Should The Middle Class Pay More For A Loaf Of Bread Than The Poor?

Should The Middle Class Pay More For A Loaf Of Bread Than The Poor?:

“The Iowa plan may capture millennials, but because of the screw job on the wealthy, those making over 400% of the poverty rate will drop out… Effectively the state said if you can afford to pay more you must pay more. Imagine grocery stores charging $15 for a loaf of bread if you make $48,241 but only 48 cents if you make up to $18,090… The idea is preposterous.

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Financial stress pushing MILLIONS of Australians into food insecurity

Financial stress pushing millions of Australians into food insecurity:

A shocking 3.6 million Australians, or 15% of the population, have experienced uncertainty around where their next meal is coming from in the last 12 months, a new report from Foodbank Australia has revealed.

This morning Australia’s largest hunger relief organisation, Foodbank, released its annual Foodbank Hunger Report which highlighted that it’s not just the unemployed and homeless who are experiencing food insecurity. Almost 50% of those struggling to feed themselves and their families are actually employed.

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Balancing Britain’s books: Where have our ‘missing billions’ gone?

Balancing Britain’s books: Where have our ‘missing billions’ gone?:

A whopping £500bn has fallen off Britain’s balance sheet, or so a revision to official data appears to show.

UK investors were thought to have ramped up spending abroad, giving Britain a cushion of sorts against economic and political turmoil – the net international investment figure turned positive last year for the first time since the financial crisis.

Yet revisions from the Office for National Statistics indicate that was an illusion. Unexpectedly, the stock of foreign investments in the UK still outweighs British investments abroad.
What is the net international investment position?

This measures the amount of money that British investors put into foreign assets, minus the amount foreign investors put into UK assets.

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What the Headlines Got Wrong about Retail Sales

What the Headlines Got Wrong about Retail Sales:

No, our American consumers didn’t suddenly perform a  miracle.

As part of the data dump on Friday, the Commerce Department released its estimates for retail sales for September. If you just looked at the headlines, you’d get the impression that our American consumers suddenly had gone out to splurge, fired up by two powerful, destructive, and deadly hurricanes:

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Asset-Stripping by Private Equity Firms Is Booming

Asset-Stripping by Private Equity Firms Is Booming:

Here are the numbers. Peak chase-for-yield by institutional investors?

Most of the brick-and-mortar retailers that have filed for bankruptcy protection to be restructured or liquidated over the past two years have been owned by private equity firms – including the most recent major casualty, Toys ‘R’ Us. Part of how PE firms make money is by stripping capital out of their portfolio companies via special dividends funded by “leveraged loans” – more on those in a moment – leaving these companies in a very precarious condition.

So just how much have PE firms paid themselves in special dividends extracted from their portfolio companies? $4.76 billion in the third quarter, bringing the year-to-date total to $15.3 billion. So the year-total for 2017 is going to be a doozie.

H/t reader Squodgy.

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WORLD’S LARGEST OIL COMPANIES: Deep Trouble As Profits Vaporize While Debts Skyrocket

WORLD’S LARGEST OIL COMPANIES: Deep Trouble As Profits Vaporize While Debts Skyrocket:

The world’s largest oil companies are in serious trouble as their balance sheets deteriorate from higher costs, falling profits and skyrocketing debt.  The glory days of the highly profitable global oil companies have come to an end.  All that remains now is a mere shadow of the once mighty oil industry that will be forced to continue cannibalizing itself to produce the last bit of valuable oil.

I realize my extremely unfavorable opinion of the world’s oil industry runs counter to many mainstream energy analysts, however, their belief that business, as usual, will continue for decades, is entirely unfounded.  Why?  Because, they do not understand the ramifications of the Falling EROI – Energy Returned On Invested, and its impact on the global economy.

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Amid Management Exodus, Tesla Fires Hundreds Of Workers

Amid Management Exodus, Tesla Fires Hundreds Of Workers:

In an absurd demonstration of Musk’s bizarre management style, the company said the mass terminations have “generally boosted worker morale”, as high-performing employees have been rewarded; it was unclear what the up to 700 layoffs, pardon, exit events did to worker morale.

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Bitcoin Is Now Bigger Than Morgan Stanley

FYI.

Bitcoin Is Now Bigger Than Morgan Stanley:

On the back of (unconfirmed) rumors suggesting China may back down from its harsh stance of ICOs and crypto exchanges following this week’s National Congress, the price of Bitcoin soared overnight, testing near $5900 before falling back a little this morning. That has pushed Bitcoin’s market cap above $90 billion for the first time, surpassing PayPal, Netflix, and Morgan Stanley

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China Launches Yuan-Ruble Payment System

China Launches Yuan-Ruble Payment System:

The monetary regimes of China and Russia, two of the world’s most resource-rich nations, are drawing closer with every passing day.

In the latest push for convergence, China has established a payment versus payment (PVP) system for Chinese yuan and Russian ruble transactions in a move to reduce risks and improve the efficiency of its foreign exchange transactions. The PVP system for yuan and ruble transactions, designed to streamline commerce and curency transactions between the two nations, was launched on Monday after receiving approval from China’s central bank, according to a statement by the country’s foreign exchange trading system.

It marks the first time a PVP system has been established for trading the yuan and foreign currencies, said the statement, which was posted on Wednesday on the website of the China Foreign Exchange Trade System (CFETS). PVP systems allow simultaneous settlement of transactions in two different currencies.

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Bitcoin Explodes To New Record High Over $5200

FYI.

Bitcoin Explodes To New Record High Over $5200:

Having bounced back from China’s exchange closures and Dimon’s damning, Bitcoin just broke above its pre-China ICO ban highs and traded above $5000 for the first time in history (even as Russia decided to block local access). There was no looking back as the cryptocurrency is now trading $5240 – a new record high.

As Coindesk notes, prices had dropped to a low of $2,980 in mid September after China banned token sales and local cryptocurrency exchanges. However, in the subsequent days, BTC quickly regained poised, reportedly due to a pick-up in trading volumes in Japan, South Korea and other markets. The rotation of money out of the ether and ethereum-based coins and into bitcoin also helped the cryptocurrency scale new heights.

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Is Bridgewater (The World’s Biggest Hedge Fund) A Fraud? Here Are The Troubling Questions Posed By Jim Grant

Is Bridgewater A Fraud? Here Are The Troubling Questions Posed By Jim Grant: 

Jim Grant, author of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, first hinted last week that not all is well when it comes to the world’s biggest hedge fund, Ray Dalio’s $160 billion Bridgewater (of which one half is the world’s biggest risk-parity juggernaut). Speaking to Bloomberg last week, Grant said he was “bearish” on Bridgewater because founder Dalio has become “less focused on investing, while the firm lacks transparency and has produced lackluster returns.”

Grant slammed Dalio’s transition from investor to marketer, and in a five-page critique of the world’s largest hedge fund, said Dalio has been preoccupied with his new book, sitting for media interviews and sending Tweets.

“Such activities have one thing in common: They are not investing,” Grant writes in the Oct. 6 issue of his newsletter. “Yet here he is, laying it all out to the world again, Tweeting, promoting his book, attacking the press — necessarily doing less of his day job than he would otherwise do.”

Grant continued his scathing critique, accusing Bridgewater of “lately performed no better than the typical hedge fund.” Grant is right: since the start of 2012, Bridgewater’s Pure Alpha II Fund has posted an annualized return of 2.5% vs its historic average of 12%, and is down 2.8% this year through July.

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Bitcoin Price Will Reach $10,000 in 6-10 Months: Billionaire Wall Street Mogul

FYI.

Bitcoin Price Will Reach $10,000 in 6-10 Months: Billionaire Wall Street Mogul:

Former Wall Street giant turned billionaire private investor Mike Novogratz would not be surprised to see bitcoin price hitting above $10,000 in early 2018.

Michael Novogratz, a retired Wall Street investor and noted cryptocurrency advocate who is starting a $500 million crypto hedge fund – with $150 million of his own money – was speaking to CNBC when he revealed he was an early investor in ‘bitcoin, ethereum and a lot of different ICOs.”

Asked to put an estimate on bitcoin’s value in the coming months and years, Novogratz prefaced his take by stating “the herd [is] coming”, referencing several institutional investors getting into bitcoin – a decentralized cryptocurrency traditionally popular with the everyday retail investor.

H/t reader kevin a.

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Ethereum Goes Mainstream: First Ever Ether ETN Launched On Nasdaq Stockholm

Ethereum Goes Mainstream: First Ever Ether ETN Launched On Nasdaq Stockholm:

At a time when the SEC is still debating whether to permit bitcoin-based ETFs in the US, Europe has been one step ahead thanks to the Swedish-based XBT Exchange Traded Notes (from provider CoinShares). And today, remaining one step ahead of the US, the same team behind the XBT ETN has launched the first ever ETN for Ether, the native token of the Ethereum platform, which will be listed on the Nasdaq Stockholm.

The two ETNs, COINETH:SS and COINETHE:SS are denominated in SEK and EUR respectively, and similar to the group’s bitcoin ETNs, the ether products are structured to track the price of ether, as determined by an index rate comprising the average of the 3 most liquid ether exchanges, daily. The factsheet for the ETN creator, CoinShares, can be found here.

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In A Cashless World, You’d Better Pray The Power Never Goes Out

In A Cashless World, You’d Better Pray The Power Never Goes Out:

When Hurricane Maria knocked out power in Puerto Rico, residents there realized they were going to need physical cash — and a lot of it.

Bloomberg reported yesterday that the Fed was forced to fly a planeload of cash to the Island to help avert disaster:

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Trump’s Touts “$5.2 Trillion” In Stock Gains, Promises More If “Congress Gives Us Massive Tax Cuts”

FYI.

Trump’s Touts “$5.2 Trillion” In Stock Gains, Promises More If “Congress Gives Us Massive Tax Cuts”:

“Stock Market has increased by 5.2 Trillion dollars since the election on November 8th, a 25% increase. Lowest unemployment in 16 years and if Congress gives us the massive tax cuts (and reform) I am asking for, those numbers will grow by leaps and bounds.”

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Would You Pay $2,500 For One Hour With An Equity Analyst? This I-Bank Seems To Think So…

Good luck with that!

– Would You Pay $2,500 For One Hour With An Equity Analyst? This I-Bank Seems To Think So…:

Wall Street equity analysts are paid ‘yuge’ salaries to employee the finance skills they picked up from their business school professors to value various corporate securities and asset-backed securitization structures, among other things.  And while their valuations of those securities have served as a frequent source of comic relief for many of us over the years, no bastardization of basic financial concepts tops recent attempts by the financial elites of the world to place a value on their own services.

As evidence of that fact, we present to you ‘Exhibit A’ from a Bloomberg article published earlier today suggesting that Morgan Stanley, who is still trying to figure out how much their equity research is worth to clients after nearly a year of internal cogitation, is considering asking hedge fund clients for $2,500 for the extreme pleasure of spending just one hour with one of their esteemed research analysts.

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