China Rising or America Descending

The Chinese government offers pragmatic solutions and material advancement. The American government offers irrational solutions and material stagnation. It's not hard to predict which country's model will be adopted by other governments.

The second article is more serious and speaks to a collapse of American society and culture. Diversity is destroying America because to be inclusive means not discriminating. And if you can't discriminate, eventually you stop thinking discriminating thoughts, and then you stop thinking critically, and then you stop making a profit.
Quartz: Beijing is cultivating the next generation of African elites by training them in China
In the 1970s, China actively tried to export its communist revolution to Africa, one of Beijing’s few diplomatic engagements at the time. Now, Beijing is promoting a more subtle movement: support for China and and its model of development. Instead of relying on Chinese emissaries in African countries, Beijing is bringing thousands of African leaders, bureaucrats, students, and business people to China.

It’s a campaign that achieves several goals at once. The trips help solidify political and business ties between China and its partners on the continent. Like other development partners, China gets to help build capacity in African countries. Most importantly these exchanges cultivate partners on the continent who are more likely to be sympathetic to China and its way of doing things.

China has been hosting these trainings and exchanges in Africa since as far back as the 1950s when it first established diplomatic ties with Egypt. Over the past decade, the trainings have grown in both volume and profile. Kenya’s Jubilee party, created before the country’s contentious election this year, received trainings from the Chinese Communist Party in China. The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front also takes inspiration from the the CCP while South Africa’s African National Congress regularly attends workshops in China and has modeled some of its party trainings on the CCP.

China is particularly interested in the next generation of African elites. Last year, Beijing announced it would invite 1,000 young African politicians for trainings in China, after hosting more than 200 between 2011 and 2015. Thousands of African students are pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees in China on scholarship programs funded by Beijing. As of this year, more Anglophone African students study in China than the United States or the United Kingdom, their traditional destinations of choice.
Sam Altman: E Pur Si Muove
Earlier this year, I noticed something in China that really surprised me. I realized I felt more comfortable discussing controversial ideas in Beijing than in San Francisco. I didn’t feel completely comfortable—this was China, after all—just more comfortable than at home.

That showed me just how bad things have become, and how much things have changed since I first got started here in 2005.

It seems easier to accidentally speak heresies in San Francisco every year. Debating a controversial idea, even if you 95% agree with the consensus side, seems ill-advised.

This will be very bad for startups in the Bay Area.

Restricting speech leads to restricting ideas and therefore restricted innovation—the most successful societies have generally been the most open ones. Usually mainstream ideas are right and heterodox ideas are wrong, but the true and unpopular ideas are what drive the world forward. Also, smart people tend to have an allergic reaction to the restriction of ideas, and I’m now seeing many of the smartest people I know move elsewhere.


Turkey Tensions Rising Again

ZH: Turkey's Main Opposition Party Threatens To "Come And Take Back 18 Islands Owned By Greece"
No worries. The leader of Kemalist CHP will not come in the next days, weeks or months. He will come in 2019, after his party will win the general elections of Turkey scheduled to take place in the same year.

As KeepTalkingGreece.com reports, lashing out at the Greek defense minister’s remarks on the Aegean islands who a few days ago told Turkey "Molon Labe " - meaning “come and take [them]” is a classical expression of defiance. According to Plutarch, Xerxes I, king of the Achaemenid Empire, demanded that the Spartans surrender their weapons and King Leonidas I responded with this phrase. It is an exemplary use of a laconic phrase - Kilicdaroglu said speaking at a party event in the northwestern province of Kocaeli...

“The Greek Defense minister says ‘Come and get it.’ I will come and take all of those islands back.
Turkey is going Islamic or Nationalist. In either case, they will run into an increasingly unfriendly Greece.


Chinese Always Find the Loophole

Chinese have thousands of years of experience with bureaucracy and like most cultures in the world, do not have the concept of common law. As long as you check the boxes, fill out the forms correctly and the behavior isn't explicitly banned, you can do it. (Such as flying your relative with cancer in for a visit. Since they're in the USA with no insurance, they get free cancer treatment.)

WSJ: The Island Where Chinese Mothers Deliver American Babies
But for a certain class of Chinese parents, Saipan has become known as the latest hot spot for birth tourism, a place where women can give birth to babies who will automatically acquire U.S. citizenship.
The collapse of Western institutions is easy to predict when there is mass immigration of foreigners who exploit the openness of Western systems. The growing authoritarianism in the West is partially driven by social mood, partially driven by the need to maintain law and order among a diverse population. Even immigrants who are clearly net positive, such as Chinese, will cause major problems if they come in large numbers and reverse-assimilate the native culture or the government is forced to become more authoritarian in response.


LNG Future is Now: Chinese Prices Rise Faster Than Bitcoin

Chinese prices were around 4000 yuan /ton a month ago, now they have blasted through 12,000 yuan /ton. Prices exceed the 2011 highs.

iFeng: 液化天然气暴涨一月破万!快过比特币
The reason for this rising wave of LNG, dean of the Graduate School of Tsinghua University, former Head of the Department of Thermal Engineering, Yangtze River scholar Professor Yao Qiang said, while rising demand for natural gas, natural gas supply, but there are some problems. First, the planned overseas resources have been "ball dropped." Originally scheduled for 2017 put into operation in Tianjin Petrochemical LNG receiving terminal can not be put into operation as planned, reducing the supply capacity 2000-30000000 m3; Central Asian gas compared to the planned supply contracts declined by 4000 to 50,000,000 m3 / day, the new Shaanxi-Beijing put into operation four-wire can not play a role, leading to supply shortages, and are concentrated in the northern region.

Meanwhile, with the continual progress of "coal to gas," there is some support and boost the role of LNG prices.

FT: China shakes the world
China’s strategy of shifting away from coal and towards gas is also having a significant impact on LNG markets, driving spot prices in Asia up to almost double their lows earlier in the year. Reuters reported that LNG was being re-exported to China from Japan, and tankers were being diverted from as far away as Brazil. In a sign of China’s desperation for gas, the state-controlled oil company Cnooc hired 100 lorries to transport LNG 1,400 miles from the south of the country to the north. Cnooc’s Tianjin LNG import terminal near Beijing is already working flat-out.

Bloomberg: The Whole World Is Paying the Price for Cleaner Air in China
Policies promoting natural gas use have helped boost China’s consumption by 19 percent this year and raised it to the world’s second-biggest importer of liquefied shipments of the fuel, lifting prices for spot cargoes. Higher gas prices are boosting demand for coal, which has already seen prices rise because of separate Chinese policies restricting mine production, Goldman analysts including Christian Lelong said in a Dec. 12 research note.

Earlier this year:

Bloomberg: Liquefied Natural Gas Is All the Rage in the Trump Administration
FT: The Financial Times Reports on President Trump’s LNG Export Push
Donald Trump is engineering a sharp shift in US energy policy by using natural gas exports as an instrument of trade policy, championing sales to China and other parts of Asia in an effort to create jobs and reduce US trade deficits. In an attempt to unleash US energy resources, Mr. Trump is trying to promote more liquefied natural gas exports and not just use LNG as a geopolitical weapon aimed at nations such as Russia, as was the stance of his predecessor Barack Obama.

Desmog: Trump Admin Quietly Pushing 'Small Scale' LNG Exports That Avoid Environmental Reviews

Although it is a better strategy to keep supplies at home and sell value-added products using cheap natural gas, the gap between U.S. and Asian prices is too large for the market to ignore. The LNG will flow.


China Eliminates Steel Export Tariffs

Reuters: China will cut, remove export tariffs on some steel, fertilizer
The move is likely to stir concerns among foreign competitors in the United States and Europe that China, the world’s top steel producer, may be looking to sell its excess product abroad.


Bitcoin Is One Sliver of Revolutionary Change

Cryptocurrencies are not only a story of finance and technology, but also the fracturing of nation-states in a time of declining social mood.

Bloomberg: Bitcoin Is a Bit of a Miracle at Any Price
One striking feature of bitcoin is the sociology of its acceptance and promotion. There is a small coterie of people who have mastered the details of its operation, and ownership is quite concentrated. You can take that as evidence for a manipulative clique and thus a bubble, or it may be a sign that the price could yet rise. I am regularly struck by how many people, including business sophisticates and my professional economists, have little idea how bitcoin works. They seem to have no interest in buying it, but perhaps that will change, if only through their pensions and mutual funds.

The real story of bitcoin is a heartening one of community. Less than 10 years ago, the bitcoin asset was worth virtually nothing, but a small group of people believed in it and worked tirelessly to promote it, and now the whole world is watching. It’s a tale at least as old as Christ and the Apostles. Maybe the bitcoin believers are as much of a miracle story as that of the brilliant inventor Satoshi.

The thing is, I don’t always believe in miracle stories of community, not in these days of declining governance and possibly fraying social order. Yet I’ve become emotionally involved in tracking the bitcoin price, perhaps because I realize that if one such miracle of “ex nihilo” creation can be sustained, others are on the way. I don’t think bitcoin is a bubble, but every morning I wake up doubting.
Many communities and nations will be born in the coming centuries, if not the coming decades. Cryptocurrency is one expression of an online community. Next will be law, and then digital land. New diaspora tribes that transcend borders will rise, perhaps eventually staking a claim on soil, a floating city, or a space colony.

China Sources

Marginal Revolution has a good post on sources for China: How to understand modern China

One of the links goes to an extensive source list: SupChina Sources 2017

China Macro Dump

Nothing shocking in the numbers. Slowdown in data still in effect, although it moderated in most cases.

November SOE fixed asset investment as a share of total FAI was the third highest percentage in 2017. It was only one of three months that exceeded 37 percent. (The low was 35.2 percent in March.)

All data from NBS or PBoC.

150 Cities Pass Real Estate Restrictions in 2017, Ren Zhiqiang Doesn't Know When Market Rebounds

How's it working out?

iFeng: 今年超百城发布150余次调控政策 效果如何?

On the plus side, inventories are down:
E-House Real Estate Institute released data show that as of the end of October 2017, the 80 monitored cities in new commercial housing inventories totaled 394.9 million square meters, a decrease of 2.1% year on year reduction of 10.1%, year on year decline has been 27 months in a row . Reporters noted that 80 cities in the four-tier cities account for more than half. Comparing historical data, inventory scale is equivalent to the level of August 2013, that inventory down to the size of four years ago.
But there are still sales troubles in fourth-tier cities:
However, the "four-tier cities housing stock situation is very different: there are industries rely on and near the hot spots of the city, there is a certain appeal to the population, the market demand; and there are many cities in the past due to the blind development, resulting in not a few real estate sales difficulties. "Ouyang Jie, senior vice president of Metro Holdings said.
The focus for 2018 is rental properties:
This year, much to accelerate the establishment of hire purchase both the housing system as a long-term mechanism to improve the force point. At present, China's rental population is expected to hit 190 million people, the size of the rental market exceeded one trillion yuan. According to incomplete statistics, as of now, the country issued a new policy of leasing the city has exceeded 50.

- Multiple ways to increase lease land. Recently, the Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Zhengzhou and other cities have opened "rent not only sell" land sales model, most of the land by the state-owned enterprises went for a "zero premium rate." With the policy of the Institute of Statistics data show that as of the end of November 2017, the country's major cities listed oriented housing land lease for a total of 26.

- encourage leasing companies to large-scale, professional development. Hangzhou suggested that about 15 selected a certain size, brand housing rental housing rental business as a professional pilot. Chengdu, Shenyang put forward, and strive to 2020, the cultivation and development agencies, the scale of not less than 50 leasing companies; Hefei, Xiamen expressed support for the rental business bigger and stronger through mergers reorganization.

- financial factor to promote the development of the rental market is taking shape. Recently, the first single central rate rental housing REITs class products by the Shanghai Stock Exchange for approval. CITIC Bank (601998, stock it), China Construction Bank (601939, stock it), Bank of China (601988, stock it) and other banks recently are announced to give rental housing financial support, including consumer credit support for financial support enterprise end and the personal ends.

Insiders said the National Development and rental market unprecedented efforts, follow-up needed to accelerate the construction of rental housing legal system.
Ren Zhiqiang isn't making any prediction about 2018, saying the government-market cycle is broken:
For the past regulation period, is summarized Ren, "(it) prices, most non-virtuous circle relationship. That is when the market is at a low ebb, the government has taken some startup (stimulus) measures, then (the market) began to enter the madness stage, before you start regulation after regulation and finished into the doldrums, and then start again the regulation, which is macroeconomic policy in history, and most of the cycle is repeated. Therefore, prices must enter the madness inside a certain stage, then low tide, and then start this time no one knows will not start up again."

Ren told reporters in the 21st Century Business Herald interview also said that, due to uncertainties more, and this time, he is a bad judge the future market trend. Sun Hongbin, chairman of financial innovation in China also agreed to the first half, but for the future, Sun Hongbin more optimistic. Sun Hongbin said, "2018 will be better than 2017."
His prior recovery call in September 2015 (made in summer 2014) was close enough for horseshoes, hand grenades and macro.


Emerging Signs of Chinese Credit Growth Slowdown

Markets are starting to price in slower Chinese growth. Or another view, the hope that an exit from post-2008 stagnation was underway is starting to fade.

ZH: China Commodity Carnage Continued Overnight As Brexit Fears & Bitcoin Cheers Dominate
Energy markets have been relatively quiet amid a lack of drivers, although WTI crude futures are off worst levels and just about reclaimed the USD 56/bbl level to provide some mild reprieve from this week’s product inventory-triggered pressure. Gold and copper were also uneventful overnight with the former stuck near 4-month lows as participants await this Friday’s key-risk NFP data. The main mover in metals markets was Dalian Iron ore which crashed by 7.5% amid ongoing demand concerns from China.

But Chinese stock weakness spread to the commodity markets - which had promised so much growth previously - as Reuters reports, China’s commodity exchanges have hiked transaction fees and margin requirements for a range of futures this year in their latest effort to curb speculative trading that Beijing says has spurred recent price surges in markets from sugar to ferro-silicon.

As Bloomberg's Mark Cranfield notes, China's iron ore future is doing it's best to shock global markets in the way copper did earlier this week. Partially thanks to top miner Vale SA, the metal is having a high volume swoon on the Dalian exchange, which could be the tipping point for another commodity complex slide as Europe gets going.


The West Is Being Carved Up, Occupied and Sold to Highest Bidder

Australia is the front-line for the West's engagement with China. And things are not going well, if one wants there to be an independent West (or even Western civilization given demographic trends) in 100 years:

At Macro Business: Beijing knows exactly what it’s doing Downunder.
It starts with opinion from a strategic analyst:
Third, we need to push for greater reciprocity in our relations with China. This is easier said than done because our two systems mean Chinese are permitted freedoms here that are denied to Australians in China, including in business and commerce. For example­, foreign companies can only invest in Chinese cloud businesses with local partners while Chinese competitors are not subjec­t to the same restrictions.

Fourth, foreign, trade and defence­ policy must be recalibrated and fully joined up if the strategy is to be efficacious, which is one reason why the idea of a quadripartite dialogue with Japan, India and the US has renewed ­appeal. Contrary to its critics, this is not a mutual defence pact or an Asian NATO designed to contain China. China is not containable and none of the dialogue partners has any desire to sign on to such a futile endeavour.
The right and left in the West have two strategies for dealing with China right now. The left's plan is colonization. They are using subversion through foreign students and NGOs to push American progressive ideology into China. The Chinese have clamped down on Western NGOs, cultural influence in movies and TV, ideological threats in textbooks. The problem for China is, it Cannot Fight Cultural Marxism With Marxism. China is "open territory" for anyone pitching a religion because the communists wiped out tradition, but didn't replace it. The result is China doesn't fight fire with fire, it uses state power. It gets in trouble for jailing feminists. It is headed down the same path as Russia, except Russia has Orthodox Christianity. That might not avert a kinetic war with the West once progressives have power again, but it opens the door to rapprochement with the West if there is a religious revival. China lacks such a link. It is on a path to war with the progressive West. (A recent headline along these lines: Chinese Researchers Experiment With Anti-Gay Spray)

The establishment right in the West is globalist, and therefore cannot confront China's soft power. Back to the Macro Business article:
Sensible enough but way too many motherhood statements. It’s too top down when China’s soft power push into Australia is also bottom up. For instance, if Australian property prices become dependent upon Chinese capital inflows then the risk is that personal wealth allegiances shift towards it no matter what a few spooks want. Likewise in universities and other services sectors that use cheap foreign student labour.

There is also the crazily high immigration intake which is importing a larger Chinese community and expanding its influence (which is nothing against them as individuals or ethnic Chinese).

But if we want to bulwark the nation’s democracy then these grass-roots influences must each also be addressed directly:

cut immigration to more manageable levels (at least half);
police foreign buying of property properly and implement global anti-money laundering rules pertaining to real estate;
promote new codes of practice for academic freedom;
revisit foreign student working hour provisions.

And on it goes.
Chinese immigration increases GDP and therefore is good according to the establishment right. It has no plan, but since the American right it is willing to confront China militarily, that's where it will find common ground with progressives (as they have with Russia). The risk of military confrontation will only increase over time...until there are enough Chinese in the country, or it is inextricably linked economically, such that confronting China becomes too difficult. And if a confrontation with China is necessary at that point, the costs will be far higher because it will risk economic devastation and probably some form of domestic ethnic conflict.

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. And those who cannot see emerging trends underway right now that show this history already repeating, are in charge of most Western governments. The Chinese don't call them Baizuo for nothing.


人人币 China's Population Cryptocurrency

Some coin called 人人币 kept popping up in Weibo, along with Bitcion and Ethereum. Someone created a cryptocurrency that is based on China's population. The number of coins will increase and decrease with the population.

At the end of each month, Renminbi officials will destroy the previous year's death toll / 12-month Renminbi by means of wallet mutual transfers, and when major disasters and disasters occur in China, the development team will destroy the same number of victims in real time And record the time and reason for the disaster.
A list of some examples is on the website.

Caijing: 人人币:中国人的加密数字货币
Ren Ren Ren, English RenrenCoin, referred to as RRC, was born in May 1, 2014, and in June 1, 2015 by the quark algorithm for the second generation pos currency. The total amount of new pos coins is the current total population of 1.36782 trillion in China. The annual interest rate of POS interest is 1.236% (the average birth rate in China in the recent 10 years).

Renminbi is an encrypted digital currency that simulates the ecological conditions of China's population and is based on the actual population data of China. It is also the first digital currency in the world to integrate population ecological data into an encryption algorithm and give it a humanistic notion. Through the use of currency, users can get a general understanding of China's population, birth rate and mortality rate, remind people to cherish their life, care for those around them, and raise awareness of all kinds of unexpected disasters and disasters in China so as to encourage everyone to Chinese compatriots in need of assistance should be provided with assistance in the spirit and material resources. Each currency obtained through the interest of pos represents the birth of a new life in China, and every single currency destroyed represents a life in China that has passed away.

According to reports, Renminbi in the early design will be able to contribute to the community charity into one. In the event of a catastrophic catastrophe in China, when Chinese citizens die, Renminbi will destroy the currency in real time and record all destruction records by destroying the log. Therefore, at the same time of recording, the Renminbi can be applied to the charity system of Chinese society through the transparency and impartiality of the blockchain, so that those who need help can get real and effective assistance.
This makes sense as a way of controlling money supply, but not destruction of individual coins.

Imagine a currency worked this way: every person had 1000 coins gifted at birth and those coins are numbered 1-1000 based on their government ID number. Upon their death all the coins are destroyed. Immediately there would be a market opportunity in identifying people with low-risk lifestyles because their coins would likely last much longer. And the coins of people likely to die at a young age would immediately devalue. There would be an incentive to improve your lifestyle/conditions because the value of your own money would rise, assuming you held on to it. That's not how 人人币 operates, but I believe China will eventually cook up a digital currency that could include many such "enhancements."


Enough Restrictions? Hot Cities Housing Markets "Frozen"

China's housing market could be in the doldrums for 5 to 10 years...and that's the optimistic scenario if prices hold up or continue rising.
iFeng: 热门城市成交急冻 未来5-10年楼市临两大利空
As for the real ultimate move, long-acting mechanism of combination therapy have 5-10 years. Why is this so long? The reason is also involved in all parties. How to balance is really troublesome. What is even more crucial is whether the long-term mechanism will continue to maintain a consistent upward trend after its entry into force. This is the key issue. Otherwise, the long-term mechanism will fail and make no sense.

Around the local revenue, the long-term mechanism will carry out detailed argumentation in terms of taxation, land transfer, finance and market players. Therefore, Gu Changyun optimistic estimate is 5-10 years.
Is this time finally for real? We'll find out in about 12 to 18 months.


Chinese Logistics

Marc Cuban linked to a tweet that goes to a blog post about China. It's negative on Alibaba (BABA).

Some of the article I can't take a view on because I'm not up to date on all of Alibaba's business moves. However, it seems like the analysis is resting a bit on this photo:
Anyway, while I was traveling, I had a chance to peruse the Alibaba September Quarter figures, Press Release, 6K, Investor Presentation and of course, took some time to listen to the always entertaining Investor Call. Shortly thereafter, Alibaba had reported their amazing "Singles Day" sales figure of $25.3 Billion of fake GMV.

To put this figure in perspective, this year, "Singles Day" GMV came in at just a few billion more than the annual revenue of Sears/K-Mart (140,000 employees and 1,500 locations world-wide)..... again, I'll repeat that..... Alibaba sold, shipped and delivered the annual, global, sales volume of Sears/K-Mart in just one day! ....800 Million orders to deliver! Incredible! Bravo!.....all those guys on the tuk-tuks, scooters and bicycles must be exhausted......

The Alibaba business model has triumphed once again. It's now obvious that UPS, FedEx, DHL, et al, have it all wrong. Why in the world would anyone invest in all of that expensive GPS, scanning, package tracking automation and logistics hardware when you can just dump your packages on the sidewalk and let homeless people figure out how to get them where they are supposed to go? Again, the wizardry of Alibaba's ecosystem has rewritten the global-logistics playbook. Absolute genius....
I don't know if the logistics have improved over the past few years, but the Chinese post office was not a bastion of efficiency. The worst I'd ever seen was a guy standing in a sea of mailbags, packages everywhere, total chaos. It looked like a bomb went off. I gave him my claim ticket and he went back to find my package, and emerged with it after several minutes. The "private" delivery services are more efficient. I've seen scenes like the above, but in every case I can remember, it was outside of a main delivery area, such as outside the gates of a university or office building. Often, the students or office workers came out to pick up their package.

I'm positive Chinese delivery companies and the Post Office could increase efficiency. But what looks like total mayhem from the outside somehow manages to get packages where they're going.
1. Sell 800 million packages
2. ???
3. Customers receive their packages

The ??? is incredible amounts of human labor.

Amazon sold nearly $3 billion during its PrimeDay sale in July. Amazon is about as large as Alibaba (similar share of online sales). Unlike in the U.S., however, Single's Day is more like Black Friday and PrimeDay rolled into one. One firm estimated $4.7 billion in Amazon sales from Black Friday through Cyber Monday last year. Alibaba's claim of $23.5 billion in sales looks inflated even if those sales are all rolled into one, assuming some big ticket items aren't in the mix. (Did they offer deals on foreclosed properties and bad debt?)

China Cuts Tariffs on Consumer Goods

BBC: China cuts import tariffs on almost 200 consumer goods
China is cutting import tariffs on 187 consumer goods from whisky to cashmere clothing to help spur spending and economic growth.

The Finance Ministry said tariffs will drop from an average 17.3% to 7.7% on products, including pharmaceuticals, food, health supplements and clothing.


New Home Prices Rise 0.3pc in October

Home prices fell or were flat in most of the first-tier and "hot" second-tier cities, but the number of cities with rising prices ticked up in October as developers cashed in on seasonal buying interest.

Prices increases were muted though. The largest rise was 1.7 percent in Harbin, next largest was 0.9 percent in Hohot and Nanchong.
NBS: 2017年10月份70个大中城市住宅销售价格变动情况


Merkel Can't Form a Government

After Merkel's election "win" in September, I posted: Good Political News Peaks In Europe

I expected Merkel would be weakened, but it turns out she may be finished. She was unable to form a government thanks to rejecting to populist AfD and being rejected by the SPD. She was left with the smaller FDP and Greens, and they are to far apart on major issues. If you have been reading this blog for a few years you will not be surprised by the issue that torpedoed an agreement: immigration.

AFP: German coalition talks trip over immigration stumbling block
Merkel's CDU and especially their more conservative CSU allies from Bavaria, where tens of thousands of refugees crossed over the border from Austria, are pushing to limit Germany's annual intake to a benchmark figure of 200,000.

The Greens, who have long promoted migrant rights and a multicultural society, finally appear ready to accept the figure.

But they will not budge on their demand for a resumption of family reunions for those who have been granted temporary refuge in Germany, something opposed by both the CSU and FDP.

China Real Estate Mood Still Positive

At least in Nanjing, and when homes are offered at a 10,000 yuan/sqm discount.

Caijing: 南京1.46万人抢3177套限价房 有人斥资千万摇号
Cool the property market in the country is becoming the occasion, early winter Nanjing contrarian hot. Last week, more than 14,600 buyers who braved the cold, holding a picture of a few million dollars of bank promissory notes or certificates of deposit, real estate competition for 10 sets of 3177 Nanjing Hexi area housing prices.

After calculation, the total purchase verification of more than 37.8 billion yuan. Including one home buyers, even in five real estate registration number seven, into a number of banks to prepare for inspection at least 12.6 million yuan of funds.

It is understood that the hot property market in Nanjing, mainly due to price, resulting in the presence of about 10,000 yuan price difference between new and existing homes, which attracted a large number of buyers.


Dual Citizenship Crisis in Australia

Coming soon to an Anglosphere nation near you.

Sunday Times: Eighth Australian lawmaker resigns over dual citizenship
A constitutional crisis roiling Australian politics claimed a new victim Tuesday with the resignation of the eighth lawmaker to be felled by a once-obscure rule barring dual citizens from federal office.

The departure of Jacqui Lambie, a colourful independent senator from the island state of Tasmania, comes after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's centre-right government lost its grip on parliament as MPs were toppled by the citizenship issue.

Lambie announced her resignation in a tearful speech, telling MPs she had just learned she held British nationality from her Scottish grandfather and father.
The Australian situation was a result of existing law. The lawmakers in question are also citizens of New Zealand, Canada, Britain, Scotland and Canada.

If the law in other Anglosphere countries doesn't already proscribe dual citizenship, there will likely be laws passed in the coming decade or two, or at the very least, those with dual loyalties will be hounded from public office, lose security clearance and high ranking positions in government. Once the ball gets rolling on this issue, it creates its own incentives since political allies can benefit from having those above them kicked out of office. The United States won't be spared, if anything it is likely to have the most intense scrutiny because its status as empire provides real opportunities for foreigners to manipulate government policy.


If China's Economy Goes, Australia's Goes With It

A very long and in-depth article on Australia's economy. If roughly one-third of Australian exports go to China and roughly 19 percent of the economy is exports, that's roughly 6 percent of GDP that is highly sensitive to Chinese economic conditions. Layer on the housing investment from China and overseas students, the housing bubble built on growth in those exports to China, there is a lot at stake if China slows meaningfully.

Steve Keen's Debtwatch: Australia’s Econ­omy is a House of Cards

NBS Shocker: Mortgage Growth Contracts 19pc in October, Goes Negative YTD

Caijing: 楼市数据继续下挫:个人按揭贷款增速首现负增长
National Bureau of Statistics released November 14 data show that the first 10 months of this year, the growth rate of the national real estate development and investment, sales, and other indicators of the funds in place to continue to decline. Among them, in September and October in a single month, real estate sales volume fell for two consecutive months. Affected by this, housing prices in the source of funds in place, the accumulated growth rate of individual mortgage loans for the first time negative growth.

The NBS report on real estate investment shows a YTD decline of 1 percent in individual mortgages.

For comparison, last year at this time the cumulative YTD growth was 51.5 percent.

I haven't tracked this data out of NBS, preferring the PBoC data, but I calculated the one-month October growth figure for this past month: negative 18.8 percent.

Put on the Pain Trades: China FAI Begins Slowdown Near Prior Cycle Lows

Here's the quick summary of the data:

1. Real estate investment is strongest relative to prior cycles
2. Fixed asset investment over the past three months is slower than it has ever been, and the downturn hasn't officially begun
3. Private fixed asset investment is near the prior cycle lows (set in spring 2016)

Implication: if the credit cycle isn't aborted earlier than before, it looks like nearly all measures of FAI could fall into full blown recession (at least mid-single digit declines in some categories) before growth bottoms out. That's assuming another bailout later next year.

As for the data:

China real estate investment growth was 5.6 percent in October, second slowest month in 2017 (after July's 4.8 percent). YTD growth fell from 8.1 to 7.8 percent.

Fixed asset investment (FAI) slowed to 3.2 percent, YTD slowed from 7.5 to 7.3 percent. Unlike real estate investment growth (not pictured), you can see FAI is potentially breaking down to an unprecedented pace.

Private FAI slowed to 1.2 percent growth in October; slowed from 6.0 to 5.8 percent growth YTD. The last time growth was this slow, there was a panic over private money pulling out of FAI. One post of the subject was Depression: State Council Investigates Drop in Private Investment

Private investment growth in the industrial sectors was negative for the second consecutive month.

All data from NBS.

Impulse Rally in Commodities Running on Fumes

At the start of 2016 it was deflation all over again. Then suddenly commodities take off and the global economy heats up. Three possible explanations are:

1. The depression is finally ending
2. The smart money knew Trump would win
3. China flooded its economy with cheap money

With respect to 1, Jeffrey Snider keeps pointing out nothing has changed. As for 2, that's just coincidence. The evidence for 3 is strong. The history of the post-2008 economy is slow credit creation, slow economic growth. Dollars are in high demand. China can break out for a time, but then devaluation pressure and inflation become a problem. It tightens. The global economy sinks back towards a deflationary crisis. China pumps.

Here's Chinese PPI through December 2016. Notice the PPI didn't start rising consistently until July 2016, many months after the initial credit surge and several months after commodity prices started soaring.
I thought this impulse would lose steam in the middle of 2017, but it moved into what looks like a blow-off top this autumn. Chinese PPI growth will cool substantially into 2018 and should turn negative again month-to-month assuming the current credit trends persist.

I'm not sure the rally is totally over in the sense of top ticking the price, but today's action in China suggests the smart money knows the party is over. Credit growth indicates the end of the party.

ZH: China Commodities, Stocks Are Tumbling
ZH: China's Credit Growth Is Freezing Up At The Worst Possible Time

Why does it matter?

Because much of the boost in GDP growth over the past 18 months can be sourced to China's credit boom.

ZH: UBS Makes A Striking Discovery: Ex-Energy, US GDP Growth Is The Slowest Since 2010
Message 1: The 2017 global growth acceleration was largely (70%) a commodity bounce. This applies even to the US which was 20% of the global growth improvement but, as the 1st chart below shows, it was entirely energy investment. Once you strip that out 'underlying' growth is only 1% or so (ex inventories) - the slowest since 2010 - and a significant amount of rotation now needs to take place from energy to non-energy investment just to sustain the current growth pace.

The slowdown cometh.


7 Hot Words for China's Real Estate Market

Hot word 1: Volume down
Hot word 2: Tighter controls
Hot word 3: Rental era
Hot word 4: Moderating land prices
Hot word 5: Financial de-leveraging
Hot word 6: Developers break siege
Hot word 7: Property market inflection point

iFeng: 七大热点词汇 解读2017年房地产市场


Xi Jinping Has the Power to Reform

Back in 2014: Michael Pettis Said China Has 2 Years to Adjust; Xi Must Consolidate Power.
What is most important for China in the near future?
What really matters is whether President Xi can consolidate power quickly enough. If he can consolidate power, he can force the adjustments in spite of the opposition of the elites. That is the most important question. The Soviet Union had similar problems and they had to make their adjustments in the Seventies. But the Soviet Union’s power was much more dispersed and the adjustments failed. This is something China absolutely does not want. Their interpretation, which I think is correct, is that they have to consolidate power much more so they can force through the adjustments.
Xi needed 3 years, until the 2017 National Congress.

Reuters: China's president consolidates power with 'Xi Jinping Thought'
Xi's Thoughts are expected to further consolidate his power and putting him on a par with the founder of the Communist party, Mao Zedong.
Brookings: The rise and rise of Xi Jinping: At 19th Party Congress, he consolidates power to a degree unseen since Mao and Deng.Zhou Xiaochuan's warning of a "Minsky moment" and Xi Jinping's consolidation of political power is a interesting combination. China avoided deleveraging before the National Congress because it would have harmed Xi's efforts if it was a failure. Now he has the power to force through reforms and he's more insulated if it turns into an economic crisis.

The last 18 months was relatively low volatility as China headed into its National Congress. We are at or have passed the low in volatility.

Reserves Flat in October

Chinese forex reserves increased in October, but it was a rounding error of $700 million. The turn is at hand.

Reuters: China's Oct FX reserves rise slightly in ninth month of gains


China Real Estate Pain Begins as Credit Growth Slows

Financing is tightening for the real estate sector.

iFeng: 楼市资金面趋紧 全国房价涨幅或继续下行
"Real estate as a capital-intensive industry, with a strong dependence on capital, changes in the financial side will directly affect the real estate market." Yesterday, Lai Yi Ju researcher Qin said in an interview with reporters this year , with the deepening of the pace of adjustment of the property market, the property market funds face is clearly showing a tight situation.

From the point of view of buyers lever residents, according to 2017 third quarter financial institutions to invest in the central bank recently released statistics report shows that, as of the end of September, individual housing loans 21.1 trillion yuan, an increase of 26.2%, respectively, from the previous quarter and the same period last year down 4.6 and 7.20 percentage points. In fact, since this year, year on year growth rate of individual housing loans have been introduced to the downstream channel.
Credit bubbles are unsustainable because they require an ever rising rate of credit growth. In order to grow a credit bubble, you need to grow the amount of credit. As the credit bubble inflates, credit is an increasing share of growth. It's like pushing up a ball with a stream of water. The end is always a collapse in asset values or hyperinflation.

Say the economy is 100 and outstanding credit is 200. The economy grows 10 percent, credit 30 percent.
At the end of year 1, the economy is 110 and credit is 260. Total demand is 110 + 60 (new credit) = 170
At the end of year 2, the economy is 121 and credit is 338. Total demand is 121 + 78 = 199, up 17.1 percent.
At the end of year 3, the economy is 133 and credit is 439. Total demand is 133 + 101 = 234, up 17.5 percent.
At the end of year 4, the economy is 146 and credit is 571. Total demand is 146 + 132 = 278, up 18.8 percent.

Credit growth slows to 15 percent in year 5.
At the end of year 5, the economy is 161 and credit is 657. Total demand is 161 + 86 = 247, down 11.3 percent.

Even without assuming any negative effects from credit growth, a slowdown in credit growth will trigger a significant slowdown in economic growth or asset values in the target market. It's math. If you assume rising credit levels requires rising debt service costs, rising credit growth is needed to finance interest payments (Ponzi finance).

Rising interest rates don't help.

Bloomberg: China Corporate Bond Investors' Luck May Be About to Run Out
“It’s very likely we will see a significant increase in corporate yields in the coming year,” said David Qu, a market economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in Shanghai. “The trigger could be tougher regulations or a default. A majority of non-bank financial institutions’ debt holdings are corporate bonds, so their selloff can lead to severe consequences. Banks are underestimating authorities’ intentions to tighten regulations.”

Signs of a turnaround are already beginning to show, with the yield on three-year AAA notes -- the most common grading for Chinese corporate debt -- rising 8 basis points, the most since May, to 4.90 percent on Monday. That extends the cost’s increase this month to 29 basis points to the highest level in five months. The spread between those notes and government debt has climbed in October and was last at 117 basis points, though it’s still a long way from this year’s peak of 150 basis points in April.
FT: China bond yields down from 3-year high after PBoC cash injection
Contributing to expectations of tighter policy are signs of inflationary pressure and resilient economic growth in China as well as rising global rates on the Fed’s more hawkish outlook. In China, both consumer and producer prices rose faster than expectations in October, underpinned by rising coal and steel prices.

“We expect the reflation trend to continue. Along with a moderately higher global rate environment, this means that domestic interest rates will also trend higher,” wrote Li Cui, head of macro research at CCB International in Hong Kong.
Reflation is going to crater the housing market.

iFeng: 调控之下楼市降温明显 房子1.8万跌到1.2万无人买
Under the regulation, the most severe real estate Central Beijing property market has finally dropped! Institute research found that the chain of home in Central Beijing area: Compared with the March 2017 high of September Yanjiao chain of second-hand housing turnover fell 90%, the average price fell 26.9%. Homelink has revealed the above information, the display area Central Beijing property market slump.

Yanjiao down a little deal, Xianghe from the end of May to the chain of home on a deal now 5 sets, there is no market price! A netizen said that there is room in Central Beijing, before a lot of friends in Central Beijing basically a suite, house prices rose last year results were in a turmoil, plus a variety of levers, all kinds of various loans to buy! In April this year after the results, all the quilt, Xianghe has dropped to 12,000 from 18,000, not sell!
In a speculative market, the supply and demand curve slopes upward. The higher the price, the higher the demand. The lower the price, the lower the demand. Back to the credit example above, a slowdown in credit growth leads to a drop in home prices, thus reducing demand. Every slowdown in credit becomes a crisis. Each time the can is kicked, more credit is needed to restart growth. The system must scale up. The next crisis will be larger. On and on, until the music stops. Or the system is "bailed out" by a massive debasement in the currency.

Beijing New Home Sales Hit 10 Year Low

Only 20,550 new homes were sold in Beijing last month, down 50.6 percent from October 2016.

Caijing: 北京新房成交创10年历史新低 10个月仅成交2万套


NATO Unhappy With Russo-Turk Arms Deal

ZH: NATO General Threatens "Consequences" For Turkey Buying Russian Air Defense System
In looking to upgrade their air defense system, Turkey had a choice: buying the advanced Russian S-400 systems, or more expensive, US-made alternatives. Turkey chose to buy Russian, and NATO isn’t happy.
Is it a done deal or a negotiating tactic?
The missile deal with Russia “is a clear sign that Turkey is disappointed in the U.S. and Europe,” said Konstantin Makienko, an analyst at the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, a Moscow think-tank.

“But until the advance is paid and the assembly begins, we can’t be sure of anything.”

Housing Boom Over, CCTV Congratulates Those Who Didn't Buy

Chinese media is calling the top in the housing market. Prices in Shanghai and Shenzhen have retreated to levels seen 12 months earlier. Shanghai had 13,000 realtors at the start of the year. Today there are about 10,000 as losses mount.
Caijing: 上海深圳房价涨幅跌回一年前 中介部分门店受煎熬关张

Third- and fourth-tier markets are cooling rapidly too. Although developers are still buying land like crazy:
iFeng: 三四线熄火整体成交乏力 房企拿地乐观
In October, the real estate market in the Golden Week fael into the "freezing point", pre-transaction-hot four-tier cities also "put out the fire," the entire month or turnover continued to fall. Under the stringent control policies, a number of housing prices have begun shipping the red end of the promotion the performance, part of the regional market in the price. However, developer land buying mood hasn't fallen all year, a number of developers spent a record high amount.

CCTV says the market has completely changed, congratulates people who didn't buy a home as cities begin rental housing push.
iFeng: 央视:楼市彻底变天 没买房的恭喜了
Hire purchase is the future direction of both the real estate market, rural collective land into the market is also further accelerate the pace. Like Beijing, Shanghai and other 13 cities have been identified as pilot rental housing use collective construction land.

iFeng: 因城施策成效显著 业内:楼市“金九银十”惨淡
Although the end of October has not yet ended, but overall, the high-profile property market in recent years, "gold nine silver ten", this year, serious lack of fineness. From the national perspective, E-House Real Estate Research Institute released the "October transaction forecast" shows that the first half of October, first-line, second-line, three lines of 50 typical cities of new commercial housing transaction area fell by 13%, 11% 3%, respectively, year on year decline of 63%, 37% and 33%. Yi Ju Real Estate Research Institute that, although only the first half of the transaction data, but is expected in the current severe regulation of the property market under the high pressure, the market transactions in October will not be significantly improved.


CASS Sees Home Prices Stable Next Year

ECNS: Home prices to remain stable with slight decline in coming year: report
A research report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) said home prices are turning stable in most Chinese cities and will fall slightly in the real estate sector this coming year.

Socionomics Alert: The Domino Falls, Catalonia Declares Independence

After chickening out following the referendum, Catalonia's president turned the issue over to parliament. They have just declared independence.

Catalonian independence may be crushed by Spain, but we are one step closer to the collapse of nation states and A World of 1,000 Nations
Brazil is not in any danger of breaking up anytime soon – while the referendums in the three “separatist” provinces register overwhelming support for independence, turnout is very low, indicating that a majority are either opposed or at the very least don’t care all that much.

However, what is true today may no longer be true the case tomorrow, because the centrifugal forces that break nations apart are gathering strength at the global level.

Historical perspective: One of the strongest and most consistent geopolitical trends of the past 200 years has been an explosion in national entities.

We went from less than 50 polities in 1800 to around 200 today.

But it wasn’t always like this. I don’t know if anybody has quantified this precisely, but the number of states or state-like entities in the world must have constituted many thousands during the medieval and Early Modern periods.

Just the territories of the Holy Roman Empire at times accounted for more than a thousand!

...Consequently, under a liberal globalism that is true to its ideals, that is, one free of authoritarian coercion or Malthusian selection for big strong states, it appears that runaway national fragmentation is inevitable.

And these aren’t even the only trends militating against national consolidation.

1. Clever, high-functioning regions breaking away from stupid, corrupt regions. The classic example of this is, of course, Italy, where the 103 IQ, highly productive north has gotten increasingly fed up with the 93 IQ nepotistic, lackadaisical south.

2. The rediscovery of ancient local identities.

3. The globalist population replacement project.

4. The rise of alternate models of sovereignty.

5. It only takes one domino. New polities tend to emerge in waves – as Lenin pointed out, “There are decades where nothing happens, and weeks where decades happen.” This is unlikely to change in the future.
Buckle your seatbelts. The trend towards secession is driving downhill and Catalonia just stepped on the gas.

Financial markets aren't "buying" Catalonian independence yet, although European financial stocks are slipping. The rally in the U.S. dollar more a result of stronger 3Q GDP and the ECB's open-ended QE policy.


U.S. Dollar Index Breakout, H&S Completed

Shares of PowerShares U.S. Dollar Index Bullish (UUP) have an upside target of $25.50 based on today's breakout.

Emerging market currencies represented by WisdomTree EM Currencies (CEW) will break their current uptrend if a similar H&S pattern completes.

China Issues Dollar Bond

Got dollars?

ZH: China Issues First Dollar Bond Since 2004, Bails Out Corporate Liquidity

Turkey In Trouble Again, Back Below Neckline

Bloomberg: Germany Tightens the Screws on International Funds to Turkey
Germany is actively working to cut funding to Turkey from the country’s state-owned KfW bank, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, according to more than a dozen government and banking officials, who asked not to be identified discussing the behind-the-scenes efforts. Some German commercial banks are also reviewing their exposure to Turkey, the officials said.

While none of the institutions or banks have put in place a formal freeze on funding, they’ve all imposed tighter restrictions, the people said. The increased scrutiny especially affects financing for companies seen as being tied to or influenced by the Turkish government, they said.

The reduction in exposure to Turkey comes amid deteriorating relations between the two governments, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel announcing last week that she will seek to curtail the European Union’s pre-accession funding for Turkey.
Turkey not only won't join the EU, it is on course to leave NATO given the current trajectory in social mood and political developments in both Turkey and Europe. The stock chart of iShares MSCI Turkey (TUR) is also back below the H&S neckline, with a target in the single digits. The latest move is driven by currency markets; the dollar gained another 1.6 percent versus the lira today.

Click on the Turkey tag for prior coverage.

The Reflation Rally in Context Part II

Yesterday, I discussed Putting the Reflation Rally in Context. Jeffrey Snider of Alhambra adds some more color to the bearish case in Bond Kings and the Future(s). Despite all the optimism about rising rates, futures show the market less bullish on rates at the peak in late 2016 than they were back in 2014, and the analog continues this fading echo.

Socionomics Alert: Stock Market Peaks Amid Record Horror Haul

Socionomics predicts rising and peak social mood produce heroes and a clear separation between good and evil. Falling and negative mood produce anti-heroes and ambiguity. The 1970s saw heroes such as Dirty Harry and Paul Kersey (from Death Wish, notably being remade with Bruce Willis in 2017). Dirty Harry gunned down criminal to the cheers of audiences and Paul Kersey carried out vigilante killings. Rambo was a hero who ran afoul of the law. In the 1980s, the good-guys are within the law. Rambo works for the government. Many heroes are fighting communists. At the peak of social mood, the superhero was reborn with characters such as Spiderman. This quickly turned dark in the 2000s. Dexter was a serial killer anti-hero. FOX currently has a show called Lucifer with Satan as the main character.

Horror movies also rise and fall with these trends. Freddy and Jason, two of the more famous horror movie characters, were both created in the late 1970s and peaked in the early 1980s. Horror was a less popular genre in the mid-1980s through the peak in social mood at the end of the Millennium. Since then, horror has steadily grown its box office receipts. It also turned gruesome with movies such as Saw and Hostel, what some critics describe as "torture porn."

And now amid a new high in stocks, horror is at a new peak too.

NYTimes: 2017: The Biggest Year in Horror History

The NYTimes article provides a summary of the genre's rise and fall:
In the early 1970s, horror broke into the mainstream in a big way, primarily with the astronomical success of “The Exorcist” in 1973, which alone topped the collective total of any box office year in the decade. That movie aside, horror didn’t make much of an impression that year. And it was really films released later in the decade that would prove pivotal. The popularity of “Halloween” in 1978 ($47 million) showed that slasher films could be a force. And 1979 brought the blockbuster haunted house scares of “The Amityville Horror” ($86.4 million) and the influential space scares of “Alien” ($80.9 million). That film captured a mass audience with a return of sorts to the creature features of classic horror.
The 1980s characters earned into mid-decade:
The slasher genre came into its own in the ’80s, with the introduction of Jason in “Friday the 13th” (1980) and Freddy in “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984). Those franchises produced buckets of blood and cash ($380.6 million total for “Friday” and $370.5 million for “Elm Street”). 1987 was one of the decade’s most profitable. “Elm Street” was in its third installment ($44 million), “The Lost Boys” added young vampire thrills to the mix ($32 million) and the action horror of “Predator” (a movie that probably wouldn’t have existed without the success of “Alien”) brought in strong numbers ($59 million).
Notably the stock market crashed in 1987. Socionomics says, that is no coincidence.

Mood peaks in the 1990s and horror fades, but picks up heading into the mood turn:
The early part of the ’90s saw few major horror blockbusters. Daniel Loria, the editorial director of Boxoffice Media, cites the rise of home video in the late ’80s as the reason for the dip. In a phone interview, he said that many horror films bypassed theaters for home video. “A B-side horror film like ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ might not have played in theaters had it been made in the late ’80s or early ’90s,” he said. “It might have just gone straight to video for a quick buck.” Things looked up in the latter half of the decade, with the revival of the slasher genre through the “Scream” franchise ($331.7 million). And then, 1999 brought a new revolution via “The Blair Witch Project,” a lowest-of-budgets found-footage movie shot on video that scared up a phenomenal $140.5 million, along with many copycats.
Things pick up into the 2000s heading into the 2017 record year:
But the biggest story is the tremendous run of “It.” That Stephen King adaptation perked up the domestic box office after a dismal August, and not even box office experts predicted just how well the movie would perform. Mr. Loria of Boxoffice Media said his team forecast an $81 million opening weekend. The real number was $123 million.
Horror movies peaked in the late 1970s and early 1980s amid recession and a low in stocks. It comes back for a one-year blast in 1987, the year global stock markets plunged 20 percent or more in a single day. Horror doesn't return until the late 1990s and hits a short-term peak in the year 2000. After that, it grows into a larger and larger genre with a growing list of subcategories, before hitting a new record in 2017.

The implications for financial markets would be bullish if stocks were making new lows, since it would give a coincident indicator of a bottom in negative mood. Instead, this peak looks like it could be a larger version of the 2000s peak, a burst of horror at a peak as mood turns. If that's that case, the next downturn in mood, the next political shift, is going to a lot more like the 1920s or 1850s than the 1970s.

Maine Secedes from Eastern Time

Negative social mood increases the desire for separation and conflict. In Catalonia and Scotland there are independence votes. In California there is talk of Calexit. In New England, there's a push for local control. Over the time.

Quartz: A new American revolution is starting in New England—against Daylight Saving Time
Earlier this year, Bailey sponsored a bill that would move Maine to the Atlantic Time Zone, an hour ahead of its current position in the Eastern Time Zone, and no longer observe Daylight Saving Time. The bill passed both chambers of the Maine state legislature. But the Senate added a provision that Maine voters must approve the change in a referendum, and the referendum could only be triggered by neighboring Massachusetts and New Hampshire changing their time, too. Since neither of those states had immediate plans to change their time zones, the move seemed doomed.

But now there is hope. Massachusetts is considering a permanent change in its time zone.
The article headline is misleading since what's effectively being done is permanent Daylight Savings. Maine will leave its clocks ahead one hour and shift to the Atlantic time zone.

In the context of negative social mood, this move does create separation since Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts would be one-hour ahead of the rest of the Atlantic seaboard. Vermont might shift as well. Connecticut would probably stick with Eastern time because it has strong ties to the financial markets centered in New York City.

New England considered secession back in the early 1800s. The Civil War was a replay of this split between New England mills (importers, traders) and Southern farmers (exporters). Regionalism, dormant for many decades, is on the rise again.


Putting the Reflation Rally in Context

How big was the rally over the past year? Copper is up more than 50 percent.
How big was the rally over the past ~2 years? Look at the BofA Merrill Lynch US High Yield Option-Adjusted Spread.
Here's a longer look for context:
Using this as a proxy for social mood, we can see the market is about as optimistic now as it was in June 2014. The trend is different though. Back in 2014, economic forecasts were being cut in the U.S. This year their down slightly, but global forecasts are being raised.

CNN: U.S. economy: Not looking so good
At the start of the year, economists were optimistic. Perhaps the economy would grow 3% this year, they said, instead of the measly 2% pace it's been stuck at for the prior three years.
So much for that hopeful thinking. Half-way through the year, forecasts are being slashed.
USA Today: IMF raises its forecast for global growth for 2017, 2018
The International Monetary Fund raised its estimate for global economic growth in 2017 and next year, citing stronger expansion in the first half of the year in the eurozone, Japan and some emerging markets.

...In July, the IMF lowered its forecast for U.S. growth to 2.1% for 2017 and 2018 from earlier projections of 2.3% and 2.5%.
The magnitude of the moves are larger during this phase of hope and its fair to say optimism has increased to a new post-2008 high. Not high enough to call it a bullish breakout though. For the moment, hope looks toppy.


China Long-Term Chart

In light of China Topping earlier today, a long-term look at iShares China (FXI). The trendline is around $48.70, 6.8 percent above today's close.
Here's the ChiNext analog.

The Amish and the AI

Marc Andreesen said "software is eating the world." An expanded version of this says intelligence (working up to AI) turns every good into commodities. Software will turn the car into the PC. Band names and design have some value, but fuel efficiency standards destroyed design. Deere (DE) is battling farmers who want to hack into the operating system of its tractor software. Deere knows once the software can be hacked and replaced, the tractor becomes a commodity. Cars will face the same dilemma. The path forward is to write the software for self-driving cars or become the Dell of autos, going back to (as much as possible) a 1950s world of diverse design all able to run any software. The business model will resemble that of mobile phones.

The value in assets increasingly comes from intelligence. Owning the intelligent companies is the key to making money. But many companies do not have intelligent hiring policies or intelligent corporate culture. Google looks smart on the product side, buy dumb on the human side. Their current employees are smart, but there's reason to think they've already started not hiring the best and brightest. The most ruthlessly efficient companies will win. Those who give in to social pressure will be weakened by competitors.

Software is easily copied. We think of socialism in terms of money, but in a world dominated by software, the more likely path of "socialism" is to reduce penalties against piracy. Copying software doesn't cause a loss of value for the owner (except in cases where it might lose value such as trading software that exploits flaws in other systems/humans.)

The best companies are those who can combine intelligence in both hardware and software. Apple (AAPL) is a good example today, but Apple's advantage mainly lies in its marketing. It's a consumer brand though, and consumers are fickle. Branding itself is important, but picking the right brands is key. The Lindy Effect is a good starting point. Coca-Cola will probably survive.

I think we are nearing the top of the mania phase. We can see the future, but it will take time to get there. Buying Internet stocks in 1999 was dumb, but the thesis was correct.

Reformed Broker: Just own the damn robots.
In Kurt Vonnegut’s 1952 novel, Player Piano, we are introduced to a future in which only engineers and managers have gainful employment and meaningful lives. If you’re not one of the engineers and managers, then you’re in the army of nameless people fixing roads and bridges. You live in Homestead, far from the machines that do everything, and are treated throughout your life like a helpless baby. The world no longer has a use for you. Anything you can do a machine can do better, and you are reminded of this all day, every day by society and the single omnipotent industrial corporation that oversees it all.

He wrote this 65 years ago. It couldn’t have been more apropos to what we’re witnessing now than if had he written it this morning, right down to the nostalgia-selling demagogue who seizes the opportunity to foment rebellion amongst the displaced and disgruntled. When millions of people start seeing their purpose begin to erode and their dignity being stolen from them, the idea that there’s nothing left to lose starts to creep in.

In the book, the result is a violent rebellion against the machines. In the real world, we’ve resigned ourselves to investing in them instead.

We could be in the midst of the first fear-based investment bubble in American history, with the masses buying in not out of avarice, but from a mentality of abject terror. Robots, software and automation, owned by Capital, are notching new victories over Labor at an ever accelerating rate. It’s gone parabolic in recent years – every industry, every region of the country, and all over the world. It’s thrilling to be a part of if you’re an owner of the robots, the software and the automation. If you’re a part of the capital side of that equation.

If you’re on the other side, however – the losing side – it’s a horror movie in slow motion.

The only way out? Invest in your own destruction. In this context, the FANG stocks are not a gimmick or a fad, they’re a f***ing life raft. Market commentators rhetorically ask aloud what multiple should investors pay to own the technology giants. That’s the wrong question when people feel like they’re drowning.

What multiple would you pay to survive? Grab a raft.
At some point, the tipping point will be hit and the gap between capital owners and non-owners will explode. I usually think of this in terms of technology: a handful of people will invent powerful AI and they will become Kings in the new world order. But another way is through politics. Why do owners of capital want to share it with surplus population? Why does wealthy Catalonia want out of Spain, Venice and Lombardy out of Italy? Why does Silicon Valley want out of California, if not America? Now the stupidity of the West's immigration policy becomes more clear. Layer ethnic and racial divisions on top of capital creation and you have a recipe for political fracturing.

The value of human interaction rises in the interim. Intelligence isn't limited by weather cycles and commodity cycles. Human events will increasingly be government by social mood. Instead of interacting with economic cycles, the world will increasingly revolve around mood cycles.

Farther into the future: one second after universal basic income (UBI) is created, everyone who receives it becomes surplus population. Abortion has already eliminated Down's Syndrome in many countries. Fertility drugs will come with UBI. It won't be hard to push fertility rates close to zero. Eventually the "Amish" (religious fundamentalist groups) will own the world, and maybe 100 million capital owners will run little kingdoms. If you assume the singularity, eventually it is just the Amish and the AI.

Along with owning the intelligent forces of creative destruction, handling the surplus population will be a growth industry. The private prison industry already boomed. Next won't be iron bars, but gilded cages. The government (in whatever form) dispenses UBI through highly immersive VR games. Game addicts become the wealthiest and do best in the VR-world. Since it's VR, people don't have to live in the same VR-world though. Everyone can be served their addiction. The gap between reality and the virtual widens such that few want to leave. People have already voluntarily chosen this lifestyle with gaming, social media and government welfare. No one will be forced into the system, few will complain about it. Many people who own capital will be consumed by the system eventually. Most people who turn to fundamentalist religion won't be.

If you behave like a "Puritan", you have all your bases covered.

Two Italian Regions Vote for Independence

Turnout and the vote combine for an absolute majority of the voting population.

Daily Mail: Two of Italy's richest regions follow Catalonia's referendum example by voting overwhelmingly in favour of greater autonomy

The deeply indebted, sclerotic nation-state is in trouble.

New Home Prices Rise 0.2pc, Top Tiers Cool

New home prices rose 0.2 percent in September. The first-tier cities (and Xiamen) fell by an average of .01 percent. The 7 "hot" second-tier cities fell by an average of 0.08 percent. None of these 12 cities reported rising prices. Existing home prices rose 0.21 percent. Prices fell in the first-tier, but rose slightly in the "hot" second-tier cities.

NBS: 2017年9月份70个大中城市住宅销售价格变动情况

China Topping

For the past 18 months or so, I've said the rally in commodities is the best sign of an inflationary recovery. If prices keep moving higher, it doesn't matter if its real demand or global currency devaluation, it will signal an exit from the post-2008 low growth environment. However, I still believe this is a massive topping process. Xi Jinping's bold 30-year vision looks a lot like a social mood top. Only 5 years ago, one of the big goals was doubling incomes in 10 years. After 5 years of financial bubbles and a brush with a global recession, China's turned even bolder. The shift in vision only makes sense in the context of social mood, the fundamentals argue for a much more humble, circumspect China that needs to clean house before pressing on with a grand strategic vision.

Balding's World: Everything We Think We Know About Chinese Finances is Wrong
The absolute size and growth of assets imply there will be enormous (as in Biblical) costs to deleverage. Let me give you a simple example. Let’s assume a flat rate of economic financialization by which I mean that nominal GDP and systemic financial asset growth are equal. For our case here, I’m going to use similar but round stylized numbers. In our world, financial system assets are equal to eight times nominal GDP. Now, let’s assume that both financial system assets and nominal GDP grow at 10%. In this stylized but similar world, financial system assets will have grown by an amount equal to 80% of GDP. If this both nominal GDP and financial system assets grow at 10%, by 2025, China will have financial system assets equal to approximately 1,900% of nominal GDP. Because total banking system assets are so much larger than nominal GDP, simply growing both at the same pace will continue to lever up the economy.

This might actually explain one unique data point which no one has a good explanation for, including myself. For a number of year, fixed asset investment in China has been above 80% of GDP. Through the first three quarters of 2017, it is only 3%. It has been puzzling to many how FAI could top 80% of GDP even with the growth in debt that we saw. That was simply an amazing number. Well if there was unseen asset growth of equal to twice official banking system assets, this would explain how FAI could comprise that amount of GDP. However, this implies that China has been much much more dependent on credit and money growth to drive GDP than anyone, myself could have believed.
Back in March I showed how China cannot be deleveraging: China Can't Deleverage, At Least Not Yet
Assume China's nominal GDP is 80 trillion yuan, and debt is 160 trillion yuan (200 percent of GDP).

If GDP grows 8 percent, that's 86.4 trillion yuan.
If credit grows 12.6 percent, that is 20.2 trillion yuan.

Total nominal demand was 106.6 trillion and 19 percent was credit.

In Year 2 China lowers credit growth to match nominal GDP.

China's GDP was 86.4 trillion. It grows 8 percent to 93.3 trillion.
Credit was 180.2 trillion, it grows 8 percent or 14.4 trillion.

Total nominal demand is 107.7 trillion, growth of 1 percent. Credit drops to 13 percent of total nominal demand.
The numbers get much uglier at 800 percent of GDP.

FT: China’s warning of a ‘Minsky moment’ should not be ignored
Speaking on the sidelines of the Communist party congress in Beijing, Zhou Xiaochuan, who is soon to stand down as governor of the PBoC, said: “If we are too optimistic when things go smoothly, tensions build up, which could lead to a sharp correction, what we call a ‘Minsky moment’. That’s what we should particularly defend against.”

This might sound unexceptional. But it is about as close as someone in Mr Zhou’s position can come to yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre. To quote Robert Hockett, an expert on China at Cornell Law School: “It’s calculated to inspire panic. It’s almost an incantation to panic — especially in China.”
Assume the figures Balding cites are true, China's options are rather limited. It can try to shoot the Moon on growth (OBOR), it can devalue the yuan 25 percent (or more), or it can turn into a more crippled version of Japan. While the Japanese have seen their world-beating status wiped away over the past three decades, in real per capita terms, Japanese workers are arguably doing better than those in Europe and the United States. A demographic/debt/welfare state crisis looms everywhere, but the economic standard of living has held steady with the rest of the developed world without using the crutch of mass immigration. It is better if one adjusts for crime and societal decay in the West. This is most evident in the collapse in social trust and fractured politics. Few nations have clear ruling majorities outside of Eastern Europe. In contrast, the Japanese have given the ruling party a majority.

CNN: Japan's Shinzo Abe hails landslide victory in snap election
Abe's ruling coalition has won a clear majority with more than two-thirds of Parliament's 465 seats, with the Liberal Democratic Party holding a majority even without its coalition partner, the Komeito party, he told reporters Monday.

"We were able to earn the powerful support of the Japanese people, well surpassing our goal," Abe said at a press conference after Sunday's vote.
China can go the path of Japan. It will remain unified. If the average workers life is improving, the CCP will retain popular support. It might have to put a challenge to the United States on hold for a few decades though.

Japan Times: Xi lays out road map to make China leading global power by 2050
Xi also laid out an ambitious plan to make China a “great modern socialist country” in the following 30 years — part of what he has called the “Chinese dream.” By 2050, he said, the party would be near the goal of achieving a “beautiful China” with the rule of law, innovative companies, a clean environment, an expanding middle class, adequate public transportation and reduced disparities between urban and rural areas.

“Chinese people will enjoy greater happiness and well-being, and the Chinese nation will stand taller and firmer in the world,” Xi said of his vision for 2050.

...Xi said the Communist Party will strive to fully transform the People’s Liberation Army into one the world’s top militaries by 2050, and emphasized the need to modernize its combat capability.

“A military is built to fight,” he said.
All of this can be accomplished in a "turning Japanese" scenario, but China will turn inwards for 30 years to achieve it.

I still believe the most likely scenario is a controlled yuan devaluation of significant magnitude. A Japan scenario will happen if nothing is done about the present course. I don't think the OBOR is doable given global social mood. Unless the West turns inward and Islam quiets, China won't be able to achieve the multilateral cooperation needed for the OBOR. Finally, a crisis is always possible, but then I expect China would quickly determine the potential losses and weigh that again a surprise detonation of the yuan, and opt for the controlled collapse.