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5.21.19 - 40% in US Embrace a Form of Socialism
Gold last traded at $1,273 an ounce. Silver at $14.41 an ounce
NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices eased Tuesday on a firmer dollar. U.S. stocks rose following news that the U.S. temporarily eased restrictions on Chinese telecom giant Huawei.
Without China "Fraud", Gold Prices Would Be Soaring -Holmes/Kitco
"Gold prices are being manipulated on Chinese markets, said Frank Holmes, chief investment officer and CEO at U.S. Global Investors. The market manipulation, or spoofing, occurs during Chinese holidays when trading is thin, according to Holmes. He explained a large number of contracts will be 'flashed' on the markets with the intent to sell. 'Immediately the market becomes fearful there is a big seller,' said Holmes. '[Traders] start hitting all their bids, and the price of gold cascades down. It's fraud. It's mis-communication,' he said. Holmes explained that gold is being suppressed because officials want to keep gold at a price that is low in relation to the country's currency. He added that the Chinese market is especially important to observe for traders and investors now that the global hub of gold trading has shifted from London to China....China is not the only sour point in the price manipulation of gold, Holmes said, as the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) has also suppressed the yellow metal with its policies, this according to his findings....According to Holmes, the BIS has 60 central banks in the world clearing through them, and it is in their interest to not have competition from alternative currencies like gold and bitcoin."
China is preparing for protracted trade war -South China Morning Post
"Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for the nation to embark on a new Long March and 'start all over again', in the most dramatic sign to date that Beijing has given up hope of reaching a trade deal with the United States in the near term. 'We are here at the starting point of the Long March to remember the time when the Red Army began its journey,' Xi told cheering crowds on Monday...'We are now embarking on a new Long March, and we must start all over again.' While Xi did not directly mention the trade war or the United States, his remarks are being perceived as clear signals that the Chinese public is being told to prepare for hardships because of the worsening external environment The economy is already slowing and the trade war could trim as much as 1 per cent from its gross domestic product, Wang Yang, of the elite Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China, said last week....The Long March was a military retreat between 1934 to 1936 undertaken by the Red Army, the forerunner of the People's Liberation Army, to evade Kuomintang troops during the Chinese civil war. A long article by the official Xinhua News Agency on Monday claimed that 'bullying by the US side' was the cause of the failed trade talks....China warned last Friday that there was no point in holding more talks if the US was not 'sincere' in wanting to achieve a fair outcome. 'The message is clear: China is ready to fight a protracted trade war,' said one source."
Four in 10 Americans Embrace Some Form of Socialism -Gallup
"Americans today are more closely divided than they were earlier in the last century when asked whether some form of socialism would be a good or bad thing for the country. While 51% of U.S. adults say socialism would be a bad thing for the country, 43% believe it would be a good thing. Those results contrast with a 1942 Roper/Fortune survey that found 40% describing socialism as a bad thing, 25% a good thing and 34% not having an opinion....A majority of Democrats have said they view socialism positively in Gallup polling since 2010, including 57% in the most recent measure in 2018....In the same April survey, Gallup asked Americans whether they would prefer mostly free market or government control over several economic and societal activities. Americans are most likely to prefer free market control in the areas of technological innovation and the distribution of wealth. Majorities also want the free market to drive the economy overall, wages, higher education and healthcare. Notably, more Americans favor free market than government control over healthcare and higher education...But at least four in 10 Americans appear sympathetic to policies that would increase the government's role in those areas."
The Big Story You Don't Read About -Brooks/New York Times
"My colleague David Bornstein points out that a lot of American journalism is based on a mistaken theory of change. That theory is: The world will get better when we show where things have gone wrong...Bornstein, who writes for The Times and also co-founded the Solutions Journalism Network, says that you've got to expose problems, but you've also got to describe how the problems are being tackled. The search for solutions is more exciting than the problems themselves. I’ve spent the past year around people who weave social fabric, and this week about 275 community weavers gathered in Washington, for a conference called #WeaveThePeople, organized by the Aspen Institute....At most conferences people lead with their bios, but at this gathering people led with their pain. A prominent researcher described how she was abused as a child, and how this led her into her research into children's emotional development. A woman from South Carolina talked about loved ones she had lost and the time she tried to talk a man out of jumping off a bridge, finally confessing: If you jump, I’m going to jump, too...The weavers know how to open relationships with vulnerability and they know how to build connections and move to action. Their defining feature is that they are geniuses at relationship....'Relationship moves at the speed of trust. Social change moves at the speed of relationship.' 'Neighbors are people we practice doing life with.' 'We’re trying to do something that has never been done before....Alexis de Tocqueville pointed out that associational life is the central feature of American life. But somehow we in the media under-cover this sector. We barely cover the most important social change agents."
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5.20.19 - What if Green Energy Isn’t the Future?
Gold last traded at $1,277 an ounce. Silver at $14.44 an ounce
NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices traded steady Monday on a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks fell as the intensifying fallout from a U.S. crackdown on the Chinese telcom giant Huawei pressured the technology sector.
Why Now Is The Time To Buy Gold -Seeking Alpha
"Ray Dalio once said, 'If you don't own gold, you know neither history nor economics.'....This is the crux of Dalio's statement. Paper currency regimes, with no mechanism to regulate increases in the money supply, have an inflationary tendency...While paper currencies lose value over time, gold has served as a store of value for over 5,000 years....A study conducted by Flexible Plan Investments determined the optimal allocation of gold to a portfolio. It determined that a 20% allocation to gold, with 48% in equities, and 32% in treasuries provided the highest Sharpe (risk-to-reward) ratio....Saddled with rising debt and a wave of retiring baby boomers, there's a chance that the U.S. remains stuck in a Japan-like deflationary spiral...With demographic trends skewing the numbers...I would reduce the optimal allocation of gold from 20% to 10%....With corporate debt at record highs and 50% of corporate credit ratings one level above junk, I believe over-levered corporations, not necessarily banks, will be at risk of defaulting when corporate profits drop in the next recession....In conclusion, gold may chronically underperform if the Fed implements the same monetary policy as Japan. However, if current MMT rumblings come to fruition, gold will skyrocket while other asset classes lag."
Levin's 'Unfreedom of the Press' Is the Right Book at the Right Time -Shirley/Newsmax
"When the Framers met in Philadelphia to craft the Constitution, they wrestled long and hard over the First Amendment, which contains mostly personal rights such as speech, freedom to worship, petition the government, and the less understood right of assembly....All presidents were savaged at one time or another by the ink stained wretches of the national press as the role of the newspapers was working, just as the Framers had planned. This all changed with the election of Barack Obama and for the first time in our nation's history, the national media sided with the national government, against the American people....Enter Mark Levin and his new, important book, 'Unfreedom of the Press.'....From the very first pages, Levin identifies the problem with the current state of the Fourth Estate: 'Unlike the early patriot press, today's newsrooms and journalists are mostly hostile to America's founding principles, traditions, and institutions. Issues, events, groups, and individuals that do not fit the narrative are dismissed or diminished; those that do fit the narrative are elevated and celebrated.' Bingo. Further, Levin cites chapter and verse how the dominant liberal media 'squelches' speech rather than celebrating the diversity of thought....Levin’s book is not a polemic, but rather written in the rational, but also folksy style of a smart prosecutor. Think Spencer Tracy in 'Inherit the Wind.'...Levin’s book comes along in the right place, at the right time."
Mark Levin's new book is vital reading for all freedom-loving Americans. To discover why, watch last night's Life, Liberty & Levin program on Fox News. Mark devotes the entire show to giving viewers an overview of the book - which will help explain why it's currently at the #1 spot on the New York Times Bestseller list a day ahead of its release. The irony is that Levin devotes an entire chapter to lamenting the relentless decline of unbiased journalism at the New York Times.
China's new 'social credit system' is an Orwellian nightmare -Mosher/New York Post
"Imagine calling a friend. Only instead of hearing a ring tone you hear a police siren, and then a voice intoning, 'Be careful in your dealings with this person.' Would that put a damper on your relationship? It's supposed to. Welcome to life in China's 'Social Credit System,' where a low score can ruin your life in more ways than one....The government algorithm will go as far as to install an 'embarrassing' ring tone on the phones, shaming them every time they get a call in public. But an embarrassing ring tone, flight bans and slow trains are just the beginning of the dystopian nightmare that is now daily life in China for tens of millions of people. A low social credit score will exclude you from well-paid jobs, make it impossible for you to get a house or a car loan or even book a hotel room....The government claims that its purpose is to enhance trust and social stability by creating a 'culture of sincerity' that will 'restore social trust.' What it will actually create, of course, is a culture of fear and a nation of informants. This is because one of the ways that people can improve their own social credit score is to report on the supposed misdeeds of others. Individuals can earn points, for example, for reporting those who violate the new restrictions on religious practice, such as Christians who illegally meet to pray in private homes, or the Muslim Uyghurs and Kazakhs in China's far west whom they spot praying in public, fasting during Ramadan or just growing a beard. Of course, as the state progresses ever closer toward its goal of monitoring all of the activities of its citizens 24 hours a day, seven days a week, society itself becomes a virtual prison....It is China's ancient totalitarian impulse - the absolute rule of the god-emperor over his subjects - brought into the modern age. It is George Orwell's prophetic '1984' come alive...The Chinese Communist Party has given birth to the world's first high-tech digital dictatorship."
What if Green Energy Isn’t the Future? -Wall Street Journal
"There's a reason Warren Buffett decided to bet $10 billion on the future of oil and natural gas...A week doesn't pass without a mayor, governor or policy maker joining the headlong rush to pledge or demand a green energy future. Some 100 U.S. cities have made such promises. Hydrocarbons may be the source of 80% of America's and the world's energy, but to say they are currently out of favor is a dramatic understatement...The prevailing wisdom has wind and solar, paired with batteries, adding 250% more energy to the world over the next two decades than American shale has added over the past 15 years. Is that realistic?...Even bullish green scenarios still see global demand for oil and gas rising, if more slowly. If the favored alternatives fall short of delivering what growing economies need, will markets tolerate energy starvation? Not likely. Nations everywhere will necessarily turn to hydrocarbons. Green forecasters are likely out over their skis. All the predictions assume that emerging economies - the least wealthy nations - will account for more nearly three-fourths of total new spending on renewables. That won't happen unless the promised radical cost reductions occur...The reason? Using wind, solar and batteries as the primary sources of a nation's energy supply remains far too expensive....A common response to all of the above: Make more electric cars. But mere arithmetic reveals that even the optimists' 100-fold growth in electric vehicles wouldn't displace more than 5% of global oil demand in two decades."
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5.17.19 - Half of Americans One Paycheck From Disaster
Gold last traded at $1,275 an ounce. Silver at $14.38 an ounce.
NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices eased back Friday on profit-taking and a firmer dollar. U.S. stocks traded lower on rising U.S.-China trade worries despite upbeat U.S. consumer sentiment data.
Global Markets, Yuan Tumble As China Crushes Trade Hopes -Zero Hedge
"World markets suffered a fresh bout of risk aversion on Friday after China doused hopes for a quick deal when its state media signaled a lack of interest in resuming trade talks with the U.S. under the current threat to escalate tariffs, while the government said stimulus will be stepped up to buttress the domestic economy. Asian stocks erased most gains for the day with the MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan sliding to 15-week lows and down 2.6% for the week at the end of trading...China's Shanghai Composite Index fell 2.5% after a front page commentary in the Communist Party's People's Daily evoked the patriotic spirit of past wars, saying the trade war would never bring China down. 'The China state media commentaries fueled concerns that the U.S.-China trade disputes will prolong, deterring risk-taking,' said Koji Fukaya, CEO of Japan's FPG Securities. 'This issue will probably be one of the major market drivers for a while as U.S.-China trade war influences global economic conditions.'"
A Recession Indicator No One Is Talking About - and It's Flashing Red -Mauldin Economics
"The yield curve isn't the only sign recession is coming. Rising corporate misconduct says the same. Business scandals seem to peak at the end of every growth cycle. I think that’s because CEOs are human, and humans get overconfident when everything is going well. Allegations of negligence and/or misconduct at public companies now seem to be growing again....Why anyone would own shares in such companies, I don't know. For many, it's probably because they only care about a rising stock price. And they've been getting it. But if the stock is rising not because the business is well-run but because it is borrowing money to buy back its own shares, the gains won't last....With creative destruction now scarce, as zombie companies refuse to die and monopolies refuse to improve, we also struggle to generate even mild economic growth. I think those facts are connected. And that makes corporate corruption and incompetence a problem for everyone...Such conditions haven't ended well in the past."
U.S. Consumer Sentiment Hits Highest Level in 15 Years -Wall Street Journal
"U.S. household sentiment rose starkly at the beginning of May to its highest level in a decade and a half, driven by a brighter economic outlook...The survey's underlying gauge of future expectations increased to the highest level since 2004, driving most of the month's overall sentiment rise. 'That consumers view prospects for the economy both near and long term at the highest levels since 2004 coincides with more economists pushing out forecasts for the start of the next recession from 2020 to 2021,' said Robert Frick, economist at Navy Federal Credit Union....Richard Curtin, the survey's chief economist, pointed out that the index growth was recorded largely before the U.S.-China trade negotiations collapsed. He said negative references to tariffs rose in the past week and thinks they 'are likely to rise further in late May and June.'"
Half of Americans are just one paycheck away from financial disaster -Marketwatch
"Missing more than one paycheck is a one-way ticket to financial hardship for nearly half of the country's workforce. A new study from NORC at the University of Chicago, an independent social research institution, found that 51% of working adults in the United States would need to access savings to cover necessities if they missed more than one paycheck....The findings were based on a survey of more than 1,000 adults. The researchers interviewed a nationally representative panel designed to be indicative of the U.S. population. The survey provides a sobering look at Americans' precarious finances even as the economy is improving...'Even short disruptions in pay can cause significant hardship, as most Americans appear to be living paycheck-to-paycheck,' Angela Fontes, director of the Behavioral and Economic Analysis and Decision-Making (BEAD) program at NORC at the University of Chicago, said in the report."
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5.16.19 - America's Illusions of Growth
Gold last traded at $1,286 an ounce. Silver at $14.53 an ounce.
NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices eased back Thursday on profit-taking and a firmer dollar. U.S. stocks rose as investors focused on strong earnings from Walmart and Cisco Systems rather than growing trade-war fears.
America's Illusions of Growth -Project Syndicate
"National politics in the United States has become enslaved to macroeconomic indicators that have little bearing on true wellbeing. For many commentators, the snapshot growth rate of 3.2% for the first quarter of 2019, coupled with a decline in the unemployment rate to 3.6% in April, implies that President Trump's economic policies have been vindicated...But this interpretation overlooks what these indicators fail to measure. And what they fail to measure happens to be what really counts for the public....Macroeconomic indicators hide much about the quality of life. For example, even while the US economy has expanded during recent years, America's public health crisis has continued to mount. The US has experienced two consecutive years of declining life expectancy, in 2016 and 2017 – the longest consecutive decline since World War I and the subsequent flu epidemic. Yet the current decline is caused by despair, not by illness. Suicide rates and opioid overdoses are soaring. Another alarming epidemic not captured by GDP or unemployment rates is the sharp rise in anxiety among Americans....It's time that economists, pundits, and politicians start looking holistically at life in our times, and take seriously the long-term structural changes needed to address the multiple crises of health care, despair, inequality, and stress in the US and many other countries."
Atlanta Fed forecast for GDP growth sliding, rate cut chances surging -CNBC
"A Federal Reserve projection on economic growth just weakened substantially, and expectations for a rate cut over the next eight months got a lot stronger. The Atlanta Fed's closely watched GDPNow tracker is pointing to a 1.1% gain for the economy in the second quarter, according to a revision posted Wednesday. Disappointing retail sales in April fueled the latest leg down in the Atlanta Fed outlook. The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that sales declined 0.2% for the month against expectations of a 0.2% gain. Along with the retail letdown, industrial production fell 0.5% against Wall Street estimates of a 0.1% gain. The drop in the GDP forecast coincided with market expectations that the Fed will be lowering interest rates in the months ahead."
Gold steadies as trade optimism dims on Huawei sanctions -Reuters
"Gold steadied on Thursday, consolidating in a tight range below the key $1,300 pivot, as Washington slapped sanctions on Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, souring optimism for a thaw in U.S-China trade tensions. 'There are still a lot of underlying tensions (surrounding U.S.-China trade relations) so that might be supportive for gold,' said John Sharma, economist at National Australia Bank....Asian equities slipped after the United States hit Huawei with severe sanctions, threatening to further strain trade ties, and erasing limited gains triggered by news that U.S. President Donald Trump planned to delay implementing tariffs on auto imports....Escalations in trade tensions or economic uncertainty would make a case for gold, which is considered a safe-haven asset."
We’re Stumbling Into a Surveillance State -New York Times
"Cameras are the defining technological advance of our age. They are the keys to our smartphones, the eyes of tomorrow’s autonomous drones and the FOMO engines that drive Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and Pornhub...And cameras aren't done. They keep getting cheaper and - in ways both amazing and alarming - they are getting smarter. Advances in computer vision are giving machines the ability to distinguish and track faces, to make guesses about people's behaviors and intentions, and to comprehend and navigate threats in the physical environment. In China, smart cameras sit at the foundation of an all-encompassing surveillance totalitarianism unprecedented in human history. That's why I worry that we're stumbling dumbly into a surveillance state. And it's why I think the only reasonable thing to do about smart cameras now is to put a stop to them. This week, San Francisco's board of supervisors voted to ban the use of facial-recognition technology by the city's police and other agencies. Oakland and Berkeley are also considering bans, as is the city of Somerville, Mass. I'm hoping for a cascade. States, cities and the federal government should impose an immediate moratorium on facial recognition, especially its use by law-enforcement agencies....Georgetown Law's Center on Privacy & Technology...uncovered municipal contracts indicating that law enforcement agencies in Chicago, Detroit and several other cities are moving quickly, and with little public notice, to install Chinese-style 'real time' facial recognition systems.....It has chilling implications for speech and assembly protected by the First Amendment; it means that the police can watch who participates in protests against the police and keep tabs on them afterward....None of this is to say that facial recognition should be banned forever. The technology may have some legitimate uses. But it also poses profound legal and ethical quandaries."
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