Today promises to be like one of those “perfect crossword puzzles” you stumble on every once in a while.  You know the kind.  Hard as hell with just the right mix of brain-expanding terms and gimme’s.  The closer we move into “future” the more words we’re bound to “get right.”

Another construct – as useful as the crossword puzzle analogy – is a jigsaw puzzle.  We can piece a few things together, but since we can’t see the “pictures on the front” we’re not sure if we can get it right, or not.  Again, as in the crossword analogy, though, future will turn those puzzle pieces over, each in their turn, and we’ll begin to see enough of the whole clothe that we can revise our outlooks in a few days…

Puzzle Piece #1

The border/budget.   As everyone knows, the Congress did not pay attention to what president Trump has been saying from the get-go.  He wants a “clean” $5.7 billion for a Wall.

This is a puzzle piece which could be from a different puzzle, entirely.  That’s because if you read the partial critique on conservative websites, like the Conservative Review over here, there are at least five “insane ideas” embodied in the bill.  We doubt Trump will sign it.

Unlike the (mainly value-less fools on the Hill) president Trump is pretty easy to understand.  He’s not a baby-kissing suck-up, a wannabe Native American, a radical socialist, or a smooth-talking, do-nothing bureaucrat.  He’s Trump.

What that means, for those who miss it, is he is willing to negotiate, but he’s not willing to be made the fool.

In real estate terms, if the Congress has made a “good faith offer” – something on the order of 85% of the “asking price” – or, in our guesstimate around $4.85 billion (and in a clean bill) – there would be no plan for head down the “National Emergency Path.”  With an 85% offer on a property (imagine selling your home , which is what the border is very much akin to) would you take 85% of asking?

I know Elaine and I have kicked it around, but when someone comes in with an offer that’s 30% of his “asking price”  – you think he’s going to take that deal?  I mean especially when local officials, mostly liberal, have a veto on wall plans?

Why, it’s not only like asking you to accept 30-cents on the dollar of your asking price, but it’s then demanding a carpet and paint allowance, then new appliances, and oh yeah…new landscaping be put in.

Pretty obvious to us how this puzzle piece isn’t going to fit.  And it’s why we have been expecting GovDown II ever since the previous shutdown ended.  The UK Daily Mail calls it this way: “Trump will announce a national emergency to spend $8BILLION building his border wall TODAY and sign bill to avoid another shutdown – after bitter standoff with Pelosi and Democrats in Congress.”

On the other hand, Trump will, according to this AP story, sign the (again, unread by virtually anyone but insiders) bill and then will declare the emergency.

Of course this will may almost everyone mad.  Except for the Lawyer Class which is near-enough to being an American Aristocracy of it’s own to label it as such.

Even Politico seems to agree this will all be decided by the courts – and that means delays.  Except, well, will it?  In a National Emergency?  Get stocked up on popcorn and sodas.

We don’t think Trump should sign a damn thing except a clean continuing resolution.  Absent that, everyone plays by last year’s numbers.  As we see it, Congress is playing hostage with America’s future and that’s why everyone who is in Congress and complicit in this sell-out of America needs to be “dis-elected” at the earliest possible moment.

Data Critical, Selling a Cherry Topping?

We continue to look at the market and wonder “Where’s the cheery topping?”  In the Thursday column we laid out a specific target for the market to peak and it was a minimum of 23,723 as measured by our Aggregate Index. we would move slightly higher (based on futures 90-minutes prior to the opening) but that would still bring us to 23,475.

Something needs to kick-things-up a notch.  We have a little bit of data coming out.  Our thinking is that somewhere in today’s ambling of the markets there will be a cherry found and massively hyped.  We’re in an area where “strong hands” could be looking to unload.

What of the Fed?

Yeah, what about the Fed?

Remember what a miserable month December was?  Know why?  You can see in the latest H.6 Money Stocks report that the Fed was standing on the brakes of money creation.  M1 was being increased at a rate of only 2-percent annualized for the 3-months ending December 31.

This sucks money out of the market at an unimaginable rate.

What’s more, the current rate of increase (In the sliding reporting window closed a couple of weeks ago) was only 3.1 percent.

Translation from the H.6 Money Stocks report?  Regardless of what the Fed says it’s what they DO that matters.  And right now, there’s little indication in money growth that the Fed wants the market any higher than it is about at these levels.  (In our view, this is not investment advice and so forth…)

Import Price Data

The story in words:

U.S. import prices fell 0.5 percent in January, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today, following a 1.0-percent drop in December and a 1.7-percent decrease in November. Both fuel and nonfuel prices contributed to the January decline. Prices for U.S. exports decreased 0.6 percent for the second consecutive month in January.

The story as a picture:

If I were going to drown this in whipping cream as a “cherry topper” I would write something like “Markets don’t see it but we think the decline in import prices will add to the coming decline in the National Debt because this will help turn around the Balance of Payments Deficit….”

But, of course, who would read such a thing?  Requires logical thinking skills and lots of other rarium and unobtainium.

Dropping US import prices aren’t good for everyone.  Take Mexico to pump $3.6 billion into ailing oil firm Pemex in relief plan as an example. And off in the distance?  U.S., Chinese officials to meet in Washington next week on trade.

Let’s Hear it for Socialism!!!

Exclusive: Trafigura halts oil trade with Venezuela – source.

What do you mean it isn’t good…why it’s gotten their oil trade turned off..

Digital Mob Rule: A Case Study?

Ah…the “power of the platform” is revealed as we read “Sources: Police investigating whether Jussie Smollett staged attack with help of others, allegedly being written off ‘Empire’...”  On the other hand, Chicago Police Dispute Reports That the Attack on Jussie Smollett Was a Hoax reports Time.

We’ll go back to this morning’s jigsaw puzzle analogy and find out in due course whether the Smollett case is “hate or hoax” and the details…  Just remember we look for an Everything is a Business Model angle because there sometimes is one…  Think in terms of web traffic and search:

Further monetization of Smollett’s web presence may depend on police findings, if any.  But he’s fr-sure popped out of the search “noise floor.”  For how long?  This case study will continue..

Also on Digital Front Lines

Facebook is facing billions in fines according to a report out of San Francisco…  Privacy breeches.

Renting Your Life

May be about to get more spendy:  Visa, Mastercard mull increasing fees for processing transactions: WSJ.

We’re pretty sure “big iron” to process isn’t getting more spendy per transaction.  We also don’t think storage is going up.  And Internet rates have been higher.  So either write-off may be going up OR someone’s looking to pad profits… Hmmm…bets?

But maybe this is a trend to pad profits because consultants like me might offer:  Risk of U.S. corporate recession rises as earnings outlook dims.

Contrary to some jokes on the net about the Bezos domestic changes, we don’t see it as a factor in Amazon cancels plan for NYC headquarters.  More likely they can read the numbers better than we…

OK busy day with our house guest and then Peoplenomics writing this afternoon.  Tomorrow we “rescue a Weedeater…” too…