New York Times

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Frontrunning: December 1





  • Moody’s Downgrades Japan’s Credit Rating (WSJ)
  • China Factory Gauge Drops as Shutdowns Add to Slowdown (BBG)
  • Euro zone factory growth stalls in November as new orders sink (Reuters)
  • Espírito Santo Faces Money-Laundering Investigations (WSJ)
  • Oil at $40 Possible as Market Transforms Caracas to Iran (BBG)
  • Hong Kong warns protesters not to return after clashes close government HQ (Reuters)
  • Bond Secrets Decoded 9,539 Miles From Wall Street in Lot (BBG)
  • Ruble Rally Turns to Rout as Fortunes Tied to Sinking Oil (BBG)
  • Loans Made in Blink as Banks, Funds Vie for LendingClub Clients (BBG)
 
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The Yellow Cab Bubble Pops: Taxi Medallion Prices Tumble 17% From Last Year's Record Highs





A little over a year ago, we presented a "Yellow" asset, which was "the best performer of the past year." It wasn't gold: it was yellow cab medallions.  As we wrote then, "the best returning asset class traded in the NY Metro area is yellow but doesn't change hands on Wall Street.... over the last 12 months New York City taxi medallions have risen 49% in price, besting the relatively humdrum returns of the S&P 500 (up 21%), the NASDAQ (22%) and the Dow (18%).  Medallions – essentially the right to operate a for-hail taxi in New York City – now trade for as much as $1.3 million, an all-time record."  In retrospect it was also the perfect time to cash out on the "yellow" euphoria. According to the NYT, "the average price of an individual New York City taxi medallion fell to $872,000 in October, down 17 percent from a peak reached in the spring of 2013, according to an analysis of sales data. Previous figures published by the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission — showing flat prices — appear to have been incorrect, and the commission removed them from its website after an inquiry from The New York Times."

 
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Stuck In Reverse And Descending Into Trauma





While the media continue to just about exclusively paint a picture of recovery and an improving economy, certainly in the US – Europe and Japan it’s harder to get away with that rosy image -, in ordinary people’s reality a completely different picture is being painted in sweat, blood, agony and despair. Whatever part of the recovery mirage may have a grain of reality in it, it is paid for by something being taken away from people leading real lives.

 
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The Unbearable Over-Determination Of Oil





Is the price of oil today driven more by global growth and supply/demand factors or by monetary policy factors? We hope it doesn’t surprise anyone when we say that we think monetary policy dominates ALL markets today, including the global oil market. What’s the ratio? Our personal, entirely subjective view is that oil prices over the past 3+ months have been driven by 3 parts monetary policy to 1 part fundamentals. How do we come up with this ratio? For the past 3+ months the oil Narrative has been dominated by public statements from influential answer-suppliers talking up the oil price dynamic of a rising dollar and monetary policy divergence. That’s the source of our subjective view of a 3:1 dominance for monetary policy-driven factors over fundamental-driven factors. However – and this is the adaptive part where we play close attention to Narrative development and dissemination – the noise level surrounding this Thursday’s OPEC meeting is absolutely deafening.

 
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"Bearish" Mark Spitznagel Profiting Strongly Since 2009, Warns "Only So Much Debt An Economy Can Take"





Mark Spitznagel, author of "Dao of Capital" and among Wall Street's most bearish investors, is (profitably) holding out for a disaster. Despite noting that "The Fed has taken it further than it has ever taken it before," NY Times reports that Spitznagel's fund Universa has profited strongly even as stocks hit record highs. Large pessimistic bets usually lose a lot of money when stocks are rising, but Universa is saying that its investment strategy has been able to produce consistent gains since then, including a 30% return last year. While ackowledging Fed policy is capable of driving stock prices higher, Spitznagel warns, it will ultimately be self-defeating, "there is only so much debt that an economy can take on."

 
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The Tragedy Of Propping Up The Matrix Of Lies





All of this mighty, tragic effort to prop up a matrix of lies might have gone into a set of activities aimed at preserving the project of remaining civilized. But that would have required the dismantling of rackets such as agri-business, big-box commerce, the medical-hostage game, the Happy Motoring channel-stuffing scam, the suburban sprawl “industry,” and the higher ed loan swindle. All of these evil systems have to go and must be replaced by more straightforward and honest endeavors aimed at growing food, doing trade, healing people, traveling, building places worth living in, and learning useful things.

 
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Least Transparent Ever: Obama Fighting to Prevent Release Of CIA Torture Report





"In a tense confrontation with President Obama’s closest adviser on Thursday, a group of Senate Democrats accused the White House of trying to censor significant details in a voluminous report on the use of torture by the Central Intelligence Agency."

 
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This Is Why Rand Paul Is Hillary Clinton's Worst Nightmare





As Hilary Clinton starts to ponder the curtains she wants to hang in the Oval Office, there is only one person who can realistically stand in her way: Rand Paul.

 
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Breakfast With A Lord Of War





The average person assumes the powers-that-be actually know what they are doing and would never lead us into disaster, but quoting my breakfast companion, that would be a very poor assumption. Simply, while mass war on the level of the wholesale slaughter commonplace in the last century is unimaginable to most in the modern context, it is never more than the equivalent of a faulty alarm system away from occurring. Those history buffs among you will confirm that up until about a week before World War I began, virtually no one in the public, the press, the political class, or even the military had any idea the shooting was about to start. And 99.9% of the people then living had no idea the war was about to begin until after the first shot was fired.

 
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How The IRS & Homeland Security Are Expanding Undercover Work





“There is a danger to democracy,” a Supreme Court spokesman said, “in having police infiltrate protests when there isn’t a reasonable basis to suspect criminality.” "It is impossible to tell how effective the government’s operations are or evaluate whether the benefits outweigh the costs, since little information about them is publicly disclosed." Just another day in the American oligarchy.

 
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The Full Letter Written By The FBI To Martin Luther King Has Been Revealed





Naturally, a man that uttered such powerful words and who also has a considerable following would not appeal to the thug in charge of the FBI at the time, J. Edgar Hoover. So what did Mr. Hoover do? He sent a letter to Dr. King, pretending to be a black person and implied that he should kill himself. None of this is news, but until the New York Times released it yesterday, copies of this letter had always been partly redacted. We now have the uncensored version. Now ask yourself a question. Is the FBI any more ethical today than it was back then?

 
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The Economic End Game Explained





Throughout history, in most cases of economic collapse the societies in question believed they were financially invincible just before their disastrous fall. Rarely does anyone see the edge of the cliff or even the bottom of the abyss before it has swallowed a nation whole. This lack of foresight, however, is not entirely the fault of the public. It is, rather, a consequence caused by the manipulation of the fundamental information available to the public by governments and social gatekeepers.

 
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