November 10: Daily Contrarian Reads

Real Motive Behind Saudi Purge Emerges: $800 Billion In Confiscated Assets

........Then an article overnight from the WSJ confirmed that fundamentally, the purge may be nothing more than a forced extortion scheme, as the Saudi government - already suffering from soaring budget deficits, sliding oil revenues and plunging reserves - was "aiming to confiscate cash and other assets worth as much as $800 billion in its broadening crackdown on alleged corruption among the kingdom’s elite."

Consumer Debt And Wages-----The Oscillating Struggle Continues

The inverse relationship has continued through the “reflation” earlier this year, where at least total hours picked up at the end of last year suggesting some relative, if ultimately minor, improvement in the labor market. At the same time, revolving credit usage dropped off to a noticeable degree. Going back to around May, however, revolving credit balances have been accelerating again just as the labor market improvement at least indicated by hours worked seems to have stalled. Correlation is not causation, but it’s a reasonable inference in this case given that recent history.

Mind the Junk---The High-Yield Market Is Slowly Unraveling

After a spate of bad news triggered sell-offs of a few big speculative-grade borrowers, the pain has spread and even led NRG Energy Inc. to pull a $870 million bond offering on Thursday. Exchange-traded funds that buy high-yield debt have plunged the most since August, with $563 million of retail outflows since the start of this week alone. Three of the biggest junk-rated borrowers, IHeartMedia Inc., CenturyLink Inc. and Community Health Systems Inc., posted disappointing earnings that sent their bonds plunging.

More Fake News-----New York Times Edition

....The proposed incorporation of Ukraine into NATO brought matters to a head. For Putin, this was an unacceptable prospect. He acted as would any U.S. president contemplating the absorption of a near neighbor into hostile bloc of nations. Indeed, he acted much as had Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy when they assessed the implications of Cuba joining the Soviet bloc.

The Sound Of Bubbles Cracking----New York Rents Fall As New Development Prices Tumble By 12% Y/Y

A flood of new apartments in Manhattan are finally starting to take their toll on a subsection of NYC real estate that had remained quite resilient up until now.  As Bloomberg points out this morning, with rent concessions now being offered on 35% of high-end apartments in the Big Apple, the median rent for non-doormen buildings fell in October for the first time in 20 months.

The Petro-Dollar System And The Deep Secret Of Saudi Power In Washington

As a candidate, Trump blasted the Saudis countless other times. But, after he took office, Trump did a complete 180. He stopped criticizing the Saudis. In fact, he’s now singing their praises. It’s bizarre… as if someone put a severed horse head in his bed....Trump’s about face was astounding. But his newly adopted deference to the Saudis is no different than Obama’s, Baby Bush’s, or any previous president’s.

Why America's Retail Apocalypse Is Just Starting

The reason isn’t as simple as Amazon.com Inc. taking market share or twenty-somethings spending more on experiences than things. The root cause is that many of these long-standing chains are overloaded with debt—often from leveraged buyouts led by private equity firms. There are billions in borrowings on the balance sheets of troubled retailers, and sustaining that load is only going to become harder—even for healthy chains.

The Big Dem Political Money Behind RussiaGate

The two sources that originated the allegations claiming that Russia meddled in the 2016 election — without providing convincing evidence — were both paid for by the Democratic National Committee, and in one instance also by the Clinton campaign: the Steele dossier and the CrowdStrike analysis of the DNC servers. Think about that for a minute. And, it has now been disclosed that the Clinton campaign and the DNC paid for opposition research memos written by former British MI6 intelligence agent Christopher Steele using hearsay accusations from anonymous Russian sources to claim that the Russian government was blackmailing and bribing Donald Trump in a scheme that presupposed that Russian President Vladimir Putin foresaw Trump’s presidency years ago when no one else did.

The Price of Chaos Rises in Spain

Madrid is unlikely to be budged, at least not until regional elections are held on December 21, which it hopes will deliver an anti-independence majority. It’s a tall order, especially given the lack of public support for the Rajoy government in Catalonia. In a recent poll by Pew Research, 91% of the Catalans surveyed said they do not trust the government in Madrid. If the gamble doesn’t pay off and in December pro-independence parties are handed another majority, direct rule will be reinstated, Spanish government representatives have warned. In other words, the beatings will continue until morale improves. And if morale doesn’t improve, well, the beatings will continue.

Did Al Qaeda Dupe Trump on Syrian Gas Attack?

But the first admissions of victims to area hospitals began as early as 0600 hours, the JIM found, meaning that these victims could not have been poisoned by the alleged aerial bombing (even if the airstrike really did occur). According to the report’s Annex II, “The admission times of the records range between 0600 and 1600 hours.” And these early cases – arriving before the alleged airstrike – were not isolated ones....In other words, more than 100 patients would appear to have been exposed to sarin before the alleged Syrian warplane could have dropped the alleged bomb and the victims could be evacuated, a finding that alone would have destroyed the JIM’s case against the Syrian government..

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