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Post #67: The lockdown has gone from a mistake to a crime by Dennis Prager, drilled down on by yours truly

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The lockdown has gone from a mistake to a crime by Dennis Prager, drilled down on by yours truly (below)

A considerable portion of what Mr. Prager so accurately and piercingly dissects and laments I have published on 10 different times in either video, interview, or post format since March 21st, 2020.  The first content related to the Corona virus policy response debacle was a video titled “Is the cure was worse than the disease?”  For anyone that listened, there was little doubt what the answer was.

I long ago stated that the small business bankrupting lockdowns were tantamount to the biggest crimes ever perpetrated on Main Street economically (if this isn’t a 5th Amendment, Takings Clause violation of the highest order, I don’t know what is) and in terms of a catastrophic loss of freedom (a mockery has been made of the 1st Amendment).

In fact, too much of our local, state, and federal Corona virus policy response and the ever-shifting CDC “guidelines” continue to constitute some of the most hugely disenfranchising tyranny and disinformation campaigns ever “cooked up.  In the interim, they’ve been “served up” multiple times a day, for some five months, by our Pravda press, which has been in cahoots with leftist politicians, bureaucrats, and K Street crony capitalists all too happy to join in the Covidocracy (George Gilder’s brilliant term) as they get bailed out, … and their Main Street competition wilts.  I collectively call these fascist crooks “the Coronacrats.”

Based on the insanely destructive Corona virus policy response fallout (charts 1 – 3) pretty much the world over, you’d think that 20% of the world’s population was threatened with eradication by this virus, when in actuality 0.01% of the global population has perished.  In the US, that percentage is approximately 0.05%.  However, the US percentage would likely be astoundingly lower if it wasn’t for financial, regulatory, and political (anything to get rid of the “Orange Man” threatening to eventually drain the swamp) incentives to blame the virus for as many deaths as possible.  And that isn’t conspiracy theory.  Belatedly, straight from the CDC horse’s mouth just a few days ago, namely on August 26th, 2020, came the following comorbidity information, a tacit confirmation of tremendously overstated Corona virus (COVID-19) deaths:

Comorbidities

Table 3 shows the types of health conditions and contributing causes mentioned in conjunction with deaths involving coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death. The number of deaths with each condition or cause is shown for all deaths and by age groups.

 

If only we were all Swedes

Clearly, the world should have followed in Sweden’s footsteps, a country that could not afford to print or avail itself of ECB-printed euros to offset laying its economy and freedom to waste; a country whose healthcare regulators believed in traditional isolation for those most at risk; a country whose decision makers took their cue from historical pandemic evolution, specifically that a virus can’t be broadly isolated, and that if the virus spreads among the young and healthy, nature’s “herd immunity” will put it down sooner rather than later, at minimal overall cost in terms economic destruction, job losses, social upheaval, and lives lost:

From 18/07/2020 to 01/09/2020, daily avg Swedish deaths from Covid-19 stood at 2.5 persons

 

Yet “sheeple” abound

Amazing, what sheeple (way too many) Americans have become, for they have fallen for the “Black Death, revisited” scare mongering hook, line, and sinker — modern day pandemic reflection, the fact that there aren’t 7.8bn humans by accident, confidence in our immune system’s capacity to put down viruses, rapidly declining Corona virus deaths (the backside of that virus bell curve), and ever more facts slicing through the MSM virus fog of deception be damned:

Here, in red state Florida, where Corona virus deaths (prior to the “comorbidity recalibration”) amount to but 0.03% of the Florida resident population and are increasingly flat-lining, kids that virtually never succumb to the virus, and are highly unlikely spreaders, are being forced to wear masks all day at school!  Stores have big entrance door signs telling you that you can’t come in without masks on (I went in four stores yesterday without a mask, and I was able to keep it off in three, but boy did I get stares).  And, believe it or not, there are some fools out and about in 96 degree heat riding their bikes, doing yard work, and doing construction work with masks on.  There are even those “maskerating” in black pavement hot strip center parking lots going to their cars with grocery carts, as I was told was the case prior to returning to Southwest Florida from Switzerland on August 22nd.  Some shoppers even keep their masks on when they drive off!  You can’t make this stuff up.  GOOD GRIEF!

 

A hoped for awakening

May enough people comprehend and resist this despotic, malignant folly by politely rejecting the lockdowns, social distancing, and mask insanity that are imposed on virtually all social and business activity in varying degrees, from churches to vet hospitals to McDonald’s to airlines:

Alaska Airlines upholds the prevailing prevarication that “wearing face coverings significantly reduces transmission of the COVID-19 virus.” To a virus thousands of times smaller than the mesh of a mask, a cloth appears like an immense lattice of large and completely open windows and doors. 

 

Its chief effects are to make politicians and pettifogs feel important and citizens feel ignominious. The cloth confines larger bacteria, aerosols, and sputum near receptive surfaces, such as your eyes, nose, and mouth and thus cultivates both mental and physical disease.

 

A punctilious study by Swiss researchers pored through dozens of peer-reviewed analyses on the impact of masks and found no significant benefits and several downsides.

After all, if Speaker Nancy Pelosi considers masks beneath her dignity when she visits her hair dresser, or if Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s husband can attempt to move to the front of the boat launch line (to get his boat out on to the water while others are backed up due to executive order lockdowns), why should “we the people” comply with liberty and commerce (Constitution) eviscerating diktats?  This is all the more true given that such decrees have thrown millions upon millions of Americans out of work and into emotional and financial desperation, including the prospect of between 30m – 40m Americans getting evicted prior to year’s end!

There are 330m of us in America, and there are “only” about 24m of “them” at all governmental levels throughout the country.  Even if only a quarter all the American sheeple, or 83m (mostly) citizens, again become free people, there would be no way that the bureaucrats that would get involved could stop a non-compliance (with unconstitutional diktats) mass movement – and neither could their big-cap crony handmaidens.  Why?  Because they wouldn’t be able to turn so many of us away at the WalMarts, the CVSs, the Home Depots, etc. without cratering their P&Ls.*

It is time to just say NO.  Or at least give it a whirl!  Care to join me in a grassroots effort, one person at at time, to halt and then reverse the single largest public policy response blunder in the modern (post-WWII) era?  A criminal blunder which threatens to cast a very long shadow on our already heavily misallocated, hugely indebted, counterfeit currency world (chart 24) — a world which was already set to “crash and burn.”  But instead of the Corona virus policy response constituting the straw that broke the camel’s back, the response is more akin to a bridge falling on the camel!

Greetings,

Dan

*- Plus, the Deltas of the world would again have a chance of recovering from a 94% drop in passenger revenues in Q2:2020 without the taxpayer funding a load factor (capacity utilization) ceiling that would still leave them spewing billions of dollars of red ink.  In plain English, a heavily downsized Delta would actually have a chance of surviving.  We will be paying much higher fares soon enough, but at least we’ll still be able to fly someplace.  Of course the entire airline industry could declare bankruptcy and thereby shed its liabilities, but the industry’s liabilities are creditor assets, and heaven knows we’ve got enough underfunded pension plans that don’t necessarily want to own jets parked in Arizona that won’t earn them a dime.  After all, many airlines have already used the tax deductible nature of interest expense coupled with artificially low interest rates to leverage the crap out of their high operating leverage, incredibly capital intensive businesses’ balance sheets to enrich the industry’s C-Suite; it would be a shame if the same top brass could now add insult to injury by stiffing the very creditors that (foolishly, granted, but tell Grandma about that) enabled them to do de facto LBOs in order to recklessly goose EPS and share prices.   Screwing both taxpayers and creditors is a bit rich, don’t you think?

FYI: Edits and select link inclusions to buttress post claims continued after publishing date.  Post substance remained unchanged.

P.S. — I don’t quite know how to best communicate this, but it is entirely probable that a bright, well-read, gutsy civil engineer that a) knows a lot about local cronyism, b) happens to live in SW Florida, and c) wants to fight against the complete evisceration of liberty, sound money, and the unparalleled US Constitution may chime in now and then with posts of her own on this site — right, Debi?  If this is an awkward introduction, revisited, please forgive me, readers and Debi alike!       

The obligatory boilerplate:

This commentary is not intended as investment advice or as an investment recommendation. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Price and yield are subject to daily change and as of the specified date. Information provided is solely the opinion of the author at the time of writing.  Nothing in the commentary should be construed as a solicitation to buy or sell securities. Information provided has been prepared from sources deemed to be reliable but is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision.  Liquid securities can fall in value.

Post #66: Perhaps our toxic public policy stew isn’t such a surprise?

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Perhaps our toxic public policy stew isn’t such a surprise?

I have gratefully subscribed to Wolf Street articles for a few years.  Wolf Richter, founder and prolific lead editor, recently published two articles that really got my attention.  I’m referring to the following pieces:

https://wolfstreet.com/2020/08/22/haunting-photos-of-san-franciscos-desolate-financial-district-during-morning-rush-hour-visual-effects-of-working-from-home/ 

And:

https://wolfstreet.com/2020/08/26/the-zombie-companies-are-coming/  

Let me give you a taste of Mr. Richter’s telling “haunting photos” of what could be mistaken for a modern day ghost town (San Francisco):

Below what I sent to Mr. Richter’s comments section of his Wolf Street site as regards his “Haunting Photos of San Francisco” piece:

This is what happens when the virus policy response (the “cure”) is much, much worse than the disease. For a virus — our current Corona iteration — that has claimed only 0.01% of the globe’s population and roughly 0.03%* of America’s population (never mind the hugely inflated US Corona virus death count due to both financial and political reasons, without which the US death tally could be up to 30 – 50% lower), the economic and freedom destruction triggered by tyrannical demagogues imposing their shutdown/lockdown will on us is just mind-bending.

 

And this is prior to hugely heightened individual impoverishment, family businesses nurtured for generations lost forever, and surging suicide rates. The pictures you present are the Corona virus policy equivalent of a neutron bomb having been detonated. The buildings are still standing, but it has become a ghost town devoid of human interaction and communication. Truly sickening and sadly likely very long-lasting in terms of the policy response devastation, be it societally, financially, economically, or in terms of grotesque violations of inalienable rights.

I couldn’t find my “two bits worth” in the Wolf Street site’s comments section.  Not the first time.  And surely not the last, i.e., unless I cry uncle.  It might be high time.  In any event, I shared my unpublished comments with a few colleagues and friends.  In so doing, I added a few paragraphs about Mr. Richter’s apparently growing inconsistencies, which followed what I wrote Wolf Richter above.  Those paragraphs:

Wolf Richter is amazingly talented and super-fast with numbers, data, sources, and graphics.  His site’s daily free articles, most of which he authors, are just astonishing in terms of staying on top of multiple macroeconomic trends (Mr. Richter probably thrives on three hours of sleep a day!).  But despite his prodigious knowledge, his varied business experience, his global perspective, and his professed adherence to free market capitalism, at the end of the day he apparently can’t overcome his German-born leftist/statist tendencies and convictions.

 

As such, in my view he utterly fails to grasp that free market capitalism can’t possibly survive with ever greater statism – yet he pans the very money printing that finances central planning, “zombie-ism,” and crony capitalism, also collectively known as statism or fascism, the more virulent it gets (as in daily)!  Separately, and also quite revealingly, based on a few back-and-forths I initiated in his comments section, he’s convinced that gold and silver are barbarous relics, not free market-underpinning, price discovery-enabling, sound & honest money.

 

Moreover, based on his numerous articles that either directly or indirectly touch the virus front as well as his refusal to show any comments that I have sent that disagree with his “slant” here, I’m utterly convinced that Wolf Richter believes that the Corona virus is a first-rate pandemic (not a 0.01% of the global population killer) that requires the very government-imposed massive shutdowns and lockdowns that kill the free market capitalism he claims to support.  Talk about an incredible and scary disconnect!  Said is all the more true if truly bright, capable, influential people have such a glaring blind spot; Mr. Richter is by no means an exception — arguably, he is likely indicative of most commentators and policy makers.  Accordingly, perhaps our globally toxic public policy stew isn’t so surprising after all?

Here is how a truly sage global macro analyst responded to my email earlier today, which was comprised of both my Wolf Street comments section efforts as well as my rant directly above:

Fascinating your last paragraphs because I had come to a similar conclusion. I used to love his stuff, and I always look for it in the morning when doing the daily, BUT he completely got the virus and the policy response wrong, and, as you say, he has just totally deserted capitalism.  As you also infer, that 1bpt assumes that all the deaths with coronavirus were from coronavirus when in reality it’s only something like 8% of those that don’t have multiple comorbidities.  I’m with you totally on his pieces.

How you might interpret “all that” 

Please consider this piece as an update on past content, be it videos or posts, where I have kept suggesting that the Corona virus policy “cure” is much worse than the underlying disease.  Unfortunately, our officials’ cure is anything but (a cure).  Rather, it is just one more example of our globally toxic public policy stew as described above and extending far beyond, including frequently discussed free-market throttling regulatory compliance costs ($1.9trn or about 10% of GDP in the US alone), out-of-control corporate legal/litigation costs (in the US, nearly 3x the EU’s in terms of a percentage of GDP), our productivity and output eviscerating green energy cronyism, and the West’s increasingly strident redistribution of small business/Main Street income and property to Wall Street, K Street, and other constituencies, very much including “takers” and undocumented third world amnesty recipients — because that is where the votes are!  And if that wasn’t free market capitalism toxic enough, leading central banks are bent on continuing to finance the unsustainable with their electronic printing presses; is it any wonder that global debt to global GDP is at unprecedented, nose bleed level of 331%, according to the IFF?  In aggregate, and as often repeated in socialist or autocratic countries that issue their own fiat currencies, this is a recipe for stagflation, which ends up being a disaster for the vast majority of people subjected to it, as history richly attests, from ancient China to the former USSR to today’s Venezuela.

With such a toxic public policy widely implemented — and arguably being doubled-down on — around the world (I shudder to think what officialdom’s “shutdown/lockdown cure” would be should 0.02% of the world’s population succumb to a communicable disease), can bond and stock bubbles really be maintained, much less enlarged, much longer?  And how long will the currencies that said assets are reflected in maintain their purchasing power?  I’m referring to currencies that are being printed into oblivion (chart 24 attests to global monetary base growth translating into increasingly robust global money supply growth, also known as inflation) juxtaposed against what will likely prove to be long-lasting supply side shocks.  Those supply shocks include massive numbers of small businesses whose doors may never reopen — where up to 50% of OECD denizens employed in the private sector typically work(ed), many of whom are now unemployed, no matter how much the government bureaucrats fudge the numbers.

Some closing thoughts

When you review your portfolio and dwell on how much of it has a “bubble glow” to it, please do recall that, at least historically, asset class valuations aren’t mean-reverting affairs, but reversion well beyond the mean market realities, which are also known as a manic-depressive Mr. Market or a reflection of our own emotional swings.  In plain English, if history is any guide, and on the heels of an incredibly seldom, 40-year plus bull market in bonds, your bonds and stocks could suffer lasting market value implosions of 50% – 80% in sympathy with sharply rising discount rates juxtaposed against collapsing earnings power, as measured in today’s dollar (or other fiat currency) terms.  Rising interest rates will ultimately reflect investors demanding heightened risk premiums amidst continued material financing needs and towering levels of debt in both absolute and relative to output terms.

The rising cost of external (creditor) funds will also increasingly reflect unrivaled monetary inflation and default risks finally being broadly realized, or priced in, by investors.  Not even today’s unprecedented global financial repression will be able to keep these risks from increasingly manifesting themselves, as economics always trumps politics — eventually.  Translation: while price discovery has been suffocated by the concerted efforts of leading central banks the world over, meaning that creditors and investors have failed to discount “troubled waters” ahead valuation-wise while funding what shouldn’t be funded (our rampant misallocations), this doesn’t mean that when fiat currency manipulation fails to keep earnings power up and defaults down, that investors won’t become very aggressive coincident or even lagging indicators in terms of portfolio reallocations, much as the 2008-2009 financial crisis proved, most especially in the equity and precious metals markets. 

What Mr. Market will end up doing to valuations given that we’ve markedly doubled down on all that hobbled a wealth of nations trajectory in 2008 is anyone’s guess, but it may well result in a peerless compression of both bond and stock valuations, which would result in currently unimaginably high (double-digit) yields and unbelievably low (single-digit) P/Es, respectively.  Terrific future ROI opportunities will probably beckon, as stated recently, i.e., should already maligned private sector property rights not get completely erased by global communism.  In the meantime, do consider an allocation to precious metals, which will likely prove to be fiat cash on  steroids, making for a potentially fantastic source of funding for purchasing great income earning assets and properties that will once again be on the bargain counter, perhaps like never before.     

Here’s hoping you found this post worthy of a read.

Greetings,

Dan

*- Fact checking today raised that 0.03% to 0.05%.  All else remains unchanged.  Separately, America’s higher than global average Corona virus death rate, while still tiny, could very well be due to America’s outsized (no pun intended) obesity problem and the chronic health issues that sustained obesity is known to trigger.  In other words, with a considerably higher portion of Americans’ health compromised by obesity than is the case globally, Americans are likely more susceptible to succumbing to additional health challenges, including common seasonal flus and viruses.  

FYI: Edits and select link inclusions to buttress post claims continued after publishing date.  Post substance remained unchanged.

P.S. — I don’t quite know how to best communicate this, but it is entirely probable that a bright, well-read, gutsy civil engineer that a) knows a lot about local cronyism, b) happens to live in SW Florida, and c) wants to fight against the complete evisceration of liberty, sound money, and the unparalleled US Constitution may chime in now and then with posts of her own on this site — right, Debi?  If this is an awkward introduction, please forgive me, readers and Debi alike!           

The obligatory boilerplate:

This commentary is not intended as investment advice or as an investment recommendation. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Price and yield are subject to daily change and as of the specified date. Information provided is solely the opinion of the author at the time of writing.  Nothing in the commentary should be construed as a solicitation to buy or sell securities. Information provided has been prepared from sources deemed to be reliable but is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision.  Liquid securities can fall in value.

 

Post #65: AG Barr to the rule of law rescue?

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AG Barr to the rule of law rescue?

In a nutshell, don’t hold your breath.  Leading conservative/constitutionalist radio talk show host Mark Levin had a fine interview with Mr. Barr on his “Life, Liberty and Levin” TV show last weekend.  It was a pivotal discussion about how destructive, violent, anarchist, un-American, uncivil, and rogue the left has become in its efforts to fundamentally transform America.  That transformation is away from an erstwhile codified citadel of liberty to an increasingly Marxist nation featuring iron-fisted tyranny (for flavor, consider the Corona virus policy responses, especially in blue states, where prolonged lockdowns have led to serious and widespread behavioral issues).  This effort, of course, is being led by the party of slavery, the party of segregation, the party of re-segregation, the party of the KKK, the party of internment of Japanese Americans, the party opposed to civil rights, and the party that led to unbridled third world amnesty which fueled ever growing voter disenfranchisement, Balkanization, and stagnant US jobs (for Americans).  I’m talking, of course, about the  power-obsessed, “Constitution, Americans, and America-be-damned” Democratic party. 

So far, so good.  It’s a great thing that Barr and his Department of Justice (DOJ) are at least calling the left out.  But there is a huge fly in the ointment, in my view.  It isn’t just about restoring law and order in America’s crime-infested, burning cities under racist/Marxist BLM and Antifa siege with local, state-level, and national Democratic power holders either approving or enabling rank lawlessness, and RINOs generally too intimidated to speak out against it.  It is also about going after the very lawless elected officials and bureaucrats that have made a mockery of the rule of law while the same cast of characters has often set the stage for the anarchy and destruction that law-abiding urban Americans have faced, and are currently facing in unprecedented terms, from coast to coast, especially in Democratically-run cities (the vast majority of them).  This prosecution of former and current rogue public officials is precisely what isn’t happening.  That is the devastating fly in the ointment. I addressed this in an email with a friend of mine who initially drew Barr’s interview on Mark Levin’s TV show to my attention. 

Here is what I wrote my friend: 

Got a chance to listen.  GREAT interview.  Barr nails it, as does obviously Mark.  Allow me a criticism or two; you may well consider it “majoring in minors,” but I think it goes to the heart of any honest system of government, and that starts with telling the truth. 

Barr mentioned that Trump’s economy until recently saw virtually zero percent unemployment, and that this will recur.  This is disingenuous at best.  Trump himself called the unemployment rate fake as a candidate when it was around 5% (U3, or the most flattering measure).  Furthermore, Trump mentioned, as a candidate, that real world unemployment was likely north (if not well north) of 20%.  Translation: take the U3 measure, turn it into the U6 measure, and then add back all the discouraged workers that have been looking for a job for more than a year and were conveniently taken out of the job seeker category back in the Slick Willy (Clinton) administration, and you a get “real world” US unemployment rate of around 30%.  Today!

One more point, arguably an even much, much  bigger one concerning honest government – a government run by people that are not above the law.  Here we are, some 3.5 years into the Trump administration.  Barr has (thankfully) been on board since February of 2019, or about 1.5 years.  We have mountains of evidence of treasonous and felonious acts by the heads/the top brass of former and early Trump administration politicians and bureaucrats ranging from Hillary to the former Obama AGs to the top brass of the FBI and the CIA to the judges that recklessly (or worse!) issued warrants to spy on Americans, a clear Bill of Rights violation if there ever was one.  Former FBI head Comey, in the summer of 2016, not only still “toiled” as the top (bad) cop of America, but he also put on a judge’s hat and effectively told America, after reading a litany of indictable charges against Madam Clinton, that Hillary “didn’t really mean any harm,” but if the average American acted in such a manner, then the full force of the law would come down on him.  Comey even wagged his finger “at us” as he issued his stern warning for us little people.

Have we seen ANYONE of at least a few handfuls of high level or top brass bureaucratic and elected criminals even get indicted by the supposedly lawful, ethical DOJ that supposedly eminently capable, rule-of-law man Barr heads?  Should we wait until Biden assumes the presidency to finally indict these varied disgusting, oath-shredding, Constitution-curdling crooks??  What a freakin’, pathetic banana republic with above the law power brokers running free and making millions in the MSM and by giving speeches!  Yet everyday Americans get fined for not wearing masks, wanting to run their businesses only to find that they’re forced to shut down or that their power and water have been shut off (L.A.).  Yet everyday Americans get treated by the IRS like quasi criminals (or worse) if they fall short in terms of filing or declarations or payments.  And don’t try to defend your home in blue state America; just accept the violence and destruction of often organized rioters and then call 911, but no one may answer because your police force is being defunded.  Red state America is having none of it.

Now I know a lot of the harassment, intimidation, and Bill of Rights violations are state-based affairs (I’d argue that the 14th Amendment should offer state like Bill of Rights protections), but I’m trying to make a bigger point: Mark Levin and AG Barr and others can talk the big talk, but until our governing elites are no longer above the law (the Constitution), all this is a bunch of talk with precious little “here’s the beef” walk as far as everyday Americans are concerned — and rightly so.  No wonder governmental institutions are often held in such low esteem.

Are all these mega crooks that have abused their elected or appointed positions of power going to skate?  Are sorely needed indictments going to be pushed aside by all the sickening diversions the left is continuing to cook up for us from Russia Gate to Ukraine Gate to the virus policy scam to Marxists/anarchists tearing the crap out of the fabric of both our cities and society?  And will this B.R. style “looking askance policy” be thanks to neither Trump nor Barr nor the man from Connecticut having enough guts to finally go after these above the law creeps?  Or could it be that both sides of the aisle are so steeped in corruption and so eager to sustain their power, prestige, and crony/fascist advantages that this is just all a big, bad, throw us a bone of hope pretend game that we fall for until we realize we’ve been had again?

I, for one, won’t be holding my breath.  Less talk, just walk, 3.5 years into the Trump administratin, on this VITAL, no one is supposed to be above the law front.  And Barr definitely knows the ropes, so why hasn’t he had  the decency and guts to start the process of trying to show the country that DC ain’t above the law while he still has the chance?

Here is how my friend responded:

Of course, I agree completely that Barr is not the be all and end all, or even close, for the reasons you mention, and more. The biggest one to me, because it (not the unemployment rate) is squarely in his wheelhouse is the lack of any prosecutions of arguably the biggest political criminals in the country’s history – i.e., starting with Hillary, Comey, Brennan, McCabe and… yes, Obama, the messiah himself.

That said, he is very refreshingly honest in a relative sense. Could and should he (and countless other bureaucrats, representatives and putative “leaders”) be 500% better? Absolutely. The closest one to that ideal that I can think of is probably Ted Cruz, but I have no doubt that if he were president, on the SCOTUS and/or AG, he’d disappoint as well.

So I basically agree with your critique but as many have said, politics is the art of the possible. That is the framework within which he exists, and that inevitably skews and corrupts. Right now, he’s light years better than Sessions was, and Universes better than Holder or Lynch were. Am I 100% happy with him? No, not even close. But am I much happier with him than many/ most other currently available alternatives? Absolutely.

To which I responded:

Your first paragraph says it all, as far as I am concerned.  Politics is indeed the art of the possible.  Yet for a man of conscience (Barr), a man that self-identifies as a rule-of-law constitutionalist, a man who has had under his “wheelhouse belt” the “machinery” with which to prosecute “arguably the biggest criminals in the country’s history” for about 1.5 years yet has prosecuted no such person … — this speaks sobering volumes about his true dedication to a system in which no one is above the law, else you can’t have the rule of law.  To me, this is sadly less than politics being the art of the possible, and more about rank dereliction of duty, dereliction of the oath he took, and, perhaps most stunningly and destructively of all, sustaining the very “Department of Injustice” that he inherited from the mega crooks Holder and Lynch and the absolutely incompetent, scared crapless Jeff Sessions.

Sure, Barr is 100x better than hapless Jeff and extremely crooked Holder and Lynch, but what good is that if he doesn’t take a potentially rapidly fleeting opportunity to at least attempt to yank America back from its B.R. status in which way too many elites are above the law crooks and way too many of us law-abiding citizens often get treated as if we were crooks by an alphabet soup of unelected, unrepresentative, untouchable federal and state bureaucrats that have long and unconstitutionally issued the vast majority of our de facto legislation.  How so?  Via promulgating of thousands upon thousands of often effectively cloaked regulations (how can anyone keep up with 72,561 Federal Register pages?) frequently featuring stout fines and even incarceration teeth?”

Back to post content:  President Trump, despite some of his beyond the pale assertions, especially as a candidate and early into his presidency, has often displayed the very uncanny knack for sharing “the resonating bottom line” with Americans that won him the 2016 election.  In this regard, here is what he recently said

Attorney General William Barr could go down in history as “the greatest attorney general” or just as “an average guy,” but that will depend on what U.S. Attorney John Durham reveals from his investigation into the origins of the Russia probe, President Donald Trump said Thursday. 

“Bill Barr and Durham have a chance to be — Bill Barr is great most of the time, but if he wants to be politically correct, he’ll be just another guy,” Trump said during an extensive interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo. He said he hopes Durham is “not going to be politically correct.”

“I hope he’s doing a great job,” Trump said. “[President Barack] Obama knew everything. Vice President [Joe] Biden, as dumb as he may be, knew everything, and everybody else knew.”

Trump added that former FBI Director James Comey, ex-CIA Director John Brennan, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper “were all terrible and they lied to Congress.”

Is the first Ex-FBI lawyer pleading guilty for falsifying documents to investigate the Trump campaign a hopeful sign?  Or, is this just a token, “orchestrated prosecution” by the bigwigs in both parties to offer citizens a middle management bureaucratic “sacrifice” before the top echelon power brokers revert back to widespread, bi-partisan corruption, and cronyism, also called B.R. business as usual?

A recent appeals court decision to overturn the Hillary Clinton deposition order that Judicial Watch won under the Freedom of Information Act suggests the heads of the above-the-law fish are as foul as ever.  Said differently, the jury is still out whether we will sustain an arbitrary, capricious, rapacious, despotic rule of man system over a rule of law system based on the US Constitution.  If only “the jury” got to decide such cases, for if it is ultimately principally up to leftist circuit (appeal) courts or to the Supreme Court of America, any remaining fidelity to our Constitution and the associated Bill of Rights won’t just be hanging by an ever thinner thread, but these seminal documents will have fallen deeply into a grave with dirt being rapidly heaped on top, quickly replacing daylight that was already rapidly dimming.

What if AG Barr falls short?

As you can surmise, I think this is much more likely than not.  If we cannot bring back fidelity to the rule of law for our elitist politicians and bureaucrats, how can we expect to rein in increasingly “green-lighted” anarchy, racism, and destruction?  How can we address the highly destructive “cancel culture”* (OURS) and “virtue signalling“* that is increasingly making policy in the US for all of us if our leaders act lawlessly and destructively?  The short answer is, we can’t. 

In such an unraveling world, how can we reconstitute free market capitalism, stouter property right protections, smaller government, balanced budgets, and sound money, the elixirs of invention, productivity enhancement, deflationary growth, and a wealth of nations trajectory lifting more boats and generating more happiness than any other system?  The short answer is, we can’t. 

With our toxic public policy stew run, in essence, by lockdown fascists in bed with anarchistic and racist hoodlums, we threaten to careen further and further into stagflation, revisited — this time laced with with record debt, unmatched public sector and pension deficits, unparalleled financial repression, plummeting productivity (prior to an even stronger embrace of “not so green” energy), and an increasingly threatening loss of a functioning (civil) society.  Not exactly confidence-inspiring.  Not exactly a “wealth of nations” trajectory, shutting down supply and printing money like never before.  More like 1970s’ style stagflation on steroids laced with rising civil unrest and destruction.  

In plain English, eventually our asset bubbles, especially in global bonds and US stocks, will be pierced, ending over four decades of bull markets as reversion beyond the mean gets really mean, and screaming buys proliferate.  This will not only reflect unheralded and expanding balance sheet weakness, a secular reduction in corporate earnings power stated in today’s currency terms, and hugely rising monetary inflation risks, but it will also reflect plummeting confidence in the currency in which those increasingly unsound, overvalued assets are based.   In short, we will have a stability-eviscerating and purchasing power-crushing fiat currency crisis led by the currency that has been abused the longest and the most flagrantly, the US dollar.  This is how the end of a financial system is spelled.

In such a world, people and investors have always resorted to safe haven, purchasing power-protecting real money, which is physical gold and silver.  It won’t be different this time.  If the central bankers/central planners want to keep from being rendered fully academic (which history suggests would be wonderful), they will have to again back their currencies with a stout amount of gold — around 40%.  As so much fiat money has been printed, and gold (and silver) remain very limited, we could easily be looking at $11,500 gold per Troy ounce and over $230 silver per Troy ounce (history coupled with a bit of simple math as a “15:1” silver-to-gold ratio suggests silver could reach into the $700 range per Troy ounce).  Those precious metals dollar prices would be prior to even more money supply expansion both domestically and abroad.  In this regard, note that the US money supply has been rising at a 42% annual rate in  M1 terms.  

While an adequate allocation to physical precious metals in your own possession at current price levels will help to take the economic and financial edge off of what will likely prove tumultuous times ahead, they can’t address our increasingly dysfunctional political and societal systems.  But, as the saying goes, it’s better to be (relatively) well off financially during hard times than poor.  Plus, someday, when Blue Chip crony plays will again be trading for a sub-10 P/E with a 6 – 8% dividend yield (a blast from the not too distant 1970s past), you will likely have the PM purchasing power to “back up the truck” to avail yourself of a possibly once-in-a-lifetime buying opportunity, i.e., if our current fascist system doesn’t morph into full-blown communism, where there is no more private property.

But with rising gold and silver prices, don’t wait too long to get adequate precious metals diversification, especially not with Big Warren of Berkshire Hathaway wading into gold stock(s), which will make it suddenly acceptable for all the Wall Street lemmings to embrace the very gold the talking financial news heads have long been panning (together with Warren) as a barbarous relic earning not a dime of interest.  Well, with negative real interest rates abounding and with goods and services inflation on the rise, physical gold and silver in your own discreet possession don’t look so bad.  Meanwhile, precious metals stocks have tremendous operating and financial leverage to rising precious metals prices with which to fatten your dividend income. Pretty salivating, those barbarous relics …

Conclusion: go for the PM “bar” instead of placing too much trust in Barr (and our heavily compromised system)

Hope you found this post of interest!

Greetings,

Dan

*- In case these psychobabble terms confuse you, let me cut to the chase: cancel culture and virtue signalling express what amounts to kindergarten bullies enforcing the alpha male’s tyranny, which they have voluntarily subjected themselves to and now insist that everyone else also has to abide by.  THAT is what is really going on.  Welcome back to kindergarten.  Where are the cops?

FYI: Edits and select link inclusions to buttress post claims continued after publishing date.  Post substance remained unchanged.

The obligatory boilerplate:

This commentary is not intended as investment advice or as an investment recommendation. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Price and yield are subject to daily change and as of the specified date. Information provided is solely the opinion of the author at the time of writing.  Nothing in the commentary should be construed as a solicitation to buy or sell securities. Information provided has been prepared from sources deemed to be reliable but is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision.  Liquid securities can fall in value.

 

 

 

 

Post #63: Straight from the CDC horse’s mouth

US$:96.00; Fed’s  B/S: $6.9trn; US 10-yr: 0.63%;  S&P 500: 3225;  Oil: $40.38;  Gold:$ 1,809;  Silver: $19.68

Straight from the CDC horse’s mouth (please click on “posts” tab to see table below correctly)

US COVID-19 (Corona virus) deaths continue to PLUMMET. Specifically, to 181 deaths for the week ended 7/11/20 from 3,668 weekly deaths a month ago. US Corona virus-attributed deaths have most thankfully dropped each and every week since the 4/18/20 weekly peak of 16,897 amidst sharply rising new cases.  How does one spell rapidly rising herd immunity or the disease’s bell curve “playing out.”

But, too many of our elected officials and bureaucrats – and, of course, the Pravda press – insist that we face a “second wave” crisis that ultimately threatens to kill many more Americans if renewed shutdowns and lockdowns aren’t instituted and enforced.  Talk about adding insult to economic and civil liberties evisceration injury (also known as despotism) thanks to potentially doubling down on officials’ Corona virus policy response.

Plus, the media continues to broadcast overwhelmed hospitals related to spreading Corona virus cases.  Often, sharply rising bed utilization rates across the country are referred to without considering that this is being materially caused by a surge of so-called elective surgeries and other deemed “non-essential” medical procedures, which are now being done, after having been suspended for roughly three months.  This was kindly brought to my attention by a bright and very well-read subscriber to my dkanalytics youtube channel, a lady by the name of Debi Duckels.  Debi, a fellow Floridian, also dug deeply into Florida State medical data, which showed that out of 47,933 statewide hospital beds, 8,239 (as of about 12 noon ET on July 15th) are occupied by patients with the primary diagnosis being the Corona virus.  That’s 17.2%.  Not exactly “virus overwhelming.”

In addition to re-instituting shutdowns and telling us that hospitals are being, or soon will be, hopelessly overwhelmed (when have you heard that one before, yet the results stood in stark contrast?), “everyone” needs to wear a mask, and social distancing must be adhered to — OR ELSE!  From a county in Maryland last week, courtesy of a friend:

Truly Orwellian. And this against the backdrop of plummeting Corona virus deaths in the US.  You can’t make this stuff up!

Oh yes, those CDC COVID-19 weekly US death numbers from this July 15th, 2020 during the morning hours ET (before they disappear or are altered?).  Please see below.  I’m getting the data from this link

Data as of  Start week  End Week  Group  State  Indicator  COVID-19 Deaths  Total Deaths  Percent of Expected Deaths  Pneumonia Deaths  Pneumonia and COVID-19 Deaths  Influenza Deaths  Pneumonia, Influenza, or COVID-19 Deaths 
07/14/2020 02/01/2020 02/01/2020 By week United States Week-ending 0 58,325 98% 3,774 0 478 4,252
07/14/2020 02/08/2020 02/08/2020 By week United States Week-ending 1 59,069 99% 3,777 0 518 4,296
07/14/2020 02/15/2020 02/15/2020 By week United States Week-ending 0 58,319 99% 3,797 0 554 4,351
07/14/2020 02/22/2020 02/22/2020 By week United States Week-ending 5 58,286 100% 3,654 1 561 4,219
07/14/2020 02/29/2020 02/29/2020 By week United States Week-ending 5 58,486 102% 3,773 3 640 4,415
07/14/2020 03/07/2020 03/07/2020 By week United States Week-ending 34 58,638 101% 3,905 16 622 4,544
07/14/2020 03/14/2020 03/14/2020 By week United States Week-ending 52 57,672 101% 3,896 27 611 4,531
07/14/2020 03/21/2020 03/21/2020 By week United States Week-ending 561 58,509 103% 4,494 249 546 5,345
07/14/2020 03/28/2020 03/28/2020 By week United States Week-ending 3,126 62,478 112% 6,115 1,411 440 8,220
07/14/2020 04/04/2020 04/04/2020 By week United States Week-ending 9,907 71,649 128% 9,831 4,716 477 15,263
07/14/2020 04/11/2020 04/11/2020 By week United States Week-ending 16,011 78,325 141% 11,887 7,173 471 20,856
07/14/2020 04/18/2020 04/18/2020 By week United States Week-ending 16,897 76,001 140% 11,291 7,252 262 21,011
07/14/2020 04/25/2020 04/25/2020 By week United States Week-ending 15,209 72,879 135% 10,239 6,520 143 18,975
07/14/2020 05/02/2020 05/02/2020 By week United States Week-ending 12,969 68,081 127% 8,815 5,455 64 16,373
07/14/2020 05/09/2020 05/09/2020 By week United States Week-ending 10,949 65,258 124% 7,655 4,626 46 14,015
07/14/2020 05/16/2020 05/16/2020 By week United States Week-ending 8,933 62,435 119% 6,565 3,690 19 11,824
07/14/2020 05/23/2020 05/23/2020 By week United States Week-ending 6,932 59,096 113% 5,660 2,889 22 9,721
07/14/2020 05/30/2020 05/30/2020 By week United States Week-ending 5,850 56,359 109% 4,991 2,373 10 8,478
07/14/2020 06/06/2020 06/06/2020 By week United States Week-ending 4,617 54,732 104% 4,564 2,002 11 7,190
07/14/2020 06/13/2020 06/13/2020 By week United States Week-ending 3,668 52,189 101% 3,981 1,630 10 6,026
07/14/2020 06/20/2020 06/20/2020 By week United States Week-ending 2,783 48,581 94% 3,469 1,189 5 5,068
07/14/2020 06/27/2020 06/27/2020 By week United States Week-ending 1,463 40,438 78% 2,341 559 6 3,251
07/14/2020 07/04/2020 07/04/2020 By week United States Week-ending 522 28,269 54% 1,417 257 0 1,682
07/14/2020 07/11/2020 07/11/2020 By week United States Week-ending 181 10,378 20% 528 87


Caveat: The start and end week dates given by the CDC are the same, which is unexplainable to me.

Parting food for thought: given what is on offer in a “global sense,” including the unprecedented amount of money that will most likely be printed as the economy stands to take it on virus policy chin anew, do you think it might be a good idea to hold some physical gold and silver stored outside the banking system, preferably in your possession (if you can’t hold it, you don’t own it)?

Greetings,

Dan

FYI: Stylistic improvements, additional source links, and tertiary expansions of topics addressed were made past the initial July 15th, 2020 publishing date.  That said, neither the post’s initial content or its stance were altered.

Post publishing link addendums on mask front.

The obligatory boilerplate:

This commentary is not intended as investment advice or as an investment recommendation. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Price and yield are subject to daily change and as of the specified date. Information provided is solely the opinion of the author at the time of writing.  Nothing in the commentary should be construed as a solicitation to buy or sell securities. Information provided has been prepared from sources deemed to be reliable but is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision.  Liquid securities can fall in value.

 

 

Post #62: The destructive Corona virus policy response, revisited

US$:97.25; Fed’s  B/S: $7.1trn; US 10-yr: 0.67%;  S&P 500: 3146;  Oil: $40.38;  Gold:$ 1,790;  Silver: $18.33

The destructive Corona virus policy response, revisited

The economic and civil rights implications of an absolutely misguided (and I would argue tyrannical) US/western nation Corona virus policy response that is now increasingly focusing on daily new cases instead of on daily mortalities, or on mortality rate trends, are potentially devastating.  Never mind that sharply rising new US Corona virus cases, or the so-called “second wave,” have typically been accompanied by dramatically lower confirmed new daily deaths, as a younger population cohort is again permitted (for now, however short-lived) to venture back out into the wider world — a cohort that has a miniscule risk of dying should they contract the virus (“new cases”).  In fact, it is precisely this cohort again being “out and about” which will help put this virus down (spreading herd immunity, which widespread lockdowns postponed).  

Here’s what the CDC is saying about the fatality rate for the Corona virus broken down by age (their current scenario 5, which is their best estimate):

  • 0-49 years old: 0.05%
  • 50-64 years old: 0.2%
  • 65+ years old: 1.3%
  • Overall ages: 0.4%

Note that the overall case fatality rate of the Corona virus in the US, according to the CDC, is 0.4%.  That number only pertains to symptomatic cases, which, according to CDC estimates, comprise 65% of all cases.  If one includes asymptomatic infections, then the implied overall US Corona virus mortality rate is about 0.26%.  Stated differently, if 1,000 people contracted the virus, fewer than 3 of those individuals would be expected to die from it.  

For those of you who think this is “Monday morning quarterbacking,” please have a look at the following NE Journal of Medicine article lead-published by Anthony S. Fauci on March 26th, 2020.  In particular, this paragraph (italics mine):

“On the basis of a case definition requiring a diagnosis of pneumonia, the currently reported case fatality rate is approximately 2%.4  In another article in the Journal, Guan et al.5 report mortality of 1.4% among 1099 patients with laboratory-confirmed Covid-19; these patients had a wide spectrum of disease severity.  If one assumes that the number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is several times as high as the number of reported cases, the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%. This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.2

Contrast the above COVID-19 or Corona virus assumptions (as published on March 26th, 2020 by the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the CDC, Anthony S. Fauci) and the ever-increasing confirmations of a benign overall Corona virus death rate with an utterly and insanely destructive Corona virus policy response in which much of the population was “locked down,” in one way or another — lockdowns instead isolating and protecting the most vulnerable members of society, as was previously done during pandemics to typically great overall effect.

In fact, with society opening back up and new cases spiking, the overall Corona virus mortality rate is increasingly converging with that of more benign modern-day pandemics, and could end up being lower, perhaps significantly lower, the more younger people are free to resume normal lives and lifestyles (herd immunity dynamics)*. With this in mind, will society be well-served by revisiting lockdowns? 

Below a graphic depiction of the the expanding divergence between new US Corona virus cases and new US Corona virus deaths as an indication as to where Corona virus mortality rate is currently heading (south!): 

Or, please see: https://ourworldindata.org/mortality-risk-covid?country=~USA.  As regards “Our World in Data’s” political orientation, please click here.  (Sadly, if the left, the statist bureaucrats, and the pathetic RINOs have their way, we will soon be doubling down on lockdown and shutdown policy lunacy based on spiking new daily Corona virus cases juxtaposed against broadly declining new daily Corona virus deaths, which on June 30th comprised only 4.5% of average daily deaths in the US of 7,708 people.)

I reviewed this topic at considerable length in part of my most recent video (as of 18:56 minute mark): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wr5LvK10rWs.  And I’ve also delved into considerable detail as concerns Florida in this matter.

If all that leaves you “cold,” please dwell on this KISS principle for a moment.  The global population is said to be 7.8bn.  The world, well into this disease’s “life-cycle,” has suffered 516K Corona virus-induced deaths to date, according to a Google/Wikipedia aggregation.  That means that 0.01% of the world’s population (and 0.02% of Florida’s population) has succumbed to the Corona virus.  Yet, the policy makers’ virus shutdown/lockdown responses have triggered unparalleled (Post WWII) job losses, unmatched economic collapses, a peerless plunge in world trade, and unheralded increases in debt and money printing that, collectively, are already doing (and threaten to continue to do) MUCH, MUCH more harm than the Corona virus ever could.  Which is why I titled the first video I devoted to this back on March 22nd , 2020 “Is the cure is worse than the disease?”  

A close, long-standing friend of mine (I got to know him during the CFA study sessions in Massachusetts and North Carolina between 1988 and 1990) has been at least a bit critical of my harping on this virus policy response issue.  He is concerned that I may be putting my (once?) solid analytical reputation at risk by throwing my hat into the ring here again and again, and in the process risking a widening credibility gap if I pick up on something that turns out to be less than “well-vetted.” This unfortunately does happen, from time to time.  But when it happens, I immediately apologize and draw it to the same people’s attention I first shared it with.  In short, I am trying to “see the forest without getting every tree right.”

As such, I am much more concerned about what is going to happen to our already badly damaged rule of law and what is left of free market capitalism and freedom (“the forest”) as a result of grotesque, liberty-eviscerating, small business-killing virus policy diktats issued by public officials and public employees that are often entrenched in well-paid positions with gold-plated pension and healthcare benefits.  In particular, and in addition to “blue state” governors,  I am referring to unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats at various levels of government that are politically motivated.  Individuals who have gotten “punch drunk” on their “lockdown power.”  Persons that wouldn’t know how to spell “cost/benefit analysis” if their lives depended on it. And, last but not least, pampered people who have shown little if any compunction when issuing diktats to close down small businesses for months at a time — which is bankrupting them — or then imposing re-opening regulations (social distancing, masks, etc.) that virtually guarantee many Main Street businesses’ ultimate demise.

With nearly half of all private sector Americans (and a similar percentage of most other western citizens) employed by small businesses, this is no idle concern, especially as nearly half of all small businesses in America have made it known that they will eventually be forced to close their doors for good.  With so much debt, such large deficits, and so many bad investments/malinvestments courtesy of what effectively amounts to financial repression (ZIRP, NIRP, and QE) already weighing heavily on future national and global prospects, on real growth potential, and on the best outcome for the greatest number of economic participants and citizens, the American/OECD nations’ despotic Corona virus policy response is materially dimming already cloudy prospects.

Socialism never works, except for the elites.

Greetings,

Dan

* In everyday terms: the risk for the average person in the US of succumbing to the Corona virus is approximately equivalent to the risk of dying behind the steering wheel.  Last I checked, we can still get in our cars and drive places …  Hope dies last.

FYI: Stylistic improvements, additional source links, and tertiary expansions of topics addressed were made past the initial July 2nd, 2020 publishing date.  That said, neither the post’s initial content or its stance were altered. In terms of a sustained and very marked decline in Corona virus deaths in the US from its weekly high point of 16,987 as of April 18th to 181 for the week ended July 11th, 2020, click here.   

The obligatory boilerplate:

This commentary is not intended as investment advice or as an investment recommendation. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Price and yield are subject to daily change and as of the specified date. Information provided is solely the opinion of the author at the time of writing.  Nothing in the commentary should be construed as a solicitation to buy or sell securities. Information provided has been prepared from sources deemed to be reliable but is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision.  Liquid securities can fall in value.