America

Warned to be mild

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Steppenwolf coined the “born to be wild” moniker which became synonymous with Harley-Davidson. Harley is all about conspicuous consumption. It has generally been a good indicator of discretionary income. Harley is not so much about transport but lifestyle. Harley-Davidson’s sales fell 9.3% in the U.S. and 6.7% globally in Q2 2017, ending June 25th. Harley also stated it had lost ground in the big-bike market (601cc and above), dropping from 49.5% market share to 48.5%. Matt Levatich, President and CEO, Harley-Davidson. “Given U.S. industry challenges in the second quarter and the importance of the supply and demand balance for our premium brand, we are lowering our full-year shipment and margin guidance.” Q3 shipments are expected to be down c.20% (39,000-44,000 units).

Harley-Davidson sold 262,221 motorcycles last year and forecast a flat market this year but has downgraded those numbers to a forecast of 241,000 to 246,000 units (-7~8%). US shipments were well below expectations in the US.

Harley-Davidson is suffering from divine franchise syndrome. It has failed to modernize its line up until very recently. While it has plans to put 2mn new bikers on the road over the next 10 years, its competitors do not seem to be suffering with BMW, KTM and Triumph hitting new shipment records. The European makes have much broader product line-ups which adds to the rumours that Harley may wish to bid for Italian sportsbike maker Ducati from Audi to plug the segment gaps in its line up. Harley has had a failed attempt in the sports category via Buell but the Italian maker brings a proper platform to the party vs an in-house employee wanting to rev up Harley products out of a barn.

 

3 maps which explain a lot

IMG_0743The chart above shows the average % change in housing prices in the US by county today vs that in 2000 according to a Harvard study. The following maps show the results of the 2008 and 2016 election by county. Could this be yet another basic concept showing why the US voted the way they did last election?

2008 – a hope for change

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2016 – the last 8 years didn’t help – time to vote for wholesale change

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Feel free to draw your own conclusions. These three maps to me voice the disgruntled who remain destitute after all this time.

Group think alive and kicking

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It is hard not to laugh at the headlines in media these days. Group think pervades. The headline that 19/20 nations agree by definition must mean the 1/20 (no guessing who) is dead wrong. Sort of like one kid answering the question incorrectly to a teacher and being ridiculed by the rest of the class). This is sadly the kind of mentality which carries far more risk. Consensus is bunk. Consensus is basically the euphemism for complacency. No matter how many scandals break about homogenized temp data (even from government bodies (i.e. IPCC & NOAA to name two), deliberate concocting of data which serve a purpose or confirmation that 98% of the models using this bogus data have overestimated ‘warming’. The point is that so deeply entrenched are 19 nations in group think that they are basically falling into cognitive dissonance. That is to say they only look for the confirmation bias rather than truly seek alternative theories which might hold merit.

If one objectively reads the Paris Climate Accord the US is spot on to refuse chipping in $3bn to a pot where the three other largest polluters have openly confessed they are doing   next to nothing to combat climate change. Sure rosy press releases push the idea that they’re fully on the climate crusade bus but reality is China has no plans to actively reduce CO2 emissions til at least 2030. Do people honestly believe Premier Xi will guarantee he’ll sacrifice Chinese economic prosperity for climate abatement? President Putin? PM Modi? Will they risk putting a bullet in the brain of the economy to save the planet? Not a chance.

The French plans to ban the sale of petrol/diesel cars after 2040 is also laughable. If you want to bury relatively technology starved French automakers like PSA Peugeot-Citroen. 23 years isn’t much of a lead time in the auto industry if one is decades behind to catch up. Will the grid be able to handle the 2mn new cars France sells annually? Will anyone do the math on the toxic gunk that goes into a Li-ion battery? Will special provisions be given to emergency services which require combustion engines to power the heat exchangers that help life saving equipment function?

No. But think of it the other way. How smart is Trump to make the rest of the world do all the hard yards  at no penalty to the US? That is the art of the deal.

Poles apart

Once again how the social media feeds lit up with the supposed snubbing of President Trump by the Polish First Lady. If people took five seconds to come out of the sandpit and  objectively analyze her actions they’d see without deliberate video editing she clearly shook his hand immediately after she shook FLOTUS’s hand. It is pretty easy to work out why so many click bait media organizations are floundering. There is no intelligence or effort to be objective. Sadly one is forced to doubt almost every meme of this kind. It makes tabloids look like professorial theses by comparison. Even the Polish PM came out tweeting it was “FAKE NEWS”

Earlier in the week media were trying to claim he got lost on the way to his limousine when he alighted Air Force 1 as if to claim he was suffering from a mental disease. No doubt trying to add some credibility to the Democrats trying to seek his removal for a lack of mental faculty.

He is without doubt unconventional, often unstatesmanlike, at times shows a lack grace/eloquence and narcissistic (his round table where cabinet members professed their love for him was pretty nauseating) but reading his speech (even if composed by his speech writer – which president doesn’t?) in Warsaw, Trump spoke of what many of today’s apologist leaders refuse to. He believes in the idea that it is totally acceptable to defend your own values and culture. That people shouldn’t be pilloried for feeling patriotic. This week we’ve seen Trudeau offer a state apology and $10.5mn compo payment to a convicted terrorist.  Several months ago Canadian Bill M-103 was passed in such a way that free speech is gagged toward a specific minority. Australia tinkers at the edges of the draconian 18C and still bothers to invest in the AHRC which has shown itself to be an absolute waste of time, resources and worst of all a wrecker of the reputations of innocents. Germany arrested a good samaratin that released a video showing migrant violence toward an innocent victim on grounds of breaching privacy laws and the women of Cologne were advised to wear less revealing clothing to avoid being pestered. We could go on for ages. Is this defending culture? Thinking we gain acceptance by denying our own identity? I applaud Trump for making valid points about pride in one’s nation, something the gritty Poles know all too well.

There are many things not to like superficially about POTUS but when it comes to asking harsh questions about a fair share of funding for NATO or the UN, citing legitimate reasons for ditching the Paris Climate Accord or poking China to start dealing with its geopolitical chess piece in North Korea, he is speaking truths his predecessor would never broach. Sure he has much work to do at home but the world can’t help but notice the new sheriff in town on the global stage and boy do we need strength in this department after eight hollow years where countries like China and Russia ran amuck.

Yet when all is said and told, the mainstream media remains too busy trying to create stories/scandals with concocted outcomes by editing out the facts to create ‘ gotcha’ scoops which achieves their goals of personal hatred. Fake news? That term is getting overused. The fake part may be right but the news part isn’t.

Is there any dignity at CNN?

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Is CNN channeling the Gestapo? Threatening to release the name of an individual who made fun of the network’s own self inflicted stupidity. While it seems ratings haven’t suffered so badly post the Russiagate saga, surely the “we reserve the right to publish his identity” is an unbridled threat. How does taking down a video that has gone viral and been shared eliminate the problem? All that trying to ban soemthing does is exacerbate the problem.

One has to wonder whether the person that posted the video lampooning the network is “truly remorseful” or whether he was intimidated under a spotlight, pumped full of sodium Pentothal while staring at CNN’s legal goons in tight leather gloves. Talk about drawing bad attention to itself.

Perhaps if CNN really wanted to avoid such ridicule, it might decide to focus on quality journalism not stir up a hornet’s nest of lies for ratings. Doesn’t the satisfaction of winning from hard work and dedication trump free riding? Like drug cheats in sport perhaps if one lies to oneself enough they are every bit the winner as those legitimate athletes.

There can be no sympathy for a network that gets pilloried for engaging in what amounts to doxxing individuals. The Trump video in its initial form has been around for ages yet no complaints were had because everyone knows WWF is stage cast. The majority of those that saw the CNN spoof version would see it for what it is – ridicule.

For CNN to turn it into a “inciting violence against journalists” is plain nonsense. Should Trump have sent it on Twitter? No. Was it presidential? No. Was CNN in the wrong for inventing stories to try to remove him? Yes. Are journalists’ lives in danger from the President when they line up at a White House press conference? No.

As the ancient Chinese proverb states, “before setting out on revenge, first dig two graves.”

How badly has CNN suffered since Russiagate fake news?

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Reality is that CNN set a ratings record In Q2 2017: It had its most-watched second quarter in network history across the 6 a.m. – 6 a.m stat. The network also delivered its best Q2 performance in the 25-54 demographic since 2003, Russiagate was working for rankings as the Q2 2016 comparables were strong on the back of pre presidential election town halls.

Despite these records CNN was the #3 cable news network for Q2 behind Fox (1.465mn) and MSNBC (886k) during the day. That said, CNN still managed to beat MSNBC in the total day demographic for the 13th consecutive quarter.

CNN more than doubled MSNBC in the 25-54 demographic and ranked No. 2 in total viewers behind FNC.

CNN produced a 10% jump in total prime time viewers and 19% lift in the key 25-54 age bracket vs Q2 2016. Total day was even stronger, 25% hike in total viewers and 39% among 25-54s.

Below are CNN’s Q2 2017average live-plus-same-day stats according to Nielsen:

Prime time (Mon-Sun): 1,055,000 total viewers & 363,000 (25-54)
Total Day (Mon-Sun): 788,000 total viewers  & 262,000 (25-54)

As of June 27 post the “nothing burger” the following was seen

Prime time (Mon-Sun): 970,000 (-8.1%) total viewers & 363,000 (25-54) (-1.9%)
Total Day (Mon-Sun): 726,000 (-7.9%) total viewers & 236,000 (25-54) (-10.0%)

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As of June 29 the stats were

Prime time (Mon-Sun): 1.239mn (+13.2%) total viewers & 424,000 (25-54) (+16.8%)
Total Day (Mon-Sun): 818,000 (+3.8%) total viewers & 254,000 (25-54) (-3.1%).

While a few days do not a trend make it is interesting to see that viewership hasn’t collapsed since the open resignations of CNN staff who openly admitted they had made up a lot of the Russiagate story.

Perhaps it runs deeper. If you want to get a daily fix of Trump-hating on TV that isn’t nearly enough in WaPo or NYTimes print form then CNN ir MSNBC is still a viable place to feed it. Perhaps many of their viewers don’t actually want to hear the truth. Only the stuff that feeds their Trump derangement syndrome. It is hard to conclude a different answer when the network openly admits it is spewing lies to get ratings. Seems to be a strategy that is working.

It only takes one to prove me wrong

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“No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.” – Einstein

Einstein meant that all the consensus in the world won’t mean he’s correct. It only takes one person to prove him wrong. It wasn’t surprising to see social media share Stephen Hawking’s prognosis on Trump leaving the Paris Climate Accord. More tellingly most overlooked the zany assumptions made in Hawking’s comments (250 degrees C temps and climate like Venus) and focused on who he was attacking. Seriously do you honestly believe that the earth’s temperatures will reach that if you relied on your own logic on this planet?As the coldest temperature in 110 years was recorded in rural NSW Australia overnight no one said boo. Had it been the hottest temperature in 110 years the media would be spewing global warming stories all week.

Last week we had former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres warn that the next three years will be crucial to stopping the worst effects of global warming. Let’s not forget that climate change is so critical to Figueres that she thinks gender inequality should be tackled at the same time and she openly discussed discrimination against males when it came to hiring in her department. Still talking of the climate alarmist letter she co-signed warning of catastrophe why don’t they analyze the “ground breaking” Paris Climate Accord they all laud when those responsible for 75% of the world’s CO2 emissions aren’t taking urgent action? China won’t peak out on CO2 until 2030, India has dozens of coal fired power on the drawing board over coming decades and Russia’s 4-page commitment is worthless. “Ah yes but they are signatories!” I heard many chant in response to the Paris Climate Accord. They might as well have signed a whiteboard in a non marking pen for what it is truly worth.

The Paris Climate Accord is essentially a system which makes as much sense as you quitting smoking on my behalf. How do I benefit exactly? Paying for air I can’t breathe. The Paris Climate Accord is nothing but a mechanism for wealth distribution controlled by a bloated UN which wishes to add more to its ridiculous budget and offices despite claims it is slimming down!

“The latest U.N. regular budget, while superficially smaller than the previous budget, made no fundamental programmatic or structural adjustments—e.g., reducing permanent staff, freezing or reducing salaries and other benefits, and permanently eliminating a significant number of mandates, programs, or other activities—that would lower the baseline for future U.N. budget negotiations.[10] Despite the Secretary-General’s proposal to eliminate 44 permanent posts, the 2012–2013 budget actually increased the number of permanent posts by more than a score compared with the previous budget. The failure to arrest growth in U.N. employment, salaries, and benefits is especially problematic because personnel costs account for 74 percent of U.N. spending according to the U.N.’s Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).[11] Without a significant reduction in the number of permanent U.N. posts or a significant reduction in staff compensation and related costs, real and lasting reductions in the U.N. regular budget will remain out of reach.”

However what did Hawking say that makes his words credible? That is like saying Fed Chair Janet Yellen should be believed for saying we won’t see another financial crisis in our lifetimes. Let’s just accept it because many don’t know better. I haven’t seen the most rabid climate alarmists make a 250 degree claim. 98% of climate models to date have drastically over-predicted the extent of warming. The UNIPCC has been embroiled in so many scandals, climb downs and corrections that it can’t be relied on as a credible body. Many of the lead authors in the UN Climate bible have little experience in their fields and an investigation showed that  gender and minority status were given priority over ability in the investigative teams on each chapter. This is openly admitted by the UNIPCC as Donna La Framboise’s Delinquent Teenager’ highlighted,

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So if an internal survey that has been written up by the IPCC itself criticizing the process how can anyone put any validity in the argument?

Ahh but NOAA has told us that warming is getting worse. How could NASA lie? Oh the same NOAA that was subpoenaed after refusing to turn over emails related to an internal whistleblower who claimed the data had been homogenized (aka manipulated).

As argued many times before, human consumption patterns do not reflect the fear. SUV sales continue to grow as a % of sales, air travel is predicted to double by 2030 and sales of Tesla’s in HK or Norway fall off a cliff if generous tax incentives aren’t given to the wealthy to subsidize their virtue signaling.  This isn’t to doubt Hawking’s intelligence but Yellen, Greenspan, Bernanke, Kuroda and Draghi aren’t dummies either but it doesn’t preclude them from making mistakes and being wrong.

Oh, and for those that believe Hawking’s claims of rising sea levels the price of beachfront properties in a Sydney is preposterously high and even in Mauritius homes prices are still buoyant. Actions not words. Then we can always believe the immortal words of Australia’s former Climate Commissioner Tim Flannery who warned us that the waves would lap the 8th story of apartment blocks on the coast. He lives in a waterfront property himself. Actions not words.

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