Wednesday, April 26, 2017

STOCK MARKET AND THE VIX

The jump in the stock market indices this week may be explained by a news item on April 18th:
The CBOE Volatility index recently hit its highest level of the year, just above 16, as global geopolitical concerns pressure the markets, sending the S&P 500 sliding modestly toward the end of last week. This may signal a prime buying opportunity, according to Oppenheimer's head of technical analysis, Ari Wald, who points to an intriguing relationship between the market's moves and spikes in the VIX.*

(click on figure to enlarge)

Perhaps the following figure,** shows the relationship better, but uses the same information from Ari Wald::
(click on figure to enlarge)

Both references come to the same conclusion.

* http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/18/since-1990-market-gains-double-when-this-happens--and-it-just-did.html
** http://thereformedbroker.com/2016/06/19/chart-o-the-day-buying-on-vix-spikes/

Sunday, April 23, 2017

TRUMPS FIRST 100 DAYS - LEGISLATION

President Donald Trump has signed more bills into law than I was aware of.  The first bill signed by President Trump into law was one to permit Gen Mattis to become Secretary of the Defense before being retired from the military for three years.  Time magazine has an article on Trump's first 100 days in office.  Trump promised to get 60 bills through in his first 100 days:
In fact, only 28 bills have been signed into law since Trump took office in late January. In contrast, Roosevelt signed 76 bills into law in his first 100 days. President Harry Truman, in second place on this list, signed 55 bills into law in his first months in the White House. Trump's predecessor and frequent target of derision, President Barack Obama, signed 11 bills into law, but the early days of his administration are considered productive because they include major legislation to ensure children in low-income households have health insurance as well as the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which fights wage discrimination.*

Most of the bills Trump signed take away protections, like the second bill Trump signed, the Obama coal mining rule.  The bill quashes the Office of Surface Mining's Stream Protection Rule, a regulation to protect waterways from coal mining waste that officials finalized in December.**
Then there was a bill to permit mentally ill people to buy guns.  Don't you feel safer?
The rule, which was finalized in December, added people receiving Social Security checks for mental illnesses and people deemed unfit to handle their own financial affairs to the national background check database. ***
One scary bill he signed was to do away with online privacy.
The bill scraps a Federal Communications Commission online privacy regulation issued in October to give consumers more control over how companies like Comcast, ATT and Verizon share that information. Critics have argued that the rule would stifle innovation and pick winners and losers among internet companies.****
Though Planned Parenthood does perform some abortions, it is a small part of their medical services, but a bill has been passed saying that states don't have to reimburse Planned Parenthood for medical services:
President Donald Trump privately signed a bill on Thursday that allows states to withhold federal money from organizations that provide abortion services, including Planned Parenthood, a group frequently targeted by Republicans.
...................................................................
The bulk of federal money Planned Parenthood receives, though, goes toward preventive health care, birth control, pregnancy tests and other women's health services. Federal law prohibits taxpayer dollars from funding abortions and Planned Parenthood says 3% of the services it provides are abortions.**** The abortions are funded through donations.

Trump's base has escaped the silver bullet because his repeal and replace health care bill was withdrawn, at least for the foreseeable future. (http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2017/03/trumps-base-escapes-silver-bullet.html)

Four more bills are described in an article in USA Today.****  Rather than continue here with the list, I suggest you Google - https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=Bills+signed+by+Trump&ei=UTF-8&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-002 - to find other bills signed.

* http://www.newsweek.com/first-100-days-how-does-trump-compare-other-presidents-587828
** http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/319938-trump-signs-bill-undoing-obama-coal-mining-rule
*** http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/trump-signs-bill-revoking-obama-era-gun-checks-people-mental-n727221
**** https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/03/27/trump-signs-four-bills-roll-back-obama-era-regulations/99690456/
http://www.chicagotribune.com/bluesky/technology/ct-trump-internet-privacy-20170403-story.html
http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/13/politics/donald-trump-planned-parenthood-money/index.html

Thursday, April 20, 2017

ARE YOU CONFUSED TOO?

I can't figure out what is going on.  We supposedly dropped 29.5 tons of TNT on an airport, enough to bomb it back to the Stone Age, but the airport continued to operate as if nothing had happened.  Somewhere there may be a huge hole.  Well it may have achieved its goal that was to show the American people that we did "something."  Where are the surveillance pictures showing the airport damage?

Then we had the Mother-Of-All-Bombs that killed 38 Al Qaeda troops, but then there was the news that fierce fighting continues in the area.  OK, the bomb did what it could, but ithe actual damage seems to have been very little.  At least we have a surveillance video.

Now we have the case of our missing aircraft carrier Vinson .  The Secretary of Defense, the President's   national security adviser, the President himself, and his news man all said the aircraft was "steaming" to North Korean waters when in actuality it was on maneuvers thousands of miles away in the India Ocean.   Did the aircraft carrier's captain disobey orders? What were they doing, just "Yanking, North Korean's chain?"  Unfortunately it makes the U.S. military look stupid to Western countries, gives Russia a laugh, and scares the South Koreans.

As of today (April 20), it does appear that the Vinson will steam towards North Korea after all.*  After all, what else can you do after saying you are doing it?

(Click on figure to enlarge)

In the words of our president, "What is going on?"

TRUMP VS THE WORKING MAN

Trump talks a lot about abundant, good paying jobs for the working man.   This played a major role in his getting elected, but, at least twice, Trump has said the American worker is overpaid.  And his actions are where his mouth is.

Mar-a-Lago  Just take Mar-A-Lago, Trumps pricey club in Florida.  The working man can't be a member what with a $200,000 entry fee, probably at least 4X his yearly salary.  And he can't work there either because the club is nearly totally staffed by foreigners (granted the work contracts are for 8 mo. because it is closed for 4 mo. in the summer):  But at his private club in south Florida, he has filled his staff almost exclusively with imported foreign workers. And he has been doing it for years.  The U.S. Department of Labor has confirmed to CNN that between 2013 and fall 2015, Trump's Mar-a-Lago club posted 250 seasonal job openings and filled just 4 of those jobs with American workers. The club requested the rest of the staff be temporarily imported through the Federal government's H-2B visa process. Basically, Mar-a-Lago brings in its seasonal staff from overseas.*

Chinese Steel And Aluminum  At the second presidential debate, Donald Trump asked the American public to "look at what’s happening to steel and the cost of steel, and China dumping vast amounts of steel all over the United States, which essentially is killing our steelworkers and our steel companies." We did and so did Newsweek. The report, published last week, showed us yet again that all Trump does is run his mouth and pad his pockets. The Newsweek report found Trump used cheap Chinese steel and aluminum in two of his recent construction projects and went to great lengths to cover his tracks. Donald Trump turned his back on the U.S. steel and aluminum industries but, somehow, is claiming to be its savior.**

Health Care  The item on health care is a bit different, but it does involve throwing Trump's core "under the bus."  The original Trump-Ryan health care bill was going to take away the Medicaid expansion in the ACA m a decrease in Medicare that would fall mainly on Trump's supporters.  I don't claim to fully understand the revised plan called the MacArthur Amendment, said to maybe be able to pass the House.***  No mention in the summaries talk about the decrease in Medicaid.  Perhaps the item is covered by the "limited waver option?"  Can states keep their expanded Medicaid if they apply for a waver?  I guess we'll have to wait to see about Medicaid.  As it was the key to pulling the original ACHA Plan,  I'm surprised that no mention is made of it in the MacArthur Amendment.  Note added April 21: Morning Joe this morning sated that the decrease in Medicaid is still in the revised bill.   If so, I doubt it will pass.

Cement  But how about the Great Wall Of Trump, surely that will be built of U.S. cement?  Well, if the wall is built, there is a significant chance that it will be built with Mexican concrete: Cemex Is Best Positioned To Benefit From The Wall, And Does Not Have A Major Competitor In The United States
According to information published by the Global Cement Directory, Cemex is the largest producer of cement in North American and does not have any American competitors of equal size. It has been described in a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks as being one of "Mexico's monopolists" with a market share of 87.6%. Data collected using the installed capacity of companies’ integrated cement plants shows that the US does not even break the top ten list of cement producers globally. Cemex, however, ranks fifth, far ahead of their only Western competitor in Brazil.****
* http://money.cnn.com/2016/03/18/news/economy/trump-maralago/
** https://aflcio.org/2016/10/12/six-facts-donald-trumps-use-chinese-steel\*** http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-01-31/art-new-deal-how-trump-using-mexican-company-cemexs-concrete-build-wall-and-profit-b
*** http://www.politico.com/f/?id=0000015b-8ab0-df96-a9db-dff115c30001
****  http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-01-31/art-new-deal-how-trump-using-mexican-company-cemexs-concrete-build-wall-and-profit-b
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jan/25/donald-trump-border-wall-mexican-construction-firms-workers-biggest-winners

Saturday, April 15, 2017

CARS, SELF-DRIVING TESTING IN CALIFORNIA

I find the self-driving car to be the most exciting development since the Apollo Program of manned trips to the moon, and this includes such developments as the GPS and the Cell Phone.  Once again California is proving to be the avant-garde state with  30 companies  testing these cars (many I haven't previously heard of) with Volkswagen Group of America being the first and Apple being the latest addition:*

(Click on figure to enlarge)

I hope a self-driving car can be marketed during my lifetime.  Since I will be 86 this month, they better hurry up.  I want one Daddy!

* http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/14/apple-just-received-a-permit-to-test-self-driving-cars-in-california.html

Friday, April 14, 2017

MOTHER OF ALL BOMBS

(this post has been updated on April 15, 2017)

The Mother Of All Bombs* has 11.5 tons of explosives.  This huge bomb explodes just above the surface and shakes the ground, maybe collapsing tunnels and killing people within about a mile radius so you can't use it in populated areas unless the target is compelling.**  SAW A SURVEILLANCE VIDEO!

The claim is that 28 ISIS fighters were killed and no civilians found dead. Later updated to 36.

You can only use this weapon in restricted cases such as on an open battlefield, that rarely esists any more, or a remote area like a mountainous area.

Unlike the airport bombing where little damage seems to have been done (and no surveillance photos available),Though maybe it was still effective.  With 29.5 tons of explosives on 59 Tomahawk missiles, the entire airport could have been destroyed but for reasons I don't understand, it was not done.

* The name is a takeoff from the Desert Storm War to free Kuwait fro Iraq 1990-1991 where Saddam Husain said there would be the Mother Of All Battles.
** http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/13/us-military-drops-mother-bombs-isis-afghanistan/
 http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/13/politics/afghanistan-isis-moab-bomb/
also see (same video):
 Snopes says the only authentic video of the bomb being exploed is at http://www.snopes.com/explosion-moab-afghanistan/?utm_source=bme&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily&bt_ee=L7s4H5xAD5k5ACX0TLMHaOTkQsiBgLIOLQ1Hr+9N7UfjHxnIo2YuhDhSsBK/ytQh&bt_ts=1492269981252&utm_source=bme&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily&bt_ee=UYK5ilvbeaHVB6DAOuDCrxQx9oW4lqZvqf+q0H9OHXUSRirslXbxawSrBCtuFVlu&bt_ts=1492270797347

Thursday, April 13, 2017

TRUMP APPOINTMENTS BY DAYS TO APPOINTMENT AND VOTE

The fastest position to be filled in the Trump administration is the Secretary of Veteran's Affairs David Shulkin at 34 days by a unanimous vote of 100 - 0!  He is followed by John f. Kelly for the Dept. of Homeland Security at 44 days with a vote of 88 - 11; however,  Defense Secretary James Mattis passed with a vote of 98 - 1 (second to David Shulkin) though it took 50 days.  See the figure below.

Two positions are still pending, Sonny Perdue at the Dept. of Agriculture, and David Acosta at the Dept. of Labor (The delay on Acosta is more understandable because he replaced Andrew Puzder who withdrew after consideration for a long time).

The position with the narrowest approval is, of course, Betsy DeVos who was approved by a 51-50 vote decided by the Vice-President.

(Click on figure to enlarge)

Rather unusual is that there are no holdovers from the Obama Administration, though very recently Trump shows some favor for Fed chief Janet Yellen.  Obama, however had several hod overs including the Dept of Defense Robert Gates and reappointed Fed Chief Ben Bernanke.  Others are Sheila Bair (FDIC) and Ray LaHood (Transportation).  Other Republicans appointed by Obama are Former Rep. John McHugh from upstate New York, as Army secretary; Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who was a Mormon missionary in China in his youth, as ambassador to China; Francis Collins, an evangelical Christian, as director of the National Institutes of Health though not a Republican.**

* http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/13/trump-administration-hasnt-even-named-candidates-for-hundreds-of-key-positions.html
** mhttp://www.cbsnews.com/news/obama-keeps-several-bush-picks-in-top-jobs/