Morning Report: Markets yawn at the new ECB stimulus 2/10/16

Stocks are flat this morning after the ECB’s new stimulus plans earned a big yawn from the markets. Bonds and MBS are down.

The ECB cut interest rates again, and threw a kitchen sink worth of QE, lender subsidies, and other goodies.They will also start buying corporate debt. Not sure what the markets were looking for, but Euro rates are higher this morning with the German Bund yielding 32 basis points, up 8. This is what is dragging US rates higher. Buy the rumor, sell the fact, I guess.

Initial Jobless Claims came in at 259k, while the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index ticked up slightly to 43.8.

Americans have regained most of the wealth lost when the real estate bubble burst. Homeowners’ equity has more or less doubled since the lows of 2009. Since 2013, real estate has outperformed ther S&P 500 by 16 percentage points.

36 Responses

  1. Goodness!

    Frist!!! You’re slacking, KW. 🙂


    • Yes, I am. May be for a while. Running the gauntlet of getting my dad to the doctors while he slowly be surely deteriorates in terms of mental health. When I think of where he was this time last year it’s really hard to believe. The doctor’s visit yesterday where our doctor ran him through some quick short-term memory questions was hard for my dad, I think, but excruciating for me. I like to think of myself as a pragmatist, and I understand that people get old and there are many diseases of old age, and one day, usually, our parents die before we do, but . . . I would have never imagined how excruciating it could be to watch a doctor (my doctor, and a guy I like) ask my dad what year it was and who the president was and see him struggle, and suddenly wish he was telling me he had to amputate my arm or my leg instead. I mean, I know it happens to most people and you just gotta deal and like everything it gets better but I’ve never in my life wished so bad it was me instead and I could just take it away.

      I don’t think I even felt like that when my oldest daughter was diagnosed with diabetes. I felt: well, this is bad, but this is the situation, there are things we can do, we just need to move forward from here.

      I guess I intuitively knew she would be strong enough and she would still be her (even when making decisions I disagree with, heh) and I don’t think it bothers my dad as much as it does me, I don’t know. I just know it was totally the most awful thing I’ve had to do in recent memory and there’s a lot more of that coming. Also, forgot to bring a change of pants, which I meant to, and later wished I had as he had some problem going to the bathroom. Remembers to go just has problems with the mechanics of it now.

      I slept a reasonable amount the night before, but even so when I got home I made dinner for my wife and I, told the kids to get something to eat, and crashed I was so exhausted. It was a process wheeling him around in a wheelchair and dealing with the bathroom issues, but most of that exhaustion was the memory test. I think some part of me was using every last ounce of will to try and make him answer the questions. Not meaning to, just kind of a 24-hours later after thought as to why I kind of came home and collapsed in exhaustion.

      Now waiting for lab results back, maybe some prescriptions. His appointment with a legitimate neurologist is next month. That may kill me.

      Which is in no way relevant, I’m just trying to keep my “coming-aparts” out of the meetings and the training sessions … so, you nice folks get ’em!


      • Kev, good luck with everything Dad related. If you are anything like me, you will need to take some time just for yourself, alone, while you work through this. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself.

        Liked by 1 person

      • KW:

        You’ve got mail.


      • Oh, Kevin, I am so very, very sorry. I can only imagine how agonizing this must be–not to mention exhausting. Vent any time you want; we’ve got your back!

        My thoughts are with you and your family; and all the best to your dad.


        • Thanks! It is a struggle. And uncharted territory for me. It’s time to start moving towards a nursing home type option, earlier than I was thinking, because his ability to manage his bathroom functions is deteriorating. He’s going to the bathroom but apparently having trouble getting the stuff that’s supposed to go into the toilet into the toilet. Yay!


  2. Some asshole just walked out on his bar tab at DCA. He’ll get his.


  3. Wonder if you can challenge any of this evidence on Constitutional grounds if it’s actually used to charge someone:

    “Surprise! NSA data will soon routinely be used for domestic policing that has nothing to do with terrorism
    By Radley Balko
    March 10 at 11:49 AM”


    • My favorite part: “And we don’t have to guess who’s going to suffer this unconstitutional indignity the most brutally. It’ll be Black, Brown, poor, immigrant, Muslim, and dissident Americans: the same people who are always targeted by law enforcement for extra “special” attention.”

      Women and minorities hardest hit. Always. Frickin’ always.


      • Kev, on another issue:

        That is the USA response to Apple. I have a technical question:

        Why would it be easier for Apple to crack the encryption on that phone than it would be for a government spook?

        Do they just assume that because Apple encrypted the phone it can crack it?

        I do not think that is necessarily true at all.


        • Mark:

          Why would it be easier for Apple to crack the encryption on that phone than it would be for a government spook?

          I have been wondering the same thing.

          John McAfee has appeared repeatedly on CNBC claiming that if the FBI gave him the phone, he could crack it. I don’t know why they don’t take him up on it and just hire him on a contingency basis.


        • It’s not about the encryption. The whole phone encryption is not easier for Apple to crack than the NSA, by design. The problem here is that they cannot get to the encrypted data in the first place. Which the NSA might or might not be able to crack easier than Apple, if they could transfer it off the phone.

          The problem is, you can’t even get to the encrypted data without first going through the same dance that decrypts the phone. What they want Apple to do is to force a firmware update into the phone that disables both the time delay and the 10-strikes-and-your out that phones have in entering your passcode. They also want a software tool to enter the passcode, so someone doesn’t have to keep typing in pass codes all day. They may or may not already have such a thing, anyway, but they apparently are not presently in any position to force a firmware update that could successfully change Apple’s 10-strikes-and-your-out (and all data probably wiped) rule. Apparently, Apple can.

          So there’s that. This functionality is something the government is apparently desirous of, and apparently believes it can acquire from Apple either directly or by stealth means, so that they can use the same tool on some of the other 175 or more iPhones it current has and cannot access. It is unlikely that this case is about this phone, or that the FBI intends the case to end with one cracked phone.

          Given the mysterious change of the password of the terrorist iPhone while in government possession, I suspect the story is about more than just getting into that phone, but that a “terrorist” case is a compelling case to push Apple towards doing what they want, while as a “government embezzlement” case might not be.

          I mean, here’s the thing: it’s a work phone. The iCloud backup, with lots of data, from a day before the attacks would have info. The whole “government changed the login code and now doesn’t have it” is weird, also seems like there’s a whole chain-of-evidence thing. Finally, the phone in question was under enterprise management, which should let the folks he worked for reset the phone’s password remotely. Why that can’t be done now (if it cannot be) might have something to do with the password changing while the phone was in the government’s possession (but now doesn’t have the password it changed to) so the whole thing just kind of stinks.

          In terms of it being an undue burden to Apple, I dunno, but it’s basically the government demanding Apple write software that doesn’t exist to use on its behest (and perhaps also the surreptitiously pilfer in some way). The whole thing don’t smell right.

          More on the story:

          Still wouldn’t say it’s the whole story.


        • I also should say, should Apple be compelled to write such a tool, they will be able to close that loophole in future versions of iOS. So it would not represent a permanent solution for government phone cracking.


        • Thanx for your replies and explanations and links, Kevin.


  4. Now we’re supposed to worry about executive over-reach:

    Like that’s going to happen, anyway.


  5. “”We were planning on storming the stage and just taking the mic. We hadn’t figured out what exactly to do because there’s so many different groups with the same idea — but it was always going to be peaceful,” said Cameron Miller, 18, a Chicago high school senior and Sanders supporter who frequently protests and was a designated “marshal” who helped defuse confrontations before anyone got hurt or arrested. ”

    Storming the stage and taking the mic is about the opposite of “peaceful.


    • For all the left-wing hand wringing over Trump, it is the Sanders supporters who are the real brownshirts….


      • In large groups of passionate followers, you get all kinds. Agitators, self-starters who think “I’m going to start some shit for the other guy to make ’em look bad”, and when you’ve got a lot of people passionate about a candidate, protestors are there to piss on you. You’ve decided to be the turd in everybody else’s oatmeal, so no one should be surprised, least of all you, when the reaction is highly emotionally negative.

        Trump is not doing anything on his end to tamp it down because he senses, rightly, that the vast majority of his supporters feel like the cry-bullies get what they want and he’s practically the only guy who doesn’t want to give it to him. There are challenges with that strategy, and I would love it if he could mount a direct philosophical challenge to the whole cry-bully mentality instead of everything becoming a dick measuring contest . . . but, it is what it is.

        saw a Facebook post about how some people’s children’s were having nightmares about Trump and the new Trump-regime that would turn our country into some Orwellian Nazi state. Lots of, “Yeah, my kids, too, they hate him, they are so mad that anyone would ever even consider voting for him”. I suggest a simple civics lessons on the real limitations of the power of the presidency and the historical follow-through rate on campaign promises as a starting place to lesson the trauma . . . but, of course, they don’t want to lesson the trauma. The fight for president is symbolic. If you get the right guy, it means its a good omen for the world. You get the wrong guy, bad omen.

        The president is a powerful person, but he simply isn’t the Wizard King that most people seem to think he is, or must be in order to be declared successful (if he’s a good Wizard King, of course).


    • The hysteria over Trump on Conservative Pundit Twitter is fascinating.


  6. I’ve mentioned this idea in the past, but it is something we should definitely do: expand the number of representatives in the House.

    But beyond the Senate, the House was also far more personal. From 1789 until 1833, the House of Representatives grew from having 65 members to having 240. The result was that over the entire period, the average congressman never represented more than 60,000 people. When congressmen ran for election, they were running a quintessentially local campaign: retail politics, as it’s called. Indeed, Congressmen in the 1820s were representing constituencies roughly equivalent to many of today’s state legislators. This is the era where presidents welcomed random guests into the White House and saw that as a significant way of gauging public opinion.

    Unfortunately, rapid population increase made this system hard to maintain, especially since 1913, after which the House of Representatives has been fixed by law (but not the Constitution) at 435 members. The result is predictable: today, there are more than 730,000 U.S. residents per member of Congress. At that ratio in 1789, the nation would have had a whopping eight congressmen.

    The Founding Fathers never would have tolerated such a narrow oligarchy. The idea that one person can represent the interests of three-quarters of a million people is so ridiculous that, in a sane world, we wouldn’t even consider it. The Senate was intended to be an “upper house” for persons of particular note, fame, celebrity, or capability, hence its far less democratic means of election—but the House was not.

    The House was supposed to be the peoples’ house, truly representative, not only in ideas but in actual personhood. Representatives were supposed to be, well, representative. As in, a pseudo-random sample of the population. James Madison, in the Federalist papers, quipped that even a mob where all are as wise as Socrates is still a mob; that is, the House could be the first few hundred names in the phone book, for all it matters.


    • I concur 100% with this. We ought to have 1000 frickin’ congress critters. Representing 780k people . . . well, they aren’t representing, just building their own personal fiefdoms. Cutting that down to at least 300k wouldn’t be enough, but it would help. They’d have to build a new chamber, though.


      • Doing so would dilute the power of the reps in the very lightly populated but very conservative western states. So it’ll never happen.

        But yes, the House should be about double the size it is now. Or we should just consolidate some states. There really is no reason to have two Dakotas.


        • YJ – Congress has no power to consolidate states, as you know. But the size of the HoR is statutory, and was fixed in the 1920s. The population of the nation has tripled since then, but the size of the HoR has stagnated.

          It is true that the small pop rural states will have corrected representation, but the big pop states have enough votes in the HoR to expand the House. Would the Senate vote down the bill? I don’t think so.

          Logistics may be an issue – Phyisically tripling the seats in the chamber is probably a non-starter. But tripling the size of the HoR and having it meet elsewhere or by video conference is AOK. In fact, the video conferences could be held for floor debates and floor votes, while the committee work would be done live in the building.


        • yello:

          Doing so would dilute the power of the reps in the very lightly populated but very conservative western states. So it’ll never happen.

          I don’t understand this. Increasing the number of reps would dilute the power of all reps equally. Right now the “power” held by each rep is 1 vote out of 435. If the size of the house was, say, tripled, the power of each rep would reduce to 1 vote out of 1305. Again, precisely the same dilution for every one.

          If your point is that small population western states have more power in the House relative to the size of their population, that too is wrong. For example, Montana has a population of 1.023 million people, but only one rep in the House. It has the largest population per rep in the nation, and so the least voting power per person. Rhode Island has the smallest population per rep with a population of 1.055 million people and 2 reps. So it has the most voting power per person. So in fact northeastern liberal Rhode Islanders have twice the voting power in the House as almost the exact same number of western conservative Montanaites. As such Rhode Islanders would more likely suffer a greater dilution of their power if the House were to add representatives.

          No doubt there would be a lot of analysis on both sides of the aisle to determine if increasing the size of the House would help or hurt party power, and they would vote accordingly, but the idea the western conservatives somehow currently have outsized power that they wouldn’t want to give up doesn’t hold water when looking at the numbers.


        • “No doubt there would be a lot of analysis on both sides of the aisle to determine if increasing the size of the House would help or hurt party power”

          I think the idea, like geometric district drawing, would be to dilute party power in favor of individual representation, getting back to what we once had where you had a lot more diversity within the parties themselves because the individual representatives were more accountable to their constituents.


        • It seems to be a mixed bag. On average a Representative should have 710,000 constituents

          The five states with the lowest number of residents per rep are:

          Rhode Island (2 reps)
          Wyoming (1 rep)
          Nebraska (3 reps)
          West Virginia (3 reps)
          Vermont (1 rep)

          The three worst off states are all 1-rep states and are:

          South Dakota

          The one-rep state which comes closest to its fair share is Alaska with 721,523 representatives.


        • One Dakota is never enough. For example, we have a Dakota Fanning and a Dakota Johnson.


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