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    WITH THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION less than nine months away, the plot couldn’t get much thicker. Trump’s approval hit a new high of 49%, and the Dems seem to be struggling to identify a candidate and agree on a platform. The pundits mostly focus on two things, namely a) who can get the Democratic nomination, and b) will that person be able to beat Trump. Little of this is new information. But really, the spoiler in the whole business may not be a candidate at all. As I pointed out in an earlier post, the economy has to hold for Trump to win;  without the economy, he would lose 20-30% of his current supporters. The candidate best suited to unseat the president might be the

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[Note: This content is for entertainment purposes only] I WAS FIRST introduced to the concept of cycles through my career in financial services. The idea was that the natural world operates in waves, recurring patterns or “cycles” of varying lengths of time. The general premise is that people are part of nature and thus generate predictable patterns–and anything of predictive value was, of course, deemed useful to investors. One longer-term social cycle that is starting to get attention is the eighty-year cycle; history has produced some evidence that a serious calamity occurs roughly every eighty years. The most recent “serious” calamity was World War Two–which started eighty years ago in 1939 (we didn’t enter until 1941). Eighty years before that it was the Civil War,

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WHILE THE SPECTACLES of impeachment, daily scandal, and the democratic primary distracted voters from almost everything else, the 2019 Federal deficit accelerated to nearly a trillion. The interest alone  got to 380 billion per year.  In 2015, Obama only needed 485 billion for the whole year. Let me see…1) stock market is right on top of a new high, 2) unemployment is extremely low, 3) countries are supposed to use extended booms (ten years now) to pay down debt, and 4) the GOP—especially the “tea partiers”—have, prior to Trump, represented themselves as deficit/budget hawks. What’s wrong with this picture? There’s no mystery; it’s what Trump has always done: borrow big, promote shamelessly, get paid no matter what, and never use much of your own money.

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[This post is for entertainment or educational purposes only and does not offer investment advice of any kind. Investments decisions should be made with careful consideration on an individual basis along with a professional.] PUNDITS AND POLLSTERS will soon begin to argue passionately over their predictions for president in 2020. They usually make emotional cases and use tired, second-hand reasoning on either side–sounding much like sports bums at the beginning of a new season. Everybody loves a fortune teller. But despite the minor blips in the polls, the outrage du jour, and the talk of impeachment (and the expanding list of reasons for it), the best predictor of the election–assuming it’s held on schedule–will be the performance of the stock market over the next year.

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Movies

    NOW THAT MERYL STREEP and Nicole Kidman are both starring in the second season of the TV series Big Little Lies, it’s probably safe to say that the bell is  ringing furiously to signal the end of an important socio-cultural era: the great period of feature films that began almost a century ago.  While there are still feature films and movie theaters, it seems as if most of the films are superhero fantasy or animated films. The energy, the talent, and the money is pouring out of “movies” into these TV-based series. We might have a net maintenance of creativity–perhaps even more. Maintenance of quality? Not as easy to say; the productions are very good and getting better as the market heats up. But

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Markets

[NOTE: This material does not represent investment advice in any way. It is for educational purposes only. Investing is personal. See your personal guru before making decisions.] Bulls can live 20 years, but they aren’t much good to the herd after ten. Bull markets are probably the same. This one is ten years’ long in the tooth, but it’s weathered a number of “storms” along the way, so many investors could need to get quite scared before they sell. The scariest thing for me is the global trend toward authoritarianism; you can check a lot of boxes to compare the first part of the last century with today. I could probably list six or seven parallels. Protectionism is a big one. Wealth inequality is another. That

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Markets

[NOTE: The following does NOT constitute investment advice of any kind. It is for education or entertainment only]  ‘There are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know.” Donald Rumsfeld 2002                  That the stock market fell does not surprise me: I have wondered how the rally could continue before the long list of threats to the global economy would reduce share prices. But I was surprised that it happened so abruptly.  I should not be surprised at that, however, because markets generally fall much faster than they rise: investors often “get in” in increments and “get out” in a cataclysm.  And while stocks only

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  WHAT HAVE YOU done for me lately? I find tremendous irony in the fact that the US president was the star of a reality show where he was surrounded by less-than-brilliant sycophants and presented as the epitome of  business success in charge of a thriving empire (though it turns out his decision-making often led to bankruptcy). The  climax of each episode was when he got to pronounce to a hapless contestant “You’re fired!”  The irony makes an entrance in that he is now at a point in his tenure where the party that embraced him (only after they realized that he could get them power) may soon make a similar pronouncement to him.   Almost two years ago on this blogsite, I posted that

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Markets

[Disclaimer: The chart and the following content do not constitute investment advice of any kind. This material  is for educational or entertainment purposes only. ]   (SPX Chart from www.bigcharts.com retrieved Nov.20, 2018)   THE OCTOBER WIND BLEW all the leaves off the Wisconsin trees last month and did it over the course of only a few very windy days. Stock prices drifted ten percent lower, too, in recent weeks and everyone wants to know what chill wind sent them lower. I can explain the “why” because there are only two  reasons stocks fall. The details are harder to derive. I have never been able to talk about the investing environment without providing some background. No forecasters (I do not act as a forecaster here) worth

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Hannah Arendt coined the phrase “the banality of evil” in the early ‘sixties when she covered the trial of Adolf Eichmann for The New Yorker.  The phrase was in response to how Eichmann had matter-of-factly claimed to have only been “doing his duty.” The phrase applies  in many countries today, but each in a unique context.  As for the United States, with the 2016 election, our country managed to elect as president an individual who personifies much of our culture–its superficiality and the worship of wealth, power, and privilege. During the first two years of his tenure, the former reality TV star and red-toothed capitalist has shown us ourselves (not all of us, but enough of us) and the result is so lacking in virtue

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