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    Daily Digest 9/10 – ‘Gold Is The Way To Go’ As Interest Rates Fall, Big Tech Backlash Kicks Into Gear

    by Daily Digest

    Tuesday, September 10, 2019, 7:02 AM


Economy

Deficit surpasses $1 trillion: CBO (Sparky1)

While mandatory spending such as Social Security and Medicare drive the deficit, it has shot up under President Trump’s watch following the GOP tax cut bill and a series of bipartisan agreements to raise spending on both defense and domestic priorities.

The CBO has called the nation’s fiscal path “unsustainable,” noting that payments on interest alone were on track to overtake both defense and domestic spending by 2046.

The Trump administration’s new plan to privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, explained (Thomas R.)

This raises the big picture question of why bother to go through privatization at all if the goal is mostly to keep things the same. Hanging over that question is the struggle of a handful of hedge fund managers (several of whom are allied to President Donald Trump) to secure a huge payday for themselves. The Treasury blueprint leaves that topic — and several other crucial related ones — hazy, even while including a somewhat detailed wish list of unrelated conservative regulatory reforms.

Big Tech backlash kicks into gear with antitrust moves (Adam)

“After the past few years, the Trump administration’s antitrust program has come to seem pretty inactive, influenced by a lot of politics that have made it hard to interpret,” Sagers said.

“The states definitely seem more serious, and it seems quite significant that this new coalition is bipartisan.”

It’s Amazon’s world. We just live in it. (Sparky1)

“The number one thing that has made us successful, by far, is obsessive-compulsive focus on the customer as opposed to obsession over the competitor,” said Bezos, at an Economic Club of Washington dinner in September.

But there’s a downside when one company has that much leverage. The company’s enormous workforce and economic influence mean it has the power to squeeze wages and even warp the political process, as evidenced by the billions of dollars in tax breaks Amazon has already received for its fulfillment centers and the goodies currently in the offing for its second headquarters.

This week, forget US vs. China. The action will be in Europe (Thomas R.)

The region is not in recession. Some worry that the impact will be minimal, and that acting now risks further depleting the central bank’s toolkit. This could limit the ECB’s ability to intervene effectively in the event of a crisis.

Australian pension funds’ $168 billion ‘wall of cash’ may lead overseas (Sparky1)

“The scale is just enormous,” National Australia Bank (NAB.AX) head of markets Drew Bradford said of the potential overseas investments.

According to NAB, about 41% of the biggest funds’ assets are currently invested overseas. Nearly three quarters of those funds plan to increase such investments over the next two years, the bank found.

The ever-winning lottery ticket: Mathematicians solve a dusty mystery (Thomas R.)

Mathias researched order and structure, things that occur spontaneously in sufficiently large mathematical systems. Today, this is known as Ramsey Theory, named after British mathematician and philosopher Frank Ramsey. Mathias’ research pointed out that there was a profound correlation between Ramsey Theory and what he called MAD families, but he was unable to prove the existence of such a relationship.

Around 4,500 truck drivers lost their jobs in August as the trucking ‘bloodbath’ rages on (Thomas R.)

Trucking is often looked at as a leading indicator of where the rest of the economy is headed. As 71% of America’s freight is moved on trucks, companies foreseeing needing fewer trucks or fewer drivers is typically an omen of an economic downturn: If manufacturers are producing less, and people are buying less, there’s less of a need to move goods.

Peter Schiff: China, Russia buying gold because ‘they can read the writing on the wall’ (Thomas R.)

Beijing’s gold purchases, which amount to 100 tons since December, come as it has been less aggressively buying Treasurys amid the U.S-China trade war. In June, China fell behind Japan as the world’s largest holder of U.S. debt, a title it had held since May 2017.

Meanwhile, Russia has more than quadrupled its reserves over the past decade amid its promise to break its reliance on the U.S. dollar. Russia’s central bank has bought 106 tons so far this year, according to Bloomberg.

The Untold Story of NotPetya, the Most Devastating Cyberattack in History (Thomas R.)

“I saw a wave of screens turning black. Black, black, black. Black black black black black,” he says. The PCs, Jensen and his neighbors quickly discovered, were irreversibly locked. Restarting only returned them to the same black screen.

‘Gold is the way to go’ as interest rates fall, says Mark Mobius (Thomas R.)

“They are certainly going to try to weaken the dollar against other currencies and of course, it’s a race to the bottom. Because, as soon as they do that, other currencies will also weaken,” said Mobius.

“People are going to finally realize that you got to have gold, because all the currencies will be losing value,” he added.

Rochester, Buffalo and Hartford Least at Risk of a Housing Downturn in the Next Recession (Sparky1)

“Home prices are high right now, but they’re high because there’s not enough supply to meet demand, which means there’s not a bubble at risk of bursting,” said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather. “Most of today’s financed homeowners have excellent credit and a cushion of home equity, making them unlikely to default on their mortgage even if their weekly grocery bill grows or their stock portfolio shrinks in the next recession.”

Why Are America’s Three Biggest Metros Shrinking? (Adam)

To understand any metro’s migration picture, you have to know that the census keeps track of two types of movers. First, there are “domestic migrants,” or people who move from one U.S. address to another. Second, there are “international” movers, which mostly means immigrants. (Populations can also, of course, add new human beings the old-fashioned way: births. U.S. fertility rates are at record lows, and this statistic varies less from city to city.)

Trump administration considers monitoring people with mental illness to prevent shootings: report (Sparky1)

“The research already exists to tell us that mental illness does not predict gun violence. Growing gun violence is not the product of disability, rather it’s a product of political inaction and cowardice tied to an unwillingness to reform how America interacts with guns,” Rebecca Cokley, director of the Center for American Progress’s Disability Justice Initiative, said in a statement responding to the report. “Increased monitoring, surveillance, and institutionalization of people with disabilities is not a research-based approach and has a real and negative impact on people’s lives.”

The Big Number: 29 million Americans take low-dose aspirin daily, but some probably shouldn’t (Thomas R.)

Those guidelines advise against a daily aspirin for most people at low or moderate risk for heart disease, saying the potential benefits do not outweigh the risks. Aspirin can increase the chance of severe bleeding, and long-term use may lead to peptic ulcers. The new guidelines acknowledge that some people — such as those who have had a heart attack or stroke or who have had bypass or stent-inserting surgery — may still stand to benefit from taking daily aspirin, if prescribed by their doctor.

Health officials in our region say “flu preparedness” season is under way (Thomas R.)

“Sometimes, if you get the flu vaccine, you can still get the flu. But, those who have gotten the vaccine are much less likely to be as sick… less likely to die from the flu and less likely to spend time out of work being ill from the flu. So, we highly recommend the flu vaccine to everyone,” said District Director of Mount Rogers Health District, Dr. Karen Shelton.

Japan set to launch space station resupply mission (Thomas R.)

The 186-foot-tall (56.6-meter) H-2B rocket is set to roll out Tuesday to Launch Pad No. 2 at Tanegashima, where launch crews will connect the vehicle’s mobile transporter to ground electrical and fluid supplies. Super-cold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, which will power both stages of the H-2B launcher, will begin flowing into the rocket in the hours before liftoff.

Saudi Arabia is in a rush to boost oil prices as it gears up for Aramco IPO ‘very soon’ (Thomas R.)

Abdulaziz, who has deep experience at the ministry, replaces Khalid al-Falih, the chief architect of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to rebalance the oil market. Al-Falih organized an agreement between OPEC and other major oil producers such as Russia to hold back production. Saudi Arabia took the brunt of those output cuts.

Saudi Arabia seeks to enrich uranium for nuclear power, minister says (Thomas R.)

U.S. companies could only compete for the project if Riyadh signs an agreement with Washington assuring it will use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, according to Reuters. Saudi officials, however, have said they wouldn’t agree to a deal that denies them the possibility of enriching uranium or reprocessing spent fuel, which could lead to a nuclear bomb.

Tesla researcher’s 1 million-mile battery cell breakthrough secures the Semi’s longevity (Thomas R.)

These improvements are pretty much the perfect match for some of Tesla’s upcoming projects, particularly its all-electric truck, the Semi. The Semi was announced with a range of either 300 or 500 miles, though Elon Musk has previously hinted that the vehicle will have closer to 600 miles of range per charge instead. The vehicle has garnered warm reception from several large corporations, from UPS to PepsiCo. As such, it is certain that once the Semi gets deployed, the vehicle will be on the road constantly, putting much strain on the truck’s batteries. Having batteries that last longer will make the vehicle more attractive to potential buyers.

We’re Barely Listening to the U.S.’s Most Dangerous Volcanoes (Sparky1)

Determined to avoid such a tragedy, Dr. Moran and his colleagues proposed installing new instruments on the flanks of Mount Hood in 2014. Those include three seismometers to measure earthquakes, three GPS instruments to chart ground deformation and one instrument to monitor gas emissions at four different locations on the mountain.

Last day of the dinosaurs’ reign captured in stunning detail (Sparky1)

Now, by subjecting the rocky core to a battery of tests, including geochemical study and x-ray imaging, the research team has assembled a meticulous timeline chronicling events on that fateful day—sometimes down to the minute. As they report today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the dark layers reveal stunning details, including the sheer amount of material that piled up mere hours after the strike, along with bits of charcoal later left by raging wildfires.

Nearly 1,000 Amazon employees plan a walkout to protest climate change (Sparky1)

In a response to the Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, the company told CNN Business that reducing human-made climate change is an “important commitment.” Amazon said it has sustainability teams working on initiatives to reduce its environmental impact.

Tokyo’s Typhoon Faxai: 3 Dead, 40 Injured, 900K Homes Without Power (Thomas R.)

The storm hit the coastal city of Chiba early Monday morning, forcing the above ground East Japan Railway Co. to suspend all lines in the greater Tokyo area, stranding millions of commuters. Millions more were unable to get to work after subway service was suspended as well. However, most of the services resumed by noon after the storm passed though on a delayed schedule.

Japan may have to dump radioactive water into the sea, minister says (Sparky1)

“We’re just hoping to hear more details of the discussions that are under way in Tokyo so that there won’t be a surprise announcement,” a South Korean diplomat told Reuters, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of bilateral ties.

South Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement said it had asked Japan “to take a wise and prudent decision on the issue”.

Fifth straight year of bird die-off in Alaska waters linked to starvation (AKGrannyWGrit)

Seabird die-offs have been known to occur in Alaska, but large numbers of different varieties of seabirds have been found every year since 2015, with starvation blamed. The die-offs have come as Alaska waters continue to be warmer than normal, the NPS says, potentially impacting sea life the birds eat.

Gold & Silver

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