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2024-04-18 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Corruption , 414 references
[Comments enabled]  
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The Senate appears to have a rather odd view of the Executive -- then again so does the House, and both are not only toxic they're demonstrably false.

Mayorkas is the first Cabinet secretary to be impeached in almost 150 years. House Republicans voted to impeach Mayorkas in February over his handling of the southern border by a narrow margin after failing to do so on their first try.

Democrats have slammed the impeachment as a political stunt, saying that Republicans had no valid basis for the move and that policy disagreements are not a justification for the rarely used constitutional impeachment of a Cabinet official.

The impeachment of Mayorkas has nothing to do with "policy disagreements"; it is first, last and only about a Cabinet official's deliberate refusal to enforce laws as written, including 8 USC §1324.

That statute mandates felony criminal penalties carrying prison sentences for anyone who assists, harbors or transports illegal immigrants.  Other sections of US law forbid the Federal Government and its agencies from "paroling" into the United States an illegal immigrant unless that have a facially-reasonable claim to asylum.  There is no capacity in the law to permit DHS to do so simply because there are a lot of people illegally crossing.

Policy is defined by legislation and thus has to pass both House and Senate and either be signed by the President or a veto must be overridden.  It is absolutely true that different Administrations will have different policies but the Constitution is clear and each person in all three branches of Government takes an oath to uphold and enforce all of the laws and thus the means to express policy isn't to ignore laws you don't like but rather to work to change them through the legislative process.

If you can't find agreement via that process then until you can the existing policy stands whether you agree with it or not and if you take an oath to enforce the law as written and you refuse to do so on a deliberate basis impeachment is the peaceful and appropriate action to remove you from said office.

Neither the House or Senate acting alone can change policy, no matter which party controls said chamber.  Only both, acting in concert, can do so.  This is intentional in the design of our Republic; policy changes of significant importance to society are described in our laws, and it is both wildly unreasonable and destructive to civil order to change them on a whim when one person wins or loses an office, no matter the office.

The Senate's Schumer led his caucus to toss the entire thing as "unconstitutional" on a part-line vote.  Big shock, right?

When you boil it down essentially everything wrong with this nation comes down to this same issue: Various politicians and paid employees of the government simply ignore any law they disagree with either in its entirety or as applies to some favored group while using it as a cudgel against anyone they dislike.  Our national foundation rests on that never being tolerated by anyone, anywhere and for any reason.

I fully understand that these policy matters have serious and vehemently-expressed opinions on all sides.  That's a good thing: Freedom of expression is in fact also a foundation of America.

But no public official is empowered to take that disagreement and turn it into a malicious abuse of existing law whether by intentional omission or weaponization against disfavored persons or those who hold a different point of view.  Down that road lies a line that cannot be foreseen in advance in that the people may, at some point, determine that the strictures of polite society no longer apply to them by that very example set by our officials.

You do not want this; it is precisely through that road that essentially every civil conflict and social destruction has occurred and if you believe you'll be immune to it if it happens, no matter how wealthy or poor you might be, you're wrong.

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2024-04-16 08:02 by Karl Denninger
in POTD , 87 references
 

 

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2024-04-15 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Energy , 376 references
[Comments enabled]  

What's old is new again.....

Since their birth in 1960, fast reactors have been attracting increasing attention around the world because they can provide efficient, safe, and sustainable energy. The closed fuel cycle of fast reactors can support the long-term development of the nuclear power as part of the world's future energy structure and reduce the burden of nuclear waste. Thus, the fast reactor has become one of the development directions of global fourth-generation nuclear power.

I remind readers that Fermi I in Monroe MI was one of these.  We had a couple more as well.  Japan had one operating, as have a few others.  None of those still are operating and yet this technology, which we know works, is a required component of a closed fuel cycle and sane disposal and handling of nuclear fuel.

Why?

Because using either uranium or plutonium (or for that matter Thorium if you breed it; it is fertile, not fissile) produces Actinide byproducts and those are very, very long-lived radioactive nasty things.  There is only one sane option for them since trying to bury or otherwise keep them safe (e.g. out of the environment) requires tens of thousands of years of confinement in many cases.

The only sane option is to separate them out of the spent fuel, which fortunately can be done chemically as they're all distinct elements (you don't need centrifuges and turning them into a gas first, as you do with Uranium) and if you put them back into a fuel pin and stick that back in a reactor along with more active fuel they will be burned up by neutron bombardment and turned into less-dangerous radioactive elements over time.

They also release a little more energy but you don't do it for that reason, you do it because the only sane place for something so dangerous is where what's in there is so dangerous anyway that it doesn't make it worse.  A fuel pin, in an operating reactor, is already full of ridiculously dangerous stuff and in addition its behind a lot of shielding and physical protection from various physical insults (e.g. terrorist attack, etc.)

Each cycle of said fuel, as you reprocess it, results in more and more of that material being turned into lighter, shorter-lived radioactive elements.  The shorter the better; when you get to things that have half-lives measured in single and double-digit years now we're talking about reasonable confinement requirements that we know how to handle.

The other part of it is that in a commercial, large-scale power reactor (either PWR or BWR) only 5% of the fuel pin contents are fissile.  This is both a safety thing and a requirement thing -- fissile material is expensive and putting more of it into there than you actually can burn up between refueling cycles is stupid.  The rest of the space has to be consumed with something and your choices are U-238 (the most-abundant natural isotope of uranium) or spent fuel material that has been separated out from usable plutonium and is extremely dangerous.  The latter is the obvious wise choice if you have a surplus of it (and you always do when using nuclear fission for power) because you have to do something with it.  In addition in that spent fuel there is both U-238 that did not transmute and Plutonium in a few isotopes that did.  Its very hard (and very dangerous) to separate out the Plutonium isotopes if you want to make bombs because only one of them is usable for that -- the others actually poison the bomb in that they make it "fizz" rather than "boom."  But for power purposes you don't care because you don't want it to go boom anyway so for power purposes chemical separation, which again is much easier and cheaper, is just fine.

If you recycle the fuel like this you can reach nearly 100% utilization although that's probably stupidly-expensive.  Reasonably-economic projections are around 60%.  Contrast this with 5% or less with a "once through and done" system which is what we're doing now and I think you can figure out which is the wiser choice.

We stopped this progress in the United States because Jimmy Carter issued an E/O banning reprocessing.  Those firms who had invested in it lost their money, and that Reagan reversed the order was irrelevant to them: The government had demonstrated that it would screw them out of their money and they had no interest in that happening again, quite-obviously, so they didn't do it again.

Can we fix this?  Of course.  Should/must we fix this?  Absolutely.

Would I prefer that we head toward Thorium-based fuel?  Yep.  Why?  Because it is in coal and a high-temperature reactor (e.g. LFTR), using thorium as a fuel, brings both the capacity to generate electricity and turn the coal into synfuel which solves two problems at once because the cause of lung cancer from coal use comes from the thorium that naturally occurs within the coal and it is trivially able to be separated out as it is both metallic and much heavier than the carbon.

Nonetheless that China has decided to pursue closing the fuel-cycle for nuclear fission and we are not will turn into a significant disparity in energy policy and outcomes -- and its a disparity we cannot afford to let them have, particularly when we have more than 50 years of time under our belt in knowing how to do so ourselves.

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2024-04-10 08:41 by Karl Denninger
in Macro Factors , 536 references
[Comments enabled]  

... cause we sure got it on the inflation figure.

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.4 percent in March on a seasonally adjusted basis, the same increase as in February, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 3.5 percent before seasonal adjustment.

The index for shelter rose in March, as did the index for gasoline. Combined, these two indexes contributed over half of the monthly increase in the index for all items. The energy index rose 1.1 percent over the month. The food index rose 0.1 percent in March. The food at home index was unchanged, while the food away from home index rose 0.3 percent over the month.

Core, all items less food and energy, was also up 0.4, which annualizes to 4.91%.

Forget about rate cuts folks; I told you there was another impulse in the PPI and other data and here it is.

Gasoline, which I pointed out recently, was up unadjusted 6.4% last month and that was clearly going to happen as the sample week crossed a major price spike.  Incidentally just in the last few days there was a large spike and then decrease -- gee, there's no manipulation going on in front of the eclipse, right?  I found that particularly offensive and nobody would try something like that 40 or 50 years ago because people would go to prison for it, being that its actually illegal under 15 USC Chapter 1 to fix prices.  Not arresting anyone for decades in any industry, especially health care, tends to encourage this sort of thing -- and here it is.

Car insurance was up 2.6% on the month which annualizes to 36%.  Surprised?  I'm not, because I just got my renewal and despite having no claims, no accidents and no tickets for decades the double-digit increase -- and shopping it got me nowhere -- should have and did translate into the report.

What's equally-bad if not worse is that car repair and maintenance is up 8.2% over the last year as well -- and of course nobody needs that, right?

We were never trending toward 2% and there is no evidence in this report that inflation is "relaxing"; as I've pointed out all of this is being driven by Congress which refuses to stop spending 30% more money than it takes in via taxes.

Rates are going to continue to go higher in the economy until that stops, and this in turn is going to turn around and hammer corporate profitability while destroying anyone who is dependent on being able to borrow on an incremental, repeated basis in order to afford groceries.  NEITHER political party has been willing to do a thing about this, and until it stops neither will the inflation or higher rates.

Let me be clear as I have been now for more than a decade: The MTS (Treasury Statement) makes clear that the only possible way to resolve the problem is to actually enforce 15 USC Chapter 1 against every single medical provider and drug company, without exception.  This will collapse medical pricing by 80%.  It is not a question of whether you want to do this (yes, that will produce a huge number of layoffs and a nasty recession centered in and on those firms and employees) it is that this is the only place where enough funds are spent to resolve the issue, and further it is the place in the budget where the problem has always been which was clear all the way back to the 1990s and for that reason I've been raising a stink about it since.  This is not a matter of political preference it is one of mathematical fact.

In the meantime if you are dependent on debt, whether as a business or a consumer, or if you as an individual require said medical system as it exists today, you're in serious trouble.

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2024-04-05 09:24 by Karl Denninger
in Employment , 368 references
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Here comes the fun....

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 303,000 in March, and the unemployment rate changed little at 3.8 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in health care, government, and construction.

Of course two of the three are basically (from an economic reality perspective) a tax; one absolute and forced, the other coerced.

72,000 jobs added this month in health care?  How many of those were doctors or nurses?  I'll bet less than 10%.  The rest are responsible for making sure the amount of money spent goes up.  You're not really going to try to tell me that in one month we had to add someone in medical care for each 4,600 people in America, are you?  I mean, we're not all standing in line to get into a clinic or hospital, are we?

Employment showed little or no change over the month in other major industries, including mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction; manufacturing; wholesale trade; transportation and warehousing; information; financial activities; and professional and business services.

The economy portion that actually improves people's lives -- you know, by making things we then want and delivering them to people -- that went nowhere last month.

On the unadjusted household numbers the raw figure was +1.041 million, which is roughly in-line for a March with no real surprise.  The number of couch surfers ("not in labor force") was down by 502,000, accounting for about half of the job "adds."  Note that the household survey doesn't count the number of jobs (that is, they ask "do you have a job?") so someone who has two counts as one there, where in the establishment survey they count employment by the firm, so if you have two jobs it will show as 2 in that survey.  This isn't intentional misdirection -- its just a different means of measurement.

Of particular note and which should be good for immediate alarm in the asset markets which are all expecting lower interest rates was an 0.7% monthly change in employment compensation.  That annualizes to 8.7% so if you think rates are coming down with employment wage costs going up by nearly 9% on an annualized basis I will strongly suggest you go see someone about your particular delusionary tendencies.

As Kashkari said yesterday "if inflation continues to stall" there will be no cuts at all and this is yet another indication, along with both the PPI and ISM prices paid, that it not only is "stalling" it is reaccelerating.

That is exactly what I have expected from the data going back the last several months and why, in my forward projection Ticker for 2024, I did not expect to see materially lower -- if lower at all -- Fed Funds rates.  Add to this that Congress continues to deficit spend on an insane basis and there is no way you are going to see inflation pressures wane -- and thus the current inversion of the curve, with the TNX trading roughly a full percent under the IRX is flat-out nuts.

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