibit runs to August 6. The Bishops left when we did, taking the reproduction crozier back to wherever the Episcopalians keep it.

Reader BN, a former fund manager, wrote: “I've traded bonds on and off since 1981 and I always assumed that any prices quoted on the other side of a trade were exaggerated. Its startling to learn that such faked quotes are a crime.”

My note on Trump's delusions led TT, a supporter of the president, to cancel his sub and demand a full refund rather than a pro-rated one. When I refused he showed how classy he is by calling me a thief and a scam artist, and writing “F. you, you lousy liberal.” I cannot say I will miss someone at this intellectual level. But be warned. You only get to cancel future issues of this newsletter, not ones you already got, if you find my politics disturbing. This is how publication handle cancellations across the board.

The euro is up and the dollar is down because of concerns about Pres. Trump's sharing of an ally's information on ISIS with Russian the Russian Foreign Minister last week.

 

More for paid subscribers follows starting with a UK company report and news from Canada, Britain, Hong Kong, France, Japan, Israel, Australia, Argentina, Chile, and Spain.

Read more »

Trumpian Illusions

Mon, 2017/05/15 - 12:50pm | Your editor

Nomura US commercial mortgage bond dealers used fake prices to boost their earnings at customer expense, according to charges by the US SEC. When they got an order they made up entirely fake exchanges with customers on the opposite side of the deal to push up prices, and earned over $750,000 in profits they pocketed thereby. A total of 8 people face criminal charges in New York and Connecticut over the fiddles. Many of these experienced bond dealers worked later for other firms including Jefferies, Stifel Nicolaus, UBS, and others.

Today we are running a new stock pick from Martin Ferera in Canada, for paid subscribers only. It is a bad day for buying Canada because firmer oil prices have boosted the loony, but if this stock is worth buying the currency factor can be ignored. One reason for stronger C$s and Mexican pesos is the falling credibility of the White House negotiation over new Nafta terms, as Trump supporters in Congress look to option B after his missteps last week.

I am holding back my commentary on Pres. Trump's chat on his economic plans with The Economist because I do not have time to do so before the wash-machine fixer gets here. From my call to get the repair done took 10 days and there were piles of insurance papers to be filed, so I really want to get this job done.

But Trump's claim that he had invented the term “pump-priming”, a bit of hoary Keynesian growth theory, staggers the mind. The man in the White House is not only out of it and ill-informed, but also deluded about what he “invented”. My husband bets he will resign in favor of Pence. He has form in cases of mental illness in presidential candidates having broken the news of Tom  Eagleton's depression and shock therapy history which cost George McGovern any hope of beating Nixon in 1972.

 

Our letter today ranges from Guinea to California, from Mexico to Brazil, from Israel to Colombia, from Canada to India.

Read more »

Happy Mother's Day

Sun, 2017/05/14 - 11:42am | Your editor

Happy Mother's Day to all my readers, who all must have had a mother. We moms are so far still essential to the continuation of the human race. I expect they will figure out a robotic way to replace pregnancy eventually but it hasn't happened yet, except for advances in saving really premature babies.

For those who care about it, Happy Lag b'Omer as well, a break in the daily countdown between Passover and the Jewish Pentecost 49 days later.

The tables have been posted at www.global-investing.com and can be viewed there by readers who want to know how well we are doing. Closed-position tables are open to the world while current holdings are only viewable by paid subscribers, along with our advice.

I managed to catch a really bad cold, perhaps due to the fact that after February felt like May this year, May came out feeling like February. The buds on the vines of many of the great vineyards in France, having appeared too soon, then froze and fell off. 2017 will not be a great vintage in Bordeaux or Champagne.

I am now going off to eat some hot soup rather than a Mother's Day feast. More for paid subscribers below.

Read more »

Delivery Issues

Fri, 2017/05/12 - 12:11pm | Your editor

My Thursday blog went astray to paid subscribers because the webhost decided to block delivery because the paid version was considered to be “spam” according to the webmaster.
Readers are advised to visit the website www.global-investing.com to read it. I cannot figure out what is going on. He will be leaving at the start of the new academic year in any case so I am looking for a technically savvy person to help me keep the site functioning.

We may just leave it to readers to hit the web to read the daily blog rather than working to send it to them by email. It is becoming increasingly difficult to get the internet to nicely deliver blogs to our subscribers.

Any suggestions on how to proceed would be gratefully received by your technically challenged editor. I would happily offer a free sub to a volunteer with the savvy to help out. What happens is never clear; the blog goes out reasonably quickly for a dozen days and then, mysteriously, it fails to.

 

More today including company reports from Germany, Brazil, Colombia, and Finland, plus news from Canada, Ireland, India, Yesterday we had 4 results and lots of news from around the world, from Britain, Israel, Russia, Panama, Canada, Hong Kong, Russia, Mexico, Jordan, and Dubai.

Read more »

My Family on Trump

Thu, 2017/05/11 - 12:01pm | Your editor

At my shiva visit to my ultra-Orthodox bewigged cousin Jean's house in Brooklyn, the main subject of conversation was not her late husband, whose death had long been anticipated. It was the Donald Trump sacking of James Comey as FBI head. People my age like the mourner and other visitors, all of whom grew up during the Cold War, could not help recalling Nixon's removal of the Special Prosecutor in 1973. One cousin expects that Pres. Trump will be assassinated like JFK or Yitzchak Rabin in Israel, but the consensus is that he will be impeached. Had we talked about religion we would have disagreed a lot more than we did over politics, despite the assumption among Jewish Americans that Trump is more favorable to Israel than Obama was—but at what price?

It is not just US companies offering solar power which go bust. Today Germany's Solarworld AG, whose ADR trades as SRWRY, declared bankruptcy. The stock fell 63.6% but has further to go.

Today we have 4 results and lots of news from around the world, from Britain, Israel, Russia, Panama, Canada, Hong Kong, Russia, Mexico, Jordan, and Dubai, so I will not rattle on about the White House. We are selling a stock.

Read more »

Tuesday Night Massacre

Wed, 2017/05/10 - 10:34am | Your editor

The Tuesday night massacre shows that the Trump Administration is not even taking its time exerting excessive power, making it worse than the Nixon one. As I plan to visit a cousin whose husband has just died I am sparing you much commentary today.

But I am worried about how Russian meddling in last year's election is now being trivialized, given the hacking of the Macron En Marche party in France and the suspicion that Putin was also pulling strings to back Brexit in Britain. Political risk is back in focus in the most reckless presidential decision since Nixon resigned.

Western democracies cannot survive if there are doubts about foreign interference undermining the fairness of polls. After a mini-boom in share prices, Wall Street is sagging on the news. Even Republicans are now calling for an independent prosecutor to look into how Michael Flynn managed to hang on to his job as national security adviser despite lying about his dealings with Russia (and his acceptance of Turkish funds.) The White House continues to asset that any charges of collusion with Russia is “a total hoax” or a “taxpayer-funded charade”, to quote @realDonaldTrump/

Apologies for saying that www.Talkmarkets.com in which my company has invested “aims to ban” fake news in the form of company-funded articles boosting prices of stocks, as has been done by seekingalpha.com, Benzinga, Forbes, Investing.com, TheStreet.com and other blogs. Its CEO Boaz Berkowitz wrote to clarify that despite “often being the target of such scams, our editorial team lead by Mary Hung is very good at weeding out fake news” and rejects them regularly.

Pre-subscribers who want to see what they are missing with this newsletter can view one on the talkmarkets.com website to encourage them to subscribe. visit http://www.talkmarket.scom/content/news/there-is-no-free-lunch?post=134474&uid=4662

More for paid subscribers follows from Israel, Ireland, Spain, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Denmark, China, Brazil, Britain, and a few other places including two quarterly reports.

Read more »

Department Store Woes

Tue, 2017/05/09 - 12:15pm | Your editor

My husband's second cousin once removed John Spedham Lewis must be turning in his grave today. The British retailer of which he turned over ownership to the staff apparently breached British minimum wage rules. The John Lewis Partnership (JLP), which runs the John Lewis department stores and Waitrose supermarkets, is supposed to be an exemplary employer, and its staff own all shares in the company since the spinoff Spedham organized in 1948.

However after the UK boosted its national minimum wage starting last year, the JLP introduced a program to keep monthly paychecks from fluctuating too much during the course of the year because of seasonal factors. As British minimum wages are slated to rise by a total of 13% from 2016 to 2020, this can cause a major nip in the monthly pay packet of employees. This violates the rules.

As JLP looks into “pay averaging” it has set up a reserve of £36 mn for possible breaches of British wage rules to be taken in the 2016-7 fiscal year (to January 28). All is not well at the unlisted UK firm, because its new Chairman Charles Mayfield has also waived his bonus for the FY, which would have been £66,000, because of poor performance by JLP. Staff bonuses were also cut by 6% for H2 of the last FY along with some jobs, particularly in the store cafeterias.

Cutback at the cafes my husband remembers from his childhood probably results from British food getting better. London has the third largest group of top 100 restaurants in the world, at 4. New York has 10 and Paris has 8. The John Lewis cafes are outclassed.

What is hurting JLP stores is the same thing that is hurting malls and stores in the USA: competition from outfits like Amazon. On-line and cellphone comparisons make it easier for shoppers to find the best deals.

Facebook crashed today in Asia, and Australia and Twitter went down in Hong Kong. Tinder, Netflix, Instagram, and lots of e-commerce apps also locked out their users. A possible solution is discussed for paid subscribers below.

 

Today we have results from one of our companies and news from Senegal, Mauritania, Britain, Germany, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Chile, Israel, Ireland, Sweden, Ohio, and Denmark.

Read more »