‘Blow For Blow’: U.S.-China Trade Spat Devolves Into Name-Calling…

By Heisenberg

…As Chocolate Cake Diplomacy Faces Biggest Test Yet

Well, it looks like Donald Trump’s “great friendship” with Xi Jinping (forged as it was, not in fire, but over “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake you’ve ever seen”), is going to be put to the test over the next couple of weeks.

On Friday, in the official statement that accompanied the announcement of his decision to move ahead with tariffs on Chinese goods despite the trade truce Steve Mnuchin struck with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He last month, Trump said the following:

My great friendship with President Xi of China and our country’s relationship with China are both very important to me.

Kind words for one’s “rapist”:

Xi, according to Bloomberg, is now set to go “blow for blow” with Trump on trade – and hopefully that means something different than it means when Trump goes “blow for blow” with Russian hookers.

Continue reading ‘Blow For Blow’: U.S.-China Trade Spat Devolves Into Name-Calling…

A Bull in a China Shop


Following is the opening segment of this week’s edition of Notes From the Rabbit Hole, NFTRH 504. For months now we have been tracking a divergence in the key cyclical Semiconductor Equipment segment (I am short AMAT & LRCX) to the broader Semi sector and this week put more context to the divergence.

A Bull in a China Shop

In light of the developing trade war between the US and China, let’s review the all-important Semiconductor sector and in particular, the Semi Equipment segment, which is a key economic early bird (and canary in a coal mine).

Various sectors took hits on Friday as Trump moved forward with Tariffs on China. But most of those sectors and industries are follow-on aspects of the economic cycle, which got its start when the early bird chirped in early 2013.

With China in Trump’s crosshairs and China a very key player in Semi Fab Equipment, there is a fundamental reason that the Equipment companies are faltering. From SEMI by way of a post at nftrh.com in March.

“SEMI predicts Samsung will lead the pack in fab equipment spending in both 2018 and 2019, even though it will invest less each year than in 2017. By contrast, China will dramatically increase its year-over-year (YOY) fab equipment spending for the next two years – by 57 percent in 2018 and 60 percent in 2019 – to support fab projects from both overseas and domestic companies. The China spending surge will thrust it past Korea as the top spending region in 2019.”

The rate of Semi Fab spending growth was easing and a heavy reliance was being put on China to pick up the slack. Here is a screenshot from that post…

Continue reading A Bull in a China Shop

Donald Trump Won’t Sign Terrible GOP Immigration Bill Of His Filthy Hateful Dreams

By Doktor Zoom

You would be forgiven for thinking that maybe House Republicans had found even a speck of human decency in their hearts, considering headlines that claimed they were considering a “compromise bill” on immigration that would even “end family separation.”

But of course, that’s the sort of half-truth that covers a giant dungheap with a big banner with a picture of a rose on it, and the slogan “You don’t smell anything!” In any case, Trump said on “Fox & Friends” that, of the two immigration bills the House is considering, he “certainly wouldn’t sign the more moderate one.”

Even the “more moderate” bill is pretty terrible. It was crafted by Paul Ryan and the House Freedom crackers as a “compromise” between a hard-right bill pushed by Bob Goodlatte and a narrow DACA-fix proposal that hasn’t even made it to the floor. How bad is this bill? Trump’s personal immigration bill consigliere, Stephen Goddamn Miller, has been consulting on the damn thing.

And what’s in it? Pretty much the same crap as the very worst of the multiple Senate bills that failed earlier this year, as Vox explains:

Continue reading Donald Trump Won’t Sign Terrible GOP Immigration Bill Of His Filthy Hateful Dreams

Trump Approves Tariffs On $50 Billion In Chinese Goods, Escalating Trade War

By Heisenberg

Here we go.

On Wednesday afternoon, as the dollar was surging on the back of a hawkish hike from the Fed, WSJ reported that Donald Trump would in all likelihood make good on his threat to go ahead with tariffs on billions in Chinese goods, with an announcement likely coming on Friday.

That decision (were it to pan out) would confirm reports from a couple of weeks ago when Trump, seemingly swayed by the isolationist/protectionist contingent’s rebuke of a trade truce struck by Steve Mnuchin during a meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, reversed course on an implicit agreement to hold off on further escalations.

WSJ’s post helped catalyze a reversal in the greenback, which renewed its ascent on Thursday following the dovish spin Draghi put on an otherwise hawkish ECB decision.


Fast forward to Thursday afternoon and these headlines hit:

Continue reading Trump Approves Tariffs On $50 Billion In Chinese Goods, Escalating Trade War

Ivanka And Jared Made $82 Million Last Year, Just Like All Public Servants Do

By Stephen Robinson

When Ivanka Trump and her first husband Jared Kushner agreed to work for her father’s already pretty damn corrupt administration, concerns were raised about potential conflicts of interest.

Ivanka allayed those concerns with some pleasant-sounding gibberish. Ivanka and Jared agreed to not accept a salary as senior advisers to the president, because that was totally the only way they could materially profit from this arrangement.
Continue reading Ivanka And Jared Made $82 Million Last Year, Just Like All Public Servants Do

‘Main Street Optimism Is On A Stratospheric Trajectory’…

By Heisenberg

…Small Businesses Go All-In On Trump’s Pedal To The Metal Populism

Listen, if you’re a small business, you’re feeling pretty goddamn “tremendous” about Trump’s economy, which is running on a sugar high from late-cycle fiscal stimulus and deficit-funded tax cuts.

Specifically, the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index rose last month to the second highest level in the survey’s 45-year history.


“Main Street optimism is on a stratospheric trajectory thanks to recent tax cuts and regulatory changes,” NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan said Tuesday, adding that “for years, owners have continuously signaled that when taxes and regulations ease, earnings and employee compensation increase.”

And look at this:

Continue reading ‘Main Street Optimism Is On A Stratospheric Trajectory’…

World Wrassling Diplomacy

By James Howard Kunstler

Why not war with Canada? That pissant “nation” is cluttering up the northern half of OUR Continent, which we struggled mightily to free from wicked Old Europe. What doesn’t Justin Trudeau get about that? And when we’re done with him, how about a few rounds with Frau Merkel and the wee frog, Monsieur Macron? I’d like to see the Golden Golem of Greatness in a leotard and one of those Mexican wrestling masks, tossing these peevish international dwarves out of the ring like so many sacks of potting soil.

And now it’s off to Singapore for a championship bout with the opponent known as “Little Rocket Man.” There’s an odd expectation that these two avatars of unreality will settle the hash that has been simmering for sixty years between the divided Korea and the USA. Mr. Trump will make a deal to turn North Korea into a golfer’s paradise and Mr. Kim will promise to beat his nuclear arsenal into nine irons and putters. And then they’ll celebrate on Air Force One with bags of Big Macs and Buckets o’Chicken. (Let the aides and advisors fight over the Singapore Noodles and squid beaks in garlic sauce.)

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The Summer of Discontent

By James Howard Kunstler

The ill-feeling among leaders of the G-7 nations — essentially, the West plus Japan — was mirrored early this morning in the puking financial market futures, so odious, apparently, is the presence of America’s Golden Golem of Greatness at the Quebec meet-up of First World poobahs. It’s hard to blame them. The GGG refuses to play nice in the sandbox of the old order.

Like many observers here in the USA, I can’t tell exactly whether Donald Trump is out of his mind or justifiably blowing up out-of-date relationships and conventions in a world that is desperately seeking a new disposition of things. The West had a mighty good run in the decades since the fiascos of the mid-20th century. My guess is that we’re witnessing a slow-burning panic over the impossibility of maintaining the enviable standard of living we’ve all enjoyed.

Continue reading The Summer of Discontent

No Disloyal Eagle-Men Will Taint Donald Trump’s America First Super Bowl Celebration!

By Doktor Zoom

This bird of prey was an excellent judge of character.

Donald Trump took another vital step toward making America great again yesterday by disinviting the Philadelphia Eagles from Trump’s White House celebration of the Philadelphia Eagles winning the Super Bowl. In a truly bizarre statement, the Very White House made clear the move was punishment for protesting the killings of black men by police:

The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow. They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country. The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better. These fans are still invited to the White House to be part of a different type of ceremony — one that will honor our great country, pay tribute to the heroes who fight to protect it, and loudly and proudly play the National Anthem. I will be there at 3:00 p.m. with the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus to celebrate America.Yep, the entire team was banished from Donald Trump’s America Party because quite a few of the players “disagree with their President,” who is the boss of them now, and indeed of all of us, and we like it very much. Christ, don’t these people understand the simplest thing about America, where Trump rules us all? Such lèse-majesté was not to be tolerated, because America is about standing when told to stand, putting your hand on your heart, and singing the national anthem as loudly as possible. This is, as we all know, a land of mandatory displays of patriotism, and if you dare suggest that it’s not truly equal, you may as well self-deport, commie.
Continue reading No Disloyal Eagle-Men Will Taint Donald Trump’s America First Super Bowl Celebration!

Pardon Him

By Heisenberg

Markets gave Trump the benefit of the doubt to start the new week after a weekend that found the President spending what certainly seemed like an inordinate amount of time assailing various (and in some cases entirely imaginary) foes on Twitter.

Seemingly oblivious to the optics, Trump regaled the world on Monday morning with his thoughts on farmers, soybean taxes, “all sorts of trade barriers”, deficits, the constitutionality of the special counsel probe, his power to pardon himself and “Witch Hunts” that he says are being conducted by “conflicted” Democrats and unnamed “others” who he says are “angry” at him for reasons he didn’t specify.

That went on for nearly three hours.

Despite that, stocks were fine, seemingly content to ignore the incessant rantings of a guy who is now openly suggesting that he’d absolve himself of responsibility for crimes he committed on the off chance anyone actually ends up producing proof of those crimes and seemingly resigned to the notion that, as Goldman put it over the weekend, “US trade policy is a conundrum.”

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Who Will Rid Us Of This Meddlesome Clenis?

By Evan Hurst

The Clenis is back in the news, because the media will always find a way to make the news about the Clenis, even when NOBODY IN THE WORLD was curious what the Clenis was up to these days. Also, Bill Clinton and his Clenis have a book to promote, and this last year has been pretty earth-shaking with the #MeToo movement, so when you put all those things together, what do you get? You get NBC News interviews where journalists are like “Oh hey what up, Big Clenis?” and ask Clinton if he thinks he and his Clenis should have behaved differently during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, or if they would have behaved differently had the #MeToo movement been around back then.

Let’s be clear here: Bill Clinton needs to shut the fuck up. And if journalists insist on asking him questions about this, he needs to either ACTUALLY take some responsibility for what he did, or ACTUALLY try to talk about the differences between the 1990s and now, or really, just say anything besides what he said when NBC’s Craig Melvin started inquiring as to the life and times of the Clenis:

MELVIN: If you were president now, in 2018, with everything that’s going on with the #MeToo movement, how would you have approached the accusations differently?

CLENIS: Well, I don’t think it would be an issue because people would be using the facts instead of the Imagined Facts. If the facts were the same today, I wouldn’t.

What? OK, we obviously grant that Clinton was the subject of a years-long investigation that, in the end, only managed to turn up a jizz stain on a blue dress and a big old perjury committed by the president. GRANTED. But what the hell “facts” is he talking about? He doesn’t really say!
Continue reading Who Will Rid Us Of This Meddlesome Clenis?

Fishy Business

By James Howard Kunstler

Picking up a trope conceived months back, the melodrama of US governance is looking more and more like Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, with the FBI as the doomed ship Pequod, with R. Mueller as Captain Ahab and D.J. Trump as the white whale. In the classic book, of course, the wounded whale finally sends the ship to the bottom, crew and all (but one), and swims away to the freedom of the deep blue sea.

Forgive the barrage of movie metaphor, but there’s quite a bit of the 1944 classic Gaslight in here too — and sure, I’m not the first to notice. In that film, the wicked Charles Boyer manipulates his wife, played by Ingrid Bergman, into thinking she’s lost her marbles, in order to cover up his own crimes. That’s how I feel when I turn to The New York Times every morning — for instance, today’s edition, with the front-page story Trump Proxies Drop by Briefings on Use of F.B.I. Informant (which headline was actually changed on the landing page to Trump’s Lawyer and Chief of Staff Appear at Briefings on F.B.I.’s Russia Informant).

Continue reading Fishy Business