N. Korea Worries Rising

An hour-long “secret briefing” was held by the White House Wednesday for member of the U.S. Senate.  Grace concerns about Hawaii being in range of the NK weps.

Afterwards, per this coverage in the Washington Free Beacon, there were some very serious faces about.  Ah, set up for a photo op says CNN.  Like he wouldn’t brief on where the “line in the sand is?”  Never stops…

What will happen?  Nickel bet? Sure: We expect the logical escalation from here would be for the U.S. to use all that naval horsepower assembling in the Western Pacific to begin a total economic blockade of North Korea.  Nothing in or out. When that doesn’t work, or when a Chinese (or more likely Russian) ship is boarded, things will likely go “preemptive/first-use.”

(more after this)

In Syria…Say What?

Who just popped Syria?

Syria war: ‘Israeli strike’ hits military site near Damascus airport, which to our way of thinking seems to grease the escalation path a bit there, too.

Junior News Analyst School

If you’re a careful budding news analyst, the stories to panic-when-you-read-‘em would be any political mash-ups where the Russians meet with the North Koreans.

The NK’s already have a mutual defense deal with the Chinese…got that?  But since Trump and the Xi-whiz may have a work-out plan, the NKs might go “insurance shopping” and I imagine that a mutual defense pact with Russia could bring TH(Russia) EM in to any reactionary counter-attack on the West should be preemptively launch.

Eeee-gads!  See here where the Russians have already reached out to the North Koreans?  That’ sets us up to expect a Russian ship boarding in the future, does it not?

Looking for Market Movers

Sure, the discussions in DC about the NK’s is a major reason for the markets to back down for a while, perhaps into mid next week.

After a manic couple of days, the “chill” in the markets will depend on how latest economic indicators are interpreted. 

Let’s kick-off with Durable goods…

New Orders New orders for manufactured durable goods in March increased $1.6 billion or 0.7 percent to $238.7 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today.  This increase, up three consecutive months, followed a 2.3 percent February increase.  Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 0.2 percent.  Excluding defense, new orders increased 0.1 percent.  Transportation equipment, also up three consecutive months, drove the increase, $2.0 billion or 2.4 percent to $83.3 billion.

Shipments Shipments of manufactured durable goods in March, up four of the last five months, increased $0.6 billion or 0.2 percent to $239.8 billion.  This followed a 0.2 percent February increase.  Transportation equipment, up following two consecutive monthly decreases, led the increase, $0.4 billion or 0.5 percent to $81.7 billion.

Unfilled Orders Unfilled orders for manufactured durable goods in March, up two consecutive months, increased $2.5 billion or 0.2 percent to $1,119.0 billion.  This followed a 0.1 percent February increase. Transportation equipment, also up two consecutive months, led the increase, $1.6 billion or 0.2 percent to $755.5 billion.

February data was revised up, too. Then following this we get to…

Advance International Trade in Goods The international trade deficit was $64.8 billion in March, up $0.9 billion from $63.9 billion in February.  Exports of goods for March were $125.5 billion, $2.2 billion less than February exports. Imports of goods for March were $190.3 billion, $1.4 billion less than February imports.

And if that’s not enough, there is the ever popular preliminary Retail Inventory number.

Advance Retail Inventories Retail inventories for March, adjusted for seasonal variations but not for price changes, were estimated at an end-of-month level of $616.6 billion, up 0.4 percent (±0.2 percent) from February 2017, and were up 3.5 percent (±0.4 percent) from March 2016.  The January 2017 to February 2017 percentage change was unrevised at up 0.4 percent (±0.2 percent).

This last is useful because it gives some sense of “sell-through” in  the retail channels.  Since it is up a lot since year ago levels, are sales expected to grow, or are things slowing?  (Papers responsive to the question are due before class tomorrow.)

Not excited by all this yet?  Me either. Next?

Following the data, Dow futures were pointing up 30.

We also note the ECB Keeps Policy Settings Unchanged Awaiting Political Clarity.  Like is France going to remain in the EU maybe?

Leaning from the Clintons?

We couldn’t help but notice the price tag: Obama Balances Civic-Minded Side With the Lure of a $400000 Speech.

You know, for half the price ($200K) I could get all excited about civics, too. I notice my phone isn’t ringing off the hook, though.

The Coulter Shoulder

Fine summary in the Hollywood Reporter this morning about how one Ann Coulter has given up plans to speak at Berkeley, but only for now.

This  doesn’t mean Berkeley will forever remain peaceful, since the right-wing press is reporting that paid provocateurs of the far left-anarchists spectrum have already started traveling west expecting her to speak.

Hell hatch no further like a revolutionary scorned…especially when alt-lib historians glorify monsters like Che, right?  They sanitize statements like…

“Hatred as an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine. This is what our soldiers must become …” ché Guevara

…blah, blah, blah…just another terrorist/mass murderer idolized by the lunatic fringe.

So we will go out on a limb here and expect violence this weekend in Berkeley.  Rebels without a Clue or, sans Coulter, a cause.

Nickel bet #2 is they will make up some anti-Trump deal and roll with violence over that.  It is, after all, the rad-left ‘Merican Way.  Does George S. pay for peace?

Giving Back Fed Lands to States?

Keep an eye on how president Trump is trying to review the acquisition by the FedGov of millions of acres of “national monuments” set up since 1996.

A l;ot of the lands involved are in places like Utah and Obama another others (Clinton, Bush) have used this to make a “mark” on history for setting up the areas.

I’ll have to check and see if these are really “public lands” at all.  Since it seems to me if you need to buy permission (permits) to be on “public land” it’s not really so “public” at all.

It’s more like a large, monopolistic rental business…and landlords with guns.  Epitome of a “free country” right?

You Know Markets Are Boring When…

MarketWatch offers pointers like “How to Instagram like a teen.”

Speaking of which, what’s Anthony Weiner up to, lately?

Yep, all more evidence of our contention that there’s not enough real news to justify all the bandwidth out there so infotainment is the now.

Me?  I’ll stick to watching United Airlines recovery efforts from its PR disaster:

CHICAGO, April 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — United Airlines (UAL) today announced 10 substantial changes to how it flies, serves and respects its customers. The changes are the result of United’s thorough examination of its policies and procedures, and commitment to take action, in the wake of the forced removal of a customer aboard United Express Flight 3411 on April 9.

United commits to: 

  • Limit use of law enforcement to safety and security issues only.
  • Not require customers seated on the plane to give up their seat involuntarily unless safety or security is at risk.
  • Increase customer compensation incentives for voluntary denied boarding up to $10,000. 
  • Establish a customer solutions team to provide agents with creative solutions such as using nearby airports, other airlines or ground transportations to get customers to their final destination.
  • Ensure crews are booked onto a flight at least 60 minutes prior to departure.
  • Provide employees with additional annual training.
  • Create an automated system for soliciting volunteers to change travel plans.
  • Reduce the amount of overbooking.
  • Empower employees to resolve customer service issues in the moment.
  • Eliminate the red tape on permanently lost bags by adopting a “no questions asked” policy on lost luggage.

While several of these policies are effective immediately, others will be rolled out through the remainder of the year. The facts of what happened aboard Flight 3411 and a full review of United’s changes can be found at hub.united.com.

Oscar Munoz, chief executive officer of United Airlines, said, “Every customer deserves to be treated with the highest levels of service and the deepest sense of dignity and respect. Two weeks ago, we failed to meet that standard and we profoundly apologize. However, actions speak louder than words. Today, we are taking concrete, meaningful action to make things right and ensure nothing like this ever happens again.” 

“Our review shows that many things went wrong that day, but the headline is clear: our policies got in the way of our values and procedures interfered in doing what’s right.  This is a turning point for all of us at United and it signals a culture shift toward becoming a better, more customer-focused airline.  Our customers should be at the center of everything we do and these changes are just the beginning of how we will earn back their trust,” he added.

Wait….where did “Fly the Friendly Skies” go?  All the millions in ad money on a positioning statement and they still aren’t using it when it matters…  Shbeesh!

18 thoughts on “N. Korea Worries Rising”

  1. Ann should just initiate a Coult war with the opposition. Increase production, make them keep up. Speak here, there everywhere, or not. Get them to spend the most precious of things, time. Who is the puppet master now, punks?

    • I would love to see her speak at UNM. Milo did, and there was no noticeable violence, just lost of protesteering and other silliness.

      I don’t personally like Milo, but he had a right to speak and said important things. Ann has things to say and is worth listening to, and she definitely has more in the sex appeal department. I was actually in the Bay Area and would have stayed on an extra day or two to hear her at Berkley, but that was too uncertain, not to mention expensive.

      BTW, thanks George, for the link regarding Instagram. Until we get rid of our ageism and age related cohorts and behavior, we’ll continue to live a abridged lives.

  2. China will do what is in China’s best interest. It may be possible that they belatedly enforce the mutual defense treaty with North Korea. What is in everyone’s best interest is that NK goes away. With cooperation between China the US and SK. NK does not stand a Chance. While Kid Korea is focused on the south and the approaching US Fleet. China owns the backdoor so to speak.
    PS I am very confidant that our MDS(Missile Defense System) will work. What bothers me is that the other side will get to see It in action. And that may be the real upsetting factor.

  3. Your national monuments land comments reminds me of merrie olde England where taking critters to feed your family or firewood to cook it from king’s or aristocrats lands could get you hanged. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    • Wouldn’t it be nice if in addition to deeding those national monuments back to the states the thousands of acres that were seized through imminent domain were returned to their original “owners”? Of course, this is impossible since nobody actually owns any land they call their property… regardless of what documentation they may have. And, that goes for every single square foot of land contained in our nation, which is why it can be seized in the first place.

  4. Any person that can help keep imperial America from sinking her claws into a nation & sucking all its wealth out for the 1% is a legend in my book. And what a job Geuevara did, he & his merry band of terrorists (well in Cuba anyway, Bolivia didn’t work out all that well)!

    I agree, S&P maybe sells off till mid-May, before new highs again in June. Just how I’m seeing it… to me it’s all become a central banks (toy) story; to infinity & beyond!

  5. George,

    Somehow I just don’t see Trump going the blockade route – he strikes me as more of an all-or-nothing-at-all type of guy who will always go for the big play… in this case though, it would certainly redefine the old “Hail, Mary”! Let’s all hope you are correct in your assessment of a blockade; if nothing else it may buy enough time until cooler heads prevail as it did during those infamous thirteen days [that I still vaguely remember] when all us kids wondered why the grown-ups suddenly looked so serious. Now, it appears to be our turn.

    • Unless of course it’s not Trump calling the shots? Directorate 153 perhaps? Jade Helm Live?

  6. George, how come the font size seems to be randomly changing from day to day?

    Signed, Confused.

    • Dear confused – I bumped up the size of the Urban and PN fonts to make them easier to read for OF’s… are they big enough to be easy reading?

      • This is what I was asking about around a month ago, George. I knew something had changed after years of not having to squint but didn’t know if it was due to M$ updates or changes you’d made. Either way, yeah, I was already changing the magnification in the browser when needed.

  7. Regarding United: The plane and crew/LE that caused all the trouble was on the ground, not yet in the friendly skies!

    Thoughts for PN: When, if ever, might their stock be worth a second look? Regardless, it seems that I should book a popular flight on them for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving!

    • As you know, Mike, I don’t do stock advice. But I do give airline advice, having been a senior vp…
      So the ONE NUMBER THAN MATTERS IS PLF – Passenger Load Factor.
      There are different ways to figure it (so creative accountants in the world) SO reduce all of your results to RPM’s – revenue passenger miles.” Between RLF (Revenue Load Factor) (*which ideally would be 100% system wide in a perfect world) and RPM trends, you can predict pretty well how an airline will perform.
      I would visit the United investor services pages to see what the effect of PLF/RPLF has been and then I would price the stock accordingly

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