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Sat 27 May, 2017

02:07 Virgin Active Becomes First Gym To Integrate Amazon Alexa» Forbes Real Time
Members can preserve their energy for when it matters the most, and schedule workouts, check out the newest classes and their locations from the comfort of their couch
01:50 The newest version of 'Trumpcare' may have some alarming implications for the opioid crisis» Markets

Donald Trump Paul Ryan

The Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday released an updated analysis of the American Health Care Act, the House GOP healthcare bill, that economists and advocates said contained some alarming takeaways for the future of the fight against the opioid crisis.

While the nonpartisan CBO projected that 23 million more Americans would be uninsured by 2026 under the AHCA compared with projections under the current healthcare system, two other issues are contained within those numbers.

The first: The newly amended AHCA keeps largely in place the more than $800 billion in cuts to federal Medicaid spending over the next decade from the original version of the bill.

It does so by rolling back the Medicaid expansion established under the Affordable Care Act as well as other changes under the law. The CBO estimates that, under the AHCA, approximately 14 million people would come off the Medicaid rolls by 2026.

The second issue, and one not present in the previous version of the AHCA, is the so-called MacArthur Amendment, which would allow states to apply for permission to rescind some of the Affordable Care Act's regulations if they introduce policies designed to lower insurance premiums.

The CBO found that about one-third of the US population lives in states that would most likely make "moderate changes" to regulations under the MacArthur Amendment and about one-sixth lives in states that would make more extensive changes.

Christine Eibner, a health economist for the Rand Corporation, said that while there was a lot of uncertainty about how states would change regulations, it was reasonable to think state legislators would be under a lot of pressure to cut back on so-called essential health benefits, or certain conditions that insurers are required to cover, if other states are able to show that doing so brings down premiums. If that happens, substance-abuse treatment is viewed as the benefit "most at risk" to be cut, Eibner told Business Insider.

Approximately 1.84 million people in the US are receiving treatment for substance-use disorders or mental illnesses through the Medicaid expansion or the ACA's individual insurance marketplace, according to research conducted by Richard Frank, a professor of health economics at Harvard Medical School, and Sherry Glied, a dean at New York University. All of those people would be at risk of losing the approximately $5.5 billion paid out for treatment through those two avenues of insurance.

A 2017 Health and Human Services report found that approximately 34% of individual-market insurance plans did not cover substance-abuse treatment before the Affordable Care Act. Under the AHCA, a similar number would most likely either not cover treatment or begin underwriting substance-use disorder as a preexisting condition for thousands of dollars in premium surcharges, making insurance prohibitively expensive, Frank told Business Insider.

Eibner said the individual market wasn't the only place where treatment coverage would be affected. While she said employer-sponsored insurance would most likely continue to cover treatment, she expected Medicaid programs in states rolling back regulations related to the essential health benefits to cut substance-abuse treatment coverage as well.

Amendments to the AHCA allocate $15 billion over nine years and $8 billion over five years, respectively, to offset some of the costs to consumers if states waive benefits like substance-abuse treatment coverage and coverage for Americans with preexisting conditions. Frank found in his preliminary calculations, however, that those funds would be exhausted many times over in just a few short years just to pay for treatment for opioid-use disorder and serious mental-health conditions, leaving aside the myriad other conditions those funds are supposed to help cover.

BI Graphics_Drug OverdosesGary Mendell, the CEO of Shatterproof, a national nonprofit working to end the opioid crisis, has come out fervently against the bill.

"It's unbelievable that in the middle of a crisis our legislators would even consider reducing access to insurance for those needing treatment for substance-use disorder," Mendell told Business Insider.

While Mendell said he had engaged with the Trump administration over its ongoing commission dedicated to tackling the opioid crisis, he said that if the AHCA were signed into law, the administration and Republicans would have "zero credibility" in trying to fix the crisis because of how many people would be likely to lose access to treatment.

An analysis conducted by Eibner and Christopher Whaley, a policy researcher at Rand, found that in places that waive substance-treatment benefits, the out-of-pocket cost for consumers who use those benefits could rise by $1,333 a year. For "high-need" consumers, like those who need an in-patient stay at a treatment facility, out-of-pocket costs could rise to $12,261 a year.

"This assumes people still continue to use treatment," Eibner said. "Some may not seek it at all if it becomes too expensive."

Mendell said the AHCA would make substance-abuse treatment prohibitively expensive and, in particular, medication-assisted treatment, or MAT.

Considered by many experts to be the "gold standard" for overcoming opioid addiction, MAT uses prescription medications like buprenorphine or methadone to reduce cravings, allowing patients to work on the underlying issues leading to their substance use without the constant pressure of withdrawal.

Because of its promising results, MAT has gained bipartisan support in statehouses and on Capitol Hill, but it's expensive and remains difficult to access.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said in West Virginia earlier this month that MAT amounted to "substituting one opioid for another," a claim almost universally rejected by scientific, medical, and treatment communities. Mendell went so far as to call Price's statement a "dangerous comment that perpetuates misinformation."

SEE ALSO: Trump's proposed trillion-dollar cuts to Medicaid are a stunning reversal from one of his biggest campaign promises

DON'T MISS: GOP healthcare bill would leave 23 million more uninsured, undermine protections for people with preexisting conditions

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: China built a $350 million bridge that ends in a dirt field in North Korea

01:32 Some Of The Best Websites For Seniors To Find New Ways To Get Up, Get Out And Meet Up In 2017» Forbes Real Time
Opportunities abound today for older adults to get up, get out and meet up. And whatever activity you choose, the Internet has no doubt made it easier than ever for older adults to connect with friends, family and their communities and to find out what passions they may want to pursue in retirement.
01:23 Bitcoin and Tech Stocks: A 21st Century Tulipmania?» Barron's Most Viewed Today
Investors’ enthusiasm is reminiscent of the mania that struck the Dutch in the 1600s.
01:07 Q1 US GDP Growth Revised Up To A Still Weak 1.2%» Forbes Real Time
US GDP has been revised up from terribly weak to solidly weak. But we know very well there are calculation errors in there contributing to some to much of that.
00:53 Oh, Lord, Why Won't Donald Trump Buy Me A Mercedes Benz?» Forbes Real Time
Donald Trump should applaud, not scorn, German auto companies selling cars, investing in plants and employing workers in America.
00:52 Zuckerberg's Harvard Speech Shows He Doesn't Quite Get The Economics Of Jobs And Automation» Forbes Real Time
Only if we do get this right in our own minds are we going to be able to react correctly to technological change. There's absolutely nothing wrong at all with grand projects, with million cooperating to achieve them. But it's the project we want to achieve, the jobs are the cost of doing so.
00:12 After trip's final day, Trump to return to tumult at home» AP Top Business News at 12:09 a.m. EDT
TAORMINA, Italy (AP) -- Down to the final day of his lengthy first international trip, President Donald Trump will lift off for Washington having rattled some allies and reassured others, returning to a White House that sits under a cloud of scandal....

Fri 26 May, 2017

23:37 The Tell: Why one hedge-fund titan is bracing for ‘all hell to break lose’ in the stock market» MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
Billionaire investor Paul Singer has a bleak outlook for Wall Street and has built a $5 billion rainy-day fund in preparation for what he describes as “all hell” to be loosed upon the world.
23:36 After 33 hours, Delta Air Lines finally releases puppy from cargo in Guatemala » MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
Woman says her German Shepherd, Bunny, was held ‘hostage’ by bureaucracy and paperwork.
23:13 Debt ceiling could be hit this summer: Sources» Top News & Analysis
The White House is starting to warn that the debt ceiling could be reached late this summer, according to two sources.
23:08 NASA's Latest Capsules Expected to Pose Greater Risks Than Projected» WSJ.com: US Business
NASA’s next-generation manned spacecraft, initially envisioned to be roughly 10 times safer than the retired space shuttle fleet, will fall significantly short of that goal, according to industry and former agency officials.
23:00 Medal Of Honor Recipient Warns: "It's Going To Come Here... Trump Must Release The Gates Of Hell" On Islamic State»

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

With British Prime Minister Theresa May warning that another attack may be imminent, Medal of Honor Recipient Dakota Meyer says that it’s time to strike Islamic State strongholds without mercy, because sooner or later we could well witness suicide bombers detonating themselves in the middle of large crowds right here at home.

Arguing that President Obama, who awarded Meyer his Medal of Honor, was weak on ISIS and terrorism in general, he says President Trump should take a completely different strategy.

In short… it’s time to unleash the gates of hell…

I’ve been saying this is going to happen for a long time.

 

When is it coming here?

 

I think the only way you get this point across is that we release the gates of hell on them and we start making war so ugly that…their recruitment videos… it won’t be cool to join ISIS anymore.

 

And at some point we’re going to have to do that… this labeling of ‘it’s a lone wolf’ attack… or saying it’s not connected or this or that…

 

You can’t just ignore this problem because it’s going to come here…

 

The only thing I am optimistic about with this situation is that we have a President… think whatever you want about his politics…

 

At least we have a president that’s in place that’s not going to allow us to be the victims… you can guarantee he’s going to do whatever it’s going to take… no matter if it’s popular in the court of public opinion… he’s going to do what’s right to protect America…

Our guess?

President Trump was just warming up when he dropped this mother of all bombs on an ISIS complex in Afghanistan earlier this year:

22:40 Chairman of Meatpacker at Center of Brazil Corruption Probe Resigns» WSJ.com: US Business
The chairman of the world’s largest meat producer, JBS SA, stepped down Friday, weeks after telling prosecutors his company bribed Brazilian politicians, including President Michel Temer, in exchange for taxpayer-subsidized loans and other favors.
22:35 The Most Popular Books In History All Shared One Trait»

Throughout history, people have turned to works of literature for guidance, entertainment, and education. Modern businesses aim to tell stories that leave a long-lasting impact as well, and should look to examples of historical success to influence how they create their own content.

Today’s infographic comes to us from Global English Editing, and it looks at 20 of the most popular books in the world. As Visual Capitalist's Jeff Desjardins notes, all of the books listed, even those published decades or centuries ago, have made an enduring impact on readers to this day. They have achieved this by stirring discussion and sparking debate wherever they are read.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

CONTROVERSY: THE EVERGREEN THEME

One of the important traits shared by every book on this list is the controversy that has swirled around each of them. This can be seen across different time periods and genres.

People have questioned the identity and authorial authenticity of Homer and decried the upending of creationism proposed by Darwin. Even a children’s book like the modern bestselling series, Harry Potter, can be a magnet for discussion over what is morally right and wrong.

It is often the case the that most popular and enduring literary works will not only captivate, but also address controversial issues in such a way that people will be talking about them for generations.

LESSONS FROM HISTORY

The recent bestselling streak of George Orwell’s 1984, first published in 1950, is an interesting illustration of this trend.

The dystopian novel was banned upon its translation and release in the former USSR due to its implicit critique of Stalinist political ideology. By contrast, in the 1970s and 1980s, several American counties challenged 1984 on the grounds that it might promote communist ideals. In the 21st century, Orwell’s best-known work has been revisited by a new generation of readers as the American political climate continues to create new uncertainties about governance, the distortion of facts, and social control.

FOR BUSINESS CONTENT, BOLD WILL HOLD

The most popular books ever written can teach modern businesses a great deal about what it takes to make content that is evergreen, meaningful, and primed to engage their readers. Creating discussion is key in the age of the reactive “hot take” style of article. Your ability to stand out in the cultural, historical, or political context for having a point of view that many people find worthy of debating will give your work the staying power it needs.

Considering that within any given minute there are 2.4 million Google searches taking place and over 700,000 people logging into Facebook, this is no easy task. But whether it’s through a new product or via customer engagement, creating meaningful discussion is key to making a business’ voice heard through all the noise.

22:30 15 Ways To Make Yourself More Marketable» Forbes Real Time
Joe can tell that big changes are afoot in his company but he doesn't know whether or not his job will be affected. Either way, Joe wants to start thinking about a job search and needs advice on making himself more marketable to employers. Here are 15 suggestions!
22:22 OANN Releases Report On Seth Rich Murder, Raises Questions About Chinese Corruption»

Via Disobedient Media

The San Diego based One American News Network has released a new report highlighting key elements of the mystery surrounding the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich. OANN cites a number of inconsistencies and lingering questions in the case, while also noting that Rich's murder occurred in close proximity to the similarly strange death of UN official John Ashe. Ashe was found dead just days before he was set to testify against Clinton in relation to matters pertaining to a corruption case where Chinese billionaire Charlie Trie helped launder $1.2 million dollars as part of Chinese government efforts to influence Bill Clinton's 1996 presidential election. Ashe's death was originally reported as a heart attack, but the story changed after it emerged that the cause was in fact a crushed windpipe in what was labeled a "workout accident." The full report can be viewed here:

On May 25th, one day before OANN's report, a representative of the media company made a post on the online messageboard 4chan appealing for help locating information regarding the doctor who treated Seth Rich for gunshot injuries he sustained during the incident. Within minutes of the post, OANN's website was taken offline in a Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack.

Screenshot taken on 5/26/2017 showing that OANN's website was taken offline

The findings of the report offer fresh insights what is appearing to be a story of complex political corruption and Democratic National Committee (DNC) attempts to downplay the scandal. Disobedient Media has previously reported on the extensive ties that key players in the Seth Rich case have to the DNC, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Rose Law Firm, the law firm which was at the center of the 1990's Whitewater Controversy.

22:10 Why Bother?»

Authored by Robert Gore via Straight Line Logic blog,

The best strategy for dealing with crazies is to keep your distance.

You try to ignore the ravings of the paranoid lunatic on a street corner, but if he’s waving a gun, you can’t.  He may kill himself, but he may kill you. Protecting yourself is your first consideration. You want to get as far as possible from him.

As an intellectual exercise, imagine how the Chinese and Russian leadership look at the United States, its government, and those of its allies. It will get you labeled as a “sympathizer” or “agent,” but take the risk and try seeing the world through their eyes:

We hear the Americans raving about the exceptional and indispensable nation, the American imperium, and maintaining world order. What other conclusion can be drawn: like many lunatics, the US suffers from delusions of grandeur. As we know, it’s difficult to maintain order in one country, and the US wants to take on the whole world? They’re having a tough time maintaining order in the US. Half the country hates the other half, and many of their experts warn of civil unrest that could be ignited with the smallest of sparks. Take it from us, spark suppression is a full-time job in big countries with many people and few common interests, even those with powerful, intrusive governments like the US.

 

How can the US think that it can rule the world when it can’t win wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq? That’s crazy talk! There are smart people in their military. They must recognize that guerrilla warfare, terrorism, knowledge of the people, language, and terrain, and the availability of cheap but effective defensive weapons and munitions give a huge advantage to nationals resisting domination in their own territory. Why hasn’t the US learned anything from their disastrous wars, or the Soviet fiasco in Afghanistan?

 

We in Russia are not altogether comfortable with our Syrian involvement and know it poses substantial risks. However, Syria is in the same neighborhood, is a long-time Russian ally, and hosts Russia’s only Mediterranean port. The US has no such compelling interests and is apparently there at the behest of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Turkey, and Israel. (How do these nations get the US to fight its wars? It must be baksheesh.) It pretends to fight Islamic terrorists while aiding them in another idiotic, and so far futile, attempt at regime change. The biggest danger for us in Syria isn’t the rebels, it’s those crazy Yanks.

 

The US and its allies’ (what curious allies—the US defends them and picks up most of the tab while they fund cradle-to-grave welfare states) interventions have created refugees—some innocent victims, some potential terrorists—who have fled en masse to Europe and trickled into the US. More intervention will create more refugees, yet that is their policy. Russia and China both have problems with native Muslim populations; it’s pure lunacy to import them. Yet, the American and European intelligentsia condemn not the proponents but the detractors of military intervention and refugee creation and admittance.

 

If those are supposed to be the smart people, it’s no wonder those countries are in such poor shape. A country is only as good as its people. The Americans and Europeans have voted themselves benefits from their governments that can only be paid for with debt. How long can that last? What will beneficiaries do when the well runs dry? The US used to be one of the most industrious countries on the planet. Now most of its people are fat, lazy, and soft, with no idea how to provide for themselves. The so-called smart people worry if transgenders can enter the bathroom of their choice, and cheer a great Olympic decathlon champion who turned himself into an approximation of a woman. These idiots are not useful to anybody.

 

The only rational policy is to keep our distance from the US, while trying to protect ourselves from its depredations, and concentrate on jointly developing the immense potential of Eurasia. In other words, to continue doing what we’ve been doing. Our primary economic initiatives, One Belt One Road and the Maritime Silk Road, under the auspices of the Eurasian Economic Union, are going well. We will develop extensive commercial and transportation links among nations stretching from China to Europe, an area which encompasses over half the world’s population and natural resources. China will providing much of the infrastructure investment through the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Russia will spearhead security arrangements, particularly against Islamic extremists, through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes China and central Asian nations that were formerly part of the USSR, and will soon admit India, Pakistan, and Iran.

 

Financially, self-protection means moving away from fiat dollars and euros and stockpiling real money—gold. China is reducing its vast pile of US treasury securities, and Russia its much smaller pile. We will continue to advocate for replacement of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, preferably with the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights. The Chinese yuan recently became part of that currency basket. We have also taken steps to develop an alternative to the SWIFT system, the US’s monopoly on international bank clearing.

 

Militarily, some of the bluster coming out of the US is insanity: the possibility of “winning” a nuclear war. No matter what their computer simulations might suggest, there is no way that a US first strike would wipe out our means and will to retaliate, regardless of their anti-ballistic missile systems in Eastern Europe and South Korea. Sometimes it is an advantage to be underestimated by one’s enemy, but in this case, US underestimation could lead to extinction of the human race. Our nuclear weaponry, military strategies, and defense systems must continue to be state of the art, to assure that destruction in the event of a US attack is mutual.

 

Keeping our distance from the US certainly does not entail getting involved in their elections. Donald Trump didn’t have a positive thing to say about China during his campaign. Although he made noises about reducing America’s foreign interventions, we heard the same from George W. Bush and Barack Obama and look how that turned out. Trump also made noises about rapprochement with Russia, but it was clear that he’d be fighting his own Deep State if he won, which we did not expect. Why would we poison relations with Hillary Clinton, who we and most experts did expect to win, before she even took office? It’s a further sign of rampant delusion, a complete unwillingness to deal with reality, that Clinton’s Democrats are blaming Russia for problems they brought upon themselves.

Why bother manipulating an election when America seems so bent on self-destruction? It would be like trying to leash a rabid dog.

 

22:05 Market Extra: Want to invest in bitcoin? Investors need to be willing to lose it all, adviser says » MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
A cursory glance at extreme volatility of bitcoin suggest that it’s likely not suitable for most.
22:02 The Tell: Wall Street laughed at a call for bitcoin at $25,000—but after a 400% surge, the laughter is fading» MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
As the digital currency, bitcoin, has surged a breathtaking 400% over the past year, Wall Street may be apt to take Yves Lamoureux’s call a little more seriously. At least, that is the hope of the 54-year-old former retail broker and trader who established what he describes as macroeconomic research firm, Lamoureux & Co., about four years ago.
21:59 Sears is in 'free-fall' and its rate of decline is 'very concerning' (SHLD)» Markets

Sears Pembroke Mall

Sears' shares enjoyed a strong surge this week, soaring as much as 20% on Thursday after the company reported its first net profit in two years. 

But traders' cheer quickly wore off and shares dipped again, as the grim reality behind the initially rosy headlines set in: Sears' operational decline is in fact accelerating, and its odds of survival beyond 2017 remain uncertain, according to Evercore ISI analyst Greg Melich.

A closer look at Sears' earnings show that the company's sale of its Craftsman brand in March is responsible for its net income of $244 million in the first quarter. Excluding the sale, Sears' losses deepened to $230 million from $199 million the prior year.

"Operating losses... show no sign of improvement" and "sales remain in a state of free-fall decline," Melich wrote in a research note. 

Sears' sales overall tumbled more than 20% to $4.3 billion in the first quarter, which the company blamed on store closures and declining sales at its stores open at least a year. Same-store sales plunged 12.4% at Sears stores and 11.2% at Kmart stores. 

SearsSears says it is "fighting like hell" to turn business around and has promised to cut costs by $1.25 billion. The company has announced more than 180 store closures so far this year and recently told investors that it has bids for $700 million in real estate sales, which would provide much-needed cash to help keep it afloat.

Assuming those sales occur and Sears can achieves success with its cost-cutting plan, "it should have sufficient liquidity to make it through holiday, although the cash burn and rate of sales decline are very concerning," Melich wrote. 

But the company is still a very sick patient with little evidence of any sustainable forms of cash flow going forward, according to his note. 

"Improving the cash burn rate is imperative as the company shrinks, and Sears remain very far from sustainable levels of loss that does not require external liquidity," Melich wrote. "Given the very weak store base, continued comp declines, anemic sales productivity, and continued share loss in most major categories, Sears does not appear well positioned for the rest of 2017."

Moody's vice president and senior analyst Christina Boni last month delivered a similar assessment on Sears' survival, saying the real estate sales will help the company survive a little longer, but at the same time diminishes the company's lifeline as it struggles turn business around.

"Sears’ financial performance remains extremely weak," Boni said. "Its effort to sell real estate which has produced over $700 million of bids currently will enhance liquidity, but accelerates the timeline required to stem operating losses as it asset base diminishes." 

Sears CEO Eddie Lampert addressed bankruptcy concerns recently and said the company has "as much time as our vendors and our lenders and our shareholders are willing to give us."

"The reality needs to be better than it is for us to really demonstrate to people that the transition is starting to take hold," he said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.

SEE ALSO: This is what Sears stores could look like in the future

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: 7 colors that might get you sued

21:45 Pelosi Concerned POTUS' Trip Wasn't Alphabetized: "I Mean, Saudi Arabia. It Wasn't Even Alphabetical"»

Over the years, Nancy Pelosi has garnered somewhat of a reputation for saying things that don't seem to make a whole lot of sense.  As most will recall, the pinnacle of her illogical ramblings seemingly came in March 2010 when she argued that voters would only be allowed to read the details of the Obamacare legislation after it had been passed. 

For those who somehow managed to miss it...here you go:

 

Oddly, comments like the one above seem to have had absolutely no impact on San Franciscans who continue to re-elect her to public office year after year.  And while we find that somewhat disturbing, it at least affords us all the opportunity to enjoy an endless supply of gaffes from Pelosi's very active public speaking schedule.

In fact, the latest gift from San Francisco to the world came yesterday when Nancy held her weekly press briefing and was caught completely off-guard by a journalist who asked for her thoughts on Trump's first international trip.  While this would seem like a 'softball question' designed specifically for Nancy to knock out of the park, she proceeded instead to have yet another on-air nervous breakdown that ended with her questioning why Trump's first foreign stops weren't organized in alphabetical order.

“I thought it was unusual for the President of the United States to go to Saudi Arabia first. Saudi Arabia!”

 

“It wasn’t even alphabetical. I mean, Saudi Arabia.”

 

She goes on to point out that 4 of the 5 previous presidents all visited Canada for their first foreign trip which she seemed to find more appropriate given its rank in the alphabetical list of foreign countries.  Of course, it does beg the question of why Obama didn't visit Afghanistan first...hmmm, quite suspicious indeed.

21:30 Seven Things Never, Ever To Say In A Job Interview» Forbes Real Time
If you aren't prepared or you aren't careful, it's easy to blurt out the wrong thing in a job interview. Here are seven things never, ever to say!
21:21 Rural America Is the New 'Inner City'» WSJ.com: US Business
A Wall Street Journal analysis shows that since the 1990s, sparsely populated counties have replaced large cities as America’s most troubled areas by key measures of socioeconomic well-being—a decline that’s accelerating.
21:20 On Gold, Dollars, & Bitcoin»

Authored by Paul Brodsky via Macro-Allocation.com,

We have been bullish on gold – the barbarous relic; King Dollar – the modern hegemon; and Bitcoin – the crypto currency investors love to hate. One might say our feet have been planted firmly in the past, present and future. (We may not have three feet, but let’s go with it.) Are we hedging our bets, being too cute by half, or is there a cogent rationale that unifies bullishness for money forms most would consider incongruous and at-odds with each other?

The short answer is we like:

1) gold, because central banks around the world own it and are buying more, ostensibly to devalue their fiat currencies against it someday, after they are forced to hyper-inflate in order to reduce the burden of systemic debt service and repayment;

 

2) the dollar, because dollar-denominated financial markets are broader and deeper than any other market and because the Fed is years ahead of other major central banks when it comes to normalizing policy and maintaining bank solvency (i.e., other fiats are in worse shape), and;

 

3) Bitcoin, the borderless digital currency that is already being perceived as a better store of value than gold and all fiat currencies, and potentially a more expedient means of exchange too. All three should win in different ways.

It may be easier to accept this discussion by first reminding one’s self that monetary regimes come and go every fifty years or so. The last transition was in 1971 and the world is due for another. We have a high level of conviction that the evanescence of the current global monetary system is rooted in sound economics and already has been firmly established. A global monetary reset is necessary and likely.

To understand why we must break down money into its two main components: a means of exchange and a store of value. When it comes to using money in exchange for goods and services, fiat currencies have it all over gold and crypto currencies presently. That’s because governments demand taxes be paid with their fiat currencies (legal tender), forcing producers and labor to demand compensation in those currencies. As a result, banking, payment systems and all goods and service channels are set up to use fiat-sponsored currencies.

When it comes to a store of value, however, the factors of production may choose to save in whatever form of money they want. If the general perception is that government-sponsored, bank system-created fiat currencies will have to be greatly diluted in the future so that systemic debts can be serviced and repaid, then savers will migrate to money forms with capped floats, like gold and Bitcoin.

Prior to 1971, if a major government-sponsored currency was threatened with dilution, global sovereigns and savers and producers would exchange that currency for gold at a fixed exchange rate to the dollar. Or, they could simply exchange that currency for another currency less likely to be diluted. In the current regime, all economies are highly levered and all fiat currencies must be greatly diluted in the future. It comes down to timing and we think the US dollar is the best positioned of all major fiat currencies. That said, it will eventually have to be diluted too and will lose value in gold and Bitcoin terms.

As mentioned above, gold is still owned by the world’s major treasury ministries and central banks. (In fact, it is effectively the only asset on the Fed’s balance sheet that is not someone else’s liability.) If US or global economic growth were to fall enough, or contract, and central bank monetary and credit policies were to fail to stimulate positive growth, then the value of all outstanding sovereign, household and corporate debt (and bank and bondholder assets) would become stressed.

The Fed would have no choice but to devalue dollars against its other asset – gold. Other central banks would either follow suit or go along with a coordinated plan to fix their currencies to the dollar (i.e., a new Bretton-Woods agreement). If this were to happen the price of gold in dollar terms would rise by as much as five to ten times current levels, in our view. (We arrive at this magnitude of change by taking the level of bank assets needed to be reserved and then using the Bretton Woods formula for currency valuation, base money divided by gold holdings.)

The new gold price would reflect a level at which gold holders would be willing to exchange their gold for the diluting currency. This dynamic is basically what happened in another form with US interest rates in 1980/1981. US treasury yields were forced higher by the Fed (22 percent to 15 percent along the inverted yield curve), a level at which trade partners like OPEC would accept dollars with a floating exchange rate.

Finally, Bitcoin. The BTC/USD exchange rate has gotten a lot of notice lately because it has almost doubled in the last month (se chart below)...

To listen to financial media commentary, the extraordinary move must be the result of unsophisticated financial rubes looking to get rich quick on the latest tulip fad.

We disagree. While the dollar price of BTC may drop significantly any time as it reflects people’s understanding of dynamic global economic and monetary conditions and of Bitcoin itself, we are highly confident the exchange rate will appreciate dramatically from current levels over time.

To be sure, faith in the flexible exchange rate fiat monetary system remains strong in G7 economies and those that actively trade with them. But major currencies require continued faith in perpetual growth without recessions and that highly leveraged, irreconcilable balance sheets will never have to be diluted.

Meanwhile, access to Bitcoin takes only internet connectivity, it is free to store, and there is no need to hide it traveling across borders. Bitcoin, itself or as a proxy for all crypto currencies, is quickly becoming a more reliable and accessible store of value for 5 billion people across the world residing in economies without major currencies, strong central banks or stable pegs.

The store-of-value benefit is beginning to make itself clear to wealth holders in developed economies too, those becoming aware of the need for future fiat currency inflation by monetary authorities.

Those unfamiliar with crypto currencies tend to fear bubble bursting outcomes. While this fear is understandable given its newness, complexity, past volatile market action and lack of a central or sovereign regulator, it is not reality-based. Bitcoin cannot be successfully hacked due to its underlying block chain recordkeeping system, which documents every transaction and every sequential custodian in the chain (all anonymously to the world). No one can create Bitcoins outside its system or sell Bitcoins that do not exist.

Further, Bitcoin’s float cannot be diluted without the express agreement of 51 percent of all Bitcoin holders. Bitcoins are widely dispersed across the world and there is no central authority with a political agenda. It is inconceivable why Bitcoin holders would agree to being diluted anytime soon.

At a $50 billion total market valuation, of which Bitcoin is about $30 billion, crypto currencies have almost incalculable appreciation potential vis-à-vis fiat currencies. They should gain significant market share for store of value purposes, and this could be sped up if payment systems adopt Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, or another crypto currency as a global means of exchange. After all, global fiat money amounts to nearly $100 trillion.

Many of us who have toiled over the years as professional investors are deluded with the explicit or subconscious expectation that the perception of wealth and markets will someday revert to what they were five, ten or twenty years ago. They will not, in our view. Yes, this time IS different (as it always has been). Our money will change (as it always has).

Given the highly leveraged state of the current monetary regime, the most dominant variable for future wealth maintenance and creation, in our view, may not be asset selection but rather money selection. Something to think about...

21:13 What the contents of this Depression-era purse says about American women in 2017» MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
The recent discovery in a Chicago theater of a 1930s clutch purse is a revealing time-capsule.
21:13 This is why Dutch kids are much happier than American children » MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
In the Netherlands, kids get chocolate sprinkles on their breakfast and early sex education.
21:12 When Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg sound the same dire warning about jobs, it’s time to listen» MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
The founders of Microsoft and Facebook have cautionary words for the Class of 2017.
21:06 Jared Kushner reportedly discussed setting up secret channel with Moscow» Top News & Analysis
Kushner — Donald Trump's son-in-law — reportedly proposed the channel to the Kremlin at an early December meeting.
20:55 Connecticut Credit Risk Soars To Record High As Tax Receipts Tumble»

Connecticut’s general-obligation bonds are riskier than ever as plummeting income-tax collections and a $2.3 billion budget deficit moved all three credit rating companies to downgrade its debt.

 

As Bloomberg details, tax receipts for the current fiscal year ending in June will be about $451 million short of estimates from January, prompting Governor Dannel Malloy to empty the state’s already small budget stabilization fund. To help close the gap, public employees agreed to accept a 3-year wage freeze and to contribute more for their pension and health-care benefits under a tentative deal that would save more than $1.5 billion over the next two years.

As we previously detailed, The state of Connecticut has been hit hard by the double whammy of a deteriorating local economy, coupled with a plunge in hedge fund profits - as well as hedge fund managers permanently relocating to Florida - leading to a collapse in tax revenues. According to the the latest Connecticut budget released last week, the state is reeling from the consequences of sliding tax revenue from the super-rich, i.e. the state's hedge fund managers. The latest figures showed that tax revenue from the state’s top 100 highest-paying taxpayers declined 45% from 2015 to 2016. The drop adds up to a $200 million revenue loss for Connecticut.

In a dramatic, if of questionable credibility, soundbite Department of Revenue Services Commissioner Kevin Sullivan says these wealthy people are “dramatically less wealthy than they were before.” He was referring to annual income, not actual asset holdings, because judging by the all time high in the S&P, the local financial elite have never had a higher net worth.

“When you look at the top 75, top 50 ... this is a group of wealthy people who are dramatically less wealthy than they were before,” said Kevin Sullivan, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services. “These folks, for a number of reasons, are either not realizing as much income or don’t have as much income.”

Just don't expect tears from the general public. Sullivan also noted how several international hedge funds have recently failed, resulting in “significant retrenchment” from investors. That drop in tolerance for risk brings smaller margins and ultimately less personal income for the state to tax, he added. It's fascinating how the Fed's central planning, superficially meant to restore "confidence" in a rigged, manipulated market is having such proound and adverse 2nd and 3rd order effects on state budgets.

Sullivan also acknowledged part of revenue decline can also be attributed to “a handful” of wealthy individuals who moved to more tax-friendly states — an issue frequently raised by legislative Republicans, who argue Connecticut’s tax policies encourage the state’s super-rich to move out.

None of this should be a surprise... it's no wonder more people than ever are looking to leave the increasing tax burden of this troubled state?

20:53 Market Snapshot: S&P 500, Nasdaq book narrow records ahead of Memorial Day weekend» MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite logged tiny gains on Friday, but they were enough for the benchmarks to finish in record territory and book a seventh straight advance, ahead of the long Memorial Day weekend.
20:52 The New Starbucks CEO Seems To Stumble Out Of The Gate» Forbes Real Time
The first major initiative under new CEO Kevin Johnson, the North Star project, has landed with a thud.
20:35 Russian bankers sue BuzzFeed over unverified Trump dossier» AP Top Business News at 12:09 a.m. EDT
NEW YORK (AP) -- The owners of a Russian bank filed a lawsuit against the online publication BuzzFeed on Friday for publishing an uncorroborated dossier that alleged they were part of a Russian scheme to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election....
20:30 Shari'ah-Compliant Crypto Gold: Could Islam Be Preparing For A New World Reserve Currency?»

Authored by Shannara Johnson via HardAssetAlliance.com,

It all started pretty harmlessly: in December 2016, after about 12 months of deliberations, the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) and the World Gold Council announced a new “Shari’ah Standard on Gold.”

The new standard was celebrated as a potentially big boost for global gold demand as it would give more than 2 billion Muslims in the world access to gold-based financial products that were previously forbidden to them.

That included vaulted gold, gold accumulation plans, gold certificates, gold-backed ETFs like GLD, and gold mining stocks.

Under Shari’ah law, physical gold was considered a “ribawi item,” which means it could only be used as a currency and worn as jewelry, but it couldn’t be traded for speculation or future value. However, Muslim investors were well aware that the $1.8 trillion Islamic finance business was missing out on important opportunities.

Under the new standard, Shari’ah-compliance is guaranteed as long as physical gold is the underlying asset.

And we didn’t have long to wait for a brand-new financial product coming from the Islamic world that combines the popularity of Bitcoin with the timeless value of physical gold: OneGram, a gold-backed, fully Shari’ah-compliant crypto currency.

The new currency was announced on May 4 at the Ritz Carlton, Dubai International Financial Center—with the official ICO (Initial Coin Offering) following only 17 days later.

“In recent years, the Middle East has seen incredible growth in fintech innovations including digital tokens and smart contracts,” said Ibrahim Mohammed, the founder and CEO of OneGram, in his first press release. “With OneGram, we’re excited to provide an opportunity for investors who care about Islamic financial markets and the security of commodity-backed investments to benefit from rapid technological advances in the blockchain industry.”

According to OneGram’s website, initially each OneGram coin (OGC) is backed by one gram of gold and can be used for digital payments, just like Bitcoin.

The total number of OGCs is fixed and won’t change after the ICO. The digital transaction fees (minus admin costs) will be reinvested to buy more gold.

“Therefore,” states the website, “the amount of gold backing each OGC will increase with time.”

Plus, of course, a rising gold price and the growing acceptance of OneGram in the market are also poised to pump up its value.

Gold and crypto-currency experts are already speculating about the implications of the launch. A recent CoinDesk review stated:

Bitcoin is often referred to as a “good” money because of its limited supply, relative fungibility and ease of exchange. If gold can also start to satisfy those requirements, a seismic shift from fiat to digital could be easier to “sell”—the public is predisposed to trust gold, certainly more so than cryptography.

It could also open the door to the creation of a new global currency as an alternative to the dollar, something that Russia and China are rumored to be looking at.

[Emphasis mine.]

We sure do live in interesting times - and it is not all that far-fetched to think that OneGram, or another gold-backed crypto currency like it, could be a stealthy way to introduce a new global gold standard.

20:16 Fallen Navy pilot's children hug as remains brought home» Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines

Fallen Navy pilot's children hug as remains brought homeSAN DIEGO (AP) — Deborah Crosby touched her father's flag-draped casket as her three brothers hugged her in a tearful embrace on the tarmac at the San Diego airport Friday — ending a more than half century search to find and bring home the remains of Lt. Cmdr. Frederick P. Crosby, shot down as a Navy pilot in the Vietnam War.


20:02 WaPo Reports Kushner Sought "Secret" Back-Channel With Moscow, Admits It's Normal Practice»

Looks like we spoke too soon. The holiday-weekend Trump bombshell has arrived courtesy of The Washington Post. This time, the paper is reporting that Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and one of his closest advisors, discussed the possibility of setting up a secure communications channel between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.

The scene was set earlier in the week when NBC reported on Thursday that Kushner is now “under FBI scrutiny” before explaining that he’s not an official target in the investigation.

And now, WaPo reports, according to the anonymous US officials, sensitive information 'incriminating Kushner' was intercepted by US intelligence agencies when Kislyak relayed the details of the discussion to his superiors in Moscow.

At first brush, the report appears damning: If accurate, WaPo has unearthed actual evidence of collusion between a senior Trump associated and the Russians, one might think.

But it’s important to keep in mind two crucial facts that WaPo decided to bury further in their "reporting."

First, this alleged discussion occurred during a meeting at Trump Tower in early December, nearly a month after Trump’s upset victory over Hillary Clinton.  The investigations being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the House and the Senate are focused on uncovering evidence of collusion between Trump associates and the Russian government during the campaign.

 

And second, if it weren’t for the implications (that this is evidence of collusion between a close Trump associated and Moscow), this would be a non-story, as WaPo readily admits, 16 paragraphs deep: It is common for senior advisers of a newly elected president to be in contact with foreign leaders and officials. But new administrations are generally cautious in their handling of interactions with Moscow, which U.S. intelligence agencies have accused of waging an unprecedented campaign to interfere in last year’s presidential race and help elect Trump.”

So, to summarize - after Trump won the election (thus not before the election and not showing any election-tampering collusion), Kushner began discussions with the US representative of another world super-power to set up the back-channel-communications that are standard when any new president is elected.

If that's the best the media has for a long weekend, then perhaps, just perhaps, we have jumped the shark in terms of 'damning' leaked intercepts? Or perhaps the assumption is that the average WaPo reader will not reach the 16th paragraph, merely content with the headline confirmation of their own bias?

In a separate story published Friday evening, Wapo reported that the Senate Intelligence Committee has asked President Trump’s political organization to gather and produce all documents, emails and phone records going back to his campaign’s launch in June 2015. The development is notable because it's the first time that any Congressional investigators have requested documents from the Trump campaign.

20:01 This Week In Hip-Hop: Bryson Tiller Surfaces, Gucci Mane Returns & Lil Yachty Debuts» Forbes Real Time
Bryson Tiller, Gucci Mane and Lil Yachty all release albums on the same day.
19:54 Kell Brook Vs. Errol Spence Jr: The Ultimate Bettor's Guide» Forbes Real Time
The value in the betting odds for the Kell Brook vs. Errol Spence Jr. International Boxing Federation welterweight championship fight on May 27 favor the hometown underdog. Kell Brook is a strong bet at +200 (wager $100 to win $200)
19:49 With Gianforte's win, two of Montana's three congressional reps have ties to Oracle» Top News & Analysis
Montana's newest Congressman Greg Gianforte and Senator Steve Daines both come from the same tech company, which sold to Oracle for $1.5 billion.
19:40 Western Washington University Hosts Workshop On How To "Reduce The Impact Of White Privilege"»

As part of its Campus Equity and Inclusion Forums, the enlightened faculty of Western Washington University have decided to host a workshop that aims to "reduce the impact of white privilege on social and academic relations"...because the best way to address racial barriers (real or imagined) is to host a workshop that targets individuals based purely on their race.

The workshop series, highlighted by The College Fix earlier today, will be hosted by history professor Randall Jimerson who presumably has a lot of personal atoning to do for his white skin.  Jimerson noted that while the seminar is open to everybody, it’s especially helpful for white folks who need to learn "how to reduce the expression and effects of their white privilege."

“Most people of color are aware of the existence of ‘white privilege,’ whether or not they have applied this term to the disparity between their experiences and those of white people,” he said via email. “Thus, I assume that the main focus will be on helping white participants to understand, explore, and accept (or reject) the concepts embedded in this phrase.”

 

“I hope that the conversation will then move to ideas about how to reduce the impact of ‘white privilege’ in our daily interactions with other people, and in our consciousness of race and other socially-constructed concepts.”

Thankfully, Jimerson noted that racism among white people is not based on "biology, but only on social constructs historically designed to privilege ‘white’ people over all others"...which means all white people can be cured of their illness through sensitivity training at any number of liberal bastions of higher education around the country...so it's a good news day.

Meanwhile, asked whether the country has made any progress at all on race relations over the past 50 years, Jimerson said he's encouraged that public schools are no longer segregated but is worried by the fact that Trump has filled his cabinet with a bunch of white supremacists.

“As a white male—even though I have a sister-in-law, a niece, and two nephews who would be described as persons of color—I do not think that I can provide a clear answer to this question,” he said. “The nature of race relations, and how this has changed in the past 50 years, is something that I can only sense indirectly.”

 

“Although I think that the United States has made progress in some aspects of race relations—such as overt or legal segregation—recent evidence suggest we have a long way to go,” he added. “These forms of evidence range from the racist attacks on former President Barack Obama, to documented incidents of excessive police violence towards people of color, to the increase of white supremacist organizations, and the only slightly veiled racism of many members of the Trump administration. These developments are seriously troubling for anyone who values concepts of fairness, equality, and social justice.”

The country that poor professor is living in sounds just awful...he might be better off just abandoning it and moving to some other country that is more tolerant.

And here's your opportunity to meet the forum organizers:

19:39 Anadarko's Colorado Operations Draw Criticism After Second Deadly Blast» WSJ.com: US Business
A second deadly accident in Colorado involving Anadarko Petroleum Corp. is spurring criticism of the company’s oil and gas operations in the state.
19:14 Memorial Day Sales Will Be Huge With Apparel Most Discounted» Forbes Real Time
The 33% of US consumers looking for deals Memorial Day weekend will find big discounts on apparel, appliances and online brands.
19:10 Apple Loop:New iPhone 8 Design Leaks, Apple Watch's Secret Power, Anger Over MacBook Pro Update» Forbes Real Time
This week’s Apple Loop includes the impossible iPhone design, the cost of Apple’s new smartphone, what’s happening with the new MacBooks, angry Mac customers, the patent deal between Apple and Nokia, improvements to the Apple Watch, and Apple’s change of direction with its web browser.
19:03 Oscar De La Hoya's Criticism Of The Floyd Mayweather Jr. Vs. Conor McGregor Bout Is Hypocritical» Forbes Real Time
Oscar De La Hoya has no room to judge Mayweather-McGregor.
18:50 Android Circuit: New Pixel 2 Details Leak, Galaxy S8 Killer Revealed, Microsoft's Android Ambitions» Forbes Real Time
This week’s Android Circuit includes hacking the Galaxy S8 Iris scanner, details on the Google Pixel 2, leaked images of the Nokia 9, rumors of the Galaxy S8 Active, how OnePlus is catching up to Samsung, a review of the BlackBerry KeyOne, and Microsoft continuing to build its Android base.
18:46 Mass Grave From Thirty Years' War Reveals Brutal Cavalry Attack» Forbes Real Time
A mass grave from the Thirty Years' War shows archaeologists the horror of 17th century battle.
18:46 Autistic Children Don't Benefit From Special Diets And Supplements, Study Shows» Forbes Real Time
Gluten-free, casein-free diets may be popular for autistic children, but there's no evidence it's doing them any good.
18:32 Customer Service In Deathcare: How The Funeral Home Industry Cares For The Living» Forbes Real Time
Customer service is an essential part of deathcare (also styled "death care"), the term for funeral home/burial/cremation/memorials industry; no industry is called on more to address emotional needs of customers in times of stress than this $20 billion (annual revenue in the U.S.) industry.
18:23 CEA Nominee Hassett Worked as Citigroup Consultant» WSJ.com: US Business
Financial disclosures filed by Kevin Hassett show the nominee to be chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers worked as a consultant for Citigroup Inc., whose ties with the previous administration rankled some Democrats.