The Market Ticker
Commentary on The Capital Markets

Let's talk for a bit about the so-called "narrow" and "common sense" compromise being put forward by Democrats -- and a few Republicans, notably Susan Collins (R-ME), to block people from buying guns if they're "on a terror watch list."

Sounds reasonable, right?

Well, it's not.

And the reason it's not has nothing to do with letting terrorists have guns.  Nobody in their right mind wants to have someone who is an actual terrorist walk into a gun store and buy a firearm -- or 10.

Rather, we blew it when we allowed the creation of "watch lists" that are (1) secret, (2) constrain people (e.g. "no-fly" lists) and (3) have no due process protections of any sort associated with them.

These are all unconstitutional, I remind you, to the extent they apply to American citizens.

Now it happens to be completely constitutional for The President (via the State Department) to bar anyone that is not a US Citizen from entering the country -- whether by air, train, boat, car, walking or teleportation.  Not only is there no Constitutional problem with doing so it is explicitly authorized by statute and no less than Jimmy Carter did exactly that during the Iranian Hostage Crisis (I'll bet you know what group of people he banned too, right?)

Today politicians on both sides of the aisle -- including Obama -- like to claim that this is not "who we are."  Did they forget Carter?

It sure sounds like it.

The problem with "Secret Lists" is that there is no way to know if you're on one up front and, if you discover you are (while trying to board a plane or buy a gun, for example) your liberties are infringed without due process of law and, often, without any means of challenge.

The government claims that disclosing this information means that their investigations may be "thwarted."  And?  The issue isn't that they have a list of people they're watching -- that's called investigation and is part and parcel of any legitimate law enforcement agency.  No, it's the disability they impose without due process, without trial and without, in many cases, anything that would be regarded as actionable evidence of a crime.

If the government wishes to conduct investigations before getting warrants, that's part of police work.

But imposing disabilities, including barring people from getting on a plane or buying a gun when you cannot make the case that a crime is in the process of being committed is unconstitutional, impermissible in a free society and must be stopped in its entirety.

Those who argue otherwise are IMHO not Americans and to the extent they're in positions of political power they are not only not American they're violating long-standing law (18 USC 242 and 42 USC 1983) and must be both civilly sued and criminally prosecuted for their crimes.

View this entry with comments (registration required to post)

Why am I not surprised?

Henry Paulson, a Republican who was U.S. Treasury secretary during the 2008 financial meltdown, on Friday called a Donald Trump presidency "unthinkable" and said he will vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Yeah, it's unthinkable because if Paulson's former firm (Goldman Sachs) got into debt trouble Trump would probably do what he did with his firms that also did so -- tell them to file bankruptcy instead of bailing them out.

He might also prosecute the firm and the executives for fraud, particularly if (as was the case in the bailout in 08) the firm was on tape calling things they were selling to clients as "good investments" by such descriptive monikers as "vomit" and "dogsqueeze."

"I can't help but think what would have happened if a divisive character such as Trump were president during the 2008 financial crisis, at a time when leadership, compromise and careful analysis were critical," he said.

He sure as hell wouldn't have his Treasury Secretary try to ram through a two-page bill that gave him plenary power to blow the taxpayer's money without any check, balance, review or ability to prosecute even if the conduct was later shown to be utterly fraudulent!

But that's exactly what Hank Paulson did, and in addition he intentionally misled Congress in that his original proposal which was voted on the second time was to buy "toxic assets" but by the time it reached the floor of Congress he had already decided not to buy assets but rather to provide direct funds via various other mechanisms to the firms in question and did not inform Congress of his "changed" intentions.

In other words he actively and passively misled Congress.

Trump probably wouldn't have allowed that and if the Statute of Limitations had not already run on this conduct (I believe it has) he might even prosecute and jail that rat bastard.

View this entry with comments (registration required to post)

2016-06-25 12:47 by Karl Denninger
in Politics , 251 references

This weekend I had a "walker" come to my home soliciting votes for Congress.

I'm familiar with this; walking neighborhoods is a time-honored thing, but it's hotter than Hell here today in Florida, and this guy was clearly not all that pleased about standing outside with me while I chatted him up.

He of course was pushing the local "conservative", Mr. Gaetz.  I told the solicitor that while I was very much aligned with Gaetz's agenda as I understood it (and was on the literature he was peddling) I was simply not interested in backing anyone for Congress who wouldn't deal with the single issue that IMHO is the most important: Medical monopolies.

Of course any sort of mention of that was flatly-absent, and while Gaetz claims to be "for" a balanced federal budget I also pointed out that so is allegedly Ryan, and yet we've had nothing but growth in both the cost of government and its debt during the time he has been speaker.

He didn't like me very much by the time we got done, but he also didn't secure my vote -- and he shouldn't secure yours either, no matter who it is, until and unless this is front and center in the political debate.


Because if we don't take care of this now, in this election cycle, our way of life in this nation will end within the next four to five years.

That's not politics or speculation, it's arithmetic.

View this entry with comments (registration required to post)

Elon Musk has absolutely nothing to sell except hype -- and in that regard, he sells a lot.

Yes, Space-X is a big deal.  But Space-X is a non-event in terms of money.

And now, Musk has "acquired" Solar City -- another money losing tax farm.

Folks, these companies are nothing other than tax subsidy farms, and lose money on an operating basis.  They are debt-financed and leveraged to beyond the orbit of Jupiter, which is a grossly-unsustainable practice that only works so long as the stock price remains sky-high.

Which, ultimately, it won't.

At which point the overhang of said debt will sink the company, rendering it worthless and all those expensive Tesla cars unsupportable and also worthless.

Count on it.

View this entry with comments (registration required to post)

I'm loving this morning's parade of idiots on the bubble-box.

Folks, this comes down to mathematics and denial of same, which is now blowing up to a small degree in people's faces.

It's simply this, to boil it down to one sentence:

Any compound growth rate in anything that does not have a terminal date (that is, a date at which said growth ceases) is by mathematical definition and trivial mathematical proof a fraud.

Fraud is a crime, not a mistake.

We have central banks, politicians, media outlets, investment firms, individual investment advisers, pension administrators and more who have all run various versions of this fraud on the public over a period spanning decades.  They know it's a fraud too, because their actions all confirm such in that virtually everything they have done over the last 30 years has had one impact and goal above all others: extending the time during which said fraud can continue to appear to be possible.

Let's take just one example -- one which apparently drove the Brexit referendum results.


Nobody argues over people wanting to immigrate who bring with them relatively high levels of intelligence and either relative youth and a willingness to both learn and earn or a pre-built skillset, along with a reasonable cultural fit for the environment that exists in a nation.  Several friends of mine, including a few I've known since High School, are from places such as Iran -- yet they are productive and peaceful members of society (along with being my friends) because they fit the parameters of a successful immigrant as outlined above.

The current immigration craze both here in the US and over in Europe does not fit this mold, whether they are in the Mexican invader or "rapefugee" group.  Instead, said persons are imported for the specific reason of increasing the leverage of employers -- that is, to reduce their costs and thus stoke their profits.

The problem is that the expenses of doing so fall on someone else -- those who are citizens, to be specific.  Many of these people not only have no cultural nexus with the nations they're entering they would consider jail to be an improvement over their former standard of living!  They thus do not care about the civil conduct of the people in their "new" land nor the criminal code, since imprisoning them under "Western" style conditions is not punishment on a comparative basis.

As a result they feel entirely free to******and harass women, threaten people, shoot up gay bars and generally ignore the common standards of decency in the nations they "migrate" to.

Nor does it stop there; in fact, the immigration craze is just one of the terminal decisions when those in political and economic power find (much to their panic!) that they're running out of levers to pull.  Those people know damn well that bringing in a bunch of radical Muslims that have zero cultural nexus to the lands they're coming into and near-zero skillsets that are applicable to a service-based economy beyond waiting tables or pulling coffees (neither of which they'll do willingly) is unlikely to be successful.  Desperate people do desperate things, however, and they've reached that point since economic machinations, specifically in the cost of credit, have run their course.

Look at the pension managers over the last 30+ years.  They have and continue to this day to believe in 8%+ gains on a compounded, permanent basis.  This is impossible; you cannot have growth in an asset base that exceeds that of GDP, and GDP cannot permanently expand at a rate beyond that of advancement in technology and population.  This ultimately must resolve to technology improvement only since once again land mass is fixed and so are resources; therefore, "importing people" (or making more of them by screwing like rabbits) has a terminal point that cannot be avoided.

Or, if you prefer, look at health care expense at the federal level.  Last (fiscal) year those expenses grew by about 9%.  Over the last 20 years it's been running just over 7% annually, which leads to two doublings in that time frame (Rule of 72.)  This cannot continue against a growth rate in the population of about 1% a year, which has been more-or-less constant for the last century in the United States, nor can it against the "new normal" of about 2-3% GDP expansion -- half or so of which is technology based.

In point of fact back in the 1990s I pointed out to my employees that this issue would sink the United States from both a business and political perspective in about 20-30 years unless it was stopped.  The only means to stop it is to break the medical monopolies.  Yet in the 20 years hence nothing has been done or even discussed among the major political parties, or for that matter, the fringe ones such as the Libertarians!  They won't even take it up as a plank in the platform despite this being a clear case of mathematics and the end result of refusal being both clear and inescapable.

There are those (like Mr. Magoo, who was on the TV this morning) who claim this is about people getting older.  Wrong; that's a damned lie and the public data proves it.  Last year (well into Obamacare's "expansion" and thus not chargeable to it) state Medicaid block grants increased by 16%!  The total federal health spending increase last year was 9.3%.

Medicare is for old people; Medicaid is for poor people.  If you are poor and become old (over 65) you wind up on Medicare, not Medicaid.  Yet the rate of increase in spending for poor people (greatly) exceeded that of spending on old people last year.

Still care to argue against arithmetic?

The fact of the matter is that asset price increases over the last 30 years are mostly a function of the cost of leverage -- that is, credit.  As it has fallen asset prices have gone up.  Fine and well except for one problem -- credit is not the use of yesterday's surplus to buy things, it is a bet "on the come" that you will be able to produce tomorrow at a rate exceeding that of today because you must cover it's cost.

What do you think LinkedIn being bought by Microsoft is really about?  People will get fired -- high-paying people -- from this acquisition.  This is destructive to jobs and thus the broader economy but for Microsoft, which has a AAA credit rating and thus can borrow for a few basis points over the cost of Treasuries the incremental EBIDTA they must generate to cover the bond sales is tiny.   This doesn't benefit anyone except the investment bankers (who get their fees both from the deal and the bond issuance) and highest executives at both Microsoft and LinkedIn; the acquisition in fact reduces diversity in the economy, it reduces competition and it destroys jobs.

It is also uneconomic; if you had to pay 300 basis points over natural GDP and productivity expansion (a normal rate of interest) to borrow for 10 or 20 years to finance the deal you'd never do it because LinkedIn, at its net profit margin could never cover the interest expense on the bonds!

Likewise, why would your house ever go up in value -- unless you expand or update it?  Does it magically grow more bedrooms?  Does it magically have more crappers or showers to use?  Does it violate the law of entropy, and thus improve itself without your input, rather than requiring a consent level of energy input to maintain it at its current state?

Of course not.

But if the cost of capital goes down from 5% to 3% then the "price" of a $200,000 house, assuming you borrowed the money for 30 years and are basing the price on the payment you can afford, rises to $254,233.98!

Wait a second.... the value of the house in terms of utility didn't change.  Neither did anything else.  The increase in price was solely driven by one thing -- the cost of borrowing the capital.

This depression of said cost is artificial, however, because on a risk-adjusted basis it cannot be otherwise.  That in turn means someone other than the borrower is forced to take on that risk and pay for it.  That "someone" is you, the taxpayer, and the person doing the forcing is the bank, the central bank and the politicians.  In this case that is expressed in a ballooning government debt that is immediately dilutive to the purchasing power of your money.  In other words you didn't gain by such a machination even though you were told you did.  You in fact lost, because nobody works for free and that includes the bankers that sold you the paper and then packaged it up and put it into the market while causing an increase in the circulating "money" to occur in order to make the sale of said paper possible.

Behind all of this chicanery is the entirety of the media, investment people, commercial banks, investment houses and politicians who are all committing fraud upon the public generally and you personally because they are all claiming that these "trends" can and will continue indefinitely and that you are getting "richer."

This is trivially proved to be a false claim by the simple laws of mathematics and thus fits exactly the legal definition of a Ponzi scheme, for which there are actual and real criminal penalties.

So where the damned handcuffs?  They're missing in action because the people with them are the same people running the crap, along with those who fund them.

Brexit is nothing more or less than the first hint of recognition that the politicians, media, investment houses, pension managers and advisers have built a bridge too far with too few supports -- the end fell off into the sea.

With luck Brexit is the start of recognition and repudiation, hopefully to be followed up with handcuffs and prison sentences, for those who have for decades run outrageously fraudulent claims of "prosperity" and "growth" upon the public, enticing them to entrust their futures, along with those of their children, to a mathematical impossibility.

View this entry with comments (registration required to post)

Main Navigation
MUST-READ Selection:
You MUST Change Your Attitude

Full-Text Search & Archives
Archive Access
Legal Disclaimer

The content on this site is provided without any warranty, express or implied. All opinions expressed on this site are those of the author and may contain errors or omissions.


The author may have a position in any company or security mentioned herein. Actions you undertake as a consequence of any analysis, opinion or advertisement on this site are your sole responsibility.

Market charts, when present, used with permission of TD Ameritrade/ThinkOrSwim Inc. Neither TD Ameritrade or ThinkOrSwim have reviewed, approved or disapproved any content herein.

The Market Ticker content may be reproduced or excerpted online for non-commercial purposes provided full attribution is given and the original article source is linked to. Please contact Karl Denninger for reprint permission in other media or for commercial use.

Submissions or tips on matters of economic or political interest may be sent "over the transom" to The Editor at any time. To be considered for publication your submission must include full and correct contact information and be related to an economic or political matter of the day. All submissions become the property of The Market Ticker.