CHICAGO (Reuters) – The downgrade of Chicago’s credit rating by Moody’s Investors Service on Friday could immediately terminate four interest-rate swap agreements, costing the city about $58 million, and could lead to more terminations in the city’s swaps portfolio.
MrTopStep: February 27, 2015 11:30 pm MrTopStep.com
As the number of Chinese students in U.S. colleges outpaces that of any other country, the journey to get into an elite American university has only gotten more cutthroat and students are rising to the challenge in strange ways. Think: Scalping tickets for tests, making up exotic adventures, and getting tutored at 1:00 am. China […]
MrTopStep: February 27, 2015 11:14 pm MrTopStep.com
NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks dipped Friday afternoon as data showed U.S. economic growth slowed more sharply than initially thought in the fourth quarter, though the Dow and S&P 500 were on track for their best monthly performance since October 2011.
MrTopStep: February 27, 2015 11:02 pm MrTopStep.com
Google chief economist Hal Varian says that we’re grossly underestimating the productivity benefits we’re getting from robots and other forms of automation. Speaking at a Churchill Club forum in San Francisco last night alongside Paul Thomas (Chief Economist, Intel) and Jaana Remes (Partner, McKinsey Global Institute), he mentioned on multiple occasions that he views productivity […]
MrTopStep: February 27, 2015 10:44 pm MrTopStep.com
According to Reuters, two former Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE:WFC) employees are going to trial after an administrative judge, Jason Patil, cleared the way for regulators to take the case forward and pursue the alleged case of insider trading. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) alleged Gregory Bolan of tipping off Joseph Ruggieri with sell-side […]
MrTopStep: February 27, 2015 10:30 pm MrTopStep.com
By many indicators, the US economy is miles ahead of the rest of the world. And while Westwood Capital’s Daniel Alpert agrees in his most recent presentation, he says there are some key weaknesses that investors are either missing or overlooking. For instance, even though the count of nonfarm payrolls has increased, most of the […]
MrTopStep: February 27, 2015 10:14 pm MrTopStep.com
International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM), one of the largest and oldest information technology companies, generates more than 50% of its revenue from overseas markets. The company has said that the impact of currency exchange rates will have a deeper impact was earlier forecast. IBM has anticipated currency fluctuation to have an impact of more than […]
“War is merely the continuation of policy by other means.” – Carl von Clausewitz
The political elites, Federal Reserve and special interests that really run the show hiding behind Congress and the president of either party in America’s closed two-party monopoly seem to be running scared in many regards. They rightly have many fears for their political future as well as the profits and survival of the major international corporations and banking interests that support the current political leadership and regime.
Never has our nation, corporations and wealthy top 1% faced so many new threats to their efforts to grow their power and wealth around the world. Although there is enough blame and mistakes to go around, many of these threats can not really be blamed on our political or financial leaders but rather result from changes in the fast-paced world we live in today.
Conspiracy theorists prefer to see the world in black and white with no gray areas and keep it simple by criticizing secret groups or powerful interests for every problem but I believe the real situation is far more complicated. But everyone should realize the free America we grew up in has been long dead and buried with only the institutions and slogans remaining to lull the dumbed down public into apathy and acceptance. Our leaders are not omnipotent and certainly do not have all the answers and I suggest they have few answers and are actually making everything up as they go along, hence why I fear they will ultimately choose war as a solution to their problems.
Our America Does Not Exist Any More
Of course, conspiracies exist and thanks to Edward Snowden’s publicity, America does indeed operate a global police state with intelligence gathering, torture and spying everywhere in the world. While I believe this effort is more directed toward controlling foreign and domestic politicians and powerful individuals than targeting helpless Americans who disagree with policies, this is a frightening situation for what once was the symbol of freedom and liberty for the entire world.
But as Dorothy told her dog, Toto, in the classic “Wizard of Oz” movie, “I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” we’re also not in the America of our Founding Fathers any more, either. Real capitalism and free markets simply do not exist any longer. A few powerful interests manipulate all markets, unlimited fiat money is a profitable franchise and we are attempting to police and control the entire world to maintain our leadership position held since the end of World War Two.
Today you are a fool to trust what the government or press claims is true, fair and balanced, as it’s all just propaganda. Regulatory organizations exist only to protect the favored industries not the public, our legal system is a joke and all wars fought for democracy against evil are just looting expeditions against other nations out for profits, gain and natural resources.
All governments issue propaganda and mainstream news organizations sell the secret agendas and policies to the people. But the world today and especially the United States faces new challenges not even war-gamed or focus-grouped a few years ago and here lies the problem and risks for the nation and citizenry.
War May Be the Only Solution Left For Our Political Elites To Survive & Prosper
As Clausewitz so clearly stated, “War is merely the continuation of policy by other means,” and our leadership and the special interests behind them want to continue the policies and actions that have created so much wealth and world power for them. Think for a moment about the threats they are facing at home and abroad and how a major but limited war could solve or postpone most of their problems and threats to their powerbase.
There are two problems with the war solution. First, while it may be in their best interest to guarantee their survival, war would be bad for our military, soldiers and civilians as well as our economy, private wealth and remaining liberties. Second, there is no guarantee that a real war once started would remain limited in nature. I think both world wars are historical examples of how plans for limited wars can turn into major wars killing tens of millions and all of this for power hungry politicians and vested economic interests. Remember this classic quote about war:
“No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”
– Helmuth von Moltke, German military strategist
Wars Are Easy To Start and Rally Patriotism But Are Difficult to End
“Naturally the common people don’t want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, IT IS THE LEADERS of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is TELL THEM THEY ARE BEING ATTACKED, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. IT WORKS THE SAME IN ANY COUNTRY.”
– Hermann Goering at the Nuremberg Trials
1. Wars can provide a crisis and justification to continue sovereign debt issuance and currency expansion for the duration of the conflict.
2. War would allow the politicians to blame Russia and China for the coming end to the dollar as the world reserve currency as well as the looming dollar and debt crisis.
3. The Federal Reserve and their global central banking cartel have really destroyed the economy of the West through excessive debt issuance, money creation and borrowing. A war would allow the blame to be transferred to the enemy nations for public consumption.
4. War would allow the US to regain control over the European Union, individual European nations and NATO. Today, Germany, France and other nations are wavering in the lockstep support for US policies and war plans in the Ukraine.
5. War would stifle secession movements in Spain and Scotland, Greece and Italy threats to withdraw from the EU and the common euro currency.
6. A war would provide the excuse for the US to reestablish elite control over news and opinion from foreign news organizations and alternative Internet news competition.
7. A war against Russia and Iran would safeguard competition from Russian and Iranian oil and gas delivery pipelines as well as allow us to control Middle East production and continue the Petrodollar system for years to come.
8. As in both world wars, a major war would allow the government to terminate all domestic political movements and adversaries except for “approved” controlled opposition candidates from the two major parties.
9. A successful war against allies of China would delay the global power challenge from a resurgent China for a few years.
10. Finally, during a wartime crisis situation, politicians can always get away with attacks on civil liberties, freedom of the press and wealth confiscation to a degree never possible during peacetime and here lies the ultimate war threat to the majority of the American people. The much hyped and often undercover agent driven fake terror plots designed to keep the citizens living in fear and willing to give up liberties for safety simply does not work any longer now 14 years after 9/11.
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But a real war would provide the crisis excuse to confiscate your gold and “excess” retirement plan and IRA assets, reduce or curtail your social security benefits, dramatically raise taxes and institute total exchange controls while curtailing your remaining freedoms and ability to resist for the duration of the crisis. I’ll be speaking on wars, conflicts and why you should have a safe haven residence at the upcoming High Alert Investment Management Conference in May.
I hope I’m wrong about war becoming the solution of choice for Washington’s many mistakes and shortcomings. Watch what happens in Syria, Iraq and the Ukraine over the next year and we will likely have the answer. But one of our founding fathers certainly knew better than to allow war or a war crisis to override good leadership and common sense.
“They that would give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin
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MrTopStep: February 27, 2015 10:02 pm MrTopStep.com
Stocks fell to end the week, though the S&P 500 ended February with its biggest monthly gain since October 2011 after a revised reading of fourth-quarter US economic growth came in better than expected. First, the scoreboard: Dow: 18,141.2, -73.2, (-0.4%) S&P 500: 2,105, -5.6, (-0.3%) Nasdaq: 4,964.8, -23, (-0.5%) And now, the top stories […]
Argus Feed: February 27, 2015 9:59 pm L.A. Times - Business
As reported by Reuters, according to a regulatory filing, Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) intends to cut its capital spending budget by 11% year-over-year (YoY) in 2015. The cut means that Exxon would undertake capital spending of $34 billion this year. In 2014, the spending had fallen by over 9% YoY to $38.5 billion. The company […]
MrTopStep: February 27, 2015 9:30 pm MrTopStep.com
Warren Buffett will tell you that his investment career began in the 1940s when he bought shares in a company as an 11-year-old. However, there isn’t much footage of the Oracle of Omaha available before the 1980s. Reformed Broker Josh Brown points us to this rare 1962 interview with Buffett on ValueWalk.com. In this brief […]
Despite warnings from the likes of Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking (and of course, Sarah Connor), Ray Dalio’s $165 billion AUM hedge fund Bridgewater will start a new, artificial-intelligence unit next month. Despite the “new normal”‘s total reversal of any and every historical rational trading pattern, the unit will attempt to create trading algorithms that make predictions based on historical data and statistical probabilities, as “machine learning is the new wave of investing for the next 20 years and the smart players are focusing on it.” Does this mean the talking heads of CNBC, with their ‘memes’, ‘myths’, and ‘mumbling’ rationales for it always being a good time to buy are now obsolete? Or did the market just become self-aware?
Ray Dalio’s $165 billion Bridgewater Associates will start a new, artificial-intelligence unit next month with about half a dozen people, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The team will report to David Ferrucci, who joined Bridgewater at the end of 2012 after leading the International Business Machines Corp. engineers that developed Watson, the computer that beat human players on the television quiz show “Jeopardy!”
The unit will create trading algorithms that make predictions based on historical data and statistical probabilities, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The programs will learn as markets change and adapt to new information, as opposed to those that follow static instructions. A spokeswoman for Westport, Connecticut-based Bridgewater declined to comment on the team.
“Machine learning is the new wave of investing for the next 20 years and the smart players are focusing on it,” Dolfino said.
Some data scientists have been leaving firms outside of finance for larger paychecks at hedge funds, according to Dolfino. Quantitative firms have been on a winning streak and last year produced some of the highest returns in the $2.8 trillion hedge fund industry, by capturing price discrepancies across markets, making money from a plunge in oil prices and by purchasing government bonds that human traders dismissed.
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Is it just us or does it seem that everyone has forgotten the flash-crash and the quant crash before that when all the machines chased down the same rabbit holes?
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MrTopStep: February 27, 2015 9:29 pm MrTopStep.com
Here’s a brief update from “Ellen” who lives in Lviv, a city in Western Ukraine. Hello Mish We have quite a panic over the collapse of currency. People buy any food product that can be stored. Everyone wants to rid of Hryvnia. We haven’t seen anything like this since 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. […]
In a nutshell: Self-proclaimed “Baseball Legend” Coco Crisp of the Oakland A’s uses his trademark ’fro to catch baseballs in this mobile game. Not sure a .270 lifetime batting average qualifies Crisp as a legend, but he is a pretty good defensive outfielder and his hairstyle is famous enough it just might drive downloads. Corral enough balls to fill the “Hairometer,” and advance to the next level.
Cool factor: It’s a bit of hair-brained entertainment that’s worth your time only until the season’s first pitch in April. Free on iOS devices.
Virtual reality gear generated the biggest buzz during last year’s annual Game Developers Conference, and it looks like advances in virtual reality from the likes of Sony and Facebook’s Oculus VR will be a hot topic again this year.
At the conference, which kicks off Monday at Moscone Convention Center, virtual reality newcomers like Nvidia and Valve should accelerate development of actual games.
[…] it’s those game developers who can bring life to virtual reality hardware, just as app developers brought life to mobile devices like the iPhone.
“To make really great VR content, you can’t just plop a new game platform in front of a bunch of game developers and expect them to make magic overnight,” Blau said.
Sony used last year’s event as a stage to unveil Project Morpheus, a prototype virtual reality headset that works with the PlayStation 4 home console.
[…] the competition has become more fierce, with tech giants Google, Microsoft and Samsung announcing their own virtual reality devices.
[…] Valve, the Bellevue, Wash., company that runs online gaming platform Steam, announced last week it will introduce virtual reality hardware called SteamVR.
[…] Santa Clara’s Nvidia, maker of high-power computer graphics processors, has booked the Masonic Auditorium atop Nob Hill for a Tuesday evening event that reportedly will include the announcement of its first virtual reality headset.
The conference this year includes a special track devoted to e-sports, especially how developers can adapt their games to become more viewable online like popular tournament favorites such as “Starcraft II” and “League of Legends,” said Simon Carless, executive vice president for conference producer UBM Tech.
MrTopStep: February 27, 2015 9:14 pm MrTopStep.com
SAO PAULO (Reuters) – The leader of a truth commission investigating abuses during Brazil’s 1964-85 military dictatorship lambasted German automaker Volkswagen AG at a hearing on Friday for providing what he called “unsatisfactory” testimony regarding its alleged ties with the regime.
Argus Feed: February 27, 2015 9:11 pm L.A. Times - Business