Archive for the 'General' Category

Ugh!

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

No, it’s not SOTU, it’s VDH driving around.

Update: pretty good and popular SOTU, but then again, anything’s got to be better than this. Pow Wow the Indian boy, loved all the animals and the woods.

More debt, more empty cities

Monday, February 4th, 2019

BI:

“The biggest concern regarding financial stability and the sustainability of economic growth has been China’s ballooning debt problem, especially in the corporate sector,” according to a note published by JPMorgan. Chinese corporate debt is among the highest in the world — it’s a stunning 162% of gross domestic product.

The country’s debt will take serious and prolonged policy changes to rectify, said JPMorgan economists led by Haibin Zhu, the firm’s chief China economist. China’s slowdown comes alongside other economic red flags from its economy including poor PMI figures, lower exports, an aging workforce, and spiralling household debt.

JPMorgan pushed back on estimates that China would soon overtake the US as the world’s biggest economy, predicting that China’s growth potential would slow from a 6.5% level to 5.5% in 2021 through 2025 and 4.5% in 2026 through 2030. “This means that China will remain the second-largest economy much longer than expected,” the economists said.

“The transition to slower potential growth could be volatile and requires balancing reforms,” they wrote. “This will reshape China’s role in the global economy.” The key risk — disposing of “zombie” state-owned companies — means the economy could be forced to adopt a zero interest policy, JPMorgan said.

SCMP: “The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s top economic planner, has accelerated its review process and approved 27 infrastructure projects with a total expected investment of 1.48 trillion yuan (US$219.43 billion) since the start of 2018, of which 16 worth around 1.1 trillion yuan were approved since the start of November. Concerns were raised over a return to the debt-fuelled infrastructure investment binge that caused Beijing to halt approval of such projects in 2017, however, the need to stabilise the economy, which Beijing’s highest decision-making body set as the government’s top priority in July, took precedent.”

More empty cities on the way!

Brief miscellany

Sunday, February 3rd, 2019

Funny Roger Simon piece. Reminded us of having lunch with him at Canter’s when he was raising capital to start Pajamas Media, particularly because we had lunch at The Odeon a zillion years ago seated next to that fellow in his first paragraph. We have nothing to add about the nuttiness of the day.

Update: more entertaining Covington nuttiness. Apparently those kids and their families killed 50 or 60 million people. Yikes!!

You learn something new every day, or half century

Saturday, February 2nd, 2019

1964:

Trailer for sale or rent, rooms to let, fifty cents.
No phone, no pool, no pets, I ain’t got no cigarettes
Ah, but, two hours of pushin’ broom
Buys an eight by twelve four-bit room
I’m a man of means by no means, king of the road.
Third boxcar, midnight train, destination, Bangor, Maine.
Old worn out clothes and shoes,
I don’t pay no union dues,
I smoke old stogies I have found short, but not too big around
I’m a man of means by no means, king of the road.
I know every engineer on every train
All of their children, and all of their names
And every handout in every town
And every lock that ain’t locked, when no one’s around.
I sing, trailers for sale or rent, rooms to let, fifty cents
No phone, no pool, no pets, I ain’t got no cigarettes
Ah, but, two hours of pushin’ broom
Buys an eight by twelve four-bit room
I’m a man of means by no means, king of the road.
Trailers for sale or rent, rooms to let, fifty cents
No phone, no pool, no pets, I ain’t got no cigarettes
Ah, but, two hours of pushin’ broom
Buys an eight by twelve four-bit room
I’m a man of means by no means, king of the road.

We didn’t know until just now that it was a “four-bit” room. And from around the same time, the world’s greatest fun coo-coo lyric: “And if my woody breaks down on me somewhere on the surf route, I’ll strap my board to my back and hitch a ride in my wetsuit.” Other suggestions welcome of course.

Humor in these times

Saturday, February 2nd, 2019

DC:

Sanders, known as a “climate hawk,” has made fighting global warming a central part of his 2016 presidential bid and thrown his weight behind “Green New Deal” legislation championed by Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “And maybe here’s the biggest crisis of all,” Sanders said in his Tuesday night rebuttal to Trump’s call for border wall funding. “The scientific community has made it very clear in telling us that climate change is real and is causing devastating harm to our country and the entire planet.”

ABSOLUTE DOOM in 12 years! A scientist agrees. Oops, did we say scientist? We meant “scientist

We really need a new Beulah the Buzzer sound that goes off in a humorous way when these clowns start talking nonsense like this.

We’re quite serious about this last point. It’s not enough just to make a coherent argument against this insanity (what rich people who passionately believe in the global warming idiocy are selling their million dollar properties in the Hamptons, Palm Beach, Santa Barbara, etc? – ANSWER=NONE of course). There should be an alarm going off, or some other thing that will spray fireworks on the nuttiness, but in a funny and entertaining way. Suggestions welcome.

Every day a new low or two, or maybe a thousand

Friday, February 1st, 2019

Bizarro World and planet earth. We heard that San Francisco just passed a law saying that it would become a sanctuary city for illegal space aliens from Bizarro World and all 2 trillion galaxies. A forward thinking portion of Congressmen (oops!) agree.

Well duh! – re Federal Reserve

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

WSJ: “The case for raising rates has weakened somewhat,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said at a news conference after the central bank’s latest policy meeting.

Powell’s gone through the wringer and for now has come out the other side on the foolish interest rate increases, as we predicted – otherwise he’d be gone, as alternatively contemplated as well.

More bizarre stuff, this time from US “intelligence”

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

What is wrong with these people? NK won’t agree to anything good – that’s certainly helpful for upcoming negotiations. And Iran is behaving itself and no nukes – yeah, right. (Go ask Israel.) What do these so-called national security people think they are accomplishing? Bizarre.

Another point of view: The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong! When I became President Iran was making trouble all over the Middle East, and beyond. Since ending the terrible Iran Nuclear Deal, they are MUCH different, but….

Reaction: the usual. We’re so tired of this expletive deleted nonsense masquerading as wisdom – “wisdom” virtually entirely without value in the real world.

Bizarro World on steroids

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

(1) Tom Brokaw. (2) A high school debate in Utah. Do you remember this: “Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.” Today it’s Amy Wax to the tenth power. The Left has determined that common sense and rational thinking are now thought crimes.

Bringing the cash back home

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

WSJ:

Chinese net purchases of U.S. commercial real estate last year dwindled to their lowest level since 2012, as Beijing kept up the pressure on Chinese investors to bring cash home during a period of worsening economic growth.

Insurers, conglomerates and other investors from mainland China were net sellers of $854 million of U.S. commercial property in the fourth quarter, according to Real Capital Analytics. That marked the third-straight quarter Chinese investors sold more U.S. property than they bought, the first time ever these investors have been sellers for that long a stretch.

The selling during most of 2018 marked a powerful reversal from the previous five years, when Chinese investors went on a massive buying spree, often handily outbidding other investors for U.S. trophy properties. They spent tens of billions dollars on luxury hotels like the landmark Waldorf Astoria in New York, a nearly $1 billion skyscraper development in Chicago, and a glitzy residential project in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Chinese were net buyers of $2.63 billion of U.S. real estate in 2018, the lowest total in six years, according to Real Capital. China would have been a big net seller for the entire year if not for a $11.6 billion purchase of GLP, formerly Global Logistic Properties Ltd, made by a consortium of Chinese buyers a year ago.

GLP is kind of an odd company.

Bonus: this fellow is very smart but we think he got this one wrong. We’ll know in a couple of weeks.

War in the techno-weeds and macro oil

Monday, January 28th, 2019

WSJ:

In a pair of cases unsealed Monday, federal prosecutors accused Huawei of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran and of stealing trade secrets from a U.S. business partner, portraying the company as a serial violator of American laws and global business practices.

The charges contained in separate indictments in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Washington state were detailed by senior officials from the departments of Justice, Commerce and Homeland Security on the day the government reopened after a 35-day shutdown — and just two days before negotiators for the U.S. and China are to discuss trade issues in Washington, D.C.

The U.S.’s escalating, global campaign against Huawei has drawn in allies and enraged Beijing — which has detained a series of foreign citizens in recent weeks on suspicion of endangering China’s national security in what analysts view as retaliatory measures. Chinese officials have denied any links between the detentions in China and the pressure on Huawei.

In the newly unsealed indictments, the U.S. alleged Huawei, its finance chief and other employees worked over years to deceive multiple global banks and the U.S. government about its business in Iran. The indictment charged Huawei and two affiliates with bank fraud, violations of U.S. sanctions and conspiring to obstruct justice related to the grand jury investigation.

The U.S. also unsealed charges in the separate case accusing Huawei of stealing information from T-Mobile US Inc. about a phone-testing robot, “Tappy.” That 10-count indictment was returned by a grand jury on Jan. 16. That investigation, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, grew in part out of civil lawsuits against Huawei, including one in which a Seattle jury found Huawei liable for misappropriating robotic technology from T-Mobile’s Bellevue, Wash., lab, according to people familiar with the matter.

Huawei offered bonuses to employees who were successful in stealing confidential information from other companies, U.S. prosecutors alleged.

Despite being the world’s largest maker of telecommunications equipment and second-largest smartphone vendor behind Samsung Electronics Co., Huawei has been effectively locked out of the U.S. market since a 2012 congressional report raised concerns that its gear could be used to spy on Americans. U.S. officials have also long voiced concerns that Huawei steals technology and improperly makes use of government subsidies to fuel its rise.

Huawei has denied the allegations, but the Trump administration in recent months has sharply accelerated its campaign to counter the telecommunications giant’s global expansion as countries around the world rush to lock in contracts for next-generation 5G wireless technology. The 5G tech will make it easier to connect items like cars and appliances to the internet, but it will also render networks more vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Governments including Australia, Britain, Canada, Germany and Japan have all recently said they were looking closely at their telecom-equipment supply chain in the wake of the Huawei developments. Australia and New Zealand have restricted Huawei’s involvement in new 5G projects with those countries’ carriers. On Friday, London-based Vodafone Group PLC, the world’s biggest mobile carrier outside China, said it was temporarily halting purchases of some components made by Huawei, citing uncertainty over whether governments in Europe would shun the firm because of national-security concerns.

Last month, Canadian authorities arrested Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou at the request of U.S. authorities. Ms. Meng, the daughter of company founderRen Zhengfei, was accused of misleading banks about the nature of Huawei’s business in Iran, leading to violations of U.S. sanctions on the country. Ms. Meng has denied the charges and is fighting extradition. Huawei says it follows the law in all countries where it operates.

Following Ms. Meng’s arrest, Chinese authorities detained two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, on national-security grounds. They also issued a death sentence to a Canadian on drug-smuggling charges after a speedy retrial. Analysts viewed it as an attempt by Beijing to force Canada to release Ms. Meng. Chinese officials have said there is no connection. Similarly, Beijing last week said an Australian writer who went missing while traveling in the country had been detained on suspicions of threatening state security.

Separately, Polish authorities earlier this month arrested Huawei executive Wang Weijing and charged him with conducting espionage on behalf of the Chinese government. Huawei wasn’t accused of wrongdoing in that case, and the company quickly terminated Mr. Wang’s employment.

Shortly after Poland publicized the charges, Mr. Ren, Huawei’s founder, made a rare appearance before international media at the company’s headquarters in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, seeking to directly confront the snowballing concerns. Mr. Ren said Huawei hasn’t — and would never — spy on behalf of the Chinese government.

More:

The Trump administration imposed sanctions against Venezuela’s state-owned oil company. In an interview Monday before the sanctions were announced, Mr. Guaidó said his nascent government was making every effort it could to get control of Venezuela’s international assets — and mainly the state oil company. “They have the bureaucracy of this country kidnapped, they direct this bureaucracy,” he said, referring to Mr. Maduro and his control of Pdvsa. Mr. Guaidó said the National Assembly estimated that $30 billion had gone missing from the oil company. the half-million barrels sent to the United States daily has been a critical source of revenue and foreign currency for Mr. Maduro’s government. “U.S. oil exports are where Venezuela gets its cash flow,” Mr. Dallen said.

Serious times getting more serious. Hey, let’s get President AOC to deal with these things!

Brief miscellany

Monday, January 28th, 2019

China’s Silicon Valley province has slowing growth of course. We’re busy on other things and don’t have much time, but this takes the cake for weirdness.

The upcoming Best Horror Movie of 2019

Sunday, January 27th, 2019

Apparently there are 240 million American Christians, 70 million of whom are Catholic. So it may seem a little odd that places like the NYT are loaded for bear to expose how awful they are. But hey, the war on Western Civilization is a long one.

Be that as it may, we think there is an additional point to be made regarding the frenzied condemnation of the Covington MAGA boys, and the free pass the media gave to the obviously gross and nasty Nathan Phillips. We note with disgust that the no-fighting-back conservatives played their parts magnificently, just as the Director of the Leftist movie knew they would.

In our view the Director will be making a new movie soon, and Covington was just a warm-up for the Blockbuster the Director, the Executive Producers and the screen writers have planned. The name of the evil star of the film is Amy Coney Barrett, a Catholic who has seven children. The WaPo has already put out several hit pieces (this and this) on her. The top brass at the movie studio have been told that Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be gone very soon, and Barrett will likely be nominated as her replacement.

Stay tuned. We’ve been told that the upcoming film has already been nominated for and won as Best Horror Movie of 2019.

Wrong or right?

Saturday, January 26th, 2019

The WaPo says that the “capitulation to Democrats marked a humiliating low point in a polarizing presidency and sparked an immediate backlash among some conservative allies, who cast him as a wimp.” Well, we don’t see it that way, and the 2000 word address didn’t sound that way. Better to say some of the same things in the SOTU, get past the Super Bowl, if possible get the attorney general approved, and then El Kabong in mid February. In any event, we’ll see who is wrong or right pretty soon.

Question

Saturday, January 26th, 2019

Question: what does it take to arrest a 66 year old guy for some obscure white collar offenses? Answer: 2 dozen heavily armed FBI agents in more than a dozen SUV’s pre-dawn, all covered live by a TV network that knew about all this in advance, since they were there before the FBI showed up.

All you need to know re Venezuela

Friday, January 25th, 2019

China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua support Maduro. Hey, it’s just like The Lone Ranger, The Cisco Kid, The Rifleman, Gunsmoke, and all the rest.

Bonus: all that “caving” nonsense, much of it is to get past the Super Bowl, since any flights delayed there, etc., would have been described as WWIII by media. Smart to delay a couple of weeks.

Lotsa animals gathering

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

SCMP:

Ministries responded after China reported its lowest annual growth rate in 28 years in 2018, and after President Xi Jinping issued a warning about the dangers facing the world’s second largest economy.

At a meeting with hundreds of provincial and department cadres on Monday, Xi said the country must fend off the risks that “black swans” – unexpected events with major economic and political consequences – and “grey rhinos”, risks that have major effects despite being known in advance, pose for the country’s outlook.

The government then announced a series of measures to spur growth. On Wednesday, the Ministry of Finance said that Beijing will increase spending and plan for large scale tax cuts and reductions in social security fees paid by employers to shore up confidence in the economy. Those details are expected to be finalised at the National People’s Congress in March.

On the same day, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), China’s central bank, injected 257.5 billion yuan (US$37.9 billion) into the banking system for the first time using its targeted medium-term lending facility to increase loans to struggling firms. Loans from the new facility carry a lower interest rate than other PBOC lending vehicles and banks can take three years to repay them.

The moves came a day after the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country’s top economic planning agency, demanded that Chinese banks grant more medium and long-term loans to private enterprises, especially companies involved in advanced manufacturing.

“We expect a significant value-added tax cut, fiscal subsidies on home appliances and auto purchases and expansion in fiscal deficit targets will be announced in the coming months,” Zhu Haibin, chief China economist at JPMorgan, wrote in a research note this week.

That’s the ticket, more leverage! We were going to have a little fun with the AOC nuttiness by listing how many of the 3 dozen carbon tax sponsors have PhD’s, but we’re too busy to waste the time, and anyway, most of them do. She’s in fine company.

BTW: the Covington kids should sue, sue, sue.

Member of Congress says that Climate Change = World War II

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

A representative in Congress from NYC:

the part of it that is generational is that millennials and people, in Gen Z, and all these folks that come after us are looking up and we’re like, the world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change. You’re biggest issue, your biggest issue is how are going to pay for it? — and like this is the war, this is our World War II.

Yeah, we’re sure life is tough for you, like it was for so many Americans who had a bad day back then. Will anyone push back against this idiot? Apparently not these guys and gals:

George Akerlof, Robert Aumann, Angus Deaton, Peter Diamond, Robert Engle, Eugene Fama, Lars Peter Hansen, Oliver Hart, Bengt Holmström, Daniel Kahneman, Finn Kydland, Robert Lucas, Eric Maskin, Daniel McFadden, Robert Merton, Roger Myerson, Edmund Phelps, Alvin Roth, Thomas Sargent, Myron Scholes, Amartya Sen, William Sharpe, Robert Shiller, Christopher Sims, Robert Solow, Michael Spence and Richard Thaler are recipients of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Paul Volcker is a former Federal Reserve chairman. Martin Baily, Michael Boskin, Martin Feldstein, Jason Furman, Austan Goolsbee, Glenn Hubbard, Alan Krueger, Edward Lazear, N. Gregory Mankiw, Christina Romer, Harvey Rosen and Laura Tyson are former chairmen of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers. Ben Bernanke, Alan Greenspan and Janet Yellen have chaired both the Fed and the Council of Economic Advisers. George Shultz and Lawrence Summers are former Treasury secretaries.

More wimpiness here. You realize that the elevating the trivial and trivializing real horror and hardship increases the likelihood of really bad stuff happening, and the US is definitely on that course.

VDH

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

Too much detail and we don’t really like writing about this, but it’s really good stuff.

Trouble ahead, trouble behind – slowest growth in 28 years in China

Monday, January 21st, 2019

WSJ:

In the southern technology and export-manufacturing center of Shenzhen, for instance, many private makers of electronics, textiles and auto parts furloughed workers more than two months before the Lunar New Year holiday, which begins in February, according to business owners and local officials. The neighboring city of Guangzhou saw growth slump to 6.5% last year — well short of the 7.5% annual target set by the city government—as trade tensions hit the city’s manufacturing sector hard.

Some economists and investors have said China’s economy is far more anemic than the government’s 6.6% rate of expansion for 2018. They note the government’s move on Friday, just ahead of Monday’s data release, to cut the 2017 growth rate to 6.8% from 6.9%

We’ve spent a decent amount of time in both Shenzhen and Guangzhou BTW. Oops: via SCMP: China set to report slowest economic growth for 28 years.

Also via WSJ: The eurozone economy enjoyed its fastest growth in a decade during 2017, a 2.4% expansion that ECB’s economists expected to see continue through 2018. The World Bank now estimates growth slowed to 1.9% last year and will slip further to 1.6% this year.

Addendum: Casey Jones you better watch that speed, or lack thereof. Hey, we saw the Dead in Brooklyn a long time ago, when Pigpen was still with us. So rewriting the Dead: trouble behind, trouble ahead,