When Politics Contaminates Everything

Posted On Oct 5, 2012 By Addison Wiggin

October 5, 2012

  • Pathological or duplicitous? Jeffrey Tucker on the “debate”… plus, the scourge of politics seeping into everything from air travel to beer
  • “The most important indicator”: Elmerraji helps you tune out the how-will-the-elections-affect-stocks noise
  • Middle East food riots become even more likely… Hyperinflation in Iran as milk rises 9% in a day
  • “A revolution in mining technology”: Byron King with new developments on the “white sand” beat
  • A hitch in the 3-D-printed weaponry project… “You are a moron”… a reader sniffs out the 5 “formula”… and more!


  “Romney and Obama are both extraordinarily talented and smart,” writes Jeffrey Tucker, reacting to two Harvard Law grads “debating” this week. “That’s what it takes to pull off the world’s biggest hoax.

“They must shamelessly play along with the expectation that they are masterminds of history’s largest and most expansive government with thousands of departments, millions and millions of regulations, astonishingly complex networks of graft and corruption and legacy content dating back more than a century, and, further, claim — with a straight face — that their personal ‘vision’ can encompass and control the whole apparatus, and, by extension, the nation and the world.

“Anyone who can do this has to be pathological, if he believes what he is saying, or duplicitous to an extent that vastly exceeds the human norm.”

 Meanwhile, for those Americans who threaten to leave the country if their guy loses, JetBlue Airways is accommodating.

The carrier’s “Election Protection” campaign is giving away seats on 2,012 flights to customers who go to its website, choose their candidate and sign in through Facebook. Those who choose the loser on Nov. 6 become eligible to win a flight to one of JetBlue’s 21 international destinations.

We object: The campaign blatantly discriminates against third-party and write-in voters, to say nothing of nonvoters. Maybe we’ll sue.

Nor does the campaign give contest winners the chance to live up to their word and follow through on their threat: The airline is giving away only 1,006 flights, round-trip. Wusses…

  God help us, even beer is getting politicized these days.

Scarborough Research recently interviewed 200,000 beer-drinking Americans about not only their political leanings, but how motivated they usually are to vote. National Journal then crunched the data to create this headache-inducing scatterplot chart.

[Click image to enlarge]

Thus Heineken appears to be “the most Democratic beer of all,” says the political rag. “On the other hand, Republicans love their Coors Light and favor Sam Adams, which is brewed just a few miles away from Romney campaign headquarters and whose namesake was an original tea partier.”

Unlike JetBlue, at least this survey appears to accommodate folks who don’t fit neatly into a left-right spectrum, and folks who vote seldom or not at all.

Not that we’ve ever touched a can of Natural Light. Well, not that we’d ever want to remember…

130  “Don’t waste your time with mindless election coverage and how it could sway stocks,” advises Jonas Elmerraji, mercifully bringing our Friday musings around to something actionable.

Obviously, this guidance applies if you’re a buy-and-hold investor… but Jonas is a trader and a technician. “As traders, price is our most important indicator,” he says. “It tells us when to buy and sell — and it points toward important inflection points within the markets.”

The story it’s telling now is the same one Jonas has passed along to us the last four months…

Pullbacks? No worries for now, Jonas says, invoking a “pressure valve” analogy: “The market needs time to correct following its strong moves higher. It has to blow off steam through either sideways or downward movement. Since the June bottom, the market has moved higher and corrected in a very orderly fashion.”

You wouldn’t know that by following the financial media: “All we’re seeing is euphoria when stocks move higher, juxtaposed by predictions of doom on red days.”

  The major U.S. stock indexes appear set to add to yesterday’s gains. Shortly before the open, S&P futures were up about a third of a percent — traders evidently pleased with this morning’s unemployment report.

Gold has slipped a bit to $1,784, silver likewise at $34.83. Crude sits about where it did 24 hours ago, $91.31.

  The Bureau of Labor Statistics delivered a head-scratcher of a jobs report this morning: 114,000 new jobs in September, not enough to even keep up with population growth.

But the U-3 unemployment rate fell from 8.1% to 7.8% — the lowest since early 2009 — and for once it appears the drop can’t be chalked up entirely to people dropping out of the labor force.

We’ll unpack the numbers a little more on Monday, bearing in mind the guidance of our friends Barry Ritholtz and John Williams — the month-to-month change isn’t nearly as important as the longer-range trend, which remains mediocre.

 The food price index put out by the United Nations has crept higher into the “danger zone” described in Monday’s episode of The 5.

At 216, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s number grew 1.4% from August to September. It’s now spent three months above the 210 threshold that researchers say significantly raises the chance of food riots in the world’s hotspots — especially the Middle East.

Dairy prices rose 7% month over month, and meat rose 2.1%.

  Iranians are giving up meat and resigning themselves to bread as their nation’s currency continues its free fall.

“Most of my customers just look at products behind the window and pass,” a Tehran butcher tells Bloomberg News. “I see them going to the next store, which is a bakery, to feed their families with bread.”

The riots earlier this week have faded for now. Cops have swarmed the streets and the foreign currency shops are closed.

But the rial remains in a tailspin: The price of milk rose 9% Wednesday alone. “Iran,” writes Steve Hanke at the Cato Institute, “is now experiencing a devastating increase in prices — hyperinflation.”

There was in interesting exchange this week about the U.S. sanctions during a State Department press briefing. “Do you have any concern,” a reporter asked, “about the effects — the ill effects that the severe depreciation in the currency may have on the Iranian people?… Does it bother you that this may hurt the Iranian people?”

“The Iranian government,” replied flunky Victoria Nuland, “needs to make different choices with regard to its nuclear program if it wants to get into a conversation with us about a step-by-step process, including on the sanctions side.”

But what of the people? “We want the Iranian people as well to understand that this is a direct response to the choices that their government has made in the context of the international community offering them a diplomatic way out, which they should take.”

Of course, if the people rise up and an even worse regime takes power, no one in Washington will take the fall for that.


  You might remember in June when Byron King said in passing on his way to Vancouver, “This white sand stuff may be the cusp of a revolution in mining technology.”

He also said those producing this “white sand,” “are going to change the world. Soon.”

What had Byron so hyped up? “Basically,” Byron explains, “white sand shaves over 99% of the time from chemical reactions of metals.” This has enormous implications for solving inefficiencies that bog down the mining sector.

Today, four months later, Byron’s prediction is coming to fruition. The company has now, Byron tells us, “announced metal separation, via its pioneering white sand process.

“Honestly,” Byron goes on, “we haven’t seen a metallurgical breakthrough like this in a long, long time. I’m tempted to make a comparison to the breakthrough days of the Manhattan Project.”

The company has also announced a major contract from the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), prompting a 35% jump in share price this week alone.

Now that we know what this company has accomplished, Byron says, “it’s time for the market to absorb it.”

Although shares have jumped, according to Byron, that’s only the dawning of what’s to come. There’s still much more time to get in on this breakthrough.

“I believe there are great things coming down the track,” Byron concludes. If you’re in, “you’re in early.

“This is serious technology!”

This is only one of the burgeoning technologies Byron is keeping his eye on… you can learn all about the other one on Byron’s plate, and how to get in on both before they head for the moon, here.

  A snag in the print-at-home “Wiki Weapon” project…

You might recall our last update in late August of the technological loophole for gun laws: a disposable gun you can download and 3-D print from your own home.

Although, Defense Distributed (DD) says their project could “very well change the way we think about gun control and consumption,” the firm supplying the 3-D printer, Stratasys, is a little less enthusiastic.

In a letter to DD founder Cody Wilson, Stratasys wrote, “based on your lack of a [firearms] license and your public statements regarding your intentions in using our printer,” they decided to take the printer back, collecting it a few days later.

“It is the policy of Stratasys not to knowingly allow its printers to be used for illegal purposes. Therefore, please be advised that your lease of the Stratasys uPrint SE is canceled at this time.”

Boxing up the printer to send back to Stratasys…

Marc Goodman, head of the Future Crime Institute says, “This appears to be a grey area under U.S. law and the laws of other countries. The question is: How do you control technology that can do illegal things?”

Yet BBC reports, “Currently, it is legal in the U.S. to manufacture a gun at home without a license.”
Mr. Goodman might be biased… his technophobic prediction for 3-D printing? “3-D printing could be the next battleground in the fight against organized crime and terrorism,” BBC gathered from Goodman. And weapons won’t be the only thing those “terrorists” will be printing…

“It will be the next frontier in IP [intellectual property] theft when you are able to manufacture a Rolex watch, Gucci handbags, Nike sneakers,” Goodman concludes, we’d imagine in horror.

People creating things for themselves… what a nightmare.

  “You are a moron,” writes a reader getting today’s mailbag off to a rousing start, “for living in a democratically run republic that counts on people taking responsibility for the type of government that is supposed to be by the people and for the people.

“If you have a better plan, you should voice it and let it be voted on and let that be a free market rule. If it is logical, you would get support, and if not, then it dies.

“Sounds like no backbone to me.”

The 5: Huh? A “better plan” for what? And what does majority rule have to do with the “free market”?

The mind reels…

  “Very amusing to see how worked up people get over Obama versus Romney,” writes another. “Guess they haven’t figured out that the folks with the real power, the revolving-door Goldman Sachs team, stays the same regardless of who wins elections.”

 I want to praise The 5 for at least being informed and logical. I may not always agree, but you give good reasons for your conclusions.

“In contrast, the typical response you quote from the average reader is depressing. The knowledge and rationally of the average investor is so limited. I can understand why the U.S. is doomed. These ignorant responses are not just typical of your website. The average response to any question on any subject shows a high percentage of ignorance, anger and irrational logic. The only logical conclusion is that the insane have finally taken over the system. History shows this to be the major reason why a society collapses.

“Your comments are a glimmer of hope. Too bad you do not have any influence on the crazy people who now run the system.”

  “Editorial guidelines” reads the subject line of an email that goes on as follows…

“The 5 Min. Forecast Formula:

“Offer a few bits of wisdom that help to illustrate trends, locally and globally.

“Tie this macroeconomic lesson to the investment approach of one of the advisory service authors.

“Quote a few paragraphs of the above, or add a video link.

“Toss out a provocative statement or two, separated from its context by a sentence or so to guarantee heated responses.

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“Skewer the writers in the glow of the flames. Spelling, logic, expression, use of language doesn’t matter, just lash out a little.

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“Repeat until baked.

“I admit I read it every day, and the script never fails to amuse and enlighten. You have a lot going for you, and you present it in a useful way. Keep the pots boiling, all you Forecasters. Sometimes, you help me understand the world around me.”

The 5: Thanks… uh, we think.

Have a good weekend,

Addison Wiggin

The 5 Min. Forecast

P.S. Don’t miss the aforementioned Jeffrey Tucker being interviewed by Adam Kokesh. The link is here.

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