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Mr. Cain Thaler

Stock advice in actual English.

‘Nice Reprieves’ Won’t Stop The Suffering

Here we are on a Tuesday, getting a day of comfortable green price action. It’s remnant of a time when every day stocks melted higher and bears were committing suicide by the hour.

But buddy, this isn’t going to cut it.

While I love finally seeing a little bit of upside I know in my heart that this is just the waft of fresh air that gets you to patiently wait in the smoke filled room while the fire starts to work through the next layer of the walls.

My recent patience with this day after day of unfolding tragedy may be the most unsubstantiated move I have made in more than seven years. I shouldn’t be this comfortable, but here I am anyway, watching the villain saw me to pieces whilst I sip from a small cup of tea.

Only work outside of the task of managing my wealth keeps me from fixating exclusively on this nightmare and probably suffering a massive nervous breakdown / stroke combo.

I want you to hear this, right now: the world isn’t changing that much.

Sure it’s an exciting time to be alive, but you think oil won’t be valuable in thirty years time? You need to open an organic chemistry book or three and get with the program. I have watched this happen enough times to know that the same scumbags who are preaching environmentalism and a return to the times of Friar Tuck from one hand are busy buying anything oil and coal related with the other. Just because you can’t see where or how doesn’t mean that they aren’t.

Venezuela is melting down completely now. There are reports on twitter of inflation rates that crest an annualized 800% – real inflation is more than 120% per year right now. That country is going down, and when it does I do believe the oil market might become a lot less oversupplied.

Or maybe it will be somebody else? Who knows…but so far the US domestics have been holding on like champs. I’m will not get shook out by the freaking Saudi’s, of all people.

I remain convinced that the US domestic boom in oil production remains the best place to hold money for 10 years or longer. Just so long as your positions don’t go out, watching them go down will just make the story better for the kids.

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In The Funnel Again

Oh hurray, it looks like deflation is the path forward. All commodities are getting creamed, and no commodity is more commodity-y than oil.

I’m back to flat for the year and feeling as if my head is firmly placed in a vice.

If you had a puppy, I would kick it.

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Big Europe Makes The Move…Hopelessly

This weekend, the Eggs Benedict Presidency himself, Mr. Francois Hollande, is calling for a new government to unite all of Europe. This is the last ditch effort of redlining welfare states to avoid change. If they can create a unified government, the Greeks, Spanish, Italians and French can have a fair shot of papering over their floundering social nets without being forced to undertake any meaningful reforms.

And they have no chance of pulling it off. The mood has decidedly swung against “Europe”. Plus Germany isn’t that stupid.

But it’s quite amazing that we’ve gotten to this point at all and it’s worth spending a few minutes talking about the progression itself. Because just fifty years ago, it would have been unthinkable for an elected leader of a European country to call for full integration of the continent.

It’s worth starting the narrative after the end of World War 2; mostly because so many people were dead at that point that it was essentially a complete reset of the culture anyway. History before World War 2 exists as a sort of odd, discolored picture in time…one who’s inhabitants are almost forgotten.

And as Europe began to pick up the pieces, ghastly images began to emerge of a culture that did unspeakable acts. The death and carnage was so pervasive that it had the almost singular effect of destroying one of the more popular scientism movements – eugenics – practically overnight. As word of the concentration camps that the Axis had erected spread, very uncomfortable associations between our own work with forced sterilizations and gene and culture control here at home began to creep up, and almost instantaneously no one had ever believed in eugenics (despite it being almost blasphemy to argue against it just years early). Michael Crichton had a very excellent speech on this subject and if you haven’t read it, I recommend it in its full form.

And a major knock off effect of this self reflection was a Europe which had become more afraid of its own citizens than ever. I recently read another article (I couldn’t track it down, leave a link if you know the one) that I feel convincingly argued that much of the current EU form was erected to overrule democracy in favor of technocratic decision making by an “enlightened” class. If you want an example of how this plays out, consider that in the UK upwards of half of all new laws originate from Brussels. Lawmaking of this variety clearly denies basic rights of representation; and indeed that is the whole point.

Per this argument, the EU’s terror of its own citizens – which is at the heart of the EU rule making process – is a cultural development in response to the acts of populist movements across Europe in the prior generation.

But this is something of a contradiction. It wasn’t exactly democratic actions that committed those atrocities. Certainly a very vocal and nationalist undercurrent of supporters set those things in motion. But talking to the survivors of those years, one fairly consistent theme is that the common citizens that formed the backbone of the democracies had almost no idea of what was going on.

Rather, it was the very same form of technocrats, withholding information and utilizing propaganda, that had carried out the worst human rights violations. A lack of information stifled the ability of democracy to react, until much later, after the veil of ignorance was lifted by warfare, and the sights and accounts were allowed to flow through the populace.

And so it is also worth considering that it would be exceedingly difficult for any atrocity on the scale of the early 20th century to happen again in our history, so long as the information sharing which is reshaping our society is allowed to spread unhindered. With so much access to free information, even unwilling participants accessory to such crimes would be able to anonymously spread the word.

Which leaves the EU in its current form of stifling, undemocratic processes. And one has to wonder, “what’s the point of this?”

The EU is predominantly about the euro, which is the second layer of trouble. The modern welfare state also evolved in response to the end of the World Wars; a period of time when starvation and economic poverty was running rampant across war torn nations and when modern political movements were asking how they could avoid letting events like that ever replay themselves. The proposed solution was to directly aid citizens, which would have the secondary effect of giving everyone an incentive not to participate in forms of political upheaval or risk losing those benefits.

But the heart of the welfare state is a type of nationalism; open borders and free moving populations make for trouble when trying to run national benefits.

Which makes it so odd that welfare states in the 90’s decided to adopt a common currency that they have no direct control over. The welfare state de facto playbook is to address any inevitable economic stagnation, recession or depression with new economic equilibrium, rather than economic reform. The entire point of practical political welfare is to entrench interests of a political majority and avoid challenges. The other guys get to deal with economic variability. See public sector labor unions for an idea of how that works.

By switching to the euro, perhaps unknowingly, the welfare state model sold out its most powerful tool to achieve that outcome. Modern problems are very much a product of adopting the euro. Pro-welfare commentators in the media take it a step further by pinning the fault of those problems on the euro as well. That belies a bias towards a welfare model of government. You could easily argue that the welfare model is itself the problem and that the euro was just a monumentally stupid strategic move on the part of the major players. In either case, the common currency without political union is causing fissures to form across Europe, for the better part of 5 years now. We’ve sort of beat this theme to death by now, so I’ll cut more commentary short here.

And so now, in 2015, we have the president of France actually considering a political union with old cultural enemies Germany and the UK, and Greece immediately trying to undo the effects of a referendum they themselves wanted to have. It’s almost preposterous, if not for the desire to preserve the welfare programs. That’s the only driving force holding this thing together at this point.

So on a warm weekend in July, Francois Hollande is making a last ditch and desperate appeal that amounts to selling out everything French about France, just to avoid the discomfort of some relatively modest cuts and the bravery required to trust his own citizens.

You have to wonder if even Friedman would have seen that coming.

In short order, as the euro collapses towards dollar parity, this call will be picked up by the globalists here in the US as well. It will be their one chance, for perhaps hundreds of years, to stitch the US into the European framework. God willing we crush them without much trouble when that happens.

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Refreshing Day

European bonds are now back under control and the EURUSD refuses to cede $1.10. This may sound circumstantial but I read it as a line in the sand which is not being crossed.

The Greek referendum was a major joke. No one will ever take Syriza seriously again. You cannot force a referendum like that, then just turn right around and bend over. Greece will be the butt of jokes for 100 years. I mean, we still make fun of the French for losing wars, don’t we? ‘Greek negotiating’ is now a dark punch line.

Oil dropped $10 in a hurry, but it is still only testing the old lows. I’m getting some constructive information from the oil field services sector. BAS reports that some numbers have rebounded (albeit new drilling activity is practically nonexistent).

So I guess what happens next is all about China.

The Chinese market collapse would have been the start of something serious in the US; but China is not the US. China remains at a junction, where they need to decide what they want to be when they grow up. If they decide that the Red Revolution is still their destiny, then they’ll keep pulling moves like they did last week. But that is not the recipe for a successful world power and each of us knows it.

China’s path forward is to embrace the capitalism spirit. That means letting crashes do what they will and not threatening to behead people for having private property rights.

For now though, we may have been spared something worse. Chinese stocks are not widely connected to their overall economy yet (America would be in another recession if that had happened here and so would maybe a tenth of the planet).

So for China, they are still executing the transfer towards a more free and secular society (at least on their word anyway) and this damage may yet be passed over. And Chinese stocks globally are taboo and I would be ashamed if it were discovered that I owned any, so my guess is foreign exposure is going to be reasonable. Not non-existent, but reasonable.

This leads me to guess that the China crash will be a one off.

The real damage is the permanent shredding of credibility that China’s leadership is undergoing by trying to dictate a market outcome. That’s stupid and doesn’t work and really highlights the problem the Chinese are going to have maturing past the technocrat paternalism that has barely been keeping it together up to now (see Chinese stocks as taboo, my refusal to own any).

Globally, if we’re going to keep hitting new highs, we need China to hold water. That means the China boys pulling their pants up, leaving that Marx childishness behind them, and pushing forward towards Western finance. Stumbling now would not be a good sign for global trade, which could be a real issue if the markets reopen and the Chinese people themselves decide their Emperor is ass naked.

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Are They Trying To Break Me Down?

As if we weren’t already on a knife’s edge, watching Greece meltdown the euro and China burn to cinders, now we are treated to major financial outages here at home.

Is someone trying to ignite a panic? Because they’ll pull it off.

For the moment I guess those of us who have heavy supplies of guns and ammo rest easiest at night. You unarmed peace and love types have fun, knowing you’re the first targets of Fly’s junta, should civilization fail.

I for one welcome our new feudal system.

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Greeks Vote “No” In Razor Thin 60/40 BLOWOUT

I don’t know what is wrong with Journalism in the 21st century, but I have some ideas.

And those ideas can pretty well be summed up by the press coverage of the Greek referendum going into today. The projections by the press of a close vote belied the truth and gave away all the problems facing modern Journalism.

The Odds Don’t Justify This

In order to have projected a close vote in the Greek referendum, with Greece voting so overwhelming “no”, the press would have had to talked to the “yes” vote population at a ratio of almost 3:2 “yes” to “no”. That’s a 20% swing away from a true sampling of the Greeks. Such a linear combination screams bias on the part of a profession that still has the nerve to call itself the eyes and ears of the planet. If you just fed a phone book into a random number generator, the odds of you being this wrong are astronomically bad.

Consider Bernoulli trials. If you sampled just 100 people who had a 60/40 preference for some outcome, what are the odds of a random sampling of the same population telling you the result would be 50/50 or worse in favor of the 40% position?

The answer is soundly less than 3%.

Even if I give the people that forecast such an unclose race as a close race some serious leeway, it still falls apart pretty quickly. There’s only an ~18% chance of predicting a 55/45 turnout or worse from real data; that’s the cliff’s edge of a 50/50 +/-5% poll, folks.

In order to be this bad, there’s almost no way it happened naturally. Which leaves two likely scenarios. Either the media didn’t actually talk to anyone. Or…

Living In A Bubble

One of the most pernicious problems with Journalism today is that Journalists and media personalities appear to increasingly consider themselves not as mere impartial observers, but as actual participants in the goings on of the world themselves.

This isn’t to say that Journalists shouldn’t have their own preferences. They all do, of course. And being open and frank about those things is actually an improvement from the old way of doing things, where a Dan Rather sinks or elevates stories based on a preferred outcome and for decades nobody calls him on it.

But Journalism has taken it all a step further, to actually mixing cultures almost exclusively with the rich, affluent, and active socialites. Journalism sees itself as being “refined” and “elite” in status, and my suspicion is that Journalism almost never gets out anymore, to talk to the masses of real people who actually make the world work day to day.

Take this Vox article that Dylan Matthews decided it would be great to write on the 4th of July, of all moments.

I’m not sure what type of delusions it takes to write an article like that on the birthday of America. But I am getting increasingly sure that the conditions for those delusions include isolation from everyday life.

America’s Top 4 media companies NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox are all headquartered in either Washington DC or New York City. The decisions on what to run nationally come from Washington DC or New York City. The perceptions of what current events mean come from Washington DC or New York City.

If you’re a major media outlet trying to be the unbiased sight of a nation, then having every nerve ending routed through America’s capital (a place hardly renown for its realism or connection with the rest of the country) or a single small island of billionaires in the Atlantic is probably a rough means of getting there.

The same problem is going on in Europe. The European Union is probably the least thought out idea to have been implemented in the past 50 years. I would challenge you to find a worse example. Yet, because of how it was created, Europe’s elite class (and I use the word “elite” quite lightly here) are totally wedded to the concept.

Despite the grand enthusiasm on the parts of rich multinational businessmen and suddenly elevated technocrats, there has been little in the way of success on the part of the EU to improve the lives of ordinary Europeans. The sudden resurgence of nationalism is not a mere unexpected bout of nostalgia for the old countries and their fading sovereignty. The lives of men and women across Europe have markedly declined since the formation of the EU.

Where is the coverage of these people? European media is firmly in bed with the EU project. They feel like they are an active part of it and root for its success. They physically cry at the thought of it failing.

That is my personal belief in how you get media outlets trumpeting a close referendum outcome all week, only to have this happen. So many large media outlets projected a close race because somewhere in their minds they feared it wouldn’t be one, and a 50/50 call is the best hope they could give the outcome that they really wanted.

There’s no other explanation I can think of for this type of behavior. It is hardly the only isolated incident; I see this kind of awful, detached commentary almost daily.

Journalism needs to start getting off its island and away from its money if it wants to be taken seriously as the trustworthy record keepers of a civilization again.


Here’s a fun fact. Since so many media outlets claimed their polling was based on thousands of responders, I re-ran my numbers.

The odds of predicting a 50/50 vote or greater in favor of “Yes” from a 60/40 outcome in favor of “No”, based on 1,000 responders, is 1 in 10 billion.

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