Macro Links Nov 30th – FANG Whackage

Macro Links Nov 30th – FANG Whackage

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MACRO LINKS TABLE OF CONTENTS (Click or Scroll Down)

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TECH SELLOFF

FANG’s $60 Billion Wipeout Is Most in One Day Since Facebook IPO – Bloomberg

While the 3.7 percent drop in an index tracking Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google was the biggest in 21 months, the amount of lost money exceeded any other single day on record. At about $60 billion, the decline in their combined market value is poised to eclipse any since Facebook arrived in public markets.

Slump in Facebook, Apple raises prospects of tech rally brake

Shares of Facebook and other technology heavyweights dropped on Wednesday, creating uncertainty over whether the top-performing sector’s record-breaking rally this year is ending or merely taking a break.

A Rotation in the S&P 500 Turns Violently Against Tech – Bloomberg

“With the Nasdaq 100 up over 30 percent and the Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index up 40 percent year-to-date, I would think it is hard to find a fundamental meaning to the price action today,” said Rich Dunphy, managing director in Canaccord Genuity’s U.S. equities division. “For now, there is clearly a sector rotation, out of tech and into other sectors such as financials or telecom.”

Selloff Pauses 2017’s Tech-Stock Surge – WSJ

Investors abruptly dumped technology and internet stocks Wednesday, a sign of vulnerability in a sector that has enjoyed a steep rise this year. The S&P 500 tech sector shed 2.6%, posting its third biggest one-day decline of the year. Facebook Inc. dropped 4%, Apple Inc. fell 2.1% and chip maker Nvidia Corp. —which was up 97% for the year heading into Wednesday’s session—slid 6.8%.

Nasdaq falters as investors flee tech for banks

The Nasdaq posted its biggest one-day drop in more than three months on Wednesday as investors fled high-flying technology stocks and shifted to banks and other pockets of the market that could benefit from improving economic conditions, lower regulations and taxes as well as higher interest rates.

Jeff Bezos’ Loses $100 Billion Crown in Tech Wipeout – Bloomberg

The tycoons behind the FANG stocks saw $7.6 billion wiped from their fortunes Wednesday as traders flocked to firms seen benefiting most from a potential reduction in the corporate-tax rate. Facebook Inc.’s Mark Zuckerberg fell the most, dropping $2.9 billion on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, while Jeff Bezos’s short-lived reign as the $100 billion man ended after a tumble in Amazon.com Inc. shares knocked $2.5 billion off his net worth.

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BITCOIN FRENZY

Bitcoin Mania Interrupted, for Now, After Outage Triggers Selloff – Bloomberg

It takes a lot to startle fans of bitcoin, the digital gold of the moment. But Wednesday was, well, a lot — a wild run of exuberant peaks and white-knuckled declines that left even diehards breathless.

Bitcoin’s Wild Ride: A Rally, a Rout and Outages on the Exchanges – Bloomberg

Bitcoin plunged as much as 20 percent hours after a rally past $11,000 generated a surge in traffic at online exchanges that led to intermittent outages.

The plunge capped a wild day for the largest cryptocurrency that included a breakneck advance to a high of $11,434 before the reversal took it as low as $9,009. As of 3:36 p.m. in New York, it traded at $9,911.10, virtually unchanged from where it began the session.

The heaviest selling came amid reports of service outages and delays on some of the largest online exchanges. The extent of the problems on platforms such as Coinbase and Gemini remained unclear, with several saying massive spikes in traffic had caused unspecified problems. Coinbase remained unavailable to some users.

Small Investors Latch On for Bitcoin’s Wild Ride – WSJ

Bitcoin soared and then tumbled as volatility in the digital currency picked up, with the price of bitcoin dropping below $9,500 just hours after it broke through $10,000 and $11,000 for the first time.

Bubble trouble? Bitcoin tops $11,000, but fades after sharp rally

“What’s happening right now has nothing to do with bitcoin’s functionality as a currency – this is pure mania that’s taken hold,” said Garrick Hileman, a research fellow at the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School. “There’s always the possibility that some fundamental cryptographic flaw that we can’t solve craters the whole space, or that regulators unite and decide this represents systemic risk and actually could trigger the next financial crisis,” he said.

Ex-BOE Deputy Governor Says Bitcoin Probably a ‘Pretty Classic Bubble’ – Bloomberg

Former Bank of England Deputy Governor Charlie Bean said “it’s very difficult to believe that ultimately bitcoin is not a pretty classic bubble.”

Coinbase Loses Bid to Block IRS Probe of Bitcoin Gains – Bloomberg

Coinbase Inc. lost a bid to block an Internal Revenue Service investigation into whether some of the company’s customers haven’t reported their cryptocurrency gains.

Dudley Says Fed Has Started Thinking About Official Digital Currency – WSJ

New York Fed President William Dudley said the U.S. central bank is beginning to explore whether it could adopt its own digital currency, in an appearance at Rutgers University where he also expressed optimism about the economy.

Nasdaq Plans to Launch Bitcoin Futures in First Half 2018 – WSJ

Nasdaq and broker Cantor Fitzgerald are looking to join the rush on Wall Street to trade bitcoin, which powered to a record Wednesday.

Bitcoin ‘Ought to Be Outlawed,’ Nobel Prize Winner Stiglitz Says – Bloomberg

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said “bitcoin is successful only because of its potential for circumvention, lack of oversight.”

Bitcoin hits $11,000

Bitcoin’s boosters argue that the currency is valuable because its supply is limited to 21m, a number no central bank can change. But its rapid appreciation should still worry all who hold it. What has changed in the past ten days to suggest that bitcoin should be worth $11,000 rather than, say, $8,000? Bubbles also burst.

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UBER PROBLEMS

Tales of Uber’s cloak-and-dagger schemes rivet California courtroom

Encrypted texts, untraceable phones, late night secret meetings and self-deleting messages: ordinarily these are the stuff of spy novels. But a former Uber employee this week electrified a San Francisco courtroom with allegations that a unit in the ride-hailing app routinely employed such tactics and sought to steal information from its competitors.

US District Judge William Alsup, who is presiding over the case, was so enraged by the way Mr Jacob’s information came to light that he has delayed the trial, which was due to start next week, and accused Uber of “withholding” evidence in what looked like a “cover-up”.

Uber used ex-CIA agents for espionage, fired manager says. Feds are investigating. – LA Times

Federal prosecutors are investigating allegations that Uber deployed an espionage team, including ex-CIA agents, to plunder trade secrets from overseas rivals. That has triggered a delay in a trial over whether Uber stole self-driving car technology from Google spinoff Waymo.

Uber lawyer says board, ex-CEO knew of evidence withheld from Waymo case

Uber Technologies Inc’s former chief executive and some board members knew of a letter alleging employees had stolen trade secrets, but the document was withheld from a high-stakes lawsuit, a company attorney testified on Wednesday.

Uber Lawyer Says Ex-Employee’s Payout Was an ‘Extortionist’ Move; Judge Disagrees – WSJ

Demands by a former Uber Technologies employee, who received $4.5 million in a settlement over his claims about the company’s secrecy measures, were ‘extortionist,’ a Uber attorney testified. The judge disagreed.

Uber’s Losses Widen as SoftBank Launches Bid to Buy Shares – Bloomberg

Uber Technologies Inc.’s net loss widened to $1.46 billion in the third quarter, according to people with knowledge of the matter, as the ride-hailing leader struggled to fend off competition, legal challenges and regulatory scrutiny.

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GOP TAX PLAN

Trump’s Tax Promises Undercut by CEO Plans to Help Investors – Bloomberg

Major companies including Cisco Systems Inc., Pfizer Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. say they’ll turn over most gains from proposed corporate tax cuts to their shareholders.

Bogle Says Tax Bill Favoring Business Is a ‘Moral Abomination’ – Bloomberg

The tax proposals in Washington are a “moral abomination” because they favor corporations at the expense of workers, Vanguard Group founder John Bogle said.

“Just think about this: Corporate profits after taxes last year were the highest they’ve ever been in the history of GDP going back to 1929,” said Bogle at an event Tuesday sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. “And we are thinking of giving relief to the corporations at the highest levels ever. Individual wages are at the lowest level in about 15 years as a percent of GDP,” he said.

Buried in the Tax Bills, Multiple Unintended Consequences – WSJ

The U.S. tax system is a complex, jury-rigged contraption. At the best of times, tampering with any part invariably triggers collateral consequences. Those risks are magnified now by Republicans’ determination to pass the plan with minimal hearings on party lines by Christmas.

The bills, as they stand, contain countless incentives for gamesmanship: differing tax rates for different types of foreign property and profits, arbitrary expiration and implementation dates to hold the 10-year deficit impact below $1.5 trillion, and changes to the Affordable Care Act ​to free up government dollars that could roil private insurance markets. “There are more ticking time bombs in this bill than a Road Runner cartoon,” says Martin Sullivan, chief economist for the nonprofit group Tax Analysts.

Corporate Tax Rate in Flux as Senate Nears Initial Vote – WSJ

Senate Republicans plunged into a debate about whether to cut the corporate tax rate by less than currently planned in a bid to come up with money to pay for other priorities and win votes for a sweeping tax package.

A Business Tax Fight Erupts Over the ‘Haves’ and ‘Have-Mores’ – The New York Times

“I honestly don’t know what he’s talking about,” Alan J. Auerbach, a tax expert at the University of California, Berkeley, said of Mr. Johnson’s complaints. “Tax rates are going down a lot. It’s businesses versus everybody else.”

The Senate’s tax bill is a sweeping change to every part of federal health care – Vox

It slashes Medicare by billions and will leave millions without insurance.

How Tax Bills Would Reward Companies That Moved Money Offshore – The New York Times

Two decades ago, big companies wagered that they could save billions by shifting profits overseas. Under Republican tax plans, those bets would pay off.

Senate rushes tax bill forward, but Republicans split over key details – The Washington Post

A deal struck to win over one key GOP holdout faces opposition from other party members.

Senate Votes to Proceed to Debate as Tax Overhaul Gains Steam – The New York Times

The Senate voted along party lines, 52-48, to begin debate on the tax plan, turning the spotlight to debate and amendments.

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TRUMP TWEETS UK HATE GROUP

Britain First, an anti-Muslim group, just got a big publicity boost from Trump – The Washington Post

In a sharp personal rebuke, the British government told President Trump he was “wrong” to retweet on Wednesday a series of anti-Muslim video clips promoted by a leader of an ultranationalist fringe group that the prime minister’s office said “peddles lies” and “hateful narratives.”

Trump causes uproar by retweeting far-right UK group

Donald Trump has sparked outrage in the UK and raised new questions about his affinity to white nationalist ideology after retweeting a series of posts from an ultranationalist British group accusing Muslims of indiscriminate violence.

Trump Retweeted Anti-Muslim Videos Posted By Far-Right Group Britain First

Trump’s tweets drew criticism from UK Prime Minister Theresa May and rebukes from around the world. The White House vigorously defended the tweets, saying they spoke to a national security issue.

Trump Shares Inflammatory Anti-Muslim Videos, and Britain’s Leader Condemns Them – The New York Times

No modern American president has promoted inflammatory content of this sort from an extremist organization. Mr. Trump’s two most recent predecessors, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, both made a point of avoiding public messages that were likely to be seen as anti-Muslim and could exacerbate racial and religious animosities, arguing that the war against terrorism was not a war against Islam.

The Far-Right Group Retweeted By Donald Trump Deleted A Bunch Of Pro-Putin Posts From Its Website

Deleted posts included “GO PUTIN! Russian president’s popularity on rise in Czech Republic!” and “VIDEO: Putin backs our Brexit”.

Trump further embarrasses America on Twitter by complaining to woman who is not Prime Minister of England

Predictably, Trump lashed out at Prime Minister Theresa May, telling her, “don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine,” Trump claimed.

Yet in his haste to defend getting caught spreading fascist propaganda, Trump inadvertently tweeted his reply at somebody other than the Prime Minister.

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TRUMP MIGHT BE NUTS

New Reports Suggest Trump Might Not Be a Liar at All, But Truly Delusional

If Trump actually has the ability to convince himself of his own lies, it would suggest a possibility far more dangerous than even his critics have previously assumed. He might be in the grip of a mental-health issue, or at least one more serious than mere sociopathy. And the mutterings that he might need to be removed from office through the 25th Amendment could grow more serious than many of us have expected.

Trump’s behavior raises questions of competency – CNNPolitics

The President of the United States is raising new questions about his temperament, his judgment and his understanding of the resonance of his global voice and the gravity of his role with a wild sequence of insults, inflammatory tweets and bizarre comments.

On Wednesday Trump caused outrage and sparked fears of violent reprisals against Americans and US interests overseas by retweeting graphic anti-Muslim videos by an extreme far right British hate group. Earlier this week he used a racial slur in front of Native American war heroes. He’s attacked global press freedom, after cozying up to autocrats on his recent Asia tour.

And now there are reports that the President has revived conspiracy theories about former President Barack Obama’s birthplace and is suggesting an “Access Hollywood” video on which he was heard boasting sexually assaulting women, and for which he apologized last year, had been doctored.

Trump Once Said the ‘Access Hollywood’ Tape Was Real. Now He’s Not Sure. – The New York Times

The president’s changing story, which has stunned advisers, is part of a lifelong habit of attempting to create his own version of reality. Despite his public acknowledgment of the recording’s authenticity in the final days of the presidential campaign — and his hasty videotaped apology under pressure from his advisers — Mr. Trump as president-elect began raising the prospect with allies that it may not have been him on the tape after all.

Donald Trump, Joe Scarborough and the ‘unsolved mystery’ that isn’t – The Washington Post

After Trump’s insinuation that Scarborough had something to do with Klausutis’s death, the “Morning Joe” co-host refused to engage the president, tweeting: “Looks like I picked a good day to stop responding to Trump’s bizarre tweets. He is not well.”

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STRUGGLING SNAPCHAT

Snapchat Remakes Itself, Splitting the Social From the Media – The New York Times

Where users of Facebook see one giant news feed of information, typically determined by what they have liked and what their friends post, Snapchat users will now see a left side of the app that includes chats and stories shared with, or by, their friends. That’s the social part. On the right side, there will be content from publishers, amateur creators, celebrities and stories that Snap curates from user-generated videos and photos. That’s the media part.

Snapchat redesigns app in new effort to challenge Facebook

Snap, the app’s parent company, believes that creating two distinct newsfeeds will make its service feel more intimate and easier to use. Mr Spiegel said “separating the social from the media” would make Snapchat feel “more personal”.

Wall Street, however, is desperate to see faster user growth from Snap, which is trading 20 per cent below the price at which it went public in March. The company reported in third-quarter earnings earlier this month that revenues had grown 126 per cent year-on-year to $208m, well short of analysts’ forecasts. Net losses had also more than tripled to $443m, in the third successive earnings report to miss forecasts.

17X30 - SNAP EARNINGS

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ROBOT REBOOT

McKinsey: automation may wipe out 1/3 of America’s workforce by 2030 – Axios

In a new study that is optimistic about automation yet stark in its appraisal of the challenge ahead, McKinsey says massive government intervention will be required to hold societies together against the ravages of labor disruption over the next 13 years. Up to 800 million people—including a third of the work force in the U.S. and Germany—will be made jobless by 2030, the study says.

The economy of most countries will eventually replace the lost jobs, the study says, but many of the unemployed will need considerable help to shift to new work, and salaries could continue to flatline. “It’s a Marshall Plan size of task,” Michael Chui, lead author of the McKinsey report, tells Axios.

Robots, Automation Could Replace 800 Million Jobs by 2030 | Fortune

A new study by the McKinsey Global Institute suggests between 400 million and 800 million jobs will be automated by 2030. In the U.S., it seems it’s the middle class that has the most to fear, with office administrators and construction equipment operators among those who may lose their jobs to technology or see their wages depressed to keep them competitive with robots and automated systems.

How machine learning creates new professions — and problems

The explosion in demand for these skills has happened far more quickly than the traditional academic courses have been able to meet. According to Stack Overflow, which runs an online developer community and carries out one of the most extensive annual surveys of the field, data scientists, machine learning experts and developers with a statistics or maths background are three of the four highest-paying job descriptions in software.

Afghan Girls’ Robotics Team Overcomes Setbacks to Win Contest in Europe – The New York Times

Three of the team’s 12 members participated in the competition. Their challenge was to showcase a prototype that could solve a real-world problem, and that customers would want to buy. They won with a robot that could use solar energy to support small-scale farmers in their fields, the embassy in London said. The winner was chosen by the thousands of spectators who attended the event.

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MATT LAUER, GARRISON KEILLOR FIRED

Matt Lauer Accused of Sexual Harassment by Multiple Women (EXCLUSIVE) – Variety

As the co-host of NBC’s “Today,” Matt Lauer once gave a colleague a sex toy as a present. It included an explicit note about how he wanted to use it on her, which left her mortified.

On another day, he summoned a different female employee to his office, and then dropped his pants, showing her his penis. After the employee declined to do anything, visibly shaken, he reprimanded her for not engaging in a sexual act.

He would sometimes quiz female producers about who they’d slept with, offering to trade names. And he loved to engage in a crass quiz game with men and women in the office: “f—, marry, or kill,” in which he would identify the female co-hosts that he’d most like to sleep with.

Matt Lauer Fired: Why Did it Happen So Quickly? | Fortune

The speed at which Today Show host Matt Lauer was fired was stunning—not only because of his long tenure at NBC, but because of his status as one of the network’s most prominent faces.

But behind the scenes, NBC officials were apparently worried about a looming bombshell about the anchor that would have caused a public relations disaster and decided to act proactively. Two reporters at Variety confirmed they had been working on a story about sexual harassment allegations against Lauer for more than two months. And Brian Stelter of CNN’s Reliable Sources says The New York Times was nearing publication on one as well. NBC management was reportedly aware that both stories were close to being published.

Matt Lauer Net Worth: Fired Today Show Anchor Had Huge Salary | Fortune

While Lauer (and now Kelly) topped the news anchor field when it came to salaries, neither come close to Fox News’ Sean Hannity, who last year signed a deal bringing his annual salary to a whopping $29 million.

Matt Lauer’s Firing Leaves NBC’s $500 Million Franchise in Crisis – WSJ

Matt Lauer’s abrupt exit from NBC News after an accusation of inappropriate sexual behavior ends a storied tenure that made him the face of morning television, leaving the network with a huge hole to fill and its most important franchise in crisis.

Minnesota Public Radio Drops Garrison Keillor Over Allegations of Improper Conduct – The New York Times

Minnesota Public Radio said Wednesday that it was severing all business ties with Garrison Keillor, the creator and retired host of “A Prairie Home Companion,” after allegations of “inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him.”

In a statement he provided to The New York Times, Mr. Keillor said, “I’ve been fired over a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard. Most stories are.”

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WAR CRIMES SUICIDE

Croatian War Criminal Dies After Swallowing Poison in Court – The New York Times

“Slobodan Praljak is not a war criminal,” he declared slowly and deliberately in Croatian, just moments after judges upheld Mr. Praljak’s 20-year jail sentence for war crimes and crimes against humanity. “I reject your judgment with contempt.”

In a scene befitting the theater director Mr. Praljak had been before the Bosnian war erupted, he pulled out a small container, raised it to his lips and ostentatiously swallowed the contents. He then said, “I have taken poison.”

He told a war crimes court he was innocent, then swigged a vial of ‘poison’ on video and died – The Washington Post

It was a defiant final act for the 72-year-old accused of ethnic cleansing two decades ago in a failed attempt to create a Bosnian Croat ministate, according to the Associated Press.

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NORTH KOREA

Donald Trump promises more North Korea sanctions after missile test – The Washington Post

“Just spoke to President XI JINPING of China concerning the latest provocative actions of North Korea,” Trump tweeted. “Additional major sanctions will be imposed on North Korea today. This situation will be handled!”

North Korea Missile Launch Appears Calibrated to Avoid American Military Response – WSJ

President Donald Trump spoke to the Chinese president and threatened further sanctions on North Korea after a ballistic missile test that appeared calculated to avoid crossing red lines that could provoke military action by Washington.

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US ECONOMIC GROWTH, GDP

US GDP surges to best level since 2014 – Business Insider

The 3.1% print for the second quarter was the fastest pace of growth for the US economy in two years.

U.S. third-quarter economic growth fastest in three years

The U.S. economy grew faster than initially thought in the third quarter, notching its quickest pace in three years, buoyed by robust business spending on equipment and an accumulation of inventories.

U.S. Economy Reaches Its Potential Output for First Time in Decade – WSJ

The U.S. economy is running at its full potential for the first time in a decade, a new milestone for an expansion now in its ninth year. U.S. GDP growth was revised up to a 3.3% rate for the third quarter, reflecting more business investment in equipment and software, and heftier government spending.

17X30 - US GDP

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RATES, LIQUIDITY, SYSTEMIC RISK, BALANCE SHEETS

Chances for government shutdown rising | TheHill

The odds of a government shutdown grew dramatically Tuesday as President Trump tweeted that he saw no path to a year-end deal with Democrats “Chuck and Nancy,” who then promptly backed out of a meeting at the White House.

Goldman Warns That Stocks Are at Their Highest Valuations Since 1900 – Bloomberg

A prolonged bull market across stocks, bonds and credit has left a measure of average valuation at the highest since 1900, a condition that at some point is going to translate into pain for investors, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

“It has seldom been the case that equities, bonds and credit have been similarly expensive at the same time, only in the Roaring ’20s and the Golden ’50s,” Goldman Sachs International strategists including Christian Mueller-Glissman wrote in a note this week. “All good things must come to an end” and “there will be a bear market, eventually” they said.

Trump’s Pick to Run the Fed Says No U.S. Banks Are Still Too Big to Fail – Bloomberg

President Trump’s nominee to run the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, said on Nov. 28 that no U.S. banks are still “too big to fail”— so big that the government would have to rescue them in a crisis to prevent their failure from triggering a domino effect that would damage the entire financial system. It’s common for Fed officials to assert that there’s been progress in reducing too-big-to-fail risk, but Powell went a step farther.

Powell had better hope that his assertion doesn’t appear some day in a catalog of overoptimistic statements from the Federal Reserve. In May 2007, for instance, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said, “we do not expect significant spillovers from the subprime market to the rest of the economy or to the financial system.”

Yellen Says Fed Will Continue Path of Gradual Rate Increases – WSJ

In what was likely her last testimony before Congress as the central bank chief, Ms. Yellen said nothing to dispel market expectations of a Fed rate increase next month.

Yellen warns on outlook for surging US public debt

America’s surging public debt outlook should be keeping people awake at night, the Federal Reserve chair has warned as Congress debates tax cuts that could further boost the US deficit.

“I would simply say I am very worried about the sustainability of the US debt trajectory,” Ms Yellen said when asked about Senate proposals for a trigger to prevent tax cuts from running up the national debt. The deficit outlook “should be a very significant concern”.

National Debt Clock Returns From the Shop, Finds It’s Off by $687 Billion – WSJ

After six months of repairs, the iconic billboard was remounted in Manhattan last week with a glum message: The U.S. owes creditors $20,546,926,554,467.78 and counting.

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MACRO OP-EDS, INSIGHT, EVENTS AND TRENDS

The Internet Is Dying. Repealing Net Neutrality Hastens That Death. – The New York Times

Sure, technically, the internet still works. Pull up Facebook on your phone and you will still see your second cousin’s baby pictures. But that isn’t really the internet. It’s not the open, anyone-can-build-it network of the 1990s and early 2000s, the product of technologies created over decades through government funding and academic research, the network that helped undo Microsoft’s stranglehold on the tech business and gave us upstarts like Amazon, Google, Facebook and Netflix.

Nope, that freewheeling internet has been dying a slow death — and a vote next month by the Federal Communications Commission to undo net neutrality would be the final pillow in its face.

The five most valuable American companies — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft — control much of the online infrastructure, from app stores to operating systems to cloud storage to nearly all of the online ad business. A handful of broadband companies — AT&T, Charter, Comcast and Verizon, many of which are also aiming to become content companies, because why not — provide virtually all the internet connections to American homes and smartphones.

Together these giants have carved the internet into a historically profitable system of fiefs. They have turned a network whose very promise was endless innovation into one stuck in mud, where every start-up is at the tender mercy of some of the largest corporations on the planet.

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CENTRAL BANKS & MONETARY POLICY

Fed Reports Economic Gains, Strengthening Price Pressures – WSJ

Economic activity expanded at a “modest to moderate pace” in recent weeks amid signs of rising prices and ongoing strength in labor markets, the Federal Reserve’s beige book report said Wednesday.

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USA ECONOMY DATA, CITIES AND STATES

More Americans Are Worried About Their Finances – Bloomberg

Against a backdrop of stock market gains, low unemployment, and generally high consumer confidence, the big drop came as a surprise, said Willis Towers Watson senior economist Steve Nyce. After digging deeper into the survey of 5,000 workers at large employers, Nyce concluded that a long trend of low wage increases and rising consumer debt, paired with lackluster savings, has workers feeling “more out on the edge than they did in 2015.”

Among those making more than $100,000, 13 percent said they are struggling financially, compared with 41 percent for those making less than $50,000. Fears of losing health-care coverage may come into play today, Nyce said, but the larger issue he sees is the frustration of middle-class Americans about their inability to get ahead financially.

American Farm Towns, With Changing Priorities, Reject Industrial Agriculture – WSJ

Meat-processing companies such as Tyson are finding it harder to build new plants in America’s heartland, despite promises to bring new jobs and other economic benefits. Many communities have raised alarms about groundwater pollution, infrastructure burdens and noxious smells.

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GLOBAL ECONOMY DATA

Argentina Raised One Level by Moody’s – Bloomberg

Argentina’s credit rating was raised one level by Moody’s Investors Service as President Mauricio Macri’s macroeconomic reform began to take hold, bolstering optimism about the nation’s long-term prospects.

EU’s Productivity Split – Bloomberg

The productivity gap between richer and poorer Euro-area countries is still widening, according to Bloomberg economist Jamie Murray. To narrow the divide, one of the aims of the single-currency project, Italy and Spain must achieve much faster trend-productivity growth than bigger economies such as Germany and France. Bloomberg Economics says there’s little prospect of that, and expects the gulf to remain substantial across its five-year forecast.

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REAL ESTATE, HOUSING, REITS, COMMERCIAL

  1. Boone Pickens Lists Longtime Texas Ranch for $250 Million – WSJ

Mesa Vista is among the highest priced ranches on the market in the country, according to Eric O’Keefe, editor of the Land Report. In 2014 the Waggoner Ranch in Texas was listed with an asking price of $725 million. It sold in 2016. Molokai Ranch in Hawaii currently has asking price of $260 million.

The Russian billionaire next door: Putin ally is tied to one of D.C.’s swankiest mansions – The Washington Post

A $15 million mansion purchased by a Delaware company in 2006 is connected to billionaire Oleg Deripaska.

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ENERGY COMPANIES, NOCs, INDUSTRY

Gazprom spends big to keep trillion dollar dream alive

In an effort to fight back, Gazprom is betting big. Ramping up borrowing and raiding its once seemingly limitless cash pile, the company is splurging on critical new infrastructure in a massive spending gamble the Kremlin-controlled company hopes will ensure long-term sales growth. Last month it announced that it expected to spend 24 per cent more this year on long-term investment, capital expenditure and acquisitions previously forecast. This week, Mr Miller said that next year’s spending would hit a record Rbs 1.28tn ($22bn), up 13 per cent on the revised 2017 outlay, and Rbs 1.4tn in 2018, in a bid to ensure growth in gas exports. These rose 26 per cent between 2014 and 2016 but the average price per cubic metre fell by around 45 per cent.

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ENERGY CRUDE OIL, OIL SANDS, SHALE

A Headache for OPEC – Bloomberg

Just what OPEC needs to hear, U.S. crude production could reach a record 9.99 million barrels a day in December, according to Rystad Energy in a note Wednesday. That’s almost 300,000 barrels a day higher than the Energy Information Administration estimate of 9.72 million barrels a day in its November Short-Term Energy Outlook. Rapidly rising U.S. production is one of the main threats to OPEC’s aim for higher prices.

Opec returns to ‘Goldilocks’ debate over oil price

For the first time in three years, oil inventories are declining around the world and Opec can, with confidence, finally say that memories of the worst crude crash in decades are receding. But, as they reconvene in Vienna this week, Opec and its new-found allies face a familiar dispute: a price that seems just right for some is always too hot or too cold for others.

It is Opec’s perennial “Goldilocks” problem and looks set to be the biggest source of stress between ministers in the run-up to Thursday’s meeting, where they must decide whether to extend the production deal, which expires in March, for another nine months to the end of 2018.

Russia, Saudi Arabia Clash Ahead of OPEC Meeting – WSJ

Russia and Saudi Arabia are trying to hammer out differences over petroleum output ahead of OPEC’s meeting, highlighting the fragility of an energy alliance between the world’s two largest crude-oil producers.

Moscow drags its feet on oil cuts commitment

While inching closer, Moscow is dragging its feet over signing up for all of next year, sparking talk that a partnership that has underpinned oil markets for the past year could be under strain.

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BREXIT, SCOXIT, LONDON, UK ECONOMY

Brexit Cost Rises as Britain Retreats on Divorce Demands – The New York Times

The proposition that Britain could have its cake and eat it during Brexit, as the foreign secretary Boris Johnson once said, was always dismissed as a fiction by opponents. On Wednesday, it was quietly interred by the government as it capitulated on the amount it will have to pay for a divorce settlement. And this was not Britain’s first capitulation over Brexit, nor — almost certainly — will it be the last, analysts said.

Brexit bill battle turns to presentation rather than hard cash

For Britain the priority is the net bill. The UK wants to highlight estimates that show how payments will be less than half the €100bn liability once receipts such as UK projects have been taken into account. Ministers are banking on Treasury budget wizards making the exit price look as small as possible.

Facebook and Twitter Promise to Aid Inquiry on Russian Brexit Meddling – The New York Times

British lawmakers are investigating whether Moscow influenced the 2016 referendum. The social media giants have promised information within weeks.

London and Dublin scramble to break Brexit stalemate

London, Dublin and Brussels are scrambling to break a stalemate in Brexit talks over the Irish border as Anglo-Irish relations reached one of their worst lows in decades.

Gilt Traders Should Remain Wary of Brexit Risks, Scotiabank Says – Bloomberg

If investors in U.K. assets worrying about Brexit didn’t already have enough to keep them up at night, there is maybe something else they should fret about: a snap general election and a Corbyn government.

TOP

CHINA

In China, Fears That New Anticorruption Agency Will Be Above the Law – The New York Times

Mainstream lawyers and law professors in China are taking a risk in speaking out against a move that they say would violate the country’s Constitution.

Beijing Evictions of Migrant Workers Spark Outrage – WSJ

Citywide closures of apartment complexes housing migrant workers, ostensibly part of a campaign to revamp the city into a sleeker capital with fewer workers, are leaving many migrants with no option but to return to their distant hometowns.

TOP

GEOPOLITICS, CRIME, TERRORISM

Tanzania opposition leader blames president after shooting

Speaking in his first interview since the attack outside his flat in the capital Dodoma in September, Mr Lissu, one of the most vocal critics of the government, believes he was the target of an assassination attempt. And he blames president John Magufuli, alleging that it is evidence of what the opposition leader describes as a campaign to turn “the country into a dictatorship”.

Gold trader tells US court he bribed former Turkish official

A Turkish-Iranian gold dealer who has admitted to money laundering told a New York court that he paid tens of millions of dollars to Turkey’s former economy minister to carry out the scheme, in an embarrassment for the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Crook Claims Rudy Giuliani and Michael Mukasey Tried to Broker U.S.-Turkey Prisoner Swap

Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab flipped for the feds and told a court that President Trump’s pals tried to get him out of an American jail.

Diamond Reynolds agrees to $800,000 settlement stemming from Philando Castile’s death – The Washington Post

The settlement comes after the officer was acquitted in court and the city settled with Castile’s family.

Gunman Opens Fire From Reno Condominium – The New York Times

The attacker died, but no one else was injured in an episode reminiscent of the Las Vegas hotel killings two months ago.

Strong Evidence that U.S. Special Operations Forces Massacred Civilians in Somalia

An investigation by The Daily Beast on the ground in Somalia appears to confirm that American soldiers were involved directly in the deaths of 10 innocent civilians.

Honduras faces political crisis over election uncertainty

Honduras was set for a dramatic electoral showdown after opposition contender Salvador Nasralla and President Juan Orlando Hernández, who both claim victory in polls overshadowed by fears of fraud, drew neck-and-neck as results trickled in.

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PRIVACY, HACKING, CYBERWAR, SURVEILLANCE STATE

China fintech lending boom fuels risks of data theft

“Consumers know that loan platforms are collecting their data but they don’t know who is selling it,” said Zhang Yi, chief executive of iiMedia Research, a consultancy. “For the most part, these platforms aren’t selling data as their main business or they wouldn’t be able to survive. But employees who manage the data are the main source of data leaks.”

Hackers Now Have Incredibly Sophisticated Ways to Breach Banks’ Defenses – Bloomberg

Global banks need to do more to protect themselves from cyberattacks after a “significant evolution” in the threat level in the last 18 months, according to the SWIFT global payments network.

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TRUMP WORLD

A Sharp Decline for Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Tonight Show’ – The New York Times

The latest ratings show that viewers are tuning out NBC’s fun-and-games approach and flocking to the politically engaged Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel.

A year ago, Trump promised Carrier workers help. We’re still waiting. – The Washington Post

He promised to keep jobs in America. But under his tenure, outsourcing has gotten worse.

TOP

ELECTORAL POLITICS

Democrats divided over possible Conyers resignation – The Washington Post

The political future of Congress’s longest-serving member, Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), appeared precarious Wednesday as Democratic leaders and some female lawmakers pressured him to resign over allegations that he had sexually harassed multiple female aides. At the same time, members of the Congressional Black Caucus refused to publicly call for Conyers’s resignation, underscoring the tensions among Democrats over whether the 88-year-old should step down.

Don Blankenship, Coal CEO Jailed for Mine Disaster, to Run for West Virginia Senate – WSJ

Don Blankenship, a former coal executive who served a year in prison for conspiring to violate mine-safety laws before a 2010 mine disaster, is running for Senate in West Virginia, a Republican official said.

Trump weighs 11th-hour boost for Roy Moore

The White House is considering flooding the state with robo-calls, emails, and text messages in an offensive designed to activate the president’s supporters on Moore’s behalf, three people familiar with the discussions said. An administration-sanctioned super PAC, America First Action, is conducting polling in the state as it weighs a possible 11th-hour barrage.

TOP

BANKS, BROKERS, INSURANCE, EXCHANGES

Wells Fargo Is Dubbed a Repeat Offender and Faces New Wrath From Its Regulator – WSJ

A federal regulator has advised Wells Fargo & Co.’s board of directors that it is weighing a formal enforcement action against the bank over improprieties in its auto-insurance and mortgage operations.

Wells Fargo presses ahead with boardroom shake-up

Scandal-hit US bank Wells Fargo is pressing ahead with a boardroom shake-up under new chairman Betsy Duke, identifying three new directors as it prepares for further action by regulators.

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RETAIL APPAREL, SPECIALTY, DINING, BIG BOX

Amazon Says Cyber Monday 2017 Sales Were Bigger than Prime Day | Fortune

The online retailer sold hundreds of millions of items from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, the company said.

Chipotle Founder to Step Down as CEO – WSJ

Chipotle Mexican Grill founder and Chief Executive Steve Ells said he would step down from leading the company he founded 24 years ago, as the fast-casual dining pioneer continues to struggle to win back customers.

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MEDIA, CABLE, SPORTS, ENTERTAINMENT

Paywall Will Be Wired’s ‘Hedge Against the Future’ – WSJ

Wired plans to introduce a paywall in January, part of a reboot that Editor in Chief Nick Thompson says will help protect the 24-year-old tech title as print revenue in the magazine industry continues to decline.

BuzzFeed Plans Job Cuts, Business Reorganization After Revenue Miss – WSJ

Facing a significant revenue shortfall this year, BuzzFeed is laying off about 100 employees and reorganizing its ad sales and business operations as it moves away from relying purely on native advertising.

TOP

AUTOS, ELECTRIC, SELF-DRIVING

Build fast, fix later: speed hurts quality at Tesla, some workers say

After Tesla’s Model S sedans and Model X SUVs roll off the company’s Fremont, California assembly line, the electric vehicles usually make another stop – for repairs, nine current and former employees have told Reuters.

The luxury cars regularly require fixes before they can leave the factory, according to the workers. Quality checks have routinely revealed defects in more than 90 percent of Model S and Model X vehicles inspected after assembly, these individuals said, citing figures from Tesla’s internal tracking system as recently as October. Some of these people told Reuters of seeing problems as far back as 2012.

The world’s most efficient automakers, such as Toyota, average post-manufacturing fixes on fewer than 10 percent of their cars, according to industry experts. Getting quality right during initial assembly is crucial, they said, because repairs waste time and money.

G.M. Unveils Its Driverless Cars, Aiming to Lead the Pack – The New York Times

On Thursday, G.M. will demonstrate its growing fleet of computer-operated, battery-powered Chevrolet Bolts in San Francisco to dozens of investment analysts, who are eager to evaluate the automaker’s advanced test vehicles.

The event represents a critical step for G.M. as it seeks to establish leadership in the hotly contested race to bring driverless cars to market. And although G.M. has been reluctant to show off the cars it has developed through a subsidiary, Cruise Automation, the company now wants to prove that self-driving models are getting closer to general use.

TOP

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, DRONES, FUTURE TECH

D.J.I., the Chinese Drone Maker, Clashes with U.S. Over Data – The New York Times

A memo from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau says the firm’s commercial products may be sending sensitive information about U.S. infrastructure back to China, raising security concerns.

TOP

HEALTH, PRODUCTIVITY AND WELLNESS

Meditation Brings Calm to CEOs – WSJ

Countless corporate leaders run, climb mountains or skydive in pursuit of optimal physical and mental fitness. Now, a growing number—including the chiefs of Salesforce.com Inc., Whole Foods Market, Aetna Inc. and Williams-Sonoma Inc. —meditate to lower their stress and boost productivity.

The burgeoning trend isn’t without its critics, who say it might cause workplace problems. With many more CEOs meditating than 10 years ago, the practice can be seen as self-indulgent, says David Brendel, a psychiatrist and executive coach. “Most employees don’t have time to do it.’’

TOP

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