Why is it bad when a company buys-back its own stock? They become ZOMBIES, The "Walking Dead" of Wall Street

What happens to companies that buy back their own stock with debt? They become Zombies. The situation gets even worse when companies buy back stock in periods of rising interest rates and at a time when stocks are trading at all time highs.

So, why is it bad when a company buys back its own stock? Here's the answer: EPS is a measure of company performance. It is calculated:

Net Income / Shares Outstanding


Stock prices tend to go up when a positive earnings per share (EPS)  is announced, and down when negative EPS is announced. CEOs and CFOs know this and will do everything they can to "windowdress", especially to disguise a bad year or quarter.

When a company buys its own stock it reduces the number of shares outstanding and increases EPS even though the company made no additional net income. This is how a company can lose money and still have a growing EPS. They will tell you they are doing it as a way to reward the shareholders, which is true as long as the company is cash rich like Intel or Apple, but most companies are borrowing money to finance stock buy-backs, and they are doing it at a time when shares are selling at their highest multiple in years. These companies are referred to as Zombies, they are the walking dead. I did not make this term up. Read more about the rise of the Zombie firm here.

So what? 

What does this mean if you're an investor?

 It means you need to focus on companies with earnings, not earnings per share. If a company isn't making a profit (read: net income goes down), but the EPS is still going up, it's a red flag because this can only happen one way -- if the company bought back shares. It's a super red flag if debt is going up at the same time and the company is using the debt to purchase shares (read: shares outstanding is going down). You don't want to own these companies. These are great short opportunities.

What does this mean if you're a consumer?

 It means companies will be competing for your dollar more than ever. These are hard times for local retailers who must compete against online retailers as well. They also don't have our undivided attention like they did 20 years ago. Which is to say the new entertainment model (Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc) allows most of us to opt-out of watching commercials. Now, retailers are looking for ways to get back in your head. Enter rewards or cash back programs. These programs have become better at reaching a wider audience than a traditional ad or commercial. Not only has the number of programs increased, but the percentage of cash going back to the customer is growing. This will come back to the retailer in one of two ways: 1) it will grow foot traffic at the expense of pricing or 2) it will create  write-offs. Write-offs can be pushed to the next quarter or year and they allow a company to drastically reduce prices in the current quarter. Either way, look forward to heavy discounts this holiday season to increase foot traffic.

My Top 3 Automated E-commerce & E-marketing Tools: Swipe Vault, The Amazing Widget & Backlink Beast

My Top 3 Automated E-commerce & E-marketing Tools: Swipe Vault, The Amazing Widget & Backlink Beast


I’ve had a few people ask me what tools I use to grow my audience. There are a lot of websites out there promising to be the holy grail and I’ve gone through many of them (painfully), but these are my top 3.

These software programs will help you to:
  1. Find and use only the best sales and marketing ad copy — Swipe Vault
  2. Place automated sales agents all over the web selling your products — The Amazing Widget
  3. Rank # on Google -Backlink Beast
You will notice one theme here: actual applications or software that you can start using today. I’m not a fan of “success coaches” or paying for people to tell you what to do. I’ve gone through several success coaches and they never seem to work as well as a robot or an app that actually does the work for you. Sorry coaches.

The following tools help you automate marketing and sales functions overnight. They’ve all been proven to be successful. Each of these tools takes the place of a marketer or researcher on my team. I get full time support with an automated application that takes a few minutes to employ. It also costs a lot less than hiring someone full-time.

Also, keep in mind that all of these products come with a 60 day money back guarantee. In other words, if you don’t like the product or if it doesn’t deliver, you can contact the retailer at any time within the 60 day guarantee period for a full refund. This has been verified.

Let’s get started…

Swipe Vault — Best online library of sales and marketing copy

I’m a writer and this is where I go for copy. There, now you know my secret.

In a nutshell, this is a place to find the best sales copy on the web. There’s no easier way to put it.
What’s different about Swipe Vault? It’s backed by data. The folks at Swipe Vault have created an algorithm that takes a deep dive of the Internet and copies or “swipes” sales and marketing material that’s been proven to work. It does this by finding high-converting, high-sales, high-traffic websites and reverse engineering the marketing material that has made these sites successful. It’s like having your own personal consulting or research team.

Some folks say this is stealing. It’s not. It’s taking a snapshot of sales and marketing best practices from high performing websites and applying it to your own shop. You are paying Swipe Vault for access to what works. The algorithm is constantly working so sales copy recommendations never get stale.

The application starts off by giving you some options: you can either start a new business, grow your old business or concentrate on getting more traffic.
www.SwipeVault.com

You also have a number of courses such as “Membership Method” and “Amazon Secrets”.
For more information click here. Remember, you have 60 days to test drive it.
Now on to recommendation #2…

The Amazing Widget — Place a viral sales agent all over the web

The Amazing Widget
This is one of my favorite tools, primarily due to the referral activity it provides (and if you follow me, you know how much I like referrals). The Amazing Widget gives you the ability to:
  • Create unlimited, custom promotional widgets for any niche.
  • Quickly place and spread them across the web using an instant sharing tool.
  • Promote the affiliate products of your choice.
Keep in mind that each Amazing Widget promotes *two* products, as shown in the image below. One through the top (image) ad, and one through the bottom (text) ad.
The Amazing Widget
I’ve used free widget programs and this is worth the money. You’ve got 60 days to give it a try so you can see for yourself. I love this product.
Finally, recommendation #3…

Backlink Beast — Improve your Google rank overnight

The name sounds sketchy I know, but this is an amazing tool that allows your page to rank FAST. And, a higher ranking means free marketing and higher sales.
Ranking is all about building back-links the right way and this tool does just that. It was created post Panda and Penguin Google updates so no worries there and it provides more “hands off” link diversity than any other program on the market.

It automates your link diversity by building thousands of links from thousands of sites. Unlike other so-called “automated” link building programs, Backlink Beast has eliminated most of the manual work involved in link building with:
  • Automatic account creation (create 1000’s of accounts on the fly)
  • Automatic content submission
  • Automatic anchor text diversity
  • Automatic Link Reports generated for you after each successful submission.
It’s like having 100 employees creating your accounts, submitting your content, building your links, and generating your reports at the same time.
Again, you get 60 days to give this a try to see if it works for you.
Backlink Beast


So that’s it. If you have any products you’ve found to be exceptionally helpful for you and yours this year please add them in the comments below. Please include the refund policy on all products listed and whether or not you’ve personally tried the product.
Wishing you much success and a debt free new year!

Can Blockchain Automate The Middleman For Freelancers



More than a force of change on the business world, freelancers are becoming a competitive advantage because they:
  1. are highly flexible,
  2. get paid by the task; and,
  3. have a high degree of autonomy.
Strategically, freelancers also give employers: the ability to tap into talent outside the local geographic area, the flexibility to cover short-term skill gaps, the luxury of lower overhead and the myriad benefits that go along with increased operational agility.

 

The Middleman

The advantages of hiring freelancers are clear, but the process of finding freelancers can be tedious, frustrating and expensive. Enter the middleman or third-party. Platforms like Upwork and Fiverr are popular, but tend to struggle with a common set of problems to include inconsistent work quality and payment issues.

In addition to these challenges, third-parties also charge fees. Some charge a flat rate fee on all transactions, while others charge variable rates. For example, Upwork charges 20% for up to $500, 10% for up to $10,000, and 5% for over $10,000 per client. Fiverr charges 20% flat. This doesn't include fees on payment options like credit cards, PayPal or bank transfers.

Is it possible to automate this middleman and payment function? Yes, and the name of the technology helping companies do so is called blockchain.

 

Blockchain Automates the Middleman 

Blockchain is the new middleman. It  helps to facilitate the connection between you and the freelancer by serving as a dual-staking system or escrow service. The technology offers companies and freelancers the ability to trust and verify without the need for intermediaries. Once the contractual conditions have been fulfilled, payment is automatically authorized. The set of conditions surrounding the agreement is referred to as a 'smart contract'. No middleman or trust agent is needed because the blockchain is the broker.

Blockchain applications also provide benefits for the freelancer including faster payments,  lower fees, easier access, and contractual incentives like staking. Staking helps freelancers solve the age old "chicken or the egg problem" when starting on a  new platform. A reputation is required to get new gigs, but you need gigs to establish a reputation. With Serve, Instead of having to build a reputation, you can buy your reputation by purchasing a "stake". This form of tokenized reputation encourages  everyone to act ethically because everyone has some "skin in the game".

Most third party platforms are flawed since the middleman charges fees and controls how the connections are made. Blockchain powered with technology has the ability to automate the middleman function giving you all the benefits of hiring a freelancer without the headache.

The future is powered by blockchain.




The Rules of The Simulation & Neuroscience: The Relationship Between You And The Controller



I don't think it's possible to separate belief system from everyday life if you want to live well. And, based on new discoveries in quantum science, separating the two may even be hindering progress in everything we do, especially if we 'believe' the path toward progress is a difficult one. In such a case, we could be the creators of our own hell. Of course the opposite may also be true, which should make this article worth reading.

What Do I Believe? We Are Living In A Simulation


I believe that we create our own reality. I believe we can do this because we live in a simulation. This may seem like science fiction, but there's a dearth of scientific (repeatable) evidence out there that says otherwise.  One of my favorite discussions on the topic is the 2016 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: Is the Universe a Simulation?(see below)



Let's assume we're both on the same page and we both believe we are living in a simulation. Now what? The next step is to figure out the rules of the simulation so we can get the most out of this life.

The Relationship Between Newtonian & Quantum Physics


We know the physical rules of the world are based in Newtonian physics: an action or cause creates the effect or reaction.

We also know the rules of the world are based in Quantum physics, the study of matter at the atomic level. At this level, however, the laws are reversed. At the quantum level the action or cause follows the effect or reaction. Again, this is provable, peer-reviewed, repeatable science.

We know a lot about impacting reality on the Newtonian level, but what about the quantum level? What is the quantum level? Why is it there? Who is there?

In the following video, Dr. Joe talks about these questions. Specifically, he discusses the relationship between you and your "self" (the person playing the game). He gives a few ideas on ways you can tap into your infinite self using the laws of quantum physics.

The most common way is to imagine yourself as the person you need to be in order to be the person who does the things you want to do. That sentence takes a bit of unraveling, but here's an example of an exercise that will help.

Before you get up in the morning, transform yourself into the person you want to be in your mind. Walk the way they walk, talk the way they talk. Do the things they do throughout the day. Try to live out the entire day of the person you want to be before you get up in the morning. Don't let yourself get out of bed until you are that person.
 

Why and how does this exercise work: neuroscience

 

Studies show that what you imagine to be happening is actually happening as far as your brain is concerned. Let that sink in for a moment. For example, scientists have shown that if a person imagines eating, if they imagine the entire process and all its sensations as clearly as they can, they will have less appetite for more food afterwards, just as if they've actually eaten. It doesn't stop at mental suggestion. Another study found that just thinking about exercise can build muscle. This puts a different spin on the practice of prayer and meditation.

It is possible to live out the experience you want to have in your mind. If you're really good at this, if you have a vivid imagination, you can imagine whoever you want to be. Masters of this practice can effect change in real-time. And, if we are infinite beings having a finite experience on earth, it would seem that it's the infinite being that operates on the quantum level and the finite being that operates on the physical level. We are both. In other words, if this is a great big simulation, you are the player in a Newtonian world, and your infinite soul is the controller in the Quantum world. You can communicate with the controller with your thoughts. Emotions amplify your thoughts.

Why Is It So Hard To Think About The Life You Want


It should be easy to concentrate on what you want, but it isn't. We are not wired (quite literally) to think that way. In fact, when in survival mode we are wired to think about all the bad things that can happen. Murphy's Law even tells us to expect the worst in order to prepare for the worst, but in a world where thoughts create reality, this way of thinking can be a living state of hell. The person who follows Murphy's Law is in a state of perpetual survival at their own hand.

What happens when you start meditating or praying every morning on who you want to be? As soon as you start to see yourself through the eyes of both you and the "self", it will change the way you view everything.

Suddenly you become more aware of everything around you. You'll start to notice things that weren't there before. Clutter will need to be cleaned, disorganized spaces will need to be organized. You'll start to question actions that don't lead you to where you want to be. You'll break out of your old programming as you create new programming.


Quantum physics tells us that the more you are able to feel that bliss experience in your mind, the more you can expect for it to manifest in your 'reality'. And, when it does, your mind will reward you with the revelation that it can happen again.


Enjoy the game and please share!


Coinpot Faucet Calculator - Update

I’ve had a lot of people ask for an update to my original article. Instead of updating the original chart, I wanted to provide you with a calculator for you to use/share/edit. It’s available in GoogleDocs here: Coinpot Faucet Calculator.

The model is very simplistic, but gives you an idea for what you can earn in one year. It then gives you the ability to see how much that would be if prices go up by the end of the year. Finally, it provides a way to see how much the crypto made from one year using Coinpot will be worth based on growth rates like the ones we’ve seen over the past 10 years. (Click here for a snapshot of historical prices from 2013. Bitcoin is up over 4000% while Litecoin is up over 1000%.)

The spreadsheet provides a calculator for each faucet based on current claim rates. The final spreadsheet is a chart (shown below). It provides a summary of all three calculators.

Keep in mind, the calculator only looks at one year. It also does not include the mystery bonus, offer bonus or mining bonus. I wanted to err on the side of extreme caution, so each calculator only assumes one claim per day.

The base rate assumes no referrals, 1 claim per day and an average of 50% loyalty. The mid rate assumes 100 referrals, 1 claim per day and an average of 75% loyalty. The max rate assumes 500 referrals, 1 claim per day and an average of 100% loyalty. Note, the max rate is not a maximum. It is only used as a max case. Theoretically, there are no limits.




I can personally attest to the mid case. I have around 80 active referrals and only make one claim per day. I’m on track to make more than $235, but that’s because the values above don’t include the mystery bonus or Coinpot tokens, which add up. On average, I get around 3000 tokens per day. Again, I wanted to be very conservative here so those tokens are not included.

You can play with a number of scenarios around loyalty and referrals. While I don’t want to dissuade anyone from doing this, I think referral activity is critical. This way, even if you can’t make daily claims, you’ll still have a growing Coinpot. If you don’t get referrals, this isn’t going to payoff. So, I’ve created a contest for the best referral idea.

 

One final word

A chap recently asked me how to convince people that this isn’t a scam. My answer is: you can’t. But you CAN point out that a scam generally requires you to spend money. Coinpot will never ask you for money. The only thing you are required to give them is an email address.

 

Also, remember that bitcoin is still the world’s fastest growing asset. And, Coinpot is a great way to “get your feet wet” (as one person commented) in the world of cryptocurrency. The learning curve can be steep for some. It’s also a great way to earn bitcoin without having to worry about price fluctuations, providing ID or paying any fees. When the price goes down, the claim is higher. And since I know the price is going back up, it’s an opportunity.

 

Finally, the goal here is not to make a quick buck. You will be disappointed if that’s your goal. This is not a get rich quick scheme. Put simply, this is a great way to earn small amounts of what I believe will be the next reserve currency for the world. It may not be worth much now, but the goal is to hold onto this asset for the long-term (at least 10 years). All you’re risking is your time. Even if you just do it for one year, you’ll always have it and its value will grow over time.

FDIC Chairman's "Living Will" Speech @ Wharton, NY Fed Revises GDP Down, FDIC Publishes Annual Report & Survey Shows Slight Wage Relief

Remarks by Martin J. Gruenberg, Chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation “Resolving a Systemically Important Financial Institution: A Progress Report”, The Wharton School University of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, PA


You can learn a great deal by listening to the "public" speeches given by Fed leadership. It's one thing to give testimony on Capital Hill, it's quite another to give a speech in front of people that actually know what you're talking about. In this speech, Gruenberg, the Chairman of the FDIC, discusses the actions taken over the past 10 years to ensure against another "Great Recession".

He discusses the establishment of the Dodd-Frank Act and the authority it gave the FDIC to manage the orderly failure of banks in times of crisis. Among other things, the new authorities gave the FDIC:

        The ability to place the financial firm, including its holding company, into a receivership process;
        An Orderly Liquidation Fund to assure liquidity for the orderly wind down and liquidation of the failed firm;
        Authority to impose a short stay on derivatives contracts; and
        The ability to coordinate with foreign authorities in the case of a firm with global operations.

"The progress has been substantial and I believe not well appreciated," Gruenberg concludes. What hasn't he and his team been appreciated for?


The Evolution of the Living Will Process


As a way to create a framework around an orderly bank liquidation, the FDIC created the living will process. According to Gruenberg, the living will "required both the Federal Reserve and the FDIC to consider the objectives of the process, the standards and the guidance that would need to be provided to the firms to achieve the objectives, and the means of engagement with the firms to assist them in following the guidance". This process required banks to provide a description of the following:

    The firm’s strategy for orderly resolution in bankruptcy during times of financial distress;
    The range of actions the firm proposes to take in resolution; 
    Liquidity and capital needs and resources of the firm;
    A description of the firm’s organizational structure, material entities, interconnections, and interdependencies; and
    The firm’s corporate governance process. 

The only thing that really matters here is liquidity. With the right liquidity and capital resources, any crisis can be avoided or at least pushed off, but for how long?


The truth is, none of these changes would have saved Lehman Brothers or Bear. None of these resolutions would have made AIG confess to creating bad securities. The truth is, everything happened exactly how the banks wanted it to happen. They got a huge bailout, 10 years of free money, and trillions in reserves at the Fed. To top it all off, Dodd-Frank approved a resolution to pay banks for those reserves. Who pays the interest? We do. The American taxpayer. We don't control rates or the amount of reserves held at the Fed, but we have to pay whatever rate the Fed sets on those reserves. Sounds fair. This is why people are gravitating toward Bitcoin and precious metals.

In other news, Nowcast is a forecast of the upcoming GDP announcement. It was updated and revised down to 3.11%. The leading causes are due to a decline in:
  •     capacity utilization,
  •     industrial production,
  •     general business conditions (as reported in a daily brief last week); and,
  •     retail sales.

In other words, all things driven by consumer demand are starting to decline, while anything driven by debt (inflation, pricing and housing) are on the rise.

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey/Business Leaders Survey included a supplemental survey on wages, a critical piece of the consumer demand equation. Wages are of key interest because without wages, GDP will continue to fall -- not everyone has access to massive amounts of debt. What does the survey show? Job openings are taking longer to fill, manufacturers are hiring more, and starting pay is going up. Will it be enough to impact earnings? My guess is no. Why? Wall Street doesn't like wage increases.

The FDIC Lowers Credit Standards, Household Debt Jumps, General Business Conditions Fall & There's An Increase in Jumbo Loans

 





 

On February 14, 2018, the FDIC Board of Directors adopted a rule to permit the removal of "external credit ratings". 

 

"The final rule removes references to external credit ratings and replaces them with appropriate standards of creditworthiness."

In other words, as long as a bank makes under $1 billion in total assets it doesn't need to reference external credit ratings in order to label an asset or security as "investment grade".  These classifications are used for capital allocation and pledged assets. The rule reduces the need to classify assets as investment grade with a much lower bar -- as of this ruling "An entity has adequate capacity to meet financial commitments if the default risk is low, and the full and timely repayment of principal and interest is expected."

The rule also "adds cash to the list of assets eligible for pledging and separately lists Government Sponsored Enterprise obligations as a pledgeable asset category."

So mortgaged backed securities are now considered pledgeable assets as well as cash? And, if you have cash, why do you need to pledge assets?

Household Debt Jumps as 2017 marks the 5th consecutive year of annual growth based on the latest Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit

 

The report reveals that total household debt reached a new peak in Q4 of 2017, rising $193 billion to reach $13.15 trillion. Balances climbed:
  • 1.6% on mortgages, 
  • 0.7% on auto loans, 
  • 3.2% on credit cards; and, 
  • 1.5% on student loans.
This adds to the market's general instability, but we're not hearing anything about that from the Fed. It's also important to remember that debt is a form of inflation. It's essentially the creation of money out of nothing. Due to quantitative easing, banks have an unprecedented level of capital to "lend" and it's pumping all that "fake cash" into the market every day via mortgages, auto loans, credit cards and student loans. Asset values are the highest they've been in years, far surpassing what they were in 2007, jut prior to the Great Recession. Gas prices have been on the rise since July of 2017, still inflation is low and steady. Clearly there's some manipulation at play.


According to the Empire State Manufacturing Survey, a monthly survey of manufacturers in NY conducted by the Federal Reserve, the general business conditions index fell five points to 13.1.  

 

This suggests a "slower pace of growth than in January".  This at a time when the stock market was setting new highs. Perhaps the most notable takeaway is a remark about input prices and prices paid which confirms a theory of higher inflation. According to the report, "Input price increases picked up noticeably, with the prices paid index reaching its highest level in several years." The highest level in several years is quite significant. So companies are paying more for inputs and they are charging more for products and services. I wonder who is paying for those products and services?

 

A report by the Fed regarding jumbo loans -- these are loans that are over ~$625,500 -- suggests the number is growing.

According to the Fed, there's been a marked increase in the number of jumbo loans on the market today. This isn't surprising because banks have an unlimited amount of capital to lend due to quantitative easing and the $2.2 trillion sitting in reserves at the Fed. This post shows how "the supply of jumbo mortgages has improved in recent years as banks have become more willing to take on mortgage credit risk on their own balance sheets".


Final Thoughts: The Fed has been waiting on inflation to go above 2% to raise rates. The truth is, inflation has been over 2% since 2008. It went up and never really came back down. Meanwhile, the Fed kept rates artificially low and corporations have taken advantage of the loophole by using stock buybacks to artificially push up earnings. Now it's too late to raise rates, the economy is about to crash on its own.

3 Quick Reasons Why Bitcoin is About To Go Up

Everyone wants to know when the price of Bitcoin is going back up. In this very brief article I'm going to give you three reasons why the price of Bitcoin is about to go up and well past $20K by the end of the year.

Reason #1: The price of Bitcoin and cryptos in general falls every year in Q1. Each year, the price rebounds and soars by the end of the year.



As you can see from the charts above, this is a normal trend for Bitcoin and one that the community has come to expect. 

Reason #2: Despite the call for regulation by central banks, nation states are starting to realize their own power. While the SEC and CFTC battle over who gets to regulate cryptocurrency, Arizona just passed a bill allowing it as a form of payment by the Department of Revenue. In other words, you will be able to pay your Arizona taxes in Bitcoin. There's also a resolution passed in Congress calling for a pro-bitcoin national policy.  When/if that resolution gains traction, the price of Bitcoin will soar.

Reason #3: Third and perhaps most importantly, hedge funds and other large institutional players are just now getting into the market. They could not enter the market prior to Bitcoin futures which started in December 2017. Below is one of my favorite videos in support of this, hedge fund manager clearly explains what institutional players are doing right now.


It might take six to eighteen months, but Bitcoin is a much more valuable way to store your digital currency. Remember, only 9% of the world's currency is physical, the rest is digital. Institutions get it and they're getting on board.

Final thoughts: Bitcoin is extremely volatile. For this reason, you don't want to buy at the highs, but rather the lows. Bitcoin is officially in a low cycle and now is a great time to buy. If you don't buy now, save up to buy next year at this time.

Where to buy? You can buy Bitcoin from an exchange (Binance or Local Bitcoin) to hold yourself or you can purchase an investment product, like an IRA. Bitcoin IRAs have the same tax treatment as traditional IRAs.

Corporate "Skin in the Game", The Real Reason The Fed's Raising Rates, SECs 3.5% Budget Request Increase, The SECs New SCSD Initiative and Misleading Oil Prices


"Does More "Skin in the Game" Mitigate Bank Risk-Taking?"

This is one of those articles the Federal Reserve releases that has absolutely no application. It's asking if increased capital requirements help banks to reduce the amount of risk they take. The answer is OF COURSE!!!!! Are you kidding me?

This is like asking if someone feels the same if they lose their money or someone else's money. That said, I think this article has more application than the title gives it credit for. Here's a quick excerpt from the article:
Excessive risk-taking by banks has long been a paramount concern of regulators. The basic problem arises in part due to misaligned incentives; under the current limited (single) liability structure, shareholders of a failed bank can lose no more than their initial investment. With this limited skin in the game, bank shareholders’ private incentives may lead them to take more risk than is socially optimal. If, by contrast, shareholders were liable for the entirety of a bank’s losses, their private risk-taking decisions may be more aligned with socially optimal risk‑taking.
So,  instead of looking at this as a consideration for banks, let's extend it. This should be a consideration for all stocks. Perhaps the issue with the corporate state is that the shareholders don't have any personal liability. They are limited in the amount they can lose. What if the shareholder had to worry about being liable for legal or environmental issues? What if the shareholder had to worry about being sued for the corporation's irresponsibility? I suppose a lack of earnings equates to a sell-off, which is the ultimate punishment for the corporation.

Final thoughts: This article does nothing but shed light on the fact that we still have an incredible amount of power over the corporate state. Anything that can hurt earnings is a threat to the corporate state, including its own hubris. Couching gambling schemes in terms of limited liability structures doesn't hide what's happening. If anything, it is a concession to the system's vulnerabilities.

______________

The Overnight Bank Funding Rate currently stands at 1.42%. Do not be confused. This rate is based on the interest rate on excess reserves (IOER rate), which is not the same as the interest rate on required reserves (IORR). Currently, both rates are the same, however (you can view both rates here)

 
https://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/reqresbalances.htm

If you're old like me, you remember when the rate was referred to as the fed funds rate. The name was changed when banks were given the ability to charge interest on reserves in 2008. Once this deal was made, the Fed started giving out "reserves" like candy in a scheme referred to as quantitative easing. Today, over $2.2 trillion sits in reserves at the Fed and we (the United States) are paying interest on all those reserves, both at the IOER and the IORR.

The overnight bank funding rate is reported every day. It will never be higher than the rate banks can get from leaving money at the Federal Reserve (IOER or the IORR).

Final thoughts: Every now and then I like to revisit this issue of rates. I hear people wondering if the Fed is going to raise rates and I wonder if they understand what's really going on. Ultimately, the real reason why the Fed is going to raise rates has very little to do with the state of the economy. And, the higher rates go, the more banks get paid. The issue for banks is that inflation is a four letter word. It means lenders will be paid back with less money. If you own $100,000 on your home, and the value of the dollar tanks by 50%, you still owe 100,000 of those dollars, but they're only worth $50,000. Inflation is great for borrowers. So, the game the Fed has to play is -- how do we make sure people still believe in the value of the dollar while raising rates? It has nothing to do with cooling off the economy.

___________
The next article is about Deutsche Bank. The bank will have to pay $3.7 million to customers for misleading them about mortgage backed security prices. What's interesting to me is that this is supposed to be a fair settlement.
To settle the charges, Deutsche Bank agreed to reimburse customers the full amount of firm profits earned on any CMBS trades in which a misrepresentation was made.  According to a payment schedule in the order, Deutsche Bank will distribute more than $3.7 million.  Deutsche Bank also agreed to pay a $750,000 penalty.  Solomon agreed to pay a $165,000 penalty and serve a 12-month suspension from the securities industry.
$3.7 million is nothing in the trading world. We are supposed to believe this is the full amount of the profits made? What's funny is that the SEC apparently believes it. They also think that a 12-month suspension from the securities industry and a $165K penalty is going to stop this kind of activity. The penalty is nothing compared to rewards, even if you do get caught.

Final thoughts: As I've said before, the SEC has been rendered toothless over the years. What's funny is that the very banks that gutted the SEC's power are asking for its protection against Bitcoin. Good luck with that.

__________
As an extension of what's going on at the SEC gutting, I think it's interesting that the SECs budget request is 3.5% higher than it was last year.  
In order to keep up with the rapid pace of technology advancement in the areas the SEC regulates, the request seeks a $45 million increase in funding for information technology enhancements to support the agency’s cybersecurity capabilities, risk and data analysis, enforcement and examinations, and automation of business processes. The fiscal year 2019 budget request level is a 3.5 percent increase over the fiscal year 2018 budget request of $1.602 billion.
The total request is for $1.658 billion.

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On Monday, the SEC launched the Share Class Selection Disclosure Initiative (SCSD) to encourage self-reporting. The SEC has no way to enforce this really -- how can they enforce fiduciary responsibility when its antithetical to capitalism? So they've created a hotline to encourage self-reporting. This is also funny. Here's an excerpt that sums up the effort:
The Commission has long been focused on the conflicts of interest associated with mutual fund share class selection. Differing share classes facilitate many functions and relationships. However, investment advisers must be mindful of their duties when recommending and selecting share classes for their clients and disclose their conflicts of interest related thereto. In the past several years, the Commission has charged nine firms with failing to disclose these conflicts of interest. These actions included significant penalties against the investment advisers, and collectively returned millions of dollars to clients.
The reason this won't work is because there's no motivation to self-report. Advisers have to pay back all ill-gotten gains and admit to their customers that they mislead them, but the SEC won't impose a civil monetary penalty? C'mon.

Under the SCSD Initiative, the Enforcement Division will recommend standardized, favorable settlement terms to investment advisers that self-report that they failed to disclose conflicts of interest associated with the receipt of 12b-1 fees by the adviser, its affiliates, or its supervised persons for investing advisory clients in a 12b-1 fee paying share class when a lower-cost share class of the same mutual fund was available for the advisory clients. Among other things, for eligible advisers that participate in the SCSD Initiative, the Division will recommend settlements that will require the adviser to disgorge its ill-gotten gains and pay those amounts to harmed clients, but not impose a civil monetary penalty. The Division warns that it expects to recommend stronger sanctions in any future actions against investment advisers that engaged in the misconduct but failed to take advantage of this initiative.
Final thoughts: Initiatives like this are the reason why the SEC is absolutely ineffective. 

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Finally, the Fed issued their weekly report on oil prices. It says that a "large drop in demand expectations decreased oil prices significantly". As a trader of crude oil, I know that the price of crude oil has gone nowhere but up since the middle of last year so I find this pronouncement humorous. Please note that gas prices are a key part of inflation. In fact, the Fed/FOMC credit low inflation with declining oil prices. In other words, the Fed is actively trying to suppress the true price of oil because.


Final thoughts: The Fed's pronouncements are incongruent. The headline is the opposite of the points used to prove the point. The headline reads "Gas prices down", while the bullet points read, "Gas prices headed up." This is a classic case of someone being told what to say when they don't have the data to support the conclusion.

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