Thursday, June 22, 2017

Gold and Political Risk

There's a room where the light won't find you
Holding hands while the wall come tumbling down
When they do, I'll be right behind you
--Tears for Fears

As these pages have observed, gold is a bet on disorder. This article notes that this disorder usually stems from political causes. Governments, in their quest to get bigger and to acquire power, inevitably look toward acquiring resources via the monetary system.

In the U.S., much of this government action began with the initiation of the Federal Reserve in 1913.

1913 $2.50 PCGS MS64 CAC

Gold is a way for citizens to keep their resources from being robbed by government action. It is insurance against political risk.

position in gold

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Cuban Reversal

Better get yourself together
And hold on to what you got
Once the music hits your system
There's no way you're gonna stop
--Miami Sound Machine

One of the few bright spots in the Obama administration was the lifting of sanctions on Iran and Cuba. Last week, the Trump administration began reversing those policies with Cuba and, effectively, putting previous sanctions back in place.

While not all of Obama's reforms will be overturned, Trump will reinstall travel restrictions and once again make it difficult for US business to trade with Cuba. The president argues that such restrictions are necessary to penalize Cuba for its poor human rights record under the current governing regime.

But the effect of these sanctions is to penalize US citizens who would otherwise want to travel and trade with Cuba. Moreover, the benefits of voluntary exchange are likely to strengthen Cuban appetites for governance that respects life, liberty and property rights.

As do all policies grounded in sanction, the president's actions make both the US and Cuba worse off.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Disappearing Insurance Markets

Funny how I blind myself
I never knew
If I was sometimes played upon
Afraid to lose
--Talk Talk

Nice graphic showing time multi-year trend of insurers leaving the marketplaces arranged by the Affordable Care Act. Dwindling number of insurers means less supply and lack of competition to drive future efficiency gains.

As the articles suggests, some actions taken by the Trump administration are likely extending the problem.

But make no mistake, the negative consequences of Obamacare, including loss of supply, were all too predictable from the outset.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Rhetoric of Death

In my head, the voice is waiting
Waiting for me to set it free
--Russ Ballard

Of the many strategies that have unraveled on the left, one that has been laid bare for all to see is the practice of accusing political opponents of 'violent rhetoric' that subsequently spawns violent action.

When Democratic congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in 2011, leftists first claimed that the shooter had Tea Party ties which helped motive the crime due to the Tea Party's alleged violent underpinnings. When the associated mainstream media frenzy refused to reveal any Tea Party links to the shooter, accusations shifted to Republican Sarah Palin's recent communications that 'targeted' various Democratic political districts for action using a crosshairs motif. When it became clear that the alleged shooter had a long record of unstable behavior and affinities to the writings of Hitler and Marx, the party line shifted once more to the harsh political rhetoric alleged to be spewed by Republicans, and the potential of these words to compel unstable individuals toward violent acts.

The left has rolled out similar narratives in the face of other high profile events, including the Benghazi disaster and even the Boston Marathon bombing, to little avail.

That these narratives had no factual basis, of course, matters little to the left. They help rile the base thru processes of gaslighting and emotional capture.

Since last fall's presidential election, it has been the left that has been spewing increasingly violent rhetoric. The most eyepopping examples come from left wing entertainers. Snoop Dogg shooting a character dressed as Donald Trump in the head in a music video. Madonna confessing on stage that she has thought about blowing up the White House. A comedian posting a video of herself holding a bloody Donald Trump head severed ISIS-style. A NYC play depicting Trump as a modern-day Julius Caesar getting stabbed to death on stage.

Leftist groups have called for various programs of 'resistance' and even war. Demonstrations have morphed into riots.

Democratic politicians have gotten into the act as well. Claims to the effect that "People are going to die" have been uttered by Democrats in opposition to nearly all Trump and GOP actions. If Obamacare is repealed, people are going to die. If the US steps away from global warming treaties, people are going to die. Etc.

This past week, the tables turned even more on the left when a leftist partisan who was obviously plugged into this stream, as exemplified by his social media trail, shot up a GOP baseball practice and injured several, including the third ranking Republican in the House. Did someone who repeatedly heard that 'People will die' if Republican policies were implemented think that he could save lives by gunning down some GOP policymakers?

We'll never know for certain as the shooter is dead. And even if that shooter did take the words of others to heart, it is doubtful that he will be able to lay off blame for his actions when he stands accountable before God.

However, it is becoming apparent is that the derangement of the left is increasingly being expressed by a rhetoric of death, and that this rhetoric could inspire action. Individuals would be foolish not to prepare for the potential consequences should this behavior continue.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Red to Bronze

"You know what we get to do today, Brooks? We get to play baseball!"
--Jimmy Morris (The Rookie)

One year ago the Cincinnati Reds retired Pete Rose's number and inducted him into the Reds Hall of Fame. Yesterday, the Reds once again honored Rose with a statue of Charlie Hustle laying out into one of his patented head first slides.

Pete was there being Pete. No prepared remarks. Speaking from the heart. Mixing it up with his former Big Red Machine teammates. Even spending time in the TV and radio booths.

Several times he indicated that he would love to spend more time with team, talking, for example, about hitting with Billy Hamilton and others. He wished he could set foot in the Reds clubhouse.

Of course, Major League Baseball has banned Pete from doing any of this.

It may go down as one the most foolish moves in sports business history. Locking out the game's greatest living ambassador and prohibiting him from doing what he does best: dedicating his being to advance the game of baseball.

Thankfully, MLB could not stop the conversion of the brightest Red of all into bronze.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Amazon's Shark

"Here we go, Fonz, I'm heading for the ramp. Are you sure you want to do it?"
--Richie Cunningham (Happy Days)

Market bubbles often climax with a 'jump-the-shark' moment. The dot com bubble jumped the shark when internet upstart America Online (AOL) ponied up nearly $200 billion to buy media giant Time Warner. This buyout nearly top ticked the market in 2000.

Yesterday, Amazon announced that it was buying grocer Whole Foods Markets (WFM) for about $13 billion. While the size of the deal is nothing like the AOL/Time Warner whopper of yore, it speaks to the veracity of mega cap tech companies reaching into industries unlike their core markets--leading to the perception that tech is 'taking over America.'

Perhaps. On the other hand, it could merely be symptomatic of hubris fostered by stock prices that have been on a multi-year moonshot that are likely to reverse sooner rather than later.

no positions

Friday, June 16, 2017

Anonymous Sources

People say believe half of what you see
And none of what you hear
--Marvin Gaye

Last night, the Department of Justice issued a short release warning Americans about news stories built on information obtained from anonymous sources. The release begins:

"Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous 'officials,' particularly when they do not identify the country - let alone the branch or agency of government - with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated. Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations."

Motivations for this release are unclear. However, we do know that the mainstream media have based their recent grapevine journalism campaign on anonymous sources. Anonymous sources cast an air of legitimacy to the publication of rumor, innuendo, and fiction as fact.

As the media has ratcheted up the anonymous source approach, awareness is growing among Americans about the risk of consuming information grounded in shoddy journalism. This is a positive development. People are learning to rely less on assumptions and second hand information in pursuit of truth.

Hopefully, the DOJ release helps speed that process.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Catch of the Day.

Ellen Brody: What am I going to tell the kids?
Martin Brody: Tell them I'm going fishing.

As leftists appear to have moved over to the obstruction of justice pond, they might want to be careful about where they cast their lines and nets. Not only are these people increasingly seen as desperate and deranged political hacks, but by fishing in the obstruction pond they may well hook themselves.

In his congressional testimony last week, former FBI director James Comey claimed that Obama AG Lorretta Lynch sought to influence how the Bureau communicated with the public about the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Among other things, she told Comey to water down the Clinton investigation rhetoric and refer to it as simply a 'matter.'

Couple this with other actions, such as Lynch's now infamous tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton days before Comey publicly exonerated Hillary last summer, and you have the makings of a case that the Obama administration obstructed justice during last year's presidential campaign with Lynch acting as the point person to use law enforcement resources for political purposes rather than for purposes of justice.

Some legal experts, including Judge Nap, believe that enough evidence exists for a criminal investigation of Lynch into her involvement in the Clinton email investigation.

My sense is that the longer that Dems extend their fishing expedition, the greater the likelihood that they wind up as Catch of the Day.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Bullets and Baseball

"How do you like someone shooting back at you?"
--Rafe McCawley (Pearl Harbor)

This morning a gunman opened fire on Republican congressmen as they were practicing on an Alexandra baseball diamond for the upcoming annual game against congressional Democrats at Nationals Park. One congressman, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (LA) was shot in the hip. Several others, including two Capitol Police officers and an aide, were also reported as sustaining non-life threatening injuries.

Details are still emerging on the shooter, who was wounded and taken to a local hospital under custody where it is now being reported that he has died from his injuries. What does seem apparent from the accounts of several congressmen on the field is that the shooter was using an AR-type rifle and got off at least 50 rounds (implying multi mags) as players on the diamond scattered and sought cover.

The Capitol Police officers who returned fire and brought down the shooter were there because Scalise's leadership position merits a security detail when he travels locally.

Clearly, if guns were not on the scene to fire in a self-defense capacity, then this baseball field quite likely would have become a killing field.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Misplaced Celebration

Trim life shadows flicker and fall
But you still can't turn away
Get up and run before you stall
Before the edges fray
--Ric Ocasek

One of the more amusing vids I've seen in some time:

Also a lesson in misplaced celebration. The runner surely thought the crescendo of cheers as he neared the finish line was for him and he let up and lost his focus as he sought to pump up the volume.

No matter what the situation, stay the course and power thru the tape.