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Joined Oct 24, 2016
1,143 Blog Posts

Parkland Survivor David Hogg Now A Financial Activist – Recommends Dumping FedEx

In the wake of the Parkland, FL school shooting, survivor and gun control activist David Hogg has been making the rounds – encouraging citizens to boycott companies which deal with the NRA.

Over a dozen major companies have cut ties with the NRA – including Delta, Hertz and MetLife.  And as we reported yesterday, Wall St. is getting in on the outrage – as Bank of America, BlackRock and Blackstone Group, LP are all putting the screws to companies who deal with firearms manufacturers.

While Bank of America is “reexamining relationships with clients who make AR-15s,” and Blackrock – the world’s largest money manger – is sitting down with gunmakers Sturm Ruger and American Outdoor Brands (Smith & Wesson), of which they’re the largest shareholders, investment giant Blackstone Group, LP fired off a Saturday letter to outside managers at a dozen hedge funds, asking them to detail their holdings in companies that make or sell guns.

Meanwhile, two days ago young David Hogg put pressure on FedEx – encouraging companies which use the shipper to stop doing business with them over the company’s refusal to cut ties with the NRA.

And today – Hogg encouraged shareholders of FedEx to dump the stock – and instead “stick with @USPS or @UPS,” apparently unaware that the US postal service isn’t a public company.

In response, FedEx issued a statement saying that while they oppose “assault rifles” (which an AR-15 is not), they won’t cut ties with the NRA:

FedEx stock responded by giving zero fucks and honeybadgering higher along with the rest of the market:

Meanwhile we haven’t heard one word from David Hogg about Broward Sheriff’s office and the FBI’s failure to follow up on three tips about suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz – specifically warning over Cruz shooting up a school. Hell, the FBI didn’t even contact Google after a YouTube video uploader reported his threat – under his own name – to become a “professional school shooter.”

We haven’t heard one word from Hogg about the two dozen visits to Cruz’s house by Broward County Sheriffs – or the fact that the Florida Social Services agency which deemed Cruz not to be a threat after investigating.

We haven’t heard anything from the young gun control activist about the fact that had Cruz been appropriately charged with a felony for holding a gun to his mother’s head while threatening her life, he wouldn’t have legally been able to own a firearm.

But hey, let’s try to take FedEx stock down for no other reason than the fact that they refuse to condemn the NRA.

 

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Goldman-Backed Crypto Startup Buys Major Digital Token Exchange

Goldman-backed Cryptocurrency startup Circle has inked a deal to buy digital token exchange Poloniex, said Cirlce on Monday.

Poloniex, which often boasts daily volumes of more than $2 billion in transactions for over 70 digital currencies, will help cement Circle’s position as one of the leading players in the highly competitive market, the company said on Monday.

While neither Circle nor Poloniex disclosed the value of the deal, Fortune magazine says the agreement between the two Boston-based firms is worth $400 million, according to a source familiar with the transaction.

“We’ve been really impressed with what they have been able to pull off,” Circle co-founder and CEO Jeremy Allaire said.

“They defined what originally people thought of as ‘altcoin’ exchanges,” he told Reuters – referring to the dozens of lesser known cryptocurrency alternatives to Bitcoin.

The value of cryptocurrencies – as well as the number – has ballooned since the start of 2017, when they were worth around $17 billion, according to trade website Coinmarketcap, with their total value topping $800 billion in January before slipping to around $450 billion now.

There are now more than 1,500 digital currencies and tokens, Coinmarketcap said. –reuters

Peer to Peer

Circle’s app-based network is a peer-to-peer system operating on the blockchain – the technology which underpins the entire cryptocurrency market. Circle plans to launch a retail-focused app for buying cryptocurrencies, dubbed “Circle Invest.” 

The company’s backers include Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Chinese muiltinational Baidu, Inc. – while their deal to buy Poloniex was reportedly discussed with all major investors and regulators before a final agreement was struck on Friday.

Tightening regulations

The SEC has been cracking down on cryprocurrency exchanges and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) – warning last july that they could be considered securities which require regulation under federal securities laws.

We intend to continue playing a leadership role when it comes to national and global regulatory frameworks for this space,” Circle co-founder Sean Neville told Reuters.

”That includes meeting with the SEC as well as obtaining all relevant licensing required for us to support our customers.”

Regulators are also keeping an eye on the anti-money laundering and know-your-customer (KYC) practices of cryptocurrency exchanges.

A Reuters investigation published in September showed that Poloniex had allowed some customers to trade cryptocurrencies and withdraw up to $2,000 worth of digital coins a day by providing only a name, an email address and a country.

Circle’s Allaire said that Poloniex was fully complient with the “Know Your Customer” checks, however he could not confirm that the exchange had the identities for all clients.

“I’m not sure that 100 percent of prior clients have gone through all their identity verification requests. I know they have a huge backlog of clients in their KYC queues,” he said. “But obviously now that we operate the company we’re going to ensure that the business is compliant in every way it needs to be.”

Sorry New Yorkers, unless you have a VPN!

Residents of New York are sadly unable to participate in the Poloniex exchange due to lack of a state license to operate a cryptocurrency exchange – however Reuters found people circumventing the rule by claiming they live elsewhere.

“Clearly, people can get around things like IP (internet protocol) restrictions, and other restrictions, and people do it all the time. People evade geo-blocking mechanisms, and it’s difficult to fully police. So it’s possible that some people have snuck through that, and that’s obviously something we take very seriously,” Allaire said.

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Blackrock, Blackstone Pressure Gun Manufacturers After Florida Shooting

In the wake of the Parkland massacre, over a dozen companies cut ties with the NRA – including Hertz, Delta and Metlife.

Wall St. is also getting in on the outrage.

While Bank of America is “reexamining relationships with clients who make AR-15s,” and Blackrock – the world’s largest money manger – is sitting down with gunmakers Sturm Ruger and American Outdoor Brands (Smith & Wesson), of which they’re the largest shareholders, investment giant Blackstone Group, LP fired off a Saturday letter to outside managers at a dozen hedge funds, asking them to detail their holdings in companies that make or sell guns.

The letter demands an answer by Sunday night – a 24 hour turnaround.

In the message, Blackstone executives apologized for the weekend intrusion, saying that Blackstone’s senior management wanted to know the information as soon as possible.

Blackstone has taken steps over the years to eliminate its exposure to guns across its various lines of business. –WSJ

“We believe we have next to no direct exposure to the firearms industry, but it’s not surprising that we would want to confirm,” a spokeswoman for the firm said in an emailed statement.
Pensions too

Gunmakers may also come under pressure from pensions – such as Florida’s state pension, which holds shares of American Outdoor Brands. As Bloomberg put it, “as Florida teachers grieve over the mass shooting that left 17 students and colleagues dead last week, some of them may be surprised to learn they’ve been helping fund the firearms industry—including the company that made the gun used that bloody Wednesday.”

Bank of America

Meanwhile, BofA is going to be “joining other companies in our industry to examine what we can do to help end the tragedy of mass shootings,” the bank said in a statement.

“And an immediate step we’re taking is to engage the limited number of clients we have that manufacture assault weapons for non-military use to understand what they can contribute to this shared responsibility.”

Flood of demand

Meanwhile, evidence suggests gunmakers are about to have a great quarter or two – with record attendance at the Florida Gun Show. Organizer Steve Fernandez said they’ve never seen such a large crowd .

“Some of the people attending are afraid that future legislation will impact their gun ownership rights,” said Fernandez. That said, 95% of the vendors at this weekend’s Florida Gun Show are required to run background checks since they are licensed dealers.

This is nothing new. Under President Obama – dubbed the “greatest gun salesman in America” – FBI firearm background checks skyrocketed amid a record 52,600 weapons sold daily under his administration as of June 2016.

And take a look at the Google trends search for “buy ar15” below – note the spike right after the Las Vegas shooting followed by searches conducted in the wake of the Parkland massacre.

 

Meanwhile, both $RGR and $AOBC seeem to be sucking wind… perhaps over recent moves by Wall St. and others against the NRA and other pro-Second Amerndment entities.

Interesting…

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InfoWars YouTube Channel Receives Strike Over David Hogg “Crisis Actor” Video

YouTube has issued a strike to the primary InfoWars channel over a video suggesting that the survivors of the Valentines Day Parkland school shooting were coached prior to interviews with various media outlets. The video revolves around a clip of shooting survivor David Hogg, who appears unable to remember his “lines” while giving a media interview. The clip immediately went viral, before YouTube began removing it from its platform.

The video published to the Alex Jones Channel, which has over 2.2 million subscribers, was removed for a violation of YouTube’s “harassment and bullying” policy – leaving InfoWars with two more chances before it’s banned.

YouTube’s community guidelines say that if an account receives two strikes in a three-month period, it will not be able to upload content for two weeks. If three strikes are given within three months, the account will be terminated.

Adding to the “crisis actor” speculation is another clip which surfaced shortly after the shooting, featuring an altercation between Hogg and a Redondo Beach, CA lifeguard. In it, Hogg places his boogie board on a trash can before he and the lifeguard get in an argument.

After the lifeguard altercation jumped to the #1 on YouTube’s “trending,” Google removed it under their harassment and bullying policy – apologizing for helping to fuel the “crisis actor” theory. The clip is still being scrubbed, so the embedded video above may not work.

“Last summer we updated the application of our harassment policy to include hoax videos that target the victims of these tragedies,” said a YouTube spokesperson. “Any video flagged to us that violates this policy is reviewed and then removed.”

Hogg hits back

In a series of interviews and statements, Hogg has vehemently denied that he is a crisis actor – claiming “I am not a Clinton ploy or an actor,” adding “I am a witness to this.

Hogg appeared on CNN’s AC360 alongside his father – a former FBI agent, to proclaim his innocence.

“I’m not a crisis actor,” Hogg told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on “AC360” Tuesday. “I’m someone who had to witness this and live through this and I continue to be having to do that.”

“I’m not acting on anybody’s behalf,” the 17-year-old added. –CNN

 

Further fueling the crisis actor theories is another clip actively being scrubbed from YouTube of another Parkland shooting survivor, Senior Alexa Miednik, who says she spoke with suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz during the shooting. Miednik believed that a second shooter was involved in the attack, stating “There was obviously, definitely another shooter involved.” When KHOU11 reporter Matt Musil then asks Miednik “Oh, you think he was not the only one?“, Miednik replies “Definitely not.”

While the most logical solution is that Hogg is nothing more than an enthusiastic young liberal who also happens to legitimately be an aspiring actor, videos of Hogg flubbing his lines and Miednik’s “second shooter” comments are sure to fuel speculation for quite some time.

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Illinois Governor Chugs Glass Of Chocolate Milk Laced With Brown Sugar In Diversity Stunt

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (R) became an unwitting assistant in a diversity stunt on Wednesday at a downtown Chicago “workplace diversity” workshop for black history month – downing a glass of chocolate milk with a slug of brown sugar meant to represent how people of color “sit at the bottom” of an organization until “you actually stir it up.”

The metaphor was the createion of Hyatt Hotels diversity and inclusion executive Tyronne Stoudemire, who enlisted Gov. Rauner in the stunt

Stoudemire, who is black, poured a glass of milk to represent the white men who lead most organizations (including, um, the state of Illinois).

This chocolate syrup represents diversity,” Stoudemire said, before squirting a healthy dash of brown syrup that immediately sank to the bottom of the glass.

When you look at most organizations, diversity sits at the bottom of the organization,” Stoudemire continued. “You don’t get inclusion until you actually stir it up.” –Chicago Tribune

Rauner, who is worth an estimated several hundred million dollars, stirred the syrup into the milk to turn it brown, took a swig, and proclaimed “Diversity!”

“Diversity is the mix, and inclusion is making the mix work,” added Stoudemire as the sugary analogy concluded.

Stoudemire told Chicago Inc. he’s been using the chocolate milk stunt for 16 years as a simple way to illustrate the lack of diversity at the top of Fortune 500 companies. He typically picks on the most powerful person in the room to be his assistant, he said, adding that Rauner “didn’t know what he was getting into.”

Rauner’s spokeswoman, Rachel Bold, wrote in a statement: ”This was the event moderator’s example of diversity that an audience of all ages could see and understand. It was one of two demonstrations at the event, both of which received ovations from the crowd.”

Diversity!

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JROTC Shooting Survivor: CNN Gave “Scripted” Question After Refusing To Air His [UPDATED]

A Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student was approached by CNN to ask a question at Wednesday night’s town hall, but declined after the network gave him a “scripted question” instead of allowing him to ask his own question.

Colton Haab, a member of the Junior ROTC who shielded students while shots rang out, Local 10 news that he was going to ask a question about hiring veterans as armed security guards.

“CNN had originally asked me to write a speech and questions and it ended up being all scripted,” Haab told WPLG-TV.  “I don’t think that it’s going get anything accomplished. It’s not gonna ask the true questions that all the parents and teachers and students have.”

CNN conducted the town hall on the Florida school shooting with Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL), along with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and the NRA’s Dana Loesch. Students and parents took turns asking questions about gun control and ensuring school safety.

“I expected to be able to ask my questions and give my opinion on my questions,” Haab said.

 “Colton Haab, a member of the Junior ROTC who shielded classmates in the midst of terror says he did not get to share his experience,” WPLG’s Janine Stanwood explained. “Colton wrote questions about school safety, suggested using veterans as armed school security guards but claims CNN wanted him to ask a scripted question instead so he decided not to go,” reported Stanwood.

***

UPDATE:

Hmm. What about focus groups?

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CNN Harasses Elderly Florida Woman Over Unwittingly Promoting Russian Trolls

CNN went from diving in Russian dumpsters this week to doxxing an elderly Florida woman – driving to her house where reporter Drew Griffin proceeded to harass her over the Facebook group she runs which unwittingly promoted Russian trolling activities during the 2016 election.

The woman, Florine Gruen Goldfarb, was unaware that her Team Trump Broward County Facebook page had been the target of Russian meddling efforts – a point which Griffin repeatedly and accusatorily made while Goldfarb stood outside of her home, defending herself.

“Those people weren’t Russians. I don’t go with Russians,” she said at one point.

“Those people that were with me were all Trump supporters,” she added.

“And all apparently following the direction of Russians who were actually infiltrating,” Griffin replied.

“B.S.,” said Goldfarb.

WATCH:

One wonders if CNN is going to drive out to MSNBC host Joy Reid’s house to badger her over the fact that she was a favorite of Russian Trolls during the 2016 election.

Or if they’ll badger Michael Moore at his house for unwittingly participating in an anti-Trump rally organized by Russians.

Then again, it’s probably easier to roll up to some old lady in Florida and bust her chops.

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Dennis Gartman BTFO After CNBC Trashes Major Holding, Sending Into Red YTD

Dennis Gartman is not a happy camper.

After CNBC’s Michelle Caruso-Cabrera published a Friday exposé into “Riot Blockchain,” formerly a vetrinary products company which saw its shares rally after it simply changed its name to include the word “Blockchain” and began to dabble in the space,  shares tanked – sending Gartman into the red YTD after he was previously up 6%.

As bitcoin hit record highs in late December, a hot new stock was making news on a daily basis. Riot Blockchain’s stock shot from $8 a share to more than $40, as investors wanted to cash in on the craze of all things crypto.

But Riot had not been in the cryptobusiness for long. Until October, its name was Bioptix, and it was known for having a veterinary products patent and developing new ways to test for disease.

Nobody should think it is OK to change your name to something that involves blockchain when you have no real underlying blockchain business plan and try to sell securities based on the hype around blockchain,” SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said, speaking in generalities in recent testimony to Congress. The SEC declined to comment to CNBC about Riot Blockchain. –CNBC

 

WTF was Gartman even thinking? Dumbass. Oh – and he DOUBLED DOWN…

Check out his “poor me” after the CNBC expose:

As for our retirement account, Friday was one of the worst days we have suffered through in a very long while for coming into the session we were long of a sizeable position in a blockchain focused company that was the victim of a CNBC expose, which sent the shares down more than 20% and which sent us “down” for the year to date, having been up about 6% previously.

Worse, we broke our own rule and bought more shares on the materially weaker opening and that proved wholly ill-advised causing us to say then and all weekend that “If you break the rules you pay the price!” We broke our own primary rule; we paid a very real and a very high price. Lessons have to be learned again and again and again it seems; or at least we apparently have to learn them over and over and over again.

Sad!

 

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BlackRock Bullish: Tax Cuts To “Supercharge” Corporate Profits

In a diametrically opposed forecast to Morgan Stanley, BlackRock’s best and brightest have turned increasingly bullish on stocks, raising them to overweight due to changes in tax laws and corporate spending plans which will end up “supercharging U.S. earnings growth expectations.”

BlackRock chief equity strategist, Kate Moore, says that “the fundamental story is the best it’s been, which is surprising given how far we are into this cycle.” 

Investors are failing to appreciate the impact of the tax law changes and upcoming corporate spending changes, while earnings growth and dividends will fuel returns amid already-high valuations.

“We remain very constructive on equities in general,” said Moore. “The U.S. just got an injection of stimulus that no place else in the world did.” As such, BlackRock reduced their rating on European equities to neutral.

“We were encouraged by the strong top line numbers going into the fourth quarter, but now they’re supercharged by the tax cut and fiscal stimulus,” said Moore. Fourth quarter earnings growth for the S&P 500 topped 15%, and sales growth was the highest in six years. Meanwhile, sixty percent of S&P 500 companies provided guidance that exceeded expectations. 

“What happened to the U.S. on the back of tax cuts and fiscal stimulus is something we’ve never observed. All regions are showing improvements in positive earnings revisions but nothing like the U.S.”-Kate Moore, BlackRock

Moreover, given rosy projections issued during earnings season, Moore says analysts have been ratcheting up their earnings forecasts – with earnings growth possibly hitting 19%.
BlackRock monitors earnings revisions, which can be a key indicator for the market, and the percent of positive revisions is at a record pace. They are now running at a rate of two upgrades for every downgrade, or a ratio of 2. That ratio has averaged 0.8 based in the data which goes back to 1988, Moore said.

“What happened to the U.S. on the back of tax cuts and fiscal stimulus is something we’ve never observed,” added Moore. All regions are showing improvements in positive earnings revisions but nothing like the U.S. Europe also has solid earnings momentum but it lags the U.S., and higher revisions in Japan are “noisy.” –CNBC

This is a very different cycle, at a time when fundamentals are already solid,” said Moore. “We will have to be very vigilant and try to stay focused not just on what happens to earnings but as to what happens with inflation pressures, and the impact that could have on margins. The big risk is inflationary pressure eroding margins.”

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Goldman Warns: Federal Deficit Spending In “Uncharted Territory”, May Not End Well

The fortune tellers at Goldman Sachs have looked into their crystal balls following the Trump administration’s controversial budget and an ambitious new infrastructure plan, and concluded that things might not end so well for the U.S. economy.

The firm said on Sunday that federal deficit spending has pushed the economy toward “uncharted territory,” and that Trump and Congressional Republicans may not be able to count on the economic boost from their tax reform for much longer.

Goldman Sachs said in a note to clients that the federal deficit would reach 5.2 percent of U.S. growth by 2019, and would “continue climbing gradually from there.” –CNBC

The GOP has been counting on tax reforms delivering heavy economic stimulus – with corporate bonuses lining consumers’ pockets while investing in new areas of growth. Goldman, however, warns of diminishing returns after 2018. “The fiscal expansion should boost growth by around 0.7pp in 2018 and 0.6pp in 2019, but will likely come to an end after that” – a statement Goldman capped off with a laundry list of reasons why spending and debt would undermine the world’s largest economy.

Goldman also noted that “projected increases in mandatory spending – this includes Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and income support programs – are primarily responsible” for what they believe will be an unsustainable level of spending over the long term.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the U.S. debt/GDP ratio is currently at 77%. In three years, Goldman expects this to hit 85% of GDP if current imbalances are sustained. Last year the CBO estimated that debt/GDP might skyrocket to 150% by 2047 – and that was before the GOP reforms.

Goldman’s analysts wrote that the “growth effect comes from the change in the deficit, not the level, and further expansion would put the U.S. onto an even less sustainable long-term trend. Second, some of the recent deficit expansion relates to changes unlikely to be repeated, such as the temporarily large effect of certain tax provisions.

Goldman also sees the GOP losing its grip on Congress after this year’s midterm election, which will at least make it “more difficult to further expand the deficit.”

The Treasury recently projected a massive increase in red government ink, announcing it would need to borrow $1 trillion this year, and more in years to come. Goldman noted that said borrowing was being conducted at “record low rates,” but this wouldn’t be the case indefinitely.

The Treasury’s need for more debt is inauspicious, given the recent surge in U.S. yields and a Federal Reserve that’s expected to begin a campaign to hike borrowing costs and withdraw liquidity. –CNBC

“We expect rising interest rates and a rising debt level to lead to a meaningful increase in interest expense,” Goldman said. “On our current projections, federal interest expense will rise to 2.3 percent of GDP by 2021,” and could hit 3.5 percent by 2027.

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