Category Archives: Money

The News Bubble, AKA “Greenspanning”

“I do not deny that many appear to have succeeded in a material way by cutting corners and manipulating associates, both in their professional and in their personal lives. But material success is possible in this world and far more satisfying when it comes without exploiting others. The true measure of a career is to be able to be content, even proud, that you succeeded through your own endeavors without leaving a trail of casualties in your wake.” … Alan Greenspan, Commencement Address at Harvard in 1999

www.lemetropolecafe.com/midas/ 3-1-2017

 

Let us parse the above quote:

“I do not deny that many appear to have succeeded in a material way by cutting corners and manipulating associates, both in their professional and in their personal lives.

Hold on here, Al, how can you not say the word “BANKER?” And you used the word “material” like it wasn’t the entire game with those blokes?

Christian or Rabbinical teachings? None of these impressed you in assessing the contributions of your fellow Wall Streeters?

“But material success is possible in this world and far more satisfying when it comes without exploiting others.”

         But it’s still ok to just be satisfied, even if we screw that other guy totally?

Could the nickname, “Easy Al” have figured into some of that satisfaction?

“The true measure of a career is to be able to be content, even proud, that you succeeded through your own endeavors without leaving a trail of casualties in your wake.” …

And if a “trail of casualties” WAS left in your wake, is a fat bank account enough to make up for it? And when did you care about a “a True career?”

Al printed money once, now he prints crap to save his reputation.

Easy Al was the guy in late 2007 who said Americans ought to get more variable rate mortgages…and we know how well that worked out, right?

It’s that kind of enthusiastic slanting that made Greenspan great. But the news isn’t all that great. Here are a few stories that don’t rate a “fake” label.

Former computing malware created for Iran may have leapt onto your local bank, slowly “stuxnetting” bank operations. https://arstechnica.com/security/2017/02/a-rash-of-invisible-fileless-malware-is-infecting-banks-around-the-globe/

This follows the news last Thursday that a few Texas banks had “operational” problems, and would not be letting you have your money just now. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-02/systems-down-all-thursday-afternoon-multiple-banks-texas

And Amazon is claiming that a minor typographical error caused the internet to “stop working” for a couple of hundred businesses. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2012-10-22/amazon-cloud-crashes-takes-part-web-offline

Oh, and the art market, beyond silly, seems to have peaked. I doubt that’s true of the gold market. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-01/art-bubble-bursting-gauguin-painting-collapses-74-22-million

Fancy retailers continue to struggle, along with Macys and Penny’s continue to struggle. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-01/bcbg-max-azria-files-bankruptcy

Then there’s the FED’s Beige Book, noting activity in the FED’s 12 Districts: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-01/feds-beige-book-notes-decline-optimism-about-outlook-sharp-drop-broadway-attendance and comments.

The B Book added some observations from FED Districts. They never do this.

A few key observations, caused by recent political developments, good and bad:

Boston: Some hotel and restaurant groups feel that the executive order limiting travel from certain countries may have adverse business effects as the United States may not be perceived as a welcoming country. In a related note, one healthcare staffing firm, for example, lost a substantial number of listings a few weeks ago when one of its clients issued a hiring freeze in Boston, waiting to see what happens with Obamacare.

New York: An agency in New York City reported brisk hiring from small to medium sized financial firms. Tourism activity has shown signs of continued softening, with Broadway theaters reporting sharp declines in attendance in January and especially February, and hotels generally reporting lower occupancy rates.

Philadelphia: Contacts at the Jersey Shore indicated that peak summer bookings are filling up earlier each year. Even casino revenues in Atlantic City have finally begun to register some year-over-year gains on a more consistent basis.

Cleveland: A data analytics firm reported that brick-and-mortar retailers generally are experiencing 1.5 percent to 3 percent price declines. One factor driving the declines is competition from their Internet counterparts. 

Richmond: Port officials reported record strength in container volume since the previous Beige Book. At one port, volume was described as “off the charts,” and another had its best month ever for loaded containers. 

Atlanta: Many commercial contractors indicated that the pace of nonresidential construction activity had increased from a year ago, with many reporting backlogs greater than one year.

Chicago: An auto dealer expressed concerns that standards were loosening further for sub-prime auto financing.

St. Louis: Contacts reported moderate wage growth since the previous report. On net, 63 percent of contacts reported wages were slightly higher or higher than a year ago.

Minneapolis: Casino-related revenues in Deadwood, S.D., suffered a significant decline — as much as 25 percent at some operators — leaving one industry spokesperson to comment that the drop was “alarming.”

Kansas City: The number of active oil and gas drilling rigs continued to increase modestly, primarily in Oklahoma and New Mexico.

Dallas: Energy contacts were unanimously negative in their expectations about the impact of the proposed border adjustment tax on their firms. One clothing retailer said sales in border cities and energy-related areas remained sluggish.

San Francisco: Contacts in the agriculture sector noted that proposed changes in immigration policy could limit labor supply, particularly during harvest season, and drive up wage costs.

All in All, Foghorn suggests the a data dependent FED doesn’t really have good data to depend on for rate raising. But so what? Nor do Trump and Yellen seem to like each other. Could the FED raise rates in March just to derail the trumpeting market? The economy still doesn’t look all that great, not if you’re looking at real news. (It’s a good thing the stock market doesn’t rely on good news for those little midnight algos to keep working.

As Jim Dines has said, keep a close watch on the tiller, and make sure your boat is actually floating. Gold and silver are cheap. They won’t stay that way.

Off to the Races

2-5-2013 TUESDAY AFTER LUNCH MONEY MEMO “Money, young man, is good for the nerves.” J.P. Morgan Investing is defined as “Putting some money into something with the goal of getting more money back (after taxes and inflation) later.”  Sounds reasonable.  Well, I rode that definition a bit on Saturday by visiting my local race track.… Continue Reading