Sunday, November 30, 2014

Weekly Crude Oil, Dollar and Gold Market Summary for Week Ending Friday November 28th

Crude oil futures in the January contract are down $6 a barrel as OPEC announced on Thanksgiving that they will not cut production as the trade was expecting 1 million barrels to be cut sending prices to a 5 year low with the next major level of support all the way back to May 24th of the year 2010 at 67.15 and I still do believe with OPEC and Saudi Arabia definitely wanting lower prices that they will get their wish as prices remain bearish in my opinion. Crude oil futures are trading far below their 20 and 100 day moving average telling you that trend is lower and if you’re still short this market I would place my stop loss above the 10 day high which currently stands at 77.83 which is around 1000 points or $10,000 risk per contract plus slippage and commission as the chart structure now has turned terrible. The chart structure before today’s activity was very solid as the 10 day high was very close to where prices were trading, however when you move $5 lower in one day that’s what’s going to happen. If you’re not short this market I would sit on the sidelines because I think the risk is too high but definitely do not try and pick a bottom because who knows how low prices can actually go. The U.S dollar continues its bullish momentum up another 60 points today also contributing to a weaker energy market as the world is awash with energy supplies at the current time and you have to remember in 2008 prices traded around $35 a barrel and that was with a weak U.S dollar so prices still can head lower.
Trend: Lower
Chart Structure: Terrible

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The U.S dollar is rallying sharply this Friday afternoon currently trading at 88.42 in the December contract as I’ve been recommending a bullish position in the U.S dollar while placing your stop loss below the 10 day low which currently stands at 87.23 risking around $1,200 dollars plus commission and slippage per contract as the chart structure is outstanding at the current time. The U.S dollar is trading above its 20 & 100 day moving average telling you that the trend is to the upside as crude oil prices are down nearly $5 which is really putting pressure on several of the foreign currencies such as the Canadian dollar which is down 150 points and I still do believe we’re in a longer-term secular bull market in the U.S dollar. The European countries look to head into recession as the trend is your friend in the commodity markets so continue to play this to the upside while placing the proper stop loss while using the proper amount of contracts risking only 2% of your account balance on any given trade in case you are wrong. The strong U.S dollar is pressuring many commodity prices to the downside as the next major resistance is at 88.51 which was the most recent high hit last week and I do think prices will continue to move higher as investors feel much safer buying the U.S dollar than buying any other currency which are all seemingly in turmoil at the current time.
Trend: Higher
Chart Structure: Excellent

Investors 7 Year Financial Outlook....Take a Look at a Clear Visual of 7 Year cycle Highs and Lows

Gold futures this Friday afternoon after the Thanksgiving holiday are sharply lower due to the fact that crude oil prices are down nearly $5 also pressuring the precious metals to the downside as gold in the February contract is currently trading down $29 at 1,167 after settling last Friday at 1,198 as I still remain neutral in this market as prices are trading above their 20 day but still below their 100 day moving average so avoid this market at the current time. In my opinion choppy markets are difficult to trade as the longer term downtrend line in gold is still intact in my opinion as a strong U.S dollar and S&P 500 continue to take money out of gold as the money flow continues to go into those 2 sectors as I still think there’s a possible retest of 1,130 in the month of December and if you remember in 2013 December was also a negative month to the downside as the stock market in my opinion will continue to climb higher throughout the rest of the year. The chart structure in gold is poor at the current time as prices have been choppy in recent weeks so look for a better market to trade and keep an eye on this and hopefully better chart structure will develop over the course of the next several weeks but I’m feeling that we will not be involved in the gold market until at least early 2015.
Trend: Mixed
Chart Structure: Poor

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Friday, November 28, 2014

How Does Your Game Plan for Crude Oil and Commodities Stack Up Against This

Our trading partner John Carter sent us this reminder this week. It addresses what's really on the table in the coming months and what you are going to miss out on if you don't take a few minutes and take advantage of what he has to say........Here's what John is saying.

With the markets closed I wanted to take the time to write you this important message. As you may know I've been a full time trader for the last 15 years.

A few years ago I founded Simpler Options to post my options trading ideas. In a short time it has become one of the largest and most recognized options research companies in the world. We serve over 100,000 subscribers in over 100 countries.

You may know about a few of my big trades. 

I caught the big move in oil last year:


I traded Tesla earlier this year to the tune of $1 million in one day:


But that's not why I'm emailing you. 

I reference the success and experience with trading only because there is an even bigger trading opportunity lurking. A once a decade shift in the market that will result in the next great wealth creation - for those that know about it.

What I am going to say you will not read anywhere else.  It flies in the face of every newsletter out there I know about.  In fact, I've already received dozens of hate mail. But just remember.....

Only a few people believed me last year when I said oil would go from $90 to $110 in just a few months. One person that believed me was billionaire Richard Branson.  I help him with Virgin Airlines hedge their oil:


Only a few people believed me about Tesla.

But, when the big trade happened the traders who had prepared themselves followed me into the trade. One of our clients made $250,000 on that one trade. And that brings us to today......

Big opportunities always disguise themselves in different clothes.  Not everyone can recognize the opportunity.  That is why other services are still speaking about doom and gloom.  This is not 2008 anymore. 

The fact is markets go through cycles.  There are major cycles and minor cycles. The market is at a crossroad between the end of a major bear market cycle since 2000.  And, the end of a minor bull market cycle since 2009.  

I'll explain the driver of this crossroad.  As for me, I am more certain about this once in a decade shift than I've been about anything else in my life. 

The Great American Revival

In short, I believe that Americans are about to see a major shift in the value of the dollar. We have gotten a glimpse of this since the summer.  The US dollar index went from 79.74 to as high as 88.44.  That is a huge move.  In the previous 2 years - 2012 & 2013 - the dollar moved only half as much. 

The dollar index impacts everything.

The commodity markets like gold, silver, and oil.  

The treasury markets.  

The stock markets around the world. 

They all rely on the U.S. Dollar. 

The dollar index impacts the price of gas at the pump.  Have you been noticing gas prices going down? Doesn't the extra 20 bucks you save at the pump feel good? In spite of the global economic crisis the dollar remains the world's reserve currency.

The bank of Japan is still printing money faster than any other country in the world.  Yet they are on the verge of another recession. The EU has rates at 0% and are speaking about ramping up the printing press.  China announced a surprise rate cut days ago! 

Meanwhile, the US Federal Reserve has been tightening the printing press. They are also talking of rate hikes next year. The exact opposite of what the next 3 largest economies in the world are doing!

The rise of the dollar and the opportunity is at its infancy.  In 2015 you can set you and your family up to be the recipient of the wealth shift.  Millions of people around the world will not see this coming and fall behind. The impact this will have is wide reaching.  It will impact every market around the globe.  I want to share with you the best way to maximize this opportunity.  

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs).

The world's smartest investor knows about the power of ETFs.  Warren recently advised his heirs, "Put my estate in index funds."

ETFs allow you to buy or short almost any stock market in the world.  You can buy or short any commodity or precious metal. Want to play the downside in your retirement account?  You can buy an ETF that shorts a market in a retirement account.  

So how can you begin creating wealth right away?

This Saturday I'll be teaching a timely class on trading Options on ETFs called the Wealth Creator.
($997 Value)

In this class I'll share:

* Why I believe the dollar will continue to rise.

* What ETFs to watch and buy in the following year.

* The easiest way to profit from the rise in the dollar. 

* How to time this event so whether you're a short or long term trader you can profit. 

Also, there are 3 full mentorship days of live trading and teaching the following week.  The importance of these 3 days are too many to count.

Last month we did a sold out mentorship in Las Vegas where attendees paid $5,000. 

The Wealth Creator class and mentorship will sell out on its own. But, this is such a critical time in the market I don't want anyone to miss this opportunity in 2015.

So I decided to put together a special bonus package for anyone that buys the Wealth Creator class and mentorship. 

I'm going to give you access to:

Bonus #1: My Plan or Get Slaughtered training class. 
($997 Value)

On December 31st join me for an all day trading and planning session. 

The old saying, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail" is never more true in trading.

During this class:

* Concentrate on creating a viable trading plan for 2015

* Design a plan that can achieve your objectives

* Create crystal clear trading rules for you to follow in 2015

* Set concrete action steps to drive your trading goals

Learn to do the critical thinking and planning to develop the best options strategies for your trading success

I did this on January 1st, 2014 and weeks later I had the $1 million trade in Tesla.  This year we will develop a trading plan for 2015 together. 

Bonus #2: Follow up Q & A webinar. 
($297 Value)

Early 2015 we will have a follow up class to review the markets and your trading plan.  You’ve had a chance to apply the strategies in the live markets so now is your chance to ask follow up questions. This is the time when I can update you on any new market forces that you need to be aware of so you can continue your trading success. 

Register here:


My commitment is to help as many investors as I can for the next great wealth shift.  I hope everyone takes advantage of this opportunity.  The reality is, the fewer the people the better. We have an amazing team of people here who have the same goal as I do.  

Since starting Simpler Options a few years ago, we have helped a lot of people become better traders. 

"I have never had an experience like this before. We have 3 small trading accounts totaling just over $100k (at least that was the case on Monday afternoon). Putting just a portion of that into play (following your rules), I've gained just over $30k in 3 days!"

"I have to say that I have over 7,000 reasons to be thankful for you guys putting on such a great program!"

"When I saw the advertisement for this training I told my wife I was going to spend the $997 to buy it. Well, I closed out the trade on INVN we did on Monday for a $1300 profit today.  Absolutely the best trade I have had since I started trading."

"My first thirty days, starting June 7th with $47,887.87 in my account. By July 3rd my account was $ 73,188.38 produced a nice impressive 52.83% return - Not to shabby. :-)"

Believe me, nothing makes me feel better than receiving notes like these.  It's my crack. But I have to tell you, right now, I am worried about a lot of our subscribers. We have many, many hard- working people who are going to get caught by surprise. You can either let things happen to you..... or you can take a few simple steps and take charge of your family's fate.

To get started, click on the link below:

Simpler Options "Wealth Creator".....Webinar Replay

We'll see you next week in the markets putting some of this to work,

Ray C. Parrish
aka the Crude Oil Trader


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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Using Stock Buybacks to Mask Deep Business Problems

By Tony Sagami


Stock buybacks are always a good thing… right? That’s what the mass media has trained investors to believe, but there are times when stock buybacks are a horrible strategy.

Let’s take a look at Herbalife, which has had very visible news items as billionaires like Carl Icahn, George Soros, Daniel Loeb, and Bill Ackman publicly debate the future of the company.



Herbalife shares have lost more than half their value in 2014 because of a Federal Trade Commission investigation and a big drop in profits. 50% is a huge haircut, but I believe Herbalife is poised for even more pain.

Rapidly Disappearing Profits


Herbalife recently reported its third-quarter results and they were just awful. Herbalife earned $0.13 per share in Q3, but that was a whopping 92% decline from the $1.32 it earned last year.

That’s awful, but Herbalife says business will be even worse going forward. The Wall Street crowd expected Herbalife to grow revenues by 7% in 2015, but the company said that its revenues will fall by -1% to -2% instead.

Part of that lower guidance is from the impact of the strong US dollar. Guidance for Q4 includes an unfavorable impact of $0.31 from currency conversions. If you remember, I previously wrote that the strong dollar was going to kill the 2015 profits of companies that do lots of business overseas.

I have to admit, I am skeptical of all the multilevel marketing businesses, but Herbalife is reinforcing that preconceived notion.

FTC and FBI Investigation


The Federal Trade Commission is investigating Herbalife for what could ultimately result in charges that Herbalife is operating an illegal pyramid scheme.

In March, the FTC sent Herbalife a civil investigative demand (CID), which is a subpoena on steroids because all the evidence produced by a CID can be used by other agencies in other investigations, such as the FBI, which is also investigating Herbalife.

The FTC outcome is unknown. Heck, Herbalife could eventually be declared innocent and pure… but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Board Members Gone Bad!


When your company is in the middle of FTC and FBI investigations, the last thing you want is for your company officers to get in trouble with the law. A current Herbalife board member, Pedro Cardoso, has been charged with illegal money laundering by Brazilian prosecutors. Time will tell if the charges are true… but it looks very bad.



That’s not the only problem with the Herbalife board of directors. Longtime Herbalife Board Member Leroy Barnes announced that he is leaving. Board members leave for legitimate reasons all the time, but Barnes is the fourth Herbalife board member to leave in 2014. Talk about rats jumping the ship!

The Smoke and Mirrors of Stock Buybacks


The above issues are all serious and enough to stay away from Herbalife, but the biggest red flag I see is the abusive financial engineering that Herbalife is using to prop up its stock.

Example: In Q2, Herbalife spent over $500 million to buy back its own stock for the purpose of propping up its earnings-per-share ratio. Fewer shares translates into higher earnings per share.



The root of the problem is that Herbalife is using up all its cash AND borrowing money like mad to finance the stock buyback.



In the last year, Herbalife’s debt has exploded by over $1 billion. Herbalife is using every penny of operating cash flow and taking on new debt just to buy back its stock.



Moreover, since Herbalife’s stock has plunged by 50% this year, Herbalife wasted hundreds of millions of dollar of shareholder money by buying stock at much higher prices.

And now that revenue, profits, and free cash flow generated by operations are shrinking, Herbalife is on a collision course with insolvency.



Carl Icahn, who is certainly a much better investor than I will ever be, is a big Herbalife fan and even went as far as to call the shares undervalued. “I would tell you I do believe Herbalife is quite undervalued and it is still a good business model.”

Ahhhh… Carl… sorry, but I think you couldn’t be more wrong.

George Soros, by the way, appears to agree with me because he reduced his Herbalife holdings by 60% after the company reported those disastrous third quarter results a few weeks ago. I’m not suggesting that you rush out and buy put options on Herbalife tomorrow morning. As always, timing is everything, but I have very little doubt that Herbalife’s stock will be significantly lower a year from now.

Moreover, the real point isn’t whether Herbalife is headed higher or lower, but that good, old fashioned fundamental research can help you make money in any type of market environment.

Even during bear markets.

30-year market expert Tony Sagami leads the Yield Shark and Rational Bear advisories at Mauldin Economics. To learn more about Yield Shark and how it helps you maximize dividend income, click here.

To learn more about Rational Bear and how you can use it to benefit from falling stocks and sectors, click here.



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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Debunking the Claim That Puerto Rico’s Tax Benefits Are “Hype” or “Too Good to Be True”

By Nick Giambruno

It was only a matter of time before it happened.

After releasing our groundbreaking free documentary America’s Tax-Free Zone, new and old misconceptions about Puerto Rico’s tax benefits have surfaced. Many of them had previously been debunked.

The purpose of today’s article is to drive a stake through the heart of these misconceptions and forever put them to rest. And there is really no better person on the planet to do that than David Nissman, a true authority on this topic.

David Nissman was appointed by former U.S. President George W. Bush to be the United States Attorney for the U.S. Virgin Islands. He regulated the tax incentive programs there—which have many similarities to the Puerto Rico incentives—for the US federal government during his tenure. He also has written a number of the economic development statutes in place today.

David has since left the dark side and now represents U.S. taxpayers in IRS audits concerning tax incentive programs in the U.S. Territories—like the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. His current and former experiences gives him unparalleled insight into the U.S. government’s thinking behind Puerto Rico’s tax incentives.

After reading this article, you should have no doubt that Puerto Rico’s tax incentives are not “hype” and not “too good to be true.” The fact is, they are 100% real and legal. And for those who obtain them, they are here to stay.

Puerto Rico’s tax incentives may allow you to totally eliminate all forms of taxation on capital gains, interest, and dividends and reduce your corporate income tax rate to just 4%. Americans can find similar benefits nowhere else in the world short of renouncing their citizenship. Much ink has been spilled on this already, so if you are new to Puerto Rico’s tax incentives see here to get all caught up.

David will also show that:
  • Puerto Rico’s tax incentives are not some fly by night thing. They fit into the economic development policy that has been supported by the U.S. federal government and both political parties for many decades.
  • It’s nearly impossible for either the U.S. or Puerto Rican governments to end the tax incentives for those who already have obtained them.
Now, we aren’t saying it is impossible that these tax incentives could go away for new participants. That is a possibility, but also not a very likely one. It is also an incentive to obtain your tax benefits from the Puerto Rican government (which come in the form of a legally binding contract) as soon as possible—because once you’ve received your contract giving you your tax benefits, it will be almost impossible for anyone to take them away from you prospectively or retroactively, no matter how hard some politicians will stomp their feet.

Even if the benefits were to somehow magically disappear after a couple of years, you could still reap enormous benefits from participating in them. My colleague Louis James remarked that even if the tax incentives last only for five years, he’d be able to pay for his condo with his tax savings.

And now without further ado, I’ll turn things over to David Nissman, who will put these misconceptions to bed for good.
Until next time,

By David Nissman

When the United States began its relationship with Puerto Rico and the other Territories in the Caribbean in 1898, they were poor and had been economically oppressed. The US government sought to help create financial independence with economic development policies. This was not wholly altruistic. If the Territories were not financially independent, they would be a burden on the federal government.

From the start in the early 20th century, the Territories’ use of incentives to develop their economies was challenged as unconstitutional in violation of Article 1, Section 8, which required that “all duties, imposts, and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.” The Supreme Court in a line of cases known as the Insular Cases used a line of deprecating and racially insensitive reasoning to accord all inhabitants of the Territories less than full constitutional rights. The less than satisfying trade-off in the outflow from the Insular Cases was that the Territories’ ability to use special tax laws to develop their economies was not restrained by Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.

This policy began in 1900 with the advent of the Foraker Act, which set up the first municipal government in Puerto Rico and permitted Puerto Rico to utilize special taxing measures. During the 114 years since the Foraker Act, Congress and the local governments in the US Territories have enacted many different programs to help the Territories raise revenues. President Herbert Hoover, visiting the Virgin Islands in 1931, was stunned at the poverty and declared:

“[W]e acquired an effective poorhouse, comprising 90 percent of the population. The people cannot be self-supporting either in living or government without discovery of new methods and resources. The purpose of the transfer of administration from the naval to a civil department is to see if we can develop some form of industry or agriculture which will relieve us of the present costs and liabilities in support of the population or the local government from the Federal Treasury or from private charity.... [H]aving assumed the responsibility, we must do our best to assist the inhabitants.”
New York Times, March 27, 1931

Congress in 26 USC 933 (Puerto Rico) and in 934 (the Virgin Islands) has passed statutes that enable the local governments to grant benefits on territorial source income to territorial residents. These laws have been firmly in place since 1960.

Critics always opine that Congress and or the Territorial governments can take these laws away, but they neglect an important component of the legal relationship between the United States government and its Territories. The Territories have a very special status: according to US Supreme Court case law, the Territories have the status of federal agencies. If a federal agency grants a contract to a business or individual, the federal government is bound to honor it. It would be a violation of the Contracts Clause of the US Constitution to take it away. So if an individual or business holds a contract from the Puerto Rico government granting these tax benefits (Act 20, Act 22), the contract is enforceable against both the Puerto Rican and US governments. Not even Congress can affect existing contracts.

Puerto Rico’s tax incentives are carefully considered programs. The Puerto Rican government based them on the Virgin Islands Economic Development Commission (VI EDC) programs. The VI EDC program has been fully vetted and litigated in the federal courts. Everyone recognizes the legitimacy of these programs and how they are part of US developmental policy toward US Territories. The bottom line is, Puerto Rico’s tax incentives are very sustainable.

Because of the continuing discussions in Congress about reforming the tax code, there is quite a bit of fearmongering that Congress may somehow repeal these programs.

Two points must be considered when hearing this:

1) Do we actually believe that our gridlocked Congress is currently capable of reaching a bipartisan agreement to overhaul the US tax code? While the tax code is in serious need of overhaul, this is a project that is years away. When there finally is new tax legislation, the Territories will lobby hard—with the U.S. Department of the Interior (DoI) firmly on their side—to continue making these benefits available.

The United States DoI continues to recognize that the Territorial tax incentives are a necessary component of U.S. developmental policy toward its Territories. In July, 2005, the DoI filed a written statement concerning its own concerns with new tax regulations for the Territories. The paper noted that (emphasis mine):

[t]he Secretary of the Interior has stated that her top priority for the Insular Areas is to promote private sector economic development there. Under the Secretary’s leadership, the Department of the Interior has been implementing a comprehensive program to advance this priority …. Because of the special fiscal and economic challenges faced by the Insular Areas, it has been the policy of successive administrations from both parties to support tax and trade provisions to help the Insular Areas generate sufficient tax revenue and economic activity to meet the most basic needs of their people. Notwithstanding these incentives, each of the Insular Areas continues to experience severe economic and fiscal difficulties. 

Special tax provisions for the Insular Areas, in particular, manifest an important underlying principle of US territorial policy: The Federal government does not treat the Insular Areas as sources of revenue. The US has a strong interest in maintaining and enhancing the economic and fiscal well-being of the Insular Areas.
—Statement of the US Department of the Interior, Office of Insular Affairs on Temporary and Proposed Regulations to Implement the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 (July, 2005)

2) Whether these programs change one day or whether Puerto Rican statehood requires different tax rules, the individuals and businesses that have decrees with the Puerto Rican government will have to be grandfathered in based on the Contracts Clause in the US Constitution. Those individuals and businesses interested in moving to Puerto Rico would be wise to get moving to the extent there is any fear of legislative change.

Finally, it is also not very likely that the Puerto Rican government itself will end these programs. Attracting wealthy people and profitable businesses to relocate to Puerto Rico through these programs is attractive to both of the major political parties in Puerto Rico. Given the financial crisis in Puerto Rico, it is unlikely that the local government—which has committed large resources to marketing these programs—will suddenly embark on a different direction.

In conclusion, those who lawfully fulfill the purpose and requirements of the Territorial tax incentive programs—like Puerto Rico’s Acts 20 and 22—should feel confident that their contracts will be honored by both governments.

Editor’s Note: If you’re considering taking advantage of Puerto Rico’s tax incentives—benefits Americans can find nowhere else—then you should check out our comprehensive video course on the topic. It’s the authoritative guide on Puerto Rico’s tax incentives with information you won’t find anywhere else; and it will save you a lot of time and money. More on that here.
The article was originally published at internationalman.com.


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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Week Ending Crude Oil, Gold and Coffee Markets Summary for Friday November 21st

Our trading partner Mike Seery brings us his weekly call on crude oil, gold and coffee. Could crude oil really be headed lower? If king dollar gets it's way it just might be headed much lower. Here's what Mike has to say about this and other futures commodity trades.

Crude oil futures are up 30 cents in the January contract trading higher for the 2nd consecutive trading session as a short term bottom may have been placed as China cut their interest rate today sending crude oil sharply higher in early trade trading as high as 77.82 a barrel before retracing while currently trading at 76.22 if you are still short this market I would place my stop above the 10 day high which in Monday’s trade will come down to 77.92 risking around 170 points or $1,700 per contract. The U.S dollar was sharply higher and that’s generally very bearish the commodity markets, however with China cutting their interest rate that combated the negativity coming out of the Euro currency causing short covering across the board as many of the commodities including energies, metals, and the grain sector were all higher today but continue to place your stop loss at that level and see what Monday’s trade brings. The fundamentals in oil still remain very bearish as Saudi Arabia has not cut production & the United States continues its torrid pace of production flooding the world market so even if you are stopped out on this trade sit on the sidelines and wait for another trend to develop as I’m not totally convinced that lower prices aren’t ahead in 2015. Crude oil futures are still trading slightly below their 20 but still far below their 100 day moving average telling you the trend is still to the downside and if the U.S dollar continues to move higher that eventually will put pressure on prices once again in my opinion but on a day to day basis anything can occur.
TREND: LOWER
CHART STRUCTURE: EXCELLENT

Still a Few Seats Left for this Weeks Free Webinar "Why you Should Trade Options on ETFs"....Just Click Here

As I talked about in yesterday’s blog I am telling investors to remain neutral as I do believe gold prices will remain choppy to lower for the rest of 2014 as prices rallied $9 to trade around $1,200 per ounce as extreme volatility has entered this market and I think today’s price action was very impressive due to the fact that the U.S dollar was up over 50 points which is generally very bearish precious metals, however China cut their interest rate pushing many commodities prices higher. Gold futures are trading above their 20 but below their 100 day moving average moving higher despite the fact that the ECB looks like they’re going to utilize more stimulus which is remarkable in my opinion as I do think if the U.S dollar continues to move higher eventually that will be very bearish gold prices so sit on the sidelines as you do not want to trade a choppy market. This market is extremely volatile with big up price swings and down swings so avoid and move on to a trendy market like the S&P 500. Volatility in gold is amazing lately with many days of a $30 – $50 trading range which is incredible going into the holiday season, however if you remember last year gold’s low was near December 31st and we opened up the next day around $20 higher and I think the same thing will happen because of the fact that stock sales which are losers are sold to offset winning trades come the month of December so I still look for another leg down but still would sit on the sidelines at the current time. TREND: NEUTRAL
CHART STRUCTURE: POOR

In this free video John shares his favorite ETF trading strategies and talks about the upcoming price move in the dollar.......Just Click Here

Coffee futures in the March contract sold off around 600 for the trading week currently trading at 190.70 in New York with high volatility in the last week with several sharply higher and lower trading sessions as I am advising investors to stay away from this market as the trend is extremely choppy and difficult to trade successfully in my opinion. Coffee prices are trading right at their 20 & 100 day moving average telling you that the trend is neutral as this volatility will remain for months to come as weather in Brazil is very fickle on a week to week basis as drought concerns are still in the back of traders’ minds as the weather currently is positive for production. The chart structure in coffee presently is very poor as I like to trade markets with tight chart structure which allows you to place tighter stop losses lowering monetary risk in my opinion. TREND: MIXED
CHART STRUCTURE: POOR

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Baker Hughes Weekly Rig Counts

Baker Hughes $BHI has released it's weekly rig counts for North America and the U.S.

BHI Rig Count: U.S. +1 to 1929 rigs

U.S. Rig Count is up 1 rig from last week to 1929, with oil rigs down 4 to 1574, gas rigs up 5 to 355, and miscellaneous rigs unchanged at 0.

U.S. Rig Count is up 168 rigs from last year at 1761, with oil rigs up 187, gas rigs down 14, and miscellaneous rigs down 5.

The U.S. Offshore rig count is 53, up 1 rig from last week, and down 4 rigs year over year.

BHI Rig Count: Canada +32 to 434 rigs

Canadian Rig Count is up 32 rigs from last week to 434, with oil rigs up 27 to 243, and gas rigs up 5 to 191.

Canadian Rig Count is up 66 rigs from last year at 368, with oil rigs up 43, and gas rigs up 23.

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday next week, the NA Rig Count will be distributed on Wednesday, November 26 at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Additional information on the rig count is available on the rig count website at www.bakerhughes.com/rigcount.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cut Trading Risk and Increase Reward with a Strategy I Know You're not Using

"Amazing insights...THANKS!"

"Whoa, completely changed my mindset on ETFs"

Those are two quotes from people who watched John Carter's latest video on trading options on ETFs: John's Favorite Ways to Trade Options On ETFs

He shows you how his strategy allows you to cut risk, increase rewards, and grow your account [of any size we might add] using options on ETFs.

Don't worry...it's VERY clear and easy to apply (Watch Video)

John also shows you....

   *  Why trading options on ETFs cuts your risk so you can sleep at night

   *  How you can profit with ETFs from the unexpected move in the dollar

   *  Why you avoid the games high frequency traders play by trading ETFs

   *  Why most analysts have the next move in the dollar wrong and how to protect your investments

   *  What are some of the markets that will be impacted by the dollars next move

This is crucial information that I highly recommend you take the time to review...it's FREE after all.

Stream the video HERE

See you in the markets putting this to work,
Ray C. Parrish
aka The Crude Oil Trader


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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Breakfast with a Lord of War

By David Galland, Partner, Casey Research

For reasons that will become apparent as you read the following article, I was quite reluctant to write it.
Yet, in the end, I decided to do so for a couple of reasons.

The first is that it ties into Marin Katusa’s best selling new book, The Colder War, which I read cover to cover over two days and can recommend warmly and without hesitation. I know that Casey Research has been promoting the book aggressively (in my view, a bit too aggressively), but I exaggerate not at all when I tell you that the book sucked me in from the very beginning and kept me reading right to the end.

The second reason, however, is that I have a story to tell. It’s a true story and one, I believe, which needs to be told. It has to do with a breakfast I had four years ago with a Lord of War.

With that introduction, we begin.

Breakfast with a Lord of War

In late 2010, I was invited to a private breakfast meeting with an individual near the apex of the U.S. military’s strategic planning pyramid. Specifically, the individual we were to breakfast with sits at the side of the long serving head of the department in the Pentagon responsible for identifying and assessing potential threats to national security and devising long term strategies to counter those threats.

The ground rules for the discussion—that certain topics were off limits—were set right up front. Yet, as we warmed up to each other over the course of our meal, the conversation went into directions even I couldn’t have anticipated.

In an earlier mention of this meeting in a Casey Daily Dispatch, I steered clear of much of what was discussed because frankly, it made me nervous. With the passage of time and upon reflection that it was up to my breakfast companion, who spends long days cloaked in secrecy, to know what is allowed in daylight, I have decided to share the entire story.

During our discussion, there were four key revelations, each a bit scarier than the last.

Four Key Revelations


Once we had bonded a bit, the military officer, dressed in his civvies for the meeting, began opening up. As I didn’t record the discussion, the dialogue that follows can only be an approximation. That said, I assure you it is accurate in all the important aspects.

“Which country or countries most concern you?” I asked, not sure if I would get an answer. “China?”
“Well, I’m not going to say too much, but it’s not China. Our analysis tells us the country is too fractured to be a threat. Too many different ethnic and religious groups and competing political factions. So no, it’s not China. Russia, on the other hand…” He left it at that, though Russia would come up again in our conversation on several occasions.

As breakfast was served, the conversation meandered here and there before he volunteered, “There are a couple of things I can discuss that we are working on, one of which won’t surprise you, and one that will.”
“The first is precision guided weaponry.” Simply, the airplane and drone launched weaponry that is deployed so frequently today, four years after our breakfast conversation, that it now barely rates a back-page mention.

“The second,” he continued,” will surprise you. It’s nuclear armaments.”

“Really? I can’t imagine the US would ever consider using nuclear weapons again. Seriously?”

“Yes, there could be instances when using nukes might be advisable,” he answered. “For example, no one would argue that dropping atomic bombs on Japan had been a bad thing.” (I, for one, could have made that argument, but in the interest of harmony didn’t.)

“Even so, I can’t imagine a scenario that would warrant using nukes,” I persisted. “Are there any other countries doing the same sort of research?”

“Absolutely. For example, the Russians would love to drop a bomb that wiped out the people of Chechnya but left the infrastructure intact.”

“So, neutron bombs?”

“Yeah, stuff like that,” he added before turning back to his coffee.

“Okay, well,” I continued, “you at least have to admit that, unlike last century when hundreds of millions of people died directly or indirectly in world wars, pogroms, and so forth—most related to governments—the human race has evolved to the point where death on that scale is a thing of the past. Right?”

I kid you not in the slightest, but at this question the handsome, friendly countenance I had been sitting across from morphed as if literally a mask had been lifted away and was replaced with the emotionless face of a Lord of War.

“That would be a very poor assumption,” he answered coldly before the mask went back on.

I recall a number of thoughts and emotions coursing through my brain at his reply, most prevalently relief that I had moved with my family to La Estancia de Cafayate in a remote corner of Argentina. We didn’t move there to escape war, but after this conversation, I added that to my short list of reasons why the move had been a good idea.

Recapping the conversation later, my associate and I concurred that Russia was in the crosshairs and that if push came to shove, the US was fully prepared to use the new nuclear weapons being worked on.

Four Years Later


As I write, four years after that conversation, it’s worth revisiting just what has transpired.

First, as mentioned, the use of precision-guided weaponry has now firmly entered the vernacular of US warmaking. Point of fact: there are now more pilots being trained to fly drones than airplanes. And the technology has reached the point where there is literally no corner on earth where a strategic hit couldn’t be made. Even more concerning, the political and legal framework that previously caused hesitation before striking against citizens of other countries (outside of an active war zone) has largely been erased. Today Pakistan, tomorrow the world?

Second, instead of winding back the US nuclear program—a firm plank in President Obama’s campaign platform—the Nobel Prize winner and his team have indeed been ramping up and modernizing the US nuclear arsenal. The following is an excerpt from a September 21, 2014 article in the New York Times, titled “U.S. Ramping Up Major Renewal in Nuclear Arms”…,,

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A sprawling new plant here in a former soybean field makes the mechanical guts of America’s atomic warheads. Bigger than the Pentagon, full of futuristic gear and thousands of workers, the plant, dedicated last month, modernizes the aging weapons that the United States can fire from missiles, bombers and submarines.

It is part of a nationwide wave of atomic revitalization that includes plans for a new generation of weapon carriers. A recent federal study put the collective price tag, over the next three decades, at up to a trillion dollars.

Third, the events unfolding in Ukraine, where the US was caught red handed engineering the regime change that destabilized the country and forced Russia to act, show a clear intent to set the world against Putin’s Russia and in time, neutralize Russia as a strategic threat.

So the only revelation from my breakfast four years ago remaining to be confirmed is for the next big war to envelope the world. Per the events in Ukraine, the foundations of that war have likely already been set. Before I get to that, however, a quick but relevant detour is required.

The Nature of Complex Systems


Last week the semiannual Owner’s & Guests event took place here at La Estancia de Cafayate. As part of the weeklong gathering, a conference was held featuring residents speaking on topics they are experts on.
Among those residents is a nuclear-energy engineer who spoke on the fragility of the US power grid, the most complex energy transmission system in the world.
He went into great detail about the “defense-in-depth” controls, backups, and overrides built into the system to ensure the grid won’t—in fact, can’t—fail. Yet periodically, it still does.

How? First and foremost, the engineer explained, there is a fundamental principle that holds that the more complex a system is, the more likely it is to fail. As a consequence, despite thousands of very bright people armed with massive budgets and a clear mandate to keep the transmission lines humming, there is essentially nothing they can do to actually prevent some unforeseen, and unforeseeable, event from taking the whole complex system down.

Case in point: in 2003 one of the largest power outages in history occurred. 508 large power generators were knocked out, leaving 55 million people in North America without power for upward of 24 hours. The cause? A software defect in an alarm system in an Ohio control center.

I mention this in the context of this article because, as complex as the U.S. power grid is, it is nothing compared to the complexities involved with long-term military strategic planning. This complexity is the result of many factors, including:
  • The challenges of identifying potential adversaries and threats many years, even a decade or more, into the future.
  • New and evolving technologies. It is a truism that the military is always fighting the last war: by the time the military machine spins up to build and deploy a new technology, it is often already obsolete.
  • The entrenched bureaucracies, headed by mere mortals with strong biases. Today’s friend is tomorrow’s enemy and vice versa.
  • The unsteady influences of a political class always quick to react with policy shifts to the latest dire news or purported outrage.
  • The media, a constant source of hysteria making headlines masquerading as news. And let’s not overlook the media’s role as active agents of the entrenched bureaucratic interests. In one now largely forgotten case, Operation Mockingbird, the CIA actually infiltrated the major US media outlets, specifically to influence public opinion.

    All you need to do to understand the bureaucratic agenda is to take a casual glance at the “news” about current events such as those transpiring in the Ukraine.
  • And, most important, human nature. We humans are the ultimate complex system, prone to a literally infinite number of strong opinions, exaggerated fears, mental illnesses, passions, vices, self-destructive tendencies, and stupidity on a biblical scale.
The point is that the average person assumes the powers-that-be actually know what they are doing and would never lead us into disaster, but quoting my breakfast companion, that would be a very poor assumption.

Simply, while mass war on the level of the wholesale slaughter commonplace in the last century is unimaginable to most in the modern context, it is never more than the equivalent of a faulty alarm system away from occurring.

Those history buffs among you will confirm that up until about a week before World War I began, virtually no one in the public, the press, the political class, or even the military had any idea the shooting was about to start. And 99.9% of the people then living had no idea the war was about to begin until after the first shot was fired.

Back to the Present


It is a rare moment in one’s life when the bureaucratic curtain falls away long enough to reveal something approximating The Truth. In my opinion, that’s what I observed over breakfast four years ago. That, right or wrong, the proactive military strategy of the US had been turned toward Russia.
Knowing that and no more, one can only guess what actual measures have been planned and set into motion to defang the Russian bear.

Based on the evidence, however, the events in Ukraine appear to be a bold chess move on the bigger board… and to be fair, a pretty damn effective move at that. The problem for the US and its allies is that on the other side of the table is one Vladimir Putin, self made man, black belt judo master, and former KGB spy master.

And that’s just scratching the surface of this complicated and determined individual. One thing is for sure: if you had to pick your adversary in a global geopolitical contest, you’d probably pick him dead last.
Which brings me to a quick mention of The Colder War, Marin’s book, which was released yesterday.
I mentioned earlier that the book had sucked me in and kept me in pretty much straight through until I finished. One reason is that while you can tell Marin has a great deal of respect for Putin’s capabilities and strategic thinking, he doesn’t shy away from revealing the judo master’s dark side. As you will read (and find quoting to your friends, as I have), it is a very dark side.

But the story is so much bigger than that, and Marin does a very good job of explaining the increasingly hostile competition between the US and Russia and the seismic economic consequences that will affect us all as the “Colder War” heats up.

Before signing off for now, I want to add that it is not Marin’s contention that the Colder War will devolve into an actual shooting war. In my view, however, due to the complexities discussed above, you can’t dismiss a military confrontation, even one involving nukes. Every complex system ultimately fails, and the more the US pushes in on Putin’s Russia, the more likely such a failure is to occur.

I recommend Marin’s book, The Colder War; here is the link.

We’ll leave the lights on down here in Cafayate.

Casey Research partner David Galland lives in La Estancia de Cafayate (www.LaEst.com).
The article Breakfast with a Lord of War was originally published at casey research.com.


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Monday, November 17, 2014

Free Webinar: Why you Should Trade Options on ETFs

Our trading partner John Carter of Simpler Options is back with another one of his wildly popular free trading webinars. His focus this time is "Why you should trade Options on ETFs". John took the time to give us idea what he'll be walking us through step by step in this weeks webinar by producing this great video [just click here to watch]  that included how we can play the next big move in the dollar. A move that John predicts most traders will miss.

Just Click Here to get your Reserved Seat for the Webinar

This weeks webinar is Tuesday evening November 18th at 8 p.m. est

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  *  Why trading options on ETFs are perfect for newbies, retirees, part time traders, and full time traders

  *  Why options on ETFs are safer than trading futures or forex while allowing you to hold on for bigger
       moves

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       consistent ETFs to trade

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See you Tuesday evening!

Ray C. Parrish
aka the Crude Oil Trader


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The Return of the Dollar

By John Mauldin


Two years ago, my friend Mohamed El-Erian and I were on the stage at my Strategic Investment Conference. Naturally we were discussing currencies in the global economy, and I asked him about currency wars. He smiled and said to me, “John, we don’t talk about currency wars in polite circles. More like currency disagreements” (or some word to that effect).

This week I note that he actually uses the words currency war in an essay he wrote for Project Syndicate:

Yet the benefits of the dollar’s rally are far from guaranteed, for both economic and financial reasons. While the US economy is more resilient and agile than its developed counterparts, it is not yet robust enough to be able to adjust smoothly to a significant shift in external demand to other countries. There is also the risk that, given the role of the ECB and the Bank of Japan in shaping their currencies’ performance, such a shift could be characterized as a “currency war” in the US Congress, prompting a retaliatory policy response.

This is a short treatise, but as usual with Mohamed’s writing, it’s very thought provoking. Definitely Outside the Box material.

And for a two-part Outside the Box I want to take the unusual step of including an op-ed piece that you might not have seen, from the Wall Street Journal, called “How to Distort Income Inequality,” by Phil Gramm and Michael Solon. They cite research I’ve seen elsewhere which shows that the work by Thomas Piketty cherry-picks data and ignores total income and especially how taxes distort the data. That is not to say that income inequality does not exist and that we should not be cognizant and concerned, but we need to plan policy based on a firm grasp of reality and not overreact because of some fantasy world created by social provocateur academicians.

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The calls for income redistribution from socialists and liberals based on Piketty’s work are clearly misguided and will further distort income inequality in ways that will only reduce total global productivity and growth.
I’m in New York today at an institutional fund manager conference where I had the privilege of hearing my good friend Ian Bremmer take us around the world on a geopolitical tour. Ian was refreshingly optimistic, or at least sanguine, about most of the world over the next few years. Lots of potential problems, of course, but he thinks everything should turn out fine – with the notable exception of Russia, where he is quite pessimistic.

A shirtless Vladimir Putin was the scariest thing on his geopolitical radar. As he spoke, Russia was clearly putting troops and arms into eastern Ukraine. Why would you do that if you didn’t intend to go further? Ian worried openly about Russia’s extending a land bridge all the way to Crimea and potentially even to Odessa, which is the heart of economic Ukraine, along with the Kiev region. It would basically make Ukraine ungovernable.

I thought Putin’s sadly grim and memorable line that “The United States is prepared to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian” pretty much sums up the potential for a US or NATO response. Putin agreed to a cease-fire and assumed that sanctions would start to be lifted. When there was no movement on sanctions, he pretty much went back to square one. He has clearly turned his economic attention towards China.

Both Ian Bremmer and Mohamed El Erian will be at my Strategic Investment Conference next year, which will again be in San Diego in the spring, April 28-30. Save the dates in your calendar as you do not want to miss what is setting up to be a very special conference. We will get more details to you soon.

It is a very pleasant day here in New York, and I was able to avoid taxis and put in about six miles of pleasant walking. (Sadly, it is supposed to turn cold tomorrow.) I’ve gotten used to getting around in cities and slipping into the flow of things, but there was a time when I felt like the country mouse coming to the city. As I walked past St. Bart’s today I was reminded of an occasion when your humble analyst nearly got himself in serious trouble.

There is a very pleasant little outdoor restaurant at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, across the street from the side entrance of the Waldorf-Astoria. It was a fabulous day in the spring, and I was having lunch with my good friend Barry Ritholtz. The president (George W.) was in town and staying at the Waldorf. His entourage pulled up and Barry pointed and said, “Look, there’s the president.”

We were at the edge of the restaurant, so I stood up to see if I could see George. The next thing I know, Barry’s hand is on my shoulder roughly pulling me back into my seat. “Sit down!” he barked. I was rather confused – what faux pas I had committed? Barry pointed to two rather menacing, dark-suited figures who were glaring at me from inside the restaurant.

“They were getting ready to shoot you, John! They had their hands inside their coats ready to pull guns. They thought you were going to do something to the president!”

This was New York not too long after 9/11. The memory is fresh even today. Now, I think I would know better than to stand up with the president coming out the side door across the street. But back then I was still just a country boy come to the big city.

Tomorrow night I will have dinner with Barry and Art Cashin and a few other friends at some restaurant which is supposedly famous for a mob shooting back in the day. Art will have stories, I am sure.
It is time to go sing for my supper, and I will try not to keep the guests from enjoying what promises to be a fabulous meal from celebrity chef Cyrille Allannic. After Ian’s speech, I think I will be nothing but sweetness and light, just a harmless economic entertainer. After all, what could possibly go really wrong with the global economy, when you’re being wined and dined at the top of New York? Have a great week.

John Mauldin, Editor
Outside the Box
subscribers@mauldineconomics.com

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The Return of the Dollar

By Mohamed El-Erian
Project Syndicate, Nov. 13, 2014

The U.S. dollar is on the move. In the last four months alone, it has soared by more than 7% compared with a basket of more than a dozen global currencies, and by even more against the euro and the Japanese yen. This dollar rally, the result of genuine economic progress and divergent policy developments, could contribute to the “rebalancing” that has long eluded the world economy. But that outcome is far from guaranteed, especially given the related risks of financial instability.

Two major factors are currently working in the dollar’s favor, particularly compared to the euro and the yen. First, the United States is consistently outperforming Europe and Japan in terms of economic growth and dynamism – and will likely continue to do so – owing not only to its economic flexibility and entrepreneurial energy, but also to its more decisive policy action since the start of the global financial crisis.

Second, after a period of alignment, the monetary policies of these three large and systemically important economies are diverging, taking the world economy from a multi-speed trajectory to a multi-track one. Indeed, whereas the US Federal Reserve terminated its large-scale securities purchases, known as “quantitative easing” (QE), last month, the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank recently announced the expansion of their monetary-stimulus programs. In fact, ECB President Mario Draghi signaled a willingness to expand his institution’s balance sheet by a massive €1 trillion ($1.25 trillion).

With higher US market interest rates attracting additional capital inflows and pushing the dollar even higher, the currency’s revaluation would appear to be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to catalyzing a long-awaited global rebalancing – one that promotes stronger growth and mitigates deflation risk in Europe and Japan. Specifically, an appreciating dollar improves the price competitiveness of European and Japanese companies in the US and other markets, while moderating some of the structural deflationary pressure in the lagging economies by causing import prices to rise.

Yet the benefits of the dollar’s rally are far from guaranteed, for both economic and financial reasons. While the US economy is more resilient and agile than its developed counterparts, it is not yet robust enough to be able to adjust smoothly to a significant shift in external demand to other countries. There is also the risk that, given the role of the ECB and the Bank of Japan in shaping their currencies’ performance, such a shift could be characterized as a “currency war” in the US Congress, prompting a retaliatory policy response.

Furthermore, sudden large currency moves tend to translate into financial-market instability. To be sure, this risk was more acute when a larger number of emerging-economy currencies were pegged to the U.S. dollar, which meant that a significant shift in the dollar’s value would weaken other countries’ balance of payments position and erode their international reserves, thereby undermining their creditworthiness. Today, many of these countries have adopted more flexible exchange-rate regimes, and quite a few retain adequate reserve holdings.

But a new issue risks bringing about a similarly problematic outcome: By repeatedly repressing financial-market volatility over the last few years, central-bank policies have inadvertently encouraged excessive risk-taking, which has pushed many financial-asset prices higher than economic fundamentals warrant. To the extent that continued currency-market volatility spills over into other markets – and it will – the imperative for stronger economic fundamentals to validate asset prices will intensify.

This is not to say that the currency re-alignment that is currently underway is necessarily a problematic development; on the contrary, it has the potential to boost the global economy by supporting the recovery of some of its most challenged components. But the only way to take advantage of the re-alignment’s benefits, without experiencing serious economic disruptions and financial-market volatility, is to introduce complementary growth-enhancing policy adjustments, such as accelerating structural reforms, balancing aggregate demand, and reducing or eliminating debt overhangs.

After all, global growth, at its current level, is inadequate for mere redistribution among countries to work. Overall global GDP needs to increase.

The US dollar’s resurgence, while promising, is only a first step. It is up to governments to ensure that the ongoing currency re-alignment supports a balanced, stable, and sustainable economic recovery. Otherwise, they may find themselves again in the unpleasant business of mitigating financial instability.

How to Distort Income Inequality

By Phil Gramm and Michael Solon
Wall Street Journal, Nov. 11, 2014

The Piketty-Saez data ignore changes in tax law and fail to count noncash compensation and Social Security benefits.

What the hockey-stick portrayal of global temperatures did in bringing a sense of crisis to the issue of global warming is now being replicated in the controversy over income inequality, thanks to a now-famous study by Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, professors of economics at the Paris School of Economics and the University of California, Berkeley, respectively. Whether the issue is climate change or income inequality, however, problems with the underlying data significantly distort the debate.

The chosen starting point for the most-quoted part of the Piketty-Saez study is 1979. In that year the inflation rate was 13.3%, interest rates were 15.5% and the poverty rate was rising, but economic misery was distributed more equally than in any year since. That misery led to the election of Ronald Reagan, whose economic policies helped usher in 25 years of lower interest rates, lower inflation and high economic growth. But Messrs. Piketty and Saez tell us it was also a period where the rich got richer, the poor got poorer and only a relatively small number of Americans benefited from the economic booms of the Reagan and Clinton years.

If that dark picture doesn’t sound like the country you lived in, that’s because it isn’t. The Piketty-Saez study looked only at pretax cash market income. It did not take into account taxes. It left out noncash compensation such as employer-provided health insurance and pension contributions. It left out Social Security payments, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, and more than 100 other means-tested government programs. Realized capital gains were included, but not the first $500,000 from the sale of one’s home, which is tax-exempt. IRAs and 401(k)s were counted only when the money is taken out in retirement. Finally, the Piketty-Saez data are based on individual tax returns, which ignore, for any given household, the presence of multiple earners.

And now, thanks to a new study in the Southern Economic Journal, we know what the picture looks like when the missing data are filled in. Economists Philip Armour and Richard V. Burkhauser of Cornell University and Jeff Larrimore of Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation expanded the Piketty-Saez income measure using census data to account for all public and private in-kind benefits, taxes, Social Security payments and household size.

The result is dramatic. The bottom quintile of Americans experienced a 31% increase in income from 1979 to 2007 instead of a 33% decline that is found using a Piketty-Saez market-income measure alone. The income of the second quintile, often referred to as the working class, rose by 32%, not 0.7%. The income of the middle quintile, America’s middle class, increased by 37%, not 2.2%.

By omitting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the Piketty-Saez study renders most older Americans poor when in reality most have above-average incomes. The exclusion of benefits like employer-provided health insurance, retirement benefits (except when actually paid out in retirement) and capital gains on homes misses much of the income and wealth of middle- and upper-middle income families.

Messrs. Piketty and Saez also did not take into consideration the effect that tax policies have on how people report their incomes. This leads to major distortions. The bipartisan tax reform of 1986 lowered the highest personal tax rate to 28% from 50%, but the top corporate-tax rate was reduced only to 34%. There was, therefore, an incentive to restructure businesses from C-Corps to subchapter S corporations, limited liability corporations, partnerships and proprietorships, where the same income would now be taxed only once at a lower, personal rate. As businesses restructured, what had been corporate income poured into personal income-tax receipts.

So Messrs. Piketty and Saez report a 44% increase in the income earned by the top 1% in 1987 and 1988—though this change reflected how income was taxed, not how income had grown. This change in the structure of American businesses alone accounts for roughly one-third of what they portray as the growth in the income share earned by the top 1% of earners over the entire 1979-2012 period.

An equally extraordinary distortion in the data used to measure inequality (the Gini Coefficient) has been discovered by Cornell’s Mr. Burkhauser. In 1992 the Census Bureau changed the Current Population Survey to collect more in-depth data on high-income individuals. This change in survey technique alone, causing a one-time upward shift in the measured income of high-income individuals, is the source of almost 30% of the total growth of inequality in the U.S. since 1979.

Simple statistical errors in the data account for roughly one third of what is now claimed to be a “frightening” increase in income inequality. But the weakness of the case for redistribution does not end there. America is the freest and most dynamic society in history, and freedom and equality of outcome have never coexisted anywhere at any time. Here the innovator, the first mover, the talented and the persistent win out—producing large income inequality. The prizes are unequal because in our system consumers reward people for the value they add. Some can and do add extraordinary value, others can’t or don’t.

How exactly are we poorer because Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and the Walton family are so rich? Mr. Gates became rich by mainstreaming computer power into our lives and in the process made us better off. Mr. Buffett’s genius improves the efficiency of capital allocation and the whole economy benefits. Wal-Mart stretches our buying power and raises the living standards of millions of Americans, especially low-income earners. Rich people don’t “take” a large share of national income, they “bring” it. The beauty of our system is that everybody benefits from the value they bring.

Yes, income is 24% less equally distributed here than in the average of the other 34 member countries of the OECD. But OECD figures show that U.S. per capita GDP is 42% higher, household wealth is 210% higher and median disposable income is 42% higher. How many Americans would give up 42% of their income to see the rich get less?

Vast new fortunes were earned in the 25-year boom that began under Reagan and continued under Clinton. But the income of middle-class Americans rose significantly. These incomes have fallen during the Obama presidency, and not because the rich have gotten richer. They’ve fallen because bad federal policies have yielded the weakest recovery in the postwar history of America.

Yet even as the recovery continues to disappoint, the president increasingly turns to the politics of envy by demanding that the rich pay their “fair share.” The politics of envy may work here as it has worked so often in Latin America and Europe, but the economics of envy is failing in America as it has failed everywhere else.

Mr. Gramm, a former Republican senator from Texas, is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Mr. Solon was a budget adviser to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and is a partner of US Policy Metrics.

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The article Outside the Box: The Return of the Dollar was originally published at mauldineconomics.com.


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