Euro Area Inflation Unexpectedly Misses Despite Sliding Unemployment

The euro stumbled, dropping to session lows on Thursday after Eurostat reported that despite a welcome decline in Europe’s unemployment rate to 8.8%, the lowest level in 9 years, Eurozone inflation missed expectations, rising from 1.4% to 1.5%, below the 1.6% consensus expectations, reminding the ECB that Phillips curves around the globe remain broken and that its intention to taper QE and tighten monetary policy may yet be derailed.

Looking at the main components of euro area inflation, energy is expected to have the highest annual rate in November (4.7%, compared with 3.0% in October), followed by food, alcohol & tobacco (2.2%, compared with 2.3% in October), services (1.2%, stable compared with October) and non-energy industrial goods (0.4%, stable compared with October).

European core inflation (excluding food, energy and tobacco) remained unchanged at 0.9% in November, below the 1% median estimate by economists. The euro traded lower after the report, and was at $1.1829 at 11:44 a.m in Frankfurt.

Indeed, as Bloomberg reports, the latest price data “outline the dilemma facing the ECB.” and even with the region’s economy set for the fastest growth in a decade and the most broad-based expansion since 1997, a sustained price recovery remains some way off. While policy makers have acknowledged that this development warrants less additional monetary support, ECB President Mario Draghi has advocated a “patient and persistent” approach to exiting the central bank’s stimulus program.

Despite inflation consistently undershooting expectations, policy makers have expressed confidence that economic growth and falling unemployment will eventually feed through to prices. “The solid and broad-based economic recovery in the euro area is continuing,” ECB Executive Board member Peter Praet said on Thursday in Brussels. “The breadth of the expansion is notable.” Despite

“All indications are that the recovery will continue for longer, and that would put pressure on wages and prices going forward,” Vitor Constancio said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Wednesday. “It’s a gradual process, but we see it going in that direction.”

Governing Council members Jens Weidmann and Klaas Knot on Wednesday called for a more a decisive acknowledgment of the strengthening of the economy. “Evidence is mounting the economic outlook will be at least as good as previously forecast, if not even better,” Bundesbank President Weidmann said. “This development should continue for a while.”

Still the latest data means that when the ECB’s Governing Council next meets on Dec. 14, it will be faced once again with a picture of solid economic growth and subdued prices pressures. Policy makers announced in October that they will halve its current monthly pace of bond buying starting January and running until at least September.

“Absent deflation risk, a full phasing-out of net asset purchases from September 2018 onward is warranted,” Knot said in London.

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Thanksgiving Weekend – Older Millennials (25-34) Powered Surge In Online Spending And Shift To Mobile

While online spending surged, the overall picture for Thanksgiving weekend spending was more mixed as the traditional “bricks and mortar” retailers continued to struggle. Nevertheless, overall spending was about 4% higher. The National Retail Foundation (NRF) estimated that 174 million Americans shopped online or in stores over the period (Thursday to Monday), versus 164 million the previous year, although the latter excluded Cyber Monday. According to Bloomberg.

“The big takeaway here is: Gone are the days you could measure the success of this weekend by looking at a single metric,” NRF Chief Executive Officer Matthew Shay said on a conference call.

It’s also difficult to tell from the NRF data how e-commerce sales compared with brick-and-mortar shopping. But other surveys have indicated that physical chains saw smaller crowds this year. The research firm ShopperTrak found that shopper visits declined 1.6 percent combined on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Overall spending in the holiday season is expected to rise as much as 4 percent from last year, helped by low unemployment and rising home values. The purchases will amount to about $680 billion in November and December, the Washington-based NRF has estimated.

However, there is no doubt about the strength of the online sector and mobile in particular.

The Thanksgiving shopping season was record-breaking measured by the total level of online spending and the big shift towards mobile to both browse and buy. Adobe, which measures 80% of online transactions from 100 major US retailers, estimated that $5.03 billion was spent on Black Friday, $2.82 billion on “Small Business Saturday” and $6.59 billion on Cyber Monday – the largest ever online sales day in history and 16.8% higher than a year ago. According to Adobe, mobile devices accounted for between 46% and 54% of all site visits, and between 30% and 37% of all sales, on those days, the biggest proportion yet.

In part, as Bloomberg notes, the strength in online and mobile shopping reflects the growing spending power of “older millennials” in the 25-34 age range.

The kickoff to the holiday shopping season brought mixed results to retailers, with traffic falling at many stores. But don’t blame older millennials. Shoppers in that age group, which ranges from 25 to 34, were the biggest spenders during the long Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. Older millennials shelled out $419.52 during the five-day stretch, 25 percent more than the overall average.

The survey findings reflect the growing clout of millennials in their 20s and 30s, especially as more of them form families and enter prime spending years. Still, their higher profile is a mixed blessing for retailers. Such shoppers are more likely to buy online — often using their phones — meaning brick-and-mortar storefronts won’t see as much of a traffic bump.

The trade group’s survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, found that 64.6 million Americans shopped both online and in stores. That compares with 58.4 million who shopped online and 51.6 million on who only went to stores.

In terms of product categories, clothing was the biggest over the holiday weekend followed by toys, books and electronics.

Despite the hollowing out of America’s traditional retail sector, the NRF has a positive spin on the industry’s evolution.

“We were very encouraged that what we saw was strong engagement across the board, both in stores an online,” Shay said. “That validates the investment retailers are making to reach customers in multiple ways.”

Since peak spending normally occurs between the years of 45-48 years old, we hope that "older millennials" are not exhausting their buying power prematurely due to their online and mobile addictions.

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Fed’s Kashkari Responds To Zero Hedge: “The Fed’s Job Is Not To Protect Investors”

Former Goldmanite and current Minneapolis Fed president, Neel Kashkari, conducted another #AskNeel session on Twitter where the dovish FOMC voter (he was the only one to dissent to the Fed’s rate hike decision earlier this year) received numerous questions. Among them was the following one from Zero Hedge:

His response:

The answer echoed a similar response from back in March, when he claimed that he doesn’t “care about stock market fall itself. Care abt potential financial instability. Stock market drop unlikely to trigger crisis.”

Needless to say, Kashkari’s answer was token, superficial and condescending: while he is right that the tech bubble bursting didn’t cause a crisis, the Fed’s dramatic easing in response to the bursting of the tech bubble bursting lay the foundations for the housing and credit bubble; in other words, the Fed responded to one bubble by creating an even bigger bubble, and the bursting of that bubble in 2007/2008 did cause a crisis: the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression to be precise. And, in turn, the bursting of the current global financial bubble – in which the Fed has been joined by all other central banks to inject $20 trillion in global liquidity, or a third of global GDP – and is the biggest in history, will have a far more disastrous outcome than the last one.

Kashkari also said that “we don’t see leverage building across the economy the way it did in housing run-up”, which of course is a surprisingly naive way of looking at leverage, especially following last night’s explanation from Fasakanara that when one takes into account ehe world’s vol-sellers, it’s all just one giant, $22 trillion position shorting volatility with record gama and all-time high leverage, both explicit and synthetic.  Which also makes his next statement that the Fed needs “to worry about what would trigger a real crisis” especially bizarre: we now live in a world in which the market itself, thanks to QE and NIRP, has become systemic risk (see “”It’s All One Single, Giant $22 Trillion Position”: How Market Risk Became Systemic Risk“).

The fact that, as Kashkari confirms, the Fed is completely oblivious to its footprint and impact in the market should be terrifying to anyone. Well, anyone but not traders because despite what Kashkari also claimed, namely that “If stocks correct – fine“, one thing we can be certain of is that the moment stocks have a 5-10% swoon, the Fed will be right back assuring traders that it will ease back on its tightening, if not launch QE4 (right, James Bullard?)

But wait, it gets better, because in the very next question, immediately after stating that the Fed’s job is not to protect investors, in response to a question whether the Fed creates moral hazard by keeping rates extra low, Kashkari answers that “If we raised interest rates to drive down the stock market, how does that help workers/wages/employment?” Or investors, for that matter. But the point is that the Fed quite clearly is intent on keeping stocks high.

The punchline: his very next statement: “If Greenspan had acted on his irrational exuberance call the economic costs may have been high.”

Here’s a thought: if Greenspan had acted on his “irrational exuberance” call, there would have been pain, yes, but there would never be a tech bubble, and there would never be a global financial crisis, Lehman, AIG or trillions and trillions in central bank liquidity keeping the global financial system propped up now. In fact, Kashkari’s statement once again demonstrates just how utterly clueless the “macroprudential regulators” at the Fed truly are.

* * *

There were some other tangential, but notable insights from the Minneapolis Fed president. One was his accurate observation that the Fed’s constantly wrong dot plots have destroyed the Fed’s credibility:

I’m not a fan of the dot plot. Forward guidance is a wonderful tool. Forward misguidance may do harm and undermine our credibility.  I would rather only give guidance when we are pretty sure about the path forward

In response to whether the Fed’s ZIRP was responsible for “zombie companies” in the shale patch and the record glut of oil inventory, the former Goldmanite was non-commital:

I think low interest rates brought down costs for people and businesses to invest – across sectors. That is what they were designed to do. But commodity markets always have cycles of under and overinvestment.

When asked how US investors are supposed to compete with foreign buyers of US stocks, including such buyers as the Swiss National Bank which is price-indescriminate as it creates money out of thin air, Kashkari’s response:

It is a global market for investors.  I don’t think US economic growth would be stronger if we forbade foreign investment.  If we can get job and wage growth up, that will help regular Americans make ends meet and save for their futures.

That Kashkari explicitly ignored the stated implication, namely that foreign central banks buying US stocks has led to a giant asset bubble, was one more warning either how clueless or how devious and premeditated this entire asset reflation experiment truly is.

Kashkari was also asked if the Fed would “ever consider forgiving the Treasury debt on its books?” to which the answer– sadly for the Magic Money Treers who have no grasp of elementary finance –  was “No. That would violate our independence and likely cause high inflation as people lost confidence in the Fed’s independence.

Among the other interesting exchanges was a question if the Fed plans on using blockchain in the future, where the response was that “researches around the Fed System are looking at it (and other fintech developments).  Too soon to know how and if it will be used by the Fed.”

Kashkari also touched on inflation price targeting: when asked “What level of inflation would be a reason to ‘tap the brakes’?” He responded that, as price targeting would suggest, “2% core PCE on a 12-month basis would be a good place to start. We’ve been 1.3% for 5+ years so we should be comfortable at 2.7% for 5+ years. That’s what we are saying when we call it a target and not a ceiling.” In other words, Kashkari supports doubling the rate of core inflation for the next 5 years.

Finally when asked “at what point does the flattening of the Treasury curve become a concern for the Fed?” Kashkari responded that “it’s a concern now. We r raising rates, driving the front end up, meanwhile inflation expectations r low keeping the long end anchored. The more we commit to driving rates higher (regardless of data), the more we risk pressuring inflation expectations to the downside.” He has good reason to be concerned: the flatter – and eventually inverted – the curve gets, the more the market is telling the Fed what should be obvious to everyone, if not Kashkari: that the Fed has lost control, as Citi warned last week.

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Surging Household Debt Is Forcing More New Yorkers To Rely On Food Pantries

As US stock benchmarks smash through one record high after the next – a central-bank driven phenomenon that disproportionately benefits the wealthy at the expense of the middle-class and working poor – booming credit-card debt is forcing more New Yorkers to seek assistance at the city’s food pantries this holiday season, according to a report in the New York Post.

As revealed by the latest New York Fed data – which we cited earlier this monthUS household debt has grown by $605 billion in the 12 months through the end of the third quarter. Q3 marked the thirteenth consecutive month of expansion as $116 billion was added to consumers’ aggregate debt pile. And while credit debt is climbing aggressively – it jumped 3.1% in Q3 alone – mortgages, student loans and auto loans are also swelling. To put this in context, consumers’ aggregate debt burden, which is just under $13 trillion, is equivalent to 66% of GDP, and has also surpassed its peak from the run-up to the crisis.

The result is that more New Yorkers are forced to rely on food pantries while dodging calls from debt collectors.

“We’ve seen a large increase in credit card debt for the population we are serving in New York,” said Laine Rolong, senior manager at the financial empowerment program at the Food Bank for New York City.

 

Rolong noted that many food pantries it serves in the city have had to turn hungry people away lately in the face of rising demand for limited emergency food stocks.

 

One expert says the credit card binge reminds him of the buildup to the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008. And this, say other experts, could be the telltale sign of an imminent recession.

Furthermore, the Fed data reveal a troubling rise in delinquencies for credit-card and auto debt that has befuddled central bankers (though regular working people might be able to think of a few factors driving this trend).

Unsurprisingly, this is forcing consumers to resort to patterns of behavior that debt-relief experts say they haven’t seen since the crisis.

“I would say this is very similar to what I saw 10 years ago – people using their credit cards quite a bit,” said Kevin Gallegos, a senior vice president at Freedom Debt Relief, a debt settlement company for consumers.

 

Back then, when total household debt was heading toward a peak of $12.68 trillion (which ended in disaster), debt-burdened consumers were addicted to cards — often those offering a tantalizing zero-percent monthly interest rate for as long as 12 months or more.

 

That strategy, now back in vogue, often ends in tears as the debt piles up. “By the time the consumer has moved their balances to the fourth card at zero percent, companies eventually cut them off for the next card,” said Gallegos.

 

The fallout can be dreadful. “We’ve had clients tell us they are on the verge of suicide, their marriages are breaking up, or ‘I don’t have enough to put food on my table,’” said Gallegos. “We hear sad stories all the time.”

Gallegos’s words echo a warning issued by the New York Fed three months ago.

“While relatively low, credit card delinquency flows climbed notably over the past year,” said Andrew Haughwout, senior vice president at the New York Fed. “This is occurring within the context of loosening lending standards, as borrowers with lower credit scores recover their ability to access credit cards. The current state of credit card delinquency flows can be an early indicator of future trends and we will closely monitor the degree to which this uptick is predictive of further consumer distress.”

What makes this trend particularly troubling is that, if the last crisis taught consumers anything, it’s that they can’t depend on the federal government to bail them out if things go south in a hurry. The Fed and Congress will probably stick to the tried-and-true playbook of bailing out the banks, while millions of Americans are forced from their homes and into impecunity in a retread of the financial crisis. Only this time, it’ll be subprime credit card debt and auto debt – not mortgages – that sink the economy.

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About That Sensationalist Bitcoin Electrical Consumption Story

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Check the context before uncritically accepting sensationalist conclusions.

Let's start with a primer on how to write a sensationalist story that can be passed off as "journalism:"

1. Locate credible-sounding data that can be de-contextualized, i.e. sensationalized.

 

2. Present the data as "fact" rather than data that requires verification by disinterested researchers.

 

3. Exaggerate the data as much as possible and set the tone and context with emotionally laden words: "shocking," etc.

 

4. Select a context that sensationalizes the conclusion.

Now let's take a look at a story that has been swallowed whole, with little to no fact-checking or disinterested inquiry: bitcoin's electrical consumption, i.e. the electricity consumed by mining/maintaining bitcoin's blockchain.

One Bitcoin Transaction Now Uses as Much Energy as Your House in a Week

Let's start by stipulating that energy consumption is a consequential matter worthy of serious inquiry. It's important to measure the energy consumption of all the systems that operate within the current status quo, and compare the consumption levels of these systems.

With that in mind, let's take a look at the story.

Right off the bat, the context we're offered to grasp the enormity of bitcoin's mining consumption is the electrical consumption of Nigeria, a nation, we're breathlessly informed, with 186 million residents. Wow! That's a crazy amount of electrical consumption, right?

Let's do some very basic fact-checking before we accept sensationalist conclusions, shall we?

Nigeria consumes about 24 billion kWh annually, while the U.S. consumes 3,913 billion kWh annually.

So Nigeria uses 3/5th of 1% (0.6%) of the electricity the U.S. consumes.

Now let's compare that electrical consumption with the amount of electricity consumed in the U.S. by residential devices and chargers on stand-by, i.e. appliances, devices, chargers, gizmos, etc. that aren't in use and doing no work but that are still consuming electricity.

About a quarter of all residential energy consumption is used on devices in idle power mode, according to a study of Northern California by the Natural Resources Defense Council. That means that devices that are “off” or in standby or sleep mode can use up to the equivalent of 50 large power plants’ worth of electricity and cost more than $19 billion in electricity bills every year.

source: Just How Much Power Do Your Electronics Use When They Are ‘Off’? (May 7, 2016, New York Times)

(Please read the article to find out just how much power the 50+ gadgets in your home consume doing absolutely zero work.)

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, annual residential electrical consumption totals 1,410 billion kWh.

So 25% (the amount of household electricity consumed by stand-by devices) of 1,410 billion equals 352 billion kWh consumed annually by residential appliances and devices on stand-by in the U.S.

Now let's compare the annual electrical consumption of Nigeria (24 B kWh) with the annual residential electrical consumption of devices on stand-by in the U.S.

The annual electrical consumption of Nigeria (24 B kWh) is 6.8% of the annual electrical consumed by household devices on stand-by in the U.S. That means the supposed consumption of bitcoin mining is 1/14th of the power lost to residential devices on stand-by in the U.S., devices doing essentially nothing.

Now let's add in all the appliances and devices in government and private-sector offices on stand-by. Let's conservatively estimate another 150 B kWh lost to all this stuff on stand-by.

Now let's multiply the total of electricity lost to stuff on stand-by mode (doing no work whatsoever) in the U.S., 500 B kWh annually, by five, since the U.S. consumes roughly 20% of all electricity globally.

Electricity production 2016 (Enerdata)

The United States’ share of world energy consumption (EIA)

This gives us an estimate of all the electrical power lost to electrical appliances and devices on stand-by globally every year: 2,500 billion kHh. 1% of that wasted electricity is 25 billion kHh. If you reckon this seems high, let's shave these totals to 1,500 billion kHh and 15 billion kHh.

Let's go back to the story about bitcoin's consumption of electricity which tells us "a shocking 215 kilowatt-hours (KWh) of juice (is) used by miners for each Bitcoin transaction."

But then a few paragraphs down, we discover the electricity per transaction might only be 77 kWh– nobody really knows for sure. Hmm. 77 is 36% of 215, so the "shocking" consumption might overstate actual consumption by a factor of three?

Let's choose a number between 77 and the "shocking" 215, since nobody really knows what the real number is: shall we guesstimate 135, or 2/3 of the high guesstimate? That would drop the annual consumption of bitcoin mining from 24 B kWh annually to 15 B kWh, less than 1% of the electricity wasted annually on stand-by devices doing no work whatsoever.

And so, um, bitcoin mining is a threat to the planet because it consumes less than 1% of all the electricity squandered by appliances and devices on stand-by? If we want to stop wasting so much energy, perhaps we should start by mandating near-zero stand-by power consumption for the hundreds of millions of devices which are not in use that are nonetheless sucking up electricity every second of every day.

Here's another thought: check the context before uncritically accepting sensationalist conclusions.

*  *  *

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com. Check out both of my new books, Inequality and the Collapse of Privilege ($3.95 Kindle, $8.95 print) and Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform ($3.95 Kindle, $8.95 print, $5.95 audiobook) For more, please visit the OTM essentials website.

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Meanwhile, South Korean Industrial Production Crashes

With South Korean stocks soaring in the face of nukes from their northern neighbor and a credit-crunching China, it appears the South Korean economy just caught down to reality…

South Korean Industrial Production crashed 5.9% YoY in October – the biggest plunge since Feb 2013 – driven by a 17.5% collapse in auto production.

Economists had forecast a 3.0% surge in IP this month.

Of course, for the rampant buyers of South Korean stocks, none of that matters…

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McDonald’s Bun-Supplier Loses 35% Of Staff To Immigration Raids

President Trump has made it widely known that he will not tolerate sanctuary cities like Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. Since taking office, he has threatened to slash federal funding to cities who do not comply with federal immigrations laws, along with ICE agents circumnavigating local authorities in a nationwide federal operation to arrest undocumented immigrants.

In the latest immigration raids, ICE agents targeted a Swiss supplier of hamburger buns for McDonald’s Corp., who said it’s Chicago bakery lost 35% or about 800 of its workers at the Cloverhill Plant.

The company is owned by Zurich-based Aryzta AG, who makes baked products for fast-food chains and supermarkets.

ICE agents pinpointed the Chicago bakery after its job placement agency went under federal investigation earlier this year.

Kevin Toland, Chief Executive Officer of Aryzta said on a call with analyst, “it’s proceeding very, very slowly because it’s like having a brand new factory and a brand new workforce. That’s presenting a lot of challenges, as you can imagine.”

According to Bloomberg, President Trump’s immigration raids are a major headache for U.S. companies who employ undocumented works. The challenges that Aryzta faces are likely to cause short term economic pain for the company, but on the longer end could cause its end products to increase prices directly impacting the consumer.

The raid on workers at Cloverhill is one of the biggest U.S. employment headaches reported by a European company so far as President Donald Trump has made curbing undocumented immigration a centerpiece of his presidency. Aryzta said it faces challenges in retaining staff in the U.S. and pressure to raise wages.

For employers, the loss of illegal immigrants can be expensive. Training a new workforce of American hires can increase the cost of labor and certainly cut into margins.

But in Cloverhill’s case, the cost of labor is relatively inexpensive not because of the illegal immigrants, but each of their factories (2) have highly automated production lines that involve minimal human interaction. Future wage pressures are not expected to threaten profitability too much due to automation, but in the intermediate timeframe a severe loss in margins is due to volume loss.

 

According to RT, the Chicago Immigration Court has never been busier since President Trump entered office. Across the United States, there are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, which signals immigration raids are just getting started.

The Chicago Immigration Court has 24,844 pending cases in its system as of this spring, according to the DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review. That is up from 13,000 pending cases in 2010. Nationally, the pending caseload has doubled since 2011.

 

According to EOIR, total orders for removal between Trump’s inauguration and the close of the fiscal year hit 63,634. At the end of fiscal year 2017, some 1,940 people were detained in Chicago, up from 1,669 at the end of the prior year. Most of them are of Mexican descent, statistics show.

 

The Trump administration set in motion sweeping changes in how the federal government dealt with those living in the US illegally. It is estimated there are 11 million immigrants living the US without legal status.

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FANG Shareholders Lost Almost 20 Times More Than Bitcoin Investors Today

While all eyes were told to focus on the cryptocurrency chaos over here… the widely-owned 'no-brainers' FANG stocks suffered total losses that were almost 20 times larger than the 'losers' in Bitcoin

At the end of the day – amid all the turmoil – Bitcoin ended the day down over $3 billion in market cap…

 

However, FANG stocks suffered their biggest market cap loss ever – losing almost $60 billion today…

Surely – as Joseph Stiglitz warned, investors should be banned from trading FANG stocks – if they can lose this much money in a day, the trading of these shares seems like something that should be heavily regulated.

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Turmoil…

GDP surged above expectations, Matt Lauer fired, Crude carnage, Semis slaughtered, Momo massacred, Nasdaq knackered, Precious metals pummeled, Bond bloodbath, and Bitcoin bounced and trounced… But everyone loves Trannies!

 

Spot the odd one out… (biggest divergence between Transports and Nasdaq since Nov 2009) – Dow and Small Caps closed at record highs…

 

Futures show the moves this week in a little more context…

(NOTE – today was the biggest divergence between The Dow and Nasdaq in over 5 months)

Today was Trannies biggest day since Nov 2011 to a new record high…

 

A look at Nasdaq and Bitcoin suggest some relationship in the collapse – while Nasdaq broke first, at around 1012amET both suddenly plunged together…

 

Is Nasdaq playing catchdown to FX carry?

And bonds?

 

Nasdaq VIX spiked above 16…

 

And Dow VIX spiked today even as Dow rallied…

 

Financials extended Powell-hype gains…

 

Massive rotation from momentum to value today… (biggest momo factor plunge since election)

 

NOTE – Today's 3.9% dispersoin between Value and Momo is the biggest since the election…

 

Were investors rotating out of Nvidia and into the underlying?

 

FANG Stocks suffered their biggest daily drop since Feb 2016…to one-month lows…

 

The Philly Semi Index crashed today…biggest single-day drop since Brexit (June 2016)

 

…and just happens to have occurred as the index finally cleared the 2000 dotcom peak

 

 

Bonds were whacked today – while Chinese yields fell modestly, German and US 10Y Yields spiked notably (we do note that Alibaba dropped a $7 billion multi-part bond today which may be a factor)

 

All yields are up on the week…

 

10Y yield back at one-month highs…

 

The yield curve steepened most since September…

 

The Dollar whipsawed around today but ended practically unchanged…

 

Copper continued to collapse – dropping to its lowest since October 10th…

 

Crude carnaged (as did RBOB) on 'sell-the-leaked-news' from OPEC (Saudi officials were not worried)…

 

Gold and Silver were slammed lower – silver back at its lowest since Oct 6th…

 

Finally, let's focus on Bitcoin – having broken $11,000 this morning, it surged on to $11,485, before collapsing to $8595.. then bouncing hard to $10,485, before losing $10k again into the US equity market close…

 

And while everyone i talking about the drop in cryptocurrencies – today's $60 billion drop in FANG market cap is the largest ever…

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The StingRay Spy Device Is Exactly Why The 4th Amendment Was Written

Authored by Olivia Donaldson via The Foundation for Economic Education,

Imagine you are in the middle of your typical day-to-day activities. Maybe you are driving, spending time with family, or working. If you are like most people, your phone is at your side on a daily basis. Little do you know that, at any time, police and law enforcement could be looking at information stored on your phone.

You haven't done anything wrong. You haven't been asked for permission. You aren't suspected of any crime.

The StingRay

Police have the power to collect your location along with the numbers of your incoming and outgoing calls and intercept the content of call and text communication. They can do all of this without you ever knowing about it.

How? They use a shoebox-sized device called a StingRay. This device (also called an IMSI catcher) mimics cell phone towers, prompting all the phones in the area to connect to it even if the phones aren't in use.

The police use StingRays to track down and implicate perpetrators of mainly domestic crimes. The devices can be mounted in vehicles, drones, helicopters, and airplanes, allowing police to gain highly specific information on the location of any particular phone, down to a particular apartment complex or hotel room.

Quietly, StingRay use is growing throughout local and federal law enforcement with little to no oversight. The ACLU has discovered that at least 68 agencies in 23 different states own StingRays, but says that this "dramatically underrepresents the actual use of StingRays by law enforcement agencies nationwide."

The Violation

Information from potentially thousands of phones is being collected every time a StingRay is used. Signals are sent into the homes, bags, and pockets of innocent individuals. The Electronic Frontier Foundation likens this to the Pre-Revolutionary War practice of soldiers going door-to-door, searching without suspicion.

Richard Tynan, a technologist with Privacy International notes that, “there really isn’t any place for innocent people to hide from a device such as this.”

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution states that, “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The StingRay clearly violates these standards. The drafters of the Constitution recognized that restricting the government from violating privacy is essential for a free society. That's why the Fourth Amendment exists. The StingRay is creating a dangerous precedent that tells the government that it's okay for them to violate our rights. Because of this, freedom is quietly slipping out the window.

Little Regulation

Law Enforcement is using StingRays without a warrant in most cases. For example, the San Bernardino Police Department used their StingRay 300 times without a warrant in a little over a year.

In 2010, the Tallahassee Police Department used a StingRay in a warrantless search to track down the suspect of a crime. A testimony from an unsealed hearing transcript talks about how police went about finding their target. The ACLU sums it up well:

"Police drove through the area using the vehicle-based device until they found the apartment complex in which the target phone was located, and then they walked around with the handheld device and stood ‘at every door and every window in that complex’ until they figured out which apartment the phone was located in. In other words, police were lurking outside people’s windows and sending powerful electronic signals into their private homes in order to collect information from within."

A handful of states have passed laws requiring police and federal agents to get a warrant before using a StingRay. They must show probable cause for one of the thousands of phones that they are actually searching. This is far from enough.

Additionally, there are many concerns that agents are withholding information from federal judges to monitor subjects without approval – bypassing the probable cause standard laid out in the Constitution. They even go as far as to let criminals go to avoid disclosing information about these devices to the courts.

If the public doesn’t become aware of this issue, the police will continue to use StingRays to infringe on our rights in secret and with impunity.

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