Best marriage proposal story ever…

vinylcafe-sm I love Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Cafe and yesterday had the good fortune of being stuck in weekend cottage traffic long enough to enjoy his entire Sunday show. The inspiring true story read from Michael Gallagher of Hope, Main is one for the ages. You can hear it by advancing the playbar to 11:30. Here is the direct audio link.

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Warren on the painfully (!) obvious case for reviving Glass-Steagall

Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) continue as forceful advocates for the intelligent and obviously necessary return to a Glass-Steagall-like division preventing banks from levered speculating backed by the American taxpayer. This clip from 2013, is a good reminder of some of the history of this fight and why congress and the business media continue to oppose this return to reason with all of their bank-sponsored might. Here is a direct video link.

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Urban farming intelligent part of healthy food solution

As more and more people move into cities, the demand for access to fresher, more nutritious foods continues to rise.

Brooklyn-based Gotham Greens builds greenhouses on urban rooftops. Inside the greenhouses, the company grows vegetables that don’t have to make the long journey most food makes from rural farms to cities…

This high-tech solution, though costly and subject to space limitations, is one of many approaches to urban agriculture now being explored around the globe. And on a per-square-foot basis, its product yields could potentially eclipse those produced by traditional farming methods.

Here is a direct video clip.

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Corporate profits whistle past secular retreat in household consumption

In 2013, $10.832 trillion of the $15.942 trillion GDP produced in the US went toward household purchases. This means that consumer spending from US households–the wealthiest in the world–while diminished since the credit bubble peak in 2007-08, still accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic demand, and remains the most dominant cohort driving global demand. In Q1 the growth in this key sector was lowered to a 1.0 percent rate compared with the long-term average growth trend of more than 3% a year.
Corporate profits vs consumer cartoon

While corporations have borrowed trillions at the lowest interest rates in at least 3 centuries and then plowed the funds into buying back their own shares on the open market to increase reported profits (per share) and use their sky-high stocks as the “free” currency for mergers and acquisitions of other over-valued companies, the aging and indebted western consumer continues to slip further below historic consumption trends.

The great equalizer persists however:  just as neither labor nor management get their way indefinitely in the interdependent ecosystem of a consumer-led economy, corporate profits remain the most mean-reverting economic series ever plotted as shown below.  The glaring overshoot of corporate profits as a percentage of GDP the past 5 years has some re-coupling to do.  And when that happens, those owning stocks today valued at 26 times average 10 year earnings, are likely to feel the financial pain of excessive optimism.

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9/11 intelligence release long overdue

Land of the free?

Rep. Massie speaks at Press Conference Regarding 9/11 Documents. Here is a direct video link.

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Complacency has been encouraged and will be punished

Complacency and aggressive risk taking has been intentionally encouraged by Central Bank policies the past 4 years. But since the Fed is only bluffing that it has control, reality will eventually hit as a dramatic shock and punishment to followers.

Investors should be paying more attention to the uncertainty being created by the turmoil in Ukraine and the Mideast, Mohamed El-Erian told CNBC on Monday.

“Because the Fed is standing by the markets, there’s [been] a reason to fade any sell off.”

“But the problem is if you step back the process is getting worse. It involves nonstate actors, which means it’s much harder to contain,” he said. “Unlike the old days, there is no outside power that inform, influence, or impose outcomes.” Here is a direct video link.

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New documentary: Fed up

Fed upToday’s processed foods industry is more powerful than the tobacco industry was in the 1950′s and ’60′s. Not everyone smokes, but everyone eats.  The other magnifying feature in terms of social impact, is that unlike tobacco, processed foods are being pumped into our children from birth. The long-term health of next generations is being insidiously compromised before they even get a chance to be young and strong. It is a tragedy being perpetrated both through the inadvertent neglect of parents and caregivers as well as the media-spinning power of big food conglomerates and the captured politicians that assist them. Healthy eating is one of those rare foundational choices where individuals either make a conscious decision to be part of the solution or they are part of the problem.

This is the movie the food industry doesn’t want you to see. FED UP blows the lid off everything we thought we knew about food and weight loss, revealing a 30-year campaign by the food industry, aided by the U.S. government, to mislead and confuse the American public, resulting in one of the largest health epidemics in history. Here is a direct video link.

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Danielle’s weekly market update

Danielle was a guest today on Talk Digital Network with Jim Goddard talking about recent trends in the world economy and markets. You can listen to an audio clip of the segment here.

To clarify the comments on Buffett, investors in his Berkshire shares made zero nominal returns (negative real returns after inflation) for 6 years from 2007 all the way to 2013. Over the past 12 months as QE mania lifted all risky assets, Berkshire shares went along for the ride mirroring the gains in the S&P 500. This also means that when the S&P enters the next bear market decline, the tightly correlated Berkshire will go along for that ride as well. For the chart and more see: Buy and hold Buffett necessarily perpetually bullish.

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Stockman: Financial system run aground by “ship of fools”

Notwithstanding the usual heavy gold-mongering by the sponsor, this interview offers some worthwhile macro and financial risk analysis.

The central banks of the world are massively and insouciantly pursuing financial instability. That’s the inherent result of the 68 straight months of zero money market rates that have been forced into the global financial system by the Fed and its confederates at the BOJ, ECB and BOE. ZIRP fuels endless carry trades and the harvesting of every manner of profit spread between negligible “funding” costs and positive yields and returns on a wide spectrum of risk assets.  Here is a direct link to his latest audio interview.

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North American treasury yields: how low can they go?

Today the US 10 year treasury has dropped to 2.5%, down from a yield of 3% at the start of the year. If it does close through 2.50 the next downside test area is 2.3% as shown in this updated chart.
10 year treasury July 15 2014

Of course throughout, as usual, stock-floggers have been perpetually forecasting treasury bond prices would tank and 10 year yields soar to 4%+ every moment now. Fascinating that they always see rates moving higher for investment grade bonds (prices lower), but never the commensurate repricing lower that deflation would imply for risk assets like corporate bonds and equities.

But then they are stock-floggers after all, and so hope springs eternal on their asset class and future growth.  Most especially as prices move to all time highs. This next chart of consensus GDP forecasts since the start of every new year since 2009 offers some perspective. The consensus led by the inept US Fed has forecast US GP growth of 3%+ every year only to ratchet it down in retrospect every disappointing quarter. 2014 has been no different (black line below), with expectations from near 3% in January now down to maybe 1.5% half way through.
US GDP forecasts 2014
For those who remain mystified as to how North American bonds could be still attracting large buyer interest at present yields, this chart from Hoisington Investment Management, second quarter review and Bloomberg offers a comparative view of present US and Canadian government bond yields relative to the rest of the developed world. So far, North American bonds are offering the highest yields by a significant margin.
Global interest rates June 2014
How low can North American treasury yields go? If the slowing global growth theme continues as we suspect it will over at least the next year or two, the answer is quite a lot lower, with the US 10 year potentially moving back below 2% and the 30 year well below 3.  Believe it or not.

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Druckenmiller: outsized returns to be made betting against the Fed

Legendary hedge fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller speaking on why he thinks current Fed policy “makes no sense” and the Fed is once more making judgment errors that prescient risk managers can set up to profit from again the way a few of us did in 2008.

With an investment industry that likes to bank on Fed policies, billionaire Druckenmiller points out that he has made the largest outsized returns in his career by making his own macro assessments and then betting against the Fed where he believed they were making policy errors. Here is a direct video link.

Here is part 2 of his speech.

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Gundlach on demograpics, debt, deflation and asset prices

jeffrey_gundlachDoubleline Capital’s Jeff Gundlach in a wide-ranging hour long interview that begins with how he stumbled into the bond manager business 30 years ago, followed by an overview discussion on the demographics and debt driving global deflationary trends today. He also explains why he is excited about the innovation of Tesla, and why he believes Boomers will need to sell their real estate to free up cash for retirement and how this is likely to impact realty prices.

He ends with some useful comments on the failure of conventional investment management firms to deliver lasting, long term benefits for their customers.  To add value, asset managers must think unconventionally, and be comfortable outside the limited thinking of the herd.

Here is a direct audio link to the interview.


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Wall Street HFT firms buy NATO towers for even more speed

Still officially sanctioned and tolerated by regulators and law makers, HFT gets more and more brazen.

Bloomberg’s Jesse Westbrook reports on the purchase of NATO microwave towers by high-frequency traders. Here is a direct video link.

Sure this all seems perfectly fair, legal and transparent for public markets… “Might be trading ahead of others”??? Gee, ya think?

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Calling BS on the heavily sold myth of Warren Buffett

warren-buffett-103I have written many times about how the long-always financial sales machine uses the legend of Warren Buffett to dupe customers into buying their products and their passive buy and hold strategies. See my articles: Buy and hold Buffett necessarily perpetually bullish, and Buffett explains the single best measure of where valuations stand today and Buffett’s Berkshire: return-free-risk round trip, and Warren Buffett must be the most misinterpreted guy that ever lived , for just a few.

Today someone else offers a rare insightful article on the truth behind the much abused myth of Warren Buffett. Well worth the read, to wit:

“To a large extent, the myth of Warren Buffett has fed a stock market boom as a generation of Americans has aspired to make their riches in the stock market. And who better to sell this idea than financial firms? After all, a quick allocation in a plain vanilla “value” fund will get you a near-replica of the Warren Buffett approach to value investing, right? Or maybe better yet, reading six months of Wall Street Journals and reviewing the P/E ratios of your favorite local public companies will send you on your way to successful retirement.

By oversimplifying this glorified investor named Buffett the general public gets the false perception that portfolio management is so easy a caveman can do it. And so we see commercials with babies trading from their cribs and middle aged men trading an account in their free time.

And an army of Americans pour money and fees into brokerage firms trying to replicate something that cannot be replicated. Financial firms want us to believe the myth of Warren Buffett. In fact, many of their business models rely on our believing the myth of Warren Buffett.”  See: The myth of Warren Buffett is one of the greatest misconceptions in the financial world.

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Mortgage volume tanks

The reality of rapid asset inflation that disconnects prices from economic fundamentals is that the gains are destined for mean reversion because as affordability evaporates, higher prices become the cure for higher prices…

Mortgage rates are barely moving, but demand among mortgage-dependent home buyers is weakening, data show.

Total mortgage application volume fell 3.6 percent on-week for the week ending July 11th on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). Here is a direct video link.

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