Dan’s Blog

Stocks Pause for No Cause

Dan Calandro - Sunday, May 21, 2017

Wall Street woke-up at the wheel and tapped the brakes last week. Pessimism ruled the day on Wednesday when the market averages lost 2% and stock market strength gave up 5%. But by the time the week ended all three indicators edged just a half-point lower.

Why the brake check?

A dysfunctional central government caught Wall Street’s attention.

Think of the U.S. body politic right now – a weak and incompetent socialist Republican Party controls both houses of congress and a Republican president sits in the oval office. Yet all too often they seem outmatched in strength, intellect, and will as compared to the communist Democratic Party. As a result Trump's pro-growth agenda looks to be nothing more than a wet dream – a great fantasy that never actually happened. Excitement for a moment, only to be let down seconds later.

This dynamic has stunted stock market optimism. 

Think about what we have in front of us right now. Nothing is getting done. Investigations are everywhere. Democrats have called for a Trump impeachment. And a special prosecutor has been appointed. This prompted the American Left to compare today’s situation to Nixon and Watergate. And that’s just stupid. Today and 1972 have nothing in common.

For instance, when news broke that the Democratic National Committee was broken into and that President Nixon was connected to it, a special prosecutor was appointed to investigate the crimes (i.e. breaking and entering, burglary, vandalism, abuse of power, etc.). The salient points are self evident: First, it was obvious that a crime had been committed and that the crime was politically motivated. Second, the leader of the opposition Party (the obvious culprit to the break-in) was then Republican President Richard Nixon.

No such evidence of a crime exists with the issues surrounding Trump – with either Flynn or Comey – nothing. In fact, several senior Democrat congress-people have recently attested to that, including Senator Diane Feinstein who just reiterated that fact a few days ago. And as ranking member of the Senate Judiciary committee she ought to know.

So everyone agrees – no crime has been committed, and no crime is being investigated.

Truth be told only foreign powers are being investigated. But now that we know General Flynn had conversations with those Russians being spied upon, he is included in that investigation. That’s an obvious and totally expectable outcome. No big deal.

However, the fact that Flynn’s name was unmasked is a big deal, it’s dirty politics – and illegal. But that crime isn’t the focus of any investigation.

 What a joke.

The record of the appropriateness of the content Flynn discussed with the Russians will stand for itself. And trust me, the answer to that is already known. If Flynn did something seriously wrong the American people would have heard about it already. Think of all the time, effort, and money the Left is throwing out there to get that information. If something were out there they would already have it and reported it.

But they got nothing. And that lack of evidence isn’t enough to stop them from talking about a Trump impeachment.

Of course Flynn had every right to have discussions with the Russians, as he was to be Trump’s National Security Advisor when the administration took control after January 20, 2017. The mere act of having a conversation with the Russians wasn’t wrong or a crime, nor was it wrong or criminal to discuss sensitive security issues. That was the job Flynn was transitioning into.

And this nonsense about obstruction of justice is just another inappropriate political stunt. On May 1, 2017, Trump and Comey had a conversation in which the President allegedly asked the then FBI Director to make the Flynn case go away. Let’s say that’s a fact, Trump asked.

What’ wrong with that! Comey works for Trump. A boss can ask an underling a question. Comey said no. They’re both big boys. Move on.

Two days later Comey appeared before Congress and was asked multiple times if he ever received political pressure to stop an investigation? Comey said, “No.” every time. That was May 3, 2017.

No political pressure equates to no obstruction. There’s no other honest way to view it.

And isn’t it no surprise that the FBI Director who charged Hillary Clinton with several crimes only to conclude that “no reasonable prosecutor would ever prosecute” those crimes to also be the one to leak his private journal to the media?

The American Republic is under great threat.

The FBI cannot be a political entity. The leak of Comey’s private journal proves that Trump did the right thing in firing him. He was clearly a political operative. Firing Comey had nothing to do with him not dropping the Flynn case. That investigation goes on regardless of who is the Director of the FBI – as our most recent history proves. And to think that Trump fired Comey to hide his obstruction of justice is to believe that Comey was pressured to drop the case – but Comey himself denies that.  

Democrats who charge obstruction clearly don’t understand the concept and relationship of crimes to investigative protocol. And they also don’t understand the definition of “High Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

For instance, we heard nothing about obstruction of justice when former president Bill Clinton boarded the plane of Attorney General Loretta Lynch while his wife and then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was under investigation for crimes she committed with classified information.

When the Obama administration illegally traded guns with narcotics dealers in Mexico that were ultimately turned on U.S. Border Patrol and resulted in the death of two agents, no special prosecutor was appointed to investigate the crimes that the “Fast and Furious” program conducted under the Obama administration and Attorney General Eric Holder.

No honest American wants corruption and scandal from either Party. And it is dishonest and corrupt to turn a blind eye to crimes made by members of only their affiliated Party.

But the point here is that crimes must be committed before investigations ensue; otherwise anyone can investigate anyone for no good reason. And that’s not how a free society works. It is a violation of our constitutional rights, the right to privacy, the concept of probable cause, and unlawful search and seizure, to name a few.

When only one Party investigates crimes and the other Party constantly rolls over even without a shred of evidence then a One-Party System isn’t far away.

That is not how our Republic was intended to operate.

Democrat intent is clear – create scandals out of thin air and demand investigations for all of them. This is an effort to paralyze the Trump agenda by burdening Congress with investigations rather than legislative effort, and by distorting public opinion. Their goal is to end 2017 with no significant legislative action so that they could do even less next year due to the impending mid-term elections. They will rally their base to vote to stop Trump, to impeach him – something they will need majorities in both houses of Congress to pull off.

What a mess it is – all of which is being driven by no evidence of a crime.

One thing about Democrats, they fight and fight hard, and they never give up. They stand united behind their president's agenda and actions even when they’re dead wrong and commit crimes. They have no moral compass within their own.

Republicans have no such standard. They are weak and fragmented, and fight like sissies. Senior Republican Senators McCain and Graham were early proponents of the investigations – lack of evidence notwithstanding. And now Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says tax reform has to be “revenue neutral.” Isn’t that great policy from a “conservative”? In other words, McConnell doesn’t think there is a spending problem in a Washington DC even though U.S. central government spends more than the entire GDP of Germany each and every year – a practice started in the Obama era.

Communists and fascists fight for power. Socialists try to buy it. And free market capitalists compete to win it. That’s the difference.

This country has gotten so politically incorrect it’s dangerous. I pride myself on calling a spade a shovel. It’s clear, direct, and accurate. I call Democrats communists because it is a nice way to call them fascists. The descriptors are essentially interchangeable, however. Both have little regard for human life, universal civil rights, or the decency of civilized society. Neither accepts dissention, and both believe their way is the only way – all must fall in line or be destroyed.

No clearer proof of this was the “protest” that transpired on the campus of Cal Berkeley in late April 2017. Students there protested an invited guest of the University named, Milo Yiannopoulos’s. Milo describes himself as a “conservative gay guy.” Watch a video of the protest by clicking here[1].

By watching the video and knowing the speaker we know one thing for certain: this was a protest against Republican and/or Conservative thought. In other words this was a Democrat or Liberal protest – you know, the “tolerant” ones.

Here’s my observation. This is not a protest, it is not an example of free speech, and it is not a constitutional assembly. It is an illegal riot with a purpose to destroy opposing views – the polar opposite of free speech.

Destroying property is a crime. Violence towards others with a difference of opinion is a crime. Both are traits of riots. Riots are not granted constitutional rights. They are crimes. Peaceful assemblies are a constitutional right. Cal Berkeley wasn’t that.

So how do we describe these protestors? As Democrats? As Liberals?

The way I see it is that those two descriptors are of people who openly protest and speak their minds and are willing to discuss and debate topics of great importance. They look to find areas of agreement for a more perfect union.

Communists don’t do that. And neither do fascists.

Communists wear nicely pressed suits and fitted hats when they kill you. Fascists like to cover their faces.

At the Cal Berkeley riot many students wore black garb that covered everything but their eyes. Others wore plain cloths. Call them what you will. I call them fascists and communists, or fascist Liberals and communist Democrats. It is the most accurate way to refer to them – as is the socialist Republican Party.

Yet in the mass media we have to hear about how it was the students at Cal Berkeley exercising their constitutional right of free speech and right to assemble. Sure it got a little out of hand, but they’re kids.

Give me a break. You’re stupid if you believe that.

So you take those two failed Parties, a corrupt media, and add a lightning rod named Donald Trump and what you end up with is exactly what we have: a totally dysfunctional central government.

More and more it looks as if the Trump agenda will die on the vine -- for no good cause. Remember, stocks went on tear after Trump won the election on the prospects of him implementing a pro-growth agenda. It’s only natural for stocks to sell-off as the agenda gets relegated to just another misplaced dream.

Somebody had to say it.

Stay tuned…

  The road to financial independence.


[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyC80feMcgU

GDP, The King

Dan Calandro - Tuesday, May 02, 2017

This could be the longest span of time between blogs since I began posting online articles more than six years ago. The reason for my silence is simple: nothing of any significance has happened.—And I never wanted to be one of those pundits who create nothing from nothing. Such a practice has a tendency of producing incoherent pieces that convey nothing of import or purpose, and generally creates confusion among the readership. And while that’s not my style – it is quite common in today’s omnipresent media. Take the case of Myles Udland of Yahoo Finance, for example.

In anticipation of the release of first quarter 2017 GDP numbers Mr. Udland posted an article on April 27, 2017 entitled, GDP – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN FRIDAY MARKETS – and never will you read a more worthless piece of garbage in your life. It is a good example of what is wrong with conventional investment news and correspondence.

To begin with the article opens with a fallacy: “The biggest economic report of President Donald Trump’s tenure is due out Friday: first quarter GDP.”

We all know that first quarter 2017 is the first economic report since President Trump took the oath of office. But “first” doesn’t automatically equate to “biggest.”

Is that petty?

I don’t think so. Which of Trump’s policies has been enacted by Congress to improve the condition of the stagnant economy?

Answer: none.

So you can say that Myles Udland lost me at hello.

To bolster his erroneous position Udland quotes a gentleman named Neil Dutta, an economist at Renaissance Macro – who should either resign from his post or sue Udland for defamation. Above a picture of Trump, Dutta is quoted, “The data are real, but the news is fake.”

Huh?

Here’s Dutta’s explanation for his “fake” statement and the first quarter results, “The weakness [was] driven by soft consumption and a sharp inventory drawdown. However, underlying growth is considerably stronger.”

What?

Soft consumption is the reason production was slow and inventories were depleted. Weak demand presented businesses with no good reason to ramp-up production and hold higher inventories – which they would have done if growth was “considerably stronger” – which it wasn’t.

The “data” Dutta is referring to is Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – which happens to be the best and most inclusive fundamental of economic activity. Dutta correctly calls it “real” but labels the reported numbers as “fake.” In that statement I’m not sure if Dutta was taking a potshot at Udland’s poor work or if he actually believes the economy is strong. The former would be valid; the latter is stupid.

From there Udland shifts to Global Chief Investment Officer of Fixed Income products at BlackRock financial, Rick Rieder, who’s position Udland summarized like this, “GDP simply does not capture technology and the changes this has wrought on the economy efficiently.”

That’s just silly. The definition of GDP was changed under the Obama administration to include technological investments. But forget about that for the moment. There’s a more salient point to highlight.

Udland’s synopsis of Rieder’s point was corroborated by this quote by Rieder himself, “Vehicle miles traveled are at [an] all-time record. Gasoline consumption, all-time record. Air miles traveled, all-time record. Auto sales running at 17.5 million cars [per year]. Meaning the number we get through GDP, it’s just not calculated right. And it just lags what’s changed in the way that the economy works today.”

First of all, every one of those items Rieder points out are actually included in the GDP calculation. And secondly, isn’t the reason cars and air travel are so prevalent in the world today because technology has advanced so greatly that those things are affordable to so many people?  And aren’t the technological advancements in shale oil drilling somewhat responsible for the drop in gasoline prices, which aids in higher consumption rates (demand)?

This pathetic piece comes to a staggering conclusion: “The challenges for policymakers and economists is figuring out how to best capture what works and what doesn’t in our modern economy. And GDP often falls short.”

I’m not quite sure how Udland can come to such a conclusion when he obviously doesn’t understand the definition of GDP, how the market works, and how technology factors into market dynamics. This, not to mention, that his conclusion has absolutely nothing to do with the title of his article.

No wonder there are so many confused investors in the world today.

First quarter 2017 GDP has followed the same lethargic pace of the last several years; Real GDP increased just .7%. But that is not indicative of a Trump economy. Trump has done nothing to change the direction of the economy, and so this first report can no way be the “biggest” of his tenure so far. Through the first quarter of 2017 Trump simply presided over the continuation of the Obama economy. If you wish to charge first quarter weakness to any one person then charge it to Mr. Obama; his policies still rule the land.

To find “big” economic news reports for President Trump in the first quarter I would point to decisions made by Big Auto to cancel plans to move production to foreign markets and to expand U.S. production, the approval of the Keystone Pipeline, and more recently, the easing of regulations to drill offshore and in the Arctic. Trump had a hand in these things, and at some point in the future they will have a positive effect on GDP – I stress: they will have a positive effect at some point in the future.

So yes it is true that GDP is limited, as it cannot account for positive changes happening in the marketplace until those changes start producing positive market activity. But that doesn’t mean GDP isn’t calculated right or is in some way fake or misleading. If the economy were strong GDP would reflect it. Fact.

But that doesn’t also mean that the stock market won’t provide a completely different message than GDP numbers reflect. The stock market can and does “price in” changes before they actually improve or diminish economic activity. This is the case in the stock market today.

Since Trump won the election stocks have gained 14%; gold is down 1% and yields have jumped 23%. See below.


These trends are consistent with the expectation of Trump policies being put into effect – which is looking more and more like a long shot everyday. His effort to repeal and replace Obamacare has already failed twice in the Republican controlled House; his budget has no chance of Congressional approval as both Parties hate much of his cost cutting plan, and his ambitious tax plan, which is good for markets, has the major obstacle of an opposition Party hell-bent on stopping everything Trump puts forth.

For the record, the biggest economic report that Trump will face in his first term is one that follows the implementation of his tax plan. Fair people will give his plan two quarters to take hold and start bearing fruit.

And if history provides any guidance, GDP growth will double in due course and tax revenues to the federal government will increase. That’s a dynamic that has repeated itself each and every time for the last 100 years. Calvin Coolidge, who presided over the economy of the roaring 20’s, benefited greatly from cutting taxes; as did John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and G.W. Bush.

So the question before us today is: Will Congress let Trump be the next presidential benefactor of a tax cutting plan?

On this day, if I were king three people would lose their jobs (Udland, Dutta, and Rieder) and Trump’s tax cut plan would go into effect and be retroactive to January 1, 2017. And then the king of all economic fundamentals, GDP, under its current make-up and definition, would predictably and reliably reflect what policymakers should have anticipated from the very beginning.

Growth and tax revenues up strongly, and stocks up sharply. 

Stay tuned…

 The road to financial independence.


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