- The reason “nobody is a fiscal conservative anymore”
- Why Big Media ignore huge problems in the economy and society
- How “the WWE-ization of news” threatens your portfolio
- “Economic crash” or garden-variety slowdown?
- Four stocks holding up the market? Nothing new
- The Iran headline that has us most alarmed (not tankers)
- How one reader maintains a healthy media diet.
“Nobody is a fiscal conservative anymore,” declared Rush Limbaugh last week.
A listener called his radio show, fretting about a looming $1 trillion budget deficit — something last seen during the early years of the Obama administration, when the tea party movement was rising up.
Limbaugh’s reply: “Nobody is a fiscal conservative anymore. All this talk about concern for the deficit and the budget has been bogus for as long as it’s been around… We’re still here, and the great jaws of the deficit have not bitten off our heads and chewed them up and spit them out.”
We bring up the topic today not because of the rank hypocrisy — 10 years ago, El Rushbo labeled Obama a “coward” lacking the “gonads” to face up to the reality of reckless spending — but because of a bigger and far more important phenomenon.
The reason “nobody” cares about deficit spending anymore is that Establishment Media tend to ignore problems that are the fault of both major political parties.
That is, unless a problem can be framed in a way that fuels the tribal partisan loyalties of readers and viewers, it basically doesn’t exist.
“A reporter or two might cover it, but it’s never picked up,” Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi says in his forthcoming book Hate Inc. “It doesn’t take over a news cycle, doesn’t become a thing.”
Consider the Federal Reserve’s entire post-2008 playbook that’s fattened Wall Street while too many everyday Americans are still struggling to get by.
That’s the broad thesis of the book Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World, by our own Nomi Prins — one-time Goldman Sachs managing director and present-day truth-teller.
“It is a purely bipartisan situation that things are as [fouled] up as they are,” says Nomi.
What happened on Nomi’s book tour last year gets a couple of pages in Taibbi’s book.
The themes in Collusion, he writes, “ought to have deep interest to ‘both’ camps. For liberals, it’s a story about an obscene subsidy of the very rich, while for conservatives, it’s a profound story about the corruption of capitalism.
“But TV bookers have struggled to figure out how to market Prins. She tells a story of a TV host who quizzed her off air in a troubled voice. ‘He was like, “I can’t tell if you’re progressive or conservative.” And I thought, That’s good, isn’t it?’”
Not if you want to hawk your book on TV it’s not. Especially nowadays if there’s no “Trump angle.”
Taibbi again: “Although her book does explicitly talk about how central banking problems contributed to political unrest that led to both Brexit and Trump, that topic is not a popular one on lefty media.”
Thus, Nomi has made the most appearances in recent months on Fox Business — where Fed-bashing is fashionable only because Trump made it so.
She did manage to get on Ali Velshi’s MSNBC show once last year. As Taibbi recounts, “He asked her why viewers should care about the issue. She talked about how banks take Fed largesse and use it to buy back their own stock and feed asset bubbles, creating danger and accelerating inequality.”
Sensible, levelheaded stuff. But behind the scenes, the producers felt the only way they could keep viewers’ attention was by making it all about Trump. Check out the “cutlines” they threw on the screen throughout the interview…
“If it’s not either for or against Trump, you don’t get airtime,” Nomi tells Mr. Taibbi. “You kind of have to pick one side.”
As Taibbi writes, “This is the WWE-ization of news, incidentally encouraged by Trump, who has striven from the beginning to inject himself into the headlines… The notion of a crisis caused by a bipartisan confluence of powerful interests doesn’t fit in the way we cover news today.”
For years we’ve been saying you can’t afford to let partisan politics drive your investing decisions.
Think back to the early Obama years. Perhaps you thought his policies would tank the market and the economy even worse than they were when he came into office. And your reasons would have been sound. But those reasons didn’t matter: The stock market rose six out of his eight years in office and was flat the other two.
More recently, in early 2017, we related the story of professional money managers whose liberal clients were holding a huge cash position, keeping money out of the market, basically out of spite against Trump. They missed out on one of the least volatile up-and-to-the-right years in market history.
Nomi understands you have to be politically agnostic if you want to succeed in the market.
Recently she took the wraps off an entirely new kind of trading strategy — a secret project in the works for months, aimed at doubling your money in a single trading day.
The first trade out of the gate generated 214%. And that’s on top of seven trades in beta testing that were all at least double-digit winners.
And all you need to do, really, is follow one simple rule. She’ll tell you all about it at this link. Watch it now because it comes down at midnight tonight.
Meanwhile, on our morning news cruise, we were struck by how everything is so hyperpartisan now that presidential candidates are taking a page from newsletter editors of old…
In reality, one of the most reliable recession indicators out there is not flashing red — at least not yet.
The Chicago Fed National Activity Index is out this morning. This index crunches 85 economic numbers to get the big picture. If the number is zero, it means the economy is more or less in line with the long-term historical average. Below zero, it’s underperforming. And if it hits minus 0.7, that signals a recession. This indicator has missed only one recession in the last 50 years.
The three-month moving average sits at minus 0.26. A little punk, but nothing alarming. We’ve been there as recently as late 2015–early 2016.
The stock market is treading water as a new week begins — the Dow down a bit, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq up a bit. Everything remains a hair below all-time highs.
Unfortunately those all-time highs are owing to the strength of just a handful of tech stocks. This morning’s Wall Street Journal tells us only four companies — Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Facebook — account for 19% of the S&P 500’s total return this year. Meanwhile, small-cap stocks as represented by the Russell 2000 index are down 9% over the last 12 months.
The Journal neglected to point out this isn’t really a new phenomenon. In mid-2017 we took note how those four giant companies plus Google parent Alphabet grew a staggering 226% over the preceding four years… while the other 495 stocks in the S&P 500 grew a piddling 27%.
At some point this phenomenon has to end. But the Journal story is proof it can go on much longer than it seems “reasonable” to expect.
Elsewhere the buzz is about the debut of a new stock exchange that’s touted as “China’s version of the Nasdaq.” So far about 25 companies are listed and almost all of them skyrocketed, one of them by 400%. That sounds healthy and normal.
Gold is holding steady at $1,426.
Crude is rallying on the latest Middle East headlines… but at $56.25 a barrel, it’s still four bucks less than it was only 10 days ago.
The most alarming headline we’ve seen related to Iran in recent days has nothing to do with oil tankers or drone aircraft or “CIA spies sentenced to death,” which is the latest sensation.
No, it has to do with the dispatching of 500 U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia — “forward deployment” in the event of conflict with Iran.
Evidently no one in Washington recalls Osama bin Laden’s main grievance way back when was the presence of U.S. troops in that country, in relative proximity to Islam’s two holiest cities. It was right there in the fatwa he issued in 1996. You might remember he acted on that grievance to rather spectacular effect five years later.
The troops were sent there in advance of the 1990–1991 Gulf War, and they stayed on afterward. One of the justifications for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was that there’d no longer be a need for U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia. “I think just lifting that burden from the Saudis is itself going to open the door to other positive things,” said Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.
We don’t see how this new deployment ends well…
To the mailbag, where we return to the recent topic of a healthy media diet — which also jibes with our main topic today…
“One of the main reasons I read The 5 regularly is that they understand that what little bit of genuine information is out there can come from unlikely sources. You have to know how the world works and understand the rent-seeking, and then read a variety of news.
“For instance, the one time a politician is telling the truth is when he reveals the misbehavior of his rivals (although all politicians understand that this can only go so far — no letting the real cat out of the bag). That’s why so much of the news is about nonitems like retro-moralizing some event from the past.
“Having lived outside the U.S. several times, including a 4½-year stint working for Uncle Sam in Iraq, I found that one has to read a variety of sources, ask oneself why this particular item is being reported on, read between the lines and piece together the scam that is being floated as a result. No news makes it into the media unless it supports some important peoples’ agenda. You can bank on it.
“The big emphasis on storms these days is to reinforce the global warming agendas promising new sources of plunder for the connected. Indeed, we can expect that if a Democrat wins the office in 2020, they will immediately declare a climate emergency. There are thousands of rent-seekers relying on new channels of funding based on such a declaration. In addition to all the trade lobbies, we often forget that there are over 1.5 million nonprofits, all of whom are themselves special interests connected to the public revenue channels.
“I read The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Guardian, the Toronto Globe and Mail and Agora and check in with NHK (almost purely factual information), Al Jazeera English and the BBC (pure crap). As I tell my friends, it’s pointless to read the propaganda you agree with; you need to see what the enemy is saying. You just have to take their biases into account to ferret out the real info.
“Most news agencies have done away with staff because their news is planted by special interest providers, not because of a loss of readers. I think you have that one backward. Twenty-five years ago I held an executive position with a Fortune 500 corporation and we totally manipulated the news by providing our own stories for them to report. No need for reporters when you supply your own copies, just as Congress no longer writes laws when lobbyists provide them already written.
“Gonigam is always informative and thought-provoking.”
The 5: Well, thanks.
Falling viewership isn’t the whole story, that’s true. It also has to do with the debt Big Media owners have taken on — usually a lot of it, which they figure they can easily service because the profit margins are so fat, even with declining viewership.
So when bureaus are closed and reporters are made to do more “live hits,” as opposed to gathering news, and airtime is filled with pundits shouting at one another… well, a lot of that has to do with our “financialized” economy. (Only now as I’m writing do I realize I got my first “real” job in journalism the same summer Alan Greenspan became Fed chairman. It really was going downhill from Day 1!)
And yes, that totally opens the door to corporate (and government!) spinmeisters getting their way without being challenged…
The 5 Min. Forecast
P.S. Nomi Prins issued a new trade recommendation this morning… and if it’s anything like the last one, it ought to deliver big.
It was last week — 214% in a day. Not bad for the first trade out of the gate in her newest premium service.
Still, there’s a finite limit on the number of new readers she can take in — and we’re closing down access at midnight tonight. Click here and let Nomi walk you through how these revolutionary trades work.