Tag Archives: economic collapse

Trump Is Already Betraying His Voters

Posted from St. Martin (the French side, of course!).  I kind of expected this to happen, as close friends and colleagues can attest.  Trump is not only NOT going “drain the swamp,” he’s populating it with a different breed of swamp monster.   His choice for AG is a red-neck, right-wing senator from Alabama who, 80 years ago, would have been a member of the inner circle of the Third Reich.  Ditto for the names that have been floated for Secretary of State.  As for Treasury Secretary, the names floated for the position bear the unmistakable mark of the Wall Street beast:  $6$6$6.  They are every bit as vile,  if not worse, than the thieves that moved through there the last 12 years.  Jamie Dimon?  Steve Mnuchin?  Give me an F-ing break.

It is what it is.  Out with the old, in with new old.   James Kunstler penned another epic post that deserves a thorough perusal:

For all practical purposes, both traditional parties have blown themselves up. The Democratic Party morphed from the party of thinking people to the party of the thought police, and for that alone they deserve to be flushed down the soil pipe of history where the feckless Whigs went before them. The Republicans have floundered in their own Special Olympics of the Mind for decades, too, so it’s understandable that they have fallen hostage to such a rank outsider as Trump, so cavalier with the party’s dumb-ass shibboleths. It remains to be seen whether the party becomes a vengeful, hybrid monster with an orange head, or a bridge back to reality. I give the latter outcome a low percentage chance.

For the rest of this, click here:  Boo Hoo – America Didn’t Get What It Expected

The stock market continued a stunning move higher last week despite evidence of
widespread financial market turmoil signaled by the bond and currency markets globally.
With evidence mounting everyday that the U.S. economy continues to deteriorate, the
behavior of the U.S. stock market can only be explained as being a product of the enormous pool of liquidity created by the Fed – printed money plus rampant credit availability – that piled into any and all stocks moving higher. This will ultimately turn into a momentum move in the other direction that will inflict serious damage on the system.   – Excerpt from the latest Short Seller’s Journal

 

A Bear Market In Stocks Began In May 2015

Technically, the move in the stock market that began in March 2009, when the stock market bottomed after the 2008 financial market de facto collapse, should not be termed a “bull market” because it required several trillions of Central Bank and Government intervention to move the stock market.   Definitionally the stock market is no longer a “market” – rather it’s an intervention.

Having said that, with the entire financial world – especially Wall Street analysts and financial  media boobs – focused on the S&P 500 and the Dow, the NYSE Composite, which covers every stock traded on the NYSE, has begun what is likely a bear market that started from its record high of 11,254 on May 21, 2015:

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As the graph above illustrates, the NYSE Composite index – every stock that trades on NYSE – is down close to 6% since May 2015.  The NYSE Comp is more representative of the stock and more reflective of the deteriorating conditions in the economy than are the SPX and Dow, which are used as propaganda tools by the financial market and political elitists.

In fact, as has been demonstrated in several places in the alternative media, as it turns out just a handful of the largest cap stocks are keeping the SPX and Dow in what appears to be a “bull market.”    This graph below sourced from Zerohedge shows the performance of the SPX with and without the infamous “FANG” stocks (FB, AMZN, NFLX, GOOG):

As you can see if you strip out the FANG stocks from the calculation of the SPX index, the index is flat going back to the beginning of 2015. Yet, the SPX hit an all-time high in August 2015. Qu’est-ce que c’est?  As explained in the ZH article:   The FANGS “have gained $570 billion of market cap or nearly 80% during the previous 19 months” [Jan 2015 – Aug 2016]…”if you subtract the FANGs from the S&P 500 market cap total, there had been virtually no gain in value at all.”

I wrote to my Short Seller Journal subscribers this past weekend:

NYA began diverging from the SPX and the Dow back then. It points to broad overall weakness in the stock market relative to the biggest stocks by market cap. This pattern in the broader stock market is also more reflective of the economic reality of a deteriorating economy. Small and mid-sized companies are experiencing deteriorating fundamentals which is translating into deteriorating market caps.  SSJ for October 16, 2016

The point here is that economic reality is diverging from the propaganda infused message that the Fed, Wall Street and politicians want us to buy into.  The housing market illustrates this perfectly.  I have been detailing in my blog the methodology by which the Government manipulates the new home sales statistics.  This morning it was reported that housing starts for September plunged 9% from August.  Of course the media puts its propaganda spin on this. For instance, Bloomberg attributes the drop to multifamily starts. But multifamily starts is the metric that gave the housing starts report any “legs” to begin with.  Marketwatch references a “durable recovery.”  But does this look like a durable recovery?

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New single family home sales – despite the trillions of dollars infused into the housing market by the Federal Reserve and Government – never got any higher than where they were in 2008 after the housing bubble popped and sales had already dropped by 66%. Before that, the last time single family home sales were at Marketwatch’s “durable recovery” level was in 1995!

And in truth the methodology used by the Government to present new  home sales (Seasonally adjusted annualized rate based on highly questionable Census Bureau data collecting) grossly overstates the true level of new home sales at any given time.  The same can be said for the NAR’s existing home sales.  Like everything else in our system, the housing market activity is primarily a product of the propaganda and not real economic activity.

The point here is that underlying economy is far weaker than the propaganda coming from the elitists would have us believe.  They can stimulate fraud and deception all they want but ultimately they can not force a shrinking middle class with rapidly shrinking disposable income from spending money.

More important, you can make money from this insight because most stocks in the stock market have been going lower since mid-2015.  This pattern in the broader stock market is also more reflective of the economic reality of a deteriorating economy. Small and mid-sized companies are experiencing deteriorating fundamentals which is translating into deteriorating deteriorating market caps (from the latest Short Sellers Journal)

Every week I provide proprietary insight into the economy and markets in the Short Seller’s Journal.  I also highlight at least two or three short-sell ideas.   Most of these ideas have been working now since early August (late Fed to late July was rough).  As an example, in the September 18th issue I presented Credit Acceptance Corp, a subprime auto loan finance company with a balance sheet that is a ticking time bomb, with the stock at $198.60.   It’s trading today at $183 – down 7.8% in less than 4 weeks – despite a largely flat SPX in that timeframe.  CACC will eventually be cut in half from here, at least.

SSJ is a monthly subscription that is published weekly.  I also provide some ideas for using puts if you are not comfortable shorting stocks and I also disclose when I participate in the ideas in my own account.  You can cancel at any time – there is no minimum commitment. You can access more information on the subscription here:  Short Seller’s Journal.

Here’s another example of the insight and analysis provided in the SSJ:

Another interesting report out last was China’s exports for September, which were down 10% year over year in September vs. -3.3 expected. The US and Europe are China’s largest export markets. If China’s overall exports dropped 10%, it’s mathematically probable that US and EU imports from China were down more than 10% in September. It also implies and reinforces the thesis that US consumer spending is contracting (of course, if this drop in exports from China translates into a narrowed trade deficit for the US, that will be spun as a positive by the financial media!)

The SDR Is A Trojan Horse For Global Elitists

An almost hysterical antagonism toward the gold standard is one issue which unites statists of all persuasions. They seem to sense – perhaps more clearly and subtly than many consistent defenders of laissez-faire – that gold and economic freedom are inseparable, that the gold standard is an instrument of laissez-faire and that each implies and requires the other.  – Alan Greenspan, “Gold And Economic Freedom” (1966)

The Daily Coin posted an interview with Dr. Warren Coats, one the architects of the SDR.   This is a must-listen for anyone who wants to understand how and why the SDR is nothing more than the monetary instrument of the one world, one Government globalists.

At first, Coats’ statements are infuriating – especially the assertions that are entirely incorrect, like “China doesn’t produce much gold” [sic] – but if you stick with it, you begin to understand why Sun Tsu said “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

TDC’s conversation with Dr. Coats provides invaluable insight into the “belly of the beast.” Throughout the interview, you can hear Rothschild’s famous quote about money echoing: “GIve me control of a nation’s currency and I care not who makes the laws.”

In this latest episode of the Shadow of Truth, we dissect Coats’ answers to several of Rory’s questions and explain why the SDR is nothing more than a Trojan horse of sorts designed to provide a “plausible” replacement of the dollar and, more significantly, to advance the New World Order implementation.

A “Cat 5” Financial System Hurricane Swirls Offshore

One of the biggest benefits I get from writing newsletters (Mining Stock and Short Seller’s Journal) is that I get “grassroots Main Street” intel from subscribers.  This has led to some invavluable insights into the housing market and the general economy all over the country.

Yesterday I received this email:

Heard from a friend east of the Atlantic that things are worse than are even being reported by alternative media. I bet the only thing the banks would like more is if the Chinese took another week off! I also heard next week could be big trouble.

‎My friend’s employer is a financial institution in Europe – you can probably guess which country.  Words used were “chaos” and “possible shutdown.” Advised to buy silver as much as possible.

I tried to pull more info out of him but he was understandably compelled to pass on generalities in order to protect the identity of his friend.

Having said that, the information is consistent with what is unfolding at Deutche Bank.  It also dovetails with the systematic take-down of gold.  I’ll have more on that later today.   Interestingly, the media attention has focused on DB.  But the stock market is telling us that Credit Suisse has huge balance sheet problems as well:

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Both DB and CS have significantly underperformed the benchmark bank index since early March. The index is composed of U.S. Too Big To Fail and super-regional banks. With all the “smoke” coming from DB, it’s entirely possible that Credit Suisse is either inextricably tied to the fate of DB via a perilous derivatives counterparty relationship or CS has catastrophic problems of its own that swirling around but receiving less media attention.

The reality is that all of the U.S. Too Big To Fail banks are also inextricably tied to DB through OTC derivatives counterparty relationships. DB was excessively aggressive in underwriting exotic energy-related derivatives both in the U.S. and Canada (this comes from an inside source of mine), which means that JP Morgan and Citi, specifically among several others, are tied to DB’s fate.

As detailed here, Deutsche Bank received two bailouts from the Fed and the Government approaching $100 billion in 2008: U.S. Taxpayers Bailout DB. Without question, this is because the big U.S. banks are tied at the hip to the fate of DB.

I have no doubt that Fed is using its resources to help the German  Government and the ECB keep DB propped up for now.  I also have no doubt that there are huge hidden financial bombs at DB that the Fed et al will be unable to locate before they detonate.  I would suggest that notion is reflected in the warning above passed on to me yesterday.

“Political Correctness Is Tyranny With Manners”

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The United States is on the frontier of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” Full force propaganda, political/social correctness, “safe spaces,” everyone on Field Day gets ribbon”…the list goes on. Huxley’s vision is characterized by a society in which the population has been converted into standardized zombies. Starting with the educational system, children are educated in a way which shapes their self-image appropriate to their socioeconomic caste; critical thinking and individualism is discouraged. Sound familiar?

A colleague of our’s today remarked that “these markets are nothing more than another form of propaganda used as political/geopolitical tools.” Hard to argue against that considering every economic report issued by the Government is intentionally manipulated for purpose of brainwashing the public into thinking that the economy is doing better than everyone thinks. Remember, no criticial thinking allowed.

In this latest episode of the Shadow of Truth we dive into these issues full-throttle, including a brief discussion on the incipient rebellion brewing:

Wall Street’s Next Ticking Time Bomb: Pensions

Make no mistake, the criminality and fraud of most, if not all, DC politicians that is being exposed now is also occurring in corporate America and at pension funds, especially with regard to fraudulent financial reporting.   As an example, Exxon is now being investigated by the SEC over its asset valuation and accounting practices.   The same concept can be applied to pension funds (public and private).  The Dallas Fireman and Police Pension fund is the postcard example of both investment and accounting fraud:  LINK.

The pension time bomb has been activated for a long time but it’s now in the final countdown.   Pensions are woefully underfunded even if we give them the benefit of doubt on their current use of market-to-market.   Every pension fund under  the sun in this country – because rates are so low – has monthly negative outflows of cash:   beneficiaries are being paid more money than is flowing into the fund.  If the stock market declines more than 10% for an extended period of time, nearly every pension fund in the country would blow up.   This is why the last two stock plunges, which took the S&P 500 down over 10%, were met by heavy, if not blatant, Fed intervention which produced a steep V-bounce in the stock market both times.

Yesterday I spoke to a friend/colleague who works at a public pension fund.  He said the latest fad in pension management land is to shift money out hedge funds – which are woefully underperforming the market – and to put even more money into private equity funds.  This allows the pension funds to subject that capital to a quarterly mark to market test rather than an daily or monthly valuation accounting.  The only problem:  private equity investments are highly illiquid and the valuation of the underlying investments is an “art” that is not at all based on actual market transactions.   This private equity investment mark-to-market “Picasso”  leads to extreme “over-marking” of private equity investment valuations at pension funds.

This is also one of the primary reasons that the Fed can not raise interest rates even if it were true that the economy was improving and the labor market was tight, both conditions of which we know are not even remotely close to accurate but everyone seems content to play along with the joke.  

Many pensions have now allocated as much as 20% of the fund to private equity.   This is because they can control to a degree where the investments are marked and as long as the stock market does not decline, they never have to market them down.  But with the example of the Dallas pension fund above, if the beneficiaries are allowed to withdraw all of their money, the fund will have to unload its illiquid private equity investments to meet the outflow requests.   Good luck getting anything close to where those investments are marked in the fund.  The beneficiaries won’t receive anything close to the current stated value of their pension account.

If the status quo in the markets were to continue for the foreseeable future – which it won’t – pensions funds will run out of cash to pay beneficiaries well in advance of the “foreseeable future.”  Without cutting benefits drastically or, in the case of public pension funds raising taxes steeply to cover pension beneficiary outflows, some public pensions will hit the wall within 12-24 months.

Away from private equity investing – which is just another of the many asset bubbles spawned by the Fed’s near-zero interest rate and money printing policy (by the way, the Fed unbeknownst to many is still printing money) – Wall Street has been busy stuffing a plethora of  high-fee generating asset-backed “investment” securities into the market. These securities exploit the need by pensions to generate much higher investment income.   When you hear the term “reach for yield,” think:  pigs are greedy, hogs get slaughtered.   These securities are hog food.

The only problem is that interest rates are so low now the risk embedded in the underlying asset pools are much greater than the interest rate compensating the investor for buying these securities.   Ratings agency fraud is also present again. This is another instance of the current period of financial insanity “rhyming” with the Wall Street-fueled insanity that led to the 2008 financial collapse.

A perfect example is the latest “brain child” of Wall Street in which the payables from cell-phone bills (the mobile carrier’s receivables) are packed into pools and securitized into “bonds” – LINK.  Verizon is the first to do a deal like this.  It’s receivables from cell-phone bills were packaged into bonds, received a triple-A rating and were priced at 55 basis points over the benchmark triple-A corporate index.  That means it was issued around a 2.67% yield.

Think about this way, would you lend money to a stranger to pay his cellphone bill in exchange for receiving the amount you loaned plus receive a 2.67% annualized rate of interest on the loan next month?  There’s a reason the bonds were priced at 55 basis points over standard triple-A bond.  If the implied reason were apparent to all, the bonds would be yielding substantially more.  Eventually that reason will come to light and the bonds will tank in price.

The Dallas police and firemen had the right instinct:  if you are eligible, contact your pension administrator and demand to receive any pension money that can claw out of fund now.   Your alternative is to face substantial payment cuts at some point.  Eventually your fund will collapse and you will otherwise receive nothing more than an “Oops, Our Bad” letter from your pension fund.

Operation Mockingbird And The Mainstream Media

Notice how EVERYTHING – even the most trivial of events – on Fox News/Business, Bloomberg, CNBC, CNN and MSNBC is “BREAKING NEWS?” The presentation of the news and the exploitation of sensationalism has itself become an insidious form of propaganda.

Operation Mockingbird was implemented by the CIA in the early 1950’s as operation to influence the media.  The idea is that, regardless of the truth, the first headline read by the public in the media was the version of the news that would stick with the public.  As an example, whenever a bomb explodes somewhere in the U.S., the first headlines that hit the newswires blame it on ISIS.

The genesis of this propaganda tool was Edward Bernays (nephew of Sigmund Freud), who is credited with being “the guy” behind Joseph Goebbels and the father of the “Virginia Slims Girl,” among another nefarious accolades.

In this latest episode of the Shadow of Truth, we discuss the reasons why that, for almost anything connected with politics and economics, the opposite of anything reported by the mainstream media likely the truth.

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There’s Lies, Statistics And Apple Corporation

Apple announced earlier this week that its “initial quantities” of the new iPhone 7+ had already sold out.  Of course, it also announced a new policy in which it would not would disclose the first weekend sales volume of the new iPhone.  Nothing like using opacity to boost the use of propaganda.

On the news that the new phone had “sold out,” Apple’s stock went parabolic, running up 13.5% in four trading sessions.  Coincidentally, or not coincidentally, AAPL’s price surge this week helped the Fed prop up the S&P 500 and Dow.  By the way, AAPL’s revenues are now declining every quarter.

But it appears that the iPhone’s first day in stores is a complete dud.  Perhaps the most entertaining anecdote was the post on Zerohedge with several twitter posts showing no lines whatsoever outside of several mobile phone shops around New York City:  Sold Out?  USA Today wrote an article which contrasts the move in AAPL with the apparent lack of demand for the new product:  Apple Shares On Fire; iPhone Lined Decidedly Chill.

A colleague of mine told me this morning that he received an email from Apple informing him that if he trades in his old iPhone he can buy  a new IPhone 7 for $249.   The retail list price $699.

Companies do not sell a product with a list-price of $700 for $250 if there is high demand for that product or if that product is sold-out. 

Apple has transformed from the country’s most respected corporation into the same bag of lies, propaganda and fraud that has enveloped the entire financial, political and economic system.

Sure, Tim (Apple CEO), your new iPhone is sold-out just like Hillary Clinton is perfectly fit to run for President…

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Fed Intervention Has Completely Destroyed The Markets

Federal Reserve intervention has killed natural market processes.  The Fed is also starting to lose control of its ability to manipulate the markets.  Today is a good example.  The S&P and Dow are negative as I write this (2:30 EST) after staging a big early day rally.  Most sub-indices, like retail and housing, are also red. BUT, the infamous “FANG” (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) stocks + Apple are up anywhere from .2% (AMZN) to over 3% (AAPL). These stocks are the largest stocks in the SPX by market-cap and are part of the “tool kit” the Fed has been using to keep the S&P 500 and Dow from spiraling lower.

Since late 2012, the Fed has been able to orchestrate the markets with heavy doses of direct and indirect interventionary tactics.   It’s used a combination of money printing, plunge protection and propaganda to keep the stock market propped up, interest rates near zero and the price of gold suppressed.

But, if the action over the last four trading days are any indication, the Fed is increasingly losing its ability to control the markets.  This is most evident in the apparent break-down in market sector correlations.

From roughly late 2012 through early 2016, the Fed has been the US$/yen as a “lever” with which to push the S&P 500 up and the price of gold down.  If you study these three graphs, you can see the correlations from 2012 to 2016 and the breakdown of the correlations in 2016:          Weekly $/Yen           Weekly SPX           Weekly Gold

I happened to notice on Friday and yesterday (Tues, Sept 13) that, despite a move higher in the $/yen (the yen falling hard vs. the dollar), which is the level the Fed had been using to manipulate stocks, the stock market experienced steep sell-offs.  Typically the $/yen and the U.S. stock market move in near-perfect correlation. Today they are inversely correlated.

Even more interesting, the bond market, even at the short end, also sold off (yields rose).   This is unusual  because typically when stocks get bombed, the money coming out of stocks floods into very short maturity T-bills and the dollar rises.  Yesterday EVERYTHING was down except a few agricultural commodities and the dollar index.  I have no idea where the money that came of stocks was parked.

Regardless, it was clear that hedge funds were selling everything that was not nailed down yesterday  and Friday.  At some point, as volatility increases, a significant portion of the money coming of stocks and bonds will be flowing into the precious metals sector.   If you review the trading patterns in 2008 before and after the October, you’ll see that initially the metals/miners were correlated with the S&P 500.  Subsequent to the end of October, the precious metals sectors dislocated from the stock market and moved higher while stocks continued to decline.

I believe all of this activity, especially the dislocation in correlations among the sectors as discussed above reflects the Fed’s increasing inability to manipulate the financial system. There are just too many factors for which they can not account.   One perfect example is the disintegration of energy exploration and production sector assets.  Debt recoveries in E&P bankruptcy  restructurings have been averaging 21% – LINK.  This means that lenders are getting back, in general 21 cents on every dollar lent to these companies. Some tranches received close to zero.   Part of this “recovery value” no doubt includes some partially random value attributed to stock distributed to bagholders.

This is a problem because the big Too Big To Fail Banks were stuck holding a lot of this debt.   In other words, the melt-down in the energy sector has the potential to blow big holes in bank balance sheets (this among many other deteriorating assets).  If the Fed hikes rates, it will likely force recovery rates even lower.  In fact, it will lower the value of collateral securitizing most bank debt deals, especially mortgages.

It’s a common notion that the Fed has “backed itself into a corner” with interest rates and its monetary policy.  But there are several ways in which Fed has backed itself into a corner. These factors are beginning to emerge and they are removing the ability of the Fed to treat the financial system like its puppet.

Expect a lot more volatility in all market sectors going forward.  The economy is clearly headed into a recession, if not already in one.  An interest rate hike next week has the potential to trigger a plethora of unforeseeable chaos in the markets and I believe the Fed will once again defer on its threat to hike rates.

The Economy: It’s Worse Than I Thought

I got an email from a colleague today that said, among other things:  “The economy is tanking and, while you may be the most pessimistic around, you may not be pessimistic enough.”

To that I would say that I’m significantly more bearish than is reflected in my public analysis.  I spoke to a couple people today who offered anecdotal stories about their particular business niches – businesses in which new orders are somewhat tied to discretionary spending – and they both said that new business activity is unusually slow and that the last time they experienced new order flow this slow this was in 2008.

I’ve been suggesting for most of this year that retail sales were slowing and would fall off a cliff heading into fall.  I presented RL as a short idea in my Short Seller’s Journal on August 14th at $108 after visiting the Ralph Lauren store in Aspen.  I was the only person in the entire store and I was being hounded by the salesperson to the point of being uncomfortable.  RL is at $100.80 as I write this, which is a 7.2% ROR in 4 weeks for anyone who shorted the stock.  Based on the point of last trade and where I recommended them, the January 2017 $85-strike puts are up 35% – so far.  But the bigger gains will be made holding RL short when it drops to $40, where it was in early 2009 before the Fed’s money printing stimulated credit-induced retail spending.

My outlook on retail is supported by the BAC credit card spending report posted in Zerohedge today.  Based on BAC “aggregate card data,” retail sales ex-autos declined .1% in August from July and .3% in July from June.  The 3-month average (Jun-Aug) is down .2%. These numbers are “seasonally adjusted,” which means the actuals are probably worse.   BAC’s data for department store sales show that they’re down 4.6% year over year in August.  Autopart sales are in a downtrend and beginning to comp negatively.  Auto parts sales are highly correlated with  vehicle unit sales, which are entering a downturn based on July and August numbers, especially if you strip out Chrysler’s fraudulent sales numbers LINK.

The week retail sales reflect the deteriorating income and financial status of the average American household.  And so do restaurant sales.  Restaurant industry sales tracked by Black Box Intelligence show a .6% decline in August in same store sales were down .6% but same store traffic was down 2.7%. This was the third consecutive month same-store sales declined, with monthly sequential declines in 6 out of 8 months this year.

It’s expected that Q3 corporate earnings will once again decline from Q2.  This will be six quarters in a row that earnings drop.  But it’s even worse than that because the changes to accounting standards (GAAP) have enabled companies to manipulate their earnings reports to the upside.  Despite those accounting gimmicks, earnings continue to drop.

The stimulative effects of the Fed’s money printing program have faded.  The subprime debt default crisis that plagued the housing market in 2008 has been replaced by a general reflation of subprime credit issuance that includes housing, autos, student loans and personal loans.  Synchrony, formerly GE Capital Retail Bank, is advertising a  high yield savings account that pays 1.1% interest, or 8x the national average.  That’s because Synchrony is using depositor money to fund a plethora of high interest rate consumer lending platforms which primarily appeal to subprime borrowers.   I would strongly advise avoiding this savings account because, even with alleged FDIC coverage, you might not see your money when Synchrony impales itself on the toxic loans it makes.  Look for Synchrony to blow up sometime in the next 24 months.  Same with Capitol One,  Ally Financial and Credit Acceptance Corporation, among others.

The Fed will not  only not raise rates this year – or anytime in the foreseeable future for that matter – but watch for signs that another big dose of “QE” is being tee’d up.  Otherwise our financial system and economy is headed into that same abyss into which it stared in 2008.