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[Politics] Dick Morris to Newsmax TV: 'A Mistake' For Bloomberg to Add Hillary to Ticket It would "be a mistake" for former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg to put Hillary Clinton on the ticket as his running mate, but if he did, he would be looking toward her to give him a sense of "legitimacy" in the Democratic Party, Dick Morris, a longtime adviser to both... Published:2/17/2020 7:36:40 PM
[Entertainment] Justin Bieber Reflects on the Attention He Received After Crying in Public Justin Bieber, Hailey Baldwin, CryingThere's always more than what meets the eye. Back in the summer of 2018, Justin Bieber made headlines after paparazzi caught he music superstar looking visibly upset in New York...
Published:2/17/2020 7:36:40 PM
[Markets] Pier 1 Files For Bankruptcy After Last-Ditch Effort To Cut Costs Fails Pier 1 Files For Bankruptcy After Last-Ditch Effort To Cut Costs Fails

Another retailer has failed in the “greatest economy ever,” as more than 12,000 stores closed in 2019, and mall vacancy rates across the country hit 8-year highs. 

Home decor and furniture retailer Pier 1 Imports closed 450 out of 942 stores last month, a last-ditch effort to save itself from collapse. Fast forward one month, the retailer has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and has prepared for a sale. 

The retailer has struggled to adapt to an evolving retail market with new dominance seen by e-commerce giants Amazon and Wayfair. A weakening consumer base with insurmountable debts has weighed on home goods purchases. 

Pier 1 CEO and CFO Robert Riesbeck said in a statement released on Monday that the decision to file for Chapter 11 will give the company “time and financial flexibility” to prepare the company for a sale.

“We are moving ahead in this process with the support of our lenders and are pleased with the initial interest as we engage in discussions with potential buyers,” Riesbeck said. 

Pier 1 intends to have a “court-supervised sale process and complete the sale through a Chapter 11 plan” by March 23. 

Pier 1 listed assets and liabilities of about $500 million and has secured $256 million of debtor-in-possession financing from Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co., and Pathlight Capital LP.

The retail apocalypse is expected to gain momentum in 2020 as mall vacancy rates are already at 8-year highs. Last year, retailers shuttered a record number of stores, nearly 12,000 by 4Q. 

Mapping out the retail chain chapter 11 filings in terms of aggregate liabilities for 2019, one can see how bankruptcies soared in 1Q and then erupted again in the back half of the year (data via Reorg First Day)

Retail bankrupticies over the last half decade have been nothing short of astonishing. 

Talking points from the Trump administration have said since unemployment is low, the consumer is healthy, and this means the economy is roaring. But we all know the consumer is taking on record amounts of debt at a time when the economy is quickly decelerating. The jobs market is slowing, and consumer trends suggest a period of weakness is ahead. 

To sum up, the retail apocalypse has yet to peak, store closings and bankruptcies are expected to continue through the year. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/17/2020 - 20:20
Published:2/17/2020 7:36:40 PM
[] President's Day Thread for Evening Goofs and Japes Published:2/17/2020 7:36:40 PM
[Politics] Doug Collins: Trump 'Staying Out Of' His Senate Race In his post-acquittal speech at the White House, President Donald Trump praised both Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., for their assistance. Now, amid a heated Senate race, the president might get stuck choosing between two stalwart backers.Except,... Published:2/17/2020 7:06:14 PM
[54cbb016-a5e6-5f64-a9d2-abe37bb53421] Meghan Markle was 'jealous' of Kate Middleton, estranged half-sister Samantha Markle claims Samantha Markle, the estranged half-sister of Meghan Markle, recently claimed that the Duchess of Sussex was "jealous" of sister-in-law Kate Middleton. Published:2/17/2020 7:06:14 PM
[Leftism] The Left Is Awash In Money (John Hinderaker) Jeff Bezos announced today that he will spend $10 billion to “fight climate change.” How, exactly, will his money alter the climate? [Bezos] said the Bezos Earth Fund would help back scientists, activists, non-government organizations and any other effort that “offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world.” So the money will go to “scientists, activists [and] non-government organizations”–in other words, the Left. I can guarantee Published:2/17/2020 7:06:14 PM
[Markets] US Operational Weather Prediction Is Crippled By Inadequate Computer Resources US Operational Weather Prediction Is Crippled By Inadequate Computer Resources

Via Cliff Mass Weather Blog,

U.S. global numerical weather prediction has now fallen into fourth place, with national and regional prediction capabilities a shadow of what they could be.

There are several reasons for these lagging numerical weather prediction capabilities, including lack of strategic planning, inadequate cooperation between the research and operational communities, and too many sub-optimal prediction efforts.

But there is another reason of equal importance: a profound lack of computer resources dedicated to numerical weather prediction, both for  operations and research.

The bottom line:  U.S. operational numerical weather prediction resources used by the National Weather Service must be increased 10 times to catch up with leading efforts around the world and 100 times to reach state of the science. 

Why does the National Weather Service require very large computer resources to provide the nation with world-leading weather prediction?

Immense computer resources are required for modern numerical weather prediction.  For example, NOAA/NWS TODAY is responsible for running:

  • A global atmospheric model (the GFS/FV-3) running at 13-km resolution out to 384 hours.

  • Global ensembles (GEFS) of many (21 forecasts) forecasts at 35 km resolution

  • The high-resolution Rapid Refresh and RAP models out 36 h.

  • The atmosphere/ocean Climate Forecast System model out 9 month.s

  • The National Water Model (combined WRF and hydrological modeling)

  • Hurricane models during the season

  • Reanalysis runs (rerunning past decades to provide calibration information)

  • Running the North American mesoscale model (NAM)

  • Running the Short-Range Ensemble Forecast System (SREF)

This is not a comprehensive list.  And then there is the need for research runs to support development of the next generation systems.  As suggested by the world-leading European Center for Medium Range Weather Prediction, research computer resources should be at least five times greater than the operational requirements to be effective.

NY Times Magazine: 10/23/2016

How Lack of Computing Resources is Undermining NWS  Numerical Weather Prediction

The current modeling systems (some described above) used by the National Weather Service are generally less capable then they should be because of insufficient computer resources.  Some examples.

1.  Data Assimilation.  The key reason the U.S. global model is behind the European Center and the other leaders is because they use an approach called 4DVAR, a resource-demanding technique that involves running the modeling systems forward and backward in time multiple times.  Inadequate computer resources has prevented the NWS from doing this.

2.  High-resolution ensembles.   One National Academy report after another, one national workshop committee after another, and one advisory committee after another has told NWS management that the U.S. must have a large high-resolution ensemble system (at least 4-km grid spacing, 30-50 members) to deal with convection (e.g., thunderstorms) and other high-resolution weather features.  But the necessary computer power is not available.

European Center Supercomputer

3.  Global ensembles.  A key capability of any first-rate global prediction center is to run a large global ensemble (50 members at more), with sufficient resolution to realistically simulate storms and the major impacts of terrain (20 km grid spacing or better).  The European Center has a 52 members ensemble run at 18-km grid spacing.  The U.S. National Weather Service?  21 members at 35-km resolution.  Not in the same league.

I spend a lot of time with NOAA and National Weather Service model developers and group leaders.  They complain continuously how they lack computer resources for development and testing.  They tell me that such resource deficiency prevents them from doing the job they know they could. These are good people, who want to do a state-of-the-art job, but they can't do to inadequate computer resources.

NOAA/NWS computer resources are so limited that university researchers with good ideas cannot test them on NOAA computers or in facsimiles of the operational computing environment.  NOAA grant proposal documents make it clear:  NOAA/NWS cannot supply the critical computer resources university investigators need to test their innovations (below is quote from a recent NOAA grant document):

So if a researcher has a good idea that could improve U.S. operational weather prediction, they are out of luck:  NOAA/NWS doesn't have the computer resources to help.  Just sad.

U.S. Weather Prediction Computer Resources Stagnate While the European Center Zooms Ahead

The NOAA/NWS computer resources available for operational weather prediction is limited to roughly 5 petaflops (pflops).   Until Hurricane Sandy (2010), National Weather Service management was content to possess one tenth of the computer resources of the European Center, but after the scandalous situation went public after that storm (including coverage on the NBC nightly news), NOAA/NWS management managed to get a major increment to the current level--which is just under what is available to the European Center.

Image courtesy of Rebecca Cosgrove, NCEP Central Operations

But the situation is actually much worse than it appears.   The NWS computer resources are split between operational and backup machines and is dependent on an inefficient collection of machines of differing architectures (Dell, IBM, and Cray).  There is a bottleneck of I/O (input/output) from these machines (which means they can't get information into and out of them efficiently), and storage capabilities are inadequate.

There is no real plan for seriously upgrading these machines, other than a 10-20% enhancement over the next few years.

In contrast, the European Center now has two machines with a total of roughly 10 pflop peak performance, with far more storage, and better communication channels into and out of the machine.

And keep in mind that ECMWP computers have far few responsibilities than the NCEP machines.  NCEP computers have to do EVERYTHING from global to local modeling, for hydrological prediction to seasonal time scales.  The ECMWF computers only have to deal with global model computing.

To make things even more lopsided, the European Center is now building a new computer center in Italy and they recently signed an agreement to purchase a new computer system FIVE TIMES as capable as their current one.

They are going to leave NOAA/NWS weather prediction capabilities in the dust.  And it did not have to happen.

Fixing the Problem

Past NOAA/NWS management bear substantial responsibility for this disaster, with Congress sharing some blame for not being attentive to this failure.  Congress has supplied substantial funding to NOAA/NWS in the past for model development, but such funding has not been used effectively.

Importantly, there IS bipartisan support in Congress to improve weather prediction, something that was obvious when I testified at a hearing for the House Environment Subcommittee last November.  They know there is a problem and want to help.

There is bipartisan support in Congress for better weather modeling

A major positive is that NOAA is now led by two individuals (Neil Jacobs and Tim Gallaudet), who understand the problem and want to fix it. And the President's Science Adviser, Kelvin Droegemeier,  is a weather modeler, who understands the problem.

So what must be done now?

(1)  U.S. numerical prediction modeling must be reorganized, since it is clear that the legacy structure, which inefficiently spreads responsibility and support activities, does not work.  The proposal of NOAA administrator Neal Jacobs to build a new EPIC center to be the centerpiece of U.S. model development should be followed (see my blog on EPIC here).

(2) NOAA/NWS must develop a detailed strategic plan that not only makes the case for more computer resources, but demonstrates how such resources will improve weather prediction.  Amazingly, they have never done this.  In fact, NOAA/NWS does not even have a document describing in detail the computer resources they have now (I know, I asked a number of NOAA/NWS managers for it--they admitted to me it doesn't exist).

(3)  With such a plan Congress should invest in the kind of computer resources that would enable U.S. weather prediction to become first rate.  Ten times the computer resources (costing about 100 million dollars) would bring us up to parity, 100 times would allow us to be state of the science (including such things as running global models at convection-permitting resolution, something I have been working on in my research).

Keep in mind that a new weather prediction computer system would be no more expensive that a single, high tech jet fighter.  Which do you think would provide more benefit to U.S. citizens?  And remember, excellent weather prediction is the first line of defense from severe weather that might be produced by global warming.

82 million dollars a piece

(4)  Future computer resources should divided between high-demand operational forecasting, which requires dedicated large machines, and less time-sensitive research/development runs, which could make use of cloud computing.  Thus, future NOAA computer resources will be a hybrid.

(5)  Current operational numerical prediction in the National Weather Service has been completed at the NCEP Central Operations Center.  This center has not been effective, has unnecessarily slowed the transition to operations of important changes, and must be reorganized or replaced with more facile, responsive entity.

U.S. citizens can enjoy far better weather forecasts, saving many lives and tens of billions of dollars per year.   But to do so will require that NOAA/NWS secure vastly increased computer resources, and reorganize weather model development and operations to take advantage of them.

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/17/2020 - 19:55
Published:2/17/2020 7:06:14 PM
[World] Brawl breaks out at Bernie Sanders rally over ‘Black Guns Matter’ shirt A brawl broke out at a Bernie Sanders rally in Colorado on Sunday when a supporter of the Vermont senator confronted another man for wearing a T-shirt that read “Black Guns Matter,” a report said. The man sporting the shirt, who is black, told CBS Denver that he was recording the presidential hopeful at the Colorado... Published:2/17/2020 7:06:14 PM
[Sport Headlines] Jurgen Klinsmann To Open Diving School The former Hertha Berlin coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, who walked out on the Bundesliga club last week after just 77 days in charge, citing 'differences' with management, is to open a diving school. No, not a 'driving school', a 'diving school'. To tea... Published:2/17/2020 6:38:28 PM
[Politics] Joe diGenova to Newsmax TV: Frm U.S. Attorney Liu 'Screwed Up' McCabe Joe diGenova, the former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Monday slammed another former district U.S. Attorney, Jessie Liu on Newsmax TV as a "moron" and claimed she "screwed up" the case against ex-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, ... Published:2/17/2020 6:38:28 PM
[Entertainment] You Have to See Sharon Osbourne's Hair "Transformation" 18 Years in the Making Sharon Osbourne, 2019 Emmy Awards, 2019 EmmysSay hello to a whole new style on Sharon Osbourne. After nearly two decades of coloring her hair, The Talk co-host has decided to switch things up in the beauty...
Published:2/17/2020 6:38:28 PM
[Volokh Conspiracy] [David Kopel] The gun guy and illegal militia founder who became President: George Washington Our first President understood that armed citizens are essential to American freedom Published:2/17/2020 6:38:27 PM
[worldNews] Tokyo commuters bound for Olympic crowd crush as Japan Inc rules out work from home When Emi Tanimura failed to find a daycare slot for her new-born daughter, she had to take a radical step for Japan to avoid a long time away from her job at communications firm Sunny Side Up . She started working from home.
Published:2/17/2020 6:38:27 PM
[Politics] Climate change alarmists Chrissy Teigen and John Legend have a fantastically hypocritical Valentine’s day How hypocritical would you have to be to be advocating against climate change, and then literally use a private jet just to show off how much jet fuel you can burn on . . . Published:2/17/2020 6:38:27 PM
[Politics] Climate change alarmists Chrissy Teigen and John Legend have a fantastically hypocritical Valentine’s day How hypocritical would you have to be to be advocating against climate change, and then literally use a private jet just to show off how much jet fuel you can burn on . . . Published:2/17/2020 6:38:27 PM
[Politics] Bernie Sanders continues attacks on Michael Bloomberg in Bay Area rally

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders rallies with supporters in Richmond, Calif.

Published:2/17/2020 6:38:27 PM
[Apps] Voodoo Games thrives by upending conventional product design Design-driven "luxury UI/UX" will continue to power the success of many startups, but it's not the only way to build a great business. Published:2/17/2020 6:38:27 PM
[e04af481-74fe-59d7-91d8-0a0dfe0f8ba8] Kellye Nakahara's 'M*A*S*H' co-stars Alan Alda, Loretta Swit remember the late actress Kellye Nakahara's co-stars are mourning her loss. Published:2/17/2020 6:38:27 PM
[Markets] China's Latest Data Fabrication: Home Prices "Increased" Even As Largest Home Developer Offers 25% Discounts China's Latest Data Fabrication: Home Prices "Increased" Even As Largest Home Developer Offers 25% Discounts

There has been a slew of openly bizarre, if not outright ridiculously manipulated and fabricated data out of China in the past month - which is to be expected by an authoritarian regime that for much of January arrested anyone who "leaked" the facts about the deadly coronavirus pandemic which Beijing was hoping to cover up until it simply became far too big - but the latest house price "data" may have been the straw that broke the camel's back.

Overnight, the National Bureau of Statistics reported that the latest 70-city housing price data showed that in January, the average home price appreciation in the primary market was 0.4% in January, the identical same pace as December, despite tens of millions of Chinese citizens living under quarantine or some form of lock down. Even more surreal, the number of cities with housing price increases was higher in January - which China's economy ground to a halt ahead of both the Lunar New Year and the subsequent coronavirus chaos - than in December.

Here are the details according to Beijing: Commercial housing prices in the primary market in the 70 cities tracked by China's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) (weighted by population) rose 0.4% month-over-month in January after seasonal adjustment, same as December. Property price appreciation was faster in tier 1 cities and unchanged in tier 2/3 cities, while price declines narrowed in tier 4 cities.

It gets better: out of the 70 cities monitored, 60 cities saw seasonally adjusted housing prices increase in January (53 cities saw price increase in December last year.) On a year-over-year, population-weighted basis, in the primary market, housing price appreciation was 6.2% in January in the 70 cities, slower than 6.5% in December.

That, in a nutshell, is the official version.

Meanwhile, in the real world outside of Beijing's excel spreadsheets and goalseek models (as a reminder, and as we wrote three years ago, "the Fate Of The World Economy Is In The Hands Of China's Housing Bubble", as the bulk of China's net worth is not in the financial market but in real estate), China's biggest property developer Evergrande Group announced on Sunday that amid tumbling demand, it would launch "great incentives" to lure domestic consumers via online subscriptions starting Tuesday, a "self-rescue" promotion which analysts said would help shore up the sluggish domestic housing market in February amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Paradoxically, even as Beijing reports a sequential increase in home prices, Evergrande will offer a 25 percent discount for consumers who purchase housing units, including apartments and office buildings, from Tuesday to February 29. The discounts will continue and be adjusted to 22% off from March 1 to 31.

Putting the move in context, "it will be the largest incentives the firm has offered in its business history, Liu Xuefei, vice president in charge of sales with Evergrande, told an online meeting on Sunday", according to the Global Times.

But why offer the biggest incentive in firm history if the housing market is firing on all cylinders as China's NBS reported, even as tens of millions of people are threatened with arrest if they so much as exit their apartments?

Don't answer: that's rhetorical.

Some more details on Evergrande's panicked sales promotion via the Global Times:

Since Evergrande started online sales promotion Thursday amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, the number of apartments subscribed online was 47,500 units from more than 600 housing projects the company has nationwide, worth 58 billion yuan ($8.3 billion), according to the company.

Consumers who pay 5,000 yuan ($715.6) down payments and sign subscription books on the company's online platform Hengfangtong, can preorder housing resources from projects the company has across the country, said Evergrande.

From the day that consumers sign contracts until May 10, they can enjoy a right to buy at the lowest price - if the price on the home they buy goes down, they can obtain the difference and can return the apartment.

"Online promotions by real estate companies do not affect the domestic housing market that much, but if one can preorder an apartment with a 5,000-yuan down payment, the stimulus will be quite large and will attract many first home buyers who have rigid demand," Yan Yuejin, research director at Shanghai-based E-house China R&D Institute, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"I found Evergrande's promotion ad on WeChat moments and the incentives are quite attractive. I cannot remember such large discounts a Chinese developer offered in recent years," a Beijing resident surnamed Lei in her 30s told the Global Times on Sunday.

One would almost think that Evergrande would not be offering such a giant discount if the housing market was doing as well as China's official indicated. Almost.

As the Global Times concludes, Evergrande's incentives "will help it drive sales volume and many other domestic housing developers are more likely to follow suit, experts said."

Of course, the communist party's populist mouthpiece is correct, but a familiar question emerges: just what will be the full extent of the coronavirus damage on China's housing market, when as even Goldman admits, "the outbreak of coronavirus suppressed property transaction volumes in February" and "daily property transaction volume remained low in top tier cities in the first half of February, and total transaction volume in 30 major cities were less than 10% of what the usual seasonal pattern would suggest after the Chinese New Year."

Speaking to the Global Times, Yan Yuejin, research director at Shanghai-based E-house China R&D Institute, who described Evergrande's new policy as "self rescuing," noted that instead of waiting for government support policies, domestic real estate companies should take the initiative to actively reduce housing inventories and stabilize their cash flow.

Is that a tacit admission that China will not be bailing out the housing market this time around?

In any case, in light of the above data one can see why Beijing is in such a rush to force the country's 1.4 billion residents and countless (zombie) businesses to pretend that the epidemic is over (which ifs one believes China's fake infection data, it almost is) and for people to get back to business as usual. The alternative is not only banks being flooded with trillions in bad loans, but China's biggest household asset, real estate, getting a crash course in price discovery under a severe crisis. We already know that with the Chinese economy on lock down for two weeks after the Lunar new year, the clearing price is now roughly 25% below where it was just a month ago (and a far cry from the 0.4% sequential increase according to the NBS). Will it be 50% in another two weeks, then 75% two more weeks after that, and so on?

For the sake of Xi Jinping's dictatorship, one can only hope that if the coronavirus epidemic persists - and any fake news that the virus is no longer a threat will be promptly refuted as new cases break out in work places across the country - that Beijing can find the tens of trillions in dollars, yuan or both it will need to bail out not only China's banking system, but the country's housing market as well.

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/17/2020 - 19:30
Published:2/17/2020 6:38:27 PM
[2020 Presidential Election] Who will win in Nevada, Sanders, Biden, or chaos? (Paul Mirengoff) In this post, I noted that the Culinary Workers Union, a big player in Nevada Democratic politics, is attacking Bernie Sanders over his “Medicare for All” proposal. I figured that these attacks would harm Sanders’s Nevada caucuses campaign. However, the Union hasn’t endorsed another candidate. Thus, to the extent that its attacks on Sanders dissuade members from supporting the Vermont socialist, these members are likely to split their vote among Published:2/17/2020 6:38:27 PM
[] Four Democrats Defect as Virginia Gun Confiscation Bill Is Kept Comfortable While a Conversation Is Had About Whether to Kill It Virginia Democrats schemed to seize people's guns -- not even with a "buyback" payment of money to cover the cost of the seized property. They were just straight-up going to seize citizens' property without compensation. And they were going to... Published:2/17/2020 6:38:27 PM
[] Topless 'crazy vegans' interrupt Sanders' rally Published:2/17/2020 6:08:02 PM
[] Joe Biden again asserts that DACA students 'are more American than most Americans are' Published:2/17/2020 6:08:02 PM
[Politics] Bloomberg Hits Back at Bernie Bros' Negative 'Energy' Mike Bloomberg launched an ad campaign calling out the negative "energy" coming from Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign's Bernie Bros. Published:2/17/2020 6:08:02 PM
[worldNews] China's Hubei province reports 93 new coronavirus deaths The number of deaths in China's central Hubei province from a coronavirus outbreak rose by 93 to 1,789 as of Monday, the province's health commission said on its website on Tuesday.
Published:2/17/2020 6:08:02 PM
[Uncategorized] Wuhan Virus Watch: 14 American passengers evacuated from cruise ship test positive for coronavirus China's President Xi Jinping may have know about the coronavirus outbreak earlier than first suggested. Published:2/17/2020 6:08:02 PM
[Markets] No One Gets Out Of Here Alive No One Gets Out Of Here Alive

Authored by Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform blog,

“The seasons of time offer no guarantees. For modern societies, no less than for all forms of life, transformative change is discontinuous. For what seems an eternity, history goes nowhere – and then it suddenly flings us forward across some vast chaos that defies any mortal effort to plan our way there. The Fourth Turning will try our souls – and the saecular rhythm tells us that much will depend on how we face up to that trial. The saeculum does not reveal whether the story will have a happy ending, but it does tell us how and when our choices will make a difference.”  – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

As we wander through the fog of history in the making, unsure who is lying and who is telling the truth, seemingly blind to what comes next, I look to previous Fourth Turnings for a map of what might materialize during the 2nd half of this current Fourth Turning. After a tumultuous, harrowing inception to this Crisis in 2008/2009, we have been told all is well and are in the midst of an eleven-year economic expansion, with the stock market hitting all-time highs.

History seemed to stop and we’ve been treading water for over a decade. Outwardly, the establishment has convinced the masses, through propaganda and money printing, the world has returned to normal and the future is bright. I haven’t bought into this provable falsehood. Looking back to the Great Depression, we can get some perspective on our current position historically.

The Dow is up 450% since its 2009 low, which is the metric used by the establishment to prove their money printing solutions have succeeded in lifting the country from the depths of despair and depression. The narrative peddled to the plebs by the lords of the manor through their fake news media mouthpieces for the past decade is one of solid recovery, as the cancer of debt proliferates through the global intestines, thrusting the patient towards a terminal fate.

Looking back to the previous Fourth Turning it seems the Dow went up 450% from its 1932 low in just five years, making this bull market look like a calf. It seems the ruling class did quite well in the midst of the Great Depression, while the masses lined up in soup lines. History may not repeat, but it certainly seems to be rhyming during this Fourth Turning, as the Wall Street cabal have been enriched while senior citizens have been impoverished by the Federal Reserve ZIRP and QE to infinity. This is proof depressionary conditions can prevail for the majority even as the stock market skyrockets to new heights.

Trump consistently touts our economy as the best ever. Obama crowed about bringing the country out of the depths of recession. How many of today’s historically challenged iGadget addicted morons know GDP grew by 63% between 1933 and 1937, in the midst of the Great Depression? Meanwhile, GDP has only grown by 48% since the 2009 low, over a ten-year period. And this has only been achieved through a 100% increase in the national debt, a 450% increase in the Federal Reserve balance sheet, a decade of zero interest rates, and trillion-dollar annual deficits.

The blizzard of lies obfuscating the reality of our economic decline has been so persistent, critical thinking Americans have lost all trust in the existing social order. The fabric of our nation has been torn asunder through the machinations and criminality of the Deep State players and their apparatchiks disseminated throughout our political, financial, government and media structures.

I do contemplate what future historians (if our egomaniacal leaders don’t blow up the planet) will write about this profoundly abnormal period in world history. Rational sober minded people will wonder “what were they thinking?”. How did mass delusion sweep across the globe and convince hundreds of millions to believe debt equaled wealth and prosperity could be generated by central bankers printing money at hyper-speed. How could supposedly highly educated financial professionals convince themselves it was rational to pay $900 per share for a company losing hundreds of millions per year?

The irrational exuberance exhibited by the big swinging dicks on Wall Street during the bubble, the subprime mortgage induced bubble, and the current everything bubble has been encouraged and inspired by the reckless actions of the Federal Reserve and their fellow feckless central bank heroine dealers around the world. Their arrogance is only exceeded by their greed and myopia. Their grasp of history reaches to last Wednesday. No one is heeding the wisdom of great men. That’s why they will be blind-sided by the coming total catastrophe, once again.

“There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion.  The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.” – Ludwig von Mises, Human Action [1949]

I spent countless hours during the Obama administration poking holes in the false narrative of the unemployment figures produced by the BLS and GDP numbers produced by the BEA. The Obama haters were completely onboard with my counter-factual arguments, backed up with rational arguments that these government drones were doing nothing more than peddling lies to keep the serfs in the dark.

Even Donald Trump openly scorned and ridiculed the fake data pumped out month after month. But it seems Donald now believes every economic data point his governmental agencies produce on a monthly basis. The recent jobs report was a perfect example. The mainstream media all blasted the same headline that 225,000 jobs were added in January, much higher than expected. This proved the economy is doing wonderfully, in their eyes.

It’s funny, but the Trump acolytes ignored the 520,000 downward revision of jobs created in the prior year, making his State of the Union boasts provably false. I’ve trashed the birth/death adjustments made by the BLS for years, but now Trump and his supporters ignore its falsity. The 225,000 increase in jobs came from the establishment survey. I heard no one point out the household survey showed the number of employed Americans fell by 89,000 in January and the number of unemployed jumped by 139,000. There are still almost 101,000 million working age Americans not working, the same number not working at this point in Obama’s presidency.

The overall employment situation has improved in the last three years, but Trump touting this as a blue-collar recovery is laughable. Real median weekly earnings for full-time workers is $362 ($18,824 annually), up a phenomenal 2.8% over the 3 years of Trump’s presidency. Real wages did fall 2.9% over the first three years of Obama’s presidency, but let’s not get carried away with less than 1% real wage growth per year under Trump. And remember, using a true inflation figure north of 5% would show real wages are actually in decline.

None of the current narrative fanboys pointed out only 1.93 million private industry jobs were created in 2019, the lowest level since 2010. Not exactly robust. And not consistent with the “greatest economy ever” narrative being promoted to the masses. The Fed reporting consumer debt soaring by $22 billion in December, with credit card debt growing by the most in over two decades (just prior to the debacle), is surely a sign of a healthy consumer. Right?

Consumer credit as a percentage of GDP reaching all-time highs as their real wages are stagnant isn’t a sign of middle-class desperation. Right? We also know 40% of American adults don’t have $400 of savings to cover an emergency expense, like a normal car repair or medical expense. It is clear to any critical thinking individual that credit card debt has risen to new all-time highs because the average family is treading water by paying utilities, rent, taxes, food and medical bills with their credit cards.

The foolishness of consumers, corporations, politicians and government bureaucrats is borne out in the chart below. The Federal Reserve created loose monetary policy, started under Greenspan in the 1980s, has convinced Wall Street titans the Fed will always have their back, bailing them out after they take excessive risks and push the financial system to the brink of collapse. The hubris of the ruling oligarchs, exhibited by issuing debt at hyper-speed to “solve” a crisis caused by excessive debt, knows no bounds.

Just the leveling off of debt in 2008/2009 threatened to bring the house of cards down. The issuance of another $17 trillion of debt, a 30% increase in ten years, has barely budged GDP. The fallacy that debt doesn’t matter because we owe it to ourselves has been proven false time and again. Consumers and corporations have to service their immense debt or go bankrupt. Interest on the national debt is already crowding out spending on real priorities like our infrastructure. Borrowing to pay interest on the debt is a pathway to destruction. An unsustainable trend will not be sustained. It’s just a matter of time.

So, who benefits from this hyperbolic increase in debt? Certainly not the average working stiff who has been propagandized into buying shit they don’t need with pretend money (debt) they don’t have, in order to keep up with the Joneses. As clearly demonstrated over the last decade, the beneficiaries of this stratospheric issuance of debt have been Wall Street shysters, mega-corporation executives, corrupt politicians, billionaire oligarchs, media titans, the military industrial complex, and the Deep State.

Why is it that Wall Street bankers were able to borrow for free from the Federal Reserve for a decade, while paying .15% to senior citizens and reaping billions in ill-gotten profits? As the Federal Reserve chairman lies that keeping interest rates low is to benefit the average American, why are interest rates on credit cards at an all-time high? I wonder who is benefitting from this interesting development. If the average American hasn’t figured out ZIRP, QE to infinity, and trillion-dollar deficits aren’t for their benefit, then they are just willfully ignorant or plain stupid.

After what has seemed an eternity with this Fourth Turning not appearing to intensify, the last few months, and particularly since the start of 2020, it seems like we are about to be flung forward into a coming storm of chaos, with no way to plan for the challenges awaiting. The ruling oligarchs recognized their attempt to try and normalize our economic system by slowly weaning it from ever expanding debt during 2019 was headed towards a cliff.

Their actions over the last six or so months reveal an air of desperation. The sudden reversal from methodically slow interest rate increases to three cuts in succession exposes the Fed as being trapped, with no way out. Normalization is impossible. Then the repo market began to implode, with overnight rates soaring to 10%. The ongoing hundreds of billions in funding provided by the Fed every day divulges the rot underlying the financial system, requiring never ending emergency measures to keep it alive.

“The worship of the state is the worship of force. There is no more dangerous menace to civilization than a government of incompetent, corrupt, or vile men. The worst evils which mankind ever had to endure were in?icted by bad governments. The state can be and has often been in the course of history the main source of mischief and disaster.” ? Ludwig von Mises

The masses have been trained through decades in government gulags (aka public schools) to worship the state and propagandized through the corporate media to believe government and the politicians picked for us by men in backrooms are working on our behalf. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Deep State is inhabited by a myriad of corrupt, vile men who are the source of the mischief and disasters being inflicted on honest hard-working people across the land.

Central bankers and their Wall Street puppet masters have been making billions as they blow bubbles, then use their power and control over politicians to shift their losses to the ignorant masses when their bubbles burst. When it happens over and over again, it clearly isn’t due to mistakes or misunderstandings. The pillaging of your wealth, rigged markets, fraud, and buying off the regulatory system is now the standard operating procedure in our outlaw surveillance state.

In Part Two of this article I will examine the earth moving events which have already happened in 2020 and ponder what will catalyze the rest of this year and the second half of this ongoing Fourth Turning.

*  *  *
The corrupt establishment will do anything to suppress sites like the Burning Platform from revealing the truth. The corporate media does this by demonetizing sites like mine by blackballing the site from advertising revenue. If you get value from this site, please keep it running with a donation.

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/17/2020 - 19:05
Published:2/17/2020 6:08:02 PM
[] And? If you think it's unfair for trans women to dominate girls' sports, you don't think trans girls are 'real' girls Published:2/17/2020 5:36:44 PM
[Politics] Warren Calls for Party Unity in Taking On Trump Elizabeth Warren is preaching Democratic unity in taking on President Donald Trump, a challenge she framed as an existential crisis for America.Warren, having partly recovered her voice after catching a cold, said at a Monday afternoon town hall in the Las Vegas suburb of... Published:2/17/2020 5:36:43 PM
[worldNews] China's Hubei province reports 93 new coronavirus deaths on Feb. 17 The number of deaths in China's central Hubei province from a coronavirus outbreak rose by 93 to 1,789 as of Monday, the province's health commission said on its website on Tuesday.
Published:2/17/2020 5:36:43 PM
[Markets] Why You Shouldn't Borrow Too Much Money, China Edition Why You Shouldn't Borrow Too Much Money, China Edition

Authored by John Rubino via,

When the US housing bubble burst in 2007, most observers were focused on the threat to Wall Street banks and their massive derivative books. This was a legitimate fear, since the worst case scenarios involved the death of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase, with all the stock market carnage that that implied.

But for China the stakes were a lot higher - picture half a billion people taking to the streets and demanding an end to a government whose only claim to legitimacy was its ability to provide millions of ever-more-lucrative jobs.

So while the US was bailing out every bank in sight with lower interest rates and loan guarantees, China upped the ante by ordering pretty much every sector if its economy start building things with borrowed money. The result was the biggest infrastructure binge in history, in which roads, bridges, airports, and — hey, why not — entire new cities sprang up in just a few years, providing jobs for millions of would-be rioters and a torrent of cash flow for foreign suppliers of iron ore, copper, cement, steel, lumber, and pretty much every other industrial commodity you can name.

China boomed, the rest of the world recovered, and today’s longest-ever economic expansion was born. And Chinese debt-to-GDP soared to record-high levels.

Now dial back the perspective to that of a single hypothetical family. Say one of the breadwinners loses their job and the family’s income is cut in half. They can chose to scale back their spending to match their newly-diminished circumstances and accept the resulting turmoil of fewer cars, smaller house, public rather than private schools, etc. Or they can max out a series of credit cards and just go on as before, avoiding stress in the moment at the cost of bigger bills — and greater fragility — in the future.

The second strategy will work if the unemployed breadwinner gets a new job reasonably soon and — crucially — if no other crisis pops up that requires (now nonexistent) resources. No illness, no new job loss, no leaky roof, no wrecked car … and things might work out.

Now zoom back out to China, which chose strategy number two and is currently “rich” but also way too leveraged to handle another shock to the system. Just in time for a pandemic that shuts down half the country. From today’s South China Morning Post:

Forget Sars, the new coronavirus threatens a meltdown in China’s economy

Never before has China paid such an economic price for an epidemic as it has done already with the coronavirus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan and causes the disease now officially known as Covid-19. And the damage is spreading.

It is obvious that the economic impact of Covid-19 will be far more severe than that of Sars, or any other previous epidemic.

Whole cities have been locked down, effectively grinding some local economies to a halt since Beijing declared all-out war on January 23. Currently, 30 of China’s 31 provinces have declared a top-level public health emergency, with all major cities and economic hubs effectively shut for weeks. The government has locked down 56 million people in quarantine in Hubei, banned tens of millions more from travelling across the nation, and imposed restrictions on activities in most urban areas. The Lunar New Year holiday has been extended for one or two weeks for most of the country. At the peak, provinces accounting for almost 69 per cent of China’s GDP were closed for business, according to Bloomberg Economics.

For the millions of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in China, the nightmare may be just beginning. Many small manufacturers fear foreign customers will shift orders to other countries due to disruptions in production and delivery. In a survey of 995 SMEs by academics from Tsinghua and Peking universities, 85 per cent said they would be unable to survive for more than three months under the current conditions. If the disruption goes on long enough, it could trigger a wave of bankruptcy among SMEs, which contribute more than 60 per cent of China’s GDP, 70 per cent of its patents and account for 80 per cent of jobs nationwide.

A financially solid country might be able to weather this kind of crisis by drawing down reserves and using its stellar credit to take on new, temporary debt. But an already over-leveraged system may not have those options.

As for what part of China’s economy blows up first, check out the repayment schedule of municipal debt. These are the cities and states that borrowed immense amounts of money — much of it in US dollars — to build the previously mentioned roads, bridges, etc. Much of this infrastructure was already failing to generate cash flow sufficient to cover the related debt. Now those cash flows are drying up.

China, in short, is providing a life lesson for the rest of us in how to respond to a crisis. Remember it next time you think about maxing out a credit card.

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/17/2020 - 18:15
Published:2/17/2020 5:36:43 PM
[5f1cbba6-7f90-504b-8d24-e697832b128f] Gutfeld on the media’s phony contrition over Avenatti CNN is experiencing a rare moment of self-reflection. Published:2/17/2020 5:36:43 PM
[TC] Facebook asks for a moat of regulations it already meets It’s suspiciously convenient that Facebook already fulfills most of the regulatory requirements it’s asking governments to lay on the rest of the tech industry. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is in Brussels lobbying the European Union’s regulators as they form new laws to govern artificial intelligence, content moderation, and more. But if they follow Facebook’s suggestions, […] Published:2/17/2020 5:36:43 PM
[Politics] Pelosi: Dems Must Unify to Defeat Trump In order to defeat President Donald Trump in the November election, the Democratic Party must be unified, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told CNN over the weekend. Published:2/17/2020 5:09:47 PM
[Politics] BREAKING: Nancy Pelosi finally agrees with Trump on something! The Trump administration is putting countries on notice that if they don’t cut ties to the Chinese 5G company, Huawei, that the US won’t be sharing intelligence with them: . @realDonaldTrump just . . . Published:2/17/2020 5:09:47 PM
[worldNews] U.S. flies 338 Americans home from cruise ship, including 14 with coronavirus More than 300 Americans who had been stuck on a cruise ship affected by the coronavirus were back in the United States on Monday, flown to U.S. military bases for two more weeks of quarantine after spending the previous 14 days docked in Japan.
Published:2/17/2020 5:09:47 PM
[6281d26c-f48f-5f21-87d7-9180bf0197e7] Kellye Nakahara, 'M*A*S*H' star, dead Kellye Nakahara, who starred as Lieutenant Nurse Kellye on "M*A*S*H," has died, Fox News can confirm.  Published:2/17/2020 5:09:47 PM
[Right Column] GOP, courting youth, talks climate change – Seeks to plant 1 trillion trees

Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, who drafted a resolution last year echoing Democratic talking points that climate change is a threat to national security, agreed.

“I am encouraged that my Republican colleagues are abandoning climate denial,” he said.


Flashback: Settled Science?! Trees both cause & solve ‘global warming’?! – GOP climate pandering seeks to plant billions of trees

Published:2/17/2020 5:09:47 PM
[Markets] 'Black And Latino Males Don't Know How To Behave In The Workplace': Bloomberg Flashback 'Black And Latino Males Don't Know How To Behave In The Workplace': Bloomberg Flashback

Another Mike Bloomberg sound byte is coming back to haunt the Democratic presidential candidate after a 2011 clip from when he was mayor of New York City has resurfaced in which he said "enormous cohorts" of young black and Latino men "don't know how to behave in the workplace where they have to work collaboratively and collectively."

Presciently, The Onion joked that Bloomberg was "tracking poorly among 18- to 25-year-old African Americans," and "

hired thousands of canvassers Friday to stop black men on the street and force them to hear his campaign pitch."

Meanwhile, this isn't the first time Bloomberg's past words have come back to haunt him.

Last week, the out-of-touch billionaire apologized to a black megachurch for his controversial "stop-and-frisk" program, saying "I was wrong. And I am sorry." The program was successful at reducing crime, however opponents felt it violated the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable searches despite a 1968 Supreme Court ruling that it does not.

On Friday, a former Bloomberg employee corroborated an accusation that he told a woman to "kill it" when she announced her pregnancy, according to the Washington Post.

And in a 2016 speech at Oxford University, Bloomberg framed farmers as primitive idiots whose job he could teach just about anybody.

 Maybe this is why ol' Mike doesn't want to debate?

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/17/2020 - 17:50
Published:2/17/2020 5:09:47 PM
[Politics] Trump campaign, Obama spar over credit for US economy’s growth “Eleven years ago today, near the bottom of the worst recession in generations, I signed the Recovery Act, paving the way for more than a decade of economic growth and the longest streak of job creation in American history,” former President Obama tweeted. Published:2/17/2020 5:09:47 PM
[Entertainment] Kim Kardashian Proves She's Cooler Than Our Mom in New TikTok With North West Kim Kardashian, North WestWhoever said moms can't handle TikTok clearly hasn't met Kim Kardashian. On Monday afternoon, the Keeping Up With the Kardashians star took to Instagram and shared a glimpse into...
Published:2/17/2020 5:09:47 PM
[Entertainment] ‘True Grit’ author Charles Portis, ‘our least-known great novelist,’ dies at 86 Portis was often referred to as “our least-known great novelist." Published:2/17/2020 5:09:47 PM
[World] Ayesha Curry Straddles Stephen Curry in Sexy Vacation Photo Ayesha Curry, Stephen CurryAyesha Curry and Stephen Curry are turning up the heat during this vacation. The 31-year-old basketball star took to Instagram on Sunday to share a photo of himself enjoying some fun in...
Published:2/17/2020 5:09:47 PM
[] DVD review: Knives Out kills it -- in two different ways Published:2/17/2020 4:38:00 PM
[Entertainment] Red Alert: This 8-Year-Old Just Had the Best Birthday Party Inside Target Target Birthday GirlLook out for steals and deals--and a kid's party on aisle eight. The Internet is freaking out for all the right reasons after an eight-year-old girl decided to have her birthday...
Published:2/17/2020 4:38:00 PM
[worldNews] U.S. flies 338 Americans home from cruise ship, including 14 with coronavirus More than 300 Americans who had been stuck on a cruise ship affected by the coronavirus were back in the United States on Monday, flown to U.S. military bases for two more weeks of quarantine after spending the previous 14 days docked in Japan.
Published:2/17/2020 4:38:00 PM
[Right Column] ‘We Can Save Earth’: Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Announces $10-Billion Climate Action Plan – The ‘Bezos Earth Fund’
Published:2/17/2020 4:38:00 PM
[Markets] 'CoupGate' - A Localized Civil War Is Now Underway In The DoJ 'CoupGate' - A Localized Civil War Is Now Underway In The DoJ

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via,

At Stake

A miasma of consternation lay heavy across the Potomac swamp late last week when former FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe was let off the hook for lying to his own bureau while, elsewhere across DC, the distinguished Lt. General Flynn was still fighting for his life against exactly the same charge after three years of dilatory maneuvers by the DOJ to conceal their prosecutorial malfeasance in the case… and then the sketchy Roger Stone matter entered a twilight zone of jiggery-pokery that appeared to climax in a staged ruse by his four prosecutors to lure the Attorney General, Mr. Barr, into a trap.

You are forgiven for failing to follow all the twists and turns in this latest installment of what might now be called CoupGate, a summation of the seditious campaign to overthrow the president, which already has gone through so many gates — SpyGate, RussiaGate, MuellerGate, UkraineGate, WhistleblowerGate — that Mr. Trump looks like he’s spent three years training for the giant slalom in the next winter Olympics. A localized Civil War is underway in the Department of Justice now. Mr. Barr is in the middle, getting it from both sides.

The AG has apparently partitioned the DOJ into two separate realms: the now-identified corps of coupsters working desperately to keep their asses covered in an unraveling conspiracy, and Mr. Barr’s group attempting to account fairly for all that has happened, while salvaging what’s left of the outfit’s institutional legitimacy. Too much documented evidence of crime is out there in the public domain to dismiss these activities as a “conspiracy theory.” The trouble is, so many were involved from so many branches and agencies, that fully prosecuting every angle of it could bring down the permanent bureaucracy like the Jenga tower it has become.

The decision to let Mr. McCabe skate on the lying rap infuriated those demanding accountability for government lawyers-gone-wild, since even the DOJ Inspector General, Mr. Horowitz, cited serial instances of his “lacking candor” in more than one report, and “Andy” seems to have been a pivot-man for the FBI in the early-and-middle phases of the coup — along with his DOJ counterpart, former Deputy Attorney General Rod (“I’ll wear a wire”) Rosenstein.

I have a theory about the McCabe case: The Attorney General has taken the rinky-dink “lying to the FBI” charge off the table. It has become a liability, virtually the emblem for government misconduct, and Mr. Barr is getting rid of it in these matters. It has already caused too much mischief, insulted Americans’ sense of justice, and damaged the DOJ’s standing. Note, Andrew McCabe has been let off only on this charge, stemming from only one particular IG referral; he may well yet be liable for more serious charges-to-come. From here on, there will be no more rinky-dink lying charges against any of those implicated in the coup, only the most serious charges, and only those that add up to a solid case.

The coup has been so broad, deep, and thick that I predict cases will have to be brought under the RICO statutes in batches for different groups in separate agencies and branches of government.

For instance, there is the Intel Mob, including former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intel (DNI) James Clapper, current Intel IG Michael Atkinson, so-called whistleblower (he that cannot be named, E*** C**********) and International Man of Mystery Joseph Mifsud.

There is gang from the State Department who helped engineer UkraineGate, including former Ambassador Marie Yovanovich, former Sec’y of State John Kerry, and others. There is that big herd of rogue lawyers in the DOJ and its stepchild, the FBI, the names widely disseminated by now, Comey, Strzok, Baker, Boente, Carlin, Clinesmith, et. al.

There’s Robert Mueller and his henchpersons, Andrew Weissmann, Jeannie Rhee, et. al.

There’s another a band of seditionists in Congress that includes Mark Warner of the Senate Intel Committee, the now notorious idiot Adam Schiff over in the House, and staffers who worked for both.

There’s a bunch in the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment that paid over a million dollars to Alternate International Man of Mystery (actually, CIA asset) Stefan Halper to run entrapment schemes against people working for Mr. Trump.

There’s a swarm from Barack Obama’s White House, including Valarie Jarrett, Susan Rice, Samantha Powers, Alexandra Chalupa, former Vice-President Joe Biden and the former President himself.

And finally, there is the 800-pound-gorilla over in the Democratic Party thicket, namely Hillary Clinton, and those connected to her and her charity fraud, the Clinton Foundation, which is the real and actual predicate for the whole sordid affair — a list that includes Viktor Vekselberg of Russia’s Skolkovo Project, $25-million donor Russian oligarch Victor Pinchuk, Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, and Dmitri Alperovich of CrowdStrike, (Russian collusion, anyone?) as well as rascally freelancers such as Christopher Steele, Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, lawyer / Lobbyist Adam Waldman, and Hillary errand boys Sidney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer. The stories behind those names are all over the web, in case you want edify yourself.

Now, perhaps, you can see the scope of this big hot mess, and deduce the degree of difficulty that William Barr faces in attempting to set it all straight. He has to carefully select those who will be charged and probably not bother with some of the bit players. The charges are going to have to be serious, and the cases must be strong. It is a gigantic job of work, and rather delicate business considering the explosive potential to a government whose credibility is already pretty shredded. Failure to attend to it may turn a mere bureaucratic civil war into a genuine citizen rebellion featuring some of the 300-million-odd firearms at large in the republic. I believe Mr. Barr is aware of what’s at stake and will behave honorably.

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/17/2020 - 17:25
Published:2/17/2020 4:38:00 PM
[Entertainment] In ‘The Mercies,’ a deadly storm isn’t the only danger for a Scandinavian community In Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s historical novel, characters have many ideas about a woman’s place in 17th-century Europe. Published:2/17/2020 4:38:00 PM
[Automotive] The Station: Lucid Motors spy shot and the birth of an AV startup The Station is a weekly newsletter dedicated to all things transportation. Sign up here — just click The Station — to receive it every Saturday in your inbox. Hello again — or perhaps for the first time. This is Kirsten Korosec, senior transportation reporter at TechCrunch and your host here at The Station. This weekly […] Published:2/17/2020 4:38:00 PM
[Politics] BREAKING: Nancy Pelosi finally agrees with Trump on something! The Trump administration is putting countries on notice that if they don’t cut ties to the Chinese 5G company, Huawei, that the US won’t be sharing intelligence with them: . @realDonaldTrump just . . . Published:2/17/2020 4:38:00 PM
[] After Three Years of Reds-Under-The-Beds Paranoid Lunacy, Leftwing CNN Tries Suggesting That Bernie Sanders' Fervent Support for the Soviet Union Is Kinda Cool, If You Think About It Really. This is Andrew Kazinsci, a proud member of CNN's doxxing unit. An employee of CNN, a company which has spent over three years pushing lunatic conspiracy theories about RUSSIA. Now pushing... a "nuanced" take on the Soviet Union.... Published:2/17/2020 4:37:59 PM
[] Sponsor of Virginia's failed assault weapons ban promises, 'We will be back' Published:2/17/2020 4:05:45 PM
[World] New Medicaid state waivers, a pathway for health care reform

Medicaid — the welfare program that provides health care to vulnerable, low-income individuals and families — needs to be reformed — and soon. It’s consuming an ever-larger share of spending at the federal and state level and squeezing out other public policy priorities.

At the same time, many of the ... Published:2/17/2020 4:05:45 PM

[Politics] Virginia Assault Weapon Ban, Magazine Confiscation Defeated in Senate

The Virginia proposal to ban "assault weapons" and confiscate ammunition magazines holding more than 12 rounds was defeated in a bipartisan vote on Monday morning.

The post Virginia Assault Weapon Ban, Magazine Confiscation Defeated in Senate appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:2/17/2020 4:05:45 PM
[Politics] REPORT: Top NSC official rumored to be ‘Anonymous’ may be moved out of NSC It’s being reported this afternoon that the Trump administration is considering moving a top National Security Council official, rumored to be ‘Anonymous’, out of the NSC altogether: AXIOS – Top Trump administration . . . Published:2/17/2020 4:05:45 PM
[Markets] Apple warns it will not meet its revenue guidance due to coronavirus effects Apple warns it will not meet its revenue guidance due to coronavirus effects Published:2/17/2020 4:05:45 PM
[worldNews] UK PM's adviser quits after backlash over contraception, IQ comments An adviser to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who had discussed the benefits of forced contraception quit on Monday, saying "media hysteria" about his old online posts meant he had become a distraction for the government.
Published:2/17/2020 4:05:45 PM
[Politics] White House Report Highlights Foreign Freeloading of American Medical Innovation Published:2/17/2020 4:05:45 PM
[Entertainment] Drew Carey Breaks Silence on Ex-Fiancée Amie Harwick's Death Drew Carey, Amie HarwickDrew Carey is mourning the death of Amie Harwick. The 61-year-old comedian and host paid tribute to his ex-fiancée in a Twitter tribute on Monday. "I hope you're...
Published:2/17/2020 4:05:45 PM
[Earnings] Apple will miss revenue forecast as coronavirus impacts its manufacturing, sales Today Apple announced that its prior financial forecast, provided during its January earnings cycle, is no longer valid. In a letter to investors today, the technology giant said that it “do[es] not expect to meet the revenue guidance we provided for the March quarter” due to impacts stemming from the coronavirus that has shuttered large […] Published:2/17/2020 4:05:45 PM
[Left Column] Is ‘All-Time Antarctic 20.75C Record High Temperature’ Just A Sensational Hoax? Station Data Show Only 16C – WMO cites media as source

WMO cites media as source! The WMO website itself is citing the media as its source, writing: “Media reports say that researchers logged a temperature of 20.75°C. Mr Cerveny cautioned that it is premature to say that Antarctica has exceeded 20°C for the first time.”

Thermometer data show only 16°C! But according to German Facebook site Klima.Wissen here and its readers, the “all-time record high reading appears to have its origins from the AFP news agency. It was then picked up by the always climate sensational The Guardian. But now the whole story is beginning to appear as just big sensational hoax.

Published:2/17/2020 4:05:45 PM
[Markets] After Mass Chicken Cull, China Approves Live Poultry From US  After Mass Chicken Cull, China Approves Live Poultry From US 

The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) of China has approved the import of live chickens from the US after farmers across the country were ordered to cull tens of millions of chickens because of the Covid-19 outbreak

The MOA had banned poultry meat imports from the US in 2015 due to avian influenza threats. 

As a concession for the phase one trade deal, China had lifted poultry meat import bans and now has allowed the import of live chickens, reported the Financial Times

Beijing allowing the MOA to approve the import of live chickens is mostly because the mass culling has led to a sharp increase in prices. At the moment, China isn't just facing a shortage of food, but also an economic crisis, and couple both of those together, the real threat of protests and riots in many cities, some larger than NYC, could be nearing. 

 "There is no question China's chicken population will fall sharply in the coming months," said Qiu Cong of Jinghai Poultry Industry Group. "The chicks are gone and farmers are struggling to make ends meet."

A report by Wang Zhongqiang, a former director at the China Animal Husbandry Association, and Ning Zhonghua, a professor at China Agricultural University, said farmers had culled upwards of 100 million young chickens since the virus broke out. Though the figure is approximately 1% of China's annual production of 9.3 billion chickens, it's currently having an impact on prices. 

On top of this all, farmers culled 50% of the country's pig herd last year on the rapid spread of the African swine fever virus

Darin Friedrichs, a Shanghai-based commodity analyst at INTL FCStone, said meat prices in China would remain high for the next quarter while new sourcing is seen. Friedrichs added that shortages could persist in the weeks ahead.

Charoen Pokphand Group, a top animal feed maker with factories in Hubei, the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak, said its supplies are running low. "Freight traffic has collapsed in Hubei," the company said. "There are roadblocks everywhere."

China allowing imports of live chickens from the US is a positive for the Trump administration but won't have a significant impact on reaching the $200 billion hard targets of goods the country must purchase over the next two years. 

The virus impact for US goods under phase one trade deal has likely plunged. Even Trump administration officials admit the trade deal will be slow to implement considering the disruptions in China. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/17/2020 - 17:00
Published:2/17/2020 4:05:45 PM
[Markets] NewsWatch: Away from S&P 500 and other top indexes, markets are behaving as if it’s late in the cycle: Morgan Stanley strategist You would have a hard time convincing someone looking at the major U.S. stock-market benchmarks that it is looking like the end of the cycle. Yet Andrew Sheets, chief cross-asset strategist at Morgan Stanley, says there are late-cycle indicators in current markets.
Published:2/17/2020 4:05:45 PM
[Uncategorized] Brawl Breaks Out in the Middle of a Bernie Rally Keep it classy, Bernie Bros Published:2/17/2020 4:05:45 PM
[] Latest Extinction Rebellion stunt: Digging up lawns Published:2/17/2020 3:35:35 PM
[] 'Excellent'! Mike Pence tweets video that plows under Michael Bloomberg's farming ignorance Published:2/17/2020 3:35:35 PM
[Politics] Three States Press Forward on Hair Discrimination Law Bills that would ban discrimination against hairstyles mostly associated with race have advanced in three states, according to CNN. Published:2/17/2020 3:35:34 PM
[Entertainment] Ambulance Called to Caroline Flack's House One Day Before Love Island Host's Death Caroline FlackNew details about Caroline Flack's final days are being uncovered. According to multiple reports, an ambulance was called to the Love Island host's London home the night before...
Published:2/17/2020 3:35:34 PM
[90a1613d-2b9e-54ba-b428-b906975b1203] Amie Harwick's ex-fiancé Drew Carey breaks silence following therapist's death Drew Carey is mourning the loss of his ex-fiancée Dr. Amie Harwick.  Published:2/17/2020 3:35:34 PM
[2020 Presidential Election] Bloomberg Blasts Bernie Bros (John Hinderaker) Early this morning, Michael Bloomberg tweeted this attack on Bernie Sanders and his army of online hooligans: We need to unite to defeat Trump in November. This type of "energy" is not going to get us there. — Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) February 17, 2020 Bloomberg is right: Sanders is trying to bully his way to the presidential nomination. Bloomberg, on the other hand, is trying to buy it–more Published:2/17/2020 3:35:34 PM
[Markets] "The Situation Is Evolving" - AAPL Cuts Guidance Due To Virus Disruptions "The Situation Is Evolving" - AAPL Cuts Guidance Due To Virus Disruptions


Apple has issued a press released, admitting it does "not expect to meet the revenue guidance we provided for the March quarter" due to coronavirus related issues.

In other words, the guidance we issued 19 days ago - blowing off any impact from the virus - is completely worthless.

Full Statement Below:

As the public health response to COVID-19 continues, our thoughts remain with the communities and individuals most deeply affected by the disease, and with those working around the clock to contain its spread and to treat the ill. Apple® is more than doubling our previously announced donation to support this historic public health effort.

Our quarterly guidance issued on January 28, 2020 reflected the best information available at the time as well as our best estimates about the pace of return to work following the end of the extended Chinese New Year holiday on February 10. Work is starting to resume around the country, but we are experiencing a slower return to normal conditions than we had anticipated. As a result, we do not expect to meet the revenue guidance we provided for the March quarter due to two main factors.

  • The first is that worldwide iPhone® supply will be temporarily constrained. While our iPhone manufacturing partner sites are located outside the Hubei province — and while all of these facilities have reopened — they are ramping up more slowly than we had anticipated. The health and well-being of every person who helps make these products possible is our paramount priority, and we are working in close consultation with our suppliers and public health experts as this ramp continues. These iPhone supply shortages will temporarily affect revenues worldwide.

  • The second is that demand for our products within China has been affected. All of our stores in China and many of our partner stores have been closed. Additionally, stores that are open have been operating at reduced hours and with very low customer traffic. We are gradually reopening our retail stores and will continue to do so as steadily and safely as we can. Our corporate offices and contact centers in China are open, and our online stores have remained open throughout.

Outside of China, customer demand across our product and service categories has been strong to date and in line with our expectations.

The situation is evolving, and we will provide more information during our next earnings call in April. Apple is fundamentally strong, and this disruption to our business is only temporary. Our first priority — now and always — is the health and safety of our employees, supply chain partners, customers and the communities in which we operate. Our profound gratitude is with those on the front lines of confronting this public health emergency.

What is notable is the absence of a "but we'll increase out share buyback program" rescue package for shareholders to rely on.

Finally we note that the timing of this statement is anything but coincidence - on a market holiday in the US - as it gives the analyst community enough time to script their narrative for why this can all be discounted... or is more than priced in already... and/or will be erased thanks to an imminent v-shaped recovery or some such completely unknowable bullshit.

Of course this is all great news for the stock - consider what happened the last time AAPL cut guidance...

The stock price doubled!

With most markets still closed, we look to USDJPY for some idea of a reaction...

And it appears, Nasdaq Futs will open lower - but not dramatically so.

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/17/2020 - 16:17
Published:2/17/2020 3:35:34 PM
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[] Alan Derschowitz: Barack Obama Ordered the FBI to Investigate a Political Enemy of George Soros', at Soros' Behest Hmmmm. He says you'll know who this person is after the lawsuit on his behalf is filed. Q: But let me just ask you -- you said that George Soros asked Barack Obama to have his Justice Department investigate somebody?... Published:2/17/2020 3:35:34 PM
[Markets] Platts: 5 Commodity Charts To Watch This Week Platts: 5 Commodity Charts To Watch This Week

Via S&P Global Platts Insight blog,

The ongoing outbreak of coronavirus, known officially as COVID-19, continues to dominate commodity and energy market developments, as illustrated by this week’s pick of charts from S&P Global Platts news editors. Plus, key trends in EU and US electricity markets.

1. COVID-19 stalls Chinese workers’ return to manufacturing centers…

What’s happening? China’s coastal provinces are heavily dependent on migrant labour from other provinces. Every year millions of these migrant workers go home for the Lunar New Year, travelling back to the coastal cities when the holiday ends. They go back to jobs on construction sites, in factories and across the service sector. This year the annual migration has stalled due the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, as shown by data from Chinese technology company Baidu. Movement of people into the coastal province of Guangdong after the lunar new year is way down compared to last year. Guangdong is home to more industrial enterprises than another province, many of them privately owned, small and medium sized, manufacturers reliant on migrant labour. The same trend can be seen in Zhejiang and Jiangsu, two other coastal provinces with a large number of private enterprises.

What’s next? State-owned companies are less reliant on migrant labour. The State Council, China’s government, recently announced that 97% of central government-controlled petroleum and petrochemical companies had resumed work. But supply of oil products is not the issue. Demand is the problem. With so few people travelling after the new year and a lack of workers in the coastal provinces, oil demand from the transport, construction and petrochemical sectors is taking a dive. The government has to balance the drive to get people back to work, and the economy moving, with efforts to contain COVID-19 – no easy task. Look for rising levels of internal migration to indicate that China’s economy is spluttering back to life and that oil demand is back on the rise.

2. …and adds to woes for already weak LNG market

What’s happening? China is the world’s second-largest LNG importer behind Japan. Quarantines and travel restrictions imposed to restrict the spread of COVID-19 have caused a demand contraction, hitting an already oversupplied global LNG market.

What’s next? The impact of the outbreak is expected to worsen in coming weeks as economic activity in key manufacturing hubs struggles to rebound, keeping a lid on natural gas demand and triggering more LNG trade flow disruptions. As the previous item shows, travel restrictions were still preventing millions of industry employees in China from returning to work in the week ending February 14 and factories expected only partial production restarts, with some delaying a return to operations until late February or early March.

3. Slump in Chinese construction and autos hits global steel

What’s happening? Steel hot-rolled coil (HRC) prices in Asian, EU and US markets have been falling as inventories swell. The glut has been sparked by lower demand from China’s construction and automotive industries, where activity has plunged due to measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. US domestic prices have shed 5% over the past month, and Chinese domestic prices almost 10%.

What’s next? With the Chinese, the world’s largest steel producers and exporters, experiencing logistics delays and even docking and unloading restrictions on ships carrying  steel into the Philippines and South Korea, exporters elsewhere are eyeing new trade opportunities in China’s usual steel export markets. In flat products, exporters from India, Japan and Russia are seeking new trade, and in long products, Turkish, Middle Eastern and again Russian exporters are keeping a close eye on developments.

4. Successive storms test European wind turbines, power grids

What’s happening? Record wind power generation has its downsides. Storms have swept across Europe the last two weekends, sending UK grid frequency below 49.7 Hertz February 9 and triggering a call for static response from the system operator. When winds are excessive, turbines go into survival mode, automatically reducing or shutting down production. Storm Ciara led to a multi-gigawatt shortfall in UK wind forecasts, even if generation was high at 13 GW – and frequency dropped to 49.6 Hertz. A big slice of this shortfall would have been embedded, distribution-connected capacity, effectively invisible to the transmission system operator. In the event, National Grid dealt with the frequency dive. The lack of inertia on the system, however, is an on-going challenge as dispatchable plants close and more offshore wind farms open.

What’s next? Strong winds are forecast to continue into the current week, with February shaping up to be the third month in a row when European wind generation records are broken. The UK alone is forecast to have close to 15 GW of wind on the system all through Tuesday, equivalent to 50% of demand. There are now over 205 GW of wind capacity installed across Europe, the park averaging 85 GW generation in the most recent week. Average European wind generation this winter stands at around 62 GW, almost 10 GW up on year. Even deficit market Finland has now seen negative hourly prices due to surplus wind spilling from Sweden and Denmark.

5. New England power capacity auction clears at lowest price ever

What’s happening? The New England power market operator’s auction for electricity supplies to be delivered in 2023/24 recently cleared at $2/kW-month, the lowest price since the auction has been conducted. Reductions in expected future power demand and other factors were cited as reasons for the low clearing prices.

What’s next? Next year’s capacity auction will be influenced by a variety of factors on both the supply and demand side, many of which remain uncertain. However, the volume of resources that elect to retire from the market and market design changes being implemented to improve fuel security will impact clearing prices in the next auction. Low capacity prices have been an issue across the US and several proceedings are underway to address problems in these multi-billion dollar markets.

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/17/2020 - 15:45
Published:2/17/2020 3:06:11 PM
[Drama] Rippling starts billboard battle with Gusto Remember when Zenefits imploded, and kicked out CEO Parker Conrad. Well, Conrad launched a new employee onboarding startup called Rippling, and now he’s going after another HR company called Gusto with a new billboard, “Outgrowing Gusto? Presto change-o.” The problem is, Gusto got it taken down by issuing a cease & desist order to Rippling […] Published:2/17/2020 3:06:11 PM
[worldNews] 'Cancer does not wait': Children's medicine shortage stokes anger in Mexico Hermes Soto, who turned 5 on Monday, will not be celebrating his birthday with friends. Instead, he is bracing for his 15th chemotherapy session to tackle a rare but aggressive form of cancer that threatens to kill him.
Published:2/17/2020 3:06:11 PM
[Entertainment] Watch a Naked KJ Apa Flash His Bare Butt for Ellen DeGeneres' Birthday KJ ApaKJ Apa bared it all for Ellen DeGeneres' birthday. The Riverdale star appeared on Monday's episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show and explained why he flashed the TV star in a...
Published:2/17/2020 3:06:11 PM
[] CNN host: Was it perhaps stupid of me to take Avenatti's presidential chances seriously? Published:2/17/2020 2:42:04 PM
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[worldNews] Britain will develop its own regime to control state aid: Frost Britain will develop its own system for regulating state aid and controlling subsidies after its post-Brexit transition period is over, London's negotiator for the long-term relationship with the European Union said on Monday.
Published:2/17/2020 2:42:04 PM
[Apps] How TikTok decides who to make famous The word “algorithm” has worked its way into the vernacular of non-nerds talking about their Facebook feeds or why their Insta post isn’t doing well. Published:2/17/2020 2:42:04 PM
[Markets] The Wall Street Journal: Bankrupt Dean Foods deals assets to dairy-farming cooperative The biggest U.S. dairy farming cooperative struck a $425 million deal to buy dozens of plants from bankrupt milk processor Dean Foods Co., in a deal executives said would preserve jobs and markets for farmers’ milk.
Published:2/17/2020 2:42:04 PM
[Politics] Mike Bloomberg blasts ‘Bernie Bros’ in new campaign ad Mike Bloomberg’s campaign on Monday launched a new ad ripping the so-called “Bernie Bros” for using online bullying tactics against anyone who opposes Sen. Bernie Sanders. “We need to unite to defeat Trump in November. This type of ‘energy’ is not going to get us there,” Bloomberg writes in a tweet along with the 53-second... Published:2/17/2020 2:42:04 PM
[Politics] Florida “red flag” gun law used to take THOUSANDS of guns since 2018 Hot Air has an interesting article today on Florida’s ‘red flag’ law they passed in 2018 after the Parkland high school shooting. Since the law has been passed, thousands of guns have . . . Published:2/17/2020 2:42:04 PM
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[World] Buttigieg and Klobuchar: Moderate wing of Democratic Party returns but no room for pro-lifers

“For all the thunder on the Bernie Sanders left, the most interesting trend in the Democratic campaign this year may be the re-emergence of the moderate wing of the party, led by charismatic new voices: Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.”

So begins a ... Published:2/17/2020 2:07:34 PM

[Politics] Sanders Ad Promotes 'First Jewish President' Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has released a new ad highlighting his religion, and the fact that his election would make him “the first Jewish president in the history of this country.” Published:2/17/2020 2:07:34 PM
[Markets] Amazon founder Jeff Bezos pledges $10 billion to climate-change fight Amazon founder Jeff Bezos pledges $10 billion to climate-change fight Published:2/17/2020 2:07:34 PM
[Aerospace] Max Q: Spacex gets ready for first human flight Max Q is a new weekly newsletter all about space. Sign up here to receive it weekly on Sundays in your inbox. This week turned out to be a surprisingly busy one in space news – kicked off by the Trump administration’s FY 2021 budget proposal, which was generous to U.S. space efforts both in […] Published:2/17/2020 2:07:34 PM
[worldNews] U.N. envoy condemns use of birdshot against Iraqi protesters The top United Nations envoy to Iraq condemned on Monday the use of hunting rifles loaded with birdshot against peaceful protesters in Baghdad and urged the government to ensure those demonstrating are not harmed.
Published:2/17/2020 2:07:34 PM
[Markets] Los Alamos Experts Warn Covid-19 "Almost Certainly Cannot Be Contained", Project Up To 4.4 Million Dead Los Alamos Experts Warn Covid-19 "Almost Certainly Cannot Be Contained", Project Up To 4.4 Million Dead

Authored by Sharon Begley via,

At least 550,000 cases. Maybe 4.4 million. Or something in between.

Like weather forecasters, researchers who use mathematical equations to project how bad a disease outbreak might become are used to uncertainties and incomplete data, and Covid-19, the disease caused by the new-to-humans coronavirus that began circulating in Wuhan, China, late last year, has those everywhere you look. That can make the mathematical models of outbreaks, with their wide range of forecasts, seem like guesswork gussied up with differential equations; the eightfold difference in projected Covid-19 cases in Wuhan, calculated by a team from the U.S. and Canada, isn’t unusual for the early weeks of an outbreak of a never-before-seen illness.

But infectious-disease models have been approximating reality better and better in recent years, thanks to a better understanding of everything from how germs behave to how much time people spend on buses.

“Year by year there have been improvements in forecasting models and the way they are combined to provide forecasts,” said physicist Alessandro Vespignani of Northeastern University, a leading infectious-disease modeler.

That’s not to say there’s not room for improvement. The key variables of most models are mostly the same ones epidemiologists have used for decades to predict the course of outbreaks. But with greater computer power now at their disposal, modelers are incorporating more fine-grained data to better reflect the reality of how people live their lives and interact in the modern world — from commuting to work to jetting around the world. These more detailed models can take weeks to spit out their conclusions, but they can better inform public health officials on the likely impact of disease-control measures.

Models are not intended to be scare machines, projecting worst-case possibilities. (Modelers prefer “project” to “predict,” to indicate that the outcomes they describe are predicated on numerous assumptions.) The idea is to calculate numerous what-ifs: What if schools and workplaces closed? What if public transit stopped? What if there were a 90% effective vaccine and half the population received it in a month?

“Our overarching goal is to minimize the spread and burden of infectious disease,” said Sara Del Valle, an applied mathematician and disease modeler at Los Alamos National Laboratory. By calculating the effects of countermeasures such as social isolation, travel bans, vaccination, and using face masks, modelers can “understand what’s going on and inform policymakers,” she said.

For instance, although many face masks are too porous to keep viral particles out (or in), their message of possible contagion here! “keeps people away from you” and reduces disease spread, Del Valle said. “I’m a fan of face masks.”

The clearest sign of the progress in modeling comes from flu forecasts in the U.S. Every year, about two dozen labs try to model the flu season, and have been coming ever closer to accurately forecasting its timing, peak, and short-term intensity. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determines which model did the best; for 2018-2019, it was one from Los Alamos.

Los Alamos also nailed the course of the 2003 outbreak of SARS in Toronto, including when it would peak. “And it was spot on in the number of people who would be infected,” said Del Valle: just under 400 in that city, of a global total of about 8,000.

The Covid-19 outbreak in China is quickly spreading worldwide, sparking quick calculations on how deadly this new disease is. One measure is called a case fatality rate. While the formula is simple, it’s difficult to get a precise answer.HYACINTH EMPINADO/STAT

The computers that run disease models grind through calculations that reflect researchers’ best estimates of factors that two Scottish researchers identified a century ago as shaping the course of an outbreak: how many people are susceptible, how many are infectious, and how many are recovered (or dead) and presumably immune.

That sounds simple, but errors in any of those estimates can send a model wildly off course. In the autumn of 2014, modelers at CDC projected that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa could reach 550,000 to 1.4 million cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone by late January if nothing changed. As it happened, heroic efforts to isolate patients, trace contacts, and stop unsafe burial practices kept the number of cases to 28,600 (and 11,325 deaths).

To calculate how people move from “susceptible” to “infectious” to “recovered,” modelers write equations that include such factors as the number of secondary infections each infected person typically causes and how long it takes from when one person gets sick to when the people she infects does. “These two numbers define the growth rate of an epidemic,” Vespignani said.

The first number is called the basic reproduction number. Written R0 (“R naught”), it varies by virus; a strain that spreads more easily through the air, as by aerosols rather than heavier droplets released when an infected person sneezes or coughs, has a higher R0. It has been a central focus of infectious disease experts in the current outbreak because a value above 1 portends sustained transmission. When the R0 of Covid-19 was estimated several weeks ago to be above 2, social media exploded with “pandemic is coming!” hysteria.

But while important, worshipping at the shrine of R0 “belies the complexity that two different pathogens can exhibit, even when they have the same R0,” the Canadian-U.S. team argues in a paper posted to the preprint site medRxiv. Said senior author Antoine Allard of Laval University in Quebec, “the relation between R0, the risk of an epidemic, and its potential size becomes less straightforward, and sometimes counterintuitive in more realistic models.”

To make models more realistic, he and his colleagues argue, they should abandon the simplistic assumption that everyone has the same likelihood of getting sick from Covid-19 after coming in contact with someone already infected. For SARS, for instance, that likelihood clearly varied.

“Bodies may react differently to an infection, which in turn can facilitate or inhibit the transmission of the pathogen to others,” Allard said.

“The behavioral component is also very important. Can you afford to stay at home a few days or do you go to work even if you are sick? How many people do you meet every day? Do you live alone? Do you commute by car or public transportation?”

When people’s chances of becoming infected vary, an outbreak is more likely to be eventually contained (by tracing contacts and isolating cases); it might reach a cumulative 550,000 cases in Wuhan, Allard and his colleagues concluded. If everyone has the same chance, as with flu (absent vaccination), the probability of containment is significantly lower and could reach 4.4 million there.

Or as the researchers warn, “the outbreak almost certainly cannot be contained and we must prepare for a pandemic ….”

Modelers are also incorporating the time between when one person becomes ill and someone she infects does. If every case infects two people and that takes two days, then the epidemic doubles every two days. If every case infects two people and they get sick four days after the first, then the epidemic doubles every four days.

This “serial time” is related to how quickly a virus multiplies, and it can have a big effect. For a study published this month in Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers at the University of Toronto created an interactive tool that instantly updates projections based on different values of R0 and serial interval.

Using an R0 of 2.3 and serial interval of seven days, they project 300,000 cases by next week. If the serial interval is even one day less, the number of cases blasts past 1.5 million by then. But if the countermeasures that China introduced in January, including isolating patients, encouraging people to wear face masks, and of course quarantining Wuhan, reduce the effective reproduction number, as has almost certainly happened, those astronomical numbers would plummet: to 100,000 and 350,000 cases, respectively.

Just as public health officials care how long someone can be infected without showing symptoms (so they know how long to monitor people), so do modelers. “When people are exposed but not infected, they tend to travel and can’t be detected,” Vespignani said. “The more realistic you want your model to be, the more you should incorporate” the exposed-but-not-ill population. This “E” has lately become a fourth category in disease models, joining susceptible, infectious, and recovered.

At Los Alamos, Del Valle and her colleagues are using alternatives to the century-old susceptible/infectious/recovered models in hopes of getting a more realistic picture of an outbreak’s likely course. A bedrock assumption of the traditional models is “homogeneous mixing,” Del Valle said, meaning everyone has an equal chance of encountering anyone. That isn’t what happens in the real world, where people are more likely to encounter others of similar income, education, age, and even religion (church pews can get crowded).

“Ideally, you’d break the population into many groups” and estimate the likelihood of each one’s members interacting with each other and with every kind of outsider, Del Valle said.

“Your model would become more accurate.”

Called “agent-based models,” they simulate hypothetical individuals, sometimes tens of millions of them, as they go about their day. That requires knowing things like how many people commute from where to where for work or school, how they travel, where and how often they shop, whether it’s customary to visit the sick, and other key details. Computers then simulate everyone’s movements and interactions, for instance by starting with one infected person leaving home in the morning, chatting with other parents at school drop-off, continuing to work on a bus, standing 2 feet from customers and colleagues, and visiting a pharmacy for her migraine prescription.

The models keep track of people second by second, said Los Alamos computer scientist Geoff Fairchild, “and let you assess the impact of different decisions, like closing schools during flu season.” (Some research shows that can dampen an outbreak.) Although “agent-based models can simulate reality better,” he said, they are less widely used because they require enormous computing power. Even on the Los Alamos supercomputer, a single run of a complicated model can take days or even weeks — not counting the weeks of work modelers spend writing equations to feed the computer.

The Los Alamos researchers are still wrestling with their Covid-19 model, which is showing - incorrectly - the outbreak “exploding quite quickly in China,” Del Valle said. It is overestimating how many susceptible people become infected, probably because it’s not accurately accounting for social isolation and other countermeasures. Those seem to have reduced R0 toward the lower range of 2-to-5 that most modelers are using, she said.

In the current outbreak, researchers are building models not only to peek into the future but also to reality-check the present. Working backwards from confirmed infections in countries other than mainland China, researchers at Imperial College London who advise the World Health Organization estimated that Wuhan had 1,000 to 9,700 symptomatic cases as of Jan. 18. Three days later, all of mainland China had officially reported 440 cases, supporting the concerns of global health officials that China was undercounting.

In a more recent model run, Jonathan Read of England’s University of Lancaster and his colleagues estimated “that only about 1 in 20 infections were being detected” in late January, Read said: There were probably 11,090 to 33,490 infections in Wuhan as of Jan. 22, when China reported 547 cases.

“It highlights how difficult it is to track down and identify this virus,” Read said, especially with residents of quarantined Wuhan being turned away from overwhelmed hospitals and clinics without being tested for the virus. Using a similar approach, modelers led by Dr. Wai-Kit Ming of Jinan University in Guangzhou estimated that through Jan. 31, China probably had 88,000 cases, not the 11,200 reported.

Read’s group is updating its model to estimate the fraction of true cases in February; China’s cumulative cases topped 60,000 on Thursday.

For modelers, a huge undercount can corrupt the data they base their equations on. But even with that disadvantage the Covid-19 models “are doing quite well, despite a lot of complicated dynamics on the ground,” said Los Alamos’s Fairchild. While it’s not clear yet if they’ve nailed the true numbers of cases, they are correctly projecting the outbreak’s basic shape: increasing exponentially, the number of cases growing more quickly the more cases there are.

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/17/2020 - 14:55
Published:2/17/2020 2:07:34 PM
[Entertainment] Inside Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's "Relaxing" Valentine's Day Vacation Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar PartyKim Kardashian and Kanye West celebrated Valentine's Day with a romantic getaway. An insider told E! News the couple marked the special occasion with a trip to...
Published:2/17/2020 2:07:34 PM
[Uncategorized] “Mini Mike” Bloomberg complains about Bernie Bros negative energy "We need to unite to defeat Trump in November. This type of "energy" is not going to get us there." Published:2/17/2020 2:07:34 PM
[c3b776c4-b8a9-55b5-8ba8-5e7f75ab7a3e] Kirk Douglas and wife Anne Buydens remained devoted, in love with each other, says pal Director Jeff Kanew had no doubt that Kirk Douglas was “crazy in love” with his wife Anne Buydens. Published:2/17/2020 2:07:33 PM
[2020 Presidential Election] Slow Joe’s Slow Fade (Steven Hayward) The pathetic, slow-motion collapse of Joe Biden is sad to watch, even if, like me, you can’t stand the guy and think he is one of the most duplicitous and mediocre politicians of our age. Is it time to start the pool on the day he finally yields to reality? The Democrats’ delegate selection process actually gives him lots of reasons to stay in, as he might pick up enough Published:2/17/2020 2:07:33 PM
[] Media Matters does their best to manufacture 'right-wing media' outrage over AOC's Drag Race spot Published:2/17/2020 1:36:20 PM
[Politics] 375,00 Illegal Immigrants Released in US in 2019 More than 375,000 of the 473,682 illegal immigrants who were captured going across the U.S.-Mexican border with a family member in 2019 were released into other parts of the United States, the Washington Examiner reported on Monday. Published:2/17/2020 1:36:20 PM
[2020 Presidential Election] Michael Bloomberg’s alleged harassment of women (Paul Mirengoff) African-Americans and radical feminists are core constituencies of the modern Democratic Party. Mike Bloomberg, who seeks that party’s nomination for president, may soon find himself in hot water with both. However, the circumstances that may land him there vary materially. If Bloomberg finds himself in trouble with African-American voters, it will be because as mayor of New York he used policing policies that help prevent crime, and because videos show Published:2/17/2020 1:36:20 PM
[Media] Daily Crunch: HQ Trivia is dead A once-mighty trivia app says goodbye, we try out Samsung's new foldable phone and Google shuts down its free Wi-Fi program in India. Not even Presidents' Day can stop your Daily Crunch. Published:2/17/2020 1:36:20 PM
[Politics] Democrat Senator had ‘secret meeting’ with Iran foreign minister Democrat Senator Chris Murphy held a secret meeting with Iran’s foreign minister last week and isn’t disclosing what it was about: FEDERALIST – Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and other Democratic senators . . . Published:2/17/2020 1:36:20 PM
[Politics] Democrat Senator had ‘secret meeting’ with Iran foreign minister Democrat Senator Chris Murphy held a secret meeting with Iran’s foreign minister last week and isn’t disclosing what it was about: FEDERALIST – Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and other Democratic senators . . . Published:2/17/2020 1:36:20 PM
[Political Cartoons] Separate And Unequal – A.F. Branco Cartoon

By A.F. Branco -

Andrew McCabe geta away with lying while Roger Stone faces charges for the same thing. Two-Tiered Justice? Political cartoon by A.F. Branco ©2020.

Separate And Unequal – A.F. Branco Cartoon is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:2/17/2020 1:36:20 PM
[Entertainment] Eighth Blackbird exhibits 8 colorful sketches in modern music at National Gallery The works the group chose showed not only its virtuosity but also its crucial role as a catalyst for new music. Published:2/17/2020 1:36:20 PM
[worldNews] Hundreds of Americans flown home from cruise ship, 14 with coronavirus More than 300 American cruise liner passengers, including 14 who tested positive for coronavirus, were flown home to military bases in the United States after two weeks under quarantine off Japan.
Published:2/17/2020 1:36:20 PM
[Markets] Why Did Twitter Just "Lockdown" WikiLeaks Account? Why Did Twitter Just "Lockdown" WikiLeaks Account?

Just hours after a secret meeting with Silicon Valley tech giants to discuss censorship of "misinformation" surrounding coronavirus, and just days before Julian Assange's extradition hearings are set to continue, Kristin Hrafnsson - a WikiLeaks' journalist - reports that the WikiLeaks' Twitter account has been locked-down...

It is not the first time Twitter has - allegedly - acted to suppress WikiLeaks voice.

As The Washington Examiner noted as far back at 2016, Twitter lit up in late July with allegations that it tried to suppress news that secret-leaking website Wikileaks exposed thousands of emails obtained from the servers of the Democratic National Committee.

Friday afternoon, users noted, "#DNCLeaks" was trending, with more than 250,000 tweets about it on the platform. By Friday evening, it vanished completely from the site's "trending" bar for at least 20 minutes. It returned as "#DNCLeak" after users erupted, though it was too late to quell their rage.

In a message on Twitter, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said in response to the allegation, "False," though users were quick to express their skepticism. And we are sure it's just a coincidence that WikiLeaks account has been locked-down again this time.

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/17/2020 - 14:33
Published:2/17/2020 1:36:20 PM
[] Illegal Border Crossings Down for Eighth Straight Month Finally the border is coming under control. Border arrests dropped for the eighth straight month in January as the Trump administration?s new policies continue to discourage new people from coming, according to Homeland Security officials -- though they're warning numbers... Published:2/17/2020 1:36:20 PM
[] Politico journo ponders Right's reaction if 'Obama had rolled into NBA #AllStarWeekend in The Beast' (@RedSteeze knows what the MEDIA reaction would have been) Published:2/17/2020 1:05:12 PM
[] Brace yourselves. Weinstein could wind up walking Published:2/17/2020 1:05:12 PM
[Politics] House Speaker Pelosi Warns NATO Allies Against Using Huawei No NATO ally should succumb to the temptation of letting Chinese tech giant Huawei into their next-generation cellular networks, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday at Allied headquarters, turning U.S. opposition to Huawei into a bipartisan effort. Published:2/17/2020 1:05:11 PM
[Entertainment] Bachelor Nation's Jubilee Sharpe Arrested for DUI Jubilee Sharpe, Mugshot Bachelor Nation's Jubilee Sharpe was arrested in Palm City, Fla. on Sunday for allegedly driving under the influence. The 29-year-old reality star was released on her own recognizance...
Published:2/17/2020 1:05:11 PM
[Markets] Democratic Senators Secretly Met Iranian Top Diplomat: Report Democratic Senators Secretly Met Iranian Top Diplomat: Report

A group of Democratic senators held a secret meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Jahad Zarif in Munich last week, alleges a new exclusive in The Federalist on Monday. 

"Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and other Democratic senators had a secret meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Jahad Zarif during the Munich Security Conference last week, according to a source briefed by the French delegation to the conference," the report says.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). AP Photo

However, none of the senators immediately confirmed the meeting, which would undermine the Trump administration's policy stance on Iran, and brings up a host of potential legal issues. 

Ironically this is the very thing Sen. Murphy has in the past accused Trump officials of doing during the 2016 transition period, specifically National Security Advisor Mike Flynn due to a phone call with Russian officials just before the administration entered the White House. 

The legality of Congressmen meeting with FM Zarif is also questionable given last July the US Treasury brought sanctions against him. “Javad Zarif implements the reckless agenda of Iran’s Supreme Leader, and is the regime’s  primary spokesperson around the world.  The United States is sending a clear message to the Iranian regime that its recent behavior is completely unacceptable,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said at the time. 

And on the question of whether such a meeting had State Department knowledge or authorization, The Federalist notes: "A State Department official who spoke on background said that the State Department was not aware of any side meetings with Iranian officials that Murphy was engaged in."

Sen. Murphy has long been a leading voice among a small group of dovish Senators on Iran, consistently urging for the restoration of the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump pulled out of in May 2018 — and more recently pointing out that US policy of escalation against Iran actually weakens American defense readiness. 

He said just days following the assassination of the IRGC's Qassem Soleimani that "in almost every single way Iran is stronger than they were when President Trump came into office and we are weaker in the region."

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/17/2020 - 13:40
Published:2/17/2020 1:05:11 PM
[f1a5247b-8f71-5ce8-84eb-8cbbb09ec676] Justin Timberlake recalls dodging bottles of urine from hostile crowd while performing with The Rolling Stones Justin Timberlake recalled a disastrous charity concert in 2003 where the crowd threw bottles of urine at him on stage.  Published:2/17/2020 1:05:11 PM
[Entertainment] Investigating Amazon, PBS ‘Frontline’ opens the smiling cardboard box and finds George Orwell A two-hour report looks at how Jeff Bezos’s empire grew largely unchecked in the e-commerce revolution. Published:2/17/2020 1:05:11 PM
[Media] Redbox enters the free, ad-supported streaming market Redbox has entered the ad-supported streaming market with the launch of Redbox Free Live TV. The company, best known for its DVD rental kiosks, has been dabbling with streaming for years as consumer demand for DVD rentals has simultaneously declined. But despite its name, Redbox’s new streaming service isn’t offering “live TV” similar to what […] Published:2/17/2020 1:05:11 PM
[] Fareed Zakaria: 'The Sanders green energy plan is magical thinking' Published:2/17/2020 12:34:57 PM
[EIM] Why These Dividends May Be Your New Retirement Income: Better Options For Income Investors Published:2/17/2020 12:34:57 PM
[Politics] Dan Bongino Backs Barr on Roger Stone Sentencing Radio host Dan Bongino on Monday told Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” that Attorney General William Barr “is probably laughing” at the people calling for his resignation over the change in sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone. Published:2/17/2020 12:34:57 PM
[worldNews] Bulgaria seeks gambling tycoon's extradition from UAE Bulgaria has asked the United Arab Emirates to extradite gambling tycoon Vasil Bozhkov, charged in absentia with extortion, influence peddling and money laundering among other offences, the justice ministry said on Monday.
Published:2/17/2020 12:34:57 PM
[Apps] Google confirms it again removed alleged spying tool ToTok from Google Play In December, The New York Times reported a popular messaging app called ToTok was actually a spying tool used by the government of the United Arab Emirates to track users’ conversations, location, and social connections. The app was removed from the Google Play store in December, while Google investigated, then reinstated in early January. Google […] Published:2/17/2020 12:34:57 PM
[Markets] Blain: Evidence Of Cracking Global Supply Chains Is Fast Emerging Blain: Evidence Of Cracking Global Supply Chains Is Fast Emerging

Blain's Morning Porridge, submitted by Bill Blain of Shard Capital

“Lord, give me strength to deal with London cyclists…”  

A quiet day’s play in prospect with a US holiday, and its UK mid-term holiday all week. The Covid19 Coronavirus is likely to remain the dominant issue to worry the markets. Infections continue to increase, the Chinese are pumping funds into struggling regions, and passengers are being “rescued” from Cruise liners. But there is lots of other stuff to worry about: like what happens when bonds are downgraded to junk (see Kraft story), where the UK is heading, the fact Italy and Greek bonds yield about the same, and a host of other stuff I’ve already forgotten about this morning.

The Virus is what we’re watching first. As a result of desperate efforts by the authorities, the narrative is beginning to shift - we’re likely to see the discussion move from potential infection scenarios and containment, and into the realms of economic reality as real cause and effect economic reality stories emerge. Evidence of creaking global supply chains is fast emerging. China home sales have tumbled. JCB, manufacturers of the eponymous digger, are shuttering production because of a lack of parts from China. Large swathes of Chinese industry never reopened after the lunar New Year holiday because migrant workers stayed in the home villages. Chinese shoppers, the mainstay of shopping villages like Bicester, are said to be conspicuous by their absence. 

There is less talk about end of the world epidemic scenarios, and the story is now being pushed off the front pages. Yet it’s scary just how little we yet know for sure about the virus in terms of just how infectious, dangerous and mutable it might be. The only thing we know for absolute sure - it’s going to have massive real economic consequences – which means it’s a genuine Black Swan, rather than some nebulous “Grey” event some pundits have been talking about. 

While many market participants regard it as “just a new flu” and are stunned at what they consider to be government over-reaction, the authorities’ reaction illustrates the depth of their concern, and just how unknowable the whole story on the new virus is. Until we know the whole picture, it’s difficult to argue against being uber-cautious.

The economic damage will be massive. It will cause financial pain, impact financial asset prices, and will trigger central bank reaction. Get ready.

We still don’t know what the human cost will be. There was a story on Bloomberg: Coronavirus Could Infect Two-Thirds of Globe, Research Shows. That raises massive issues about its potential impact and mortality rate. It will be big issues like quarantine, and the little stuff, like how long before everyone has a hand sanitiser on their desk? Scary comment from WHO: “Isolating cases and quarantining contacts is not going to stop this virus.”

So… I guess we are going to have to live with it, and factor it into our market projections and expectations. Clearly the Global economy is going to suffer. How much and who – that’s the question… 

Some of it is obvious: I don’t suppose anyone will be in the mood for a Cruise anytime soon. Some it will require factoring in issues like how quickly Apple can make up for the delays in the 6 million iPhones Foxconn has been unable to deliver, right down to the widget maker in Wigan who can’t deliver a vital order because a Chinese manufacturer of a tiny widget part is based in Wuhan….

And one more thing to consider: 

How will China cope in 9 months time when it gets hit by a sudden and dramatic increase in the birthrate? What else are they going to do while towns and Cities are in lockdown? Long-term a couple of million new workers might be positive for an economy “getting old before it gets rich” – in but short-term, that will be another shock in terms of removing a significant number of women from the workforce and putting further strains on medical services. At least burbling babies should make everyone a massive bit happier. 

Meanwhile.. in a galaxy far far away… 

One of the stories we’re watching develop is Softbank. My own prediction is its going to be messy – very messy, but mainly because of the dubious personalities involved – a critical element in all the best tech unicorn horror stories: they always involve someone who badly deserves to be punched!   

The stories about Softbank’s investment debacles are legion: WeWork, Uber, Oyo, and dog food titan, Wag, beggar belief.  Recent articles present a picture of a fund in trouble. The offices are said to be dysfunctional, riven by internal dissent, an absence of process and crazy decision making dominate the approach. Incredibly for such a massive fund, which counts leading Sovereign Wealth Funds on its base, there is a complete absence of functional corporate governance. As it scrambles to find investors in Vision Fund 2, there are increasing concerns at the company they are being forced to keep. (No one normally brags about getting the Kazakstani’s to invest in a fund – that’s something best kept quiet.) 

Yada, yada, yada.. all pretty standard for a Tech Unicorn tale so far… dysfunctionality, oodles of self-belief and contempt for anyone that questions the “vision”…

Softbank is determined to go further. The fund appears to have list direction and cohesion. The story in the FT this morning says it all: SoftBank investment chief pushes hedge fund after Vison Fund stumbles. The London head of the Fund, Rajeev Misra, is now pushing a hedge fund type strategy, playing complex “bets” on publically traded companies, which sounds utterly and completely unlike the visionary cultivation of new tech driven business. 

The absence of meaningful boundaries is illustrated by Misra, and a posse of his former colleagues from Deutschbank he’demployed in the fund, making big bets on German payments company Wirecard. The trades were done as Softbank, through Softbank accounts, yet the profits reaped on the trades accrued directly to the traders as PA bets! Surely that’s illegal? 

On the other hand, the fund has its wins – like Alibaba and now Sprint. Apparently about 50% of its investments have been profitable. Its not dead yet. The Wall Street Journal covers it this morning: SortBank’s Boss Bet $22 bln on Sprint. It was a Slog. Worth a read. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/17/2020 - 13:15
Published:2/17/2020 12:34:57 PM
[56ee19de-cd0f-541e-a64f-2621595a51bc] Former 'Bachelor' contestant Jubilee Sharpe arrested for DUI: report Jubilee Sharpe, who appeared as a contestant on Ben Higgins' season of "The Bachelor," was arrested on Sunday. Published:2/17/2020 12:34:57 PM
[] The C***shed Pushes a "Romney-Bloomberg National Unity Ticket" As David Letterman observed: "There is no 'off' position for the genius switch."... Published:2/17/2020 12:34:57 PM
[] New Bloomberg ad goes after ... Bernie fans Published:2/17/2020 12:04:36 PM
[] 'Cool story, bro': Barack Obama celebrates Presidents' Day by taking credit for economic growth under Donald Trump Published:2/17/2020 12:04:36 PM
[Opinion] Democrats Live In A Simple, Black-And-White World

By Dave King -

When you’re a Democrat, life is much simpler than the lives of the majority of American citizens. They have fewer decisions to make that could slow them down on the way to destroying America. Democrat thinking goes something like this: Tornadoes are caused by global warming; hot weather is caused ...

Democrats Live In A Simple, Black-And-White World is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:2/17/2020 12:04:36 PM
[worldNews] EU agrees new Libya sea patrols after Austria lifts veto The European Union will launch a new naval and air mission in the eastern Mediterranean to stop more weapons reaching the warring factions in Libya, foreign ministers agreed on Monday, after Austria lifted its veto.
Published:2/17/2020 12:04:36 PM
[Entertainment] Gish Jen’s ‘The Resisters’ reminds us of the importance of standing up for what’s right The novel, set in a future world, is a cautionary tale that’s laced with electricity and humor. Published:2/17/2020 12:04:36 PM
[Markets] Q4 Earnings Shocker: Excluding The FAAMGs, Net Income Is Down 7.5% Q4 Earnings Shocker: Excluding The FAAMGs, Net Income Is Down 7.5%

Yesterday we showed readers a remarkable statistic from the latest Weekly Kickstart report by Goldman's David Kostin: according to the chief Goldman US equity strategist, whereas modest S&P500 earnings growth in Q4 was set to finally end a 4 quarters-streak of negative EPS growth, with S&P earnings per share set to rise by a modest 2% Y/Y, virtually all of the earnings upside came from just the top 5 biggest companies: Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Google (aka FAAMG), which collectively saw their EPS rise by a whopping 16% (mostly on the back of record stock buybacks which reduced the number of shares outstanding thus lowering the denominator in the EPS calculation). Without them, S&P earnings were flat, while earnings for small-cap companies represented by the Russell 2000 were actually down a whopping 7% Y/Y, prompting us to say that "It's "The 1%" vs Everyone Else: FAAMG Earnings Soar As Russell 2000 EPS Growth Craters."

One day later, on Monday morning, SocGen's Andrew Lapthorne has further refined Goldman's analysis, and come up with an even more jarring conclusion on corporate profitability, one which avoids the impact of buybacks on artificially inflating EPS by simply looking at Net Income. What he founds is that "despite strong markets last year, net income barely moved, with a rise of just 0.3%. More worrying is without the Big 5 companies (Microsoft, Alphabet, Apple, Amazon and Facebook), net income fell 7.5%", which further underscores our recent discussion of how bifurcated the market is becoming between the handful of mega-caps, i.e., the "other 1%", and the "other" 495 companies in the S&P.

What is behind this disappointing result for virtually all publicly traded companies with the exception of a handful of mega techs? According to Lapthorne, "this is due to higher costs (SG&A) and a significant rise in both interest expense and taxes" with the SocGen strategist noting "that interest costs are rising so quickly despite low interest rates is remarkable and a challenge to policymakers." His bottom line is a carbon copy replica of what we have said on countless prior occasions, namely that "with all this debt, higher interest rates seem no longer feasible", something which even the Fed has now figured out.

There were other issues as well: first, looking at the leverage front, asset growth rose marginally quicker than Net Debt, so debt-to-asset ratios declined but, at the same time, EBIT hardly grew, and again this problem is accentuated once the Big 5 are excluded.

But the headline-grabbing figure is share buybacks. We measure buybacks both from the declared amount repurchased to the repurchase figure from the cashflow statement. As Lapthorne explains, "typically, the former is bigger than the latter. With 80% of the overall value of buybacks reported so far, buybacks are 20% lower in 2019 than 2018 - excluding the Big 5, the figure is down 32%" , which incidentally is exactly what we warned about a month ago when we showed that virtually every investor class - from institutions, to retail, to systematics (risk parity/CTA/vol targeting) are all in - and yet buybacks are tumbling.

Yet not everyone is cutting back on buybacks: that the Big 5 continue to buy back - with a 10.5% increase in buybacks compared to the 32% decrease for everyone else - "no doubt helps explain the performance divergence" which Lapthorne demonstrated last week, when he showed that the top 5 (and 10) largest companies are now outperforming the broader market by the widest margin on record.

And now we know why.

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/17/2020 - 12:50
Published:2/17/2020 12:04:36 PM
[Markets] Pier 1 files for bankruptcy protection, saying it’s seeking a buyer Pier 1 files for bankruptcy protection, saying it’s seeking a buyer Published:2/17/2020 12:04:35 PM
[Uncategorized] Iran Using Space Program To Develop Long-Range Ballistic Missiles, Says Secretary Pompeo Iran developing "missile programs under the guise of a peaceful space program." Published:2/17/2020 12:04:35 PM
[World] Without Britain, the European Union Lurches Towards Its Own Army

For all its talk about peace, the EU sure is obsessed with weaponry and military control.

The post Without Britain, the European Union Lurches Towards Its Own Army appeared first on The American Conservative.

Published:2/17/2020 12:04:35 PM
[] 'Will she finally resign as governor?' Stacey Abrams explains why it would be a 'disservice' if she declined a VP offer (and people have questions) Published:2/17/2020 11:39:04 AM
[Politics] Nunes: Trump Has to Tweet Due to Hostile Media President Donald Trump has to tweet in order to get his message across to the public due to a hostile media, House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes told Fox & Friends over the weekend. Published:2/17/2020 11:39:03 AM
[Quick Takes] Largest Union at University of California Endorses Bernie Sanders for President "union said its endorsement follows a consultation with membership in which Sanders received significantly more support than all other candidates combined" Published:2/17/2020 11:39:02 AM
[b915a55a-9d16-5280-af02-709da96a1898] Jessica Simpson thanks fans for tell-all memoir becoming a bestseller: 'This is a moment for all of us' Jessica Simpson marked the success of her new book and a successful book tour with a heartfelt message on her Instagram.  Published:2/17/2020 11:39:02 AM
[Politics] Why Judy Shelton Would Be a Boon For Federal Reserve In "The Great Successor," Washington Post reporter Anna Fifield's very uneven and very poorly edited book about North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, she indicated that among other things Kim passed his childhood days listening to Whitney Houston while frequently dressed in Nike garb. More modernly, Ms. Fifield reports that Mr. Kim brings an Apple MacBook with him when he travels on one of his many jets. About what's been written so far, some readers might be nonplussed. Didn't the United S... Published:2/17/2020 11:39:02 AM
[Markets] The markets are behaving as if it’s late in the cycle: Morgan Stanley The markets are behaving as if it’s late in the cycle: Morgan Stanley Published:2/17/2020 11:39:02 AM
[Markets] Bombs, bats, ants and now trees — Tesla’s big green hurdle in Germany Tesla’s gigafactory in Germany has run into another hiccup. Environmentalists have stopped it from pulling down trees, claiming potential damage to the water supply .
Published:2/17/2020 11:39:02 AM
[worldNews] ICC trial in The Hague one option for Sudan's Bashir: minister Sudan could send former leader Omar al-Bashir and other suspects to The Hague for trial before the International Criminal Court, but any decision would need approval from military and civilian rulers, the information minister said on Monday.
Published:2/17/2020 11:39:02 AM
[Markets] "More Than A Disgrace" - The WHO's "Industrially-Necessary" Doctor Tedros Should Go! "More Than A Disgrace" - The WHO's "Industrially-Necessary" Doctor Tedros Should Go!

Authored by Ben Hunt via,

The World Health Organisation will lead a mission to China this weekend to start investigating the COVID-19 outbreak.

Sky News, FEBRUARY 15, 2020

“start investigating” ... AYFKM?

There’s this pleasing mythology out there that the World Health Organization is like some international version of the Center for Disease Control, that it’s staffed by scientists and doctors flying all over the world and racing against the clock to battle infectious diseases and – against all odds – find The Cure.

I mean, that’s an actual subplot of Contagion, where an intrepid WHO scientist tracks down the disease origin in Hong Kong, goes to the remote Chinese village where all of the children are sick (the children!), is taken prisoner, and works heroically (if ultimately unsuccessfully) to get vaccines to the children (the children!).

This is a crock.

The World Health Organization is a political organization, bought and paid for by its sponsor countries (China foremost among them), with a single, dominant mandate: maintain the party line.


The truth is that WHO has done nothing more than parrot the official Chinese Communist Party line since the day the world learned of COVID-19.

The truth is that only now – TWO MONTHS INTO THE EPIDEMIC – is WHO sending a “team” to “start investigating” the virus.

To be sure, WHO’s Director General, Dr. Tedros, has been to China several times since the disease broke out, glad-handing (again, literally) President Xi and all the other CCP mandarins.

So … I’m not going to get into the way China lobbied and pressured the UN to get Dr. Tedros appointed as WHO Director General, succeeding their hand-picked (again, literally) Director General, Margaret Chan, despite credible accusations that Tedros had covered up cholera outbreaks in his home country of Ethiopia. If you want to get into that, you can read this New York Times article: Candidate to Lead the W.H.O. Accused of Covering Up Epidemics.

And … I’m not going to get into the way Dr. Tedros appointed freakin’ Robert Mugabe as a Good-Will Ambassador for the World Health Organization, a toady move that was greeted by healthcare professionals (and anyone with a soul) as “a sick joke”. If you want to get into that, you can read this New York Times article: After Making Mugabe a ‘Good-Will Ambassador,’ W.H.O. Chief Is ‘Rethinking’ It.

No, no … I’m just going to highlight what Dr. Tedros said at the WHO Executive Board meeting in Geneva on February 4, a week after meeting with Xi in Beijing and a few days after senior Chinese diplomats started talking about the “racism” inherent in other countries stopping flights to China and denying visas to people with Chinese passports issued in Hubei province.

Tedros said there was no need for measures that “unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade,” and he specifically said that stopping flights and restricting Chinese travel abroad was “counter-productive” to fighting the global spread of the virus.

This is the Director General of the World Health Organization. On February 4th.

“We call on all countries to implement decisions that are evidence-based and consistent,” said Tedros. Roger that.

There’s just one problem.

The “evidence” here – taken without adjustment or question from the CCP – was a baldfaced lie.

And everyone at WHO knew it.

How do I know that everyone at WHO knew that the official Chinese numbers were a crock on Feb. 4?

Because WHO-sponsored doctors in Hong Kong published independent studies on Jan. 31 showing that the official Chinese numbers were a crock.

Money quotes:

In our baseline scenario, we estimated that the basic reproductive number for 2019-nCoV was 2.68 (95% CrI 2.47–2.86) and that 75,815 individuals (95% CrI 37,304–130,330) have been infected in Wuhan as of Jan 25, 2020.

If the transmissibility of 2019-nCoV were similar everywhere domestically and over time, we inferred that epidemics are already growing exponentially in multiple major cities of China with a lag time behind the Wuhan outbreak of about 1–2 weeks.

I’ve attached a PDF of the full report here: Lancet nCov2019 Model.

This is what it looks like when the narrative tail of personal and professional corruption (must support my Chinese benefactors!) wags the public policy dog (sure, I’ll recommend that flights and visas should continue, based on evidence I know is false!).

Will this disease spread farther and faster … will more people DIE … because WHO Director General Tedros recommended as best practice on February 4th that flights and visa issuance in and out of China continue without significant disruption?

Yes. I think so.

And yet … and yet … we are told that the REAL DANGER for public health is questioning the official Chinese line and these Stepin Fetchit policy recommendations of Dr. Tedros.

Here’s what Tedros wrote in a South China Morning Post op-ed piece THREE DAYS AGO:

In addition, a wider strategy is needed to debunk pseudoscience and strengthen trust in everything from vaccination to public institutions. Misinformation thrives where trust in the authorities is weak.

In a fast-evolving disease outbreak, there is a fine line between the deliberate spread of misinformation and the well-intentioned but potentially still damaging redistribution of false claims.

And here’s a Reuters article, also from three days ago:

The rise of “fake news” – including misinformation and inaccurate advice on social media – could make disease outbreaks such as the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic currently spreading in China worse, according to research published on Friday.

In an analysis of how the spread of misinformation affects the spread of disease, scientists at Britain’s East Anglia University (UEA) said any successful efforts to stop people sharing fake news could help save lives.

And what is this “fake news”?

Fake news is now defined as anything that disputes WHO data, which means that fake news is now defined as anything that disputes the official China party line.

Why did China spend so much money to buy off the World Health Organization? This:

The World Health Organization is working with Google to ensure that people get facts from WHO first when they search for information about the new virus that recently emerged in China.

Since the outbreak began, a number of misleading claims and hoaxes about the virus have circulated online. They include false conspiracy theories that the virus was created in a lab and that vaccines have already been manufactured, exaggerations about the number of sick and dead, and claims about bogus cures.

Associated Press, Feb. 3, 2020

It’s not just Google. It’s also TenCent. It’s also Facebook. It’s also Twitter.

And no, you’re not misreading the clear narrative intent of these articles.

Where possible, China wants to criminalize any speech … any social media … that does not follow the official party line. Where it’s not possible to criminalize that speech, China wants to ban it through the cooperative censorship of global tech and media platforms. Where it’s not possible to ban that speech, China wants to shame it into the shadows by getting us to reject it as “fake news”.

And if you don’t see that the United States is about two minutes behind China in doing the same damn thing, then you’re just not paying attention.

I am certain that there are plenty of good people at WHO, and I am certain that they do good and important work, particularly in funneling money and resources to actual researchers and actual clinical programs.

But what is happening at the most senior levels of the World Health Organization is not just a disgrace. It is not just a humiliation for the people who are doing good and important work.

It is a betrayal of the entire world.

What’s to be done?

Getting Tedros the man out of the World Health Organization will feel good, and he deserves all the ignominy that’s coming his way, but it will accomplish nothing.

No, to accomplish anything here, we need to get rid of The Industrially Necessary Doctor Tedros.

See, the actual human being named Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesusis is not The Industrially Necessary Doctor Tedros. The human Tedros is just another on-the-make politician, one of a zillion Renfields who sell their soul on the daily. Sure, he was tapped by his Chinese patrons to play the role of The Industrially Necessary Doctor Tedros, but if it hadn’t been him, there were plenty of other guys and gals to take his place.

We must look through Tedros the man to see the Nudging Oligarchy and the Nudging State that created The Industrially Necessary Doctor Tedros.

We must look through so many of the ideas we take to be immutable truths of safety or goodness – whether those truths concern the food we eat or the stocks we buy or the health we seek to preserve – and recognize that they are not truths at all!

They are conveniences, and not conveniences for us, but for the sellers of the food we eat or the stocks we buy or the health we seek to preserve.

THAT’S what it means to be Industrially Necessary – a constructed social practice in service to those who would subvert our autonomy of mind and will, presented to us as Truth-with-a-capital-T by Missionaries who shake their finger at us and tell us HOW to think about the world.

Once you start looking for The Industrially Necessary Doctor Tedros, you will see him everywhere.

And that’s when your world starts to change.

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/17/2020 - 12:25
Published:2/17/2020 11:39:02 AM
[] Lena Dunham Makes Her Stunning and Brave Debut As a... Fashion Model Why does she always have all these mystery bruises and scratches all over her? She always looks like she spent the night hiding in some scrub in a ditch. Is she suckling an adopted litter of possums every night? This... Published:2/17/2020 11:39:02 AM
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[] GOP Sen. Tom Cotton schools the 'so-called experts' at WaPo claiming that he's pushing a debunked 'coronavirus conspiracy theory' Published:2/17/2020 11:04:57 AM
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[Politics] Rep. Gooden: 'Tax Cuts 2.0' Shows GOP Leaders Needed President Donald Trump's "Tax Cuts 2.0" will roll out in just enough time to remind Americans that the House needs to return to Republican leadership, which will go to work for them, Rep. Lance Gooden said Monday.  Published:2/17/2020 11:04:57 AM
[Entertainment] British DJ and producer Andrew Weatherall dies at 56 British music producer and DJ Andrew Weatherall has died aged 56 Published:2/17/2020 11:04:57 AM
[Uncategorized] Architect of Trump’s Paris Climate Accord exit may return to EPA as chief of staff Mandy Gunasekara also helped write the Affordable Clean Energy rule, a replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. Published:2/17/2020 11:04:57 AM
[93f2f486-31e8-5dbc-bbcf-556cdec02d3e] Elton John tearfully escorted off stage after losing his voice mid-concert Elton John got emotional when he had to cut a concert in New Zealand short and be escorted off stage after he lost his voice in the middle of a show. Published:2/17/2020 11:04:57 AM
[Politics] Revolutionary Lesson For Mayor Bloomberg Lurks in Our History This Presidents Day, I am thinking of John Hancock. Hancock was president of the Continental Congress, the body that named George Washington general of the Continental Army. Hancock was the Michael Bloomberg of his day a politician simultaneously appreciated for his great wealth and resented for it. I tell this story in my biography of Samuel Adams. John Hancock had inherited from his uncle, the merchant Thomas Hancock, a fortune of what today would be about 15 million. John Hancock ma... Published:2/17/2020 11:04:57 AM
[Politics] Farmers and factory workers won’t be happy with Bloomberg’s comments that just surfaced [VIDEO] Farmers and factory workers may not be to happy about comments from Bloomberg that just surfaced from 2016 where he is rather dismissive about the skills it takes to run a farm . . . Published:2/17/2020 11:04:57 AM
[Politics] Farmers and factory workers won’t be happy with Bloomberg’s comments that just surfaced [VIDEO] Farmers and factory workers may not be to happy about comments from Bloomberg that just surfaced from 2016 where he is rather dismissive about the skills it takes to run a farm . . . Published:2/17/2020 11:04:57 AM
[9cb0b022-92c8-5b31-9995-fb18547b47d8] Jason Wright: It’s Random Acts of Kindness Day and I need a favor -- will you help? Random acts of kindness for familiar faces are easy, but serving someone we've never met? That’s the real test. Published:2/17/2020 11:04:56 AM
[Fundings & Exits] Boston’s year jump starts as two local startups raise $520M in two rounds Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between. Late last week two Boston-based companies raised big rounds. The size of the two investments — each over the $100 million mark — and their rapid succession made them stand out. The pair of investments […] Published:2/17/2020 11:04:56 AM
[Markets] Bloomberg Frames Farmers As Primitive Idiots In Demeaning Diatribe Bloomberg Frames Farmers As Primitive Idiots In Demeaning Diatribe

Michael Bloomberg isn't making any friends in the agriculture industry, after video of the former NYC Mayor surfaced of him describing farmers as having simple jobs that don't require much intelligence, according to the Washington Times.

"I could teach anybody, even the people in this room" to be a farmer, said Bloomberg during a 2016 talk at Oxford University in a now-viral clip in which he called agriculture a "process"

"You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn, he added.

Bloomberg then described metalworkers similarly.

"You put the piece of metal in the lathe, you turn the crank in the direction of the arrow, and you can have a job," he continued.

Mr. Bloomberg then said working in the information economy is “fundamentally different, because it’s built around replacing people with technology and the skill sets that you have to learn are how to think and analyze. And that is a whole degree level different. You have to have a different skill set, you have to have a lot more gray matter,” he said. -Washington Times

Bloomberg is also making strides with elderly voters with his casual 'death panel' banter.

Not to be outdone by his efforts to appeal to... well, we're not quite sure:

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/17/2020 - 12:00
Published:2/17/2020 11:04:56 AM
[Politics] 46% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction

Forty-six percent (46%) of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey for the week ending February 13, 2020.

This week’s finding is up four points from a week ago, and is the highest finding since February 2017. By comparison, this number ran in the mid- to upper 20s for much of 2016, President Obama's last full year in office.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The national telephone survey of 2,500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from February 9-13, 2020. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 2 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Published:2/17/2020 11:04:56 AM
[Markets] NewsWatch: Away from S&P 500 and other top indexes, markets are behaving as if it’s late in the cycle: Morgan Stanley strategist You would have a hard time convincing someone looking at the major U.S. stock-market benchmarks that it is looking like the end of the cycle. Yet Andrew Sheets, chief cross-asset strategist at Morgan Stanley, says there are late-cycle indicators in current markets.
Published:2/17/2020 11:04:56 AM
[] The Morning Rant Dear Lefties: I've been hearing a lot of loose talk from you guys lately about how you think Trump isn't going to leave office should he lose in 2020. Also, that he won't leave in 2024. Like this guy,... Published:2/17/2020 11:04:56 AM
[CCI] 5 Great American REITs For Presidents' Day Published:2/17/2020 9:37:30 AM
[Entertainment] Inside Ed Sheeran and Wife Cherry Seaborn's Private Romance Ed Sheeran, Cherry Seaborn, Kissing at Brit AwardsEd Sheeran puts lots of love and emotion in his music, but there's one topic he isn't thinking out loud about: marriage. Because for months following his December 2017 engagement...
Published:2/17/2020 9:37:29 AM
[8ddf03f2-d957-5daf-aca4-3e5f320460a3] Michael Goodwin: As Bloomberg's VP, Hillary could get revenge against Trump The report that Hillary Clinton could become Michael Bloomberg’s running mate is one of those times when it is no exaggeration to use the word bombshell. Published:2/17/2020 9:37:29 AM
[5e8b2790-3a20-58d7-b4c8-c3cc57b9c2ce] James Bond 'No Time to Die' China premiere event canceled amid coronavirus concerns The Chinese premier event for the new James Bond film, “No Time to Die,” has been canceled along with a press tour for the cast due to ongoing issues with the coronavirus.  Published:2/17/2020 9:37:29 AM
[Markets] More than 1,100 DOJ alumni call for Atty. Gen. William Barr’s resignation More than 1,100 DOJ alumni call for Atty. Gen. William Barr’s resignation Published:2/17/2020 9:37:29 AM
[worldNews] Pakistan confirms escape of Taliban leader who justified Malala shooting A high-profile local Taliban figure who announced and justified the 2012 attack on teenage Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai has escaped detention, Pakistan's interior minister confirmed a few days after the militant announced his breakout on social media.
Published:2/17/2020 9:37:29 AM
[Politics] BOOM! Virginia fails to pass ‘assault weapon’ ban! Great news out of Virginia this morning: WJLA – Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s push to ban the sale of assault weapons has failed after members of his own party balked at the . . . Published:2/17/2020 9:37:29 AM
[Artificial Intelligence] Facebook pushes EU for dilute and fuzzy Internet content rules Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is in Europe this week — attending a security conference in Germany over the weekend where he spoke about the kind of regulation he’d like applied to his platform ahead of a slate of planned meetings with digital heavyweights at the European Commission. “I do think that there should be regulation […] Published:2/17/2020 9:37:29 AM
[] Breaking: Dems lose assault-weapons ban vote in Virginia Published:2/17/2020 9:03:55 AM
[Politics] Trump Jr.: Rather Face Bloomberg as He Has No 'Real Following' Donald Trump Jr. says in an interview that he'd rather go "six months one-on-one" with former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg as a challenger to his father's presidency than to face Sen. Bernie Sanders. Published:2/17/2020 9:03:55 AM
[Politics] Bernie now looks to win Nevada and he’s got Democrats WORRIED Bernie has been gaining a lot of momentum since the voting began in Iowa earlier this month, and as we approach Nevada this weekend it looks like he might take the crown . . . Published:2/17/2020 9:03:55 AM
[Politics] Bernie now looks to win Nevada and he’s got Democrats WORRIED Bernie has been gaining a lot of momentum since the voting began in Iowa earlier this month, and as we approach Nevada this weekend it looks like he might take the crown . . . Published:2/17/2020 9:03:55 AM
[8040c8ac-e88c-55e5-87b9-e280d9dda2ab] Denise Richards' best moments from 'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' Denise Richards joined "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" in 2019 for Season 9 and was an instant fan favorite. Published:2/17/2020 9:03:55 AM
[Markets] The Death Of Free Speech: Zuckerberg Asks Governments For Instructions On "What Discourse Should Be Allowed" The Death Of Free Speech: Zuckerberg Asks Governments For Instructions On "What Discourse Should Be Allowed"

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

I have written for years on the effort of European countries to expand their crackdown on free speech globally through restrictions on social media and Internet speech. It appears that Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has relented in what may prove the death knell for free speech in the West.

Zuckerberg seems to relent in asking governments for regulations stipulating what speech will be permitted on Facebook and other platforms. It is the ultimate victory of FranceGermany, and England in their continuing attack on free expression though hate speech laws and speech regulation.

Zuckerberg told an assembly of Western leaders Saturday at the Munich Security Conference that:

“There should be more guidance and regulation from the states on basically - take political advertising as an example - what discourse should be allowed?”

He did add:

“Or, on the balance of free expression and some things that people call harmful expression, where do you draw the line?”

The problem is that his comments were received as accepting that government will now dictate the range of free speech. What is missing is the bright line rule long maintained by the free speech community.

As tragically demonstrated in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, speech regulations inevitably expand with time. The desire to silence one’s critics becomes insatiable for both governments and individuals.

Zuckerberg is facing great pressure, including from Democratic leaders in the United States, to regulate political speech and he seems to be moving away from the bright-line position against such regulation as a principle:

“There are a lot of decisions in these areas that are really just balances between different social values. It’s about coming up with an answer that society feels is legitimate and that they can get behind and understand that you drew the line here on the balance of free expression and safety. It’s not just that there’s one right answer. People need to feel like, ‘OK, enough people weighed in, and that’s why the answer should be this, and we can get behind that.’”

Instead, as the above exposes, he is accepting the fluid concept of “balanced” regulations that has always preceded expanding speech codes and criminalization.

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/17/2020 - 09:54
Published:2/17/2020 9:03:55 AM
[Markets] The Tell: Apart from the major indexes like the S&P 500, markets are behaving like it is late in the cycle, says Morgan Stanley strategist You would have a hard time convincing someone looking at the major U.S. stock-market benchmarks that it is looking like the end of the cycle. Yet Andrew Sheets, chief cross-asset strategist at Morgan Stanley, says there are late-cycle indicators in current markets.
Published:2/17/2020 9:03:55 AM
[Hardware] Smart speaker sales reached new record of 146.9M in 2019, up 70% from 2018 Global smart speaker sales hit a record high last year with shipments of 146.9 million units, up 70% over 2018, according to a recent report on the state of the smart speaker market from Strategy Analytics. Though Amazon still leads in the U.S. by a wide margin, its portion of the worldwide market is now […] Published:2/17/2020 9:03:55 AM
[Quick Takes] NYU Prof Allegedly Founded Anarchist Group Behind Recent Protest of NYC Subways "a violent assault on the city’s transit system that concluded with 13 arrests and $100,000 in damage" Published:2/17/2020 9:03:55 AM
[] Shady AF: Sen. Chris Murphy held a secret meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif LAST WEEK (and he's not talking about it) Published:2/17/2020 8:35:53 AM
[Politics] Bloomberg drops $124 million in Super Tuesday states. Rivals go on the attack

New York billionaire faces mounting challenges as poll ratings rise

Published:2/17/2020 8:35:53 AM
[Aerospace] Watch SpaceX attempt a rocket reusability record with another Starlink launch live SpaceX is launching another batch of 60 Starlink satellites to join its existing constellation, which will bring the total to 300 and be the third Starlink launch this year already. The launch will also be a potentially record-setting demonstration of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 reusability, with the shortest turnaround time for a Falcon 9 first stage […] Published:2/17/2020 8:35:53 AM
[Volokh Conspiracy] [Keith E. Whittington] DC Book Event I'm pleased to note that on Friday, February 21, at 9:00am, the American Enterprise Institute will be hosting a book forum on my recent book, Repugnant Laws: Judicial Review of Acts of Congress from the Founding to the Present. Adam White will be providing commentary. The book provides a political history of how the U.S.… Published:2/17/2020 8:35:53 AM
[Left Column] New Study: Greenland’s Largest Glacier Has Rapidly Thickened Since 2016…Fueled By 1.5°C Regional Ocean Cooling
Published:2/17/2020 8:35:53 AM
[61d55357-480e-5678-bd18-70ef6a40c514] Chuck DeVore: Will illegal voting tip Texas blue in 2020? The Lone Star State, the second-biggest Electoral College prize after California, may be a hard-fought political battleground this year.   Published:2/17/2020 8:35:53 AM
[Uncategorized] Journalists Are Really Mad Trump Attended Daytona 500 "The reason why no other president has taken a lap in the Presidential limo at Daytona before is that it is illegal." Published:2/17/2020 8:35:53 AM
[Markets] Who owns your company? NMC investors in London are finding out the hard way The crisis at NMC has reignited the debate about the governance of overseas companies listing in London
Published:2/17/2020 8:35:53 AM
[Markets] Facebook cancels global marketing summit over coronavirus concerns Facebook cancels global marketing summit over coronavirus concerns Published:2/17/2020 8:35:53 AM
[b5ecbae4-fcc2-5b24-b099-3e6de91c4201] Meghan Markle and Prince Harry spotted in rare public outing while returning to Canada Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were spotted looking very happy and content while returning to Canada after making appearances in the United States.  Published:2/17/2020 8:35:53 AM
[worldNews] Libya's rival factions dig in for long conflict Libya's combatants are readying for a long conflict, as foreign weapons flood in, tribesmen close oil ports and rival alliances wrangle over revenues from Africa's largest petroleum reserves.
Published:2/17/2020 8:35:53 AM
[Markets] State-Backed Economist Says China Must Delay Trade-Deal Commitments State-Backed Economist Says China Must Delay Trade-Deal Commitments

Remember when Larry Kudlow said that President Xi had pledged to "meet [China's] obligations" under the 'Phase 1' trade pact, outbreak be damned, and that negotiations for 'Phase 2' were "completely separate" from the outbreak?

Unsurprisingly, the SCMP confirmed on Monday that this probably isn't going to happen. Odds are, China will need to delay its commitment to purchase an additional $200 billion in American goods and services, even as Beijing ends restrictions on importing American agricultural products like poultry and soybeans. Two weeks ago, rumors that China would seek "flexibility" were the earliest indication that the regime was already weighing what to do.

Now, in an obvious trial balloon, a state-backed economist is urging Beijing to invoke 'force majeur'.

Fortunately for Beijing, the two sides included a 'force majeur' clause in the deal that read: "In the event that a natural disaster or other unforeseeable event outside the control of the parties delays a party from timely complying with its obligations under this agreement, the parties shall consult with each other."

However, few expect the US to accept the delay without some kind of negotiation:  Xu Qiyuan, a researcher at the China Finance 40 Forum (and a state-backed economist in Beijing), said he believes China should request to postpone the implementation of the purchase plan "in an appropriate manner" right away.

According to the SCMP, Xu's comments about missing the deal quotas were part of a mounting consensus among international trade economists that the outbreak has made meeting the quotas impossible.

One week after the nation was supposed to get "back to work", most of China's economy remains shuttered. Even the factories that have reopened are operating well below capacity. A survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai released on Monday saying that almost 80% of American-owned factories in China haven't been able to staff production lines.

Though the details of what exactly would be purchased remain opaque, the media claimed back in January that China had agreed to an $80 billion increase of manufactured goods includes purchases of autos, auto parts, aircraft, agricultural machinery, medical devices, and semiconductors.

Whether or not this ends up being a 'dealbreaker' for the US and China, some have pointed out that the deal was never all that realistic.  One Rabobank economist recently pointed out that for Beijing to reach its goal by end-2021, a chart of US exports to China would need to look like this for the next two years... just doesn't seem feasible.

Of course, any signs of trade-deal skepticism should be anathema to the equity rally that has so far remained largely on track even as the virus spread to more than 70,000 people.

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/17/2020 - 09:30
Published:2/17/2020 8:35:53 AM
[Markets] The Stock Market Is Up About 5% Through Presidents Day. Here’s What Happens Next. Can history point out hidden risks for the stock market or is it clear sailing from here? As it turns out, the data is encouraging. Published:2/17/2020 8:35:53 AM
[Politics] Daily Presidential Tracking Poll

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 49% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Forty-nine percent (49%) disapprove.

The latest figures include 37% who Strongly Approve of the job Trump is doing and 42% who Strongly Disapprove. This gives him a Presidential Approval Index rating of -5. (see trends).

Regular updates are posted Monday through Friday at 9:30 a.m. Eastern (sign up for free daily email update). 

Now that Gallup has quit the field, Rasmussen Reports is the only nationally recognized public opinion firm that still tracks President Trump's job approval ratings on a daily basis. If your organization is interested in a weekly or longer sponsorship of Rasmussen Reports' Daily Presidential Tracking Poll, please send e-mail to

Published:2/17/2020 8:35:53 AM
[] Mid-Morning Art Thread Studio in Paris Jose Ferraz de Almeida Junior... Published:2/17/2020 8:35:53 AM
[] Florida's "red flag" law has led to massive gun confiscation numbers Published:2/17/2020 7:04:58 AM
[Politics] Profanity, Jokes Fill Bloomberg 'Wit and Wisdom' Book Democrat presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg received a gag gift from his financial services company in 1990 that contained what were portrayed as quotes from him, many of which contained offensive and sexist language. Published:2/17/2020 7:04:58 AM
[worldNews] All Raphael's tapestries return to Sistine Chapel after centuries Putting more masterpieces in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel to join his ceiling frescoes and Last Judgement wall might seem as superfluous as adding more diamonds to the Crown Jewels.
Published:2/17/2020 7:04:58 AM
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