Sunday, January 22, 2017

Today's links

“The primordial interest of the United States, over which for centuries we have fought wars–the First, the Second and Cold Wars–has been the relationship between Germany and Russia, because united there, they’re the only force that could threaten us. And to make sure that that doesn’t happen.” … George Friedman at The Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs, Time 1:40 to 1:57)

In order to survive and preserve its leading role on the international stage, the US desperately needs to plunge Eurasia into chaos, (and) to cut economic ties between Europe and Asia-Pacific Region … Russia is the only (country) within this potential zone of instability that is capable of resistance. It is the only state that is ready to confront the Americans. Undermining Russia’s political will for resistance… is a vitally important task for America.”
-Nikolai Starikov, Western Financial System Is Driving It to War, Russia Insider

1--A Trump Doctrine -- 'America First'

At the end of the Cold War, however, with the Soviet Empire history and the Soviet Union having disintegrated, George H.W. Bush launched his New World Order. His son, George W., invaded Iraq and preached a global crusade for democracy “to end tyranny in our world.”

A policy born of hubris.

Result: the Mideast disaster Trump described to Lesley Stahl, and constant confrontations with Russia caused by pushing our NATO alliance right up to and inside what had been Putin’s country

2--Trump has a plan for government workers. They’re not going to like it

3--Class warfare, droopy capex and gov job losses

4--How Clinton Defeat Derailed Syrian War

5--Selectivity in Trashing Trump

Progressives and Democrats have every right and reason to express revulsion at Trump’s crude remarks about women, Mexicans and others — and to resist Trump if he pursues the failed environmental, economic and domestic policies of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. But there seems to be an attitude of rejecting everything associated with Trump....

A Current Danger

But the current danger for Democrats and progressives is that – by bashing everything that Trump says and does – they will further alienate the white working-class voters who became his base and will push away anti-war activists.

There is a risk that the Left will trade places with the Right on the question of war and peace, with Democrats and progressives associating themselves with Hillary Clinton’s support for “endless war” in the Middle East, the political machinations of the CIA, and a New Cold War with Russia, essentially moving into an alliance with the Military (and Intelligence) Industrial Complex.

Many populists already view the national Democrats as elitists disdainful of the working class, promoters of harmful “free trade” deals, and internationalists represented by the billionaires at the glitzy annual confab in Davos, Switzerland.

If — in a rush to demonize and impeach President Trump — Democrats and progressives solidify support for wars of choice in the Middle East, a New Cold War with Russia and a Davos-style elitism, they could further alienate many people who might otherwise be their allies.

In other words, selectivity in opposing and criticizing Trump – where he rightly deserves it – rather than opportunism in rejecting everything that Trump says might make more sense. A movement built entirely on destroying Trump could drop Democrats and progressives into some politically destructive traps

6--Trump Drops By CIA to Say He's Got Their Back, Then Mostly Complains About Media

7--What Will Prick the “Leveraged Share Buyback” Craze?

Repurchases pose risks for bondholders: credit down grades, higher risks of defaults, lower recoveries in case of a default, and thus higher funding costs – in theory....

Among the reasons for the craze in share repurchases, according to Fitch:

  • Low interest rates
  • Lack of growth projects that meet return hurdles
  • Management compensation incentives
  • External pressure from shareholder activists.....

here’s what typically causes a decline or even a plunge in leveraged share buybacks: rising interest rates that make that strategy too costly; a sharp selloff in the stock market that knocks the wind out of executives; and tightening credit conditions where borrowing becomes difficult and where creditors gain the upper hand, inserting stiff demands into debt covenants, and refusing to lend if a company is going to blow this money on share buybacks.

8--Obama’s Stock Market Legacy Is Hard to Beat -- U.S. stocks delivered far better returns under Mr. Obama than almost any previous president, and the performance was well ahead of the rest of the world

After eight years in office, Barack Obama has a market record any red-blooded American capitalist could be proud of. U.S. shares have soared, oil prices have come down, borrowing is cheap and profits are up along with the dollar. Even those who bet against President Obama made good money, with returns from gold and bonds better than those delivered by shares under his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Historians, economists and politicians will clash for years over the Obama legacy. But for investors, it has been a great time to bet on America. U.S. stocks delivered far better returns under Mr. Obama than almost any previous president; performance was also well ahead of the rest of the world.
“Despite the fact that the economy’s been punk, corporate profits became the largest percentage of GDP ever in this cycle,” said Richard Bernstein, chief executive of fund manager Richard Bernstein Advisors. “You can talk about whether that’s social justice or not but that’s not my day job.”

With one day of his presidency to go, the S&P 500 was up 182% from Mr. Obama’s inauguration in January 2009, delivering an annualized return including dividends of 16.3%. In data since 1928, only Bill Clinton produced higher returns. And, if lower inflation under Mr. Obama is taken into account, the real gap is tiny.

John Bilton, global head of multiasset strategy at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, says the main cause of this equity boom was the geyser of money sprayed at the markets by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
“It’s more I
would say the Federal Reserve’s legacy that’s given us this period of performance,” he said. “It’s been a phenomenal time to be an investor.”
Others give Mr. Obama more credit, particularly for the tax cuts and spending of the Recovery Act in 2009, but also for resisting pressure to tighten fiscal policy more quickly and leaving the Fed alone.
“The important economic intervention he did was right at the beginning,” said Eric Lonergan, a fund manager at M&G Investments. “And after that he did nothing to disrupt loose monetary and fiscal policy. He could have done a lot of stupid things that he didn’t do.”...

Markets are forward-looking, so it makes sense to think the effect of the president would be priced in before he takes office. The big rally since Mr. Trump was elected in November has been predicated on investor hope that he will deliver big tax cuts and fiscal stimulus.

9--Trump Administration Suspends Insurance Cut for Risky Mortgages --Move effectively ends attempt by Obama administration to lower costs for certain mortgage borrowers

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