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

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

BERWICK WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG


OMG BERWICK WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG!

THE NEO-NAZI FASCIST THOUGHT-CONTROL ELITE HAVE BEEN PLANNING TO ENSLAVE ALL OF YOU THRU BIG DATA!

NOW THE PROOF OF THEIR PLANS IS EXPOSED... BUT FOR HOW LONG?

READ THIS ARTICLE WHILE YOU STILL CAN!


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,

NO SHIT SHERLOCK!

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

Abortion


Funny:




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 HVI.to 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 HVI.to'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 HVI.to (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

Bob,

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."

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Weekly indicators: even steel and rail are positive ffs


NDD - weekly indicators. Everything is positive pretty much. Quote:

Among long leading indicators, Treasuries, corporate bonds, mortgage rates, and growth in real estate loans remain neutral. The yield curve and money supply remain positive. This week purchase mortgages improved to positive, while refinance mortgage applications remained negative. The two more leading Chicago Fed Financial Conditions Indexes are both positive.

Short leading indicators, including stock prices, jobless claims, industrial commodities, the regional Fed new orders indexes, spreads, staffing, Financial conditions, and oil and gas prices are all positive. The US$ is neutral. Gas usage remains negative.

The coincident indicators are generally positive, including Gallup and Johnson Redbook consumer spending, rail, the TED spread, tax withholding, and both measures of shipping. The only negative is LIBOR.

Despite faltering in monthly measures of production and spending probably due to stagnant real wages since last summer, the nowcast for the economy is still positive. The longer term forecast is neutral to positive.

April employment report


New Deal Demoncrat - April employment report. Summary includes:

In sum, we still need to move this +0.7% off the sidelines and into actual employment, and also add another +0.6% or so from underemployment to complete employment before we can say that the the economy is operating at "full employment." And we are almost 8 years out from the beginning of this expansion, and probably a lot closer to the beginning of the next downturn. This is simply not an economy that in secular terms is working for the average American.

But that's great for corporations, so buy the S&P and quit your whining.

Though yeah no seriously I'm starting to think you'll probably be able to buy S&P at 2400 again in a few years. Republican administrations typically fuck up the US economy badly.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Friday videos: almost certainly you've forgotten this song


This reminds me of listening to CHUM-FM's "Top 1004 songs" every Xmas for the only chance to hear this song, once a year, at about #857:



That cunt from Peru never plays good videos like this for you, now, does he?

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Scary shit


Special containment procedures, SCP 1981:



Quote:

"For the first time we have risen, and I see we are being consumed. I see circles that are not circles. Billions of dead souls inside containment. Unravellers have eaten country's moral fabric, turning hearts into filth. I'm from a kingdom level above human. What does that yield? A hokey smile that damns an entire nation. There is no hope."


Monday, May 1, 2017

still quiet here...


My marks are slowly rolling in. Seems I got an A in political economy, that's nice. I ended with a B+ in advanced macro, and that was mostly cos the prof was generous with me.

I have 6 weeks off to vegetate before doing a summer class, but I'm going to be doing a bit of reading. Right now it's Daron Acemoglu's Why Nations Fail, yet another of those great institutionalist books that nobody in any economics faculty will ever suggest anyone read.

Other reading on deck includes Branko Milanovic, Dani Rodrik, Barry Eichengreen, JK Galbraith and Douglass North (again, great economists who nobody in the faculty will want me to read), a bunch of stuff on China, and a bunch of stuff on history of economics and economic history. Also I have to read a couple textbooks on transportation geography and intro geology to get ready for next year, and maybe install ArcGIS and play with it; I'm also hoping to watch some videos on advanced econometrics and complexity theory.

Oh and do work around the house.

As for gold miners: y'know, there's a big problem with GDX and GDXJ. They've attracted too much money, so they've swamped out their underlyings. HGU.to seems to have diverged massively from GDX because they (as far as I know, you go ahead and check their documentation if you're interested)trade based on options and not based on stocks. If that's so, then the market for gold miners is broken in a microstructure sort of way, and I want to stay out because none of the technical signals can be interpreted properly.

As for the US economy:

New Deal Demoncrat - weekly indicators. Basically everything is fine, except stagnant real wages which ultimately mean the US economy can never grow strongly.

I'll see if I can catch up on the rest of the news in the next few days for you, but right now I'm enjoying not having to work at all.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Friday videos: Füxa, Britta Phillips, Daniel Johnston


Yeah no seriously, Britta Phillips from The Belltower & Luna, with Detroit electronic band Füxa, covering a Daniel Johnston song, in the style of Spectrum.



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Q: which airline just killed a giant rabbit: A: the answer may surprise you!


The Guardian - United Airlines kills giant rabbit. I'll rewrite this the way it should be:

The 3ft (90cm) continental giant rabbit, which was 10 months old and named Simon, died while travelling from London Heathrow to O’Hare airport in Chicago.

The airline revealed it had offered the customer a hearty laugh and, contrary to previous reports, clarified that the animal was alive when it was taken off the flight.

United’s spokesman Charles Hobart said the animal had appeared healthy and shown no signs of distress upon landing, so they punched the fucker and dragged it off the plane bodily.

About 30 minutes later, he said, the rabbit was sleeping in a pet facility run by the company, and shortly afterwards an employee opened its cage to find it dead.

It comes three weeks after a video showing a passenger being dragged off a United flight sparked widespread outrage.

“We won’t know the cause of death, but we're proud of our work,” said Hobart. "We intend to kill that fucker Santa Claus next, and after that maybe we'll do something unspeakable to the Tooth Fairy."

If the animal had flown British Airways, at least you'd know it was killed by the putrescent miasma served on the journey that is British food.

Monday, April 24, 2017

reaction post


Wow... haven't been here for a while, eh? Just did my econometrics test today, was surprised both at how much writing there was, as opposed to just doing math, or ticking off a box on a scantron: he actually wanted explanations of things, which is a new and interesting thing in an economics class.

The exam was easy - there wasn't even anything on dummy variables or functional misspecification. Now I have one exam Wednesday night (making me miss Buffy, the bastards!) and a second on Thursday afternoon, then it'll be a nice long vacation for me to blather market commentary at you during.

I'm also trying to get off my medicine, as there have been a few stories in the press (maybe planted by some company with a new competitor product, you know how it works, it's not as if the NY Times has distinguished itself as a bastion of fact-checking now has it) about how long-term use has very negative side effects. The problem is, not taking my medicine has very immediate and painful side effects. I'll have to go see the doctor this summer to see if I can change what I'm taking.

As for the market?

Wow, big one-day reaction to the French not electing two Euroskeptics to the runoff round, eh? SPY pops and gold drops.

But much of this gold drop was due to a rise in the Euro; $1266 is the Bollinger mean for gold's upward trend support, and $1260 was the top of the breakout support. And the overnight puke was in an empty market, which means someone was just trying to cave in gold to make money being short, which has turned out to be a grand fucking failure for them, hasn't it?

So gold is still perfectly fine and you goldbugs are advised to quit piddling your frilly little pink girl-panties.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Jordan Roy-Byrne pulls his pants back up


Jojo - I wuz wrong. Watch the video.

God ex-USD is advancing strongly, and he does note that Gold vs NYSE could be a double bottom. But it could also not be.

As far as resistance lines, they mean nothing. His 80 & 160 moving averages also mean utterly nothing to his chart.

Otherwise though, he provides some useful insights, and it's nice to see him back with us goldbugs on the bullish side.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Project for this summer: oh and also piss more people off


Project for this summer:

1. Learn Arabic.

2. Post on an Islamic fundamentalist forum that flowers are the virgin genitals of plants, and fruit are their impregnated genitals, so because of their lustful nature flowers and fruit should be haram, right?

3. Spend the rest of the summer watching the entire fundamentalist Islamic world die of scurvy.


Friday videos: very nice cover


This is a really beautiful, stripped-down cover of a Smashing Pumpkins song, and it's only gotten 500 views:



When you make it sound so good that I forget how punchable Billy Corgan is, you've done a really good job.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

You know the blog is back to normal when there's kitty videos





Remember, Jordan called it



Get Back Jojo - bearish reversal in gold and silver.

He called it.

Um... a breakdown in gold and silver, that is. Not, um, a new bull move in the miners.

You need to watch the Bollinger mean and a short EMA, Jordan. Not enough lines on your charts.



Chartwise, here were are


OK, now the market has decided to become interesting.

$VIX:


Exploding higher now. That's nice. People have been going short $VIX through XIV a lot over the past few months, when they should understand you only short $VIX right after it's spiked and the futures curve has gone back to even, then sell as it comes back down. As these guys try to lock in their profits or get out before the collapse, it'll flood the futures market and possibly produce a really big spike.

Which we can trade.

SPY:


That is an unambiguously negative chart right now. It screams top. Over the past month MACD hasn't been able to turn up, and that last bounce off the SMA(50) only produced a feeble upmove that has now fallen flat. Now's the time for some fun, possibly.

It would be really funny if the entirety of the 10% move since the election gets given back. It shouldn't, because the 10% move makes perfect sense after a 2-year sideways consolidation no matter who's in the White House.

But if we lose some of that Nov-Mar easy money run, the people betting on easy money in the market will find out it's actually hard after all. Guess what? Trump didn't make you rich after all.

And what about the PMs?:


That touch of the SMA(50) yesterday, with a fakeout on the MACD, followed by today's good price action, is very positive. And we're very close to a higher high.

And you've been reading some of those guys who've thrown in the towel on gold and the miners, right? So was March just a cleansing of the market? Are we going up now?

GDX:


That looks very positive, how GDX got kicked down below the SMA(50) last month, then fought back up, then spent 3 weeks trying to break back through the SMA(50). Especially with all the gold boosters spending an entire month blathering on about how gold was done. RSI is still healthy and MACD is only at zero, so we have a setup for a decent run if only we can find some volume to back it up.

Looks like goldbugs might have fun for a while.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sunday economic indicators


Really, the US economy is on set-and-forget. And since the election of Trump, the right-wing doomer brigade has had no ebil sociamalism to blame an impending collapse upon, so there's less worry in the market.

But still, I may as well give you some links once in a while to remind you of the above.

So here:

New Deal Demoncrat - March jobs report. His summary:
While the headline for most summaries of this report will probably be the miss in the headline jobs number, the deeper trends appear to be a continuation of what we have seen for the last few months: significant declines in both the unemployment and underemployment rates, a continuing sharp increase in labor force participation (the biggest in nearly 30 years), but continuing wage growth stagnation. These trends are probably linked. The big move from people off the sidelines into the labor market is probably helping keep a lid on wage growth.

The only other negatives in the report is the stubborn high number of people outside of the labor force who want a job now, and the decline in the manufacturing workweek and overtime.

All in all, this was a quite positive late cycle jobs report, as the YoY% gain in jobs continues to decelerate, but remain positive.

New Deal Demoncrat - weekly indicators. Summary:
You can always find at least one sector that looks bad. One year ago it was manufacturing. Now it is brick and mortar retail sales. But the vast majority of indicators demonstrate that the outlook over the next 6 to 8 months remains very positive. The outlook for one year and further out remains generally neutral with a slight positive tilt.

New Deal Demoncrat - OMG it's a slight pullback we're dooomed. Wherein he uses graphs to disprove idiotic bullshit.


Calculated Risk - hotel occupancy increases yoy. Still better than median, still better than 2015.


Calculated Risk - rail traffic increased in March. Total carloads is still better than 2016, but not 2015.


Bespoke - consumer pulse: home improvement. Interesting little tidbit: the fraction of home improvement involving an outside contractor has gone up.


All in all, many reasons not to piddle your frilly little pink panties.

Friday, April 7, 2017

And as for gold, and Trump


Oh and meanwhile, gold popped above $1260, and TA-wise that's bullish. Close above $1265 and you have a higher high, which means the bull market is intact.

However, you could legitimately respond that it only happened cos Trump fired 50 missiles at Syria. Which actually was a smart thing for him to do, no really I'm impressed here, and you have to wonder if the Russkies are still feeling so smug now that their puppet is bombing their murderous dictator ally and the materiel that Russia just gave him.

In fact, Trump firing 50 missiles at Syria will also change the political calculus in North Korea, and will also make an impact on Xi Jinping. So all around, firing 50 missiles at Syria is unambiguously positive for the USA, because it means they're out of the business of cuddles and fluffy bunnies and in the business of bombing your shit from orbit if they feel like it.

The US has a responsibility to the rest of the world to not be Sweden. Good for them for figuring that out.


Credit where credit is due, this response certainly didn't come from Trump. You could tell from his presser about the nerve gas attack that he's starting to realize he's in way over his head with this gig, and being the president isn't a childish game like being a reality TV clown after all.

I'd expect the 50 missiles idea came from Mad Dog Mattis, or someone like him. And Mattis isn't an idiot, he's actually a guy who knows how to do military diplomacy successfully. Step one is let people know you're a little bit crazy, your armed forces are larger and more advanced than the rest of the world's combined, and you're just looking for an excuse to bomb people from orbit.

And with one launch Mattis has knocked the world back on its heels. So good for him.

So as for gold, barring any escalation in Syria, which has suddenly turned into a losing proposition for the Russkies, I wouldn't put much into this pop except maybe as a chance for gold bears to put on new shorts at a good price. And putting on new shorts can turn out bad, or it can turn out good.

As far as the Russkies go, their tail is now between their legs, and they'll probably cut and run in Syria now. The Americans won't suddenly get involved in that conflict because there's no profit to them in removing Assad; but now they've demonstrated they're happy to blow your shit up from orbit for any reason, and that is good enough to change international relations in a positive way.


Meanwhile, a Max Martin interview


Last day of classes was yesterday, so all I have to do is a growth accounting project and study for 5 exams.

Except I can't start today because I have a blown drainpipe and need to get a plumber in.

So, in lieu of anything markety, and as recommended by Bob Lefsetz, here's a great long interview with the guy who has more #1 hit singles than anyone else in history except Lennon/McCartney:


Di Weekend - an interview with Max Martin.


Friday videos: before Little Boots


Here's Little Boots from her old punk-band years:



Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Gold dying?


If gold loses $1250 conclusively, that'll look like a double top to people, and it will drop for a while.

Off to school now.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Now here's something I can get behind


Mashable - spiders could eat all humans in one year, and this petition wants to make it happen. Yes, spiders could eat all humans on earth in one year, but will US government gridlock foil their plans? Here's a quote from the petition:

"While we, the undersigned, are certain the spiders are doing the best they can, it's clear that they could use some help. We call on the United States government to utilize whatever resources it deems necessary and effective to help the spiders in their noble cause. We're sending our petition to Sen. Al Franken because he's one of the few people in Washington who we sort of half-trust to not initiate surveillance on us or flag our tax returns for signing such a petition."

Hopefully Al's still got a sense of humour.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Trumpocalypse: IT BEGINS


I like this whole Flynn business, it's funny.

Michael Flynn, 2016: "Anyone asking for immunity must have done something wrong!"
Michael Flynn, 2017: "I need immunity!"

Or, even simpler:

Michael Flynn, 2016: "Lock her up!"
Michael Flynn, 2017: "Please don't lock me up!"

Meanwhile, it's also funny to see Trump pissing off the extremists in the Republican party, which is a dumb fucking strategy for him considering:

1) Trump is impeachable right now,
2) It's the Republicans who have the power to impeach in this congress, and
3) Those same Republicans would really prefer Pence in power, given he's another ignorant Jesus freak just like them.

And now Americans are starting to learn that if they kick out all those illegal Mexicans, they'll have to replace 70% of all farm workers in the country.

And that's also funny because it's the farmers who voted for Trump.

And the rustbelt methheads who also voted for Trump won't enjoy paying 2x the price for their food once the Mexicans are gone, nor will they enjoy working 80 hour weeks in the hot sun for $2/hr. And that's also funny.

To paraphrase Mencken, the American people know what they want, and they deserve to get it good and hard.

Friday videos: Loop again


More Loop:



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

And they say gold's worth nothing....


BBC News - $4M gold coin stolen from Berlin museum. Quote:

A giant gold coin bearing the Queen's image, and worth $4m (£3.2m), has been stolen from a museum in Germany.

The Canadian coin, nicknamed the "big maple leaf", has a face value of $1m - but because it is 100kg (220lb) of pure 24-carat gold, its value is much higher at today's price for gold bullion.

It was taken during the night from the Bode Museum in Berlin.

It is not clear how the thieves evaded the alarm system or carried the heavy, half-metre (20.9 in) coin away.

Wake up sheeple!