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Algernon Moncrieff

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Member since: Sun Apr 20, 2014, 12:49 AM
Number of posts: 5,123

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Marketwatch: The best and worst stocks of 2018


One very important theme for investors during 2018 has been the return to volatility, as investors worry about Federal Reserve tightening and President Trump’s trade dispute with China.

The market always looks ahead, and another important focus for investors is the massive cut in the maximum federal income-tax rate for corporations that was passed in December 2017 that has boosted corporate earnings tremendously this year. Investors won’t enjoy similar year-over-year comparisons when first-quarter 2019 results are reported.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.85% has fallen 6.7% this year through Friday, but it is down 14.4% from the intraday high it hit on Oct. 3. Illustrating the volatility, the best performer of the year among the S&P 500 SPX, +0.59% has been Advanced Micro Devices AMD, +2.89% which is up 73% for the year, but which has also fallen 42% during the fourth quarter.

This has been the worst year for the Dow since 2008, and the first decline for the benchmark index since 2015, when it was down 2.2%.
Posted by Algernon Moncrieff | Mon Dec 31, 2018, 02:50 PM (0 replies)

Editorial: Trump and sheriff exploit officer's death for political points

SF Chron

Cpl. Ronil Singh’s death during a traffic stop Wednesday is heartbreaking on so many levels. Singh, born in Fiji, exemplified an uplifting story of an immigrant who wanted to serve his new homeland. His family’s loss is society’s loss. Any assault on the men and women who protect and serve their communities — putting their lives on the line — is an unacceptable breach on the boundaries of civilized order.

Yet Christianson and Trump crossed the lines of decency by jumping to the conclusion, wholly prematurely, that the presence of sanctuary city laws or a wall on the southern border could have prevented this act of violence. Many respected law enforcement officials conclude that the relationship with immigrant communities allowed by sanctuary laws advances the cause of public safety by encouraging victims and witnesses in crimes to come forward.

This was not Trump’s only attempt to seize on death for a political point about immigration. His first public comment about the deaths of two immigrant children in U.S. custody was to blame Democrats for their “pathetic immigration policies.” He offered no condolences, no hint of his government’s responsibility. “Border Patrol needs the Wall and it will all end,” he tweeted.

His response was shameful, disingenuous — and all too predictable.

Note - no matter how we feel about Trump or Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson, we should all mourn the loss of Ronil Singh, who gave his life in the line of duty. I'm genuinely thrilled his killer and his aiders/abettors have been arrested. That said, the wall isn't a good answer, and if we are spending $5B on law enforcement, I could suggest better uses, such as ensuring that every rape kit for the past 30 years is tested and doing far more to prevent mass shootings -- especially in schools.
Posted by Algernon Moncrieff | Mon Dec 31, 2018, 03:38 AM (1 replies)

MarketWatch: Opinion: Mnuchin can't stand up to his boss -- and it's costing you money


Imagine missing Donald Regan, President Reagan’s famously irascible Treasury secretary, on Christmas Eve. Imagine spending a morning normally devoted to preparing to mark the birth of a savior brushing up on the exact requirements of the 25th Amendment for removing a president of the United States from office.

But that’s what I did, as more of your retirement money and mine was flushed down the toilet, courtesy of current Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s utterly inexplicable decision this weekend to weigh in publicly on big U.S. banks’ ability to withstand a run that literally no one had said was happening, as part of a panicking administration’s unwillingness to tell President Donald Trump “no” about anything.

“I’ve got fuck-you money,” said Regan, reportedly. “Anytime I want, I’m gone.”

Which Mnuchin might have recalled when he tweeted about whether the president could, or would, fire the nominally independent Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell for raising interest rates faster than Trump would like. Or before he got the bright idea to call the heads of the six biggest U.S. banks to ask whether a perfectly routine stock-market correction would force them to cut off credit to a $20 trillion economy by this morning. And to tweet about that, too, in a move that will, one predicts, quickly be traced either to an edict from the boss or a misplaced desire to dance as fast as Mnuchin can to placate Trump.
Posted by Algernon Moncrieff | Wed Dec 26, 2018, 09:19 AM (1 replies)

MarketWatch: Opinion: This still looks like just a stock-market correction, not something worse

Mark Hulbert

Consider the stock market’s decline over the first three months of the 2007-2009 financial crisis—the worst since the Great Depression. The S&P 500 fell 10.0% over the three months following its top on Oct. 9, 2007, barely even satisfying the semiofficial definition of a correction. The Dow fell 11.1%.

Or take the market’s decline over the first three months after the bursting of the internet bubble. The S&P 500 fell just 5.6%, and the Dow 6.4%.

Corrections, in contrast, have a different contrarian profile. Their sudden and abrupt nature strikes fear in investors’ hearts, thereby setting up the sentiment preconditions for the market to soon climb a Wall of Worry.

This is certainly consistent with what we’ve seen in recent months. As I wrote two weeks ago, rarely over the last 20 years have short-term stock market timers been more bearish than they are currently.
Posted by Algernon Moncrieff | Tue Dec 25, 2018, 05:26 PM (4 replies)

To MAGA Refugees and Fox News Orphans, on Christmas


The separation you feel and the distance you are experiencing is for good reason. You know why you’re here right now. This isn’t a capricious response to some minor moment of misunderstanding, not some flippant mood swing triggered by a singular blowup. This is the slow, steady, and devastating realization that you and some people you have lived life alongside—aren’t morally compatible.

You are here because that is the cost of not being silent about the deepest contents of your heart. You are because you will not soften your deepest spiritual convictions, which means that this distance, as painful as it is—is to be celebrated. You are where you are supposed to be.

Yes, some of the relationships that are broken right now may find healing, but others may not. This Christmas might not be the last one you face, without the people you expected to be there, and that’s simply the truth.

But there will be others around you next year, in fact many are already there; people who have or will become family and tribe, not by blood—but by choice; people who too are fleeing their homes and seeking refuge elsewhere.
Posted by Algernon Moncrieff | Sun Dec 23, 2018, 01:33 AM (0 replies)

Mattis & Why We Need to End Our Self-Destructive, Mindless Wars in Middle East

Democracy Now

ANDREW BACEVICH: I think my answer to your question is: I really don’t know. And I think one of the things that’s important here is the difficulty of knowing whether, when Trump makes these decisions, there really is any—that he has any larger purpose in mind at all. As I said, when he ran for the presidency, he ran as an antiwar candidate. Now, whether or not he ran as an antiwar candidate because of some principled opposition to the wars that he inherited, or whether he did it because he thought it was a way to win votes, is impossible to say.

Where we find ourselves at the present moment—and I do think it’s a huge problem—is that his commitment to Saudi Arabia, combined with the reaffirmation of the U.S. commitment to Israel, to my mind, creates the likelihood that the United States is going to continue to contribute to disorder, instability in the region, as we have done ever since the George W. Bush administration invaded Iraq in 2003. That is to say, despite this withdrawal from Syria, if it actually happens—you know, so many times he announces something and then reverses course. But even assuming that the withdrawal from Syria happens, it doesn’t necessarily follow that we have anything like a coherent policy in the region.

So, the people who get excited about Mattis’s resignation and see the possibility there of chaos, of confusion, of disorder, I think their fears are justified. That said, what they seem to not focus on is that the course that Mattis represented—that is to say, the continuation of U.S. wars in the Middle East that have produced nothing positive—that that supposed wisdom was not going to, and has not and would not, produce anything positive, no matter how long we persist.
Posted by Algernon Moncrieff | Sat Dec 22, 2018, 10:03 PM (5 replies)

Al Franken and David Frum


Sometimes, even often, I worry about how the Mueller Investigation will end. When Matt Whitaker was appointed Acting Attorney General, it occurred to me that this guy has the power to block any Mueller Report from becoming public.

So, I asked David Frum of The Atlantic Monthly to discuss the threat Donald Trump presents to our democracy, a threat he describes brilliantly in his bestseller, Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic.

David and I had a lively discussion. (Sometimes, I interrupted him.) But we had a lot of fun, and David invited me to his annual Chanukah party, where I met a lot of his friends.

Give it a listen, won’t you?
Posted by Algernon Moncrieff | Wed Dec 19, 2018, 09:51 PM (4 replies)

Brookings: Americans are increasingly critical of Israel


The first issue to consider is advocacy for a one-state solution, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, with equal citizenship for all, which would in effect threaten Israel’s status as a Jewish-majority state, as Arabs might soon outnumber Jews on that territory. In fact, this solution has considerable support among the American public, as revealed in a University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll, fielded by Nielson Scarborough, which was conducted in September and October among a nationally representative sample of 2,352 Americans, with a 2 percent margin of error. When asked what outcome they want U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration to seek in mediating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Americans are split between one state with equal citizenship and two states coexisting side by side: 35 percent say they want a one-state solution outright, while 36 percent advocate a two-state solution, 11 percent support maintaining the occupation, and 8 percent back annexation without equal citizenship. Among those between 18 and 34 years old, support for one state climbs to 42 percent.


Second, while most Americans have probably never heard of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement that Hill backs, our poll shows that a large number of Americans support imposing sanctions or more serious measures if Israeli settlements in the West Bank continue to expand: 40 percent of Americans support such measures, including a majority of Democrats (56 percent). This comes as senators, including Democrats, are proposing, despite continued ACLU opposition, to delegitimize and criminalize voluntary boycotts of Israel or settlements through the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, while not differentiating between Israeli settlements in the West Bank from those in Israel proper.

Third, there is a growing sense that the Israeli government has “too much influence” on U.S. politics and policies: 38 percent of all Americans (including 55 percent of Democrats, and 44 percent of those under 35 years old), say the Israeli government has too much influence on the U.S. government, compared with 9 percent who say it has “too little influence” and 48 percent who say it has “about the right level of influence.” While the number of Jewish participants in the sample (115) is too small to generalize with confidence, it is notable that their views fall along the same lines of the national trend: 37 percent say Israel has too much influence, 54 percent say it has the right level, and 7 percent say it has too little influence.
Posted by Algernon Moncrieff | Sat Dec 15, 2018, 02:15 PM (7 replies)

All 90 Oscar best-picture winners, ranked from worst to best by movie critics

Business Insider

Ranking Best Picture winners in the Lounge? What could go wrong?

There are some mild surprises (Forrest Gump was ranked lower than Around the World in 80 Days), and some of the Best Picture selections confirm my theory that you really don't know what you should have picked for at least two and sometimes as many as five years.

They start with this as the "worst" of the Best Picture Winners:

90. "The Broadway Melody" (1929)

Posted by Algernon Moncrieff | Mon Dec 10, 2018, 02:12 AM (19 replies)

Yahoo News: Mueller preparing endgame for Russia investigation

Michael Isikoff Chief Investigative Correspondent

WASHINGTON — Special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors have told defense lawyers in recent weeks that they are “tying up loose ends” in their investigation, providing the clearest clues yet that the long-running probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election may be coming to its climax, potentially in the next few weeks, according to multiple sources close to the matter.

The new information about the state of Mueller’s investigation comes during a pivotal week when the special counsel’s prosecutors are planning to file memos about three of their most high profile defendants — former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

A Flynn sentencing memo is due Tuesday, and memos about Manafort and Cohen are slated for Friday. All three documents are expected to yield significant new details on what cooperation the three of them provided to the Russia investigation.

There has been much speculation that Mueller might file his memo in Manafort’s case under seal in order to prevent public disclosure of the additional crimes his office believes Manafort committed when he allegedly lied to prosecutors and broke a plea deal after agreeing to cooperate.

Take it FWIW.
Posted by Algernon Moncrieff | Mon Dec 3, 2018, 10:16 PM (3 replies)
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