Implode-Explode Heavy Industries news feed http://implode-explode.com/ Tracking the many faces of the global credit implosion. en-us iehi-feed-63414 Fri, 15 Dec 2017 23:38:55 GMT With Rubio, Corker Back on Board, G.O.P. Speeds Ahead With Tax Overhaul http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-15_WithRubioCorkerBackonBoardGOPSpeedsAheadWithTaxOverhaul.html A day after the bill's fate seemed somewhat in doubt, Republican leaders notched two wins on Friday, when Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said he would vote yes after winning a more generous child tax credit in the final bill and Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, who voted against the initial Senate bill over deficit concerns, said he would support the legislation despite the cost of the tax cuts.

On Friday, as Republicans released details about the final bill, it became clear that the agreement would provide deep and longstanding tax cuts for businesses, while providing slightly more generous tax breaks to low- and middle-income Americans by reducing some benefits for higher earners.

New details from the text show that lawmakers offset last-minute changes to the bill -- such as eliminating the corporate alternative minimum tax and lowering the top individual tax rate to 37 percent from 39.6 percent today -- through slight adjustments, not sweeping changes. It was still unclear how they were going to pay for the entire package, which can add no more than $1.5 trillion to the deficit if it is to pass without Democrat support.

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A spokeswoman for Mr. Rubio said the senator will vote yes on the legislation, given the changes that were made. The final bill will allow families who owe no federal income taxes to still claim up to $1,400 of the $2,000 child tax credit, up from $1,100 in the original version.

The move to satisfy Mr. Rubio appears to have been financed, at least in part, by reducing the ability of higher earners to take the $2,000 per child tax credit. The Senate bill lowers the income cap for families who could claim the credit by phasing out the benefits of the credit once families earn $400,000 a year, down from the $500,000 in the original Senate bill.

The bill's text, which was signed by Republican negotiators from the chambers' conference committee on Friday, includes few major changes from the version that passed the Senate earlier this month. The 2025 expiration date for the individual tax cuts remains, as does the estate tax, which would apply to fewer Americans down the road. At the center of the $1.5 trillion bill are large tax cuts for corporations and other businesses, which Republican lawmakers say will create jobs, investment and economic growth.

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Owners of so-called pass-through businesses, who pay taxes on their profits at the owner's individual tax rate, would receive a slightly less generous tax break than the original bills called for, allowing a 20 percent deduction on profits they earn. That deduction would phase out -- with some exceptions -- starting at $315,000 of income for couples. The Senate bill included a larger deduction, 23 percent, and a higher phase-out point, $500,000 for couples.

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The bill appears to be heading toward the finish line but at least three other Republican senators remained publicly undecided on Friday, including Mike Lee of Utah, who has allied with Mr. Rubio in pressing for an expanded child credit, and Jeff Flake of Arizona, who has been trying to extract commitments from Republican leadership related to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. Senator Susan Collins of Maine has also expressed reservations about the bill's reduction in the top individual tax rate and pushed for party leaders to support measures to bolster individual health care markets as a condition for her vote.

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iehi-feed-63413 Fri, 15 Dec 2017 23:32:06 GMT America's Inequality Machine Is Sending the Dow Soaring http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-15_AmericasInequalityMachineIsSendingtheDowSoaring.html A rising tide does lift all boats -- but nowadays, in the U.S., not equally. Under both parties, recoveries have become increasingly lopsided. The current one has helped millions of people find work; it's also benefited asset-owners far more than people who trade their labor for a paycheck. Income distribution, already the most unequal in the developed world, is getting worse. And that's starting to influence everything from America's spending habits to its elections.

"The story of our time is polarization -- by party, by class and by income," said Mark Spindel, founder and chief investment officer at Potomac River Capital in Washington, and co-author of a 2017 book about the Federal Reserve. "I don't see anything in the tax bill to make that any better.''

The Fed's post-2008 toolkit included massive purchases of financial assets, which supported a liftoff on the markets but took time to trickle through to the real economy. Trump's tax critics say his plan will have a similar effect, because companies will spend the windfall on share buybacks or dividends, instead of job-creating investments. Plenty of executives say that's exactly what they'll do.

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Buybacks have fueled the stock rally (there's disagreement about how big a part they played). And the rally's biggest benefits go to the richest. On Twitter last week, Trump invited his followers to check their swelling retirement accounts. Only about half the country's households have any such nest-egg.

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Looming in the background [of the late-90s broad-based economic growth] was a technology-stocks bubble. It burst in March 2000, plunging the economy into recession. What happened next is telling -- it illustrates the perverse asymmetry of bubbles. In the following three years, those poorest households saw their incomes fall more than twice as much as their richest counterparts.

The pattern was repeated after the even bigger housing crash of late 2007. Today, even after an increase of more than 9 percent over two years, incomes at the bottom are short of pre-crisis peaks, while higher earners have comfortably surpassed them.

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American workers won't put up with any more business cycles that yield them few gains, [illiam Spriggs, chief economist at the AFL-CIO] says. "This is the last time they can get away with it, because the backlash is going to be huge."

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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iehi-feed-63408 Fri, 15 Dec 2017 15:24:14 GMT Britain doesn't appear to be collapsing as a result of Brexit http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-15_BritaindoesntappeartobecollapsingasaresultofBrexit.html As time passes, it becomes clearer that the June 2016 British Referendum decision to leave the EU has not had the disastrous impacts predicted. I know people will still say that we have to wait until the full effects are observed. Fair enough. But the disaster scenarios that more or less predicted immediate collapses have clearly been wrong.

Obviously there is some shocks going on as people anticipate Brexit. Australia went through that when Britain went into the EEC. But those shocks are likely to be temporary and, as is already happening, Britain is reorienting itself to the wider world away from Europe. Australia did that [in the 1960s] pretty quickly.

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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.''

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iehi-feed-63406 Thu, 14 Dec 2017 22:58:44 GMT Rubio to vote against GOP tax bill unless tax credit for working poor is expanded http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-14_RubiotovoteagainstGOPtaxbillunlesstaxcreditforworkingpoorisexpan.html Sen. Marco Rubio informed Senate leaders Thursday he intends to vote against Republicans' $1.5 trillion tax plan unless it includes a larger expansion of a child tax credit. "... given all the other changes made in the tax code leading into it, I can't in good conscience support it unless we are able to increase [the child tax credit], and there's ways to do it and we'll be very reasonable about it."

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rubio's partner in pushing for the expanded child tax credit, is undecided on whether to support the Republicans' final tax bill, according to a Lee spokesman.

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Rubio and Lee want to allow millions of families who pay payroll taxes but do not earn enough to pay income taxes to claim the expanded credit. The change they are now pushing would expand the credit by $80 billion over 10 years, a smaller change than they proposed for the Senate bill.

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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.

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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.

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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-63401 Thu, 14 Dec 2017 02:44:30 GMT Fed boosts benchmark rate for third time this year http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-13_Fedboostsbenchmarkrateforthirdtimethisyear.html The Federal Reserve is raising its benchmark interest rate for the third time this year, signaling its confidence that the U.S. economy remains on solid footing 8½ years after the end of the Great Recession.

The Fed is lifting its short-term rate by a modest quarter-point to a still-low range of 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent. It is also continuing to slowly shrink its bond portfolio. Together, the two steps could lead over time to higher loan rates for consumers and businesses and slightly better returns for savers.

The central bank says it expects the job market and the economy to strengthen further. Partly as a result, it foresees three additional rate hikes in 2018 under the leadership of Jerome Powell, who succeeds Janet Yellen as Fed chair in February.

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Most analysts have said they think the still-strengthening U.S. economy will lead the Fed to raise rates three more times next year. A few, though, have held out the possibility that a Powell-led Fed will feel compelled to step up the pace of rate hikes as inflation finally picks up and the economy, perhaps sped by the Republican tax cuts, begins accelerating.

For what it's worth (since the Fed funds rate has almost no meaning in the post-2008 regime, and all...). And on a related noteYellen Isn't Buying Trump's Tax Cut Talk of an Economic Miracle ...

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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-63399 Thu, 14 Dec 2017 00:08:22 GMT The Fight to Control the CFPB Is Just Heating Up http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-13_TheFighttoControltheCFPBIsJustHeatingUp.html A federal court ruling last month, which denied CFPB Deputy Director Leandra English's request to block Mulvaney from assuming the directorship, was widely seen in the media as legitimizing Trump's appointment of Mulvaney and ending English's challenge. But that decision pertained to a temporary restraining order, and the court has not yet ruled on the merits of the case. English's lawyers filed a request for a preliminary injunction last week, and U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee, set a December 22 hearing date for oral arguments. The ruling could come any time after that.

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In one of the briefs, more than 30 current and former members of Congress, including Dodd-Frank architects Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd, wrote that they intended the deputy director to take over in the absence of the director to insulate the CFPB from politics. "In creating the Bureau, lawmakers determined that it needed to be independent in order to fulfill its mission," the amici argued. Indeed, legislative history shows that Congress considered making the CFPB subject to the FVRA standard, but then rejected that approach, a position that the legislators who actually authored the law reinforce.

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nd because the CFPB director also serves on the board of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Financial Stability Oversight Council, Trump has illegally brought a White House official into those venues as well, Conti-Brown charged.

These allegations about the legality of the Mulvaney appointment also show up in a second lawsuit, filed Tuesday by the Lower East Side People's Federal Credit Union in a U.S. District Court in New York. The credit union asserts that Mulvaney cannot serve as acting director and that English, instead, has the legal right to do so. "An Acting Director with no lawful authority to regulate the Credit Union is now regulating the Credit Union," the plaintiffs allege, causing what they say is direct harm to the business.

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In the meantime, the legal uncertainty and the scrutiny of Mulvaney's actions has forced him to change course on some decisions and proposals he previously made. He initially froze all payments to fraud victims. But after an outcry, he reversed himself two days later, allowing payments to be disbursed.

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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".

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iehi-feed-63397 Wed, 13 Dec 2017 22:16:30 GMT Republicans Say They Have a Deal on Tax Bill http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-13_RepublicansSayTheyHaveaDealonTaxBill.html Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the majority whip, told reporters that Republicans will be briefed on the deal today, and that he is confident it will be approved next week.

The agreement drops the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from the current 35 percent rate and will go into effect in 2018, rather than 2019, as the Senate bill originally called for, according to a senior Republican congressional aide. The bill also allows individuals to deduct up to $10,000 in state and local taxes, split between property taxes and either income or sales taxes paid. That move is intended to alleviate the concerns of House Republicans, particularly those from California, over the bill's treatment of the state and local tax deduction.

Lawmakers also agreed to rescind the corporate alternative minimum tax, which was tucked into the Senate bill at the last minute as a way to pay for the $1.5 trillion bill. The inclusion of the corporate A.M.T. was criticized by many business groups, who said it would prohibit the ability of companies to use tax breaks such as the research and development tax credit.

The top individual income tax rate will drop to 37 percent, down from the current rate of 39.6 percent. But the rate will kick in for income levels below the $1 million cutoff outlined in both the House and Senate bills.

The conference bill will preserve the individual alternative minimum tax, which the House bill had eliminated and the Senate bill retained in a watered-down form. The conference version will apply to even fewer taxpayers than the Senate bill would have, the congressional aide said.

The agreement in principle appears to allow some high-earning business owners to claim an even larger tax break than the Senate bill would have. Negotiators agreed to keep the Senate's approach to provide a tax deduction for so-called pass-through companies, whose owners pay taxes on profits through the individual code. That deduction will likely be lower than the 23 percent deduction in the Senate-passed bill.

But, the aide said, the conference bill will include a House provision that would allow some pass-through owners with few employees -- but large amounts of investment in their businesses -- to bypass a limit on how much income qualifies for the preferential deduction.

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It is not clear if Republican senators will roundly endorse the deal, which would allow provisions that Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Marco Rubio of Florida had raised concerns about earlier this week. Ms. Collins has said she's not in favor of a lower individual rate and Mr. Rubio has pushed for a more generous child tax credit.

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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-63395 Wed, 13 Dec 2017 17:04:48 GMT Mt. Gox Creditors, Now That Leftover Horde Worth Appx $3bln, Seek to Remove Exchange From Bankruptcy http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-13_MtGoxCreditorsNowThatLeftoverHordeWorthAppx3blnSeektoRemoveExcha.html A group of major creditors of Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Mt. Gox have filed a court petition urging that the disgraced and now-defunct exchange be removed from bankruptcy, in order to prevent its CEO Mark Karpeles from walking away with a billion dollar profit.

According to a report by Financial Times, the legal bid to move the exchange out of bankruptcy and into civil rehabilitation comes in the wake of Bitcoin's recent price surge, after which the 202,185 Bitcoins held by the Mt. Gox trustee have risen to approximately $3 billion in value.

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Outrage ensued last month among creditors after it was revealed Karpeles stood to walk away from the trial as a multibillionaire, owing to a technicality in Japanese bankruptcy law. Currently, if Mt. Gox maintains its bankrupt status, the assets in the trustee's custody will be liquidated, and the payouts creditors receive will be in accordance with the exchange rate at the time the bankruptcy proceedings began in 2014 -- roughly $440 per Bitcoin, which is nothing in comparison to the current price of over $17,000 per Bitcoin. Karpeles, by comparison, will stand to collect a massive profit after liabilities have been paid off.

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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.

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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?

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iehi-feed-63392 Tue, 12 Dec 2017 16:09:44 GMT Automatic Job Storm Coming | Mauldin http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-12_AutomaticJobStormComingMauldin.html In one day, starting from nothing at all ("tabula rasa"), AlphaGo Zero learned to play chess, shogi, and Go at a superhuman level, beating the same systems that had beaten the best humans in the world... Systems like that are coming for your job. So if you think you're safe because you aren't an assembly-line worker or a retail cashier and don't work at the level of rote repetition, you could be wrong. These systems will only get better and take on ever more complex jobs.

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Now add in tax policy. I explained early this year in my open letters to the new US president that we would all be better off with a consumption tax like a VAT rather than we are currently with the income tax. Alas, I did not get my wish. Congress is right now "improving" the tax code in ways that may actually accelerate the automation trend.

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iehi-feed-63391 Tue, 12 Dec 2017 15:48:23 GMT Bitcoin: Will The Arrival Of Institutional Money Cause A New Price Surge? http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-12-12_BitcoinWillTheArrivalOfInstitutionalMoneyCauseANewPriceSurge.html Oehman tells me "It's really about timing -- if you look back 12 months, the market cap of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency was $25 billion.

"Now we are close to $400 billion and we are talking about a completely different picture. It's really been a market where the products available haven't been geared towards institutional investors, but now we are starting to move towards that.

"They want to get involved with this somehow. The question I get all the time is ‘we are fine with allocating funds to this, but how do we do it?'

Oehman says that for a year or two now there has been a growing demand from institutional investors such as family offices representing high net worth individuals, for ways to invest in crypto currencies while still being covered by the same protections offered by more traditional markets.

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