Sure, the new overnight that the trade talks are continuing and that Chinese consumers are holding their own are fueling the rally at the open of the stock market today.

But there is a much larger game at play than just coaxing consumers to spend more and more than even trade talks.  What could be bigger?

Real Estate

While the U.S. has been playing politics and the national “disgraceful distraction” (Mueller et al) has played out, China continues to deftly parry with the U.S. in four huge real estate deals.

The first is North Korea.  We don’t need to rehash that in too great detail, except to say that the Hanoi conference dust-up means tensions are continuing to slowly simmer.  Not helped by stories like “How North Korea got away with the assassination of Kim Jong-nam.”

The second Chinese real estate deal is their continuing elbowing into the South China Sea by dredging up the ocean bottom and building new islands – which they’ve quickly claimed ownership of and begun installing major weapons systems on.

While it hasn’t gotten a lot of press, the morning’s piece in the WaPo, “Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea” lays out how that game is being played.  On the U.S. side?  Not many options as there are no particular laws about digging up the ocean to make a new island.

Third Chinese real estate deal that’s pending is the take-back (sold as “reunification”) of Taiwan.  This weekend, some Chinese jets crossed some invisible lines between the two countries.  On the surface the CNN coverage in “Taiwan scrambles jets to confront Chinese fighters after rare incursion” might be taken as China showing some initiative.  But, more thoughtfully, Bloomberg’s report “Trump’s Sale of F-16 Jets to Taiwan Is Making China Nervous” suggests China may have been messaging both on military power and trade in it’s weekend flight.

The fourth real estate deal to remember is that China is in the process of mapping the Moon. If you pay close attention to, you no doubt noticed that there’s a “battle of picture-takers” going on over the lunar surface as described in “NASA Moon Orbiter Tracks Chinese Rover on Lunar Farside (Photos).”

You probably missed that Israel is also going to the moon…which got the attention of the Chinese over here.

And if all this isn’t enough, and surprisingly NOT touted by Donald Trump was the (amazingly low-key) announcement by veep Mike Pence that the U.S. would be back on the moon with a four-member team in 2024.

Sure, the market will go up today, at least at the open.  But, as we see it, there are some very long-term real estate wheeling and dealing going on both here on the rock and soon coming to the Moon.  Space Force, and all.  “Air Force’s top space officer tapped to lead US Space Command…”

Everything’s a Business Model – Including the Stars?

Because the world operates on an economic pretense, we are about to “blow” a change to take a gigantic leap forward and become a space-faring people.

Unfortunately, our addiction to accounting is drives us to war when scarcity sets in.  Cooperation doesn’t toss money to the leech-class that eats the bottom line, don’tcha know?

Were it not so, and were there another way, it might be possible for all nations to venture into space jointly as non-political rational partners.  For the benefit of all.

You get the picture in Star Trek, but we’re headed in the Star Wars direction instead. Everyone else is a Klingon.

Leaving petty politics on the Earth – and learning from the an Earth-wide Space Venture – which could disassemble the business model concept, we are instead “piling on the coal” dueling for “Moonership,” and trying to mine asteroids before another country “gets there first” and thereby profits most.

Lots of other news to think about this morning, but China’s playing  some stylin’ 3-dimension chess that the (young upstart) West has no clue about.  And for that reason alone, seems destined to lose. China has been in “the country” business 10-times as long as the West, is it?

But, not without blowing up Earth, first – that’s the hitch.  That adds drama to the mushroom watch,  I ‘spose.

Which get us to the Seth Shostak piece here that’s right on point: “‘Zoo hypothesis’ may explain why we haven’t seen any space aliens.”

I can almost hear it:  “Wait, Commander Zork!  You want US to talk to those blithering apes who stare at phones all day and trade paper for food?  They are fools!  WTF?  Want us to strike up a conversation with some pea gravel while we’re there, too?”

Retail Sales

Better late than never; our latest Census report as “ketchup”
from GovDown:

“Advance Estimates of U.S. Retail and Food Services Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for February 2019, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $506.0 billion, a decrease of 0.2 percent (±0.5 percent)* from the previous month, but 2.2 percent (±0.7 percent) above February 2018.

Total sales for the December 2018 through February 2019 period were up 2.2 percent (±0.5 percent) from the same period a year ago. The December 2018 to January 2019 percent change was revised from up 0.2 percent (±0.5 percent)* to up 0.7 percent (±0.3 percent).

Retail trade sales were down 0.2 percent (±0.5 percent)* from January 2019, but 2.1 percent (±0.5 percent) above last year. Nonstore retailers were up 10.0 percent (±1.8 percent) from February 2018, while health and personal care stores were up 5.9 percent (±2.5 percent) from last year.

A little disengenuous in that they report “prices” and guess what?  The money supply is up about twice what retail is up on a percentage basis.  So OF COURSE sales seem to be up.  (Which is why in “hide the sausage land” they don’t report units.  They report cashola.  What did I just tell you about apes with phones?)

Durable goods and auto sales tomorrow and then we’re into the sequencing from Wednesday of ADP hiring data, Challenger job cut report, and then federal employment data Friday…

In the Shorts

As Israeli Watchdog Says Social Media Bots Are Promoting Netanyahu as the Election Approaches, we’d suggest they see if Robert Mueller is looking for a new side-hustle.

Vatican liberal-speak?  Sure sounds like it in “Pope Francis takes thinly veiled swipe at Trump, calls out leaders who want walls.”  Our unabashed view of reality is that it’s easy to preach “open borders”” when you live in your own city-state.  Mr. Pope, this is an invasion.

Economic pressures on Turkey are bound to mount as “Erdogan Loses Hold Over Turkey’s Capital but Claims Victory After Local Elections.”  Their lira is on its own Slip-n-Slide.

One of our colleagues in the cyber-security insurance field spied this not-so-comforting report:  “Malware on a POS system stole 2 million credit card numbers over 10 months.”  Makes you wonder how many other systems have been breached and no one has found yet…  All part of the breaking of the Internet…

Violent lyrics in real life here: Grammy-Nominated Rapper Nipsey Hussle Shot Dead in Los Angeles, Police Say.

And speaking of music (and pass de duchy): “Elon Musk Has Apparently Released a Hip-Hop Single — And It’s About Harambe the Gorilla.”

On that note, into the grind and moron the ‘morrow…