I'm roaming right now, and what I see is, well, disturbing.
Man came from ape, right? Sort of, anyway -- whether you think God did it or Darwin was responsible, the path is mostly the same. We argue agency, not outcome.
But what the hell has happened to people in the last 50ish years?
People of WalMart is supposed to be a spoof. It's not.
People I knew who I haven't seen in 20, 30 years -- my God what happened to you?
I find old pictures, and gaze at them. We all get older, we get some lines to our faces, our hair is more-gray, and similar. But gee, is that it? No. And both you and I know it. And that's just the physical side of things.
We have a divided nation. Half wants to kill the other half. More than a few actually mean it; it's not a metaphor, it's a desire.
"Let it go"? You can't be serious.
If the change comes slowly among those you hang out with you don't really recognize it. If you walk into a scene you haven't been in for the last 20 years and see the change "all at once".... well....
"I need a drink -- or six -- now" was my initial thought.
The next thought? Sell everything, buy some land away from all this crap, put up a block house, get some chickens and goats and **** it all.
What the hell has this nation turned into? It may have happened more or less slowly, but it's happened. Yes, there are normal people left. But how many? In big cities, where the population is centered? Good luck.
You may know that there's a "dystopian" video floating around out there that basically says that the big cities turning into literal hell is not fiction, but inevitable. It's a government video. I would poo-poo it except.... I'm seeing it right now.
Prayer is not only inadequate, it's idiotic at this stage.
There is a common - and wrong - premise that "first mover" is an advantage.
Of course it is at the outset.
But it only continues to be if you continue to be the first mover -- that is, you always have "the outset."
As soon as anything you do becomes a commodity then "first mover" = first loser.
The reason is simple: You are the first one to buy the hardware and service necessary to do X and you get stuck with it on a depreciation schedule where the new entrants a year or two -- or five -- later get to buy the next few generations down the road which are more-efficient and far cheaper.
Thus on your "COGS" line -- cost of goods (services) sold -- you get murdered.
Witness Verizon. Verizon was first mover to deploy LTE. Unfortunately that means they got stuck with a bunch of older LTE gear that could not cleanly integrate with newer advanced services and was more expensive than the next versions that followed.
Verizon had a major market advantage -- for a while -- as a result. AT&T went second trying to catch them. T-Mobile came along after the first-generation gear was obsolete, put in second and third generation gear and is now murdering them with a lower cost structure and thus the ability to offer lower prices.
Who's winning? T-Mobile.
That's not because Legere is a genius. He's a brazen *******. But by not being first he got the cost advantage as the market moved toward a commodity offering and now he's tattooing Verizon and, to a lesser extent, AT&T.
Sure, Verizon has coverage in more places than T-Mobile but that advantage is dwindling fast. They're now getting close to AT&T's coverage, and more-importantly in most cases they're both faster and cheaper.
A couple of years ago T-Mobile's coverage was vastly inferior and they had a lot of EDGE or even GPRS service -- woefully slow. Now most of their network is LTE capable and it typically outperforms -- frequently by 2x and sometimes by 10x -- the speed of either AT&T or Verizon.
How can they do that and offer "unlimited" service for $70/month when nobody else can and does?
Simple: They weren't first and aren't stuck with depreciation on older-generation gear.
Now here's Amazon's problem: Their AWS service is largely comprised of older, "first mover" equipment.
Yes, they are deploying newer. But that older stuff will be on their balance sheet and in their data centers for years under IRS depreciation schedules and they have to recover the cost of it. The newer entrants do not have to do this since they were not first. They installed hardware that is faster, costs less and consumes far less power (which you pay for twice in a data center -- first for the power, then again to remove the heat via your A/C bill.)
Don't underestimate the power and efficiency issue. It's very, very real, as is the cost issue. A number of years ago a previous-generation Xeon processor in the primary server here cost many hundreds of dollars each -- just for the chip. Now? I can get pulls of a chip a generation further down that is both faster and has the built-in AES instruction set for $15. Yes, I did, of course - around two years ago.
Today I could buy a replacement system board for a few hundred dollars that would consume less than half the power of the one that's in the case now and is much faster! But that new board needs new RAM, which makes the cost even higher.
And this is where the problem lies for the existing installed base: It's prohibitively expensive to toss all that older stuff in the trash -- it still works and the capital cost of tossing and replacing it is large. While MACRS rules have helped (reducing what was a 7 year depreciation schedule to 5) five years is a damned eternity in the computer world and the power and performance structure of newer units is likely to leave you disadvantaged to the tune of 400% by the time five years runs!
In point of fact I had quite a go-around with the accountants in the time of MCSNet that for a lot of gear that we owned we should be able to basically expense it since it had a useful operational lifetime that typically failed to span even two tax years. They told me I'd go to jail attempting that with the IRS......
This means that AWS has a natural disadvantage in cost structure that they cannot evade. Witness places like Digital Ocean that offers virtual servers for $5/month. Yes, really. My secondary DNS has been over there for more than a year. The storage is all SSD. The prices are, well, insanely cheap. Instances are easily spun up and torn down and can be as standard as you'd like.
Why is that service there instead of on AWS? Because I couldn't approach Digital Ocean's pricing on AWS.
Folks, this isn't magic, and Bezos isn't immune to it. Neither is Microsoft or IBM. It's fact and it's a huge problem with any service that gets turned into a commodity.
Does it make any sense for firms that are "riding the cloud wave" to be getting the sort of valuations they are under this fact? Hell no. That reality inexorably turns into margin compression and when it does the alleged "value" in these offerings that the market is "pricing in" turn into a big pile of flaming dog****.
Don't be there when it happens.
There's a lot of crazy in DC.
Most of the time crazy is the order of the day in that town.
But the Flynn fiasco is not in the crazy train mold. It's real, and it's trouble.
As a private citizen, and not in possession of classified information, Flynn is entitled to discuss whatever he wants with whoever he wants -- up to a point. That's this thing called the First Amendment, and it applies to people who advise the President but are not formally part (yet) of a Cabinet or otherwise "in" government. I remind you that Trump, as President-elect, was not yet President.
The bad news is that there is an actual law on this -- the Logan Act. It was passed in 1799, believe it or not, and it provides that nobody other than "authorized persons" may discuss policy with foreign governments. Since the Executive is exclusively charged with conducting foreign policy and Trump was not yet President, nor was Flynn yet a Cabinet member, it certainly applied to him.
There are several problems, however, with the act -- the biggest being this pesky thing called The First Amendment. I will note that nobody has ever been actually prosecuted for violating this act since it was passed -- and that may be why. I will note that during Obama's term a bunch of Senators published an open letter to the Iranian government regarding an active and real controversy (Iran's nuclear program) and specifically stating that Obama, of course, had a limited time remaining in office -- never mind the fact that what he negotiated never passed the Senate as a formal treaty. They were not indicted.
So what's the correct read on this? Probably not that Flynn broke an actual enforceable law, because I suspect the Logan Act is unconstitutional and the government knows it. They have never actually tried to lock someone up using it because they're pretty sure it will be challenged and spiked if and when they do.
However, this leads to two more problems. First is the bludgeoning of people with threats to enforce a known unconstitutional statute. That sort of thing is itself a crime, under 18 USC 242 (violations of civil liberties under color of law or authority) and also a civil cause of actual (42 USC 1983.) Yet nobody is ever indicted and prosecuted under that law and the only people who can violate that law are those who are government employees of some sort -- by definition!
The second problem, however, is the lying itself. That's always a problem. This incident almost-certainly doesn't rise to any sort of criminal standard, because Flynn was never questioned under oath -- and his post is not subject to Senate confirmation.
There are those who are involved in a screamfest about the fact that "someone" (probably the CIA) monitored the phone call and that this information got out. Well, the "got out" part may or may not be a problem (in other words, the motivation for that is to be determined, and it sure smells bad) but the monitoring part is both expected and routine in this sort of circumstance.
Conversations across a national boundary in which one or both parties are not US citizens enjoy exactly zero protection against "diplomatic" interception -- and that's a fact. Not only is it a fact with regard to the United States but it's a fact in regard to virtually every other nation and its spying apparatus as well and this fact is as old as nations are themselves.
So give me a break on the screaming about that which has no reality behind it.
Does this mark "the beginning of the end" for Trump? I doubt it.
But don't think for a second this doesn't indicate a serious problem -- it does, on two counts.
First, what sort of mental midget has a sensitive conversation on an open, unencrypted channel into a foreign nation with someone in their government -- and especially when that nation is Russia? You have to be an utter imbecile to not fully expect that conversation to be intercepted and recorded. The stunning lack of concern for OPSEC is beyond outrageous and reaches right up into Trump and his choice of Flynn. To top that off you have him lying about it, which means he really thought he got away with it! Flynn's actions brand him as a ****ing idiot who has no business anywhere near anything sensitive, say much less classified -- period.
Second, it does call into question whether there was, or was going to be, a blackmail potential within his advisory chain. That is a problem, and a very real one, if it exists.
Don't think for a minute that DC doesn't run on that sort of crap. May I remind you of Dennis Hastert, who was Speaker of the House while concealing the fact that he apparently diddled some boys before entering Congress and then paid off one of the alleged victims later on. I don't care that he paid off the victim, and I find it amusing that he got busted for structuring financial transactions to try to avoid detection of the payoff.
But there is utterly nothing amusing at all about what appears to be factual, and that is that Hastert was in the position to and did choose what bills came to the House Floor and were passed, and those that were killed, during the time in which material information on his alleged diddling of little boys was hidden from the public but known to certain others who were thus able to use that information to shape American policy and law.
We have no way to know if that did or didn't happen, and I will note for the record that exactly nobody has investigated that series of events to find out exactly what laws were passed, or not passed, as a result of Hastert being blackmailed. It's possible the answer is "none" -- but the fact there was a very real opportunity and that Hastert later paid off the kid means that the question remains open.
Why hasn't that been looked into?
I'll tell you why not: For the same reason that zero felony indictments have been leveled against the medical industry over what appear to be blatant 15 USC Chapter 1 violations -- a law that carries not only ruinous civil penalties but felony criminal penalties as well.
If you think this lack of indictment activity across nearly 40 years since the US Supreme Court killed the hope of "immunity" from same (in 1979) is some sort of "coincidence" you have an IQ smaller than my shoe size. The overwhelming evidence is that said lack of indictment is in fact because too many people have ordered a very-illegal pizza, or something similar and equally bad yet it is concealed from public knowledge and thus they can be blackmailed with same and have been.
That, folks, is where you ought to focus your concern and attention when it comes to Flynn, and whether we dodged a bullet by getting rid of him or whether attempts, successful or not, had already been made to use that leverage.
Looks awfully similar to 2008.
Rotation back and forth, with most of the gains coming in a handful of big names with big stories -- but no earnings to back them up. Claims from the media, including most-notably CNBS, citing 2018 earnings projections that have built in 50% or more increases in earnings -- that have not happened yet -- to "justify" P/E ratios that today stand in the area of 40, 50, 100 or more on current earnings. These same firms are themselves showing slower growth rates and increases in both spending on "new things" and decreasing margins, along with near-zero growth of customers in the United States.
In 2008 this was happening in banks and...... big tech.
Today it's happening (mostly) in big tech. But those firms today are even further down the road (if they existed at all) than they were in 2008, and yet..... suddenly, we seem to have magically grown a few new continents for them to expand into (never mind that the revenue available from people in those places, thus far, appears to be near-zero on a per-person basis.)
The market always balances fear and greed; along with this nebulous thing called "liquidity" -- the availability of cheap credit to leverage forward results. What everyone intentionally refuses to consider is that leverage works both ways; it both amplifies profits and losses. Every turn of the crank irretrievably impacts both in exactly the same amount. If you buy back shares and reduce the float of your stock by 50% then your earnings are doubled on an EPS basis -- but when the worm turns and you take losses, the losses on an EPS basis are doubled as well.
Nobody believes there will be losses, you see, therefore there is no cost, no penalty, and no risk to turning the crank.
Uh huh. Sure.
If you think firms like Netflix, Amazon, Facebook and similar are going to grow trees to the sky you're deluded. Amazon managed to somehow nearly double SG&A expense this last quarter over the same quarter last year. How did that actually happen and where was that expense from? By the way, their sales did not double -- not even close.
You can argue, if you'd like, that there's something special -- "water walking" of some sort -- by these firms. There's not. There is plenty of accounting gaming going on, but it's legal to do that within broad limits. The onus is on you as an investor or trader to actually read said releases and figure out, if you can, what they're doing. Like, for instance, exactly why Amazon's SG&A doubled -- from what section of their business are they hiding broken-out expenses to prevent you from evaluating, on a fair basis, what the forward profitability of that segment of the business is.....
I have considered banks uninvestable since before the crash. The reason is simple: I cannot get my arms around their contingent liabilities because the law allows them to hide those liabilities to a degree that putting a number on them with any sort of accuracy is impossible.
You could forgive most of the people in the so-called "analyst" community in this regard up to a point. You see, the world of ever-lower interest rates has been firmly in place since the 1980s. That's driven better than half the gains in the markets since 1980 as a purely mathematical matter. Without that the DOW would stand at 10,000 and the S&P at about 1200 today.
But how do you continue that pattern today when it's not possible to continue the ever-lower interest rate paradigm? It's entirely possible that we could stall out here and never reverse -- that is, the 10 year Treasury could trade in a range of around 2.2-2.5% for decades. It has before, and it might again. But if it does that still doesn't help you expand leverage because you've already borrowed the money at the low rates of the last 10 years!
Note that firms like Netflix, with negative operating cash flow that has persisted through a period spanning years, only exist because of their ability to continue to turn that crank!
If that ability to disappears the firm is literally out of business because they have contracted to spend money over the next several years that they do not have, do not generate from operations and cannot raise -- this means their stock suddenly becomes worth zero.
It is not the absolute rate that determines which direction leverage goes it is the change in rate and direction of that change. If there is no change then there is no change in the bias for leverage. If rates rise then you wind up with a forced de-leveraging because any money borrowed not to be paid back but simply to be paid coupon upon cannot be held out -- either you pay back those loans or you default, and in a corporate environment that means the firm goes bankrupt and the stock value of said firm is zeroed.
When you look through the economy of today in the United States from 20,000' you find two things that stand out:
Finally, we appear to have a President that cares not for the boundaries of the Constitution when it comes to said extraction, nor will he enforce existing law. The fact that Trump supports "civil forfeiture" is enough to disqualify him as a President standing alone. That he has demonstrated no intention to act on medical monopolies is far worse, however, as while civil forfeiture is unlikely to impact you medical monopolies will, with near-certainty, impact either you or someone you love and care about at some point in your life.
You need only get into a car accident that you cannot foresee nor are at fault for to be victimized by this system even if only to a mild or moderate degree. Your mother or father, or child need only get injured in a pure accident, such as by a snake bite to get rat****ed beyond words and face a quarter-million dollar charge they never consented to. Unlike many of the injustices this one hoses nearly everyone at some point in their life and yet there is exactly zero outrage in the streets, state-houses or directed at the cops and other law enforcement agencies over any of it.
It was obvious to me in 1997 that the stock market was going to crash and the pets.com wonderkind would be zeros. What people cite as "different" today is that firms like Facebook and Amazon have "actual earnings." Well, perhaps, but that just changes whether the bottom number for their price is zero, or some small number over zero. That you have a functional business that actually does generate something beyond what you spend doesn't make your 2% operating margin delivering goods, and what is rapidly trending toward a commodity-style 10% operating margin delivering services, worth the near-200 times earnings your stock sells for today on the premise that you can manage to hold 50% service margins along with the necessary companion expectation that sales volume will expand by a factor of 10.
Last time around the stupidity centered on the premise that the S-1 filings claimed somewhere north of 10x Global GDP for "expected outcomes" -- a radically stupid proposition that should have met with exactly zero willing buyers in the market.
This time around it centers on equally-stupid premises -- such as the idea that AWS is a $200 billion a year business operating at a 50% margin -- a pair of assumptions that together mean (1) there will be no competitors and (2) there will be no corporate data centers. Either one of those presumptions standing alone is laughable. Together they are hucksterism far worse than anything P.T. Barnum ever cooked up.
This sort of "analysis" by Wall Street and their willing mouthpieces in the media ought to be good for felony indictments because they are claims that have a statistical probability of occurrence less-likely than an asteroid hit on the White House in the next 72 hours.
Yet just as was the case in 2000, and in 2008, exactly nobody will face any sort of sanction for any of it -- just as nobody has for nearly 40 years in the medical industry for violating 100+ year old law.
You, on the other hand, will pay the price -- just as you will for the medical monopolies -- because we, the people refuse to demand that it change now and that this crap be put to a stop.
As for exactly when the roof will fall on your head, that's unknowable. Every time it happens someone calls it right, but hundreds, even thousands of people call it wrong, and usually the person who called it right got it wrong previously for the same event. The underlying cause of 2008 was clearly visible early in 2007, yet the insanity went on (and the market continued to rise) for more than 18 months. In 2000 the insanity was clearly visible in 1997, I exited in 1998, and yet from the point that "this is stupid" was obvious until it blew was close to three years -- and well more than a double in the Nasdaq later.
I have utterly no remorse, however, over sitting out the "last burst" of run-up in either case -- because the odds are nearly 100% that you won't get the call on the exact time right to exit, and you risk far more than you can make by trying to do so -- or even worse you wind up second guessing on what you think is a "dip to be bought" and finding out that what you just walked into with your money is an elevator shaft on the 100th floor -- with no car.
The math is never wrong.
The writer, Brookings fellow and Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes, had noted the order skipped over a key part of the U.S. code on “inadmissible aliens” which Trump had publicly recited on Wednesday in defense of his immigration restrictions.
The statute reads in part: “Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”
The claim is correct; this is the actual cite: (read it for yourself at the link!)
(f)Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by President
Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate. Whenever the Attorney General finds that a commercial airline has failed to comply with regulations of the Attorney General relating to requirements of airlines for the detection of fraudulent documents used by passengers traveling to the United States (including the training of personnel in such detection), the Attorney General may suspend the entry of some or all aliens transported to the United States by such airline.
The law makes clear that the President has essentially unquestionable authority to restrict entry of immigrants by mere proclamation for any amount of time he or she deems appropriate. There is no provision for that decision to be reviewable by a court; the only redress is political (via impeachment.)
The opinion claims that there is no such thing as "unreviewable" decisions when it comes to constitutionality. That's true but intentionally misleading. The Congress and Constitution delegate certain powers to certain places. A clear act beyond the delegated power is, of course, reviewable whether it is claimed to be or not.
But in this case the statute has been on the books for decades (the 1950s, to be exact) and has been used in this exact context by a huge number of previous Presidents -- including Obama. In fact when Obama suspended all immigration from Iraq he did so on this exact basis and with this exact statutory authority. When Jimmy Carter suspended all immigration from Iran he did so on the same basis, with the same authority and did not have to, nor did he even attempt to show that the suspension was due to threats of terrorism. In fact Carter's suspension was a purely punitive act aimed at Iran for the actions some of their people took on their own soil. Yes, those actions were aimed at the United States (the taking of hostages in our embassy) but they took place there, not here. Nonetheless that action was both lawful and constitutional.
The court didn't even cite the statute that Trump used to issue his executive order. It instead tried to use a section of the Immigration code that bears on numerical immigration targets which specifies that in that context you may not discriminate on a number of bases -- nationality being one of them. The problem is that Trump's order doesn't bear on that section of US Immigration Law at all; it instead relies on the lawful authority of the Executive to suspend immigration from any class of persons when it is, in the opinion of the Executive, in the national interest to do so. The facts are that Obama took the same action against Iraqi immigrants for the same reason and that the same security concerns have continued to occur since, including a documented incident where two arrests were made early last year.
Folks, you may agree or disagree with the action Trump took. This Ticker isn't about that.
It's about the willful, intentional and unconstitutional acts of the 9th Circuit that continue a long tradition in the US Court system of acting as if controlling law, including the Constitution, does not exist whenever it suits some particular group of people.
Any government body that does such a thing by accident must be called out. If it was an accident then said body will immediately correct its mistake.
Any government body that does such a thing through evidenced intent must be disbanded and removed from power. If it is not, when such a means exists (and it certainly does, as the Constitution gives the power to Congress to disband or reorganize any part of the court system; the only Constitutionally-required court is the Supreme Court) then all such co-conspiring components of the government have declared themselves illegitimate.
~240 years ago our nation went to war over this exact issue and the extraction -- otherwise called "theft" -- that was taking place upon the citizens as a result.
Today we have the same thing going on but at an even larger scale and with far more injury than was the case 240 years ago.
We have, in this instance, a court that has stated a factual lie as the basis of its deliberation -- that no "immigrant" from the named nations has been arrested or linked to terrorism. That's a damned and knowing lie; in point of fact there have been many such arrests and most of those arrested have either been convicted or are still awaiting trial. In fact Obama suspended immigration from one of those nations for this exact reason after we caught "immigrants" here plotting an attack. The judges of the 9th Circus deliberately lied to both the public and arguing counsel prior to issuing their "decision", and it was upon this lie that their decision was predicated. As just one example of more than a dozen over the last two years two Iraqi-born individuals who came here as refugees were arrested last year. I remind you that Iraq is one of the nations on the list.
Trump's order for the purpose of evaluating the means by which those people got into the country and to take whatever corrective actions are necessary to prevent repeats is not only logical it's legal under the authority delegated to him by Congress and expressed in US Code. That the 9th Circus deliberately ignored the clear text of that section of law because they didn't like it and instead selected a section of law that does not bear on the issue is not "interpreting the law", it is literally blacking out the sections of law they do not like, which is not within their Constitutional power -- only Congress can do that through repealing said law.
It is this very same willful and intentional refusal to follow the law that has led to the issues with our health care system. The law, which not only exists in statute it has been tested at the US Supreme Court says that monopolies and similar acts in restraint of trade are not only unlawful civilly in many cases they are criminal felonies. This was tested in 1979 when insurance companies tried to claim an exemption under Mccarran-Ferguson, which is also law, and they lost.
That's supposed to be the end of the discussion until and unless Congress passes something to change the state of said law.
Congress has not done so.
The courts, along with the Executive, however, have refused to enforce said law, just as they have done here with Trump's order.
The result is that a $40,000 hospital bill comes with a more than $38,000 "discount" if you have a certain kind of "insurance." Such a pricing disparity is clear evidence of collusive intent to restrain trade and tie sales unlawfully, that is, to compel you to purchase something you do not want by threatening to bankrupt you if you don't have it.
That's illegal folks.
Either the law applies to everyone or it applies to nobody. If the latter then there is no law that should be respected by anyone.
Do you want to live in such a nation? You do, right here, right now, today. You are being financially raped on a daily basis in exactly this fashion. Those of you on the left cheering for the 9th Circuit order are cheering for your own financial rape, destruction and ultimately your own death at the very hands of those same people.
Health care is simply one aspect of this abuse -- yet it is a very large one, spanning close to 20% of our entire economy. There are others. "Net neutrality" means that if you don't want to buy Netflix service you still pay for it in your Internet service because Hastings managed to force carriers to pay the majority of his transport costs. That's nice if you want to use Netflix but if you don't then it's a tax leveled on you and given to the company! That's theft at literal gunpoint.
I can cite literally dozens of additional examples, all of which wind up screwing you.
And while there will be plenty of "I told you sos" if there is a terrorist incident originating from one of these rapefugees the fact of the matter is that the underlying issue is both far more grave and pervasive than whether a few nations have entry of their nationals into the US curtailed until we can verify that the credentials they have actually represent who they are.
The underlying issue is literally the difference between a Constitutional government and a firearm-toting mob that takes whatever it wants, including your life, whenever it wants.
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