Barnes & Noble is a 130-year-old company with 33,000 employees and a market capitalization of almost $800 million. Yet, it's newest, best shot at regaining a little mojo against Amazon is something just about any college student or stay-at-home mom could have come up with.Short version? They're going to start serving booze.(Bonus content: Speaking of bookstores, check out , which you can download here.)
by Globalintelhub(JoeGelet), 2016
Brexit, like a Trump Presidency, is yet another broken cog shaking the Elite’s machine towards global domination. For better or worse, some are calling it a rise of ‘populism.’ But at the end of the day, social unrest can be easily predicted and scientifically quantified. The Elite are doing a poor job running the world. From the French Revolution to the Onion revolution in India – studies have been done that correlate the simple common sense knowledge: when people are hungry, they fight. Very rarely, such as in the case of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, any drastic social reform is based on intellectual concepts. Usually people are just hungry, fed up, angry, and displeased with their owners. Over a period of 500 years, Feudalism simply changed forms, demographics changed, technology changed the way the people are goverened. The world’s richest lost $127 Billion on Brexit loss. So what? They made Trillions during the last decade. Practically, very little has changed socially over this 500 year period – still there is a 1% of rulers that own and control the 99%. The one percent movement should read history. Again, with few exceptions such as Soviet Russia and a few others, the world has always been like this. But during that time the Elite have learned a lot about people – and specifically what works and what doesn’t. People need entertainment, so they’ve made politics a circus. People don’t want to read books about a political ideology, or study philsophy, they want to watch TV. Modern ‘politics’ is just another form of entertainment for the masses to keep them fat and happy. In their lazy-boys loaded with Prozac, Alcohol, and high fructose corn syrup – they like to watch in Ultra High Definition – other people talk about their opinions. It’s a form of voyeurism (like sports), they don’t actually want to participate in anything, that’s the idea – just press play. But animal planet- it just doesn’t cut it. People like drama, gossip, war, and natural disasters. Hurricanes, Earthquakes, have great ratings.
Tyler Durden keeps talking about how the net winner of the Brexit situation is Russia. Well, recently, a local governor in Russia of Kirov region, has been caught ‘red-handed’ receiving a 400,000 Euro bribe. This begs the question – how is America’s freedom based, capitalist democracy any different from the current system in Russia, or in any other country for that matter? When Russia had the soviet union, it was easier to compare and contrast the two political economic systems, because they were so different. During Stalin, there wasn’t any corruption, they were all killed. But so were millions of innocents. So what’s the best way forward?
First, we need to understand that Russia is like a big capitalist baby. There really is freedom in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union – the problem is that – freedom means the freedom to shoot your enemies on the street. It’s not like the 90’s – but still more like the Wild West, than in Britain, Germany, or America. There’s no bankruptcy court, no class action precedents, if you don’t pay loans, banks may send out some rough looking guys to ‘check up on you’. The people who are alive now, they were alive during Soviet Union, either as adults or children. They received in that time, some sort of government stamps, that they used to get products they needed such as food and basics. Day to day life, wasn’t so bad – people worked, with paid vacations. Families would gather in cabins (dachas) near lakes during the summer, much like Americans do in the mid-west (Wisconsin). They had a film industry. Science, art, chess, and their own games like Gorodki. Russia produced Europe’s most advanced culture post World War 2, in many respects. Anyway – the point is that just like today’s Russia – most of what we know about Russia in the west is just wrong.
In Russia, the system needs time to evolve (meaning, many generations). There’s babies being born now who will be the Edward Snowden of their system, the lawyers who will go to law school in New York to return to Moscow and create a securities class action litigation industry. Why is corruption like this not possible in America today? Well, for several reasons – one – there’s a highly monitored electronic payments system that monitors politicians (in extreme cases of outright fraud). Two, political watchdogs, action groups, and even the FBI will follow up on public corruption leads. Why does America have all this? Because public corruption was so bad in America, it even ruined our biggest cities. Many Americans have never heard the name “Tweed” but they should know it:
Tweed was convicted for stealing an amount estimated by an aldermen’s committee in 1877 at between $25 million and $45 million from New York City taxpayers through political corruption, although later estimates ranged as high as $200 million.
What Tweed did was create a roadmap for future corrupt politicians – what to do and what not to do. For example, Tweed invented the idea of overbilling for simple jobs, such as $50,000 toilet seat:
….For example, the construction cost of the New York County Courthouse, begun in 1861, grew to nearly $13 million – about $178 million in today’s dollars, and nearly twice the cost of the Alaska Purchase in 1867. “A carpenter was paid $360,751 (roughly $4.9 million today) for one month’s labor in a building with very little woodwork … a plasterer got $133,187 ($1.82 million) for two days’ work”.
But finally – it wasn’t possible to sustain and social unrest ultimately caused the corrupt ring to unravel:
..Tweed’s downfall came in the wake of the Orange riot of 1871, which came after Tammany Hall banned a parade of Irish Protestants celebrating a historical victory against Catholicism, because of a riot the year before in which eight people died when a crowd of Irish Catholic laborers attacked the paraders. Under strong pressure from the newspapers and the Protestant elite of the city, Tammany reversed course, and the march was allowed to proceed, with protection from city policemen and state militia.The result was an even larger riot in which over 60 people were killed and more than 150 injured.
It resulted in major reforms. Of course, under such rule, the City of New York could not flourish, regardless of the economic strength.
Thus, the city’s elite met at Cooper Union in September to discuss political reform: but for the first time, the conversation included not only the usual reformers, but also Democratic bigwigs such as Samuel J. Tilden, who had been thrust aside by Tammany. The general consensus was that the “wisest and best citizens” should take over the governance of the city and attempt to restore investor confidence. The result was the formation of the Executive Committee of Citizens and Taxpayers for Financial Reform of the City (also known as “the Committee of Seventy“), which attacked Tammany by cutting off the city’s funding. Property owners refused to pay their municipal taxes, and a judge – Tweed’s old friend George Barnard, no less – enjoined the city Comptroller from issuing bonds or spending money. Unpaid workers turned against Tweed, marching to City Hall demanding to be paid. Tweed doled out some funds from his own purse – $50,000 – but it was not sufficient to end the crisis, and Tammany began to lose its essential base.
But even today, this game of cat and mouse continues, as a group close to the Bush family struggles to control electronic voting in America through Diebold:
Diebold: the controversial manufacturer of voting and ATM machines, whose name conjures up the demons of Ohio’s 2004 presidential election irregularities, is now finally under indictment for a “worldwide pattern of criminal conduct.” Federal prosecutors filed charges against Diebold, Inc. on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 alleging that the North Canton, Ohio-based security and manufacturing company bribed government officials and falsified documents to obtain business in China, Indonesia and Russia. Diebold has agreed to pay $50 million to settle the two criminal counts against it. This is not the first time Diebold’s been accused of bribery. In 2005, the Free Press exposed that Matt Damschroder, Republican chair of the Franklin County of Elections in 2004, reported that a key Diebold operative told Damschroder he made a $50,000 contribution to then-Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell’s “political interests” while Blackwell was evaluating Diebold’s bids for state purchasing contracts. Damschroder admitted to personally accepting a $10,000 check from former Diebold contractor Pasquale “Patsy” Gallina made out to the Franklin County Republican Party. That contribution was made while Damschroder was involved in evaluating Diebold bids for county contracts. Damschroder was suspended for a month without pay for the incident. Despite the scandal, he was later appointed as Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s Director of Elections.
Corruption is not possible in America, as what happened in Kirov, Russia recently. But one reason, it’s because America has made an industry out of corruption it’s called “lobbying.” Capitalism has created a democracy such that- one dollar = one vote. America is free, but people choose to watch TV and become programmed zombies. If you believe in the free press, if you believe in democracy, read this true life story about a hacker who fixed elections in South America:
When Peña Nieto won, Sepúlveda began destroying evidence. He drilled holes in flash drives, hard drives, and cell phones, fried their circuits in a microwave, then broke them to shards with a hammer. He shredded documents and flushed them down the toilet and erased servers in Russia and Ukraine rented anonymously with Bitcoins. He was dismantling what he says was a secret history of one of the dirtiest Latin American campaigns in recent memory.
For eight years, Sepúlveda, now 31, says he traveled the continent rigging major political campaigns. With a budget of $600,000, the Peña Nieto job was by far his most complex. He led a team of hackers that stole campaign strategies, manipulated social media to create false waves of enthusiasm and derision, and installed spyware in opposition offices, all to help Peña Nieto, a right-of-center candidate, eke out a victory. On that July night, he cracked bottle after bottle of Colón Negra beer in celebration. As usual on election night, he was alone.
Not in America? Remember – our recent account of Tweed. So, while corruption like what happened recently in Kirov is not possible- it is however possible for a family to become billionaires with their power while in office, in a string of odd ‘coincidences.’ (i.e. Clinton, Bush) They can’t make bribes – but they can trade favors, they can do power-broking.
So, has anything really changed in America? Special interest groups dominate the political scene – along with lobbyists, foreigners, and others with a political agenda. But isn’t that a natural evolution of capitalism? Those who amass wealth ultimately buy the system that ensures their dominance? And that includes the political system.
How to stop corruption?
Ultimately, if corruption is out of control – the only way to stop it is with a mass of angry villagers with pitchforks. Whether it be the riots that stopped Tweed, or the million man march in Washington DC – this is the only real change. Protests, political action groups, lawsuits, are a step in the right direction, but by themselves meaningless. Corruption can be stopped only by exposing the corruption first, and then by presenting with a solution. Without a solution then the corrupt politicians will just be replaced with another corrupt politician. Is a Trump presidency a start to shake up that status quo? Trump supporters think so. Will the election be fixed? Well, the Republican party is already trying to change the rules, that they won’t let Trump on the ballot. One delegate of the RNC is suing on grounds that Trump isn’t fit to be President:
Correll is bound to vote for Trump on the first ballot at the convention. Trump won Virginia’s primary on Super Tuesday.
“Correll believes that Donald Trump is unfit to serve as President of the United States and that voting for Donald Trump would therefore violate Correll’s conscience,” the complaint reads. “Accordingly, Correll will not vote for Donald Trump on the first ballot, or any other ballot, at the national convention. He will cast his vote on the first ballot, and on any additional ballots, for a candidate whom he believes is fit to serve as President.”
Most of the RNC is against Trump – can they stop him? Well, they certainly can choose to not support him, but Trump can always form his own political party. It’s surprising he hasn’t done this already. Those in politics always try to change the rules in their favor – it’s part of how politics works. Reagan got the Christian Coalition to vote for him, Christians who previously weren’t even registered. The Democrats then retorted with the Black & Hispanic vote, and finally the gay vote. Rules of registered voters, where the district lines are drawn, and how voting is held – can change election results. In the most extreme case, which is unlikely, the Electoral College could basically select whoever they want for President – Newt Gingrich. Someone they all know.
Only a mass of people can stop corruption, in a number of ways. One way – stop voting. Stop paying taxes. If no one voted, there could be no corrupt winner. But everyone believes in the system, and ‘buys in’ to the party line, that their candidate is less evil than the other, even though they know deep down that 99% of candidates are dirty, lying, corrupt, scummy, vultures. In the corporate world we see often Boycotts as a means to stop a practice that consumers don’t like. Generally, it works. In the case of Russia – the people need to wake up and start participating. And same as in America too and probably all countries – there’s always freedom to drop out. It’s not legally required to have a Television. It’s possible to shoot it, or throw it out the window.
In other words, by using the system, the people support it. This is true with any system, such as the US Dollar. When America has a ‘strong dollar’ policy, they encourage the use of the US Dollar. It has nothing to do with Fed interest rate policy. Because when people need to use the US Dollar, there is a natural demand to buy dollars. To understand how this works checkout Splitting Pennies – Understanding Forex. It’s the same with the political system. As long as people use it, and support it – they’ll get the politicians they deserve. In fact, voters always get the politicians they deserve. Democracy works, even though it’s a terrible idea. Democracy is the tyranny of the mob; the weak, unwashed, unenlightened, and incompetent.
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by Fortress Capital (JoeGelet), 2016
Brexit was a surprise high impact, low probability event.
Although stock markets got crushed, Brexit had an easy hedge.
Brexit signals a new epoch of markets, with new currencies, new rules.
Other countries can follow Britain, splintering the EU into pieces.
Britain will leave the European Union. The European Union (EU) – a noble idea hatched in the smoke of burning rubble after World War 2, now has an existential threat. The very question of the existence of the EU itself, and of the Euro, now is open for debate. Before Brexit, it wasn’t a question. Unlike most EU countries, Britain maintained their own currency, the Great British Pound GBP traded on the stock market as iPath GBP/USD Exchange Rate ETN (NYSEARCA:GBB). Other countries however, do not have such luxury. Spain, for example, that uses the Euro, has no other currency. So for other countries to leave the EU, it’s not so easy. Brexit is not only bearish for the Pound and UK in general it’s a sign of a splintering of the European Union itself.
Americans can easily make the analogy of the United States and the revolutionary war. There was a time when, 13 colonies didn’t want to be ruled by a King so far away, with no connection to America other than to get taxes and fees. America decided its own fate, by creating a new nation state, designed mostly by Illuminati freemasons (which were banned in Europe) like Benjamin Franklin. So it’s ironic that now the US who is tied to the UK economically and politically, witnesses such a dramatic “Brexit” from the idea of the European Project, the EU.
And it is also ironic, how the British intellectual choir is already calling for a superstate, similar to how the United States evolved and finally was created:
Britain should have been party to helping Europe out of this trouble. It should now take the initiative and be party to helping from the outside. The visionary outcome of a leave vote ought to be a grand debate across the continent, a search for a new confederacy of nation states. What is needed is a new Europe for the 21st century, to replace the ramshackle corporatism erected in response to the 1945 settlement, a confederacy in which Britain should be proud to participate. That vision may yet be far off, but so once was the EU.
While Europe sorts out its social evolution – how does that impact markets, and how can investors protect themselves?
Today’s move shows that – even if you aren’t invested in Forex – Forex can impact your portfolio. The Dow Jones (NYSEARCA:DIA) down more than 3% for the day. Everyone understands why this happened, but few understand how to protect a portfolio from it. In the most basic form, sell.
Take a look at chart for past 6 months:
The one day drop on the right happened in a few hours.
Now take a look at the same chart for GBP/USD:
By itself, the move doesn’t seem so dramatic, but it’s an FX record. It’s the largest biggest one day move for a major currency in decades. And more importantly, it impacted all other markets. Trading curbs were in effect in overnight futures trading. In one sentence, Brexit created a global market crash.
But where there’s risk, there’s opportunity. FX traders made a bundle last night. A $100,000 account that traded the down move from 1.50 to 1.3250 would have made 1750 pips, or $17,500 with no leverage. Using 10x leverage, that’s $175,000 on a $100,000 account – in 1 day. Investors can look at this in a few ways. One, it’s a hedge against other investments that mostly would have been in the red today. Two, this opportunity only came in conjunction with stock losses. That means – if Britain voted to remain, would have rallied, and thus a different scenario.
Congrats to all those in FX who used this unique scenario to hedge their portfolios or make a profit. This should be a wake-up call to equity investors with no FX exposure. Even if you don’t want FX or don’t understand it, there are more situations and referendums to affect the markets.
The former Fed chairman said that the root of the “British problem is far more widespread.” He said the result of the referendum will “almost surely” lead to the Scottish National Party trying to “resurrect Scottish Independence.”
Greenspan said the “euro currency is the immediate problem.” While the euro and the euro zone were major steps in a movement toward European political integration, “it’s failing,” he said.
That means there’s more to come. It’s about time that investors protect themselves. ETNs like GBB are just some of the ways investors can protect their portfolios. A good start is to pick up a mini-educational seminar likeSplitting Pennies – Understanding Forex. Another good step is to look at the Currency ETFs and ETNs – there are many of them. While the leverage isn’t the same as in Forex, it’s possible to trade them in your equity account, and they have options too.
“The Elite” have been making money with Forex for centuries. To drop a few names in the news today, it is not ironic that Soros and Druckenmiller made a fortune today for their funds. They’re short markets and long Gold. It’s also ironic that in particular, Soros again made a huge profit from the fall of the Great British Pound, a trade he is famous for decades ago when he nearly ‘broke the Bank of England.’
“Too many people believe that a vote to leave the EU will have no effect on their personal financial position, “Soros wrote in an op-ed piecepublished by the Guardian newspaper earlier this week. “This is wishful thinking.”
He added that in the wake of an exit vote, the British pound would fall precipitously – as it did Friday – and that there would be “an immediate and dramatic impact on financial markets, investment, prices, and jobs.” Whether Soros’s portfolio was positioned specifically to benefit from a British exit of the EU, however, through a long bet in the pound or other means, was never clear.
And let’s not forget to mention another derivative play – the US Dollar. The way currencies are traded, they are traded in pairs. So when the GBP is falling also the USD is rising. PowerShares DB USD Bull ETF (UUP) is up more than 2.5% today. There’s another equity hedge.
The good news is that there’s plenty of options to craft a solid portfolio to weather any market storm. Brexit wasn’t an anomaly, we knew it would happen for months. It wasn’t as if something fell from the sky and caught people by surprise. Although the vote for “Brexit” was a huge surprise, the possibility was there. It was a known risk. Investors who didn’t hedge took that risk without knowing it. So it goes to show that just because you’re not in the Forex market, you are still exposed to Forex related risks. That’s because the Forex market underpins every stock market in the world. US Stocks are settled in US Dollars (NYSEARCA:UUP). FTSE stocks are settled in Great British Pounds.
And as today’s events have shown, a small referendum based on a legal contract (that of the EU) can have global effects on nearly every tradeable instrument on the planet.
“Central banks are always the first line of defense, and they can do something to stabilize the situation but they can’t fundamentally alter a negative trajectory,” Guntram Wolff, director of the Brussels-based Bruegel Institute, said by phone. “Monetary policy will be operating in huge uncertainty, and the realization that anti-European sentiments can actually win will weigh on sentiment and could bring back the possibility of recession.”
.. But unless you own your own Forex bank, that isn’t going to help investors directly – it will just support markets in general. And it can support a run on the Pound, should it occur. For sure, they have other central banks behind them, most notably – the Fed.
However one looks at this situation, it is at a minimum a wake-up call to investors and companies that don’t have FX in focus. The key difference to remember – people don’t have to buy stocks. But people need FX.