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Latest News Affecting Gold Price


  • Schrodinger's Market: Goldman Now Has Two Year-End S&P Price Targets

    For months, we were wondering how much longer Goldman would ignore the relentless market meltup without revising its year-end S&P500 price target, which at 2,400 was not only among the lowest on Wall Street, but also some 150 points away from twhere the S&P currently is. Furthermore, as of this weekend, Goldman's 2018 and 2019 targets for the US equity index, were 2,500 and 2,600, implying there was only 50 points of upside for the next 26 months.

    All that changed today, when Goldman unveiled that quantum mechanics is not the only arena where objects can exist in superposition: it turns out the "Schrodinger's S&P" can also have two distinct states prices at the same time, too.

    In a report from chief equity strategist David Kostin, he unveils that Goldman now has not one but two price targets for the S&P500: the first one is the traditional one, the same 2,400 as noted before. However, in a plot twist, one which casts the entire role of equity strategist into question, Kostin also said that the S&P 500 price target may "perhaps be 2650" if tax reform passes.

    As he explains, "the 2400 target assumes no reform and P/E of 17.3x. 65% probability of passage by 1Q." However, "with tax reform, target could be 2650 (17.9x)."

    Of course, the fact that it is Kostin's job to take all these probabilities into account when making his year end price target - his one price target - seems to be lost on the strategist, who like the rest of Wall Street had no idea how far the S&P would keep rising and instead of chasing the market, has decided to just bracket it with a low and high "target." And what better way to avoid getting pestered by angry clients at the end of the yearm than to just give them the option of picking which target they like better.

    This is how Goldman gets from its baseline 2018 EPS of $139 to the higher possible scenarios, incorporating a tax plan, and boosting EPS by as much as 12%:

    What makes today's report even more awkward is that despite the cheap cop out in which Goldman kinda, sorta raises its price target but doesn't really (recall Goldman's baseline is that the odds of a tax deal getting done by Q1 are 65%), is that in the very next sentence Goldman admits that stocks are already overvalued:

    • S&P 500 index trades at high valuation on most metrics vs. last 40 years (88th percentile).

    Even more troubling, while the average index shows some room for upside at "only" the 88th percentile of historical caluations (which is dragged lower by the fact that companies no longer spend on CapEx), the median stock now trades at 98% percentile of all tiem valuations, meaning that for all intents and purposes, it has never been higher.

    Here are the visual breakdowns of some key valuation metrics:

    And while stocks may appear cheap on a FCF yield basis, Goldman concedes that this merely reflects the "plunge in capital spending."

    Nowhere is the plunge in investment spending more obvious than in the following chart which shows that real capex has been flat since 2001!

    Finally, for those who aren't skeptical enough already, here is Goldman admitting that the only source of stock purchases are... the companies themselves:

    • Money Flow: Positive net demand for shares only because Buybacks offset aggregate net selling by combination of other ownership categories

    Luckily, none of the above matters in a world in which Bill Blain, said yesterday, "This Time It Really Is Different! The Machines Have Taken Over And They Will Never Sell." Blain was joking, although perhaps ironically he had stumbled upon the truth that has made this market into what it is today.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Third Trump Administration Travel Ban

    In the latest court challenge to the Trump administration’s push to prevent potentially dangerous individuals from entering the US, a district court judge has blocked the Trump administration's third travel ban, which it had introduced late last month following the expiration of a temporary ban that had been hobbled by court challenges.

    The decision from Hawaii-based Judge Derrick K. Watson – a recurring Trump antagonist who also challenged the last two bans - in Hawaii is sure to be appealed. But for now, at least, it means that the administration cannot restrict the entry of travelers from six of the eight countries that officials said were either unable or unwilling to provide information the US wanted to vet their citizens, according to the Washington Post.

    The Trump administration unveiled the updated ban late last month. The updated ban – which, like its predecessor, was purportedly designed to avoid a court challenge – abandoned wholesale prohibitions in favor of severe restrictions on travelers from an expanded group of eight countries.

    The open-ended ban targeted people from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea, as well as certain government officials from Venezuela. It was slated to take effect tomorrow, according to Reuters.

    When President Trump issued the third version of his travel ban in late September, the Supreme Court canceled oral arguments for two challenges to the policy's second iteration. They later dismissed one of the challenges to the March version of the ban.

    The State of Hawaii, the International Refugee Assistance Project and other groups who had sued Trump over the March travel ban asked judges to block the ban, arguing that Trump had exceeded his legal authority to set immigration policy, and that the latest measure — like the last two — fulfilled his unconstitutional campaign promise to implement a Muslim ban.

    “The ban, like its predecessors, delivers on the President’s longstanding promise to exclude Muslims from the United States, striking at the very core of our Nation’s founding values of religious freedom and equality,” those suing in a separate case in federal court in Maryland wrote.

     

    “Unlike its predecessors, the new ban is indefinite, and potentially permanent.”

    The block will most likely be challenged, and a final ruling will likely be issued by the Supreme Court.

    Fortunately for Trump, legal analysts have said those challenging the latest travel ban face an uphill battle because the ban represents a considered effort following a lengthy back-and-forth with the governments of the affected countries. The new ban includes two countries – North Korea and Venezuela – that are not majority Muslim, weakening the plaintiff’s argument that the ban is discriminatory.

  • Peso, Loonie Spike After NAFTA Discussions End With "Success"... Delay Until 2018

    NAFTA negotiators said they "successfully completed" Round 4 of their discussions... adding that talks will be extended past the end-2107 deadline (odd definition of success?). Nevertheless, this seems to have appeased the FX markets as both the peso and loonia are spiking..


    • *NAFTA NEGOTIATORS SAY THEY SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED ROUND 4
    • *NAFTA MINISTERS SAY MEXICO TO HOST ROUND 5 NOVEMBER 17-21
    • *NAFTA MINISTERS EXTEND PERIOD BETWEEN ROUND 4 AND ROUND 5
    • *NAFTA MINISTERS SAY NEW PROPOSALS HAVE CREATED CHALLENGES, GAPS
    • *FREELAND: NAFTA HAS BEEN GOOD FOR MILLIONS IN ALL THREE NATIONS
    • *NAFTA MINISTERS SAY MORE ROUNDS TO BE SCHEDULED THROUGH Q1 2018

    And the dollar is being sold...

  • Bubble-nomics

    Authord by Chris Hamilton via Econimica blog,

    Question: What is a bubble?

    Answer: A bubble is trade in an asset at a price range that strongly exceeds the asset's intrinsic value.  Or it could also be described as a situation in which asset prices appear to be based on implausible or inconsistent views about the future.

    Question: How do you know when you are in a bubble?

    Answer: Gauge asset prices against a standard, foundational premise to determine if the price appreciation is warranted.

    Lucky for us, the Federal Reserve provides exactly what is needed to show how unjustifiable current prices are against households disposable income.  The chart below is all US household's net worth (current value of all real estate, stocks, bonds, etc.) as a percentage of their disposable personal income (disposable income is what they have left to spend or save after paying their taxes).  To round out the picture, I've added in the net growth in full time workers during each period, dramatically decelerating.

    Since 1970, every time asset values have risen above 520% of households disposable income (the dashed line in the chart) then the US has been in a bubble and a subsequent crash has followed.

    This has simply meant asset values growing much faster than households income or households capability to sustain those price increases.  The depth of each crash has been relative to the overshoot of asset values on the upside.

    Why???

    I hear much discussion that the millennials are the largest age group in US history and are expected to drive growth in demand.  However, most people fail to understand what this truly means. 

    The millennials are just marginally larger than the boomers but what this truly means is zero growth.  The millennials are just meeting the previous high water mark the boomers set.  When the boomers came through, they nearly doubled the previous high water mark.

    The chart below shows annual population change of the 25 to 54year old US population vs. the HHNW as a percentage of disposable income.  They are essentially mirror inverse images of one another.

    If we broaden out to view the annual change of the entire working age population (15 to 64 year olds) since 1970 vs. HHNW as a percentage of their disposable income...we have something. 

    I think we are pretty safe to say the bubbles have been in response to the decelerating population growth (said otherwise, decelerating growth in demand).

    What's it all about...I take my best guess HERE.  However, discussions of EROI should probably also be in the mix as well.

  • Harvey Weinstein Officially Resigns From Weinstein Co. Board

    Two weeks after he was unceremoniously fired from the board of the film studio he co-founded, disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has officially announced his "resignation" from the Weinstein Co. Board of Directors, Variety reported, presumably ending his quest to be reinstated as head of the company.

    Weinstein made the resignation official at the company’s Tuesday board meeting, where it was rumored he would press the board to rescind his firing, likely instigating a clash with his brother Bob, with whom he co-founded the production company.

    Weinstein is in rehab in Arizona, but he was expected to call in to the meeting and threatened to sue the company he founded with his brother in 2005. Harvey owns 22% of the company’s stock, according to Variety.

    The board had already fired Weinstein on Oct. 8, just days after the New York Times published the first of a series of stories exposing the producer’s 30-year history of harassing and assaulting women. In its original story, the Times confirmed that Weinstein had reached settlements with eight victims that included non-disclosure agreements.

    More than 30 women have accused Weinstein of harassment, groping and assault. The list includes famous actresses including Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie.

    After the New Yorker reported that the New York Police Department had been planning to arrest Weinstein before Manhattan Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. quashed the investigation, the NYPD and Scotland Yard both announced that they had opened investigations into Weinstein. The FBI is also reportedly pursuing a federal case.  

    As Variety notes, the Weinstein Co. board has faced uncomfortable questions about how much it knew, with top company figures like Bob Weinstein and president David Glasser saying they knew that Harvey Weinstein could be angry and abusive, and knew that he cheated on his wife, but did not know of his alleged sexual abuses.

    After initially denying that it was pursuing a sale, WSJ reported yesterday that Thomas Barrick’s Colony Capital had extended an emergency loan to Weinstein, and was also in talks to buy the film studio.
     

  • The 'Winners Of The New World' Redux

    Authored by Kevin Muir via The Macro Tourist blog,

    The New “Winners of the New World”

    Do you remember Jim Cramer’s February 29th, 2000 speech, “Winners of the New World?

    You want winners? You want me to put my Cramer Berkowitz hedge fund hat on and just discuss what my fund is buying today to try to make money tomorrow and the next day and the next? You want my top 10 stocks for who is going to make it in the New World? You know what? I am going to give them to you. Right here. Right now.

    OK. Here goes. Write them down – no handouts here!: 724 Solutions ( SVNX), Ariba ( ARBA), Digital Island ( ISLD), Exodus ( EXDS), InfoSpace.com ( INSP), Inktomi ( INKT), Mercury Interactive ( MERQ), Sonera ( SNRA), VeriSign ( VRSN) and Veritas Software ( VRTS).

     

    We are buying some of every one of these this morning as I give this speech. We buy them every day, particularly if they are down, which, no surprise given what they do, is very rare. And we will keep doing so until this period is over – and it is very far from ending. Heck, people are just learning these stories on Wall Street, and the more they come to learn, the more they love and own! Most of these companies don’t even have earnings per share, so we won’t have to be constrained by that methodology for quarters to come.

     

    We try to own every one of them. Every single one. And if I had my druthers, I wouldn’t own any other stocks in the year 2000. Because these are the only ones worth owning right now in this extremely difficult, extremely narrow stock market. They are the only ones that are going higher consistently in good days and bad. I love every one of them, just as I loathe the rest of the stock universe.

     

    How did this stock market get like this, to where the only people who can make a dime in it are the people who are interested in the most arcane subject, the moving of data from one space to another, via strange new machines and software? How did it get to the point where nothing else matters, most particularly the 90% of the stock market I have studied for the last 20 years? How did all of that knowledge become totally irrelevant and the only stocks that work are the stocks of companies that didn’t exist five years ago and came public in the last two or three years?

     

    So, if you can’t own the retailers, and you can’t own transports, and you can’t own banks and brokers and financials and you can’t own commodity makers and you can’t own the newspapers, and you can’t own the machinery stocks, what can you own?

     

    A-ha, that just leaves us with tech. That’s why we keep coming back to it. That’s why, despite the 80% increase in the Nasdaq last year, we are looking at another record year now. It is by that process of elimination that I have picked my top 10. And my next 10 and my next 10 after. Only those companies are worth owning. The rest?

    You can have them.

    It’s easy to laugh at Cramer today. His speech was only a couple of weeks away from the all-time high in the Nasdaq, and his 10 stocks were absolute disasters.

    Yet, let me assure you - in the moment, the market was gobbling up his spiel with a zeal that is tough to describe. Cramer wasn’t some raving lunatic, but a prophet who epitomized the dotcom mania. Fading the wall of buying seemed like absolute lunacy. And for the next couples of decades, I never again saw that sort of “just get me in” panic. Until now…

    Before you condemn me as some sort of perma-bear who doesn’t understand the current market, please take the time to read a couple of my pieces deriding all the bearish hedge fund managers - Betting against history, It’s too easy to write bearish pieces, or Billionaire Bears Club. I have long held the belief that a stock market melt-up was just as likely as crash.

    But I have a problem. I hate being in the majority. It was easy for me to speak about the possibility of a stock market spike higher when everyone was bearish. Yet the trader in me cannot stand sticking with that position in the midst of an epic squeeze.

    I don’t think the market will crash (although with every passing day the froth scares me more and more.) So I am not some doomsdayer predicting some catastrophic disaster. Yet I am a trader that knows markets look best at the top.

    Back to Jim Cramer’s speech at the peak of the Nasdaq madness. Yesterday one of my favourite market pundits wrote a piece that was so eerily reminiscent of Cramer’s “the inevitability of dot com stocks to levitate to the moon” fame, I had to double check the author’s credits. I think Josh Brown from Reformed Broker fame is indisputably one of the good guys, and he has correctly remained steadfastly bullish in the midst of every hedge fund hyperventilation of the coming crash. Yet I respectfully have to take the other side of Josh’s Just Own the Damn Robots piece.

    Take a moment to read Josh’s post. It’s compelling, well written, and makes you want to run out and write some big blue tickets.

    In Kurt Vonnegut’s 1952 novel, Player Piano, we are introduced to a future in which only engineers and managers have gainful employment and meaningful lives. If you’re not one of the engineers and managers, then you’re in the army of nameless people fixing roads and bridges. You live in Homestead, far from the machines that do everything, and are treated throughout your life like a helpless baby. The world no longer has a use for you. Anything you can do a machine can do better, and you are reminded of this all day, every day by society and the single omnipotent industrial corporation that oversees it all.

     

    He wrote this 65 years ago. It couldn’t have been more apropos to what we’re witnessing now than if had he written it this morning, right down to the nostalgia-selling demagogue who seizes the opportunity to foment rebellion amongst the displaced and disgruntled. When millions of people start seeing their purpose begin to erode and their dignity being stolen from them, the idea that there’s nothing left to lose starts to creep in.

     

    In the book, the result is a violent rebellion against the machines. In the real world, we’ve resigned ourselves to investing in them instead.

     

    We could be in the midst of the first fear-based investment bubble in American history, with the masses buying in not out of avarice, but from a mentality of abject terror. Robots, software and automation, owned by Capital, are notching new victories over Labor at an ever accelerating rate. It’s gone parabolic in recent years - every industry, every region of the country, and all over the world. It’s thrilling to be a part of if you’re an owner of the robots, the software and the automation. If you’re a part of the capital side of that equation. If you’re on the other side, however - the losing side - it’s a horror movie in slow motion.

     

    The only way out? Invest in your own destruction. In this context, the FANG stocks are not a gimmick or a fad, they’re a f***ing life raft. Market commentators rhetorically ask aloud what multiple should investors pay to own the technology giants. That’s the wrong question when people feel like they’re drowning.

     

    What multiple would you pay to survive? Grab a raft.

    This sort of “it doesn’t matter what you pay for an asset” is the type of thinking that prevails at tops. The idea of a new paradigm also permeates market participants’ thinking:

    The disruptor’s credo, say it with me: Your profit margin is my opportunity. Put another way: Your profitable small business is basically a market failure. But only for now, because we’ve got investors, motherf***er.

     

    Friend of a friend owns a small chain of grocery stores in New Jersey. A few years ago, when Amazon got into groceries, he changed his mind about investing in the growth of his own business. He started buying Amazon shares with his investment capital instead. He saw what happened to Circuit City and Tower Records, Borders and Barnes & Noble. So he bought some Amazon and then he bought some more.

     

    This wasn’t retirement investing. This was something else. What should we call it? Disruption Insurance?

     

    I don’t know. Anyway, long story short, Amazon is up over a thousand percent over the last ten years, and he don’t need the stores no more.

     

    Of the people actively looking for jobs right now, 96% of them are currently employed, as of the latest labor report. This, of course, excludes tens of millions of working age folks who have stopped looking, are working off the books or who have otherwise just given up. A great deal of them come from industries or vocations that no longer exist. This is not a new phenomenon, it’s been going on since the beginning of time.

     

    What is undeniable, however, is that the pace of this process has increased to breakneck speed. It also seems to be perennially advantaging those for whom advantage has already accrued. Winners keep winning. A momentum strategy, but for people. You would expect the folks on Wall Street to be celebrating all time record highs for asset prices. It’s the opposite - it’s making them miserable. Head counts and fund closures are this bull market’s accoutrements, not lavish parties and cocaine. It’s never been like this before.

     

    For the last fifty years, we’ve invested for retirement. For the last two or three years, we might be investing for a whole other reason. What price is too high to pay for a company’s stock if the company spends every waking minute trying to replace you?

     

    So what else is left to do? Just own the damn robots.

    Owning an asset regardless of price is what created the dotcom bubble. It didn’t work then, and it won’t work now. Chasing momentum after an epic 5-year monster bull run, regardless of how compelling the narrative, is not my idea of smart investing. Let’s see - feverish froth, frantic “I will miss the new era” buying and New Yorker magazine covers that reek of “even my Grandmother is now aware of this trend” is not a great setup.

    So although Josh’s words seem convincing, remember that Jim Cramer’s recommendations once seemed just as wise. Josh’s advice has been spot on for quite some time, but I wonder if he isn’t a little overconfident with this latest piece. I just can’t help but feel that this is the sort of stuff you see near the top.

    *  *  *

    Chinese stability operation

    After my piece last week, More Ways to Get into Trouble, that speculated a stock market correction was not coming until after the Chinese Communist Party Congress concluded, a kind reader sent this picture from the Shenzhen Securities Exchange building.

    According to my source, this banner was put up one week before the 19th national congress of the communist party of China. It reads - “Use every effort to protect the stability of stock market for 20 days.”

    One more week to go. October 25th is the last day of the congress.

    Even if you buy Josh Brown’s secular bull argument, think about hanging tough. I still contend you will get a better entry point in the next couple of months.

    *  *  *

    Saudi Aramco negotiations

    Over the past year, I have watched as market pundits floated all sorts of theories about Saudi Arabia’s devious plans regarding the floating of the world’s largest IPO in their state-controlled energy company, Saudi Aramco. Some readers asked my opinion, and I was quick to admit, I didn’t have a clue. I was unsure what I was seeing. Was Saudi Arabia keeping the price of oil down ahead of the IPO, so they could raise it later? Or were they trying to goose it higher to sell their company at the best possible price today? Who knows? And although it was fun to speculate, the reality is that it was really a negotiating process whose progress was known only to the few market players that were setting the price.

    But yesterday Reuters reported a new tidbit of information that changed the landscape.

    Chinese state-owned oil companies PetroChina (0857.HK) and Sinopec (0386.HK) have written to Saudi Aramco in recent weeks to express an interest in a direct deal, industry sources told Reuters. The companies are part of a state-run consortium including China’s sovereign wealth fund, the sources say.

     

    Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said last year the kingdom was considering listing about 5 percent of Aramco in 2018 in a deal that could raise $100 billion, if the company is valued at about $2 trillion as hoped.

     

    “The Chinese want to secure oil supplies,” one of the industry sources said. “They are willing to take the whole 5 percent, or even more, alone.”

     

    PetroChina and Sinopec declined to comment.

    No shit PetroChina and Sinopec declined to comment, they are probably pissed as hell that this story leaked.

    You know how I know that? I have seen this movie before. It’s a negotiating tactic as old as the hills.

    Let me tell you about my first time seeing this play out. It was in the 1990’s and I was a young kid sitting on Canada’s largest equity institutional desk. Our bank has done a “bought deal” where we had committed to buy a large piece of stock from an issuer before knowing whether we would be able to place it with our clients. The company pasted us with the deal, and it quickly became obvious that we were hung. The issue didn’t sell at our price, and the next morning, the stock opened below our cost.

    I watched as our head trader calmly monitored the price of the issue, but kept a stone face for everyone on the desk. I can’t remember how much we were offside. It was a big number. Not the hundreds of millions the Wall Street boys played with, but we were offside many tens. It stung, and even though I was young and naive, it didn’t take much to deduce from the worried whispers that this was going to hurt the paycheque.

    Well, some banks would cave and take the loss, but not my shop. Not sure if it was dumb or brave (probably a little of both), but management sat with that position for a few weeks. During this time, the market rallied, but our stock did not budge as the whole street knew we were wearing this huge piece. Day by day we sat there watching other comparables rally hard, while our stock refused to get off the mat.

    I distinctly remember the calmness of our head trader. It sure seemed hopeless, but he kept a smile on his face and did not seem even a quarter as worried as the other traders on the desk.

    Then one day, it happened. I can still remember it as if it was yesterday. Most of our phone lines were direct lines to the traders that sat at our institutional clients’ desks. But we had a few “overhead” lines when others wanted to call in.

    One of the traders picked up a blinking light, listened to the other end, and then cupped his hand to the mic before shouting out across the desk, “Paul, Beaverton Pension Plan PM wants to talk to you directly. What overhead number should I tell him?” (we don’t really have firms called Beaverton Pension Plan - we are hick, but we keep beavers on our money, not in our financial firm names.)

    Our head trader grinned, and waited for the call to come in. After a few minutes of hushed conversation, he hung up the line and barked out instructions:

    “Bobby, buy up everything on the board up to our issue price. Then bid for another 2 million out loud. For the rest of you, the issue is gone. Beaverton took the whole thing, and we come out a better buyer. We pay issue price for 3 million more.”

    It was only later that I understood what happened. Beaverton had realized the stock was undervalued. It should have been rallying, but the worry about the overhang of supply had kept it down. Realizing that it was only a matter of time before market players started buying smaller amounts, Beverton decided to pro-actively take advantage of the situation.

    They bid our head trader for the whole piece “all or nothing.” They had actually started trying to get him to break price, but when he held tough, they settled with buying it all.

    All the other clients who had held off buying the stock because they “knew it wasn’t going up because of the huge slug of overhang”, suddenly found themselves needing to buy a cheap stock with no size offerings anywhere near the quote. It turned into a food fight with the stock instantly rocketing higher.

    The truth of the matter was that most clients were pissed. They figured they had us by the short and curlies, and when we turned the table, they took it out by screaming that we screwed them. We would have preferred Beaverton to have shared the print, but the reality is that once the market realized the piece was cleaning up, everyone would have “me too’ed” the trade (they would have all given us orders to buy along with Beaverton. Canadian institutional clients are notorious “me too’ers”). If that had happened, then Beaverton would have gotten significantly less. They paid up, and they deserved the whole piece.

    My suspicion is that the same dynamic is happening today with the Saudi Aramco deal. Recognizing that the pricing has reached a level that might be too low, the Chinese had indicated a willingness to skip the whole IPO process, and simply take the whole piece. They were trying to replicate Beaverton’s move.

    Saudi Arabia has leaked the story to get the other buyers to pay up. But the truth of the matter is that this is dangerous game to play. If China walks away, the Saudis will be left with a much lower price.

    I still don’t have a clue about the status of the negotiations. But rest assured, they are playing games. The negotiations will appear like they are going nowhere, and then suddenly it will all be over.

  • Does Individual Sovereignty Pre-empt Abusive Government?

    Via The Daily Bell

    Once you accept that you are not sovereign, it is just a matter of maneuvering for governments to do whatever they want.

    They don’t play by any rules. But they force you to follow them. Some governments do this by blunt force. Other governments do it by controlling the media narrative. Still, others twist the law to fit their purposes and appear legitimate. Most use a combination of tactics to keep people compliant.

    In America, governments and corporations like to pretend there is some sort of objective law. They spend time in legislatures and courts determining what will pass as legal and what will not. But it is basically just a silly dance. They are trying different combinations to unlock the “do whatever the hell they want” box.

    Certain dance moves are preferred by the populous, who are easily entranced. Money to pay lawyers and lobbyists helps to sell as legitimate. And political connections help too. But for the everyday citizen or small business owner, the deck is stacked against you.

    For instance, the Constitution is pretty clear about citizens being allowed to own guns, as well as run businesses. Supposedly laws must be applied evenly.

    But San Francisco wants to ban gun stores. They can’t just go and ban gun stores. They have to be clever.

    So they think up an ordinance. Somehow local laws can stomp all over people’s property rights–citizens have accepted that. They make a local code that says gun stores cannot operate with 500 feet of a school, liquor store, bar, or residential district.

    They have performed a dance that San Franciscans accept. It seems to make sense–guns don’t seem to mix well with alcohol, or children.

    Yet now, all San Francisco has to do is make sure one of those things occurs at least every 1,000 feet, and they have effectively banned gun stores.

    They can make anything they want a residential district. There is probably already a bar or liquor store every 1,000 feet. And an appeals court just upheld the ban, saying the second amendment does not guarantee gun store owners have the right to locate anywhere they wish.

    Do any of us have a right to locate anywhere we wish? Or must everything be approved of by the government? Couldn’t this argument also be used for gun owners? Or for that matter, couldn’t this argument be used for any of our rights?

    The arbitrariness of laws is what gives rise to corruption and discrimination. This is the same philosophy that allows certain corporations to get special subsidies and tax breaks. This is the underlying logic behind government enforced racial segregation.

    If the government gets to slice up the population and decide who will get to exercise what rights and where, then there are no rights. If the government can arbitrarily make special rules for segments of society, then there is no objective rule of law.

    So private property doesn’t really exist, does it? Local governments can restrict what you can do with the land, and require permits if you want to move a pebble. And then they charge you yearly rent they call property taxes.

    If we accept that they have this control over us, what’s the use of complaining about this particular law or that particular law? It is all based on whims, and our preferences just relate to what is best for us. The corporations’ and politicians’ preferences relate to what is best for them.

    Guess whose benefit is going to win?

    Rejecting any authority over our lives pre-empts the idea that we can be arbitrarily controlled by this little ordinance or that little code. Those “little things” are what open the door to an unequal society. It is what allows governments to put in the fix for corporations and cronies.

    That being said, it is easy enough to move out of San Francisco and choose a better place. The real problem comes when rules are enforced on such a large scale that there is hardly any alternatives to choose from.

    So why continue the dance? Why make San Francisco go to court to defend their terrible ordinances? Why not just let local jurisdictions do what they want to do?

    If people see a benefit to living in such close quarters, and voluntarily decide to submit to a local government, so be it. I would prefer to let cities and towns be as draconian as they wish if it meant not allowing a bigger government to come down in support of them.

    When it comes to living in such close quarters, there are obviously going to be more rules in order to prevent clashes. A sovereign individual could accept that, and voluntarily suppress some of his own interests for whatever benefit he sees in living there.

    The option would always exist to go somewhere without other people, and therefore not have to compromise your way of life. This too would have benefits and detriments a sovereign individual could weigh.

    People who think and act sovereign will allow the real innovation to occur. Their lives are experiments in how to be free, and not accept arbitrary and unlimited authority from above. And the best part is, they are already operating, testing limits, and trying new styles of living.

    Tell me in the comments how sovereign you think it is possible to be in this day and age.

  • Senators Reach Bipartisan Deal To Keep Obamacare Subsidies, Send Healthcare Stocks Soaring

    It appears that President Trump's action last week has scared lawmakers, as taking the subsidy 'punchbowl' away from healthcare providers has been suddenly met with a bipartisan deal that Republican Senator Alexander says would maintain Obamacare safeguards for two years. Healthcare stocks are soaring back from the recent weakness to new record highs...

    As The Hill reports, Sens Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said Tuesday that he and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have reached a bipartisan deal to stabilize ObamaCare.

    The deal would extend key Obamacare payments to insurers for two years and give states more flexibility to change Obamacare rules. 

    Healthcare company shareholders are exuberant...

    GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee tells reporters that the next step will be for him and his negotiating partner — Democrat Patty Murray — to win enough support from colleagues to push it through Congress.

    Earlier, Alexander said in an interview that he was nearing agreement with Murray to continue federal payments to insurers for two more years. In exchange, Republicans want Congress to give states flexibility to avoid some coverage requirements under President Barack Obama's health care law.

    Trump halted the insurers' payments last week, but has said he wants a bipartisan deal to continue them temporarily.

    Trump spoke in the Rose Garden Tuesday at a joint press conference with the Greek prime minister, saying "Obamacare" is "everything but dead."

  • "The System Is Broken": Angry Baltimore Dad Lashes Out As 12th Grader Tests At 4th Grade Math Level

    One Baltimore resident and disable Army veteran, Victor Able, Sr., is fed up with the public education that his son, a 12th grader on the verge of graduation, received from City Neighbors Charter School after he recently tested at 4th grade level in math and 5th grade level in reading.  Able says his son was simply passed to the next grade year after year so that his school could continue to receive extra federal funding even though it failed to deliver results. After his complaints fell on deaf ears at city council and the mayor’s office, Able has now hired an attorney to address a system he says is "broken."  Per Fox News:

    According to the IEP report, the 12th grader reads at a 5th grade level; does math at a 4th grade level.

     

    “It’s not supposed to happen,” stated Able. “I don’t want him to fall out into the streets.”

     

    “They failed my son,” said Able. “Not just my son, a whole lot of kids. The system is broken. They need to stop and fix it.”

     

    Able told Project Baltimore he has hired an attorney and has a meeting with the school later this month.

    Confronted with the complaint, City Neighbors released the following generic statement which we can only assume roughly translates to 'we allow teachers the "autonomy" to consistently fail and never hold them to account because their union says we're not allowed to'...but that's a very rough translation.

    “We provide a unique environment that is designed to empower students, nurture a sense of belonging and gives teachers autonomy to establish a strong culture of learning. Our faculty and staff are dedicated professionals who work diligently to ensure that all students receive the best education and our best efforts.” - Bobbi Macdonald, City Neighbors Charter School

    City Neighbors

    Asked why he thinks his son has ended up where he is, Able said that Baltimore schools continue push kids into higher grades just to "have them out of the system."

    “It’s like no one is worried about them,” said Victor Able, Sr. “It’s just push them all along and have them out of the system. It’s just not right.”

     

    “I get so emotionally wrapped up in it, I just want to scream because how can this happen? How can this happen to him?” Able emotionally asked of his son, who he fears is being left behind.

     

    When asked if this keeps him up at night, Able replied, “More than you know. More than you know. They have just dropped the ball.”

    Of course, as we pointed out back in August (see: Baltimore School With Zero Students Proficient In Math Has Highest Graduation Rate), stories like the one above from Able are hardly unique in Baltimore as an investigative reporting initiative recently uncovered habitual bad behavior by teachers, including changing grades, intended to pass failing students through the system.  On student even graduated after missing school 100 days during his senior year and receiving a first quarter GPA of 0.00.

    Baltimore’s community is absolutely stunned after ‘Project Baltimore’, an investigative reporting initiative, which was launched in March 2017, by Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. asked this question:  How can a high school with zero students proficient in math, have one of the highest graduation rates in Baltimore City?

     

    Project Baltimore is investigating Northwood Appold Community Academy II, or NACA II, after teachers “contacted us saying grades are being changed so students can graduate”. The school is located in East Baltimore City, Maryland where nearly 1/3 of African Americans have zero net wealth.

     

    In a stunning interview from one of the masked educators who uncovered this possible great theft of education.. They said, “grade changing. Giving out diplomas to students that did not earn them.”

     

    Another teacher told Project Baltimore ,“if you are changing grades and you’re allowing people to walk, of course, that is what your numbers are going to look like.”

     

    We found six seniors who failed a required foreign-language class, yet every one graduated. Another student graduated after being absent or late to school more than 100 days during the year, and had a first quarter GPA of 0.000. 

    Of course, until our public education system decides to put the needs of students ahead of the needs of teachers' unions then none of this will change.

  • FBI Uncovered Russian Bribery Plot Before Obama Approved Uranium One Deal, Netting Clintons Millions

    As the mainstream media continues to obsess over $100,000 worth Facebook ads allegedly purchased by Russian spies in 2016 seeking to throw the presidential election, we're almost certain they'll ignore the much larger Russian bombshell dropped today in the form of newly released FBI documents that reveal for the very first time that the Obama administration was well aware of illegal bribery, extortion and money laundering schemes being conducted by the Russians to get a foothold in the atomic energy business in the U.S. before approving a deal that handed them 20% of America's uranium reserves...and resulted in a windfall of donations to the Clinton Foundation.

    As we pointed out last summer when Peter Schweizer first released his feature documentary Clinton Cash, the Uranium One deal, as approved by the Obama Administration, netted the Clintons and their Clinton Foundation millions of dollars in donations and 'speaking fees' from Uranium One shareholders and other Russian entities.

    Russian Purchase of US Uranium Assets in Return for $145mm in Contributions to the Clinton Foundation - Bill and Hillary Clinton assisted a Canadian financier, Frank Giustra, and his company, Uranium One, in the acquisition of uranium mining concessions in Kazakhstan and the United States.  Subsequently, the Russian government sought to purchase Uranium One but required approval from the Obama administration given the strategic importance of the uranium assets.  In the run-up to the approval of the deal by the State Department, nine shareholders of Uranium One just happened to make $145mm in donations to the Clinton Foundation.  Moreover, the New Yorker confirmed that Bill Clinton received $500,000 in speaking fees from a Russian investment bank, with ties to the Kremlin, around the same time.  Needless to say, the State Department approved the deal giving Russia ownership of 20% of U.S. uranium assets 

    Now, thanks to newly released affidavits from a case that landed one of the Russian co-conspirators, Vadim Mikerin, in jail, we learn that not only was the Obama administration aware the Russians' illegal acts in the U.S. but it may have also been fully aware that "Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow."  Per The Hill:

    Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.

     

    Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.

     

    They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.

    Clinton Cash

    Of course, when Schweizer's book first made Uranium One a political hot topic in 2015, both the Obama administration and the Clintons defended their actions and insisted there was no evidence that any Russians or donors engaged in wrongdoing and there was no national security reason for anyone to oppose the deal.  That said, we now know that the FBI was aware of wrongdoing going back to at least April 2009 even though the deal wasn't approved until October 2010.

    But FBI, Energy Department and court documents reviewed by The Hill show the FBI in fact had gathered substantial evidence well before the committee’s decision that Vadim Mikerin — the main Russian overseeing Putin’s nuclear expansion inside the United States — was engaged in wrongdoing starting in 2009.

     

    The first decision occurred in October 2010, when the State Department and government agencies on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States unanimously approved the partial sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to the Russian nuclear giant Rosatom, giving Moscow control of more than 20 percent of America’s uranium supply.

     

    In 2011, the administration gave approval for Rosatom’s Tenex subsidiary to sell commercial uranium to U.S. nuclear power plants in a partnership with the United States Enrichment Corp. Before then, Tenex had been limited to selling U.S. nuclear power plants reprocessed uranium recovered from dismantled Soviet nuclear weapons under the 1990s Megatons to Megawatts peace program.

    And guess who ran the FBI's investigation into this particular Russian plot?  As The Hill notes, the Mikerin probe began in 2009 under Robert Mueller, now the special counsel in charge of the Trump case, and ended in late 2015 under the controversial, former FBI Director James Comey who was relieved of his duties by President Trump.

    Ironically, when the DOJ finally arrested Mikerin in 2014, following 5 years of investigations in a massive international bribery and money-laundering scheme, rather than publicly celebrate, they seemingly swept it under the rug.  In fact, there was no public release concerning the case at all until a full year later when the DOJ announced a plea deal with Mikerin right before labor day.

    Bringing down a major Russian nuclear corruption scheme that had both compromised a sensitive uranium transportation asset inside the U.S. and facilitated international money laundering would seem a major feather in any law enforcement agency’s cap.

     

    But the Justice Department and FBI took little credit in 2014 when Mikerin, the Russian financier and the trucking firm executives were arrested and charged.

     

    The only public statement occurred an entire year later when the Justice Department put out a little-noticed press release in August 2015, just days before Labor Day. The release noted that the various defendants had reached plea deals.

     

    By that time, the criminal cases against Mikerin had been narrowed to a single charge of money laundering for a scheme that officials admitted stretched from 2004 to 2014. And though agents had evidence of criminal wrongdoing they collected since at least 2009, federal prosecutors only cited in the plea agreement a handful of transactions that occurred in 2011 and 2012, well after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States’s approval.

     

    The final court case also made no mention of any connection to the influence peddling conversations the FBI undercover informant witnessed about the Russian nuclear officials trying to ingratiate themselves with the Clintons even though agents had gathered documents showing the transmission of millions of dollars from Russia’s nuclear industry to an American entity that had provided assistance to Bill Clinton’s foundation, sources confirmed to The Hill.

    Perhaps this is what the "most transparent" President in history meant when he told Medvedev that he would have "more flexibility" after his 2012 election.

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNxEDomUlXw]

     

    Below are the affidavits released today: