Implode-Explode Heavy Industries news feed http://implode-explode.com/ Tracking the many faces of the global credit implosion. en-us iehi-feed-63412 Fri, 15 Dec 2017 18:41:01 GMT Retail Sales: Census Bureau Data May Be Mostly A Fairy-Tale http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-15_RetailSalesCensusBureauDataMayBeMostlyAFairyTale.html According to the [Census Bureau] propaganda, over 30% of the data used in the monthly estimate is a guess... The beauty of this is that the CB has leeway to report a fictitious number for the advance estimate and then revise the original estimate when it reworks its numbers in the annual "benchmark revision" of the data

...

My point here is that the headline report is a fairytale.  Furthermore, the headline report is based on nominal numbers.  In this case, gasoline sales -- for which data for the advance estimate is available -- were responsible for one-third of the 0.8% headline increase from October.  This increase is largely attributable to gasoline price inflation.  In truth, the actual "unit" volume of sales in November vs. October is largely a mystery.  Yes, online sales have been strong, but online sales represent less than 10% of total retail sales.

]]>
iehi-feed-63409 Fri, 15 Dec 2017 15:39:22 GMT Latest GOP tax bill ups benefits for ultra-wealthy for 3rd time http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-15_LatestGOPtaxbillupsbenefitsforultrawealthyfor3rdtime.html Just dropping the top individual tax bracket to 37% from the 38.5% originally proposed by the Senate can lead to huge savings for ultra-wealthy Americans... Those earning $10 million a year would save an estimated $361,435 compared to the current tax system. That translates to nearly $140,000 more in savings under the conference committee's version compared to the Senate's version. 

Those earning $1 million would also save more under the conference committee's version. Those earning $300,000 to $500,000 would not see a change between the Senate and conference committee's plans since their incomes do not hit the top bracket.

...

Most Americans will see a slight increase in their take-home pay under the current proposals. But all of that may change as many provisions are set to expire. Some analysts have said that nearly half of Americans would see a tax increase if that happens.

Exactly how much taxpayers will save if Republicans succeed in overhauling the US tax code will depend on many factors. And as it stands now, a final bill has still not been revealed.

]]>
iehi-feed-63407 Thu, 14 Dec 2017 23:01:43 GMT The Trump-Russia Probe Is About to Get Uglier (OBSTRUCTION, FINANCIAL FRAUD AND LAUNDERING, OH MY!) http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-14_TheTrumpRussiaProbeIsAbouttoGetUglierOBSTRUCTIONFINANCIALFRAUDAN.html ...keeping in mind an important reminder from Bill Ruckelshaus, a former acting FBI director who was a hero of Watergate when he quit Nixon's Justice Department in 1973 rather than following an order to impede the investigation of that landmark case. What's publicly known about inquiries like this one, he told me in June, is just a little of what's actually happening.

There is, for example, evidence that Mueller has expanded his investigation to look at financial deals involving Trump family interests.

Robert Anderson, a top counterintelligence and cybersecurity aide to Mueller when the latter was FBI director from 2001 to 2013, wrote in Time last month that Mueller "appears to have uncovered details of a far-reaching Russian political-influence campaign." Anderson predicted that the conspiracy would prove to involve wire fraud, mail fraud and moving money around illicitly between countries. He said more informants are likely to emerge, and declared, "When the people who may be cooperating with the investigation start consensually recording conversations, it's all over."

The issue of whether a sitting president can be indicted is unsettled. Those who know Mueller believe that he's less likely to pursue a prosecution than to send Trump's case to Congress to consider impeachment.''

]]>
iehi-feed-63405 Thu, 14 Dec 2017 21:49:30 GMT Glut of New Manhattan Luxury Apartments Masks Rent Decline http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-14_GlutofNewManhattanLuxuryApartmentsMasksRentDecline.html Rent-free months, price cuts, gift cards, gym memberships. Manhattan's apartment landlords have been offering all sorts of enticements month after month, hoping to lure renters to their units amid a surge of new supply.

So why hasn't the median rent declined? Blame all those fancy units in just-built towers with swimming pools and yoga rooms, where rents are so far above the rest of the market that they're keeping the overall rate elevated -- even when the properties lease at a discount.

]]>
iehi-feed-63404 Thu, 14 Dec 2017 20:06:38 GMT Disney Will Rue Its Merger With Fox http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-14_DisneyWillRueItsMergerWithFox.html ``I hate to be the skunk at the garden party, but Iger better hope this deal isn't his legacy. If it is, I fear he'll be remembered as this decade's Gerald Levin, the former chief executive of Time Warner who merged his company in 2000 with the wrong partner (AOL) at the wrong time (two months before the internet bubble burst), and orchestrated one of the worst deals in history.  

...

"Buying Fox and Sky cements Disney in the past," says BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield, "because it adds networks that are tied to the legacy ecosystem." For instance, one of Disney's tried-and-true strategies has been to sell all of its networks--ESPN, ABC and Disney--as a package in negotiating with cable distributors... But over the long haul, as subscribers continue to abandon cable TV, having all those networks is more likely to become an albatross.

...

[Further,] Disney and Fox together now control 40 percent of the movie business, and one has to wonder whether the Justice Department's antitrust department will insist that the companies divest some of their movie assets to reduce their power over the theaters. Given the government's current opposition to the proposed AT&T-Time Warner merger, I suspect that the answer is yes. Which of course would negate the point of the deal, at least in terms of the movie business.

...

As for Hulu, it is unclear what Disney would be able to do with it without the consent of Comcast, which will still own 30 percent of the service. And in any case, it is hard to envision what it might do with Hulu that would in any way harm Netflix... if Iger truly were looking to the future, the last thing he'd be spending Disney's money on would be Fox. Wrong deal, wrong time.

]]>
iehi-feed-63403 Thu, 14 Dec 2017 19:59:34 GMT Famed Short-Seller Jim Chanos Says Tesla Headed for ‘Brick Wall' http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-14_FamedShortSellerJimChanosSaysTeslaHeadedforBrickWall.html Chanos has been public about his short position in Tesla Inc. for more than a year. Last September, when Tesla was merging with SolarCity Corp., he called Elon Musk's automaker a "walking insolvency." He recently reiterated the critique on Bloomberg Television, describing Tesla as "structurally unprofitable" with a "way too leveraged" capital structure. Chanos famously bet early that Enron Corp. would fail and was later proven right.

Chanos warned Wednesday that the spate of executive departures at Tesla this year is reminiscent of Enron before its fall. He predicted Musk will even depart in the coming years for another of his companies, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said earlier this month he could envision Tesla merging with SpaceX as the rocket company becomes a more time-consuming focus for Musk.

]]>
iehi-feed-63402 Thu, 14 Dec 2017 19:29:15 GMT Bitcoin Is Greener Than Its Critics Think http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-14_BitcoinIsGreenerThanItsCriticsThink.html iehi-feed-63400 Thu, 14 Dec 2017 01:47:02 GMT Here Come the Bogus Bitcoin Scare Tactics http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-13_HereCometheBogusBitcoinScareTactics.html iehi-feed-63398 Wed, 13 Dec 2017 23:31:21 GMT ‘Buy the Dip' Has Never Been More Popular in U.S. Stocks http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-13_BuytheDipHasNeverBeenMorePopularinUSStocks.html "Investors no longer fear shocks but love them," a team led by global equity derivatives researcher Nitin Saksena wrote in a note Tuesday. "Since 2013, central banks have stepped in (or communicated that they may step in) to protect markets, leaving investors confident enough to ‘buy-the-dip.'"

Intraday realized volatility for the S&P 500 Index relative to the realized volatility in the open-close ratio for the benchmark gauge has soared to record highs this year, emblematic of an environment in which buying the dip has become gospel for traders, according to the bank's analysis of price action going back to 2003. This ratio is also above the 90th percentile for the Euro Stoxx 50 Index and Nikkei 225.

But as is obvious to All Thinking People(tm), only the Bitcoin market is "a bubble".

]]>
iehi-feed-63396 Wed, 13 Dec 2017 22:14:55 GMT The S&P 2700 By Christmas, Maybe -- But Fed Still Not Draining Balance Sheet! http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-13_TheSP2700ByChristmasMaybeButFedStillNotDrainingBalanceSheet.html iehi-feed-63394 Wed, 13 Dec 2017 05:27:26 GMT European Parliament Report Accuses Wilbur Ross of Insider Trading http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-13_EuropeanParliamentReportAccusesWilburRossofInsiderTrading.html Earlier this year, Luke Ming Flanagan, an Irish politician and member of the European Parliament, the European Union's governing body, commissioned a report on the 2008 eurozone banking crisis. The final version of this report, written by two Irish financial analysts, was presented in Brussels last week to a group of 52 European Parliament members affiliated with left-leaning parties. And it included a section covering Ross' investment in the Bank of Ireland, in which he was a major shareholder and a member of the board of directors. The report alleges that when Ross sold off his holdings in the bank for a massive profit in 2014, he possessed inside information that the bank was relying on deceptive accounting practices to mask its losses and embellish its financial position.

Ross' involvement with the Bank of Ireland began in July 2011, when his hedge fund, WL Ross & Co., joined several institutional investors to purchase a 34.9 percent stake in the struggling financial firm for 1.12 billion euros ($1.6 billion). At the time, the deal "led to much head-scratching," according to the Irish Examiner. That's because Ross and the other investors obtained stock in the company at the low price of 10 euro cents a share just months after the bank received a 3.5 billion euro bailout from the Irish Central Bank and a guarantee of up to 10 billion more. (The bank's shares were trading at about 30 euro cents two months before the sale.) The Irish government's decision "to sell a large chunk of Bank of Ireland at the bottom of the market" so soon after the government's cash infusion had stabilized the institution "was on the face of it baffling," the newspaper reported.

...

Ross sold near the top of the market. Since the 2015 admissions that the Bank of Ireland relied on flawed accounting methods, the bank's share prices have dropped significantly. Yet as a board member, Ross would have presumably been privy to the bank's most sensitive financial information, including its bookkeeping practices. This raises the question of what Ross knew when he sold off his shares. Was he aware that the losses the bank was deferring using flawed accounting would inevitably reappear and that he could get out of the company before the true state of its finances became clear?

]]>
iehi-feed-63393 Tue, 12 Dec 2017 23:46:15 GMT Facebook Is 'Ripping Apart' Society, Former Executive Warns http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-12_FacebookIsRippingApartSocietyFormerExecutiveWarns.html ... another Facebook alum has come out with deep regret over his involvement in the company's work. This time it's venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya, Facebook's former head of user growth, who told the Stanford Graduate School of Business that he feels "tremendous guilt" over Facebook's divisive role in society, as exploited by Russian agents in last year's U.S. election.

He added that Facebook encourages "fake, brittle popularity," leaving users feeling empty and needing another hit, and suggested that this "vicious circle" drives people to keep sharing posts that they think will gain other people's approval...

"If you feed the beast, that beast will destroy you," Palihapitiya advised his audience. "If you push back on it, we have a chance to control it and rein it in. It is a point in time where people need a hard break from some of these tools and the things that you rely on. The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, [but] misinformation, mistruth."

He added that this is a "global problem" and not just about Russian ads.

"My solution is I just don't use these tools anymore," Palihapitiya said. "I haven't for years. It's created huge tension with my friends...I guess I kind of innately didn't want to get programmed." He also doesn't allow his children to use social networks, he added.

]]>
iehi-feed-63386 Mon, 11 Dec 2017 04:51:33 GMT Plutocrat-flattering Tax Bill Places Paul Ryan At Risk in 2018 http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-10_PlutocratflatteringTaxBillPlacesPaulRyanAtRiskin2018.html A new internal poll from Randy Bryce, the ironworker who blasted onto the national political scene in June with a viral video, claims he trails by just 6 points in Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District, 46 percent to 40 percent.

...

Bryce has raised the most money of any Democratic candidate in the country, and Democrats think they could at least force Ryan to spend time and money on defense at home rather than campaigning for others. But Ryan is likely to have practically unlimited resources at his disposal.

]]>
iehi-feed-63383 Sun, 10 Dec 2017 20:07:23 GMT How the GOP tax cut could take money away from most Americans http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-10_HowtheGOPtaxcutcouldtakemoneyawayfrommostAmericans.html If President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans end up paying for their proposed $1.4 trillion tax cut by reducing spending or raising taxes later on, most Americans making less than $86,000 would be worse off, according to a new report by the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank.

Republicans have yet to say how they intend to pay for the tax cut. Originally, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin argued the tax cut would completely pay for itself because the economy would grow substantially faster, a claim that has not been backed up by independent research. Congress' official scorekeepers estimate that the tax cut would add $1 trillion to the federal deficit, even after taking into account some additional economic growth.

At some point, that will have to be paid for, and top Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., have indicated they plan to take a hard look at welfare spending and other safety net programs for potential trimming.

The Tax Policy Center warns in its "Winners and Losers" report released Friday that paying for the tax cut by reducing programs that help the poor and lower middle class would leave many Americans in the bottom 60 percent in a worse spot than they would have been without the GOP tax bill.

...

The House bill would cut taxes for 76 percent of Americans next year and raise taxes on just 7 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center. But those numbers look substantially different once the think tank factored in how to pay for the bill. If every household were required to pay the same amount to fund the tax cuts - roughly $1,200 - in 2018, then only 27 percent of Americans would get a cut and 73 percent of Americans would essentially be getting a tax hike. The vast majority of the families that would be worse off would be in the low and middle class.

...

Critics of the report say the Tax Policy Center is running hypothetical scenarios. There are no proposals on the table to make draconian cuts or to make every American pay a fee or tax... But the Tax Policy Center says this is actually a pretty similar scenario to what the Trump budget proposed earlier this year with its cuts to various welfare and safety net programs that mostly impact moderate-income households. The Tax Policy Center is also assuming a modest increase on higher-income households.

]]>
iehi-feed-63382 Sun, 10 Dec 2017 20:02:57 GMT How states that carried Trump to victory avoid one sticky part of the tax bill http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-10_HowstatesthatcarriedTrumptovictoryavoidonestickypartofthetaxbill.html iehi-feed-63380 Sun, 10 Dec 2017 16:30:34 GMT Stockman - Peak Fantasy Time http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-10_StockmanPeakFantasyTime.html ... when goods-producing jobs peaked at 25 million back in 1980, there were only 6.7 million jobs in leisure and hospitality. Today that sector employs 16.0 million part-time, low-pay workers or 2.4X the four decade ago level.

Yes, there is nothing wrong with these jobs or the workers who hold them, but the fact that they constitute a rapidly increasing share of the mix is powerful proof that the job market is not nearly as awesome as it is cracked up to be; and that the monthly BLS report is surely no measure at all of a rising standard of living in Flyover America.

...

As it happens, [the number of breadwinner jobs] is virtually the same number posted by the BLS back in January 2001 when Bill Clinton was packing his bags to vacate the Oval office. In short, three presidents later---all of whom have claimed undying devotion to good jobs and rising living standards---and there is hardly a single new breadwinner job.

...

What does our latest Oval Office occupant plan to do about this? Why nothing less than borrow $1.8 trillion from future taxpayers in order to enable corporations and other business to crank-out even bigger financial engineering distributions to shareholders in the form of dividends, stock buybacks and M&A deals.

]]>
iehi-feed-63378 Fri, 08 Dec 2017 21:59:08 GMT Trump promises heavy penalties for Wells Fargo http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-08_TrumppromisesheavypenaltiesforWellsFargo.html President Trump on Friday tweeted that the he'd ensure stiff penalties against Wells Fargo over allegations of financial impropriety the day after a report emerged that federal fines are being reconsidered.

"Fines and penalties against Wells Fargo Bank for their bad acts against their customers and others will not be dropped, as has incorrectly been reported, but will be pursued and, if anything, substantially increased," Trump tweeted.

"I will cut Regs but make penalties severe when caught cheating!"

]]>
iehi-feed-63374 Fri, 08 Dec 2017 05:41:52 GMT Donald Trump Is Just the Front Man for a Massive Heist http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-08_DonaldTrumpIsJusttheFrontManforaMassiveHeist.html Virtually unified Republican caucuses in both the House and Senate are on the verge of passing a truly grotesque tax bill that would give more than 60 percent of its benefits to the richest 1 percent of Americans, while those making $75,000 or less will end up paying more in taxes. The GOP is ready to hand global corporations a $500 billion tax bonus for booking profits in foreign tax havens. They're happy to protect the obscene "carried interest" tax deduction that gives billionaire hedge-fund managers a lower tax rate than their secretaries, even as they eliminate deductions for student-loan interest, and add taxes on to graduate students for tuition waivers.

Republicans are also poised to tax Americans on the income used to pay for state and local taxes, while allowing corporations to deduct those same taxes. Trump's major contribution has been to push for measures--elimination of the estate tax, elimination of the alternative minimum tax, lower taxes on "pass through" income--that will fill his own pockets.

...

Trump has also turned his economic policy over to Goldman Sachs bankers who are propelling deregulation of finance and rollback of environmental and consumer protections. Trump's cabinet isn't a bunch of outsiders but made up for the most part 0f Republican politicians and donors eager for the assignment. Now they're plundering the executive branch. Mick Mulvaney, the head of the Office of Management and Budget, is about to disembowel the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Scott Pruitt has neutered the Environmental Protection Agency. Jeff Sessions is leading a rollback of civil rights and criminal justice reform.

Beyond the economy, Republicans are busy rigging the system in other critical ways. Young, right-wing, pro-corporate ideologues are packing federal courts at alarming rates. Trump makes the appointments, but he mainly draws from lists prepared by the right-wing Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation. After obstructing a record number of Obama nominees to the federal bench, Senate Republicans are now trampling over longstanding legislative procedures to get as many judges on the bench as quickly as possible.

...

What we face in Washington and in statehouses across the country is a right wing that's ideologically committed to laying waste to the public sphere--the sinews of our economy, the comity of our politics, and the quality of our most basic public services. Trump isn't the exception; he's simply the sideshow. Right-wing populism was just the garb he donned for the campaign. What's left of it is largely limited to his incoherent trade posturing and the wall.

]]>
iehi-feed-63371 Thu, 07 Dec 2017 21:03:22 GMT Saxo Bank predicts Bitcoin collapse to $1,000, Fed loses control in 2018 http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-07_SaxoBankpredictsBitcoincollapseto1000Fedlosescontrolin2018.html iehi-feed-63369 Thu, 07 Dec 2017 16:30:26 GMT The FCC's net neutrality plan may have even bigger ramifications in light of this obscure court case http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-07_TheFCCsnetneutralityplanmayhaveevenbiggerramificationsinlightoft.html ``any day now, a federal court is expected to weigh in on a case that could dramatically expand the scope of that deregulation -- potentially giving the industry an even bigger win and leaving the government less prepared to handle net neutrality complaints in the future, consumer groups say.

...

The litigation is significant as the FCC prepares to transfer more responsibility to the FTC for handling net neutrality complaints... If AT&T gets its way in the case, the FTC's ability to pursue misbehaving companies -- over net neutrality issues or otherwise -- may be sharply curtailed.

Thus far, the common carrier exemption has applied to a specific slice of the economy. But the case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, FTC v. AT&T Mobility, could vastly expand the number of companies that qualify for the exemption. In an earlier decision in the lawsuit, a federal judge effectively said that any company that runs a telecom subsidiary is considered a common carrier. Previously, only the subsidiary would have been considered a common carrier -- not the larger corporate entity. The case is being reheard, and analysts say a decision could come at any time.

...

A vote to approve the [FCC's net neutrality plan], followed by a decision favorable to AT&T Mobility by the Ninth Circuit, would therefore create a 'regulatory gap' that would leave consumers utterly unprotected," Public Knowledge said in a letter this week asking the FCC to delay its vote.

]]>