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Commentary on The Capital Markets
2017-07-21 06:55 by Karl Denninger
in Monetary , 563 references
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No, the "risk" from "quantitative tightening" is not The Fed.

Yes, the reduction of their balance sheet will be a tightening.

But you're a fool if you think this is the only -- or even the largest source of such tightening over the next number of years -- 10 to 15 years from now, in fact and starting effectively now.

There is in fact, as of right now, $5.486 trillion worth of "tightening" that will take place between now and 2034 and it will probably start in permanent form within the next two years.

Where is it?

Social Security and Medicare.

The system holds bonds as a buffer between demographics.  This is a good thing, by the way, because there are baby booms and baby busts in any economy.  By holding bonds during "boom" times the system has the assets to pay liabilities during busts.

When it acquires said Treasuries it is effectively bidding for said assets, driving prices higher and yields lower than they would otherwise be.  This has the same monetary effect as "Quantitative Easing" if the banks do not lend the 'money' they acquire by such sales to The Fed, and in the current cycle they have not.

But when Social Security and Medicare sell said bonds it effectively offers them into the market which drives prices lower and yields higher.  This is exactly the same monetary effect as a Fed balance sheet reduction - - that is, "Quantitative Tightening"!

There is nothing that can be done about this; it is going to happen.  If you try to raise taxes so the system doesn't have to sell its cache of bonds then you withdraw money from the system exactly as you do if you sell the bonds, so trying to mitigate the effect with a tax increase won't work either.

This isn't "bad" or "good" -- it just is, and is a function of the boomers going through the system.  It cannot be avoided no matter what political or monetary decisions are made.

But this, along with The Fed being at or near zero, is why the 30+ year trend of ever-lower interest rates has ended and cannot extend.

Folks, virtually everything you know about financial leverage and how business works -- especially public firms that have been issuing debt like crazy to buy back stock (they're the only net buyers over the last five years, in fact) along with municipalities and the federal government to fund this and that are all predicated on ever-lower rates which allows you have more "money" outstanding for the same interest payment every time you refinance.

That is over.

It is mathematically over and inescapable.

I've written on this for years but nobody wants to hear it.  Well, it's here folks.  It's starting now.  We had a couple of years where very small amounts of these trust funds were redeemed during the '09 timeframe but the fact that a steady and unrelenting drawdown was going to take place over the space of more than a decade was known then and in fact was known all the way back to the 1990s.

Yet companies continue to buy back stock with debt (which eventually must be rolled) and both the federal and state governmental units continue to issue more and more debt with no plan to ever pay it off which also must be rolled.  This continual roll will run smack into the demographically-caused Quantitative Tightening starting now and accelerating through the next decade and there is exactly nothing that anyone can do to stop it from happening.

Why Wall Street continues to "reward" companies that pull this crap (such as Tesla) rather than drive them into the ground is beyond me -- but down this road lies bankruptcy for all of the firms that engaged in this tactic -- and that's most public companies.  At the same time bankruptcy also lies ahead for both the Federal and State governments unless they can run permanent surpluses sufficient to pay not just coupon expense today but also the maturity of bonds so they do not have to roll them.

There is exactly one way to do that: Defang the medical monopolies and cut the cost of medical care by 80% now.  We have less than four years to do it and have it all take effect and play out before the mathematics overtake us and the spiral gets to the point that it will be virtually impossible to change the outcome without basically zeroing all discretionary spending at both Federal and State levels.

We are out of time.

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The FTC has explicit rules on "reference prices" -- that is, "was $X, now $Y"

You cannot artificially inflate so-called "reference" prices; they must reasonably reflect the actual price at which an item was sold and not be some pie-in-the-sky dreamfest.

Well, it appears that Consumer Watchdog, an advocacy group, has found widespread cases in which the actual displayed "references" prices were in fact nonsense.  In other words the allegation is that Amazon is intentionally misleading consumers on what sort of "discount" it is offering.

This practice was explicitly regulated because it was the subject of outrageously misleading practices by retailers for a very long time.  No, Amazon is not exempt.

Apparently someone over at the FTC stopped watching Porntube long enough to take a look....

Oh by the way they got caught in Canada doing the same thing and paid a fine.... I suspect they didn't "admit guilt", however -- nobody these days ever does, right?

This could get interesting considering that the report included a request for the FTC to block their Whole Paycheck acquisition while these alleged acts are continuing....

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2017-07-20 15:38 by Karl Denninger
in Company Specific , 223 references
[Comments enabled]  

How do you stop Zuckerpig's privacy invasions?

Boycott anyone who advertises on those sites -- do not buy and do not do business with in any other way.  How do you know they're advertising?  You see "Sponsored" or any sort of video ad from a given entity.

This post is exempt and will never go away.  I will add to it as I see new companies, and if you do and can confirm it to me I'll add them.  Here's my pledge: If I see an ad from your firm on any of Zuckerpig's properties or sufficient confirmation (e.g. seeing such an ad on someone else's device in the app) I will never buy anything from you.

You choose -- you advertise and pay that company to do so, you lose my business.  To get it back you must permanently pledge to never again advertise on any Facebook-owned property, in public, via a formal press release or other similarly-verifiable and public method.

Oh and you get one second chance, never more.

Advertising is legal.  So is refusing to do business with you because you are the primary and in fact nearly the sole source of funds for a company that does things I consider detestable.

So here is the start of it folks, and yes, it will grow.... check back often!

  • Best Buy (Oh well; I've bought plenty there)
  • REI (this one hurts; I like them.... but no more!)
  • Consumer Reports
  • Inked Magazine
  • Runner's World (oh well!)
  • 30A clothing company (oops -- that one's local)
  • The Heritage Foundation (oops again!)
  • Huffington Post (no loss there)
  • A&E TV
  • We Are The Mighty (Military-oriented news org)
  • Orbitz
  • iHeartDogs.Com
  • Pensacola Runners Association (ouch; they sponsor races I'd run in...)
  • National Geographic (oh well)
  • CNet (Bleh)
  • 22 Words (Clickbait garbage, but heh)
  • (oops again; and I have bought quite a lot from gearup...)
  • 12 Tomatoes
  • The Penny Hoarder (yeah, another clickbait garbage site, but..)
  • SoWal (oops -- bye-bye Walton County beach businesses..)
  • Innermost House (San Fran Non-profit... good for some west coasters)
  • NTD Television
  • The New York Times (shock - NOT!)
  • Conservative Tribune (news)
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2017-07-20 11:43 by Karl Denninger
in Musings , 301 references
[Comments enabled]  

So you want Alexa to control your appliance eh?

You're going to put an Alexa-powered device in your house and then tell it to start the washing machine?  Really?

How are you going to have Alexa load said washing machine?

Look folks, this announcement of Sears selling Kenmore appliances via Amazon is stupid.  It's brain-dead stupid because not one person in 100 will install their own refrigerator, say much less a dishwasher, stove, washer or dryer.

Sure, I will and do, but I'm 1 in 100.  Literally.

But if you think there's a tie-in with Alexa here, let me point something out -- if I see one of those "smart things" in your house I'm leaving as soon as I do see it and I'll never darken your door again.  Nor will I hire you.  Nor will I associate with you.  You've proved beyond any doubt that you will spy on our interaction and deliver the contents of our conversations and interactions to others without my consent.

That means I don't want you in my house because you probably have such a device in your pocket and it's turned on.  You're not welcome in my office or business -- at least not beyond the public areas, where there's no expectation of anything.  I won't drink a beer with you, because we might talk about something that I believe is between the two of us, but suddenly it won't be.

You're an *******, in short, who thinks there is some "gain" in speaking three words instead of pushing one button that you happen to be standing right next to while loading said washing machine.

Go **** yourself.

There are a few younger people who are are figuring this out.  Soon a lot of them will.  I've already seen plenty of evidence that this sort of surreptitious spying is going on via apps and phones, and when I can pinpoint who was carrying said device at the time they're done as far as I'm concerned -- permanently.

When this reaches general public consciousness, and it will, to simply own one of these devices will be enough to get you -- and the company that sold any of the pieces of it -- blackballed en-masse.

Yes, this includes Kenmore appliances -- and Spamazon.

Spamzon will find it's pair of cement shoes in the market through this "synergy."

Count on it.

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2017-07-20 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Health Reform , 507 references
[Comments enabled]  

There is no greater scam in the world today than the blatant and outrageous lies told to everyone from school age onward over the last 40+ years when it comes to diet, exercise, health and various risk factors associated with same.  The root of the scam goes back even further, but it really became evident with the so-called "food pyramid" which emphasized refined starches (breads and "white vegetables") and claimed that fats were bad for you and should be limited.

Then, the scam evolved.  Only saturated fats were bad, so it was claimed.  The rest weren't so bad.  And of course what we all heard was to eat more "natural", meaning vegetables -- mostly.

We were also told that weight was all about calorie balance.  In .vs. out, thus the exhortation to exercise -- to increase the "out" and to restrict calories, in order to decrease the "in."

This may sound easy and is demonstrably, if you can stuff someone in a lab, it might actually appear to work.

But it doesn't work out in the real world -- ever.

It doesn't work because the advice on what to eat was all a lie and the people who ran it knew it was a lie -- especially for people with any sort of metabolic derangement.  Of course before there were insulin and drugs if you became diabetic you had two choices: Stop eating carbohydrates or die from the effects of the disease -- and probably quite quickly too.

Then we developed some drugs.  And when we did, suddenly we allegedly "forgot" that metabolic derangement could be very effectively treated without a single dose of pharmaceuticals.  We were told to believe that taking the drug made it all ok.

But it didn't.  We knew this early on because the number of people with Type II diabetes, heart disease and obesity continued to increase.  The doctors all claimed this was because "nobody took their advice", but that belies the point: Either the advice was wrong or it was impossible, psychologically, physiologically or both, to comply with.

It doesn't matter which of the two possibilities is true, by the way.  A "mandate" to do something that most people will fail at due to either physiological or psychological factors is no mandate at all unless there is no alternative that doesn't have the same problem.

Of course the facts are that there is an alternative -- the same one we knew about 100 years ago.

And now, here comes the evidence -- that not only was the advice wrong the people pushing it knew it was wrong because they tampered with the data.

For instance, there are 44 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of drug or dietary interventions to lower LDL-C in the primary and secondary prevention literature, which show no benefit on mortality[8]. Most of these trials did not reduce CVD events and several reported substantial harm. Yet, these studies have not received much publicity. Furthermore, the ACCELERATE trial, a recent well-conducted double-blind randomised controlled trial, demonstrated no discernible reduction in CVD events or mortality, despite a 130% increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and a 37% drop in LDL-C. The result dumbfounded many experts, sparking renewed scepticism about the veracity of the cholesterol hypothesis[8].

In other words the drugs do reduce cholesterol but don't reduce either heart attacks or rates of death!

That is, they don't work to produce the claimed outcome -- better health.

What's worse is that even when you look at trials the drug industry sponsored for "secondary prevention" (in other words, you already had a heart attack before starting Statins) showed that the median life expectancy increase was....... four days.

Now tell me folks -- would you agree to take a drug after a heart attack if (1) you knew it would cost you some amount of money -- any amount of money -- and (2) that the expected improvement in your survival time was four days if you took it every day for several years?

No, you would not -- and you know it.

Yet not only the drug industry but your doctor have made billions of dollars selling you these drugs without telling you that the expected improvement in your life is four whole ****ing days.

Knowingly failing to disclose a material fact that would have changed your decision had you known it for the purpose of making a profit at your expense has a name: FRAUD.  It is not a mistake, it is a crime.

The paper says:

There is an ethical and moral imperative that the true benefits and potential harms of these drugs are discussed to protect patients from unnecessary anxiety, manipulation, and iatrogenic complications.

Actually there is a legal requirement to disclose these facts, not just a moral and ethical imperative.  It is a criminal event (fraud) to fail to disclose material facts that you are aware of, that disadvantage the person who you withhold the information from and from which you profit.

There is of course a moral and ethical requirement here as well but this is a matter of law, and black-letter law at that.  It is not a close argument, it is not a split decision.  It is black letter, especially when the underlying claim is that taking a particular drug will reduce your risk of a life-ending event and that claim is knowingly false.

Then paper then goes on to talk about another aspect of this, and includes the 20% of obese people who are allegedly "metabolically healthy."  Hmmm.... maybe.  But do we know or are we guessing?  Remember that as a matter of routine most people are not screened for actual insulin resistance.  Indeed I'm aware of no physician that does so nor any practice that claims it's something that should be done.  Yes, your A1c will be tested if there is a reason to suspect trouble and you might also be asked to take an OGTT but while failing either certainly means you're metabolically compromised to in that you're symptomatic for diabetes passing either or both does not mean your insulin levels are normal!

So how many people really are "metabolically healthy and obese"?  We don't know, but I bet it's not 20% -- especially if you're obese for decades.

Then the paper goes on to make another point, which I've repeatedly brought up -- Omega 3:6 balance.  It's impossible to have a decent Omega 3:6 balance if you eat vegetable oils in any material quantity.

So where does this leave us?

Right about..... here.

Or, if you want more detail on the food side, you can try this.

But while you're at it, cut the **** America.  This scam is pervasive, it's international and it is killing people by the millions along with asset-stripping the population to the tune of a few hundred billion a year in the United States alone.

The referenced paper makes clear that this is not function of a mistake it's an intentional lie and that makes it a fraud.

It further is a major contributing factor to the health cost explosion and thus the detonation of State and Federal finances, which if we do not stop it will destroy the country.

Either we as a people demand that this crap stop and everyone involved be both asset-stripped to their underwear and thrown in prison or it literally does not matter what else we do from a finance, budget and government perspective.  And that's no bull.

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