Right Wing

The Grim Repo

What a surprise to see markets show little reaction to the negative repo (repurchase agreements) market in the past week. So much nonchalance and complacency remain in financial markets. It is as if there is this false belief that the authorities can keep the ship afloat with magical modern monetary theory. Not a chance. The tipping points in the financial markets are quantum levels bigger than any that Sir David Attenborough could conjure up in his wildest pessimistic dreams. If we want to cut carbon emissions, the coming economic slump will take care of that.

On average there are $1 trillion of overnight repo transactions every day, collateralised with US Treasuries. Yet many missed that the repo market seized up late last week. Medium-term repos surged from the normal band of around 2.00~2.25% to around 5.25% on Monday. Some repo rates hit 10% on Tuesday.

Essentially what this said was that a bank must have seen that it was worth borrowing at an 8% premium overnight in return for pledging ‘risk-free’ US Treasuries at 2%. In any event, it allowed that particular bank to survive for another day. Banks use the repo market to fund the loans they issue and finance trades that are executed. It is like an institutional pawn shop.

Looking at it another way, why weren’t other banks willing to lend and take an 8% risk-free trade? A look at the global bank’s share price action would suggest that these bedrock financial institutions that grease the wheels of the economy are not in good shape. We just pretend they are. We look at the short term performance but ignore the deterioration in underlying balance sheets. The Aussie banks are future crash test dummies given the huge leverage to mortgages. As CM has been saying for years, the Big 4 risk whole or part nationalisation.

This recent repo action is reminiscent of that before the GFC. The Fed stepped in with $75bn liquidity per day to stabilise markets by bringing rates into the target range. The question is whether the repo action is a short-term aberration or the start of a longer-term quasi QE programme which turns into a full-blown QE programme.

The easiest way to look at the repo market action is to say the private markets are struggling to be self-funding, requiring central bank intervention. Bank of America believes the Fed may have to buy upwards of $400bn of securities to back the repo market this year alone.  This is another canary in the coal mine.

CM wrote a long piece back in July 2016 titled, “Dire Straits for Central Bankers.” In that report, we described how the velocity of money in the system was continuing to drift. As of now, central banks have printed the equivalent of $140 trillion since 2008 but have only managed to eke out $20 trillion in GDP growth. That is $7 of debt only generates $1 of GDP equivalent.

This is the problem. Companies are struggling to grow. US aggregate after-tax profits have gone sideways since 2012. We have been lulled into a false sense of security by virtue of aggressive share buyback programs that flatter EPS, despite the anaemic trend.

Despite the asset bubbles in stocks, bonds and property, pension funds, especially public sector retirement schemes, are at risk of insolvency given the unrealistic return assumptions and nose bleed levels of unfunded liabilities in the trillions.

Also worthy of note is the daily turnover of the gold derivatives market which has hit $280bn in recent months, or 850x daily mine production. This will put a lot more pressure on the gold physical market and also to those ETFs that have promissory notes against gold, as opposed to having it properly allocated.

We live in a world of $300 trillion of debt, $1.5 quadrillion in derivatives – until this is expunged and we start again, the global economy will struggle. That will also require the “asset” values to be similarly wiped out. Equity markets will plunge 90-95% relative to gold. That suggests a 1929 style great depression. The debt bubble is too big. Central banks have lost control.

Buy Gold.

AfD smashes the lights out

It seems that even among the younger age groups the right wing AfD is the most preferred party even though EuropeElects flatly misled about the youth preferring the Greens in its tweet. Sadly linking the AfD with Germany’s checkered past on nationalist parties no longer washes with the kids who can see what is happening to their country with their own eyes.

In Saxony, AfD came in second with 28% (+18%) behind Merkel’s CDU 32% (-7%). In Brandenburg, alliance party SPD beat out AfD by 26.3% to 23.5%.

Regardless of the end result when 1/4 of the population is backing a party that came to life only 6 years ago, Merkel and Co must be wondering where it has all gone wrong. Good job she is stepping down because it would seem AfD is getting stronger.

Then shut up and start partying

Are these people serious? If we know there is nothing we can do to stop climate change, we should be partying like never before. Might as well finish on a high note than dwell in abject misery waiting til 2050 and finding out we’ve wasted 31 years on something that didn’t eventuate.

When will these nutters stop such hysteria?

The Woke will end up being the Joke – as usual

Do the marketing departments of these corporations honestly believe they will gain anything via this ill-considered moral preening? Do they have any real cohesive cognitive plan outside of vacuous virtue signalling to appeal to an existing or potential client base that has already moved on?

What is the bet had Alan Jones told PM Scott Morrison to shove a sock down President Trump’s throat that they would have said absolutely ZIP. Maybe they’d up the spend? The double standard is guaranteed. What it really says is that the marketing teams are pandering to their bigger client – trying to appear relevant to their own management team. Such gutless and spineless actions speak volumes of the utter uselessness of marketing teams in general.

Before dozens of woke corporations pulled their adverts from the top-ranked radio jockey, did they ponder for one second that their clientele who listen to him probably haven’t collapsed into an inconsolable heap? What is more, they couldn’t care less what Anytime Fitness, Chemist Warehouse or Big W think.

It doesn’t take much imagination to work out the utter brain dead groupthink in these marketing meeting rooms (echo chambers) of corporate Australia as they seek to self-censor to justify their glaringly redundant roles. No rocket science is required. Big W could have had a special campaign on socks and BBQ charcoal. When did Australia lose its sense of humour? Especially at the expense of our neighbours across the ditch. It is not to condone Jones’ remarks but it is only because NZ PM Jacinda Ardern is the high priestess of woke causes that these corporates have buckled.

If the decision to advertise on Jones’ program was made because of his reach and ideally the “right” demographic for their products, will they stand to gain anything from this? Haven’t they studied Gillette’s latest 180-degree flip on trying to win back customers they have probably lost for good in that ridiculous self-inflicted $8bn brand destruction?

The Jones’ clientele is likely to remain exactly the same. The ratings will unlikely budge a jot. The activists moaning to have ads pulled are probably the least likely to use their products and services in any case.

For instance, why would anyone think that Commonwealth Bank (CBA), which has been found seriously wanting in the ethics department after the Royal Commission, has any leg to stand on over Jones’ remarks? CBA is still pondering what to do. Do they follow the herd (proving marketing departments aren’t warranted) or twist 2GB’s arm to get some bonus slots for showing loyalty?

Here’s an idea. Why don’t CBA and others leave the moral grandstanding to their customers? When people withdraw cash at an ATM it is highly unlikely they’re going to punish them by closing their accounts. Why not keep tabs on the number of complaints from its 10m customers and see if they number more than 0.000001% of the total. Don’t marketing departments use data? Clearly not.

So watch this space. Corporate boardrooms might think their marketing teams walk on water but if they opened their eyes for a moment would soon find their utter lack of creativity and zero value add as clear as crystal. Or maybe they’re just as out of touch to fall for the Yes, Minister PowerPoint presentation.

Look at the bullying by groups such as Mad Fucking Witches. Can corporates take activists seriously with names like that? How weak are they to fold when words like “complicit” are thrown at them. Once again marketing departments should study data, not fear standing up for themselves.

The double standards of companies like Koala Mattresses, which is happy to have the potty-mouthed Clementine Ford as a brand ambassador (who has a long track record of tweeting profanity, misandry and killing all men) but preach sanctimonious tripe over pulling advertising from Alan Jones’ program.

Make no mistake. The woke are already looking like the bigger joke. These self-appointed enforcers of a moral points system President Xi might approve of have even ignored Jones’ unconditional apology for his remarks. Tells you exactly what ideology is being preached inside so many Australia’s companies. It is hardly the stuff that will rescue them in a slowdown. The ones which have cut Jones have signalled why they don’t make good investments. Get woke. Go broke.

NB Mad Fucking Witches deleted this post because as always with the radical left the only free speech that matters is their own.

Mental Illness = Gun Violence?

As ever, the mainstream media are sensationalizing “mental health” and the connection to gun massacres. Let’s not forget that mental health can be categorized in a broad variety of ways – from mild anxiety, ADHD to PTSD and full blown bi-polar or schizophrenia. The mainstream media would have us believe that Trump wants the keys to the gun cabinet handed over to certified crackpots to go on white supremacist fueled mass rampages. It is easy to say that those who commit these atrocities must be mad. How easy is it to fall for that assumption? Yet the stats say otherwise.

First, what is this bill that has been repealed by Trump? Why is the media making such clickbait hyperventilating news of something that was already enacted c.2 years ago?

The previous Obama bill allowed gun retailers to get access to “mental health” related social security benefits paid to potential buyers. There are nine categories of mental disorders covered in the Social Security Blue Book. These include:

Affective disorders

Anxiety Disorders

Autism and related disorders

Mental retardation

Organic Mental Disorders

Personality disorders

Schizophrenia, paranoia, and psychotic disorders

Somatoform disorders

Substance addiction

The idea is that if one had claustrophobia or similar mild anxiety, it would be unlikely to be a factor in causing someone to shoot up a Walmart. In order to get mental health disability checks, the applicant must prove compliance to prescribed medication and that they seek regular treatment from professionals. Why do we automatically assume that mental health status is a direct trigger to mass murder? Simply because it is easy to categorize these events to unhinged crazies and presume that there was ‘illness’ involved.

A study conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) in America showed,

Thirty-four subjects, acting alone or in pairs, committed 27 mass murders between 1958 and 1999. The sample consisted of males with a median age of 17. 70% were described as a loner. 61.5% had problems with substance abuse. 48% had preoccupations with weapons. 43.5% had been victims of bullying. Although 23% had a documented psychiatric history, only 6% were judged to have been psychotic at the time of the mass murder. Depressive symptoms and historical antisocial behaviors were predominant. There was a precipitating event in most cases–usually a perceived failure in love or school–and most subjects made threatening statements regarding the mass murder to third parties. The majority of the sample clustered into three types: the family annihilator, the classroom avenger, and the criminal opportunist.”

Recall Cuban Parkland, Florida student Emma Gonzalez admitted she’d bullied the shooter Nikolas Cruz. It doesn’t excuse his actions. Nor hers.

Take cyber bullying stats from the Association of Psychological Science in the US. In 2015 more than 16,000 young people were absent from school daily because of bullying. 83% of young people say cyber bullying has a negative impact on their self-esteem. 30% of young people have gone on to self-harm as a result of cyberbullying. 10% of young people have attempted to commit suicide as a result of cyberbullying.

So the stats tell us in 3 out of 4 cases, mental illness was not the culprit in mass shootings. A violent/bullying, substance abuse based environment was.

As mentioned in the previous post, how is it we can find out about the history of shooters within hours of the terror? Surely the powers at the FBI, NSA etc can monitor the traffic of hate – death lists, death threats etc and use that as the basis of background checks rather than rely on whether someone received mental health related disability cheques? Perhaps someone who is fully healed from a mental illness as a child poses no threat if wanting to hunt or fire at a supervised gun range. Perhaps that individual wants to be a security guard?

Dr Jeffrey Swanson, a professor in psychiatry and behavioral science at the Duke University School of Medicine believes that in the event of unlawful use of a firearm by those with mental illness, 95% likely to turn the weapon on themselves than commit homicide.

He also believes that those who are violent or been charged with assault make far better predictors of homicidal behavior than the outcome of a mental health diagnosis.

In Connecticut, almost 23,300 people were diagnosed with a history of serious mental illness. 7% were disqualified from owning a gun because of that mental record. 35% were banned based on a disqualifying criminal record that wasn’t necessarily linked to the mental illness.

Dr. Swanson closed with,

We need to think of violence itself as a communicable disease. We have kids growing up exposed to terrible trauma. We did a study some years ago, looking at [violence risk] among people with serious mental illness. The three risk factors we found were most important: first, a history of violent victimization early in life, second, substance abuse, and the third is exposure to violence in the environment around you. People who had none of those risk factors ― even with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia ― had very low rates of violent behavior…Abuse, violence in the environment around you ― those are the kinds of things you’re not going to solve by having someone take a mood stabilizer.”

Sadly such is the state of lazy journalism that ‘respected media outlets’ simply infer that those that commit mass murder are simply head cases and giving them access to guns will somehow create a bigger problem. That’s how the mainstream media is portraying a 2-yr old bill to whip up more misunderstanding.

Political shots fired. Media misses the target as usual

Never put it past the media or the political class to maximize tragedy for their own personal gain. It is truly sick. Beto O’Rourke blamed the shootings in El Paso and Dayton to Trump’s hatred being on a par with the Third Reich. Seriously? Congresswoman & ‘The Squad” member Rashid Tlaib lashed out at Ivanka Trump for expressing sorrow for the attacks by making attacks on her father’s “hate agenda and racism“, which is a touch ironic coming from an anti-Semite and a minority that has somehow overcome this imaginary racism and hatred to be elected to represent America on a national level. Do Trump’s “thoughts and prayers” solve anything? No.

Sadly even if Trump were to ban guns, the liberal left would give him zero credit for it. So what does he stand to gain? That isn’t an excuse to do nothing either. How is that within several hours of these shootings we have full dossiers on the perpetrators – political affiliation, tweets of racist rhetoric and photos from their childhood? How quickly acquaintances of perpetrators all knew these people were capable of massacres…

One shooter had tweeted support for Trump. The other was a registered Democrat. What does this actually prove? Do all 63m Trump voters and all 66m odd Hillary Clinton voters to a man and woman share a certain slice of DNA with these abhorrent individuals? Does skin colour actually matter? To shoot up a Walmart or other public area requires a special kind of lunacy. These two represent 0.00000154% of those voters in the 2016 election.

If so much information can be garnered within such a short time, why don’t regulators clamp down on checks so the system has a higher chance of catching potential loonies?

Unfortunately these shootings will be forgotten in a few weeks as per usual and Americans will get on with their daily lives. This is nothing but a political football. The reality is that the people most affected (the murdered & their families) are ranked last as debate gets stifled by politicians looking to maximize exposure from the tragedy. Remember you’re a racist, bigoted Nazi if you want to protect 2A. Not a very good starting point to solve a problem.

Yet the media can’t move away from the “if it bleeds it leads” narrative. It jumps on the finger pointing blame game to recover decimated rankings.

Yet what of the stats of gun crime in America?

There are 50,000 (mostly individual) gun stores in the US. 95% of firearm related murders are committed with handguns. Statistically America would be better off banning sales of pistols rather than AR-15s. Say automatic rifles are banned from today. What will change? Handgun murders will move closer to 100%. Good luck buying back 300m+ guns in America.

According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, murders in US appear to be very concentrated: 54% of US counties (representing 11% of the population) in 2014 had zero murders, 2% of counties made up 51% of the murders, ironically in states with the strictest gun controls – Illinois, NY and California.

Yet America has had decades of periods where governments had majorities in both houses and nothing was done on gun control. We’ve experienced Orlando, Las Vegas, Sandy Hook, Columbine, Parkland, Fort Hood, El Paso, Dayton, San Bernardino, Virginia Tech, Geneva County, Aurora…the list goes on.

Moves by sporting goods stores like Dick’s to ban AR sales and raise the age limit to 21yo looked sensible from the outside. However they had multiple massacres over decades to make that call. The current CEO has been in charge since 1984. Why the u-turn in his conscience? Indeed the company did temporarily suspend sales of ARs after Sandy Hook in 2012 but kept retailing them at the company’s Field & Stream outlets before selling them again at Dick’s. Inconsistent.

Recall the Parkland, Florida school shooting. At the time media outlets went all guns blazing on the National Rifle Association (NRA), CM warned that it most likely would cause a knee jerk reaction in the opposite direction. We speculated that the hike in membership fee likely reflected a surge in members. As tragic as the Parkland massacre was, CM said that ‘shaming’ NRA members en masse would only make them dig in deeper. As it turns out searches for NRA membership surged 4900% immediately after the tragedy. People are sick and tired of being bullied into feeling guilty about things they haven’t caused.

39,773 died from gun related death in America in 2018. The highest number in 20 years. Statistically speaking ‘massacres’ accounted for only 106 deaths in 2018 or 0.27% of the total. Yet media attention focuses on it.

To put it into perspective the total number of overdose deaths involving heroin from 2002 to 2015 jumped 6.2-fold in the US. Automobiles killed around 32,000 people last year or a little over 2x that of heroin overdoses. When adding non-methadone opioids (illicit fentanyl) overdose that number surged to 20,000, a 33% YoY jump on 2014 and 5.9x 2002. Why is it happening? The problem for many prescription painkiller users is that once their bottle ends, the addiction doesn’t stop meaning many switch to heroin to get the same ‘opioid’ hit.

We armchair politicians can sit back and shake our heads at America. Yet until there is a will of the people to change the laws, expect more massacres to happen. Name an American politician that is willing to repeal 2A as a cornerstone election campaign policy. There is your answer. Will the Democrat nominees raise their hands for the repeal of 2A? Safer to raise hands at free healthcare for illegal immigrants. 2A is toxic to touch. Sadly innocent people are dying for no reason.

Jacinda’s popularity slides

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NZ PM Jacinda Ardern’s popularity has slid from 51% at the time of the Christchurch terror attack to 41% today according to a TVNZ Colmar Brunton poll. The National Party remains more popular than Ardern’s Labour Party. Ardern remains preferred PM. Her counterpart across the ditch, PM Scott Morrison is now polling at 51%, up 5 points.

Lisa Wilkinson, perhaps Jacinda ought to be getting some tips from ScoMo? Afterall 570,000 Kiwis living in Australia is a far cry from the 39,000 Aussies living in NZ. Perhaps they know something? By the Wellness Budget is less generous per capita than Australia.