Saturday, December 10, 2016

"Oil Traders Prepare Flotilla To Ship U.S. Exports To Asia"

From Reuters via gCaptain:
Oil traders and major producers are lining up a flotilla of carriers to ship more U.S. crude to Asia in December than in nearly two decades as higher prices, supported by OPEC’s proposed supply cuts, offer a rare opportunity to boost sales to the region.

A 40-year U.S. ban on crude exports was lifted in 2015 but only a few cargoes have shipped during a global glut in supply. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries last week agreed to its first supply cut in eight years as the cartel sought to end the two-year glut.

As peak winter demand kicks in, the difference between benchmark crude prices in the United States, Asia and Europe has widened to the most since August and opened up the trade route.
“I think Asia is going to pull lots of U.S. oil,” one trader said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak publicly on trading. “There’s lots of interest in this.”

Trading houses and oil majors are lining up ships that could take as much as 7 million barrels to Asia, traders and brokers said. But actual shipments may be less as increased supplies make exports less profitable.

So far, more than 2 million barrels of crude have been chartered to China in December by Chinese state-owned oil traders PetroChina (601857.SS) and Unipec, three sources with knowledge of the matter said on Friday. They requested anonymity because they were unauthorized to talk to the media.

Those two cargoes would fall short of the record volume of oil departing to China, reached in January 1997, by the equivalent of just one vessel, according to U.S. government data.

“We haven’t exported a lot previously to Asia because there’s a lot of costs, a lot of logistics and there’s always been OPEC,” said Carl Larry, director of business development for oil and gas at Frost & Sullivan.

“We’re fairly new to this export game, but once we figure it out, we’ll make it work. The U.S. looks to be pushing out as much as we can.”

The flow of oil will help drain U.S. inventories, which are some 32.2 million barrels higher than the same time last year and a concern for OPEC....MORE

"Welcome to Uberville"

From The Verge, Sept. 2016:

Uber wants to take over public transit, one small town at a time
My first morning in Altamonte Springs, Florida, I was faced with a dilemma: how to travel the two miles from my hotel to city hall without a car. Walking would take nearly an hour in the sweltering June heat. Taking a bus would entail waiting up to a half hour at a stop with little shelter from the forecasted thunderstorms, followed by a looping detour to the local mall. The trip could potentially take longer than walking.

I was on my way to meet Frank Martz, Altamonte’s city manager. For nearly two decades, Martz had fought to overhaul Altamonte’s transit system with a fleet of demand-responsive public busses. He called the plan FlexBus, and it would use custom-designed software to optimize routes for vehicles that riders would order from kiosks or even desktop computers. Martz saw FlexBus as the key to transforming Altamonte, a loose agglomeration of palm tree-lined strip malls and culs-de-sac a few miles north of Orlando, into a thriving and walkable destination.

Despite Martz’s persistent lobbying, bureaucratic delays and disagreements with the regional transit authority stalled the project for years, Martz says. Finally last October, the Federal Transit Administration withdrew millions in vital funding. FlexBus was dead.

But the transit landscape had changed since Martz began his quest. In the years before FlexBus was founded, some of Silicon Valley’s most prominent companies had begun offering on-demand transportation reminiscent of Martz’s vision. So just weeks after burying FlexBus, Martz called Uber. His inquiry was blunt: did the company want to make Altamonte the world’s first public transportation system based on ride-share technology?

Martz’s proposal would make the suburb of Altamonte an unlikely test bed for one future of public transit. It would also raise questions about whether such a future can serve everyone equally, and force Martz to navigate between the transparency of public office and the demands of a multibillion dollar company with a penchant for secrecy.
Uberville Spot Hospital
By the time Martz called Uber, less radical versions of his proposal had begun proliferating across the county. As Bloomberg noted last month, both Uber and Lyft have been striking agreements with transit agencies, mostly for so-called "first-last mile" programs — meant to shuttle commuters to bus or train stations. Since last year, Uber has scored public transit agreements with San Francisco, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Dallas, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh, among other cities. Uber and Lyft have also been edging into niche public transportation services, like transit for disabled people or low-income residents who need rides to work or the grocery store. Last month officials in Washington, DC proposed having Uber respond to some 911 calls for ambulances.

Even Google’s Alphabet, through its Sidewalk Labs program, has joined the transit bonanza. The company recently offered to overhaul transit in Columbus, Ohio with a system that sets parking prices based on demand and funnels low-income commuters into subsidized ride-share vehicles.

These companies are arriving at an opportune time for cities, many of which are struggling just to fund existing transit service, much less expand it to meet the needs of growing numbers of urban commuters. Both Uber and Lyft tell The Verge that the past year has seen a surge in public officials interested in giving the companies taxpayer dollars for public transit contracts. For the companies, it’s an appealing new way to establish themselves as vital infrastructure, especially in low-density communities like Altamonte where running traditional mass transit can be expensive. Given the pace at which these partnerships are coming together, it’s possible to imagine ride-hail companies taking on the role of all-encompassing, smartphone-driven public transit providers, one town at a time.

But for some transit advocates, the embrace of Uber and its competitors risks undermining civic ideals of accessibility and transparency. In Altamonte, there are already signs that these concerns could be warranted. The pilot program is unusable for people without a smartphone or credit card, and the company attempted to have the city sign an unusually far-reaching nondisclosure agreement.
Ultimately, critics worry that if these programs succeed, they could pluck the affluent commuters who wield real political influence off trains and busses, leading to a crisis of declining ridership and decreasing clout for traditional public transportation.

Uber has so far been pitching itself as a supplement to existing transit programs rather than a replacement. But in June of last year, for the company’s five-year anniversary, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick envisioned a future where increasing efficiency would make Uber cost-competitive not just with owning a car, but with traditional mass transit. When drivers drop off a customer only to pick up another, chained together in a "perpetual trip," Kalanick said, "not only is it much less expensive than taking a cab or owning a car, it has the potential to be as affordable as taking a subway, or a bus, or other means of transportation. And that’s what we believe is the real game-changer. Those are the things we’ll be working on in years to come."

With the help of public subsidies, that future is coming fast. The speed with which Uber has entered the public transit sector has stunned industry activists. "It’s happening very quickly," says Lawrence Hanley, the international president of the Amalgamated Transit Union. "It’s like a tsunami."

I didn’t have an hour to spare getting across town to meet Martz, so government Uber was the obvious choice. Opening the app, I noticed a new option had appeared next to UberX: an "Altamonte" car. Upon being scooped up by an off-duty drug counselor in a sleek Chrysler, it became clear that the app had so seamlessly incorporated the municipal transit program as to, aside from the car name, wholly hide its civic underpinning. It was Uber as usual in every way, but cheaper. Indeed, most of the Uber drivers who shuttled me around town that week told me they had no idea their rides were being subsidized by the government.

It wasn’t until I arrived at city hall that I fully understood the aggressively suburban layout of Altamonte. I had imagined Martz’s office as being inside a stately administrative building somewhere central, but though it’s technically a municipality, Altamonte has nothing resembling a center. Its low-slung city hall sits anonymously amid a cluster of one-story gray-brick buildings off the six-lane State Road 436, largely hidden by the Altamonte Executive Center strip mall.

Martz led me into his conference room and took a seat in front of a floor-to-ceiling city map, which, because of Altamonte’s curlicue suburban street scheme, could double as patterned wallpaper. He wasted little time in noting, with a prideful note of irony, that the building that once housed the regional commuter rail headquarters was where he had conceived the first fully smartphone-driven public transit network.

A former minor league baseball player, Martz has a sturdy frame and speaks with prim efficiency, but he slips into exuberance when discussing his long-delayed success in bringing demand-responsive public transit to Altamonte.

"We recognized this much earlier than most, that the issue of transit usage was not about infrastructure," Martz said. "It’s about convenience and control."

When Martz dialed Uber in November, the company jumped at his inquiry. Within two weeks of the call, an Uber manager flew from Washington, DC to Orlando to meet with him, he says. After two months of discussions, Uber sent Martz a chart laying out the possible future of their partnership. At a subsidy rate of 25 percent — and assuming the ridership would grow annually by 100 percent — Uber would receive roughly a million dollars per year from the city. A potential indication of Uber’s aspirations, the chart also included a scenario in which Altamonte would pay Uber a full 100 percent subsidy, putting the town on the hook for up to nearly $7 million in ride-share funding over a two-year span.

(Uber also sent Martz a document instructing that its logo "should be treated with respect" and laying out in anxious detail what that entails. In promoting the program, Martz was forbidden from placing the Uber logo "anywhere that could degrade our brand," including on doormats or anywhere else where it could be trodden on; on things like napkins or paper plates that would be quickly thrown away; on dartboards or urinals; on food, which, the document explains, will be sliced, broken, eaten, and is associated with the feces it will later become; or on underwear, condoms, "or anything else that would link Uber and sexual situations.")
...MORE 

Castro the Copy Editor, and Other News (your £5 note may be worth £20,000)

From the Paris Review, Dec. 7:
...MORE

*footnote, Dec. 9:
Giraffes, Despair, and Other News


Nomura's Gray Swan Events 2017

From Bloomberg, Dec. 8: 

Nomura Has 10 'Gray Swan' Risks That Could Roil Markets in 2017
Soaring U.S. productivity, a floating yuan, and the end of cash?  
Markets' black swans are rapidly turning gray.

Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, and a faltering bull market in bonds have all helped elevate analysts' 2017 tail risk predictions from the status of colorful festive reading to a cause for sleepless nights.

Analysts at Nomura are the latest to throw their hat in the ring — warning investors to be prepared for "unlikely but impactful events" including the possibility of capital controls in emerging markets, a long-elusive pick-up in Japanese inflation, and a Federal Reserve at loggerheads with the U.S. government.

"Needless to say, none of them are our base case," the analysts caveat. Of course, investors scarred by the turmoil of 2016 know that doesn't necessarily mean that they won't happen.
Here are Nomura's 10 events that could end up roiling your 2017.

1. Russia on the warpath
A staple of gray swan lists since Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea two years ago, Russian military aggression in eastern Europe remains one of the big risks for 2017. While an actual military invasion is unlikely, the foundations may be laid next year through anything from changes to U.S. foreign policy to the election of populist leaders in Europe, according to Nomura. Position for risk by going long credit-default swaps of any of the Baltic nations, shorting credit and trading Poland as a negative proxy.

2. A surge in U.S. productivity
As Fed officials make the case that the president-elect's fiscal stimulus should be targeted at increasing productivity, Nomura says a pick-up in research and development investment could already be laying the groundwork. Like the tech boom of the 1990s it would catch forecasters unaware, but could have implications ranging from a faster series of rate hikes to a sustained boost to equities if it materializes.
3. China floats the yuan
As recent outflows suggest, a balance-of-payments shock could follow hasty moves to liberalize the currency regime of the world's second-largest economy. The probability China gets to that goal in the next 12 months is "very low," Nomura analysts assert, but prepare for yuan weakness if it happens....MORE
Possibly also of interest:
Saxo Bank's Predictions 2017: Britain Remains In EU; Mexican Peso Soars, Italian Banks Best Performing Equity Group...
"The Pessimist’s Guide to 2017"

"Top Five Countries for Secondary Citizenship"

From Barron's Penta, Nov. 15:
An American business executive was biting his nails and perched at the edge of his seat as the presidential race reached its final minutes. He didn’t know what would happen to the country, but he did know that if Donald Trump won the election, he would gain citizenship somewhere else in the world. According to the Jersey, Channel Islands, law firm Henley & Partners—an outfit that specializes in helping the world’s wealthy acquire citizenship elsewhere around the globe—ever more wealthy Americans are hedging their bets. Henley & Partners has received a fivefold increase in inquiries about alternative citizenship programs since Donald Trump was declared the victor of the presidential race.

For those interested in seeking an additional passport, here are five countries considered by experts the best routes to a secondary citizenship.

Dominica. This volcanic island of great natural beauty sits smack in the middle of the Caribbean and is not to be confused with the Dominican Republic. It is second-to-none when it comes to acquiring an additional citizenship, says Christian Reeves, a citizenship expert at Premiere Offshore, a consulting firm that helps Americans move their assets and retirement accounts offshore in a protected and U.S.-tax compliant way. “You’re going to buy a passport for $140,000,” after government and legal fees, he says, “and you’ll have it within 90 days.” Dominica, a mountainous island of 72,000 people and boasting a beautiful national park, also offers the most visa-free travel options for the price. You get access to 119 countries, including most of the E.U., and the bar to Dominica citizenship is low: no criminal record. If you want the best-value foreign citizenship on the market—Dominica is it.

Malta. Tucked between Sicily and the North African coast, the Mediterranean archipelago has the best, high-cost passport. Here’s what you need to do in order to earn Maltese citizenship: pay 650,000 euros ($700,000) in fees to the government, spend at least 183 days a year in Malta, buy or rent a home on the island for at least five years, and invest 150,000 euros ($160,000) in government bonds held for a minimum of five years. Count in government and legal fees, and citizenship costs over $1.2 million. Still, Reeves says, in exchange you get visa-free access to almost the whole world—and you are living in civilized Europe. You can enter 168 countries, the second-highest of all citizenships in the world, including other E.U.-member states. This is the option if you are looking for a politically stable home where you can quickly get to London or Paris....
...MORE

Friday, December 9, 2016

Google X's Head of Moonshots On the Future of Artificial Intelligence, Robots, and Coffeemakers

Our headline is not as accurate, but possibly more understandable.
From IEEE Spectrum:

Astro Teller, Captain of Moonshots at X, on the Future of AI, Robots, and Coffeemakers
Astro Teller has an unusual way of starting a new project: He tries to kill it.

Teller is the head of X, formerly called Google X, the advanced technology lab of Alphabet. At X’s headquarters not far from the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif., Teller leads a group of engineers, inventors, and designers devoted to futuristic “moonshot” projects like self-driving cars, delivery drones, and Internet-beaming balloons.

To turn their wild ideas into reality, Teller and his team have developed a unique approach. It starts with trying to prove that whatever it is that you’re trying to do can’t be done—in other words, trying to kill your own idea. As Teller explains, “Instead of saying, ‘What’s most fun to do about this or what’s easiest to do first?’ we say, ‘What is the most likely reason this project won’t make it?’

The ideas that survive get additional rounds of scrutiny, and only a tiny fraction eventually becomes official projects; the proposals that are found to have an Achilles’ heel are discarded, and Xers quickly move on to their next idea. It’s all part of Teller’s plan to “systematize innovation” and turn X into an assembly line of moonshots.

The moonshots that X has pursued since its founding six years ago are a varied bunch. While some were quite successful, such as Google Brain, which led to AI technologies now used in a number of Google products, others faced backlash, as was the case, most notably, with Google Glass. With Teller at the helm—his official title is “Captain of Moonshots”—X sees itself playing a key role in shaping the future of its parent company.

“If Alphabet wants to continue to grow, it needs to have one or more mechanisms for creating new problems to have,” Teller says, adding, “That’s X’s mission . . . our product is producing new Alphabet entities.”

To learn more about how they approach things at X, and get an update on its current projects, IEEE Spectrum senior editor Erico Guizzo spoke with Teller at Google’s office in New York City. The following has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Astro Teller on . . .
  1. His Grandfather’s Thermonuclear Spacecraft
  2. Dreaming Up Moonshots
  3. A Database of Failures
  4. Sergey’s Batcave
  5. “Our Product Is Producing New Alphabet Entities”
  6. AI and the Coffeemaker of the Future
  7. Robots Are Coming to the Home, but Don’t Expect Rosie
  8. Robotics Group at X: What Are They Up to?
  9. Personal Robotics Is Not a Moonshot
  10. Self-Driving Cars Are Graduating
  11. Delivery Drones and Internet Balloons
  12. X Is Hiring
  1. His Grandfather’s Thermonuclear Spacecraft

    IEEE Spectrum: Your grandfather, the famed nuclear physicist Edward Teller, wrote an article for Spectrum in 1973 on potential non-military applications of thermonuclear power. One of his ideas was using it for spacecraft propulsion. If the spacecraft could be accelerated to one-thousandth the speed of light, he wrote, “We could get to Mars in a week; the round trip would be two weeks.” So in the article he basically starts by looking at a technology and then envisions a revolutionary application for it. How does that compare to how X comes up with its moonshots and goes about turning them into reality?

    Astro Teller: I’m not sure that Edward would have agreed to this but I think he and a lot of other amazing inventors of the last hundred years have enjoyed starting from a technology they wanted to have work and then tried to figure out if they could. I’m sure, at the margins, that happens at X, but it is not our process. We work really hard for that not to be our process, because chasing the tech first can occasionally lead to wonderful things, but it’s not the most efficient way to get important answers.
    http://spectrum.ieee.org/image/MjgzNzY1Nw.png
    This Venn diagram defines the kind of moonshot projects that X wants to pursue. Image: X

    So our process is first you have to say what the huge problem is you’re trying to solve. You have to be able to describe it in order for it to have any chance of taking root at X. And there has to be some articulatable, hard but potentially solvable, technology problem at the middle of it. Once that’s true, we go down a path where instead of saying, “What’s most fun to do about this or what’s easiest to do first?” we say, “What is the most likely reason this project won’t make it?”

    So if we were working on Edward’s space travel idea—just to use the example that you’ve given me—instead of saying, “How good a propulsion system would this be?” we would say, “Of all of the possible reasons—cost, danger to the astronaut, heat—what is the most likely reason this will turn out to be a bad idea?” Let’s just look at that for an hour, a day if necessary. If we succeed in killing the idea on the basis of that, thank god we didn’t work on all the other issues first. And if we don’t [kill it], if the first thing that we named doesn’t turn out to be an Achilles’ heel for this project, great. Then let’s go and look at the next two or three most exposed aspects of the project.

    Spectrum: So the thing that might kill an idea, it could be a major technical limitation, or maybe it’s just cost?

    Teller: I get asked frequently, “At what stage do you make a business plan for the moonshot?” And the answer is never Stage 1 or Stage 5 or Stage 17. The answer is always, “Is making a business plan the next most efficient thing we can do to try to kill this project?” And there are some projects where we have a business plan now and it becomes more detailed all the time. Let’s say for the self-driving car group. We never said in the early days, “Okay, let’s make the business plan.” Because if you can make cars that drive themselves, the world is going to change in such a dramatic way that the details of your business plan are not going to kill that as a project.

    There are other things that we’re doing, let’s say our airborne wind turbines, that’s such a cost-driven business—energy generation—that’s all determined by the levelized cost of energy, the LCOE, and that number is what determines whether you’re competitive or not. So we need to be thinking sooner rather than later about that for that project.
      
  2. Dreaming Up Moonshots Spectrum: You once said that for every major project that takes off at X—like the self-driving car—you consider lots and lots of other ideas. How do you keep coming up with new stuff? And how do you compete with other places like, say, Y Combinator, and other incubators and accelerators that have people bringing them ideas all the time?

    Teller: We have a team that’s dedicated to coming up with ideas, but the rest of X, and to a less extent the rest of Alphabet, and in particular the founders [Larry Page and Sergey Brin], are sources of ideas. And we’re looking at academic work that’s happening all the time. We go to conferences, and we invite people to come visit us. So people bring us ideas, too.
    We sometimes bring academics who have special expertise in for months at a time to just see if we can find something. What typically happens is that you’ll sit with us for three or four months trying to talk us into doing more and more research on the thing you like doing, and we’ll keep trying to talk you into reframing your excitement in the terms that I gave: Huge problem with the world, radical proposed solution, underlying hard technology problem that can cause that radical solution to be realized. Sometimes we can’t connect—our way of being and your way of being just don’t match. And occasionally it does work. For example, the contact lens work that we did came out of two academics from the University of Washington.

    Spectrum: Yes, they wrote an article on bionic eyesight for Spectrum in 2009.

    Teller: There you go. [X’s Smart Contact Lens project became part of Verily, now a standalone life sciences company in Alphabet.]

  3. A Database of Failures

    Spectrum: And once you have all these ideas, how do you keep track of them? Do you put them on a database or a giant board on the wall?

    Teller: We do keep track of projects, especially after we’ve killed them. For two reasons: No. 1, we don’t want to reinvent the wheel. We don’t want someone who gets hired two years after we kill a project to come up with the same idea and then spend three months rediscovering it.
    Reason No. 2 is we want to keep track of the ideas that we’ve had—and we do have a database—because sometimes there are presumptions [that could be revisited]. Say we’re going to not work on this project because one of the necessary constituent ingredients is a battery with 10 times the energy density of lithium-ion; it doesn’t exist, we don’t consider that a safe bet that it will appear in the next five years, so let’s not start this project. But then if that battery appeared, we would want to be able to go back and say, “Hey, wait a second, now we can reconsider this as a potential moonshot because that was the reason we killed it and that technology has now appeared.”

    So it’s not as indexed as that might make it sound. We can’t type, “We got the batteries” somewhere and then all of the moonshots that we killed because of batteries would like naturally drop out of our database. It’s not that organized. But we do internal post-mortems on these things so that we can learn.

    One of the other reasons that we write up these little case-studies every time we kill a project, especially for the more advanced projects that we kill, is because we want to ask the question, “Okay, nobody is a bad person for not having succeeded here, but now that we know that this project should’ve been turned off, because we turned it off, how could we’ve gotten to this answer faster?” Hindsight is always 20/20, but we could still ask the question, and sometimes the answer is, you know, we played that about as well as it could be played, and there are other times where we say, “Yeah, that was kind of a mistake on our part, we could’ve looked at this thing where the Achilles’ heel was early on and we didn’t.” And maybe that’s because we didn’t have the expertise in house, but that’s not a good reason for not looking at, we should have hired a consultant and gotten that done faster.

    Spectrum: How many entries do you have in this database?

    Teller: I don’t know how many are in there, but I’m sure there are at least a hundred. The ones that are in the database are the ones that have received hundreds to thousands of person-hours. The ideas that don’t last very long don’t get put in there, but some of them are wonderful ideas.
    For example, a few years ago someone asked, “I wonder if we could harvest the power in an avalanche.” I remember sitting around and we did some calculations about the total kinetic energy you could get from a medium-sized avalanche, how many avalanches a year were there, and if you had an idealized piece of equipment that you could somehow magically teleport from one place to another so it was always at the bottom of some avalanche that was happening—so what is like the best case scenario for this, and it just wasn’t big enough. We killed that idea in half an hour. And that was an intellectually stimulating half an hour, and I think that that was a gorgeous question that was asked. There’s no shame in most of the questions being wrong. You don’t really know which are genius and which are crazy until after you dig in.

    Someone else, a year or two later, asked if could we put a ring of copper around the North Pole and have the Earth’s magnetic flux generate current in the copper coil. Now, how much would that copper cost, and how much would it cost to lay that coil? And then where is the place we could actually pull it down to, and how much heat would be lost along the way, and then, okay, what if we made the copper cross section bigger so that the resistance is lower so it loses less heat? Oh well, that’s a lot of copper all of a sudden. No, you can’t close the circle—pun intended—there. That one also probably died in half an hour.
     
  4. Sergey’s Batcave

    Spectrum: I’d like to talk about how X has evolved since it was formed six years ago and overseen by Sergey Brin. Back in 2013 you described X as “Sergey’s Batcave,” and you said he was Bruce Wayne and you were Lucius Fox…

...MUCH MORE

In Which FT Alphaville's Bryce Elder Shreds Former Big Wheel Hedgefunder Crispen Odey

Mr. Odey's name has come up in private conversations a few times in these parts, usually in reference to his massive bet on gold in the run-up to the Nov. 8 U.S. Election:
Down another $11.90 today, $1160.50 last and just over $110 above the $1049 multi-year low touched last December.

From FT Alphaville's Markets Live post, 9Dec16:
...BE And just for a change we're going for a man in a suit.
BE The urbane Mr Odey. He of the £150,000 chicken coop ....

BE... and the Chicken-licken trading strategy.

BE (Bloomberg) -- Crispin Odey’s flagship hedge fund lost 9 percent in November, according to a note to investors seen by Bloomberg, meaning the billionaire money manager is on course to record his worst year since starting the fund more than twodecades ago.The decline in the Odey European Inc. fund brings the total drop this year to almost 48 percent, more than the 43 percent itlost in 1994. A spokesman for the London-based hedge fund firm did not reply to an e-mail seeking comment.
BE Here's what that performance looks like in a picture.
BE Okay, but anyone can have a bad year right? Benchmarks are there to be underperformed sometimes.
BE One has to take a longer term view.

BE Such as the three year ...
BE
BE Okay, how about five year?...
...MUCH MORE

See also:
Nov. 3
Follow-Up: "Odey Hedge-Fund Assets Dip 60% as Clients Shun ‘Bitter Pill’"
Nov. 2  
The Stress May Be Getting To Hedgie Crispin Odey--UPDATED
Oct.4 ZeroHedge
For Crispin Odey This Is The Endgame: Hedge Fund Billionaire Goes All In Betting On "Violent Unwind" Of QE Bubble
Sept. 16 
Crispin Odey Is Getting Crushed
Aug. 13 Zerohedge
Billionaire Crispin Odey, Who's Had A Pretty Terrible Year, Is Betting Everything On Gold
May 23 
Hedge Funder Crispen Odey Has Become a Parody of.....Crispen Odey

"Why Odds May Be Fading For a Near-Term U.S. Recession"

From Real Time Economics:

As recently as this summer, the outlook for the U.S. economy was looking a little hairy.
The jobs report released in June originally showed the economy added just 38,000 jobs that month. Worries about China’s economy were on the rise. Many feared that a vote for Brexit could lead to immediate recession, even before the U.K. formally began the process of exiting the European Union. By July, the odds that economists placed on a recession in the next 12 months had risen to 22%, more than double what the risk had been a year before.

But the odds are gradually declining, having dropped to 17% in The Wall Street Journal’s latest monthly survey. That’s still about one-in-six odds over the next year, which is somewhat higher than we’ve seen in recent years. But it’s accurate to say that many economists are slowly lowering their warning flags.

The Wall Street Journal surveyed 62 economists from Dec. 2 to Dec. 6. The participants in the survey are a group of business, academic and financial economists who produce professional forecasts of key U.S. economic indicators.

A range of factors are behind the tentative shift.

First, many economists are marking up their forecasts on signs that President-elect Donald J. Trump wants to pursue substantial tax cuts and infrastructure spending early in his administration, policies that would tend to boost consumption and employment, at least initially.

“The economy is building a head of steam in anticipation of tax cuts, a pickup in federal spending, and fewer regulations,” said Bernard Baumohl, chief economist of the Economic Outlook Group.

If the economy were already operating at full speed, these policies might overdo it and lead just to higher interest rates and inflation. Indeed, economists are now forecasting higher rates and inflation than they were before the election. But many share the assessment that inflation, in particular, has been too low in recent years, and that somewhat higher inflation would be a welcome development.
Second, at least for now, the stock market is still providing a lift. The S&P 500 is up 7% since the end of October, and more than 24% over the past three years. In general, a buoyant market is a source of confidence and comfort for both professional investors and those checking the balances of their 401(k)s. Typically, the wealth effect of rising stock prices provides some lift to consumption and should provide some pep for the economy....MORE

Ad Agency Giant, WPP, Tells Us Who Gets The Advertising Money Next Year

From MediaPost Agency Daily:

Sorrell: Facebook May Be WPP's No. 2 Supplier Next Year
Facebook may have issues with measurement, but they don’t appear to be hampering the social media giant’s advertising growth. WPP CEO Martin Sorrell told a gathering at the UBS conference in New York today that Facebook may become the holding company’s second biggest media supplier next year behind Google.

This year, Sorrell told the UBS Conference crowd, WPP will spend some $5.5 billion on Google on behalf of its clients -- up from $4 billion a year ago. The holding company will spend about $1.75 billion with Facebook this year, making it the third-largest media supplier for the ad giant in 2016. Sandwiched in between at the number two spot collectively are the Murdoch-controlled properties including News Corp. and Twenty-First Century Fox.

“The power of search is phenomenal,” Sorrell said, referring to Google, which along with Facebook accounts for about 75% of digital spending.

That’s a lot of media power concentrated in just two entities, Sorrell said. “We do need a third force,” he added, suggesting that Snapchat -- which recently filed an IPO with projected revenues of $1 billion next year -- is a potential candidate. WPP spent $70 million with Snapchat this year.
Sorrell also suggested that “traditional media” could benefit itself and the industry by putting together a “third force” to bolster its own digital position and serve as a counterweight to Google and Facebook.

As to the ad economy generally, Sorrell said the outlook for 2017 is similar to 2016, with both GDP and advertising expected to grow a middling 3%-plus. “Everything is not wonderful,” he said. With low GDP, low inflation and therefore little pricing power, marketers remain focused on costs....MORE

The Site Behind the Washington Post's 'Fake News' Hit Piece Appears To Be Ukrainian

And just to be clear, when I called some of the WaPo folks a bunch of 'Bozos', that was just a typo.
I meant 'Bezos', they're a bunch of Bezos.
Yeah, that's the ticket.

From Naked Capitalism:

Site Behind Washington Post’s McCarthyite Blacklist Appears To Be Linked to Ukrainian Fascists and CIA Spies
Last month, the Washington Post gave a glowing front-page boost to an anonymous online blacklist of hundreds of American websites, from marginal conspiracy sites to flagship libertarian and progressive publications. As Max Blumenthal reported for AlterNet, the anonymous website argued that all of them should be investigated by the federal government and potentially prosecuted under the Espionage Act as Russian spies, for wittingly or unwittingly spreading Russian propaganda.

My own satirical newspaper was raided and closed down by the Kremlin in 2008, on charges of “extremism”—akin to terrorism—which I took seriously enough to leave for home for good. What the Washington Post did in boosting an anonymous blacklist of American journalists accused of criminal treason is one of the sleaziest, and most disturbing (in a very familiar Kremlin way) things I’ve seen in this country since I fled for home. The WaPo is essentially an arm of the American deep state; its owner, Jeff Bezos, is one of the three richest Americans, worth $67 billion, and his cash cow, Amazon, is a major contractor with the Central Intelligence Agency. In other words, this is as close to an official US government blacklist of journalists as we’ve seen—a dark ominous warning before they take the next steps.

It’s now been a few days, and the shock and disgust is turning to questions about how to fight back—and who we should be fighting against. Who were the Washington Post’s sources for their journalism blacklist?

Smearing a progressive journalism icon
The WaPo smear was authored by tech reporter Craig Timberg, a former national security editor who displayed embarrassing deference to the head of the world’s largest private surveillance operation, billionaire Eric Schmidt—in contrast to his treatment of his journalism colleagues. There’s little in Timberg’s history to suggest he’d lead one of the ugliest public smears of his colleagues in decades. Timberg’s father, a successful mainstream journalist who recently died, wrote hagiographies on his Naval Academy comrades including John McCain, the Senate’s leading Russophobic hawk, and three Iran-Contra conspirators—Oliver North, John Poindexter, and Robert McFarlane, whose crimes Timberg blames on their love of country and sacrifices in Vietnam.

WaPo’s key source was an anonymous online group calling itself PropOrNot (i.e., “Propaganda Or Not”). It was here that the blacklist of American journalists allegedly working with the Kremlin was posted. The Washington Post cited PropOrNot as a credible source, and granted them the right to anonymously accuse major American news outlets of treason, recommending that the government investigate and prosecute them under the Espionage Act for spreading Russian propaganda.

Featured alongside those anonymously accused of treason by PropOrNot, among a long list of marginal conspiracy sites and major news hubs, is Truthdig. This news and opinion site was co-founded by Zuade Kaufman and the veteran journalist Robert Scheer, who is a professor of USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and former columnist for the LA Times. It would not be the first time Scheer has come under attack from dark forces. In the mid-late 1960s, Scheer made his fame as editor and reporter for Ramparts, the fearless investigative magazine that changed American journalism. One of the biggest bombshell stories that Scheer’s magazine exposed was the CIA’s covert funding of the National Student Association, then America’s largest college student organization, which had chapters on 400 campuses and a major presence internationally.

The CIA was not pleased with Scheer’s magazine’s work, and shortly afterwards launched a top-secret and illegal domestic spying campaign against Scheer and Ramparts, believing that they must be a Russian Communist front. A secret team of CIA operatives—kept secret even from the rest of Langley, the operation was so blatantly illegal—spied on Scheer and his Ramparts colleagues, dug through Ramparts’ funders lives and harassed some of them into ditching the magazine, but in all of that they couldn’t find a single piece of evidence linking Scheer’s magazine to Kremlin agents. This secret illegal CIA investigation into Scheer’s magazine expanded its domestic spying project, code-named MH-CHAOS, that grew into a monster targeting hundreds of thousands of Americans, only to be exposed by Seymour Hersh in late 1974, leading to the creation of the Church Committee hearings and calls by Congress for the abolition of the Central Intelligence Agency.

It’s one of the dark ugly ironies that 50 years later, Scheer has been anonymously accused of working for Russian spies, only this time the accusers have the full cooperation of the Washington Post’s front page.

PropOrNot’s Ukrainian fascist salute
Still the question lingers: Who is behind PropOrNot? Who are they? We may have to await the defamation lawsuits that are almost certainly coming from those smeared by the Post and by PropOrNot. Their description sounds like the “About” tab on any number of Washington front groups that journalists and researchers are used to coming across:
“PropOrNot is an independent team of concerned American citizens with a wide range of backgrounds and expertise, including professional experience in computer science, statistics, public policy, and national security affairs.”
The only specific clues given were an admission that at least one of its members with access to its Twitter handle is “Ukrainian-American”. They had given this away in a handful of early Ukrainian-language tweets, parroting Ukrainian ultranationalist slogans, before the group was known....MORE

If interested see also:
"Media That Focus on Scandals and Spread Fake News to Smear Politicians Risk Becoming Like People Who Have a Morbid Fascination with Excrement"--Pope Francis
Washington Post Says Their Fake News Story May Be Fake News
'Fake News' Site Threatens Washington Post With Real Lawsuit
BOMBSHELL: Prince Was Secretly Married, Died To Protect CIA Connection !!!
Rolling Stone Slams Washington Post Over Fake News Story
File under: 2016
We made mention of the slime on Naked Capitalism in last weekend's "Why the FT's Izabella Kaminska Won't Be Invited to the Andreessen-Horowitz Christmas Party, Redux".
NC is now raising funds to lawyer-up, see their Nov. 29 post "We’re Under Attack" if interested.. 

Facebook's Investors Criticize Marc Andreessen for Conflict of Interest

From Bloomberg:

In a lawsuit, shareholders say Andreessen was advising Facebook's CEO when he was supposed to be representing investors.
Earlier this year, Facebook Inc.'s Mark Zuckerberg came to his shareholders with a big question: would they approve him maintaining voting control of the company, even if he sells most of his stock?

The monumental shift would benefit Zuckerberg because it would let him sell shares to fund philanthropy, but it had the potential to harm investors by diluting their power over decision making. And before putting the vote to shareholders, Facebook's board had the power to influence the outcome.

But the board's process was flawed, according to investor lawsuits filed against Facebook's directors in April and recently unsealed court filings in Delaware's Chancery Court. The company went through the motions of protecting minority shareholders, but one board member seemed more interested in protecting Zuckerberg himself, investors allege.

Zuckerberg has voting control among shareholders because his stock has most of the voting rights. He wanted to sell shares, but didn't want to lose his majority voting status. So he proposed setting up a new Facebook stock class. The new shares would automatically dilute the voting power of existing shareholders, because every share with voting power will split into three shares -- one that has power, and two that don't. In the new arrangement, the non-voting shares are less attractive as currency in acquisitions and may make it harder for the largest social-network provider to get tax benefits, among other issues.

The question was put to a vote by shareholders, but there was never any doubt about the result. Since Zuckerberg has majority voting control of the company, what he favors wins the day. Zuckerberg's proposal won the vote, and he got his way: He can sell his stock and maintain voting control. The shareholders approved the creation of a new stock class. The only entity that had any power to affect the outcome was Facebook’s board, which had already weighed the issue months earlier, in his favor.

In August 2015, with the chief executive's blessing, Facebook's board set up a special committee, choosing the three directors who were least beholden to Zuckerberg or financially affected by the decision -- Susan Desmond-Hellmann, Marc Andreessen and Erskine Bowles -- to represent shareholders while weighing the matter, according to a regulatory filing.

But Andreessen, a venture capitalist at Andreessen Horowitz and a long-time Facebook board member, is a close Zuckerberg ally. While on the committee, Andreessen slipped Zuckerberg information about their progress and concerns, helping Zuckerberg negotiate against them, according to court documents. The documents include the transcripts of private texts between the two men, revealing the inner workings of the board of directors at a pivotal time for Facebook.  

When the time came for the committee to ask Zuckerberg questions on a conference call, Andreessen warned the Facebook founder about what he would be asked before directors posed the questions. 

While the committee grilled Zuckerberg about why he wanted a special class of stock, Andreessen sent the CEO text messages to explain which of his arguments weren't working and why, according to messages quoted in court filings. During one March 4 call, Andreessen gave Zuckerberg live updates, both negative ("This line of argument is not helping. ☺") and positive ("NOW WE'RE COOKING WITH GAS"), according to texts provided by Facebook’s lawyers and cited in court filings....MORE

Currencies: "Euro Chopped Lower before Stabilizing"

The euro is trading fractionally down against the dollar, 1.0579 last. It appears to be setting a (rough) triple bottom:
From Marc to Market:
The euro has stabilized after extending yesterday's ECB-driven losses. The euro's drop yesterday was the largest since the UK referendum to leave the EU. Ahead of the weekend, there may be some room for additional corrective upticks, but they will likely be limited, with the $1.0650 area offering initial resistance.  In the larger picture, this week's range, roughly $1.05 to $1.0850 likely will confine the price action for the remainder of the month, though of course, thin holiday markets (after FOMC next week) could make for erratic price action. 

The German two-year yield is a few basis points from the record low seen in late November.  The US premium is at the high for the week and less than two basis points below the extreme in 16 years.  Next week, the FOMC meets, and while a rate hike has been discounted, growth and inflation forecasts may be lifted.  The recent Wall Street Journal survey of economists found the majority expected three hikes next year. 

Investors continued to digest the ECB's announcements yesterday.   Following the Federal Reserve, tapering is meant to imply a slowing of purchases toward an ending of them.  What the ECB announced yesterday was most definitely not that.  In fact, the asset purchases seem to be quite open-ended.  Consider that the staff forecast of 1.7% for 2019 inflation was rejected by Draghi is insufficient to discharge the ECB's duty.    Draghi repeatedly and vociferously denied the ECB was tapering.  

The reduction of the monthly purchases could reflect at least two forces.  First, it could have been a small price to get some of the creditors, like Germany, to go along.  This is desirable even if not necessary.  It does not give up much.  In fact, the ECB will buy 540 bln euro of bonds instead of the 480 bln the market had expected (9*60>6*80).  By the end of next year, the ECB's balance sheet will be about 40% of GDP.  Second, by reducing the amount, the ECB could help alleviate some shortage pressure.  

Long rates rose in Europe yesterday and are higher today.  Some are arguing that buying 20 bln less a month is a material force. At the same time, the rules were adjusted that allowed the ECB to buy bonds with yields lower than the deposit rate.  That means that the short-end of the curves may find a better bid. Today, two-year peripheral yields are lower while rates in the core are slightly firmer.   ...MORE

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Perfect Gift For The Analyst, Economist or Fund Manager In Your Life

Get the black one!
From Curbed:

This swan ladle and tilting wine holder will never fall down
Are tilting, perpetually upright objects having a moment? Probably not. But if this ingenious swan ladle, or this less-cool but still kind of interesting wine bottle holder is any indication, then there just may be enough to make a trend out of it. 

Swanky is a swan-shaped ladle that floats upright in a pot of soup, or balances on a table top. Designed by Tel Aviv-based studio Ototo Design, it is meant to be both functional, whimsical, and, of course, a conversation-starting objet. Available in black, white, or pink BPA-free plastic and steel, Swanky, currently raising funds on Kickstarter, will cost around $17. Ototo is also behind Nessie, a ladle shaped like—you guessed it— the Loch Ness monster. 

Now for something a little bit classier...MORE

"Media That Focus on Scandals and Spread Fake News to Smear Politicians Risk Becoming Like People Who Have a Morbid Fascination with Excrement"--Pope Francis

Jeez, and here I thought I was being harsh when I referred to some of the WaPo crew as a bunch of Bozos.*
From the New York Post:

Pope Francis says spreading fake news is a sin
Media that focus on scandals and spread fake news to smear politicians risk becoming like people who have a morbid fascination with excrement, Pope Francis said in an interview published on Wednesday.

Francis told the Belgian Catholic weekly Tertio that spreading disinformation was “probably the greatest damage that the media can do” and using communications for this rather than to educate the public amounted to a sin.

Using precise psychological terms, he said scandal-mongering media risked falling prey to coprophilia, or arousal from excrement, and consumers of these media risked coprophagia, or eating excrement....MORE
*Washington Post Says Their Fake News Story May Be Fake News

This appears to be the first time the word coprophilia has appeared on the blog.

We have a few references to coprolalia, literally "talking shit" but connotated as any potty-mouthedness, particularly that associated with Tourette's syndrome.

No coprophagia either although I did once use the vernacular with the rhetorical flourish 'and die' appended to it.

Commodities: "Marijuana Bubble Worries Grow in Canada After Two-Year Rally"

From Bloomberg:

  • Country seen as pure-play market as capital floods in
  • On track to become first in G7 to make recreational use legal
The surge of capital into Canada’s nascent marijuana industry has sent stock prices soaring -- and brought warnings it’s a bubble that could soon burst.

The value of 26 marijuana stocks listed in Canada has swelled to almost C$4 billion ($3 billion) from close to nothing in the past two years, as investors rushed to bet on the country’s move toward legalizing recreational use. Canopy Growth Corp. became the first marijuana unicorn, reaching a valuation of C$1.24 billion on Wednesday. Other producers, including OrganiGram Holdings Inc. and Aurora Cannabis Inc., saw their share prices surge more than 250 percent this year.

While investor optimism is being fueled by analysts’ estimates that there could be about 3.8 million recreational marijuana users in Canada by 2021 and billions in sales, there’s mounting concern companies are overvalued. How Canada will regulate, tax or distribute the products, remains unknown and some of the publicly traded companies have yet to make a sale.

“Oh, they’re going to pop,” Nick Brusatore, the largest shareholder of Affinor Growers Inc., said by phone. Once a mining company, the Vancouver-based firm now develops greenhouse technology for crops, including cannabis. “It’s going to pop hard.”

‘Serious Bubble’...
...MORE

Previously in pot:
Marijuana Finance
America’s Economy Will Be Saved With Marijuana And Craft Beer
"The Weed Funding Bubble"
Junior Gold Miners Consider Cashing Out, Pursuing Medicinal Marijuana Opportunities
"Peter Thiel's Founders Fund becomes first institutional investor in marijuana" 
Frontrun the Dopers: "These 4 States Will Reform Their Marijuana Laws in 2013"
"Is Monsanto Ready to Enter The Medical Marijuana War?" (MON) 
In the Wake of Colorado and Washington State Legalization, Time to Think About Pot-enomics
Here Comes Crop Insurance For Your Dope
The Audacity of Dope: "Oakland ready to approve four marijuana factories"
6% of all power produced by BC Hydro is used to grow marijuana.
If Farm Investing Conference Agenda Is Any Indication, Marijuana Prices Are Going to Zero
Bread and Circuses: Chicago City Council Votes to Decriminalize Marijuana, 43-2 
"The Coming Age of Corporate Cannabis"
"Hedge Fund Managers Smoking Out Opportunities In Emerging Market Of Legalized Weed "
As soon as one 'Uber for weed' startup gets cut down, another grows in its place 
"The Geography of Pot Prices"
The Marijuana/Solar/Wine Connection 
Attention Homeless Dopers: New Berkeley Ordinance Requires Dispensaries to Hand Out Freebies
Considering the co-morbidity of schizophrenia and pot use, and schizophrenia and homelessness, this is probably a good idea.
For Berkeley
.

And many more. Use the search blog box if interested.

Shipping: Oil Tankers Not Bringing Home the Earnings

From Bloomberg via gCaptain:

Oil Tanker Market Heads for Worst Year Since ’13 on OPEC Cut
Oil-hauling supertankers are bracing for the worst earnings year since 2013 as they become collateral damage in OPEC’s quest to trim a global glut of crude.

So-called very large crude carriers, 1,200-foot vessels each hauling 2 million barrels, will earn an average of $25,000 a day next year, according to the median of eight shipping analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. That’s 12 percent lower than they were anticipating before the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries took a decision on Nov. 30 to cut collective output by enough to fill four ships a week. 
“This can lead us back to the market in 2013,” said Frode Morkedal, an analyst at Clarksons Platou Securities, the investment banking unit of the world’s largest ship broker. If OPEC carries out its planned cuts of 1.2 million barrels a day, “rates will crash because it will lead to higher oil prices, lower demand and less trade.”

The tanker market’s worsening prospects are just one of the knock-on effects after OPEC’s agreement, which is supposed to start in January and last for an initial six months. The accord caused a surge in oil prices, making life more expensive for anyone who buys or transports fuel — including American motorists, Indian refiners, airlines and shippers. It’s also likely to give a boost to U.S. shale-region producers and to deter some traders from storing oil at sea....MORE

Winton Capital’s Harding: "I admire Buffett the most but he wouldn’t approve of what we do"

Following up on Saturday's excellent Financial Times piece "Winton Capital’s David Harding on making millions through maths".

From CNBC:
Warren Buffett is one of the investors he admires the most but David Harding says the investing giant would not approve of what his $30 billion hedge fund Winton Group does.

"The three investors I admire the most and rather simplistically the three most successful ones - Warren Buffett, George Soros and James Simons," Harding told CNBC at the opening of the Winton Gallery at London's Science Museum.

"James Simons is the greatest mathematical scientific investor in the world…The sage of Omaha is obviously the wisest philosopher and demonstrates the link between success, wealth, philosophy and wisdom," the founder of Winton claimed when pressed on the reasons behind his selection.

"George Soros is a great political economist and statesman and deep thinker about the state of the world so I respect all three of them very much," he offered....MORE

Washington Post Says Their Fake News Story May Be Fake News

Bunch of Bozos.
And they wonder why people don't trust the media:

https://www.ipsos-mori.com/Assets/Images/Polls/ipsos-mori-veracity-index-2016_lightbox.jpg

Journos are trusted less than estate agents and far less than Sting and the Police.
The poll was British adults but the ranking would be similar in the U.S.
De do do do, de da da da

From ZeroHedge:
In the latest example why the "mainstream media" is facing a historic crisis of confidence among its readership, facing unprecedented blowback following Craig Timberg November 24 Washington Post story "Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say", on Wednesday a lengthy editor's note appeared on top of the original article in which the editor not only distances the WaPo from the "experts" quoted in the original article whose "work" served as the basis for the entire article (and which became the most read WaPo story the day it was published) but also admits the Post could not "vouch for the validity of PropOrNot's finding regarding any individual media outlet", in effect admitting the entire story may have been, drumroll "fake news" and conceding the Bezos-owned publication may have engaged in defamation by smearing numerous websites - Zero Hedge included - with patently false and unsubstantiated allegations.

It was the closest the Washington Post would come to formally retracting the story, which has now been thoroughly discredited not only by outside commentators, but by its own editor.
The apended note in question:
Editor’s Note: The Washington Post on Nov. 24 published a story on the work of four sets of researchers who have examined what they say are Russian propaganda efforts to undermine American democracy and interests. One of them was PropOrNot, a group that insists on public anonymity, which issued a report identifying more than 200 websites that, in its view, wittingly or unwittingly published or echoed Russian propaganda. A number of those sites have objected to being included on PropOrNot’s list, and some of the sites, as well as others not on the list, have publicly challenged the group’s methodology and conclusions. The Post, which did not name any of the sites, does not itself vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings regarding any individual media outlet, nor did the article purport to do so. Since publication of The Post’s story, PropOrNot has removed some sites from its list.
As The Washingtonian notes, the implicit concession follows intense and rising criticism of the article over the past two weeks. It was “rife with obviously reckless and unproven allegations,” Intercept reporters Glenn Greenwald and Ben Norton wrote, noting that PropOrNot, one of the groups whose research was cited in Timberg’s piece, “anonymous cowards.”...MORE
...Poets priests and politicians
Have words to thank for their positions
Words that scream for your submission
And no-one's jamming their transmission

'Cause when their eloquence escapes you
Their logic ties you up and rapes you

De do do do de da da da
Is all I want to say to you...

European Central Bank Extends Asset Purchase Program For Six Months

From Marc to Market:


The ECB announced it would extended its asset purchases from April through December next year, but at a modestly slower pace of 60 bln euros rather than 80 bln euros.   

We had been expected a six-month extension but without tapering.  This would have added 480 bln euros and instead what the ECB will buy is 540 bln euros.  The ECB will also expand the range of maturities it buys, and will allow the purchases of instruments yielding less than the minus 40 bp deposit rate.   

The end date remains soft in the sense that asset purchases will continue until the Governing Council sees substantial adjustment in inflation toward the central bank's target. The staff forecasts warn of risks of a further extension of the bond buying.  In its new forecasts that go out until 2019, the staff does not see inflation above 1.7%.  In fact. forecasts  2017 inflation at 1.3% from September's 1.2%.  Inflation in 2018 is now expected to be 1.5% instead of 1.6%.   Draghi was clear on this point:  The 2019 staff forecast "isn't really meeting the goal."...MORE
The euro sure looks as though it's going under par in 2017, 1.0661 last:
 

Foreign Exchange 2016: Stuff Happened

From FT Alphaville:
Just some FX charts from HSBC’s David Bloom.
Consider them one way to look back at 2016 and sigh… happily that it’s almost over:
Screen Shot 2016-12-08 at 17.47.41
...MORE