iBankCoin
18 years in Wall Street, left after finding out it was all horseshit. Founder/ Master and Commander: iBankCoin, finance news and commentary from the future.
Joined Nov 10, 2007
16,523 Blog Posts

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Wonders if Barcelona Terrorist Attackers Were Inspired by Charlottesville

In July of last year, ISIS introduced the concept of mass killings by way of vehicle, killing 86, injuring another 458 — some very severely. Today, a terror cell in Spain conducted two separate vehicle attacks, killing at least 13, wounding 100.

This comes on the heels of the events in Charlottesville, which of course was an act or terror — but completely unrelated to the goals of ISIS.

Enter Wolf Blitzer and CNN’s national security expert, Jim Sciutto, who pondered out loud if in fact ISIS was inspired by the events in Charlottesville, causing them to become copycats and carry out the horrible events in Barcelona today.

This is reporting at its very worst.

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Markets Close On Lows; Trump’s Leadership in Turmoil

If you thought the markets were immune to the destabilization of Washington, today’s session proved you wrong. Whether you like Trump or not, believe his Presidency is being sabotaged by ‘fake news’ and ‘deep state’ shills, all of that is immaterial when it comes to how it will affect markets.

As of right now, hardly anyone is supporting Trump in DC, from both sides of the aisle. Moreover, his own cabinet is leaking daily and aren’t loyal to him. Foreign leaders despise him. The media is his sworn enemy and vice versa. And now the business community of greedy vile subhumans have abandoned him.

The writing is all over the wall, folks. Here’s a statement from Sen. Corker, regarding Trump.

Stop getting upset, hyperventilating over neocons and democrats combining to form an evil Trump killing robot and deal with the facts that The Donald played this very, very poorly.

For example, why would he tweet this today, in response to the Barcelona attacks?

While on the campaign trail, Trump told this story about General Pershing, which cannot be proven to be correct.

“He took 50 bullets and he dipped them in pig’s blood,” Trump said. “And he had his men load his rifles and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said, ‘You go back to your people and you tell them what happened.’ And for 25 years there wasn’t a problem.”

Is it possible that this happened 100 years ago in the dank jungles of southern Philippines? Absolutely. Lots of retarded things happened back then. That doesn’t mean you should be promoting that sort of backward thinking today. What is his point, his end game here? Should we drench ISIS in pig’s blood before leveling their positions?

Earlier in the day he tweeted about the confederate monuments again, calling them beautiful.

Sure, maybe the craftsmanship of the statues are nice; but if you’re interested in beauty, I am 100% sure a government funded grant program for the arts would motivate plenty of talented citizens to come up with replacements for Stonewall Jackson’s visage.

These are inappropriate statements from a man who’s letting the pressure get to him. He isn’t acting in a serious manner. Therefore, none of his policies are being taken seriously. At this point, we might be better off with President Pence, who would have an easier time prosecuting Trump’s policies than Trump.

VIX was up more than 30% today. Fear is in the air.

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In Other News, Scores Dead and Maimed in Barcelona Terror Attack

Let the anti-Muslim rhetoric commence.

Muslims are going to take over the world. Therefore, you should sign up for the military and encourage your politicians to wage more wars in the Middle East. That is the only way to stop them from attacking here, by attacking them there.

Right?

Spanish police, who are treating the incident as a terrorist attack, said the “massive crash” happened on Las Ramblas in an area of the city popular with tourists.

This is the latest terrorist attack using a vehicle in Europe, following similar atrocities in Nice, Berlin and London that have claimed more than 100 lives in total.

Television pictures showed a crashed van stopped on top of a Joan Míro mosaic halfway down Las Ramblas. It reportedly entered the wide boulevard where it meets the Plaça de Catalunya, then drove towards the port area, meaning it would have covered more than 500 metres.

Police have released a picture of the suspect, Moroccan man named Driss Oukabir.

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Yale Academic Says ‘Markets Will Crash’ if Gary Cohn Resigns

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, academic from Yale School of Management, said during a CNBC interview today that markets would crash, should Trump’s Chief Economic Advisor, Gary Cohn, resign from the White House.

I know you’re expecting me to discard such talk as ‘blasphemy’ — but I think Jeffrey is 100% right. Markets would crash through the floor boards, AND MORE, if Goldman’s Cohn decided to resign. The only problem with Cohn resigning is that his investment bank, Goldman Sachs, probably hasn’t placed enough directional bets for this to be a profitable expedition just yet. I do not believe the former #2 guy at Goldman would do such a rash thing, wholly emotional and without a motive for extreme profit.

A spokesman for Cohn roundly denied today’s rumors that he’d resign.

Nevertheless, markets are in free fall mode today — with the Dow off by 200 and the NASDAQ by 92. Both gold and bonds are higher as the tumult and losses are being distributed rather evenly. Since Trump has been bragging about the stock markets gains, I fully expect markets to get dislodged here soon, leading to the eventual collapse of his agenda and subsequent impeachment from the office of President. Following his Presidency, I would not be surprised to learn that Mueller found wrong doings with his dealings with Russia, which would then lead to the prosecution of him and members of his family — who would then spend the rest of their lives in prison.

For now, you’re in the prison, with Trump on the outside menacing you with his evil ways. He’s planning to build walls, ‘bring back’ low paying jobs, and do all sorts of things that are un-American.

Presently, and as of last week, I have 10% in GLD, 10% in TLT, 20% cash and 60% equities.

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Dr. Pieczenik Says Lincoln Was Mentally Ill, Hated Blacks, The Pol Pot of the South

I know this might come as a surprise to some of you, but I’m not a fan of any monuments. As a matter of fact, I generally despise government propaganda who actively turns mediocre to bad men into Saints. I do not buy into the notion that ‘it was a different time’ back then and we should give our forefathers a pass for being vile scum.

Look, you don’t need to be enlightened to understand that having a slave is wrong. There were plenty of good men back then who were against slavery, including John Adams. I don’t know about you, but I hate all the hatred. “The Fly” just wants to live in peace, gently tossing old men down sewer drains, having a grand old time getting inebriated off fine liquor.

Let me make a point.

Jesse Owens won 4 olympic medals during the 1936 games in Munich. He was not invited to the White House by FDR because he was black. Moreover, FDR did not support anti-lynching legislation, proposed by the GOP, because he didn’t want to lose his southern constituency.

Worse of all, FDR interned 120,000 Japanese Americans and held them prisoners for a period of three years — based solely on their nationality. People who had as little as 1/16th Japanese ancestry were detained for reasons none other than vicious racism. And you mean to tell me that I should revere this man, FDR, a person who I have nothing in common with and do not wish to have any influence over my children?

It’s easy to look up to people, because we all want to believe the lie. It’s nice to think there are others out there better than us, making society better, doing great things for the sake of humanity. But at the very nexus of humanity is empathy and kindness.

Was FDR a kind man? Absolutely not.

With regards to confederate statues: We should stop permitting this to be a movement led by antagonistic leftists. Instead, it should be an intellectual debate to be decided on in the ballot boxes. There are no good reasons to have statues of confederate generals inside American cities.

But we shouldn’t stop there. How bout Abe Lincoln?

He was an ardent racist, caused the deaths of over 600,000+ Americans and laid waste to the south, burned their cities and economy to the ground. History books tell us he did it to free the slaves, but that isn’t the whole truth. It was an economic war. And on the topic of slavery, what would you call fresh off the boat Irish immigrants being forced to fight for the north in a war that was likely to see them dead inside a few short months? Do you mean to tell me that isn’t a type of slavery?

Dr. Steve Pieczenik discusses Lincoln, calling him ‘mentally ill’ — the Pol Pot of the south, a truly disgraceful and reprehensible American leader who wanted to ship black people to Liberia.

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Paypal Bashes the Fash: Bans Accounts Associated with “Unite the Right” Rally in Charlottesville

Corporate America is taking action where the President is not. They are actively seeking out and destroying anyone who attended the Charlottesville rally, holding tiki torches, saying vile and disgusting things.

Paypal has announced they cut off payments to the account associated with the Charlottesville rally organizer, Jason Kessler.

The Southern Poverty Law center said that PayPal payments were funding Kessler’s organization. Therefore, PayPal announced that they’ve suspended more than three dozen accounts linked to hate groups, including Kessler’s.

Franz Paasche, VP of corporate affairs at PayPal writes:

“Regardless of the individual or organization in question, we work to ensure that our services are not used to accept payments or donations for activities that promote hate, violence or racial intolerance,” Paasche wrote. “This includes organizations that advocate racist views, such as the KKK, white supremacist groups or Nazi groups.”

“If we become aware of a website or organization using our services that may violate our policies, our highly trained team of experts addresses each case individually and carefully evaluates the website itself, any associated organizations, and their adherence to our policy,” he continued. “Ultimately, this team of professionals makes a recommendation that leads to the final determination on our ability to maintain our relationship with the website’s owner.”

It’s over Nazis. If you want to practice your form of hatred, you’ll need to do it overseas. Judging by the political climate, you’ll likely need to relocate to the Middle East, providing they don’t seize you and saw off your heads for being an infidel American.

Here’s one of those so called white supremacists, crying over recent events, scared of being killed by police.

It’s over fascists. America has defeated you again. Time to climb back into your time machines and head back to Hitler’s Germany, so that you can relive his unseemly end.

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Markets in Free Fall, As the Trump Presidency Shatters Apart Government-Corporate Council

Trump had said he ended the economic council, chaired by the the CEO of Blackstone, Steve Schwarzman. Apparently, that was a lie, at least according to the NY Times report out now, regarding the dissolution of the council.

Post Charlottesville remarks, the President’s economic council was in full rebellion mode and it was agreed upon to disband it. After the President learned about this, he preempted their statement and tweeted out he has ended it.

On Wednesday morning, a dozen of the country’s most influential C.E.O.s joined a conference call, and, after some debate, a consensus emerged: The policy forum would be disbanded, delivering a blow to a president who came into office boasting of his close ties with business leaders.

With the collapse of the councils, the president has all but lost his most natural constituency — the corporate leaders who stood to benefit from his agenda of lower taxes and lighter regulation.

Before they could make a statement announcing their decision, however, Mr. Trump spoke. He had caught wind of their planned defection and wanted to have the last word. Taking to Twitter, he wrote: “Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!”

This account is based on interviews with more than a dozen people at the companies represented on the council or advising them.

There is an important point to make in all of this noise. If business leaders, right or wrong, are afraid to be associated with the President, due to his perceived unpopularity, then all of his economic plans that helped the market roar to record highs are doomed.

“There is continuing pressure on C.E.O.s from customers, employees, shareholders and board members to take a position against what’s going on and separate themselves from president Trump’s councils,” said Bill George, the former chief executive of the medical device maker Medtronic and a board member of Goldman Sachs. “These executives cannot live with customers thinking they are in cahoots with someone who supports white supremacists or neo-Nazis.”

Important distinction.

“In American history, we’ve never had business leaders decline national service when requested by the president,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School of Management. “They’ve now turned their backs on him.”

According to the NY Times, here’s what really happened.

As the group disintegrated, Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of the Blackstone Group, was kept in the loop. Mr. Schwarzman was one of Mr. Trump’s closest business confidants and the chairman of the policy forum, but he was also outraged by the president’s remarks.

On Tuesday evening, he called Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a White House adviser, to inform him that the policy forum was falling apart. At the same time, Mr. Schwarzman began drafting a statement about disbanding the group. A White House spokesman declined to comment.

Efforts to schedule a conference call for the chief executives on Tuesday night were unsuccessful, so a call was set for 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

On Wednesday morning, Laurence D. Fink, chief executive of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, called Ms. Nooyi, Ms. Rometty, Ms. Barra and Douglas McMillon, the chief executive of Walmart.

Mr. Fink decided to step down after seeing the president’s remarks on Tuesday, and now encouraged other executives to join him. Mr. McMillon, who earlier in the week made public a stinging critique of the president, but had not stepped down from the advisory group, had changed his stance after Mr. Trump’s news conference on Tuesday, deciding to step down.

As the call began, more than a dozen of the nation’s top business leaders dialed in from around the country — Mr. Fink was in Aspen, Colo., while Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan, was home in New York.

Leading the discussion, Mr. Schwarzman, gave each participant time to speak.

Two in the group — Jim McNerney, the former chief executive of Boeing and Jack Welch, the former leader of General Electric — proposed issuing a statement condemning the president, but keeping the group together.

Mr. McNerney and Mr. Welch did not respond to requests for comment.

But most others, including Mr. Fink of BlackRock and Ms. Nooyi of Pepsi, leaned toward disbanding.

Mr. Dimon was also furious and wanted off the council, but felt conflicted because of his role as chairman of the Business Roundtable, an industry group.

Ms. Rometty of IBM, who had faced criticism from employees for her role in the group, advocated that the executives “condemn and disband.” That phrase soon drew broad backing.

During the 40-minute phone call, Mr. Schwarzman did not press for continued allegiance to the president. He said that although he had had high hopes for the forum, something had to change in light of the president’s reaction to the violence in Charlottesville. The question, he added, was how to reach a consensus.

As the policy forum was holding its call, other members of the manufacturing council, including Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup and Inge Thulin of 3M, announced they would step down.

By the time the call was over, the group had agreed to disband. After the decision was final, Mr. Schwarzman called the White House to let Mr. Trump know. He was asked to include language that the president had agreed to disband it.

Shortly thereafter, the president claimed on Twitter that he was disbanding the advisory groups.

Companies swiftly disputed that notion. Johnson & Johnson said its chief executive, Alex Gorsky, was leaving the panel before the president’s tweet.

The perception for Trump is that of a President isolated, without any real power. He is all but a ceremonial figure now, rejected by people inside his administration, business community, intelligence community, and in Congress. The fact that the Nasdaq is only down 50 is a testament to how well controlled the markets are. As the executive branch of government faces a daily barrage of controversy, coupled with a very active investigation into Trump’s dealings with Russians, I’d be amazed if the market could make it past Labor Day in one piece.

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Cloudflare CEO Terminates Neo-Nazi Site After ‘Waking Up in a Bad Mood’

The CEO of Cloudfare, Mathew Prince had enough of the Daily Stormer, a neo-nazi site dedicated to fomenting strife amongst races. In an email sent to employees, Prince described his actions as ‘arbitrary’, saying ‘literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the Internet. No one should have that power.’

Here is the full email.

Earlier today Cloudflare terminated the account of the Daily Stormer. We’ve stopped proxying their traffic and stopped answering DNS requests for their sites. We’ve taken measures to ensure that they cannot sign up for Cloudflare’s services again.

This was my decision. Our terms of service reserve the right for us to terminate users of our network at our sole discretion. My rationale for making this decision was simple: the people behind the Daily Stormer are assholes and I’d had enough.

Let me be clear: this was an arbitrary decision. It was different than what I’d talked talked with our senior team about yesterday. I woke up this morning in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the Internet. I called our legal team and told them what we were going to do. I called our Trust & Safety team and had them stop the service. It was a decision I could make because I’m the CEO of a major Internet infrastructure company.

Having made that decision we now need to talk about why it is so dangerous. I’ll be posting something on our blog later today. Literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the Internet. No one should have that power.

(Cloudflare employee’s name redacted) asked after I told him what we were going to do: “Is this the day the Internet dies?” He was half joking, but I actually think it’s an important question. It’s important that what we did today not set a precedent. The right answer is for us to be consistently content neutral. But we need to have a conversation about who and how the content online is controlled. We couldn’t have that conversation while the Daily Stormer site was using us. Now, hopefully, we can.

I’ll be publishing a blog post with all our thoughts on this issue in a few hours. Until then, I’d ask that you not talk about this externally.

Matthew Prince

Co-founder & CEO

In a blog post describing his decision, Prince openly admits that being judge and jury of what is acceptable content is almost an impossible task, saying that without his companies protection, hackers could easily take down sites they disagree with.

The size and scale of the attacks that can now easily be launched online make it such that if you don’t have a network like Cloudflare in front of your content, and you upset anyone, you will be knocked offline. In fact, in the case of the Daily Stormer, the initial requests we received to terminate their service came from hackers who literally said: “Get out of the way so we can DDoS this site off the Internet.”

You, like me, may believe that the Daily Stormer’s site is vile. You may believe it should be restricted. You may think the authors of the site should be prosecuted. Reasonable people can and do believe all those things. But having the mechanism of content control be vigilante hackers launching DDoS attacks subverts any rational concept of justice.

And here’s the rub. The CEO is obviously conflicted about his actions, taking down a website that he disagrees with. His screed is practically a cry for help, yet he’s doing it in spite of all that. I am shocked that his attorneys permitted him to post this rant, since it opens him up to all sorts of legal issues. Here he is admitting what he’s doing is wrong, wielding the power to arbitrarily take down a site because he woke up in a bad mood — then expecting the world to see it his way and respect his decision.

He concludes:

Someone on our team asked after I announced we were going to terminate the Daily Stormer: “Is this the day the Internet dies?” He was half joking, but only half. He’s no fan of the Daily Stormer or sites like it. But he does realize the risks of a company like Cloudflare getting into content policing.

There’s a saying in legal circles that hard cases make bad law. We need to be careful of that here. What I do hope is it will allow us all to discuss what the framework for all of the organizations listed above should be when it comes to content restrictions. I don’t know the right answer, but I do know that as we work it out it’s critical we be clear, transparent, consistent and respectful of Due Process.

Corporations like Cloudflare and the big web hosting companies literally control the flow of traffic and can do the job that a fascist government wishes it could impose on its people. The political environment is so aggressive now, the leftist tech community are now emboldened to intermingle their views with their business practices. Who in their right mind can make the claim that America is accepting of dissent and permissive of free speech anymore?

By definition, freedom of speech is allowing hate speech to exist. Now that we’ve crossed the rubicon of freedom of expression, all for the good of the public, expect the environment online to get increasingly toxic.

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$LB Sinks to 5 Year Lows After Reporting Weak Guidance

Who remembers when retail meant something in America? Year to date, the maker of Victoria’s Secret is down 38% and will sink even lower when it opens for trading today — with the stock set for another 7% drubbing.

Here was their guidance and rationale.

Given co’s below-expectation second quarter sales result, the comp forecast for the third quarter is a more conservative flat to low-single digit decline, versus previous view of up low-single digits. While store traffic, particularly at Victoria’s Secret, has been challenging, co believes a large part of the decline is related to the exit of swim and a pullback in promotional activity versus last year. The online businesses continue to be strong, with 11% growth in go-forward categories at Victoria’s Secret and 16% growth at Bath & Body Works. Stores have high sales productivity and 99% of stores are cash-flow positive. Expect the third quarter gross margin rate to be down to last year, driven by buying and occupancy expense deleverage that will more than offset an increase in the merchandise margin rate.

Analyst take.

TAG notes that While mgmt moderated its EPS guidance for the year, third quarter and full year comp guidance is in line with current market expectations. They believe the co took a more conservative view of the topline potential relative to its original plan due to the comp miss in the second quarter rather (in part due to traffic challenges) rather than as a result of anything it is seeing in the business currently, and the company did not update its August comp guidance (down low- to-mid single digits). In addition, the updated guidance still leaves room for a turn to positive comps in the fourth quarter as compares ease and the headwind of the exit of swim and apparel roll down.

While the process has required investor patience, they continue to see potential for sequential improvement in trends and a turn in the stock as the VS restructuring progresses and new product is introduced at the brand through the back half of the year.

FBR & Co notes the more conservative guide was due to lighter sales in 2Q that could potentially continue into 2H if traffic continues to be weaker (though could improve beyond swim season), but sales should still continue to sequentially improve. While the lowered guide is disappointing, they believe their thesis is playing out as they are seeing improved VS merch margins (better than expected), successful product launches, continued Pink outperformance, and improving VS SSS trends (though a bit slower than expected). They believe LB’s solid brands continue to resonate well with consumers based on our survey work and expect results to continue to improve in 2H; $60 tgt.
LB -6% at five-year low premarket.

I get how Amazon is hurting traditional retailers — but what about this? No one is buying lingerie online, or are they? It amazes me to see how well the market is comporting itself, in spite of all this retail dislocation.

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Tucker Carlson Obliterates Bill Kristol, Says He’s ‘Glued to Social Media Like a Slot Machine Junkie in Reno.’

Last night Bill Kristol called out Tucker Carlson for discussing the very real issue of removing monuments of all American forefathers who once owned slaves, saying that Tucker was attempting to rationalize slavery and then later suggested he’d rationalize anti-semitism.

If you watched the segment, all Tucker did was pose a very serious question, which I duplicated here that drew the ire of several residents.

Should we remove the monuments of anyone who once owned slaves?

Tucker responded last night, calling out Kristol for being ‘glued to social media like a slot machine junkie in Reno. He added that he had once worked for Kristol for 5 years and ‘a generally smart guy’ and a good boss, who was humane and intelligent.

Tucker then asked, ‘what happened?’

‘Hysteria has supplanted rational debate, where the purpose of political argument is to no longer explain your beliefs, but to highlight what a morally upstanding person you are, what a virtuous guy you are, usually by contrast of your opponent, who is by definition, evil. It’s childish, obviously — but for many people it’s pretty tempting. Even 64 year old men with Harvard degrees fall for it, apparently.

Tucker believes, ‘part of the problem is also the medium.’ He criticized the fact that Bill no longer thinks things through like he used to, when he was the editor at The Weekly Standard.

‘Now he just goes on Twitter and he stays on Twitter, all day, every day — dashing off little thoughts and impressions, scoring tiny little points against strangers in cyberspace — keeping obsessive track of his likes and retweets. At an age where he could be spending his time with his grandchildren, Kristol is glued to social media like a slot machine junkie in Reno.’

Watch.

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