http://www.zerohedge.com/fullrss2.xml/%20http%3A/To%20follow%20Norways%20demise%20in%20real-time%2C%20see%20here. en "He Said That?!" http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-23/he-said <p>Here it is, in cold, hard black-and-white prose, a <em><strong>damning indictment of President John F. Kennedy in his own words...</strong></em></p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_jfk.png"><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_jfk.png" width="486" height="329" /></a></p> <p><a href="https://straightlinelogic.com/2017/08/22/he-said-that-82217/"><em>Satirically authored by Straight Line Logic's Robert Gore...</em></a></p> <p>From a dinner honoring Nobel Prize Winners April 29, 1962:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>I want to tell you how welcome you are to the White House. <strong>I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Someone once said that Thomas Jefferson was a gentleman of 32 who could calculate an eclipse, survey an estate, tie an artery, plan an edifice, try a cause, break a horse, and dance the minuet.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Whatever he may have lacked, if he could have had his former colleague, Mr. Franklin, here we all would have been impressed.</p> </blockquote> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Irrefutable proof: John F. Kennedy praised Thomas Jefferson, white slave owner and perhaps the paramour of some of his female slaves.</strong></span> </p> <p>Kennedy may not have known about the paramour part, but he certainly knew Jefferson was a slave owner.</p> <p> Kennedy Airport, Kennedy Center, thousands of schools and streets: <strong><em>erase the name of this obvious racist who praised a slave owner. </em></strong></p> <p>No historical sin is too small that it should not be rectified after the fact by erasing all memorials to -in a better world all memories of - the sinner. <em><strong>To be replaced, of course, by those many historical figures who were perfect.</strong></em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="486" height="329" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20170823_jfk.png?1503518813" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-23/he-said#comments Bouvier family Human Interest John F. Kennedy Kennedy Kennedy Center Kennedy family Physiocrats Randolph family of Virginia Social Issues Surname Thomas Jefferson United States White House White House Wed, 23 Aug 2017 22:55:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 602205 at http://www.zerohedge.com So You Wanted To Be "Long Electricity" Into The Eclipse? http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-23/you-wanted-be-short-electricity-traders-botched-eclipse <p>Energy traders who had hoped to make an easy profit by betting that spot electricity prices would climb around midday on Monday &ndash; an idea they may have found on this website - were bitterly disappointed when, instead of spiking, prices tumbled because of an unexpectedly large drop in demand.</p> <p>Utilities and grid operators had contingency plans ready to compensate for the expected drop in solar. <strong>But even with utilities&rsquo; backup grids humming, supplies were still widely expected to drop. Instead, energy providers encountered something that they hadn&rsquo;t anticipated &ndash; what one trader called &ldquo;an irregular human behavior pattern.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user245717/imageroot/2017/08/19/2017.08.23electrictytraders.JPG"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user245717/imageroot/2017/08/19/2017.08.23electrictytraders_0.JPG" style="width: 500px; height: 291px;" /></a></p> <p>Basically, more Americans than anticipated were outdoors during the middle of the day Monday, around the time when electricity demand typically peaks, than grid operators had expected. Therefore, while supplies took a slight dip, it was amplified by a dramatic pullback in demand, which exhibited a weird U-shaped dip over a two-hour period across the country,&rdquo; according to <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-23/eclipse-failure-how-energy-traders-misread-the-market-so-badly">Bloomberg.</a><strong> Ironically, if traders hadn&rsquo;t been so distracted by the eclipse, maybe they would&rsquo;ve realized that millions of Americans standing outside together staring up at the sun for an hour would have a marked impact on demand, and adjusted their positions accordingly.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;This was a bummer for traders who&rsquo;d bet prices would jump as a whole load of solar-produced megawatts faded to black. </strong>&ldquo;If anything, it was bearish from a trading perspective because people were more busy looking at the eclipse and talking about the eclipse,&rdquo; said Tom Hahn, vice president of U.S. power derivatives at brokerage ICAP Energy LLC in Durham, North Carolina.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Spot power in California fell to negative levels as the eclipse wiped out and restarted thousands of megawatts of solar power, and they also dipped from Texas to New York. While natural gas demand rose to a one-month high on Monday, spot prices at several hubs weakened versus the U.S. benchmark.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>The dip in Northern California was particularly vicious.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;Spot electricity at Northern California&rsquo;s NP15 hub averaged $21.50 a megawatt-hour at 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., less than half the price for supply secured in advance for the hour in the day-ahead market, according to grid data compiled by <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-23/eclipse-failure-how-energy-traders-misread-the-market-so-badly">Bloomberg</a>. <strong>Then at 11:50 a.m. local time - as the sun started to reappear from behind the moon -- the ramp-up in solar power sent prices to a low of minus $15.97.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Tech firms like Alphabet Inc. helped conserve energy usage during the eclipse, part of a partnership with the state utility commission that helped it cut consumption by about 1,500 megawatts.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;Alphabet Inc.&rsquo;s Nest Labs unit, which deploys thermostats and other smart home technologies, drew more than 750,000 customers into its Solar Eclipse Rush Hour experiment to cut consumption.<strong> They reduced power use by about 700 megawatts nationwide, helping to offset a 10,000-megawatt drop in solar power. In California, Nest and other partners worked with the state utility commission to cut consumption by about 1,500 megawatts.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>In hubs from Texas to New Jersey, spot electricity prices slumped. Though in several cases, unexpected cloud cover helped mitigate the drop.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;While that was the most dramatic case of a power-price retreat, there were noticeable dips elsewhere.<strong> Cloud coverage in places like North Carolina, Texas and New Jersey had reduced solar output before the eclipse anyway, limiting the magnitude of the loss. </strong>The moon&rsquo;s shadow also reduced temperatures a bit. And then there were all those people playing hooky from work and school.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>There were also &ldquo;very evident&rdquo; dips in New England, New York and the nearby 13-state grid managed by PJM Interconnection LLC, said Tom DiCapua, managing director at Con Edison Energy in Valhalla, New York, according to <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-23/eclipse-failure-how-energy-traders-misread-the-market-so-badly">Bloomberg</a>. Con Edison, which manages the largest grid in the US with 65 million people, said demand fell by 5,000 megawatts, or as much as 3.8%, during the event.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;People drove up the day-ahead price thinking that prices would settle higher in real time,&rdquo; </strong>DiCapua said. That was the wrong way to go. <strong>&ldquo;The people who tended to be short tended to make money. You wanted to be short.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Luckily for traders on the east coast, they will get another shot to clinch the eclipse trade in seven years, when the eclipse&#39;s path of totality is expected to stretch from Texas to Maine.</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user245717/imageroot/2017/08/19/2017.08.23totality.JPG"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user245717/imageroot/2017/08/19/2017.08.23totality_0.JPG" style="width: 500px; height: 281px;" /></a></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="1199" height="699" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user245717/imageroot/2017.08.23electrictytraders.JPG?1503512158" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-23/you-wanted-be-short-electricity-traders-botched-eclipse#comments Alternative energy East Coast Energy Energy conversion Environment Natural Gas New England Northern California Physical cosmology Physical universe Renewable energy smart home technologies Solar power Solar power in New Jersey state utility commission Wed, 23 Aug 2017 22:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 602195 at http://www.zerohedge.com David Stockman On America's Goldman Sachs Regency http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-23/david-stockman-americas-goldman-sachs-regency <p><a href="https://dailyreckoning.com/goldman-sachs-regency/"><em>Authored by David Stockman via The Daily Reckoning,</em></a></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There&rsquo;s not many tears being shed over Steve Bannon&rsquo;s departure. His ethno-nationalist and protectionist worldview are opposite to true notions of liberty, free markets and a minimalist state.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While Bannonism presented itself as a coherent alternative ideology to mainstream Big Government, it actually boiled down to an incoherent potpourri of cultural resentments and prejudices, economic shibboleths and amateur historical theorizing. His message appealed to the alt-Right because it proposed to replace oppressive statism with a more right wing version rooted in protectionism and nativism.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Notwithstanding the rotten essence of Bannonism, however, the firebrand self-promoter who was <strong>the Donald&rsquo;s chief strategist got it right in his parting shots </strong> at his internal White House enemies. In so many words, <strong>he correctly asserted that the nation will now be ruled by a Goldman Sachs Regency and a team of generals.</strong></span></p> <p><em><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_GS.png"><img height="326" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_GS_0.png" width="600" /></a></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The move embodies the essence of Albert Einstein&rsquo;s famous definition of insanity: <em><strong>Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.</strong></em></span></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><span style="font-weight: 400;">&ldquo;The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over,&rdquo; Bannon told the conservative Weekly Standard on the Friday after his White House departure. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">&ldquo;We will make something of this Trump presidency. But that presidency is over.&rdquo;</span></p> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>The Donald will now function, as Robert Wenzel aptly described it, as &ldquo;something of a tweet master frontman&rdquo; with the Vampire Squid riding higher than ever before. </strong></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Expect him to be riding even higher than when the George W. Bush handed a blank check to Wall Street for a bailout at the Treasury led by former Goldman CEO, Hank Paulson.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Goldman&rsquo;s crew in the current White House &ndash; Gary Cohn, Steve Mnuchin, Dina Powell and Jared Kushner &ndash; are likely to bring about the final destruction of the Trump presidency</strong>. The cast of characters will eventually trigger a thundering collapse in the markets which will finally crush Goldman Sachs and its posse of gamblers and crony capitalist.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the coming battles over crucial economic issues surrounding the debt ceiling, tax reform and healthcare, Trump will be getting the worst advice imaginable. The Donald will be pushed into attempting to make &ldquo;bipartisan&rdquo; deals that will blow the tenuous GOP majorities to smithereens, and do so in the name of status quo statism.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Right after Labor Day the destructive game plan of the Goldman Regency will show up in battles over a &ldquo;clean&rdquo; debt ceiling. </strong>Pundits make the move sound easy with the notion that GOP leadership only needs a modest number of Democrats to supplement their own rank and file votes to enact a debt ceiling increase. Such fiscal finesse would permit the government to borrow all the money needed to pay bills and protect the sacred credit rating of the U.S. Treasury.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Except it doesn&rsquo;t work that way. If there is any cooperation at all, it <strong>will be only on the basis of a quid pro quo that requires Trump to give up the Wall, tax cuts, proposed deep domestic spending cuts and to fund the insurance bailouts required to forestall premium increases and coverage cancellations during the 2018 insurance (and election) year.</strong></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">By demanding this kind of quid pro quo as a side deal, rather than as an explicit rider to the debt ceiling bill, it will have the same effect. <strong>The Freedom Caucus and the vast majority of conservative leaning congressional Republicans will jump ship.</strong></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Washington is heading for weeks of fraught indecision, backroom maneuvering and contentious political in-fighting that will scare the Wall Street casino that it is stuck in complacency.</span></p> <p><strong>The fact is that the market is breaking down beneath the shrinking number of Big Cap stocks and levitating averages. This has all set-up a severe downside shock within the coming weeks.</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As to the market&rsquo;s weakening internals, consider that there are 2,800 stocks on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Back in early 2013 when the bull market was still being super-charged with massive QE purchases by the Federal Reserve, 85% or 2,380 of them were above their 200-DMA. By contrast, currently only 1,050 of them (37.5%) are above that level, meaning that the bull is getting very tired.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>That vulnerability is also evident in other indices, but especially in the Russell 2000 (RUT).</strong> The index is a huge cross section of primarily domestic companies with an average market cap of just $2 billion. But the RUT is now 6.5% below its July 25 high of 1450, and, more importantly, has now plunged below its 200 displaced moving average after the huge bounce from the Trump Reflation euphoria.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>The RUT is still trading at an absurd 88 times the reported net income of its constituent companies. </strong>When the market plunged into its mini-swoon of January-February 2016, the RUT dropped more than 200 points or 21% below its 200-DMA. That would be 1090 today &ndash; with much lower levels to come once the selling momentum accelerates.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It will do just that because the RUT is being fueled by huge inflows from several ETFs (iShares, Vanguard and SPDR all have a tracking ETF) and various other forms of passive indexing. The robo-machines and day-traders have not simply been voting for Trump and an incipient economic and profits boom. What they&rsquo;ve been doing is chasing the index up a nearly 30% incline between early November 2016 and the July 25 peak shown in the chart below. Now they are now stranded in the nosebleed section of the outfield bleachers.</span></p> <p><img alt="Russell David Stockman Goldman Sachs" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-99870" src="https://dailyreckoning.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Russell-David-Stockman-Goldman-Sachs.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 342px;" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>The same pattern is evident in the Dow Transports, as well. </strong>After peaking at 9,742 on July 14, the index is down by 6.4% and has dropped well below its 200-DMA. Moreover, there is no reason it should be even remotely at current levels based on real activity in the main street economy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Nearly all measures of domestic activity are flat-lining and threatening to roll-over.<strong> That is clearly the case with car sales, brick and mortar retail, housing starts, restaurant traffic (July was down 4.5%) and much more.</strong></span></p> <p><img alt="2 Dow Jones Index Goldman Sachs Stockman" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-99871" src="https://dailyreckoning.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/2-Dow-Jones-Index-Goldman-Sachs-Stockman-.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 341px;" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>The idea that corporate profits are about to rebound sharply is getting steadily debunked by the so-called &ldquo;in-coming data.&rdquo; </strong>At $104 per share, the June twelve month earnings of the S&amp;P 500 were still 2% below their September 2014 level. Current earnings of the Russell 2000 at $15.50 per share are actually 7.2% below their July 2015 level of $16.70.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It is only a matter of time before Wall Street gamblers discover they are home alone on the earnings front. &nbsp;All this while gridlock in Washington will intensify suddenly and dramatically. The Treasury&rsquo;s cash balance is now down to $82 billion, and at its current $2 billion burn rate per calendar day it will be gone by the end of September.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It will come as no surprise that Goldman Regency&rsquo;s spokesman, Treasury Sec. Mnuchin, has been out once again insisting on a &ldquo;clean&rdquo; debt ceiling bill.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking at an event in Louisville, said that &ldquo;we need to raise the debt limit and it&rsquo;s my strong preference is that there&rsquo;s a clean raise of the debt limit.&rdquo;</span></p> <p><strong>While Mnuchin conceded that he is &ldquo;all for spending controls&rdquo; and Congress has the &ldquo;absolute right and the absolute obligation&rdquo; to oversee spending, the Treasury secretary issued another stark warning that &ldquo;he&rsquo;ll run out of authority by end-September to stay under the debt ceiling.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_GS1.png"><strong><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_GS1_0.png" style="width: 600px; height: 302px;" /></strong></a></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>This means that Congress will have just days to reach a compromise on the debt ceiling when it returns from recess</strong>. But this will not be the Congress of September 2008 that rolled-over to pass the bailout TARP bill at the insistence of Secretary Paulson. This time Goldman&rsquo;s bag-man will be told &ldquo;no dice.&rdquo;</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After all, the Dems now have a President to hound from office and the Freedom Caucus will not again be intimidated by Wall Street into obeisance. Expect a full throated war between Washington, Wall Street and the establishment that is attempting to overturn the 2016 election.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Bannon on the outside will likely prove to be the Goldman Regency&rsquo;s worst nightmare. </strong>There is not a chance that while he is back at Breitbart he&rsquo;ll tolerate a &ldquo;capitulation to the left&rdquo; deal for even a New York minute.</span></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="792" height="430" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20170823_GS.png?1503514372" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-23/david-stockman-americas-goldman-sachs-regency#comments American people of German descent Big Government Business Business Congress Debt Ceiling Displaced Moving Average Donald Trump Economy of the United States Federal Reserve Finance Gary Cohn goldman sachs Goldman Sachs Goldman Sachs Hank Paulson Hank Paulson Henry Paulson Housing Starts Main Street New York Stock Exchange Politics Republican Party Russell 2000 Russell 2000 S&P 500 Steven Mnuchin TARP Treasury Sec Troubled Asset Relief Program U.S. Treasury United States debt ceiling US Federal Reserve White House White House Wed, 23 Aug 2017 22:05:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 602199 at http://www.zerohedge.com Former CIA Agent Is Raising Cash To Buy Twitter And Delete Trump's Account http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-23/ex-cia-agent-raising-cash-buy-twitter-and-delete-trumps-account <p>Unveiling a novel, if oddly circuitous attempt to shut up President Donald Trump on his favorite social network, former undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson has launched a crowdfunding campaign in hopes of raising enough money to buy Twitter so she can then ban Trump from using it.</p> <p>The blonde ex-spook launched the fundraiser last week, tweeting: “If @Twitter executives won’t shut down Trump’s violence and hate, then it’s up to us. #BuyTwitter #BanTrump.” </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">If <a href="https://twitter.com/Twitter">@Twitter</a> executives won’t shut down Trump’s violence and hate, then it's up to us. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BuyTwitter?src=hash">#BuyTwitter</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BanTrump?src=hash">#BanTrump</a> <a href="https://t.co/HhbaHSluTx">https://t.co/HhbaHSluTx</a></p> <p>— Valerie Plame Wilson (@ValeriePlame) <a href="https://twitter.com/ValeriePlame/status/898610808527011840">August 18, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><p>The GoFundMe page for the fundraiser says Trump’s tweets “<a href="https://www.gofundme.com/buytwitter">damage the country and put people in harm’s way</a>.”</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2017/08/12/valie%20plame%20crowdfunding.jpg"><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2017/08/12/valie%20plame%20crowdfunding_0.jpg" width="500" height="219" /></a></p> <p>From <a href="https://www.gofundme.com/buytwitter">the campaign</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Donald Trump has done a lot of horrible things on Twitter. From emboldening white supremacists to promoting violence against journalists, his tweets damage the country and put people in harm's way. But threatening actual nuclear war with North Korea takes it to a dangerous new level.&nbsp; </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It’s time to shut him down. The bad news is Twitter has ignored growing calls to enforce their own community standards and delete Trump's account. The good news is we can make that decision for them. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Twitter is a publicly traded company. Shares = power. This GoFundMe will fund the purchase of a controlling interest in Twitter. At the current market rate that would require over a billion dollars — but that's a small price to pay to take away Trump's most powerful megaphone and prevent a horrific nuclear war.</p> </blockquote> <p>And the punchline: "<strong>Let's #BuyTwitter and delete Trump's account before he starts a nuclear war with it. The whole world will thank us when we do!"</strong></p> <p>Plame's pitch is simple: <strong>raise enough cash to buy a controlling interest of Twitter stock. </strong>If, on the "odd chance" Plame is unable to raise enough to purchase a majority of shares, she said she will explore options to buy “a significant stake” and champion the proposal at Twitter’s annual shareholder meeting. </p> <p>Considering that her campaign's stated goal is only $1 billion, a (very) minority stake is the best the former CIA agent can hope for. As of Wednesday, a majority stake would cost just over $6 billion (TWTR's market cap is $12.33 billion). Still, a billion dollars of TWTR shares would make her Twitter’s largest shareholder (or rather bagholder) and give her a dominant "activist" position to exert influence on the company. Of course, whether kicking Trump off Twitter is worth the hassle is a different question, especially since anyone who wishes <strong>not to follow Trump </strong>can do so for free. </p> <p>Another problem is that almost a week into the campaign, it has raised just under $8,000, meaning it is about $999,992,000 shy of its lofty goal. </p> <p>The White House responded to the campaign, and in a <a href="https://apnews.com/fc8834555ec8437bb9a7d10718fd5586/Former-CIA-agent-wants-to-buy-Twitter-to-kick-Trump-off?utm_campaign=SocialFlow&amp;utm_source=Twitter&amp;utm_medium=AP">statement to the AP, </a>press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the low total shows that the American people like the president’s use of Twitter. "Her ridiculous attempt to shut down his first amendment is the only clear violation and expression of hate and intolerance in this equation," the White House read.</p> <p>As a reminder, Plame’s identity as a CIA operative was leaked by an official in former President George W. Bush’s administration in 2003 in an effort to discredit her husband, Joe Wilson, a former diplomat who criticized Bush’s decision to invade Iraq. She left the agency in 2005. </p> <p>Some cynics have dared to speculate that Plame's campaign is just a (not so) veiled attempt to regain social and media prominence. It is unclear if their Twitter accounts will also be banned by the up and coming CEO. It's also unclear what happens to the raised cash once the campaign fails to reach its target, although we are confident <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/jill-steins-recount-fundraising-what-happens-to-leftover-money/">Jill Stein has some ideas</a>...</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2017/08/12/o-VALERIE-PLAME-WILSON-facebook.jpg"><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2017/08/12/o-VALERIE-PLAME-WILSON-facebook_0.jpg" width="500" height="346" /></a><br /></strong></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="1536" height="914" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/plame%20teaser.jpg?1503508334" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-23/ex-cia-agent-raising-cash-buy-twitter-and-delete-trumps-account#comments American people of German descent Central Intelligence Agency Climate change skepticism and denial Computing Donald Trump Donald Trump Economy of the United States First Amendment George W. Bush’s administration GoFundMe Iraq Microblogging North Korea Real-time web Social media Software Text messaging The Apprentice Twitter Twitter Twitter Valerie Plame White House White House WWE Hall of Fame Wed, 23 Aug 2017 21:43:31 +0000 Tyler Durden 602191 at http://www.zerohedge.com Massive PBGC Rate Hikes Force Corporate Debt Binge As Companies Try To Pay Down Pensions http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-22/massive-pbgc-rate-hikes-force-corporate-debt-binge-companies-try-pay-down-pension-de <p>As if defined benefit pensions funds weren't fun enough for corporate shareholders, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC), the federal entity that backstops pension obligations when companies default, has enacted massive increases in insurance premiums for operating such plans over the past 5 years.&nbsp; </p> <p>Ironically, the premiums started to skyrocket during Obama's second term with flat-rate premiums nearly doubling from $35 per participant in 2012 to $69 per participant in 2017.&nbsp; Moreover, the variable rate premium paid by corporations nearly quadrupled over the same period from $9 per $1,000 of Unfunded Vested Benefits (UVBs) to $34.</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user230519/imageroot/2017/08/22/2017.08.22 - PBGC 1.JPG"><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user230519/imageroot/2017/08/22/2017.08.22%20-%20PBGC%201_0.JPG" style="width: 600px; height: 336px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, the rate-hike party at the PBGC is hardly over.&nbsp; Corporate pension operators can expect another 16% and 24% hike in flat and variable-rate premiums, respectively, over just the next two years.&nbsp; Which should be plenty of money to hire a bunch of new bureaucrats...</p> <p><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user230519/imageroot/2017/08/22/2017.08.22%20-%20PBGC%202_0.JPG" style="width: 600px; height: 135px;" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Sometimes its the taxes that aren't necessarily called 'taxes' that sting the most.</strong></p> <p>Of course, companies aren't simply sitting back and accepting the massive 'tax' hikes from the PBGC.&nbsp; No, instead they're crystallizing their pension debt with real debt.&nbsp; As the <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/46ce7bfe-8444-11e7-94e2-c5b903247afd">Financial Times</a> notes, <strong>investment grade corporate debt is yielding 3.11% today which is a full point less than the 4.2% "premium" companies will have to pay the PBGC on UVB's starting in 2019. </strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Companies also face a higher penalty on their unfunded pension plans from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. The premiums are based on the number of employees a company has in its defined benefit pension pool, as well as the size of its deficit. <strong>By 2019, that fee is expected to rise to 4.2 per cent, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>“Only now can companies deal with the problem by issuing bonds at no incremental cost,” </strong>said Hans Mikkelsen, a strategist with the bank. <strong>“They pay the same or less to service the bonds than the insurance fees. And you know the insurance fees are going to go up.”</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Yields on corporate debt remain historically low.&nbsp;Merrill Lynch’s broad investment grade index, shows yields averaging 3.11 per cent.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Joe Nankof, a partner at Rocaton Investment Advisors, said other companies were having the same discussions about raising debt to fund pension contributions, particularly as their deadlines to file tax returns for 2016 nears. Many companies apply for extensions to submit their returns, with that looming on September 15 for some, he said.</p> </blockquote> <p>In fact, even high-yield borrowing rates are looking attractive compared to the PBGC's surging insurance premiums (a.k.a. "taxes").</p> <p><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user230519/imageroot/2017/08/22/2017.08.22%20-%20HY%20Spread_0.jpg" alt="HY YTW" width="600" height="377" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And then there is also the chance, however small, that the Trump administration is actually able to lower corporate tax rates thereby reducing the benefit of future tax deductible contributions.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong>A number of companies are selling bonds and taking advantage of low borrowing costs to support their retirement obligations as corporate treasurers anticipate US tax reform in 2018.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As investors question the Trump administration’s ability to pass comprehensive tax reform, the prospect of lower tax rates next year is motivating an increasing number of companies to boost their pension contributions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Such payments are tax deductible, allowing companies to lock-in savings at the current 35 per cent rate. Should the Republican-controlled Congress succeed in cutting corporate taxes, future deductions companies can take on pension fund contributions would also fall.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>International Paper, the paper and packaging group, motor oil maker Valvoline, and US grocer Kroger have all issued debt to top up unfunded pension plans in recent weeks, according to filings with US securities regulators.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“The math speaks for itself,” Glenn Landau, the chief financial officer of International Paper, told the Financial Times.<strong>&nbsp;“That is a tax deductible contribution. And in case of any future tax rate changes — and we don’t know more than you know — it at least locks in the 35 per cent rates we have today.”</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>The costs of maintaining the nanny state....</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="998" height="522" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user230519/imageroot/Pension%20Grenade_28.png?1503406816" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-22/massive-pbgc-rate-hikes-force-corporate-debt-binge-companies-try-pay-down-pension-de#comments Bank of America Bank of America Bond Borrowing Costs Business Congress default Defined benefit pension plan Economy Employee Retirement Income Security Act Finance Financial services Insurance Investment Grade Labor Life insurance Merrill Merrill Lynch Money Pension Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Pensions Social Issues Trump Administration Wed, 23 Aug 2017 21:40:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 602107 at http://www.zerohedge.com Have We Lost The Ability To Adapt To Rapidly Changing Circumstances? http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-23/have-we-lost-ability-adapt-rapidly-changing-circumstances <p><a href="http://charleshughsmith.blogspot.com/2017/08/have-we-lost-ability-to-adapt-to.html"><em>Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,</em></a></p> <p><em>Successful adaptation requires a willingness to accept the risks of experimentation, innovation, flexibility and failure.</em></p> <p><strong>The idea that the pace of change in technology, the economy and society is accelerating is increasingly self-evident.</strong> That this acceleration exceeds our built-in ability to adapt to change is the thesis of the influential 1970 book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008PBFBBY/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B008PBFBBY&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=charleshughsm-20&amp;linkId=2TCOMNESXDDLISH6" target="resource">Future Shock</a>: as the pace of change accelerates, we can no longer process the transformative circumstances and enter a sort of brain-freeze/shut-down mode.</p> <p>I discussed this most recently in <a href="http://www.oftwominds.com/blogjune15/future-shock6-15.html" target="resource"> Future Shock and the Greening of America</a> (June 19, 2015) and <a href="http://www.oftwominds.com/blogmay13/present-shock5-13.html" target="resource"> Present Shock and the Loss of History and Context</a> (May 22, 2013).</p> <p><img align="middle" border="0" class="wide" src="http://www.oftwominds.com/photos2017/adoption-technology2.jpg" width="550" /></p> <p><strong>My insightful Facebook friend/correspondent A.A. recently proposed another reason why we&#39;re failing to adapt to rapid, systemic change:</strong> we have grown too accustomed to affluence and comfort and have consequently lost the tools and values required to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances.</p> <p>Here is an excerpt of A.A.&#39;s Facebook post: <em> &quot;My own theory is easy postwar affluence leached intelligence from the US population. That is to say, the survival pressures that normally select for the smart and realistic were no longer operating.&quot; </em></p> <p><strong>The word <em>intelligence</em> is of course loaded, but A.A.&#39;s commentary defines this as <em>smart and realistic</em></strong>--in other words, <em>practical intelligence</em> that enables successful adaptation.</p> <p>This calls to mind one of the key elements of natural selection: that <em>the ability to adapt successfully boils down to recognizing and conserving/ encouraging advantageous traits and eliminating /discouraging disadvantageous traits.</em></p> <p>Here is Charles Darwin&#39;s definition of natural selection: <em>&quot;This preservation of favorable variations and the rejection of injurious variations, I call Natural Selection.&quot; </em></p> <p>Two other quotes attributed to Darwin shed light on the role of intelligence in this process:</p> <p><em>&ldquo;Intelligence is based on how efficient a species became at doing the things they need to survive.&rdquo; </em></p> <p><em>&ldquo;In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.&rdquo; </em></p> <p><strong>In summary: our ability to adapt successfully is based on enabling a wide range of variations and weeding out those that are injurious.</strong> Entrenched interests--self-serving fiefdoms and elites--have zero interest in the risky process of adaptation: their goal is to preserve their status quo power and income. If this requires sacrifices and risk, they push the sacrifices and risk onto others.</p> <p><strong>Successful adaptation requires a willingness to accept the risks of experimentation, innovation, flexibility and failure.</strong> As A.A. observed, decades of easy affluence leached out the pay-offs to accepting risk and sacrifice. Easy affluence nurtures a counter-productive sense of entitlement: affluence should be automatic, risks should be near-zero, and nobody should have to sacrifice or take risks to get their share of affluence.</p> <p><strong>In effect, the skills, moxie and values required for fast, successful adaptation had little selective advantage in the decades of easy affluence.</strong> And as easy affluence gave way to rising wealth and income inequality, access to cheap credit was widely viewed as the easy solution to the end of <em>earned affluence based on savings.</em></p> <p>This reliance on easy credit further leached the system of adaptive traits, and incentivized a mal-adaptive dependence on credit as the &quot;solution&quot; to every structural obsolescence.</p> <p><strong>The decline of selective pressures and the decay of adaptive resilience has parsed the populace into three categories:</strong></p> <p>1. Those who still believe the Status Quo narratives of credential-based meritocracy, a democratic, functioning central state, and a marketplace that can seamlessly solve whatever the central state cannot.</p> <p>Those in this class are finding the gulf between these narratives and reality is widening to the breaking point.</p> <p>2. Those who are losing faith in the Status Quo narrative but are resigned to its eventual messy demise.</p> <p>Those in this class indulge in dystopian visions of the future, a world view that compellingly combines resignation, powerlessness, distraction and entertainment.</p> <p>3. Those who understand the Status Quo is unsustainable and toxic and <strong>who see its demise as enormously positive and a huge opportunity for the planet, communities, families and individuals.</strong></p> <p>This is the group which understands that obsolete systems cannot survive the encounter with emerging realities, and that the only way to adapt successfully is to <em>let a thousand flowers bloom</em> and nurture what works for all participants and eliminate what is mal-adaptive and injurious to the interests of the many.</p> <p><strong>The status quo benefits the few at the expense of the many;</strong> it is exploitive, rapacious, increasingly fragile and morally indefensible. It is optimized for a specific type of cheap-energy/ cheap-credit /growth-must-be-permanent affluence--an era that is fading into history, whether we like it or not.</p> <p>Those who cling to this status quo are clinging to a toxic collection of mal-adaptive values, incentives and traits that will only hasten the collapse of the current unsustainable arrangement.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="242" height="132" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20170822_norm_0.png?1503493929" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-23/have-we-lost-ability-adapt-rapidly-changing-circumstances#comments Adaptation Behavior Biology Competition Ethology Evolutionary biology Natural selection Prevention Psychological resilience Reality Resilience Risk Sexual selection Wed, 23 Aug 2017 21:15:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 602173 at http://www.zerohedge.com Russian Ambassador To Sudan Found Dead, Drowned In Own Pool http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-23/russian-ambassador-sudan-found-dead-drowned-own-pool <p>Eight months after the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, was shot dead in broad daylight, on Wednesday yet another Russian ambassador has died. According to <a href="https://sputniknews.com/news/201708231056734278-russian-ambassador-sudan-found-dead/">Russian news agency RIA Novosti, </a>the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Sudan, Mirgayas M. Shirinskiy, was found dead in his home in Khartoum Wednesday. </p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2017/08/12/mirgayas_0.jpg"><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2017/08/12/mirgayas_0_0.jpg" width="500" height="304" /></a></p> <p>Al Arabiya <a href="https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/08/24/BREAKING-Russian-ambassador-to-Sudan-found-dead.html">adds that the ambassador was found drowned </a>in the swimming pool at his home. </p> <p>Employees of the embassy discovered Shirinsky at his residence around 6pm local time, the press secretary of the Sudan mission, Sergey Konyashin, <a href="https://www.rt.com/news/400685-russian-ambassador-sudan-dead/">according to RT. </a>The diplomat, who was 62 years old, appeared to have symptoms consistent with a serious heart seizure, Konyashin said, adding that doctors were immediately called to the scene, but were unable to save his life.</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2017/08/12/599de269dda4c8dd168b4567.jpg"><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2017/08/12/599de269dda4c8dd168b4567_0.jpg" width="500" height="278" /></a><br /><em>Russian embassy in Khartoum</em></p> <p>According to Sputnik, before taking his post in Sudan, Shirinskiy served at the Russian embassies in Egypt, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Rwanda. The diplomat’s body was taken to a morgue in a Khartoum hospital, the spokesman said, adding that procedures are now in place to arrange for its return to Russia.</p> <p>The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed the death: </p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>"We inform you with regret that Russian Ambassador to Sudan Mirgayas Shirinsky died in Khartoum on August 23," the Russian ministry said. "Immediately after receiving detailed information from employees at the Russian embassy in Khartoum, we will inform you about the circumstances of our colleague's death," the ministry said. </p> </blockquote> <p>The Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs also praised Shirinskiy's "friendly and sincere efforts to develop relations between the two countries and their peoples in various fields."</p> <p>The death of Shirinskiy marks the 9th Russian diplomat who has died in the past year. Here is a list of the more prominent recently deceased Russian diplomats:</p> <ol> <li><strong>Sergei Krivov, 63, </strong>a Russian diplomat at the Russian Consulate in New York was found dead on November 8. Krivov served as duty commander involved with security affairs, according to Russian news reports<strong>&nbsp;</strong></li> <li><strong>Russia's Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov </strong>— assassinated by a police officer at a photo exhibit in Ankara on December 19.</li> <li><strong>On the same day, another diplomat, Peter Polshikov, </strong>was shot dead in his Moscow apartment. The gun was found under the bathroom sink but the circumstances of the death were under investigation. Polshikov served as a senior figure in the Latin American department of the Foreign Ministry.</li> <li><strong>Russia's Ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, </strong>died in New York in May. Churkin was rushed to the hospital from his office at Russia's UN mission. Initial reports said he suffered a heart attack, and the medical examiner is investigating the death, according to CBS.</li> <li><strong>Russia's Ambassador to India, Alexander Kadakin, died after a "brief illness January 27, </strong>which The Hindu said he had been suffering from for a few weeks.</li> <li><strong>Russia's Consul in Athens, Greece, Andrei Malanin, was found dead in his apartment January 9. </strong>A Greek police official said there was "no evidence of a break-in." But Malanin lived on a heavily guarded street. The cause of death needed further investigation, per an AFP report. Malanin served during a time of easing relations between Greece and Russia when Greece was increasingly critiqued by the EU and NATO.</li> <li><strong>Ex-KGB chief Oleg Erovinkin, who was suspected of helping draft the Trump dossier, was found dead in the back of his car December 26, </strong>according to The Telegraph. Erovinkin also was an aide to former deputy prime minister Igor Sechin, who now heads up state-owned Rosneft.</li> <li><strong>The top official of Russia's space agency, 56-year-old Vladimir Evdokimov, </strong>was found dead in his prison cell (where he was being questioned on charges of embezzlement). Investigators found two stab wounds on Evdokimov's body, but no determination had been made of whether they were self-inflicted.</li> </ol> <p>Speaking on CNN's State of the Union in May during the peak of the Trump Russian witchhunt, Former Director of National Intelligence and Trump's arch-nemesis, James Clapper, discussed the "pattern" of dead Russians:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>"Well, this obviously has been a curious pattern... We have had difficulty, though, in actually generating an evidentiary trail that could equate convincingly and compellingly in a court of law a direct connection between certain figures that have been eliminated who apparently ran afoul of Putin." Clapper said it is an “interesting pattern. I will put it that way." </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The wife of one of Putin’s most prominent critics, activist and journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza, said her husband had been poisoned again, after experiencing kidney failure and being put in a medically induced coma in February. She reportedly said the doctors diagnosed him with an “acute poisoning by an unidentified substance."</p> </blockquote> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/JHArnTPhm4k?rel=0" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>Perhaps the former head of US intelligence was merely projecting US tactics onto the Russians.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="288" height="175" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/mirgayas.jpg?1503520763" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-23/russian-ambassador-sudan-found-dead-drowned-own-pool#comments Alexander Kadakin Andrei Karlov Assassination of Andrei Karlov Donald Trump–Russia dossier European Union Foreign relations of Russia Government of Russia Greece Greek police India International relations KGB Khartoum national intelligence National Intelligence North Atlantic Treaty Organization Russian Consulate in New York Russian embassy Russian embassy in Khartoum Russian Foreign Ministry Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections Russia–Turkey relations Russia–United States relations Saudi Arabia Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Turkey U.S. intelligence United Nations Vitaly Churkin Wed, 23 Aug 2017 20:54:54 +0000 Tyler Durden 602209 at http://www.zerohedge.com CNN Gets Steamrolled By Their Own Charlottesville Panel: "The Media Is Not Being Honest" http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-23/cnn-gets-absolutely-destroyed-their-own-charlottesville-panel-media-not-being-honest <p>CNN's Alisyn Camerota got steamrolled by a panel of 6 people brought on to discuss Trump's reaction to the Charlottesville tragedy.&nbsp; You could tell the panel segment wasn't going to play out the way Camerota envisioned it from the very start when she asked who was "troubled" by the President's response to the violence in Charlottesville and precisely no one raised their hand. Meanwhile one panelist gave this response regarding Trump's controversial "blame on both sides" comment:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>“I didn’t see anything wrong with it. I mean he addressed the problem. <strong>Let’s face reality, there are problems on both sides."</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“I think it’s ridiculous to have me choose between Hitler and Stalin which is what I consider both groups are."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>"The Antifa group to me is totally a very Stalin-ish kind of group.&nbsp; If you’re willing to set fires and burn places to the ground, that doesn’t seem like a very peaceful group to me.”</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Asked to comment on whether there were "very fine people" protesting in Charlottesville, Camerota once again got a surprising response from panelist Daphne Goggins:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>"It hasn't been investigated so we don't really know who was out there.&nbsp; <strong>But I'm telling you, I've seen videos of other people who were out there who were not neo-Nazis."</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Finally, panelist Robert McCarthy commented on the media's blatant unwillingness to cover the Antifa counter-protests in which people showed up with "helmets, body armor and clubs...ready to do battle."</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>"That's the night before the clash happened.&nbsp; The Antifa people didn't show up Friday night, they showed up Saturday.&nbsp; <strong>They came there to do battle.&nbsp; They showed up with helmets, body armor, clubs... They showed up with ballons filled with urine."</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>"The media is not covering it.</strong>&nbsp; They're only focused on making neo-Nazis and white supremacists out to be Trump supporters."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>"He said there was trouble on both sides.&nbsp; Was there not trouble on both sides?&nbsp; I saw bats on both sides."</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Here is a video of the segment courtesy of the <a href="http://dailycaller.com/2017/08/23/charlottesville-panel-pushes-back-on-cnn-defends-president-trump/">Daily Caller</a>:<strong><br /></strong></p> <p><iframe src="//players.brightcove.net/5107476400001/B1xUkhW8i_default/index.html?videoId=5549185998001" width="600" height="337" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>Why do we suspect that whoever screens the panelists at CNN is about to find himself unemployed?&nbsp; How is CNN supposed to advance the "Trump's base is turning on him" narrative if panels are being filled with people like this?</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="621" height="340" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user230519/imageroot/2017.08.23%20-%20CNN%20Panel.JPG?1503495994" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-23/cnn-gets-absolutely-destroyed-their-own-charlottesville-panel-media-not-being-honest#comments Alisyn Camerota American people of German descent Antifa BATS CNN Donald Trump Politics of the United States Reality Unite the Right rally United States Wed, 23 Aug 2017 20:50:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 602181 at http://www.zerohedge.com They're Using Bernie Madoff Math To Hide A Crisis http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-23/theyre-using-bernie-madoff-math-hide-crisis <p><a href="http://www.internationalman.com//articles/theyre-using-bernie-madoff-math-to-hide-a-crisis"><em>Authored by Nick Giambruno via InternationalMan.com,</em></a></p> <p><strong>Politicians are always generous with other people&rsquo;s money&hellip; until it runs out.</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_pols.png"><strong><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_pols.png" /></strong></a></p> <p>Near the peak of the late-&rsquo;90s tech bubble, California&rsquo;s legislature passed the largest pension increase in its history.</p> <p>Today, with as much as <strong>$750 billion in unfunded public pension debt</strong>, California has one of the worst pension situations in the country. But it&rsquo;s far from alone.</p> <p>Illinois has a staggering $250 billion in unfunded pension obligations. State pension plans in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and many other states are taking on water, too.</p> <p>Unfunded public pension liabilities in the US have surpassed <strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">$5 trillion</span></strong>.</p> <h3><u><strong>Taxpayers Are Stuck With the Bill</strong></u></h3> <p>There used to be a simple formula for a secure retirement. American workers would work for a big company for decades. Then, at a certain age, they were eligible for a monthly pension check&hellip; for life.</p> <p>Once common, pensions have virtually disappeared from the private sector. Today, less than 4% of companies offer them. It&rsquo;s another vector in the devalued standard of living of the average American.</p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Essentially, only government employees get pensions now.</span></strong></p> <p>The government isn&rsquo;t subject to the same constraints as the private sector. So it has no problem promising benefits it can&rsquo;t afford to pay.</p> <p>That&rsquo;s because government revenue doesn&rsquo;t come from the voluntary exchange of goods or services. It comes from taxes, which it extracts via coercion.</p> <p>Politicians only care about the next election. So there&rsquo;s no way to hold them accountable in the long term.</p> <p>They automatically do the most expedient thing in the short term, like promising extravagant pension benefits. In the long term, their successors have to deal with the consequences.</p> <p>Naturally, not one of the politicians who voted for California&rsquo;s record pension increase is still in office.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s bad enough that politicians give themselves and other state employees extravagant retirement benefits and stick the taxpayers with the bill.</p> <p><strong>But the story gets worse&hellip;</strong></p> <p>Government pension plans use all sorts of accounting wizardry that would land someone in the private sector in prison.</p> <h3><u><strong>Bernie Madoff Math</strong></u></h3> <p>The single most important number for a pension plan is its <strong>assumed rate of return</strong>. This is the rate the plan&rsquo;s investments are expected to make.</p> <p>As in other areas of life, the government takes special privileges here. It uses accounting practices that the private sector can&rsquo;t&mdash;not legally, anyway.</p> <p>Essentially, government pension plans choose whatever rate of return they&rsquo;d like.</p> <p>Lawrence McQuillan&mdash;a senior fellow at the Independent Institute&mdash;says that government pension plans &ldquo;work on the assumption that they&rsquo;re going to generate returns 25% higher than Warren Buffett every single year into perpetuity.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">These assumptions are totally disconnected from reality.</span></strong></p> <p>Government pension plans overestimate investment returns using unrealistically high rates of return. They routinely pull numbers out of thin air.</p> <p>The results they come up with are insane.</p> <p>In effect, this artificially shrinks a pension fund&rsquo;s liabilities, making it look more solvent than it really is.</p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">In other words, the government is using Bernie Madoff math.</span></strong></p> <p>This lets politicians contribute less money than the fund needs to be truly solvent. That, in turn, frees up money to bribe constituents for votes, or do whatever else the politicians want.</p> <p>On average, government pension plans assume about a 7&ndash;8% rate of return (even after years of underperformance).</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong>False Assumptions</strong></em></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong>A recent study found that the average 2016 return for a public pension was an awful 0.6%, compared to an average assumed return of 7.6%.</strong></em>At those assumed rates, a dollar invested today would double in around nine years. This rosy assumption allows a pension plan to say, for example, that $25,000 in the fund today will cover a $50,000 obligation in 2026.</span></p> </blockquote> <p>California&rsquo;s public employee pension plan is the largest pension plan in the US. It recently voted to reduce its assumed rate of return from 7.5 to 7% over three years.</p> <p><strong>The move&mdash;which doesn&rsquo;t go nearly far enough&mdash;generated enormous political controversy.</strong></p> <p>Lowering the rate of return to a more realistic number, if even slightly, means politicians would need to contribute more to a pension fund. That means drastic spending cuts or higher taxes elsewhere.</p> <p>This is why, in most cases, it&rsquo;s politically impossible for a government pension plan to stick with anything close to realistic assumptions.</p> <h3><u><strong>The Biggest Financial Bubble in World History&hellip; and Pensions Are Still Broke</strong></u></h3> <p>In the &rsquo;50s and &rsquo;60s, government pension funds were, on average, over 90% invested in bonds and cash.</p> <p>Most importantly, they were structured so that assets matched future liabilities. It was conservative, and it made sense.</p> <p><strong>That&rsquo;s not how public pensions look today.</strong></p> <p>Matching liabilities with safe fixed income investments has become impractical, thanks to the Federal Reserve and the historic bubble it&rsquo;s created in the bond market.</p> <p>The economy has been on life support since the 2008 financial crisis. The Fed has pumped it up with unprecedented amounts of &ldquo;stimulus.&rdquo; This has created enormous distortions and misallocations of capital, especially in the bond market.</p> <p>Think of the trillions of dollars in money printing programs&mdash;euphemistically called quantitative easing (QE) 1, 2, and 3. In short, the Fed created trillions of dollars out of thin air and used them to buy up bonds, creating an epic bubble.</p> <p><strong>Meanwhile, with zero and even negative interest rates in many countries, rates are the lowest they&rsquo;ve been in 5,000 years of recorded human history.</strong></p> <p>What&rsquo;s happening in the bond market could not happen in a free market. It&rsquo;s only possible in the current &ldquo;Alice in Wonderland&rdquo; economy created by central bankers.</p> <p>This is not hyperbole. We&rsquo;re really in uncharted territory. (Interest rates were never lower than 6% in ancient Greece and ranged from 4 to over 12% in ancient Rome.)</p> <p><strong>Allegedly, the Fed has done all of this to save the economy.</strong></p> <p>In truth, it&rsquo;s warped the economy and turned the bond market into the largest financial bubble in human history.</p> <p>This, of course, affects pensions.</p> <p>First, today&rsquo;s artificially low interest rates make it very difficult to match future liabilities with income from bonds at a reasonable cost. So pensions have had to turn to riskier assets like stocks, real estate, and alternative investments.</p> <p>With interest rates near all-time lows, bond prices are at an all-time high. That benefits pension plans because it pumps up asset values and makes the funds look more solvent.</p> <p>But, even with the bond market in a historic bubble&hellip;</p> <p>Even with the stock market at all-time highs and more overvalued than almost ever&hellip;</p> <p><u><em><strong>And even with the Bernie Madoff math&hellip;</strong></em></u></p> <p><u><em><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Public pensions are still insolvent.</span></strong></em></u></p> <p>Despite the eye-watering returns in the bond and stock markets over the past 10 years, pension liabilities have still gone up.</p> <p>According to Moody&rsquo;s:</p> <p style="margin-left: .5in;">The optimistic &quot;best case&quot; of cumulative 25% investment return would reduce net pension liabilities by just 1% through 2019 year-end because of past bad investment returns and weak contributions. Meanwhile, the &quot;base case&quot; scenario of 19% returns would see net pension liabilities rise by 15%.</p> <h3><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">This is an unsolvable problem.</span></strong></h3> <p>Many public pensions are hopelessly insolvent. It will all be apparent in the next market downturn, which probably isn&rsquo;t far off.</p> <p><strong>I think we&rsquo;re headed into an enormous crisis.</strong></p> <p>Unfortunately, most people have no idea how to prepare.</p> <p><strong>I think everyone should own some physical gold. Gold is the ultimate form of wealth insurance.</strong> It&rsquo;s preserved wealth through every kind of crisis imaginable. It will preserve wealth during the next crisis, too.</p> <p><strong>But if you want to be truly &ldquo;crisis-proof,&rdquo; there&#39;s more to do&hellip;</strong></p> <p><em>How will you protect yourself when this crisis explodes? New York Times best-selling author Doug Casey and I just released a PDF guide that will show you exactly how. <a href="http://www.internationalman.com/special-reports/guide-to-surviving-and-thriving-during-an-economic-collapse?source=170822ImcEdWeb" target="_blank">Click here to download it now</a>.</em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="572" height="378" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20170823_pols.png?1503514054" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-23/theyre-using-bernie-madoff-math-hide-crisis#comments Bond Business California’s Legislature Economy Federal Reserve Finance Financial markets fixed Greece Illinois Independent Institute Interest rate Labor Monetary policy Money New York Times pdf Pensions Pensions crisis Personal finance Politics Quantitative Easing Quantitative easing Real estate Reality Retirement Social Issues Social law US Federal Reserve Warren Buffett Wed, 23 Aug 2017 20:25:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 602198 at http://www.zerohedge.com Shutdown Shivers Sink Stocks But Bonds, Bullion, & Black Gold Bounce http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-23/shutdown-shivers-sink-stocks-bonds-bullion-black-gold-bounce <p>US stock market investors as the debt ceiling deadline looms...<strong><em> (if you just looked up, you&#39;d see it coming)</em></strong></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/zvoi99X417o" width="560"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><u><strong>Surveying the post-Trump damage...</strong></u></p> <p>Trump&#39;s government shutdown guffawing overnight sparked more debt ceiling anxiety...</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/19/20170823_stocks2.png"><img height="389" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/19/20170823_stocks2.png" width="600" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And the inflection is getting worse...</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/19/20170823_stocks3.png"><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/19/20170823_stocks3_0.png" style="width: 600px; height: 297px;" /></a></p> <p>As Treasury cash dwindles...</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_GS1.png"><strong><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_GS1_0.png" style="width: 600px; height: 302px;" /></strong></a></p> <p>Trump also trounced the Mexican Peso on border wall/NAFTA talk (but MXN was bid as soon as the US equity market opened and then went dead once Europe closed)...</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD1.png"><img height="328" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD1_0_0.png" width="600" /></a></p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p>Bonds and golds rallied today as stocks and the dollar unwound yesterday&#39;s exuberant tax-hype... (NOTE: <strong><em>Dollar is below yesterday&#39;s lows, Gold above yesterday&#39;s highs, and TSY yields below yesterday&#39;s lows... while stocks were only modestly lower</em></strong>)</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD10.png"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD10_0.png" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Stocks did not retrace all of yesterday&#39;s gains...</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD12.png"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD12_0.png" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Trannies were worst...</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD13.png"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD13_0.png" style="width: 600px; height: 405px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The S&amp;P 500 failed to hold last night&#39;s close above the 50-day moving-average...</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD11.png"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD11_0.png" style="width: 600px; height: 377px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Small Caps continue to underperform, flashing big red warnings signals that we have seen before...</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD2.png"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD2_0.png" style="width: 600px; height: 623px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Implied Vols picked up across all the major equity indices...</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD6.png"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD6_0.png" style="width: 600px; height: 317px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Treasury yields tumbled today, erasing all of yesterday&#39;s losses...</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD5.png"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD5_0.png" style="width: 600px; height: 316px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With 30Y yields back below 2.75% - the lowest since Draghi&#39;s hawkish comments in June...</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD4.png"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD4_0.png" style="width: 600px; height: 310px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Dollar Index round-tripped all of yesterday&#39;s gains...</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD3.png"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD3_0.png" style="width: 600px; height: 306px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>USDJPY broke back below 109.00...</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD9.png"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD9_0.png" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Gold gained on the day as the dollar fell after shutdown chatter erased the tax hope losses...</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD8.png"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD8_0.png" style="width: 600px; height: 328px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And WTI Crude bounced after inventory draws...</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD7.png"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/23/20170823_EOD7_0.png" style="width: 600px; height: 327px;" /></a></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="600" height="77" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20170823_EOD.png?1503515795" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-23/shutdown-shivers-sink-stocks-bonds-bullion-black-gold-bounce#comments Bond Business Crude Debt Ceiling Investment S&P 500 Stock market index Trump's government United States debt ceiling Wed, 23 Aug 2017 20:03:50 +0000 Tyler Durden 602203 at http://www.zerohedge.com