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Mass Incarceration: 21 Amazing Facts About America’s Obsession With Prison





Nobody in the world loves locking people behind bars as much as Americans do.  The US has more people in prison than any other nation on the planet.  The US also has a higher percentage of the population locked up than anyone else does by a very large margin.  But has all of this imprisonment actually made the US safer?  Well, the last time we checked, crime was still wildly out of control in America and for the most recent year that we have numbers for violent crime was up 15 percent.  The number of people that we have locked up has quadrupled since 1980, but this is not solving any of our problems. 

 
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You’re More Likely to Be Killed By Brain-Eating Parasites, Texting While Driving, Toddlers, Lightning, Falling Out of Bed ...





...  Alcoholism, Food Poisoning, a Financial Crash, Obesity, Dog Bites, Doctor Mistakes or “Autoerotic Asphyxiation” than by Terrorists (Getting Hit By ASTEROID = Even Odds)

 
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A "Tone-Deaf" Obama Mocked By The NYT For Vacationing While The World Burns





For an administration in its sixth year, juggling presidential optics is nothing new. And with some rare exceptions, the public relations team around the president has remained consistently stubborn about refusing to let the never-ending stream of political, economic or international crises affect Mr. Obama’s daily schedule. The current myriad incidents are no exceptions: Moments after making a grim statement about Ukraine on Friday, the president popped into the East Room, where the first lady, Michelle Obama, was holding a mock state dinner for children to promote her Let’s Move nutrition initiative. “My big thing,” he confessed to the kids, “chips and guacamole!” There was plenty of laughter all around.

 
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Where The Happiest Americans Are (And Are Not)





On an income-adjusted basis, New Yorkers are the most miserable Americans while citizens of Lafayette, LA are the happiest. As MarketWatch reports, based on a Harvard study which 'adjusts' for age, sex, race, income and other factors, the following map indicates where the happiest Americans are (blue/green) and are not (red).

 
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China's "Secret Money Laundering" Story Goes Mainstream; Is Promptly Censored





When we broke the story of China's "secret" money laundering into US real estate scheme, we said "So what happens next? Assuming there is the anticipated resulting backlash and crackdown on Chinese banks, which will finally enforce the $50K/year outflow limitation, this could well be the worst possible news not only for Chinese inflation, which suddenly - no longer having a convenient outlet for the unprecedented liquidity formed in the country every month - is set to soar, but also for the ultra-luxury housing in the US. Because without the Chinese bid in a market in which the Chinese are the biggest marginal buyer scooping up real estate across the land, sight unseen, and paid for in laundered cash (which the NAR blissfully does not need to know about due to its AML exemptions), watch as suddenly the 4th dead cat bounce in US housing since the Lehman failure rediscovers just how painful gravity really is." What we forgot to add is that virtually every other financial mainstream outlet would promptly pick up on the story even as the original source back in China took its secrets to the grace. Metaphorically speaking, we hope...

 
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What Hardcore Pornography Can Teach Us About Asset Bubbles





Exactly 50 years ago last month the US Supreme Court ruled on the now famous case of Jacobellis v. OhioAt stake was whether a French movie with graphic sexual content could be outlawed by the state via its obscenity laws. The court ruled that it could not because the film wasn’t hardcore pornography. How could they tell? In an explanation that has now turned into one of the most famous quotes in court history, Justice Potter Stewart explained that although he could not define exactly what hardcore porn was, “I know it when I see it” Like porn, asset bubbles are also hard to define, but given our economic history, and especially our recent economic history, we know it when we see it, and now we see it everywhere. We all see it. Apparently the only people that don’t see the bubbles are the people creating them.

 
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Michael Bloomberg Calls Colorado A "Rural and Roadless" Backwater For Challenging His Gun Control Agenda





We've noticed a bizarre trend this year - Northeast establishment politicians attacking the state of Colorado for its own internal decisions. This time, the man who puts his foot in his mouth more than pretty much anyone else, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, called Colorado “rural” and “roadless” in a recent Rolling Stone article (which has since been pulled, but is supposed to be back up Monday) for the backlash against his gun control agenda from parts of the state.

 
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Introducing Ghost Skyscrapers... In New York City





Manhattan has been transformed into nothing more than an oligarch playground, or as some call it, “Disneyland for Wall Street.” We have discussed at length the head-shakingly insane money-laundering inflows that are 'stashed' into NYC real estate but, as the following reports, one of the most shocking and disturbing revelations from that article was the fact that: "The Census Bureau estimates that 30 percent of all apartments in the quadrant from 49th to 70th Streets between Fifth and Park are vacant at least ten months a year." Forget China, ghost residences come to the US. Welcome to Planet Oligarchy, where empty skyscrapers loom over the hordes of freedom-hating, destitute slaves.

 
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Frontrunning: July 10





  • Espirito Santo Financial Suspends Shares, Bonds on ESI Exposure (BBG)
  • Europe Stocks Drop for Fifth Day as Espirito Santo Sinks (BBG)
  • Espirito Santo Creditors Doubt Containment on Missed Payment (BBG)
  • French Stocks Seen Extending Losses on Economy Concern (BBG)
  • Stocks Slide With Portugal Bonds as Yen Gains; Oil Drops (BBG)
  • U.S. Probes Hacking of Government Computers at Personnel Agency (WSJ)... finds terabytes of porn 
  • It's Congress' fault: Obama rejects criticism over border crisis (Reuters)
  • Israel Mobilizes 20,000 Troops for Possible Gaza Invasion (BBG)
  • Chinese hackers pursue key data on U.S. workers (NYT)
  • Donetsk Primed for Siege as Ukraine Army Hems In Rebels (BBG)
 
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"Treasuries - As A Relative Asset Class - Look Cheap"





Long-duration Treasuries continue to look attractive; a view that Scotiabank's Guy Haselmann has unwaveringly maintained for the past six months for a variety of diverse reasons. Of all of the various reasons, private pension demand is the most interesting and compelling (and the least understood). The bottom line is that PBGC rule changes will cause persistent and incremental demand over time that overwhelms net visible secondary market supply.  Concerns about funding status will trump the private defined benefit plan manager’s fiduciary desire to ‘maximize return per unit of risk’. There are other factors, but the point is that Treasuries as a relative asset class looks attractive.

 
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"The Real Economy Is Somewhere Between The Toilet & A Rat Hole"





"Here in one of the "fly-over" zones of America - 200 miles north of New York City - the financial economy is mythical realm like Shangri-La and the real economy is somewhere between the toilet and a rat hole. Under the tyranny of chain stores, there really is no true local commercial economy. The few jobs here are menial and nearly superfluous to the automatic workings of the giant companies..." Never has a society entered an epochal transition with such unpreparedness. Never has a society appeared so childishly decadent.

 
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Uber Launches War Against Yellow Cabs, Cuts New York Fares By 20% As Ali-Baba Launches Chinese Uber Competitor





Curious what Uber is spending the record $1.2 billion in cash it raised in its most recent funding round (which valued it at a whopping $18.2 billion)? The answer: subsidies. In a page right out of Amazon's playbook, the management of Uber has found that the best use of proceeds now that it may have finally saturated addressable markets, is to use its cash on hand to fund sub-equilibrium pricing losses and in the process, hopefully, put its competition out of business. Earlier today, the Uber blog announced that UberX is "now cheaper than a New York City taxi."

 
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Laundering Illegal Money? There's Ultraluxury New York Real Estate For That





Today, we can finally end any debate on the topic of just where the world's illegal money comes to roost. The answer: ultra-luxury real estate, primarily in New York, courtesy of a report in New York magazine that catches up with what we first said in the summer of 2012, and which is titled, appropriately enough: "Stash Pad."

 
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China's Replica Of Manhattan Results In Yet Another Ghost City





China's own Big Apple may be rotting from the core. A new central business district modeled after New York City is going up in Tianjin but the project is in jeopardy. While the growth of China's ghost cities of entirely derelict and unlived-in residential real estate have become anathema; the story of the nation's 'if we build it they will come' commercial real estate bubble has been less exposed but is no less incredible. As Bloomberg reports, China’s project to build a replica Manhattan is taking shape against a backdrop of vacant office towers and unfinished hotels, underscoring the risks to a slowing economy from the nation’s unprecedented investment boom. Stunningly, the development has failed to attract tenants since the first building was finished in 2010 leaving one commercial real estate investor to proclaim, "Investing here won’t be better than throwing money into the water... There will be no way out - it will be very difficult to find the next buyer."

 
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