In your opinion, what does this blog need more of?

Friday, July 21, 2017

Friday videos: The Black Ryder

Apparently a band from Australia or something, they've opened for the Jesus & Mary Chain on tour, and their music is a nice mainstream version of Spiritualized:

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Your research is flawed, here's why

My god, I just found a reason for sociologists to study intro economics.

Next Big What - people don't exercise more even if you pay them to go to the gym. But the study has a big problem:

690 people who joined a private gym in an unidentified Midwestern city from September 2015 to April 2016 were divided into four groups. A control group received a $30 gift card after six weeks regardless of attendance.

The others received gift cards of either $30 or $60, or a gift worth about $30, only if they went to the gym at least nine days in their first six weeks of membership.

The study noted new gym members were “extremely overoptimistic about how often they will visit the gym, and there is a fast decline in their visit frequency over the first few months of membership.” On average, they said they’d go about three times a week, but started off going twice a week and after a couple of months were exercising just once a week.

Differences between people who were and weren’t paid to work out were “quite modest,” the researchers wrote.

The paid participants went, on average, 0.14 more times per week than the control group. That difference largely disappeared after the six-week program ended.

The problem is, your study only found that their reservation price for going to the gym is higher than $30/9 or $60/9.

If you'd paid them $50 per gym visit you'd have found more people going.

This is such a simple error, from the standpoint of bloody first-year bullshit economics, that I wonder why every single sociological/psychological study has been structured to give out such a shitty low reward.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


The market story of the past month was the massive puking of tech stocks, and the supposed rebalancing into banks. The idea was, interest rates are going up, so you want to own banks, and tech has "gone too far", so you have to puke tech.

Well, compare and contrast:

CNBC - Netflix smashes earnings estimates.

Marketcrotch - banks' earnings languish due to the inherent stupidity of the elite.

And now QQQ is advancing into blue sky again, while owning bank stocks now makes you look as stupid as the coke-snorting arrogant bourgeois morons who are losing a fortune for these banks on their prop desks.

Why was the June thesis stupid?

Because since 2002, you would have made a goddamn fortune if you'd owned AAPL, GOOG, NFLX and AMZN (and some biotech, railways and the consumer leaders, like DIS, MCD, MC, SBUX etc).

Meanwhile, even in the 2004-2006 heyday of banking ponzi, where they literally were allowed to print money, you wouldn't have made anything owning the big banks.

Past performance is not an indicator of future success; but it is a pretty damn good bet in the case where entire industry #1 has been a business failure for decades, while entire industry #2 has made the USA the undisputed world leader in 21st century internet technology.

Don't invest in banks, because they themselves don't know how to invest.* Invest in tech because that'll always be the future.

* - actually, Canadian banks are good granny stocks. So Canadian banks are okay.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

John McAfee will eat his own dick on national television

Breaking news!:

ibankcoin - John McAfee will eat his own dick on national television.

Unless, of course, bitcoin goes to $500,000 in 3 years, which ha ha, ha ha ha ha, haha ha ha hahaha.

And despite his going flaccid after ten years of meth enemas, he is still an interested party, since his new business venture (ha ha) is a bitcoin miner (haha, ha ha ha, hahaha), which is as close as you can get to an undergraduate-level economics free-entry zero-profit model of a company.

I literally cannot wait for Izabella Kaminska's reaction to this.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Here's how to defeat a Russian-made killer robot

Some loony libertopian website - AK-47 manufacturer builds killer robot.

No, don't click through.

It can still be defeated the way you defeat real Russians - give it a liter of cheap methanol-laced sink cleaner and the keys to a shitty Lada with no ABS and a bunch of stupid religious icons on the dashboard to convince the driver he's invincible.

Kid Rock for Senate

Bob Lefsetz - Kid Rock for Senate.

Wait, what now?


The Democrats have to get a new strategy, just bitching about the right wing isn’t working. It’s like a Gen-X’er yelling at a boomer, telling him Pearl Jam is the best band ever and the boomer shrugging his shoulders. Better yet, a millennial raving about Migos to both of those elder groups. You don’t win by yelling at somebody, changing hearts and minds is a long term process that the Republicans have been good at, with the Federalist Society and right wing talk radio and Fox News, and now the Democrats believe they can sway the converted in an instant, by telling them how inane and stupid they are?

Not gonna happen.

Meanwhile, Kid Rock, i.e. Bob Ritchie, is not stupid.

This is one of the great publicity stunts of this era. A guy who’s in his forties, who works in a moribund format, i.e. rock, suddenly got the whole nation’s attention when that’s nearly impossible to do. I don’t care if he runs for Senate or he doesn’t, that’s not the point, he can decide later. Kinda like Trump, he just wanted your love and attention, but he tapped into something that appealed to people. As does Rock… It’s about the underclass celebrating their uniqueness. Yes, it is a dying tribe, the white uneducated blue collar workers, but the truth is Rock has always employed a multiracial band which is better rehearsed than most and he gives 110% at his shows and if you think you can convince his audience otherwise, you must be a Democrat.

Meanwhile, Rock is smart. Literally. And upper middle class. His father was a Lincoln dealer. It’s all an act. Sit down with him long enough and you’ll find he’s almost a Democrat, it’s just that he’s got a brother living on welfare who doesn’t work and it drives him nuts. All I’m saying is if you’re bitching about the rube, you’ve missed the point. Rock is smarter than Trump, and he doesn’t want to be in politics, but he wants to sell tickets, in an era where I told someone I was going to Dodger Stadium tomorrow to see the Eagles and they were unaware they were playing.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Meanwhile, Jojo's opinion on gold and silver

Get back Jojo - a look at gold and silver sentiment. Lots of charts and stuff.

I'd remind him that this is the first time in a while that silver hasn't made a lower low in 18 months.

And that CoT drop from 0.55 to 0.12 only resulted in a 20% drop in price.

Weekend news and goldbug blogger gossip

Gasp! Jojo apparently said something bad about Otto Rock in his mailer this week, and now Otto's all pissy pants!

FWIW, I've never found Jojo to be arrogant, pompous, or an asshole. He also doesn't reccie his subscribers into stocks that get delisted right off the fucking TSX-V and almost lose all their properties in a power struggle just because he likes their indigenous community, unlike certain other newsletter writers I could mention.

Then again, Jojo was part of the "massive repudiation of debt" crowd 4 or 5 years ago. Though apparently he's gotten better.

Anyway, 2 bits of news:

New Deal Demoncrat - weekly indicators. M1 & M2, tax withholding, rail, and Johnson Redbook all look fine; and of course rates are going up, there's this thing called the Fed.

Marketcrotch - financial ETFs see worst day in 2 months after weak bank results. Here was everyone dumping NASDAQ and piling into banking, because that's just what you do when rates are going up. But, as they've now learned, US banks are a fucking joke, just like they were in 2004-6. You can't make money on them because they squander all their winnings on prop trading. Good to see there are still idiots in banking.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday videos: Boyd Rice (I'm not even surprised by this sort of thing anymore)

So... of course someone on YouTube makes a video for Satanic Nazi Boyd Rice's "Total War" using a wartime Donald Duck cartoon.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

So apparently....

So apparently, the whole "Donald Jr. admits he was contacted by the Russians last year and offered info damaging to the Clinton campaign" story that was supposed to tank markets instead has sent US equities higher.

Proving, again, that you don't get trading cues from Reuters headlines.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Jobless rates for blacks and hispanics back down

Well, this is a nice piece of news:

WSJ - jobless rates for blacks and hispanics fall to all-time lows. They're the last ones to get hired back after the job losses of a recession, and by the way undergraduate economics fails to explain why.

So with all of them back to work, I guess it's about time for the Fed to start raising rates to drive them all back out of work, right?

I mean, that's what happens when you raise rates to choke off employment growth, right?

The Fed knows this, right?

So therefore it's explicit Fed strategy to keep blacks and hispanics underemployed,, right?

On Democrats getting their shit together

There's pretty much no theoretical justification at all for Democrats to always show so poorly in working-class states like Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma and so on.

So it must be that Democrats have no clue how to speak to working-class people.

Which is actually not true. Really, the problem in the US is a strong rural/traditional-urban/liberal divide, and so what you have is the Republican party successfully pandering to the atavistic countryside, and the Democratic party not wanting to sully their name by associating with neo-Dixiecrats.

But the Democrats could at least be trying to guide rural/traditional voters away from Republican nonsense. It's possible: Jimmy Carter was a fundamentalist Christian who was also a very nice guy, for example, so why can't the Democrats find more like him?

And that probably does boil down to the essential problem: before the Democrats can make inroads in Jesusland they have to work to change the character of that society, the way the Republicans did through the 70s and 80s.

Anyway, with all that in mind, here are two grossly simplistic articles written by a Conneticut university-educated lifelong journalist, and a twenty something university-educated lifelong gay journalist:

GQ - the Democrats will never get their shit together.

Slate - Democratic centrism is silly.

But seriously, apparently the Democrats are reviving the 50-state strategy of Howard Dean, who they cut loose 8 years ago, and that revival bodes well for Democrat fortunes.

In, oh, maybe another 8 years, when they've undone the damage of cutting Howard Dean loose.

Money isn't what you think it is

This is an interesting article that you need to read to disabuse yourself of the idea that gold is money, or even that money is what undergraduate economics says it is:

BBC - what tally sticks tell us about how money works.

This is already discussed in Graeber's Debt: the First 5,000 Years,  but as Graeber's one-a them anarchists, most people in economics completely ignored his book and kept blathering on about money as some sort of thing that keeps its value which all other things must be measured against, and thus it was originally silver or gold, and thus blah blah fiat Weimar Zimbabwe.

No really, "fiat Weimar Zimbabwe" is one thing we learn in undergrad econ.

I think it's also interesting from a social constructionist point of view: money is not even remotely based on the exchange price of goods, we have centuries of proof that is has nothing to do with the exchange price of goods, and yet we've constructed a massive mythology based on utterly zero evidence and utterly zero scholarship that economics professors will spout off with zero thought and zero doubt.

Bitchy micropost #2, now with more micro

Hey, remember when Industrials were 15% lower?

Like, a year ago?

Silver consipracy theory du jour

For your consideration:

Macro Tourist - there's no such thing as a bad tick.

Where the wharrgarbl is advanced that the fat finger yesterday in silver was an attack on the silver price by the JCB in an attempt to protect their bond yields, because of course it is.

Just typing this right now, the theory looks utterly fucking childish. Really? Japan is going to pursue a monetary policy strategy of selling silver calls into an illiquid market?

What does that accomplish? Silver is a fucking industrial metal. And its futures market is fuck, I dunno, must be something like 4 to 6 orders of magnitude smaller than the market for JGB or yen. A half a billion silver notional can be traded by some bro at a prop desk, and he'd definitely have the psychological makeup necessary to think it clever to pull that stunt at an empty book time of day; but a central bank?

You fucking serious?

He offers this as evidence:

Somehow, and I am not sure of the exact details, the Japanese government is using precious metals as part of their monetary policy. Now they might be doing it through the Postal Service Pension plan (GPIF) - after all, they have openly admitted to the BoJ buying JGBs from the plan, and the postal service pension investing in foreign stocks with the proceeds. There might be some sort of similar arrangement with precious metals. Who knows?

The fuck?

Gold doesn't matter to Japan. Japan's money supply is larger than the value of all the gold ever mined in the history of the world. Look it up.

Dude, you have no fucking clue about how monetary policy is conducted if you think Japan is going to go around cratering commodity prices to defend their bonds.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Jojo still thinks gold sucks

Let's check in with Jordan Roy-Byrne for his take on the technicals and intermarket for gold:

Get back Jojo! - July could be ugly for gold stocks.

Get back Jojo! - gold is weak in real terms.

Get back Jojo! - gold awaits fundamental shift.

Dude, you really hate gold right now.

I agree btw, the SPY:GLD chart does look either bad for gold or good for SPY. Hopefully you've gotten your subscribers into SPY.


Bit of long-term interest rate thinking

Been reading a first-year geography text, and in the section on demography there's an interesting point made:

All the countries in the world are aging right now. Median age is going to go up in every single country over the next 30-40 years.

I immediately realized this means interest rates will continue to go down for decades to come.

Here's why:

1. Younger people are borrowers, older people are lenders. More older people per young person means more lenders attempting to lend to fewer borrowers. Supply and demand means the neutral rate has to go down to make that market clear.

2. Older people are austerians (except when it comes to government largesse towards old people of course), and they vote. Thus, with a larger fraction of the population made of old people, governments will pursue more and more austerity, meaning government debt goes down relative to savings. Again, supply and demand means interest rates go down.

3. Old people spend less than young people on goods, and they exhibit no yoy growth in spending; and by (2) above they'll also be voting for more and more constraints on young people's spending. Thus, consumer demand will remain weak, so no investment demand by corporations, thus less borrowing again.

4. And so on.

You'll have a few intelligent governments spending a fortune on growth capital because lending is so cheap, and they'll be all that keeps the entire world from plummeting deep into negative rates.

Think about it, it makes sense: when did we last see high rates? When the baby boomers started their families.

Demography is a major fucking input into rates, I think.

Bitchy micropost suitable for twitter

Hey, remember when Transports were 20% lower?

Like, a year ago?

Bit of comment, bit of news

I'd like to see if this AM's strong morning spike in GDX lasts through the day, cos gold's RSI is <30 and gold has been stuck on the -2SD Bollinger for long enough. If GDX claws back, then now's a good time to get in.

Anyway, one bit of reading to pass on:

Worthwhile Canadian Initiative - never mind the bollocks, here's the Phillips curve. He makes a very simple point that makes me think that anyone in central banking who even talks about the Phillips curve anymore must really have no fucking clue what they're doing:

As a lot of people in different countries have noticed, the observed Phillips Curve now looks very flat. Certainly a lot flatter than it did in the past.

And I've been saying of course it looks flat; that's because central banks are now targeting inflation and were doing all sorts of different daft things in the past. The whole point of targeting 2% inflation is to try to make the observed Phillips Curve as flat as possible at 2%.

Obviously. I mean, no matter what the unemployment rate, the Fed is targeting inflation of 2% or less (let's not beat around the bush, their target isn't symmetric). Thus, u is a straight line at i<.02.

Add rational expectations, and people now rationally expect the Fed to raise rates when i>.02, which is rationally expected (whether or not it's true) to strangle inflation growth at 2% by causing unemployment.

Makes you wonder why anyone would even talk about the Phillips curve anymore.

Oh wait, they're trying to justify rate rises so they can strangle the working class yet more while raising the rentiers' profit on owning capital.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

reality sinks in for GOPers

New Deal Demoncrat - reality sinks in for GOP confidence. Quote:

But it appears that after half a year of accomplishing absolutely nothing legislatively, the reality that the economy really hasn't changed at all -- in fact it may be waning just a bit -- is beginning to sink in.

In other news I've had a bad cold for over a week now.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Friday videos: the insane Ed Ball

Ed Ball was a Creation Records fellow traveler who used to make 3-4 albums a year under many different band names. As Alan McGee put it, Ed would record the album for a small budget, deliver it to the label, and they'd put it out knowing he'd always sell enough for the label to break even.

Here's his song "I Helped Patrick McGoohan Escape":

Monday, July 3, 2017

Monday news

Gold looks like it's going to hit $1200 before it hits $1300, to the dismay of amateur bloggers everywhere.

Elsewhere in the news:

New Deal Demoncrat - weekly indicators. Nothing interesting happening.

Tim Taylor - from what direction is the next recession coming? Either from the Fed purposefully fucking the economy, or from yet another credit bust.

FT Alphaville - remember to thank China for preventing a global recession in 2016. Inventories are the standard cycle indicator, and it looks like Chinese inventories are now the be-all and end-all of the world economy.

Business Insider - demonizing progressive liberals has gone to a new level. There's now an American wrestler working as "The Progressive Liberal". His finishing move is called "The Liberal Agenda". And once again rasslin' proves itself the prism thru which we can view American mass society.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Chris Dillow doesn't get libertarianism

Chris Dillow - why libertarians should read Marx. All good points, but:

There’s astonishingly little in Marx about a centrally planned economy: if you want an argument for central planning, you should read that hero of the right, Ronald Coase instead (pdf). Marx was admiring of capitalism in some respects. It has, he wrote, given “an immense development to commerce” and has “accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals.” And I think you’d be surprised by just how much attention Marx paid to the facts: once you get past the first few chapters, there’s massive empirical work in Capital volume I*. And there are many differences between Marx and social democrats – not least of them being that Marx was no statist.

What’s more, many of the ideas associated with Marx were largely elaborations of his predecessors: Paul Samuelson called him a “minor post-Ricardian”. The labour theory of value, the interest in the division of income between classes and the idea of a falling rate of profit are all as Ricardian as Marxian.

The problem is, Chris, that libertarians don't give a shit about resisting state power. If they did, they wouldn't be advocating transvaginal ultrasounds, criminalizing labour bargaining power, and so on.

Libertarians are libertarians because they hate the poors. So if Marx is advocating for the poors, he's the enemy of libertarianism. Full stop.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Welcome back to the middle ages

It's not really as bad as the middle ages, but zero productivity growth is something that should really truly concern anyone who believes in investing in equities:

NY Fed - low productivity growth: the capital formation link.

Unfortunately, one problem is that this kind of investigation requires growth accounting, and if it's one thing I learned last semester it's that growth accounting requires such insane assumptions that it's hard to tell if the numbers it yields are worth anything at all. (For example, are you generating the capital stock through an assumed depreciation rate and by assuming investment equals capital? Or, if a brand name is "capital", are you including advertising as investment?)

Basically these exercises require making up a shit-ton of numbers and assuming variables remain constant, and their inability to work across countries (i.e. if you use a method to generate capital stock and depreciation rate for Belgium, that same method will generate nonsensical numbers for Japan and Sweden, and I know cos I did the work). The method always fails dismally out-of-sample, so I don't see how you can write a serious article on the topic.

There's also an ideological impurity in this work, in that it asserts a worker should only see an increase in real income if their productivity improves: that's nice, except if employers have increased market power in the labour market due to say 30 years of anti-labour legislation, they won't be passing much of their improved earnings to workers.

And actually, that reminds me of the one argument for why the Industrial Revolution happened in England. The idea is that with labour being scarce and with cheap coal able to drive machines, the English industrialists invested heavily in capital to substitute away from labour; the result of this was that the scarce labour being employed became more and more productive because it was combined with more and more capital, and a positive feedback loop caused the English economy to spiral up to a high-capital equilibrium.

In that case, the problem with the US is lack of effects from labour scarcity: partially from labour being replaced with overseas labour, and partially from existing labour scarcity not causing a higher labour price (wage inflation) due to anti-labour political policy at home.

Basically, there's a completely different argument for why capital formation in the US is still poor.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017






BBC News - personal political details of 200 million Americans in giant database! Quote:

Sensitive personal details relating to almost 200 million US citizens have been accidentally exposed by a marketing firm contracted by the Republican National Committee.

The 1.1 terabytes of data includes birthdates, home addresses, telephone numbers and political views of nearly 62% of the entire US population.

Including political views! Two hundred million Americans have had their political views catalogued by the evil Republican thought police!

The information seems to have been collected from a wide range of sources - from posts on controversial banned threads on the social network Reddit, to committees that raised funds for the Republican Party.

The information was stored in spreadsheets uploaded to a server owned by Deep Root Analytics. It had last been updated in January when President Donald Trump was inaugurated and had been online for an unknown period of time.

Donald Trump himself has been secretly collecting information on you! Your own private political opinions are now the property of the Nazi thought elite!

Apart from personal details, the data also contained citizens' suspected religious affiliations, ethnicities and political biases, such as where they stood on controversial topics like gun control, the right to abortion and stem cell research.

Yes! Because the authoritarian plutocracy needs to know your race and religion! So they can decide which death camps to send you to, no doubt!

The file names and directories indicated that the data was meant to be used by influential Republican political organisations. The idea was to try to create a profile on as many voters as possible using all available data, so some of the fields in the spreadsheets were left left empty if an answer could not be found.

Their goal is obviously to enslave the entire USA! This is like that really bad Captain America movie where the Nazis build an armada of aerial gunships to exterminate all thoughtcrime! And it's here today! And it's the Republican Party!

Freedom my ass, they want to enslave all America, stamp each of you with a number so you can be properly coded for extermination, and we now have the proof! 

There are fears that leaked data can easily be used for nefarious purposes,


Why isn't Berwick all over this already? This is a much bigger story than that idiotic Jewish Armageddon bullshit he's been pumping.



Three dissents with the Fed

A fair number of people think the Fed is being far, far too aggressive with rate hikes:

Larry Summers - 5 reasons the Fed may be making a mistake.

Jared Bernstein - is the Fed fighting an old war?

Neel Kashkari - why I dissented again.

FWIW, I'm one of the guys who likes to point out

(1) recessions don't start on their own and we have no forward indication of a recession starting for the next few years, so there's no reason to be in a hurry to raise rates just so we can drop them later;

(2) we (or those of us who aren't idiot RBC theorists) actually know for a fact that Fed rate hikes can cause recessions, and those aren't in the Fed's mandate;

(3) a tight employment market can easily produce zero upward wage pressure if labour has zero market power;

(4) we're not seeing any inflation pressures either, so there's no reason for the Fed to do anything;

(5) the Fed's employment numbers are pretty useless anyway.

Though at the same time, I'm strangely OK with the idea that an IS curve can be vertical for upward rate hikes (what we're seeing now) as well as downward ones (which is one theoretical reason for downward rate drops having no positive impact on investment).

Monday, June 19, 2017

Jojo is incredibly bearish gold

Jordan Roy-Byrne - man oh man so incredibly bearish gold. As in a retest of the Dec 2016 lows bearish:

Both the technicals and fundamentals argue there is increasing downside risk in the precious metals sector. Real interest rates are rising and as the rate of inflation continues to fall, Gold will come under pressure even if nominal rates don’t rise. From a bird’s eye view, the price action in Gold and Silver so far this year is corrective, meaning it is a correction of the sharp downtrend seen in the second half of 2016. There is a strong risk of that downtrend reasserting itself and metals ultimately retesting their bear market lows before the end of this year. With respect to the gold stocks, the initial downside target is the December 2016 lows which could be reached in the next month.

Then again, I remember watching him call for $3000 gold (upon a massive repudiation of debt) a few years ago. So....

Four by New Deal Demoncrat

Four bits of data worth looking at:

New Deal Demoncrat - household permits and starts a long leading negative. Um, actually, I wonder why you think that? Because a turndown in housing construction would be an effect of a recession, not a cause. Unless, maybe, you think the next recession will be a Volcker due to the Fed forcing a yield curve inversion, in which case I'd ask how likely it is that housing contractors plan their work according to Fed policy. Basically, I'm unconvinced, though I have now studied enough economics to believe in time travel and inverse causation now.

New Deal Demoncrat - real wages make new high. Which is a good thing. So maybe this plus the previous, plus Trump's evisceration of the safeguards put in place to protect against the last crisis happening again, means an imminent housing bubble? There's been a lot of consumer deleveraging, right?

New Deal Demoncrat - weekly indicators. Real estate, M1 & M2, and tax withholding all look fine.

New Deal Demoncrat - every little thing that you say or do, I'm hung up: hung up on you. Hey, it's not my fault you're quoting Madonna, buddy.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Realistic Mortal Kombat

Somehow I've come across comedy videos at YouTube. I guess they exist!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday videos: Jesus and Mary Chain

It would have been better if they'd been murdered by Charlie Manson in 1986:

Hey, they said the same thing about the Rolling Stones.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

economics post

Noah Smith - summing up my thoughts on macro. He seems more hopeful than most. Also,

Noah Smith - is economics a science? Short answer: no. Understanding the long answer would require you to have studied philosophy and structure of science and to have seen some advanced undergrad econ, but basically the long version of the short version of the long answer is again no, at least when it comes to macro.

Basically, macroeconomics never works out of sample, and there is no such thing as a falsifying empirical result that causes you to throw out your theory. They compensate for that fucking joke by saying "oh, well every macro theory is wrong, we know this", which begs the question of why academic macroeconomists always arrogantly asserts that their patent fucking nonsense should inform policy.

From what I've seen, though, economics seems to behave well as a science (a) when it's as far away as possible from politics (like, calculating where your company should hedge prices, or figuring out the demand curve for soybean meal) and (b) when real money is at stake, like doing corporate micro or central bank policy.

But once you put the economist near a politician, he turns into a fucktard.

Thursday news

Some reading stuff:

Calculated Risk - rail traffic increased in May and LA port traffic increased in May. Quit piddling yourself.

FT Alphaville - tech tantrum shows how the market has changed. Everything's algorithmic now, and the computers tend to all puke stocks at the same point, which explains the nutbar volume bars we're seeing in QQQ. It's as if they want to lose money. Well, maybe it's just that the kids programming these algos are dumb brats who just finished a Master's in quant at university, and they don't actually have a clue about anything.

NY Times - the Conservative plan to cause the next market crash. Every single thing the party is doing is explicitly intended to destroy the USA.

Simon Wren-Lewis - Conservative zugzwang. With the election result, the UK conservatives are now backed into a corner and can't win no matter what they do. Good job!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

post-Yellen post

Calculated Risk - 25bp rate hike. The only one voting against was Neel Kashkari, who if you remember I was very nasty about a few years ago but who turns out to be the only one on the Fed board who has sufficient common sense.

Gold miners get hammered on a 0.25% rate hike, but what's really weird is people selling SPY down on Yellen's statements.

It's as if it's a dudebro fad or something. Like getting a barbed wire tattoo.

so today, re GDX....

So today, everyone thinks Janet Yellen is going to raise rates another quarter point, despite inflation being nonexistent in the US.

Of course, she has to make her decision based on future expectations a year out, not based on what's happening today.

But all previous one-year-out future expectations that have come from the Fed have proven to be a joke, and maybe at some point the Fed hawks will realize this.

Then again, Trump is supposed to pursue inflationary policy.

But then again, it's not like the Republican House, Senate and WH have demonstrated any ability to accomplish a single fucking thing so far, and who says Trump is even going to be around 6 months from now?

So there's no way to pick a direction.

I would have bought gold miners yesterday at an RSI of 50 and at SMA(200) support, except then I caught myself hoping that the trade would come out positive. If your trade involves hoping for a positive result, you should get the fuck out of that trade.

So I'd like to see what happens today before taking much of a position.

Friday, June 9, 2017

And they called Corbyn a terrible leader

During their 2016 palace coup, the Labour Party mandarins let anyone who could walk in the door vote against Corbyn for £25, because they wanted to replace him with a damp cloth.

I guess the UK doesn't want a damp cloth leading the Labour party after all.

BBC - Jeremy Corbyn surprises his party. Quote:
Former Labour cabinet minister Peter Mandelson described the election result was a political "earthquake".

He acknowledged Mr Corbyn, whose leadership he had previously criticised, had been "very sure footed" in the campaign.

But he said if Labour was to come first and not "a good second" next time, the leader had to be much more "ecumenical" in his approach.
He didn't get where he is now by being "ecumenical". The UK working class, however, got to where they are now by being "ecumenical":
The leader of the Unite Union, Len McCluskey, said the election result was "an incredible advance" and it wouldn't be long before there was a Labour government.

He said that Labour's performance reflected that "there is a desperate wish out there for an alternative".

"We've had austerity rammed down our throats, it's brought about inequality, it's brought about the type of society that nobody wants - a low pay, race to the bottom society. Jeremy Corbyn came along and offered an alternative."
I guess this'll give Corbyn the legitimacy to finally drive out all the Blairites from his party.

Friday video: A Flock of Seagulls, now with alien anal probes

Pretty good cover of "Space Age Love Song":

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Thursday news

Seems GDX and GDXJ are reinflating now that there's some idea of what they'll look like after the rebalance. Let's see if they can show some resilience today with gold down $10.

Meanwhile, here's news:

New Deal Demoncrat - never rely on just one indicator. On how it's dangerous to rely too much on the yield curve.

FT Alphaville - Marvin Goodfriend is okay. On how Trump's pick for the Fed might not be a dangerous lunatic.

Brad DeLong - Marvin Goodfriend is not okay. On how Trump's pick for the Fed might yes be a dangerous lunatic. Basically, he was a fuckup in 2012.

BBC - Mozambique police warn bald men after ritual attack. Well, at least we're not Mozambique. And to think we've been drilling all those holes in desert mountains looking for gold, when it's been hiding in bald men's heads all this time!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Monday morning reading

Stuff worth looking at:

CEPR - job growth slows sharply as unemployment hits new low. Except the 90s taught us that 4.3% is not the natural rate of unemployment in the US. So maybe you shouldn't read too much into a one-month blip, buddy. Despite what the Fed's mandate says, they actually don't give a shit about unemployment: it's all about inflation, and wage inflation is never going to happen with the plutocrats in charge.

FT Alphaville - one of Trump's Fed picks is the right kind of crazy. Yes, Marvin Goodfriend is a fan of the idiotic Taylor Rule, which means he's at least 80% moron. But he's also very much into the idea of a really thermonuclear negative rate policy. This is him in 2016:
The zero interest bound is an encumbrance on monetary policy to be removed, much as the gold standard and the fixed foreign exchange rate encumbrances were removed, to free the price level from the destabilizing influence of a relative price over which monetary policy has little control—in this case, so movements in the intertemporal terms of trade can be reflected fully in interest rate policy to stabilize employment and inflation over the business cycle.


The zero bound encumbrance on interest rate policy could be eliminated completely and expeditiously by discontinuing the central bank defense of the par deposit price of paper currency. The central bank would still stand ready to exchange bank reserves and commercial bank deposits at par; and it could stand ready to convert different denominations of paper currency at par. However, the central bank would no longer let the outstanding stock of paper currency vary elastically to accommodate the deposit demand for paper currency at par.
I don't know enough about monetary operations to evaluate this, but this seems to work. And work frighteningly. And comparing the zero interest bound to the inflexibility of the gold standard makes sense. And he worked at the Fed so he actually knows how money supply works in the real world.

Noah Smith - the shouting class. This is a money shot right here:
Seeing this, a thought suddenly occurred to me: the ratio of people who expressed support for the thread to those who expressed annoyance with it was over 20 to 1. But if you scrolled down the thread, the ratio of words devoted to support vs. words devoted to annoyance would be more like 1 to 100. Or pixels, or square centimeters of screen space, or whatever. In other words, the "annoyed" group, though far far smaller than the "supportive" group, grabbed a vastly larger amount of attention.
In other words, the internet has broken the human species' millenia-old heuristic for evaluating normativity. You can't use the internet to determine whether a belief is popular, because the most unpopular opinions take up the most space.

For a hardcore social constructionist, that spells doom for humanity.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Friday videos: The Cure, again

Same song as last week, but this time performed on TOTP:

Some observations:

1. Robert Smith was actually quite a handsome chap back in the day, before he started looking like someone's deranged obese aunt.

2. Amazing how he's not pulling the "I'm not miming, I'm too cool for that" snit that most of the late-80s bands did on TOTP. Hey, if you don't want to mime the song then get the fuck out of the top 40.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Further reading

And more:

WSJ RTE - a sign wage acceleration might be returning. By the way: does wage acceleration due to workers finding better, higher-paid jobs count as inflation? Or is it instead productivity growth? It should actually count as productivity growth, in which case monetary policy combating such wage inflation is the exact fucking reason the economy's in stagnation and we've created a permanent underclass.

FT Alphaville - Brainard turns cautious. There's no reason to raise rates at all right now, except so that in the future we can lower them.

Mark Thoma - the working class' role in Trump's election. Seems the Trump swing has nothing to do with whether you work in a manufacturing county or whether manufacturing jobs were lost in your county. It only depends on how white your county is.

Branko Milanovic - everyone's talking about the decline in western liberal capitalism. Actually, everybody isn't. It's mostly the liberal elite intellectual pseudocommies, who use "liberal" as a swear-word, and who are jealous that the right wing have taken over populism. Sorry guys, but left elitists like Henry Giroux have no fucking clue how to talk to a steelworker, I've seen his attempts and they're pathetic.

McSweeneys - instead of checking social media, I eat a bag of nails. On an experiment whereby the author eats a bag of nails instead of checking social media. Of course, you could just ignore social media from now on.

Put 2 and 2 together

The internet's been a-buzzin' about this:

NY Times - what the heck is a 'covfefe'?

I say it can only be interpreted in light of the following:

Newsweek - nearly half of Trump's followers are fake accounts and bots.

In that case, maybe 'covfefe' is the activation code for his secret bot army.

You're welcome.

Market noos

Servin' up a hot cup of morning covfefe for you:

Calculated Risk - Case-Shiller house price index up 5.8% yoy. Economy's on autopilot. Too bad that house prices are never considered "inflation" the way workers' wages are.

Calculated Risk - personal income, spending up 0.4% mom. Too bad personal income and spending aren't the targets of monetary and fiscal restraint the way workers' wages are.

John Cochrane - what a difference an election makes. All it takes is for Trump to replace a black guy, and suddenly Republican opinion of the economy switches from 20% positive to 80% positive.I think it's all the covfefe.

Monday, May 29, 2017

In place of market news....

Since there's pretty much no reason to look at market news right now, here's some other news:

Larry Summers - Trump's China deal is only a good deal for China. Looks like all he did was get a few things done for the corporate lobbyists. What a way to make America great again!

Polemic's Pains - doctors are now investing in bitcoin. And since doctors are about the worst investors out there, that doesn't bode well for bitcoin.

WSJ - lessons for labour in the fight for $15. Lesson #1 is that they should have been sticking up for the broader working class over the past 30 years, instead of becoming a bourgeois bunch of self-interested fucks.

John Quiggin - drug wars. Wanna save the US $300 billion a year? Easy: eliminate patents. No, seriously. US drug expenditure is $400B/y, while US drug research is only $40B.

NY Times - in fundamentalist theocracies, children are forced to marry their rapists. Like in the USA, for example. No, really. And of course the Republicans are in favour of it.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

NDD twofer for Sunday

Some Sunday news:

New Deal Demoncrat - house sales plummet zomfg! Except they aren't. Quote:
The bottom line is that the positive trend in new and existing home sales remains, failing to confirm this month's softness in permits and starts. That housing continues as a positive in the face of higher interest rates is the biggest positive surprise story of the year.
So everything's okay.

New Deal Demoncrat - weekly indicators. Again, nothing really to see here.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Apologies btw

Apologies btw for not posting more recently.

The US equity market is doing very little, the US economy isn't generating much consequential news, and gold seems to be unable to drag GDX with it.

Meanwhile, I've been reading ahead for next year's classes. I'm very interested in taking transportation geography after reading the textbooks this summer, and I also want to get ahead of the curve in econometrics.

I've also been reading Kim Gordon's Girl in a Band, and have these thoughts:

1) It's never a good idea to write a book right after your marriage breaks up.

2) She talks a lot more about art and stuff than she does Sonic Youth.

3) Apparently Michael Gira is a cunt, well colour me surprised!

4) Goddamn it those chapters are short.

Generally, despite me liking Sonic Youth more than Everything but the Girl, I vastly preferred Tracey Thorn's autobiography and would recommend it over Kim Gordon's book. Girls to the Front was also a better bio on girls in bands.

Friday video: The Cure?

A Cure video from their third album ffs:

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The conservatives are firing up the bullshit machine again

Two days before the Conservative Party leadership election, the Conservative insiders have set it up so that the new leader can hit the ground running:

Fraser Institute - Prime Ministers and government spending: a retrospective (pdf).

You don't have to click through. The point is that the Fraser Institute is calling Justin the spendiest PM in the history of PMs.

Specifically, they say he's spending more than any other PM outside of wartime or a recession.

The puppet press of the Reform party picked the story authors' press release up:

Financial Post - Justin's the spendiest PM ever! Quote:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau began to increase per person spending immediately after his election in October 2015. The Harper Conservatives originally planned for per person spending to reach $7,342 in 2015 but the Trudeau Liberals cranked up spending to $7,557. Put differently, the Trudeau Liberals increased per person spending in 2015 by almost three-per-cent more than the previous Harper government had planned.

Spending was further increased in 2016 and the federal government plans to spend $8,337 in the current fiscal year (2017–18). This is only $38 shy of the all-time-high level of per person spending recorded in 2009–10 by the Harper Conservative government ($8,375). The peak spending under the Harper government, however, was done during a significant global recession.

Conversely, the near-peak spending planned by the Trudeau government is done without any recession or large-scale military conflict, which are the two main characteristics of almost every other previous spike in federal spending.
Which is a lie, since Canada's qoq GDP was negative in Q1 & Q2 2015 (that's 2 consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth right before Trudeau was elected, which is a recession), plus borderline in Q4 2015, and negative again in Q2 2016.

You might remember there were these little things called an oil price collapse and the Fort McMurray fire. You might also remember Trudeau explicitly arguing for stimulus spending to counteract these two negative shocks to the economy.

The Fraser Institute doesn't remember any of that.

No, actually, they do, but mentioning any of that doesn't provide the next Conservative leader with a talking point.

Anyway, the whole point of this post is to let you know ahead of time that the new Conservative Party leader will be hitting the ground running, accusing Trudeau of "wwharrr spending more money than any PM before him!"
Which should be okay, since he gets to finance his spending at 1.458%.

But Conservatives don't know anything about finance. Even the study authors, one of whom supposedly has an MBA (from Windsor even!).

This may be a few years old, sorry

Siri finds out that Steve Jobs died:

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Is this why Sandstorm Gold is dropping?

So Sandstorm's lost a third of its value since the story got out that it was buying Mariana.

Let's see if I understand this.

Mariana owns 30% of the Hot Maden project in Turkey, and Sandstorm is putting many eggs into one basket by taking Mariana's 30% in a buyout and then trying to convert that into a stream.

OK, so number one, if Sandstorm only wants a stream and not mine ownership, then I'd think they should have worked out the stream ahead of time. Otherwise, they're counting on their Maden partner's good nature to seal this deal after buyout. Otherwise, they'll be building a mine, which they don't have any expertise at, as the Colossus affair demonstrated. They're giving up stream negotiating power by buying into this project.

But hey, maybe their partners are good guys? Well, let's see what Google tells me.

Apparently, their partners are Lidya Madencilik Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S.?

They're a subsidiary of Çalık Holding A.S.?

Çalık Holding's CEO from 2007 to 2013 was Erdoğan's son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, now Turkey's Minister for Energy and Natural Resources? Apparently Wikileaks asserts they published a bunch of his private emails, alleging that he was helping smuggle Islamic State oil into Turkey? But Turks can't read about this because Erdoğan has banned the media from reporting any of it, which isn't hard since he and Albayrak have bought much of the media anyway, via Çalık? And by the way, Berat's brother is still on the Board at Çalık?

As a junior mining investor, at this point I give up. I don't bother trying to corroborate or disprove any of this stuff. I don't care whether the Islamic State stuff is true or the other allegations about Albayrak are true: I only care that Mariana's majority partner was once run by the son-in-law of the president of a third-world country aligned with Russia. Given typical third-world political economy, that alone is enough to give this deal the cooties.

I liked this movie better the first time I saw it, when it was called Simandou.

And so Sandstorm is buying 30% of a mining project in Turkey, thinking that these partners, i.e. possibly the family of president Erdoğan, are going to happily cut them a fair streaming deal. And that they'll actually get paid for the life of the deal.

I don't own Sandstorm now, and I guarantee you I won't after reading this.

Nolan, if you wise up and cancel this offer, which you should if you love your company and its future, then please send me $50,000 for my consulting contribution. It's money well earned, it'll save you millions personally, and your shareholders even more if you're into that sort of thing. You can get in touch with me thru Daniela Cambone.

It's funny that just two weeks ago a guy who should know something about third world governments and mining was calling Sandstorm cheap at $3.40 and the Mariana deal a good one.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wednesday noos

I guess people are selling S&P 500 today because they think Trump is about to be impeached? Is that it?

Anyway, here's some great reading for you:

New Deal Demoncrat - is the rental affordability crisis abating? If rents have quit increasing in the US, that'll mean more money in the pockets of the poor, which is how you build a sustainable economy. But I'm sure Trump will fuck that up somehow.

FT Alphaville - healthy pickup in capex predicted, again. Last time it was predicted, it didn't happen. Will this time be different? Not if you read some of the economic theory stuff I've been reading: the reason we're in capex stagnation is because more and more corporate earnings are being captured as rents by the power elite - the same reason government bond yields are at silly lows, btw.

Macro Tourist - the $VIX article no-one will like. Quote:

The narrative overwhelmingly embraced by most of the street is that there is a monster VIX short position out there, and that this volatility selling is a disaster in waiting. This camp has some impressive alumni. For the past year, the smart as a tack Jesse Felder, has been writing pieces about this risk. If you want to understand his point of view, check out the article from last summer - “The Short Vol Trade has gotten completely out of hand”. I love Jesse’s writing, and taking the other side of his trade gives me pause, but I respectfully suggest he might be wrong on this one.

He takes the "every seller is matched with a buyer" assumption and runs with it, arguing that there's a monster $VIX long position out there. The kill-shot comes when he notes it's actually the Vix long ETF that has built the monster position: apparently XIV's shares outstanding has been collapsing! That's convincing enough for me.

AEON - human capital theory was a cold war propaganda campaign. Really interesting long essay about how the Ayn Rand club invented the term "human capital" as a counterweight to Soviet communism. I'm skeptical of the whole Mont Pelerin Society conspiracy theory, but I also know that people like Milton Friedman were propagandists and not economists. In fact, if you decide to model human capital, you'll find that a monopsonist employer will use their market power to underpay for it - in which case worker exploitation simply becomes more obvious.

BBC - Avril Lavigne is dead again. The old "Avril Lavigne died in 2003 and was replaced by an exact replica" story has returned. Oh, and entirely parenthetically, her new album comes out this year.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

China hit by Wannacry, tech writers show they don't understand tech

Engadget - China hit hard by Wannacry because they use pirated software.

Yes, it was true as of Saturday that Wannacry spread so aggressively through China, India and Russia because those three countries are third-world shitholes where the entire nation runs off of one pirated copy of XP.

But then the killswitch got tripped. The worm stops spreading entirely if it connects to the killswitch website.

The reason the virus has continued to spread through China after Saturday was because their nation firewalls the killswitch website.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Microsoft has a point

The Register - Microsoft tells governments to quit hoarding exploits. Quote:

In the midst of the ongoing WannaCrypt attacks, Microsoft has issued an unusually strongly-worded warning to governments around the world to quit hoarding vulnerabilities.

The bug exploited by the attack was hoarded by the United States national security agency (NSA), leaked earlier this year and since patched by Microsoft – but patches aren't perfect, rollouts take time and WannaCrypt locked up a lot of machines in its first wave.

Microsoft is not pleased, and in this post, renews its call for a “Digital Geneva Convention”, and its long-standing demand that governments disclose vulnerabilities to vendors instead of stockpiling them.

“An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the U.S. military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen,” writes Brad Smith, Redmond president and legal boss.

Noting the “unintended but disconcerting” link between nation-state activity and criminal activity, Smith adds that governments need “to consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits”. The “Digital Geneva Convention” Redmond recommends would therefore require governments “to report vulnerabilities to vendors, rather than stockpile, sell, or exploit them”.

With the caveat that these exploits are generally the result of poor programming, partially because Bill Gates would rather farm the work out to idiots in Bangalore instead of paying his domestic coders a decent wage, and the "Digital Geneva Convention" was probably written to benefit Microsoft and not the civilized world, I otherwise agree.

Exploits are potential weapons of mass destruction, very much like Tomahawk missiles. When a hack gets out into the wild, it can at least cause millions of dollars of damage, and at most bring down worldwide communications and commerce: we've seen that happen in the past.

We're okay with the military having weapons of mass destruction, because we expect them to have the tools to effectively attack national enemies. But we also expect the military to damn well keep them under lock and key, and not just let some contractor walk out the door with them to sell them on the black market.

We do this with plutonium, sarin and anthrax, so let's also do this with hack tools.

Oh, as an aside: when we find out some Russian is making sarin in his kitchen, we kill him and then lock up everyone he's ever met. We also don't let him sell it on the darknet and take payment in Bitcoin.

I think governments will take this seriously, and I still think Bitcoin's days are numbered.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Ransomware attack news

Krebs on Security - NHS hit by ransomware attack.

Bleeping Computer - Ransomware using NSA exploit leaked by Shadow Brokers is on a rampage.

Avast - ransomware spreading aggressively, over 50,000 victims.

The big story going around right now is that a ransomware worm is locking up computers by the tens of thousands.

I haven't yet read anything that has clearly explained how it's spreading, so I don't want to fire up my old Vista even if I disconnect from the net and disconnect my data drive beforehand.

I've heard people say it gets into systems via good old-fashioned email attachments and website drive-by infections, and then spreads internally on a company's LAN via MS networking protocols, exploiting a MS networking security hole that I obviously don't have here at home. So I'd be competely safe. But I've also read that it sets up a bunch of processes to attempt connection to random IPs via port 135 and port 445, and that scares me.

I was hacked by the 135 worm long long ago, and I'm pretty sure my Windows system locks down those two ports nowadays and the exploits are long gone.

But still, I was hacked remotely by the port 135 worm long long ago, and I don't ever want to go through that again. Worms are a real bitch.

So I'll just keep my Vista shut off for now, thank you.

Too bad you lost another Windows customer, Microsoft! At least you can count on the Linux development community remaining so fucking stupid that they can't ever develop anything to replace you, since they don't even know how to fucking write a startup routine that can wake a fucking Dell LAN card.

As for the hacker who did this, if we are to believe Russia, they apparently made the mistake of making the Russian Interior Ministry one of their targets. So if that's to be believed, I'm pretty sure the guy is going to end up in a wood chipper by next weekend.

He went way too large with this attack, and he attacked the wrong people. Stupid.

But what I find funny are comments like these on Krebs' site:

So uk and world hospitals should buy now bitcoins.
then when attack comes then they are ready and it will save many lifes.
Goverments now should prepare their bitcoins reserves.

OK, so obviously Krebs gets a load of lowlife children on his comments pages; most of them are little hackers who have probably DDOSed him.

But really? Governments and hospitals should stockpile bitcoins? Really? To be prepared in case of future ransomware attacks?

How about this: MI6 tracks down everyone associated with Bitcoin and fucking kills them for being members of a terrorist organization. It actually makes better sense, fiscally.

And as far as the conspiracy theory that this was actually a targeted attack by the NSA, just look at the map, Russia is the biggest victim here?

Well, if that were so, then it's only so because all of fucking Russia is operating off one pirated copy of Windows XP that they've never bothered to update.

Some weekend news

Stuck in linux right now because with all that's going on I'm not sure I have the guts to fire up my Windows. More on that later.

Weekend market reads:

Calculated Risk - retail sales up 0.4% in April. And up 4.5% above last year.

Calculated Risk - LA port traffic increased in April. Container volumes way higher than last year. Unfortunately, unless there's enough demand to mop that up, we'll just head into another inventory correction. As an aside, why is meat 50% more expensive than it was last year?

New Deal Demoncrat - real wage growth set to resume. Don't worry, Trump will find a way to fuck the working class.

New Deal Demoncrat - weekly indicators. Geez, looks like the whole summer will be a low-volume boredom melt-up.

FT Alphaville - US too expensive? Consider Japan. That's not exactly positive on the surface. Then again, Japanese yields are also stupid low. And that hints at the real reason: all assets are expensive, because there's insufficient supply of assets, while demand is high because the kleptocracy has sucked tens of trillions of dollars out of the economy into their own pockets. It's really that simple.

FT Alphaville - panic and $VIX. Ex-Jesus and Mary Chain lead singer Jim Reid says this:
ultra low vol doesn’t necessarily predict bad returns going forward but returns are generally higher when vol starts at a higher point than current levels or when it is ultra high. Quite high but not ultra high tends to be the worst starting point. There is therefore some evidence that future returns from this starting point might be sub-trend but no particular evidence of an imminent big problem looking at the historical data alone.
Which really just boils down to "buy low sell high", which means Jim just wasted my fucking time with this crap. No wonder William can't stand being in a band with him.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Ermagerd! Derrrrm!

Ermagerd! The S&P is down 0.63% this morning! $VIX popped to 10! Let's check Zerohedge to find a reason to sell!:

Ritholtz - yeah, $VIX is actually bullshit. He thinks Josh Brown has a good explanation for low $VIX: simply, nobody's that interested in buying downside puts anymore. Then again, they were just last fall, and with the subsequent Trump market pop most likely overdone they'll be likely to buy downside puts again in the near future. Since $VIX is ideally an index of the cost of a downside put, this is a good experimental setup right here.

So if Josh is right, $VIX should go back to its normal 12-14 range and XIV should lose a bunch of money for a while, the way XIV was a money-loser for about a year through 2015-2016, if I remember correctly. Which will be nice, cos then the XIV longs get punished for being suicidal idiots while the rest of us just sit thru a 10% drawdown in US equities. We need that.

Bloomberg - Ermagerd! Cherna Derlerverergerng cerntergern! Apparently, China is deleveraging, and that carries risk of contagion or something. Just like it did for the past 10 years, in fact. Me, I see a slight drawdown in ASHR and no move in FXI, so I'm wondering why everyone's suddenly piddling their frilly little pink girl-panties.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Troubled Wisconsin man goes on 50-state killing spree

Medium - Troubled Wisconsin man goes on 50-state killing spree.

With a helpful photo of what a troubled Wisconsin man on a 50-state killing spree looks like.

But it's America, we expect this kind of stuff from them.

$VIX noos

FT Alphaville - remain weirdly quiet as Satan laughing spreads his wings. Oh, lord yeah!:

The Vix — flawed measure of fear that it is — has fallen to another low, closing at its lowest level since 1993.

With a helpful picture of what the $VIX at its lowest level since 1993 would look like.

What freaks me out is that people who pass themselves off as institutional investors think it's perfectly okay to buy a synthetic short $VIX futures ETF like XIV - and then hold it.

Yes, holding XIV (or in Canada) makes a lot of money, and "all you're doing is shorting time premium". That is all true. But there's still a risk problem with this, and an even worse market structure problem.

If you hold XIV, you need to realize you've got a 50% intraday loss riding on your books. Because XIV can drop 50% in a day if you get a $VIX spike. Check the charts. It's already happened a few times. Have you run a simulation to prove that your position is small enough to clear it without moving the market? Do you keep track of how large everyone else's positions are too, or do you really think you can be first out the door?

You don't have to know how XIV even operates, just read the goddamn prospectus! Why do they have that big section in bold saying "The Closing Indicative Value will be zero on and subsequent to any calendar day on which the Intraday Indicative Value equals zero at any time or Closing Indicative Value equals zero"? Or the part under "Risk Factors" (nice title, wonder what it means?) that they put in bold AND italics that says "Because of the large and sudden price movement associated with futures on the VIX Index, and the daily objective of the ETNs (including inverse or leveraged exposure), the ETNs are intended specifically for short term trading"?

Because XIV is actually able to lose over 100% in a day. It can do that because it's a short $VIX future.

And so the minute you get a $VIX intraday spike, and the loss on the ETF explodes, Velocityshares will try to wind it down before it goes negative. Which will mean buying back all of XIV's $VIX near and second month short position, during the day, during a spiking market. All this at the same time as Horizons is also selling's $VIX futures. And while every other synth shop is selling theirs as well. And while the CBOE $VIX professional traders can smell blood in the streets.

That means an acceleration toward zero.

And because your position gets closed out right at the peak in $VIX, your loss gets capitalized. YOU DO NOT get to get back into the market to ride XIV back up, because IT'S CLOSED.

It doesn't matter what price you bought at, the potential of your XIV position going to $0 the next time fear spikes should wildly screw up your risk profile no matter who you are.

And these XIV holders are the people who bid down $VIX futures.

Then again, I do still think that if it were a true unbalanced elephant-in-a-kiddie-pool trade, someone would be able to make a bloody fortune on the other side. And there must be a few hundred quants out there that have already looked at this, it's a frickin' gimme.

Hopefully none of them have thought about starting an artificial run into $VIX near & second month to force XIV down and precipitate a loss. Hopefully it's not possible to sell a XIV position short. Hopefully there are no Russian quants who've read the Financial Times' XIV warnings over the past 2 years who work in an "economic warfare" subdepartment at the GRU, because it will only take a few billion dollars to spike $VIX to 80 and crash the S&P 500, as long as XIV as part of the market structure.

In fact, they could slowly build a $5B XIV position, then take $100B of the central bank's money and buy OOTM near puts on high-beta NYSE stocks when SPY's RSI is >70; then pull the trigger, dump the XIV position as a sacrifice to trigger a market run, and clean up on the puts like a mofo.*

And then Pooty-Poot will give them a fucking medal for bringing down American kapitalizm.

If you own XIV as a hold, you're holding a potential goes-to-zero-then-things-get-worse position. You are an idiot and should kill yourself right now for the benefit of humanity.

I do love trading (Canada's XIV): but I trade it, only after the intraday has spiked and the futures have gone back into contango, and once I get my first 10-20% I cut back, and once I've made 30% on the rest I sell and walk away.

If people keep piling into XIV, this will become the next financial weapon of mass destruction. You heard it here first.

* - Then again, maybe Pooty-Poot would be able to launch the same attack even if XIV never existed, just by selling $VIX futures directly at the CBOE? I'd be happy to hear an explanation of why he could, because that would make me sleep a lot better.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

John Mauldin is now sucking Bob Lefsetz's cock for business

It's not posted on Lefsetz Letter yet, but here's Casey confidante John Mauldin teaching us all what the smell of desperation smells like:

Subject: Thoughts on 700 new subscribers and Mauldin - from John Mauldin


I've been meaning to dictate/write this letter to you for some time. I've been reading your pieces for at least a few years, and while we are of the same age (more or less as I am almost 68), radically different growing up experiences. I have to apologize to you that you only got 700 new subscribers. I should've put a link in and it would have been much higher. Next time I will.

Will the new readers stick? Hard to say… I am not sure that your tribe and my tribe are all that different,

AHAHAHAHA no, John, your tribe is very different. They may be attitudinal coke-snorting washed-up 70s rockers, but they also follow Trump tweets, vote Tea Party, and accuse politicians of being in cahoots with an international conspiracy masterminded by the Rothschilds.

That's your tribe, John. You picked them, remember?

but then again I'm not sure who your tribe is.

Hopefully people who don't fall for permadoomer goldbug nonsense.

And that's where your writing speaks to me.

Oh god John. You're in way over your head here. Bob Lefsetz was a music industry lawyer. He's had his cock sucked by the best. You really think you can compete? You don't even know what to do with your tongue.

You talk about musicians finding listeners and giving them what they want. We think about expanding our investment information junkie tribe and making them feel included, feeding their information needs. We actually hired a person this year whose entire job description is to make new readers, who sign up for my free letter, feel appreciated and wanted. Hopefully they will buy something. Eventually. Like a musician, I appeal to a certain audience/tribe. It's an interesting business model and not unlike the music business.

Seriously? You're letting people behind the curtain here. So when you publish your permadoomer nonsense about the "coming crisis" and "end of the debt supercycle", you're simply giving people what they want?

Is that really all you are, John?

If we should ever find ourselves in the same ZIP Code, I think you might be fascinated to sit down and compare the experiences that I go through in Internet marketing investments and newsletters and the music business.

Oh yeah, he would be fascinated to read your articles from 5 years ago, where you were calling for hyperinflation, utter destruction, teh ebil sociamalist Obama's taxes on non-Sharia marriage, and other such Tea Partyist chickenshit.

I make my marketing team read your letter religiously.

Again with the amateur sex work, John.

It's lines like this from today's letter that inspire me: We don't need much, but we do need great.

This is just desperate now. Has Vladimir Putin got your wife and kids at gunpoint? Is your letter just an overly amateurish recruitment drive for the international Russian disinfo army? You trying to get Lefsetz onside with the Russky program?

Every week when I sit down as I have for soon to be 18 years, I look at a blank screen and say, "dear gods, don't let the magic stop now." I started with a few thousand names back in 2000 and the letter just took off. I did a few things right, got lucky on more things.

And now let me guess, you're finding your readership is disappearing because, with the Evil Kenyan Muslim Usurper replaced by Trump America Great Again, the right wing fools are no longer interested in your perennial short-S&P-buy-gold strategy, right?

You can no longer spin the narrative that the US will default on its debt, now that you have a president who is going to run up the debt and a Republican party in charge of that debt. US debt is awesome now because there's no negro in the White House! How can we possibly whine about the US debt? There won't even be any debt after 8 years of Trump! Because magic!

And you can no longer spin the narrative that the S&P is horribly overvalued, now that the Republicans are rushing into the market after 8 years of sitting on the sidelines as the S&P tripled, because now that Trump's in charge the American economy will grow at 3-4% per year!

And that's why you're suddenly cuddling up to Bob Lefsetz, right? Now that your senile Republican fear crowd is just buying SPY, your readership is dwindling, so now you realize you need a new group of clowns, and who better to sell snake oil to than the entertainment industry, right? And Bob's got the readership, and you have no clue why they read Bob, but you think you can get some of that magic for yourself now, right?

But mostly, your letter was the reason you got 700 new readers. People far outside the music business intuitively understand that attention is everything. And you seemingly effortlessly just let the words of wisdom roll off your fingers on the screen

Bob can do that, not because he's trying to hoodwink people, but because (like me, not you) he sees bullshit a mile away and can't stop himself from calling that bullshit out. Whereas you are the bullshit, John. Your newsletter is the throwaway Mariah Carey singles of the 90s.

Except at least Mariah was sexxay as all sin. You don't even have that going for you.

And also, Bob believes in truth in art. Whereas you believe in selling apocalyptic fantasy novels, John.

People love Lefsetz for the same reason they love Don Cherry: he might go way off sometimes, but we know he's always been the guy who'll drop the gloves and fight for his teammates at a moment's notice.

People love Lefsetz for the same reason my 6 readers still read me. 

And then you find yourself putting in a six-figure budget just for the ability to be able to send out millions of email addresses a week without being flagged as spam. Wasn't even in the budget line 4 years ago. Now we are spending mid-six figures just growing our list. Five years ago we grew organically. Then Boom, the world changed. One of my main competitors is down 80% on their deliverability and income. And these guys are pros, having been around 30 years. Early Internet pioneers and then everything just changed. And then changed again. My executive team fully expects to have to reinvent the entire business delivery model every 3 to 4 years now.

Yeah, it does sound like you're struggling, John. As I said above, maybe it's because you were selling a bullshit anti-Obama narrative as your investment thesis, and now that whole strategy has become obsolete because the people you were selling to are now in charge, and don't need you anymore.

Kinda like Alex Jones. Maybe you should retire like him.

I know I've only got 25,000 followers on Twitter. I find Twitter to be mostly noise as far as revenue production. But you're right, I will get somebody on my team starting to focus on getting more twitter followers. There's no reason I shouldn't have a hundred thousand with some effort.

Ask your buddy Vladimir. He can get you 100,000 Twitter followers instantly.

It's probably good for the branding and all, but still not sure how you make money out of it. We keep trying to figure out how to monetize Facebook. We know we have to do it to stay relevant but damn it's not easy. It's like being on CNBC or FOXBusiness or Bloomberg. Its validation but as far as I can tell it does almost nothing for increasing my readership. Honestly? I get more viewers from putting a link in my letter to the segment I was on than they probably have watching it to begin with. Business news aggregators? They are changing even faster.

And in all this gentle caressing and romantic whispering, John, you said absolutely nothing about the quality of your content.

Because you don't have quality content. You believe in selling blather to suckers.

You're the Gene Simmons of the investment newsletter world.

Bob can see this, I hope.

My cell phone is ___-___-____ and you are welcome to call. I am writing a book on how the world will change over the next 20 years I would love to pick your brain.

AHAHAHAHAHAAHAA how are you going to slant it politically, John? Who's going to be the Democrat demon who drives the world into disaster? You need a bad guy for your sci-fi novel, you know.

I really really really hope Bob doesn't fall for this.

Addendum: for my opinion of John Mauldin, you can start here, here, here, and here. #1 is the best one, with simply a cryptic Ritholtz comment that "you'll see I don't publish much from him anymore nowadays."

Monday, May 8, 2017

Oh and by the way, Vladimir:

I find it interesting that I was getting so much "traffic" from France these past few months, and now that the French election is done my French "traffic" has withered away to be replaced by Russian "traffic".

I look forward to my German "traffic" suddenly getting a boost by about June or so.

UPDATE: Can't you idiot Russian trolls cover your tracks better than this? An old Google node and a hacked Marriott server, really?

The most unsatisfying video in the world

Maybe you've come across the "most satisfying video" videos on Youtube? They used to show really neat shit with chemicals and stuff, but recently they've degraded into a bunch of clips of people decorating cakes and shit.

So here's a hilarious parody of the "most satisfying video" videos:

Monday morning noos

So this summer, among other things, I'm taking a couple lower-level classes. I'm also reading through a bunch of textbooks to get ahead of the workload this coming fall: one on transportation geography (then maybe a second), one later maybe on geographical stats, maybe one on monetary modelling, and one on intro earth science.

And maybe some other stuff too, like Mark Thoma's advanced econometrics videos, to get ahead of the game for Metrics II.

But meanwhile, I can start posting news again, and boy is it boring out there:

FT Alphaville - boy is it boring out there. $VIX of 10 is making news. I think part of it might actually be that too many people are trying to get leverage by shorting via XIV. If so, expect a few explosive $VIX pops for little reason. Then again, we just went through 8 years of people expecting the apocalypse as the SPY tripled, so maybe people have finally thrown in the towel on that idiotic doom trade and this is just the new normal.

Speaking of which:

Buzzfeed - Alex Jones will never stop being Alex Jones. Even if it's during a custody battle for his kids. You have to love a story that starts with "It was the winter of 1997 and Alex Jones couldn’t stop getting punched in the face."

And as for actual economic news:

Calculated Risk - rail traffic increased in April and hotel occupancy rate increases. The interesting bit to me is that hotels are at an all-time high, but rails actually had a terrible year last year and still haven't recovered to 2015 levels.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Funny toilet graffiti

Since we're easing our way back into blogging, here's a toilet graffiti video:

My favourite is "Matt, listen... there's no time to explain. Pull up your pants and start running."