Volatility Ramping Up

Investor’s first read Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 25,410
S&P 500:2,744
Nasdaq Comp.7,330
Russell 2000: 1,536

Wednesday, Feb 28,  2018    8:59 a.m.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
AR-15  Owners – Expecting a Revolution ? (see below)
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

      This is EXACTLY what I meant  December 27,  when I Warned:
“2018: The Wildest One in Years.”
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
CONCLUSION:
        I think we have seen the highs for the 2009 – 2018 bull market.
There is a remote chance of one more spike to new highs driven by April’s Q1 earnings which are projected by Factset to increase 17% over a year ago.
      The late January/early February 12% plunge was a lot like August 2014 (S&P 500 down 15.8%) and Jan./Feb. 2016 down 17.7%), both in a matter of weeks. Both recovered in following months.
      I think any sustained surge beyond the January highs is doubtful. 
      The market traced out a similar pattern when the market was topping out prior to the 2007 – 2009 bear market where  an 11.4% drop in July/August  2007 was followed by a 15% rally and to a new high on October 11, 2007 before the bear market’s 50% plunge. The new high in October exceeded the July high by a mere 1.2%.  It was the ultimate breakout/fake-out.
      This is why I am referring to  a “topping out” process for the bull market.
      Odds favor  double top with the second top coming in May after a Q1 earnings spike.
      Beyond May, I expect a steady plunge ( 14% to 18%) into fall and the mid-term elections.
 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
TODAY:
     
A sudden drop in interest rates and a positive interpretation of the Fed’s January FOMC meeting launched a surge of buying Monday.
      That gain was mostly reversed yesterday
when newly appointed Fed Chief Jerome Powell addressed the House Financial Services Committee.  Powell would not deny the Fed would raise its benchmark federal funds rate if the economy overheats.  He is concerned with the nation’s level of debt, but is not sounding any alarms at this time.
       Powell’s testimony reversed a drop in 10-year Treasury yields which rose to 2.9117% from 2.8786%.  This triggered a sharp plunge in stock prices.
       The 10-year has since dropped back down before the stock market opens to 2.888%, which should stabilize the stock market today.
 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
SUPPORT “today”:DJIA:25,317;S&P 500:2,741;  Nasdaq Comp.:7,307.
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:25,513; S&P 500:2,755; Nasdaq Comp.:7,359
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
WHAT COULF DERAIL BULL MARKET ?

        The 2009 to 2018 bull market IS still intact. What could derail it ?

        THE NEW ERA MENTALITY
        The myth that the 8-year bull market is unstoppable,
that the Street’s decision process based on algorithms thought to be flawless weren’t programmed for reality, that bull markets and economic expansions age, that stocks that are grossly overvalued will return to historic norms and even go lower in face of mounting fears.

          The Shiller S&P 500’s price/earnings ratio (P/E), based on average inflation-adjusted earnings over 10 years CAPE)  is now 31.7 vs. a mean of 16.8. This overvaluation cannot survive the negatives that are looming in the intermediate-term future.

          THE FED
       The Fed has raised its federal funds rate since December 2015 with no effect on the stock market and has continued to raise rates ever  since in an effort to “normalize” rates after seven years of  a zero-based interest rate policy following the Great Recession/Bear Market.
        While the 10-year Treasury recently jumped to 2.91% (20-year average: 3.74%), and the 2-year Treasury hit a 9-year high triggering a drop in stock prices, these rates have since backed  down, triggering a rebound in the stock market     
 TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IMPLODING ?
The prospect of a huge political scandal is unfolding, one which could result in a constitutional crisis. So far, the Street is in denial, and initially may ignore indictments of Trump’s closest staff, ones who have departed, maybe Trump himself.  Dysfunctional as our government is, it can get even more so, in face of  attempts to fire thwart  Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation, the removal of Trump from office (impeachment, 25th Amendment, resignation, or the presidential pardons of  administration persons.

         That uncertainty, combined with rising interest rates and the downward adjustment in stock valuations can take this market south big time.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 

POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
Tsunami of anti-gun sentiment finally raging. High school students in Florida are organizing to force Trump, Congress and the NRA to take action.  Banks considering  measures to deny credit financing of gun purchases and advertising.
      Less than a week after the Parkland shootings, Florida lawmakers rejected an attempt to ban assault rifles and large capacity magazines. Big mistake.
      These lawmakers can be replaced, the dead students can’t.
      The outrage is just beginning.  It is estimated that just 3% of Americans own half of the 265 million guns in the country.  The NRA and supporters are out- gunned.
………………………………..

Trump launched 14 tweets over the weekend targeting the FBI, Mueller, Dems. Obama, Clinton his innocence, etc..  PRESIDENTIAL ?    Be prepared for ANYTHING !  January 3, 2017, I concluded he is a “human wrecking ball,” a huge mistake, and when you make huge mistakes, you pay a big price.
       …………………………………………

Yes, The issue of guns IS political.  The Republicans, many backed by millions of dollars from the NRA, have stood in the way of efforts to deny even mentally ill from acquiring an arsenal. 
 …………………………………………………..

Why are so many Americans beholden to guns ? It could be their sense of security was rocked by 9/11 plus the Great Recession/Bear Market.  Then it could be racial, a fear that people of different colors will eventually outnumber them, prompting  the need (in their paranoid minds) to stage a forceful change in governance (revolution).  This makes little sense, but from their point of  simplemindedness, they feel more secure with a dozen guns and cases of ammunition in house just in case.
     What these whackos don’t understand is they can’t use their guns outside of their homes for fear of injuring or killing an innocent person which not only sends them to jail, but opens them up to a lawsuit where they lose their stock portfolio, car, house and all those “blankies” that  go bang.  ………………………………………

 

A quasi-fascist state would give Trump the untethered power he craves.
Read: The Ghost of Fascism in the Age of Trump

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43529-the-ghost-of-fascism-in-the-age-of-trump
…………………………………………………….

TRUMP refuses to allow Democrat response to Nunes ‘MEMO.”  Even though the Democrat response was run by the FBI and DOJ for vetting, Trump claims it contains “classified and sensitive passages.”
      Yet, more obstruction ?   What is he hiding behind endless lies ?
……………………….
Number 3 at DOJ, Rachael Brand, resigns at DOJ (see below)
……………………..

WILL TRUMP FIRE MUELLER ? LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  A new appointment to the DOJ may signal Trump’s intent.
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ who will.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2?9/19)      Trump must find someone in DOJ to fire Mueller if he wants to do it.    

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ.      
        Trump has appointed (pending confirmation) former Boeing General Counsel, John Demers, to assume  Boente’s position as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. He could do it, but he has promised to support the Mueller investigation.
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit has shown an interest in the DOJ, and  CIA’s  Mike Pompeo, is a possibility for a post. there.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
 ………………………………………..
        FYI: The S&P 500 gained 36.6% in Obama’s first year, but only 23.7% under Trump. Obama inherited the worst bear market since the 1930’s, Trump inherited an accelerating bull market supported by a stable economy. If Obama’s first year gain is calculated from the Bear market bottom  March 6, 2009 shortly after he assumed office, the gain would be 74.2%.
………………………………………….
U.S. Ranking globally and domestically plunging under Trump
      Global approval of U.S. leadership from 134 countries has plunged to 30% from 48% in just a year.  Clearly, Trump isn’t making America Great Again in the eyes of all other countries. 
The downside of this is we need the support of those countries.  Our nationalistic policies are opening doors throughout the world for China. A Gallup poll shows Germany replacing the U.S. as the top-rated power in the world.
      Under Trump, the United States has dropped to 11th place in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, which in addition  to  R&D spending, includes post secondary, or tertiary, education-efficiency category, which includes the share of new science and engineering graduates. Value-added manufacturing also dropped.  South Korea ranked first, followed by Sweden, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Denmark, France, Israel.
       Also under Trump, Americans’ trust in institutions (government, companies and the  media) has suffered the greatest loss on record according to a poll conducted by Edelman New York. The poll, including 33,000 “informed” individuals showed the U.S. dropping to 43 out of a possible 100, down 23 points in a year.  He is a human wrecking ball.
…………………………………………

SOLUTION for our nation’s problems: Deport Trump’s base. Not the Republicans who vote their party because they are genuinely conservative, but the racist, violent, abusive element that opts for dumbing down solutions for issues because experienced and intelligent people remind them how incapable they are of emotionally and mentally developing rational, unbiased conclusions for issues  without bias that serve the best interests of all Americans.
……………………………..

According to the Washington Post, Trump’s false or misleading statements (lies) now exceed 2,000 after his first year.
……………………………………………
WOULD ANYONE WANT their spouse to lie repeatedly ?, their child ?, mother ?, father ?, minister ?, child’s teacher ?,  coach ?, employer ?.  IF NOT, why would they support President Trump who is on record with telling 4.5 lies per day, 1,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?.
……………………………………….

Trump ABANDONS voter fraud panel, but hands it off the Homeland Security where all the snooping can be done out of sight
. ………………………………………………….
CORPORATE TAX CUT IRRESPONSIBLE

“It's pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised,” Bloomberg continued. Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that. The tax bill is an economically indefensible blunder that will harm our future” –   Michael Bloomberg – billionaire business man former mayor NYC

      I don’t doubt some corporations need, and deserve a tax cut, but to reduce the rate from 35% to 21% is inexcusable, reckless, unjustifiable, and outright subversive to the best interests of America.
      Corporate income taxes comprise 9% of federal government receipts. If corporate taxes are slashed by 40% (from 35% to 21%), the government’s receipts from corporations are reduced by 3.6% from 9%.
      Individual income tax payments comprise 47% of  federal government receipts
. At this point, I have no idea how much of an impact  Congress’ tax cuts will have on this source of federal revenues, but it stands to be significant.
      The Republican administration expects economic growth will be triggered by a sudden change in heart by corporations to abandon stock buybacks and the repatriation of billions stashed abroad to plug the big hole left in federal receipts by tax cuts with a surge in hiring and capital expenditures.
      That assumption is flawed. For one, why would a corporation  go on a hiring and cap-ex spending spree  with an economic expansion that  is 8-1/2 years old, 3 years longer (73%) than the average over 65 years (1945 – 2009).
      For another, are they naïve enough to assume there will be no recessions within the next 10 years ?
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a study on “Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies”:  The report includes 258 corporations that were consistently profitable over an eight-year period between 2008 and 2015. Some conclusions:
-of 258 Fortune 500 companies studied, the effective federal income tax rate was 21.5%
18 of the 258 paid no income tax and 48 paid an effective tax rate of 10%.
83 companies (32%) paid a tax rate less than 17.5%
109 companies (42%)  paid a tax rate between 17.5% and 30%.
66 companies (26%) paid a tax rate greater than 30%
NOTE: The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School estimates the  effective tax rate  for corporates will drop to 9.2% as a result of  tax reform.
……………………………………………………
STATES NEEDING FED’s HELP THE MOST

       The twelve most federally dependent states are Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, Alabama, West Virginia, South Carolina, Montana, Tennessee, Maine,  Indiana, Arizona, Louisiana.
      The twelve least federally dependent states are Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Illinois, California, Kansas, Nevada, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Utah, and Nebraska.
  Red states (Republican) are 67% more dependent on federal government aid than Blue States (Democratic).
So why all the whining about the Feds being in their space ?  Want to go it alone ?   Careful
what you wish for   
.…………………………
The BIG question is, do American morals and respect for our republic  have to hit bottom before Congress and the American voter opts for decency, honesty, integrity and a moral compass ?
    Currently, odds favor neither will have a change of heart even if the findings of the Mueller probe uncover untold crimes against the constitution and American people. 
     The current extremist Republican Party is morally bankrupt, as are many of its supporters. Much of the Republican Congress is comprised congressional  anarchists, determined to raze time-tested checks and balances, and oppose any and all new proposals that do not pass their muster.
      It wasn’t enough that they obstructed progress for eight years of the Obama administration, they are now dismantling the things he did accomplish. Our republic is being mugged in plain sight.
    
There are a lot of very fine Republicans out there, but someone needs to tell them someone hijacked their party.
       This isn’t Reagan, this isn’t anything close to the Republican Party I grew up with.

       This is what the right wing has been waiting for – total control of the presidency, both Houses, and the Supreme Court. (and Fox News)  They want total control.  This is how democratic,  representative republics  perish.
      America is the biggest enchilada on earth.  Why wouldn’t a group of extremists want to wrest permanent control from its people ?  Americans must stop multitasking, and have the guts to endure the day-to-day angst that accompanies being well informed. They need to return to values.
………………………………………………….

Brian Benczkowski was nominated by President Trump in June to be U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. My  Sept. 15 post called attention to this since he previously represented one of Russia’s largest banks Russia’s Alfa Bank. Having  advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his nomination is pending full Senate confirmation. He once served under Jeff Sessions. If confirmed, he pledged independence, recusing himself for two years from any dealings with alfa Bank.  Sen. Feinstein voted against Benczkowski concerned that he never served as a federal prosecutor and the fact he would sit in on  meetings with special counsel Robert Mueller with Russia probe. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., was concerned his major qualification was his connection with Sessions.
……………………………………………
Mercer on the run ?  Bannon and Breitbart bankroller, Robert Mercer is rapidly severing financial ties to Breitbart News and support of Steve Bannon and alt-right’s Milo Yiannopoulos. Mercer was a major supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to gain the Republican nomination last year, but switched his allegiance to Trump when he won the nomination.
      In my March 21 post, I wrote, “Years from now, I suspect Mercer will be relaxing at his Long Island waterfront retreat, Owl’s Nest, or on his 200-foot yacht, Sea Owl, and look back over his illustrious career tarnished  by one regret – he backed the biggest con job in our nation’s history.”

………………………………..
IT’S NEVER THE GUNS !
………………………………..

Six states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Utah, Wisconsin),  are planning to require poverty stricken people on Medicaid  to get jobs  or lose the coverage. Maine, Utah and Wisconsin want to put a time limit on coverage, the latter wants to drug-test people. Excluded: People with long-tern disabilities, the elderly, and children.  Isn’t it bad enough these people are in poverty ? 
      Vox Media reports that 9.8 million Medicaid recipients  don’t have jobs  due to: Illness/disabled (35%), retired (8%), taking care of home or family (28%), going to school (18%), cannot find work (8%). The remaining 60.2 million Americans on Medicaid work full-time of part-time.  I’m not sure what’s the Republican beef here.
……………………………………
TRUMP’S PARDON POWER
    
The President has the power to grant conditional pardons; to commute sentences; remit fines and forfeitures; and grant amnesty. This power can be exercised at any time after the offense has been committed, before conviction of after. Pardons cannot be limited by or controlled by legislative action (US legal.com)
Expect Trump to attempt to pardon anyone he wants, including himself. It’s a way out of facing responsibility very much like dodging the draft. Like when he justified his numerous bankruptcies, saying he only used U.S. laws to his advantage.  Well, “pardons” are his prerogative, in many, not all cases. He would take advantage of whatever loophole to avoid consequences, sort of like dodging the draft, or did I already say that ?
     The President cannot pardon people for “state” crimes, and it is doubtful he can pardon himself.
      Can the Mueller investigation survive Mueller’s firing ?

Slate.com’s July 21 article, “Trump can’t Escape the States,” says “YES.”

1-A state [NY] could hire Mueller and team.
2-State attorneys general could use their quo warranto power to investigate Trump’s organization for fraud and money laundering from Russian sources.
3-A Congressional committee (Senate Intelligence Committee) could hire Mueller or create a Joint select Committee.
4-Congress could pass a new veto-proof independent counsel statute.
FINALLY: If Trump resigns and Pence takes over, Pence could pardon Trump, as Ford did Nixon.
……………………………………

THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIMENT UNDER SEIGE:  Not since the Civil War has the spirit and future of our nation been at such great risk, from within.  This  administration, Congress and U.S. Supreme Court is surgically dismembering  efforts over many years to ensure the safety  and well being of “all” Americans.
     The sooner, Americans recognize these are not genuine Republican conservatives, but extremists determined dismantle that which has been achieved over the years and replace it with “their” brand  of a  quasi-fascist state.  Ben Franklin was right when asked what kind of government  the Founding Fathers had given us.  “A Republic, if you can keep it,” was his respons.
 ……………………………………………………………………………
TRUMP looking for a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card if the Feds close in?”
   
Why not, he dodged military service with 5 deferments  during the Vietnam era (1964 – 1970).
     Reportedly, he has asked advisers about his power to pardon family members and himself  relating to Mueller’s investigation.
…………………………………

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETED ? If the Special Counselor  concludes it is “necessary and appropriate” he is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising out of the investigation, which he does after submitting a report to the attorney general explaining his reasons.

REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER:  Misconduct,  dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, good cause (??), violation of Department policies.
WOULD MUELLER BE REPLACED ? Unclear. If the Democrats controlled Congress they could appoint another Special Counselor
……………………………………
  “Connect the Dots.” This investigation is open-ended. These are people were part of the Trump team, or in a position to know information relating to activities before or after the 2016 election, though  not necessarily in any way guilty of any wrongdoing.
       Nigel Farage – President Trump- Hope Hicks, Jeffrey Sessions – Robert Mercer – Cambridge Analytics – Bannon- Carter Page – Kushner (Jared and Ivanka) – Eric Prince – Donald, Jr.  and Eric Trump – Wilbur Ross –  Michael Cohen – Ezra Cohen Watnick – Michael T. Flynn – Michael G. Flynn ( son)  – JD Gordon  –  Christopher Steele – Michael Caputo -Breitbart News – Roger Stone – Julian Assange – Paul Manafort – Rick Gates – Jill Stein – Sam Clovis –  Kellyanne and George Conway –Dana Rohrabacher – Bill Browder – Peter W. Smith (deceased: suicide), Paul Behrends – Brad Parscale – Sam Nunberg –  Alex Van Der waan – Boris Epshteyn, Ike Kaveladze, and  Russia’s alfa Group – Felix Sater – Rob Goldstone – alfa Group – Emin Agalarov – Sergey Gorkov –  Sergey Kislyak, ambassador to the U.S., Natalia Veselnitskaya, Oleg Deripaska all connect directly or indirectly to the Trump/Russia investigation and some have a connection to Brexit, as well.
      According to the “Observer,” Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica was connected with Canada’s AggregateIQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked together on the Brexit referendum. Aggregate is also a data mining company. While Mercer was a big supporter of Trump, there is no known connection between AggregateIQ and Trump’s campaign staff.
…………………………………………………

     REMOVING TRUMP FROM  OFFICE

Can Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, U.S. Constitution – Remove Trump ?
      It’s a stretch. 
The key for his removal is ”that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Section 4 mentions nothing  that he is unfit, delusional, unbalanced, crazy,  impulsive, irrational, impaired, sociopathic, psychopathic, narcissistic.
      That would be the threshold that would have to be crossed if Trump is removed from office via Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. There is no precedent

      It isn’t just Democrats, liberals, moderates and reasonable people who find Trump caustic, and dangerous, conservatives like George Will, David Brooks and Ross Douthart are also urging his removal.
      First, there are four ways to get rid of Trump – death, resignation, impeachment and Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.
      The procedure employing the 25th Amendment requires the Vice President and the majority of the cabinet of 15 (8) to vote to remove the president. They would submit their declaration in writing to the President pro tempore ( Sen. Orrin Hatch) and Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan) that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and the Vice President will immediately assume to office as acting president.
      However, the president may contend the move by submitting his own letter to the President pro tempore and Speaker of the House, that he believes he is capable of performing his duties, in which case he will resume the office of presidency.
       The Vice President and Cabinet members may then resubmit their declaration at which point Congress would vote within 48 hours if in session. If not, Congress  will act within 21 days where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove  him.  
        However, as “Business Insider.com” noted on Jan. 9, 2018, Trump could simply fire the Cabinet members who voted to oust him from office.
………………………………………
IMPEACHMENT
      A  Consult/Politico poll shows 43% of Americans want Congress to begin procedures for the impeachment of President Trump.

      The U.S. Constitution  enables Congress to remove a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Initially, the House votes on one or more articles of impeachment- if a majority vote is reached, he is impeached.  BUT, impeachment only means indictment. The Senate holds a trial overseen by the chief justice and Supreme Court. A group of House members serve as prosecutors and the Senate as jurors. If two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president takes over.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Note: Source of weekly economic calendar and good recap of indicators: mam.econoday.com
………………………………………………….

George Brooks
Investor’s first read
A Game-On Analysis, LLC publication
Brooks007read@aol.com
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 
Investor’s first read, is a Game-On Analysis, LLC publication for which George Brooks is sole owner, manager and writer.  Neither Game-On Analysis, LLC, nor George  Brooks  is  registered as an investment advisor.  Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed  as particularized or as investment advice as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment in keeping with their tolerance for risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Eyes on Fed Chief Powell

Investor’s first readDaily edge before the open
DJIA: 25,709
S&P 500:2,779
Nasdaq Comp.7,421
Russell 2000: 1,559

Tuesday, Feb 27,  2018    9:16 a.m.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
AR-15  Owners – Expecting a Revolution ? (see below)
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

      This is EXACTLY what I meant  December 27,  when I Warned:
“2018: The Wildest One in Years.”
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
CONCLUSION:
        I think we have seen the highs for the 2009 – 2018 bull market.
There is a remote chance of one more spike to new highs driven by April’s Q1 earnings which are projected by Factset to increase 17% over a year ago.
        This is why I am referring to  a “topping out” process for the bull market.
        Odds favor  double top with the second top coming in May after a Q1 earnings spike.
        Beyond May, I expect a steady plunge ( 14% to 18%) into fall and the mid-term elections.
 
TODAY:
        The “one more spike to new highs,’ I refer to above as a “remote chance”
is gaining more credence.  A sudden drop in interest rates and a positive interpretation of the Fed’s January FOMC meeting launched a surge of buying which is now challenging resistance at the DJIA 25,600 – 25,800 (S&P 500: 2,775 – 2,800) level.

       The late January/early February 12% plunge was a lot like August 2014 (S&P 500 down 15.8%) and Jan./Feb. 2016 down 17.7%), both in a matter of weeks. Both recovered in following months.
       The  current 11-day rebound may be a repeat, but I think any sustained surge beyond the January highs is doubtful. 
      The market traced out a similar pattern when the market was topping out prior to the 2007 – 2009 bear market where  a sharp drop in August 2007 was followed by a punch to new highs in October before the bear market’s 50% plunge.
      
 Newly appointed Fed Chairman, Jerome Powell, will deliver his semiannual  testimony to the House Financial Services Committee at 10:00 a.m. Today.
      A Trump appointee, I expect Powell to lean to the positive, lowballing  the prospect of an effort by the Fed to tighten credit if the economy heats further.
         IMHO, the Fed likes to micromanage the economy, and stock market.  They did it during the Obama administration and will do it for Trump.
         Everything, except the future political future of the Trump administration is gangbusters.  The Obama economic recovery/bull market has been extended by a 40% tax cut for corporations and there are simply no bears or naysayers in sight.
        That’s what it looks like as a bull markets top out.
Expect the market to jump sharply in expectation of statements tomorrow by Fed Chief Powell that the Fed will go easy on checking an overheating economy.
  >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
SUPPORT “today”:DJIA:25,534;S&P 500:2,759;  Nasdaq Comp.:7,369
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:25,857; S&P 500:2,793; Nasdaq Comp.:7,469
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
        The 2009 to 2018 bull market IS still intact. What could derail it ?

        THE NEW ERA MENTALITY
        The myth that the 8-year bull market is unstoppable,
that the Street’s decision process based on algorithms thought to be flawless weren’t programmed for reality, that bull markets and economic expansions age, that stocks that are grossly overvalued will return to historic norms and even go lower in face of mounting fears.

          The Shiller S&P 500’s price/earnings ratio (P/E), based on average inflation-adjusted earnings over 10 years CAPE)  is now 31.7 vs. a mean of 16.8. This overvaluation cannot survive the negatives that are looming in the intermediate-term future.

          THE FED
       The Fed has raised its federal funds rate since December 2015 with no effect on the stock market and has continued to raise rates ever  since in an effort to “normalize” rates after seven years of  a zero-based interest rate policy following the Great Recession/Bear Market.
        While the 10-year Treasury recently jumped to 2.91% (20-year average: 3.74%), and the 2-year Treasury hit a 9-year high triggering a drop in stock prices, these rates have since backed  down, triggering a rebound in the stock market     
 TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IMPLODING ?
The prospect of a huge political scandal is unfolding, one which could result in a constitutional crisis. So far, the Street is in denial, and initially may ignore indictments of Trump’s closest staff, ones who have departed, maybe Trump himself.  Dysfunctional as our government is, it can get even more so, in face of  attempts to fire thwart  Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation, the removal of Trump from office (impeachment, 25th Amendment, resignation, or the presidential pardons of  administration persons.

         That uncertainty, combined with rising interest rates and the downward adjustment in stock valuations can take this market south big time.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 

POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
Tsunami of anti-gun sentiment finally raging. High school students in Florida are organizing to force Trump, Congress and the NRA to take action.  Banks considering  measures to deny credit financing of gun purchases and advertising.
      Less than a week after the Parkland shootings, Florida lawmakers rejected an attempt to ban assault rifles and large capacity magazines. Big mistake.
      These lawmakers can be replaced, the dead students can’t.
      The outrage is just beginning.  It is estimated that just 3% of Americans own half of the 265 million guns in the country.  The NRA and supporters are out- gunned.
………………………………..

Trump launched 14 tweets over the weekend targeting the FBI, Mueller, Dems. Obama, Clinton his innocence, etc..  PRESIDENTIAL ?    Be prepared for ANYTHING !  January 3, 2017, I concluded he is a “human wrecking ball,” a huge mistake, and when you make huge mistakes, you pay a big price.
       There is a possibility he will survive his term, no impeachment, Art.25, resignation.  As much as the American voter should turn control of Congress over to the Democrats this year, I don’t think they understand the seriousness of the damage one politically extremist party controlling the presidency, Congress, the Supreme Court and a major television network can do to our representative democratic republic. To many voters, voting is a simplistic exercise in “My favorite color is red,” “I like his smile,”  “He played high school football,” etc.  America as we have known it for a century is being raped and pillaged by a narcissist and congressional members I consider constitutional anarchists.
…………………………………………

Yes, The issue of guns IS political.  The Republicans, many backed by millions of dollars from the NRA, have stood in the way of efforts to deny even mentally ill from acquiring an arsenal. 
 …………………………………………………..

Why are so many Americans beholden to guns ? It could be their sense of security was rocked by 9/11 plus the Great Recession/Bear Market.  Then it could be racial, a fear that people of different colors will eventually outnumber them, prompting  the need (in their paranoid minds) to stage a forceful change in governance (revolution).  This makes little sense, but from their point of  simplemindedness, they feel more secure with a dozen guns and cases of ammunition in house just in case.
     What these whackos don’t understand is they can’t use their guns outside of their homes for fear of injuring or killing an innocent person which not only sends them to jail, but opens them up to a lawsuit where they lose their stock portfolio, car, house and all those “blankies” that  go bang.  ………………………………………

 

A quasi-fascist state would give Trump the untethered power he craves.
Read: The Ghost of Fascism in the Age of Trump

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43529-the-ghost-of-fascism-in-the-age-of-trump
…………………………………………………….

TRUMP refuses to allow Democrat response to Nunes ‘MEMO.”  Even though the Democrat response was run by the FBI and DOJ for vetting, Trump claims it contains “classified and sensitive passages.”
      Yet, more obstruction ?   What is he hiding behind endless lies ?
……………………….
Number 3 at DOJ, Rachael Brand, resigns at DOJ (see below)
……………………..

WILL TRUMP FIRE MUELLER ? LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  A new appointment to the DOJ may signal Trump’s intent.
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ who will.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2?9/19)      Trump must find someone in DOJ to fire Mueller if he wants to do it.    

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ.     
        Trump has appointed (pending confirmation) former Boeing General Counsel, John Demers, to assume  Boente’s position as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. He could do it, but he has promised to support the Mueller investigation.
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit has shown an interest in the DOJ, and  CIA’s  Mike Pompeo, is a possibility for a post. there.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
 ………………………………………..
        FYI: The S&P 500 gained 36.6% in Obama’s first year, but only 23.7% under Trump. Obama inherited the worst bear market since the 1930’s, Trump inherited an accelerating bull market supported by a stable economy. If Obama’s first year gain is calculated from the Bear market bottom  March 6, 2009 shortly after he assumed office, the gain would be 74.2%.
………………………………………….
U.S. Ranking globally and domestically plunging under Trump
      Global approval of U.S. leadership from 134 countries has plunged to 30% from 48% in just a year.  Clearly, Trump isn’t making America Great Again in the eyes of all other countries. 
The downside of this is we need the support of those countries.  Our nationalistic policies are opening doors throughout the world for China. A Gallup poll shows Germany replacing the U.S. as the top-rated power in the world.
      Under Trump, the United States has dropped to 11th place in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, which in addition  to  R&D spending, includes post secondary, or tertiary, education-efficiency category, which includes the share of new science and engineering graduates. Value-added manufacturing also dropped.  South Korea ranked first, followed by Sweden, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Denmark, France, Israel.
       Also under Trump, Americans’ trust in institutions (government, companies and the  media) has suffered the greatest loss on record according to a poll conducted by Edelman New York. The poll, including 33,000 “informed” individuals showed the U.S. dropping to 43 out of a possible 100, down 23 points in a year.  He is a human wrecking ball.
…………………………………………

SOLUTION for our nation’s problems: Deport Trump’s base. Not the Republicans who vote their party because they are genuinely conservative, but the racist, violent, abusive element that opts for dumbing down solutions for issues because experienced and intelligent people remind them how incapable they are of emotionally and mentally developing rational, unbiased conclusions for issues  without bias that serve the best interests of all Americans.
……………………………..

According to the Washington Post, Trump’s false or misleading statements (lies) now exceed 2,000 after his first year.
……………………………………………
WOULD ANYONE WANT their spouse to lie repeatedly ?, their child ?, mother ?, father ?, minister ?, child’s teacher ?,  coach ?, employer ?.  IF NOT, why would they support President Trump who is on record with telling 4.5 lies per day, 1,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?.
……………………………………….

Trump ABANDONS voter fraud panel, but hands it off the Homeland Security where all the snooping can be done out of sight
. ………………………………………………….
CORPORATE TAX CUT IRRESPONSIBLE

“It's pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised,” Bloomberg continued. Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that. The tax bill is an economically indefensible blunder that will harm our future” –   Michael Bloomberg – billionaire business man former mayor NYC

      I don’t doubt some corporations need, and deserve a tax cut, but to reduce the rate from 35% to 21% is inexcusable, reckless, unjustifiable, and outright subversive to the best interests of America.
      Corporate income taxes comprise 9% of federal government receipts. If corporate taxes are slashed by 40% (from 35% to 21%), the government’s receipts from corporations are reduced by 3.6% from 9%.
      Individual income tax payments comprise 47% of  federal government receipts
. At this point, I have no idea how much of an impact  Congress’ tax cuts will have on this source of federal revenues, but it stands to be significant.
      The Republican administration expects economic growth will be triggered by a sudden change in heart by corporations to abandon stock buybacks and the repatriation of billions stashed abroad to plug the big hole left in federal receipts by tax cuts with a surge in hiring and capital expenditures.
      That assumption is flawed. For one, why would a corporation  go on a hiring and cap-ex spending spree  with an economic expansion that  is 8-1/2 years old, 3 years longer (73%) than the average over 65 years (1945 – 2009).
      For another, are they naïve enough to assume there will be no recessions within the next 10 years ?
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a study on “Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies”:  The report includes 258 corporations that were consistently profitable over an eight-year period between 2008 and 2015. Some conclusions:
-of 258 Fortune 500 companies studied, the effective federal income tax rate was 21.5%
18 of the 258 paid no income tax and 48 paid an effective tax rate of 10%.
83 companies (32%) paid a tax rate less than 17.5%
109 companies (42%)  paid a tax rate between 17.5% and 30%.
66 companies (26%) paid a tax rate greater than 30%
NOTE: The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School estimates the  effective tax rate  for corporates will drop to 9.2% as a result of  tax reform.
……………………………………………………
STATES NEEDING FED’s HELP THE MOST

       The twelve most federally dependent states are Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, Alabama, West Virginia, South Carolina, Montana, Tennessee, Maine,  Indiana, Arizona, Louisiana.
      The twelve least federally dependent states are Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Illinois, California, Kansas, Nevada, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Utah, and Nebraska.
  Red states (Republican) are 67% more dependent on federal government aid than Blue States (Democratic).
So why all the whining about the Feds being in their space ?  Want to go it alone ?   Careful
what you wish for   
.…………………………
The BIG question is, do American morals and respect for our republic  have to hit bottom before Congress and the American voter opts for decency, honesty, integrity and a moral compass ?
    Currently, odds favor neither will have a change of heart even if the findings of the Mueller probe uncover untold crimes against the constitution and American people. 
     The current extremist Republican Party is morally bankrupt, as are many of its supporters. Much of the Republican Congress is comprised congressional  anarchists, determined to raze time-tested checks and balances, and oppose any and all new proposals that do not pass their muster.
      It wasn’t enough that they obstructed progress for eight years of the Obama administration, they are now dismantling the things he did accomplish. Our republic is being mugged in plain sight.
    
There are a lot of very fine Republicans out there, but someone needs to tell them someone hijacked their party.
       This isn’t Reagan, this isn’t anything close to the Republican Party I grew up with.

       This is what the right wing has been waiting for – total control of the presidency, both Houses, and the Supreme Court. (and Fox News)  They want total control.  This is how democratic,  representative republics  perish.
      America is the biggest enchilada on earth.  Why wouldn’t a group of extremists want to wrest permanent control from its people ?  Americans must stop multitasking, and have the guts to endure the day-to-day angst that accompanies being well informed. They need to return to values.
………………………………………………….

Brian Benczkowski was nominated by President Trump in June to be U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. My  Sept. 15 post called attention to this since he previously represented one of Russia’s largest banks Russia’s Alfa Bank. Having  advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his nomination is pending full Senate confirmation. He once served under Jeff Sessions. If confirmed, he pledged independence, recusing himself for two years from any dealings with alfa Bank.  Sen. Feinstein voted against Benczkowski concerned that he never served as a federal prosecutor and the fact he would sit in on  meetings with special counsel Robert Mueller with Russia probe. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., was concerned his major qualification was his connection with Sessions.
……………………………………………
Mercer on the run ?  Bannon and Breitbart bankroller, Robert Mercer is rapidly severing financial ties to Breitbart News and support of Steve Bannon and alt-right’s Milo Yiannopoulos. Mercer was a major supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to gain the Republican nomination last year, but switched his allegiance to Trump when he won the nomination.
      In my March 21 post, I wrote, “Years from now, I suspect Mercer will be relaxing at his Long Island waterfront retreat, Owl’s Nest, or on his 200-foot yacht, Sea Owl, and look back over his illustrious career tarnished  by one regret – he backed the biggest con job in our nation’s history.”

………………………………..
IT’S NEVER THE GUNS !
………………………………..

Six states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Utah, Wisconsin),  are planning to require poverty stricken people on Medicaid  to get jobs  or lose the coverage. Maine, Utah and Wisconsin want to put a time limit on coverage, the latter wants to drug-test people. Excluded: People with long-tern disabilities, the elderly, and children.  Isn’t it bad enough these people are in poverty ? 
      Vox Media reports that 9.8 million Medicaid recipients  don’t have jobs  due to: Illness/disabled (35%), retired (8%), taking care of home or family (28%), going to school (18%), cannot find work (8%). The remaining 60.2 million Americans on Medicaid work full-time of part-time.  I’m not sure what’s the Republican beef here.
……………………………………
TRUMP’S PARDON POWER
    
The President has the power to grant conditional pardons; to commute sentences; remit fines and forfeitures; and grant amnesty. This power can be exercised at any time after the offense has been committed, before conviction of after. Pardons cannot be limited by or controlled by legislative action (US legal.com)
Expect Trump to attempt to pardon anyone he wants, including himself. It’s a way out of facing responsibility very much like dodging the draft. Like when he justified his numerous bankruptcies, saying he only used U.S. laws to his advantage.  Well, “pardons” are his prerogative, in many, not all cases. He would take advantage of whatever loophole to avoid consequences, sort of like dodging the draft, or did I already say that ?
     The President cannot pardon people for “state” crimes, and it is doubtful he can pardon himself.
      Can the Mueller investigation survive Mueller’s firing ?

Slate.com’s July 21 article, “Trump can’t Escape the States,” says “YES.”

1-A state [NY] could hire Mueller and team.
2-State attorneys general could use their quo warranto power to investigate Trump’s organization for fraud and money laundering from Russian sources.
3-A Congressional committee (Senate Intelligence Committee) could hire Mueller or create a Joint select Committee.
4-Congress could pass a new veto-proof independent counsel statute.
FINALLY: If Trump resigns and Pence takes over, Pence could pardon Trump, as Ford did Nixon.
……………………………………

THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIMENT UNDER SEIGE:  Not since the Civil War has the spirit and future of our nation been at such great risk, from within.  This  administration, Congress and U.S. Supreme Court is surgically dismembering  efforts over many years to ensure the safety  and well being of “all” Americans.
     The sooner, Americans recognize these are not genuine Republican conservatives, but extremists determined dismantle that which has been achieved over the years and replace it with “their” brand  of a  quasi-fascist state.  Ben Franklin was right when asked what kind of government  the Founding Fathers had given us.  “A Republic, if you can keep it,” was his respons.
 ……………………………………………………………………………
TRUMP looking for a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card if the Feds close in?”
   
Why not, he dodged military service with 5 deferments  during the Vietnam era (1964 – 1970).
     Reportedly, he has asked advisers about his power to pardon family members and himself  relating to Mueller’s investigation.
…………………………………

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETED ? If the Special Counselor  concludes it is “necessary and appropriate” he is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising out of the investigation, which he does after submitting a report to the attorney general explaining his reasons.

REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER:  Misconduct,  dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, good cause (??), violation of Department policies.
WOULD MUELLER BE REPLACED ? Unclear. If the Democrats controlled Congress they could appoint another Special Counselor
……………………………………
  “Connect the Dots.” This investigation is open-ended. These are people were part of the Trump team, or in a position to know information relating to activities before or after the 2016 election, though  not necessarily in any way guilty of any wrongdoing.
       Nigel Farage – President Trump- Hope Hicks, Jeffrey Sessions – Robert Mercer – Cambridge Analytics – Bannon- Carter Page – Kushner (Jared and Ivanka) – Eric Prince – Donald, Jr.  and Eric Trump – Wilbur Ross –  Michael Cohen – Ezra Cohen Watnick – Michael T. Flynn – Michael G. Flynn ( son)  – JD Gordon  –  Christopher Steele – Michael Caputo -Breitbart News – Roger Stone – Julian Assange – Paul Manafort – Rick Gates – Jill Stein – Sam Clovis –  Kellyanne and George Conway –Dana Rohrabacher – Bill Browder – Peter W. Smith (deceased: suicide), Paul Behrends – Brad Parscale – Sam Nunberg –  Alex Van Der waan – Boris Epshteyn, Ike Kaveladze, and  Russia’s alfa Group – Felix Sater – Rob Goldstone – alfa Group – Emin Agalarov – Sergey Gorkov –  Sergey Kislyak, ambassador to the U.S., Natalia Veselnitskaya, Oleg Deripaska all connect directly or indirectly to the Trump/Russia investigation and some have a connection to Brexit, as well.
      According to the “Observer,” Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica was connected with Canada’s AggregateIQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked together on the Brexit referendum. Aggregate is also a data mining company. While Mercer was a big supporter of Trump, there is no known connection between AggregateIQ and Trump’s campaign staff.
…………………………………………………

     REMOVING TRUMP FROM  OFFICE

Can Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, U.S. Constitution – Remove Trump ?
      It’s a stretch. 
The key for his removal is ”that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Section 4 mentions nothing  that he is unfit, delusional, unbalanced, crazy,  impulsive, irrational, impaired, sociopathic, psychopathic, narcissistic.
      That would be the threshold that would have to be crossed if Trump is removed from office via Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. There is no precedent

      It isn’t just Democrats, liberals, moderates and reasonable people who find Trump caustic, and dangerous, conservatives like George Will, David Brooks and Ross Douthart are also urging his removal.
      First, there are four ways to get rid of Trump – death, resignation, impeachment and Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.
      The procedure employing the 25th Amendment requires the Vice President and the majority of the cabinet of 15 (8) to vote to remove the president. They would submit their declaration in writing to the President pro tempore ( Sen. Orrin Hatch) and Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan) that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and the Vice President will immediately assume to office as acting president.
      However, the president may contend the move by submitting his own letter to the President pro tempore and Speaker of the House, that he believes he is capable of performing his duties, in which case he will resume the office of presidency.
       The Vice President and Cabinet members may then resubmit their declaration at which point Congress would vote within 48 hours if in session. If not, Congress  will act within 21 days where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove  him.  
        However, as “Business Insider.com” noted on Jan. 9, 2018, Trump could simply fire the Cabinet members who voted to oust him from office.
………………………………………
IMPEACHMENT
      A  Consult/Politico poll shows 43% of Americans want Congress to begin procedures for the impeachment of President Trump.

      The U.S. Constitution  enables Congress to remove a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Initially, the House votes on one or more articles of impeachment- if a majority vote is reached, he is impeached.  BUT, impeachment only means indictment. The Senate holds a trial overseen by the chief justice and Supreme Court. A group of House members serve as prosecutors and the Senate as jurors. If two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president takes over.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Note: Source of weekly economic calendar and good recap of indicators: mam.econoday.com
………………………………………………….

George Brooks
Investor’s first read
A Game-On Analysis, LLC publication
Brooks007read@aol.com
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 
Investor’s first read, is a Game-On Analysis, LLC publication for which George Brooks is sole owner, manager and writer.  Neither Game-On Analysis, LLC, nor George  Brooks  is  registered as an investment advisor.  Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed  as particularized or as investment advice as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment in keeping with their tolerance for risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bulls to Challenge Major Resistance

Investor’s first readDaily edge before the open
DJIA: 25,309
S&P 500:2,747
Nasdaq Comp.7,737:
Russell 2000: 1,549

Monday, Feb 26,  2018    9:14 a.m.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
AR-15  Owners – Expecting a Revolution ? (see below)
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

      This is EXACTLY what I meant  December 27,  when I Warned:
“2018: The Wildest One in Years.”
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
CONCLUSION:
        I think we have seen the highs for the 2009 – 2018 bull market.
There is a remote chance of one more spike to new highs driven by April’s Q1 earnings which are projected by Factset to increase 17% over a year ago.
        This is why I am referring to  a “topping out” process for the bull market.
        Odds favor  double top with the second top coming in May after a Q1 earnings spike.
        Beyond May, I expect a steady plunge ( 14% to 18%) into fall and the mid-term elections.
 
TODAY:
      
Friday’s surge in the stock market was in response to a drop in interest rates as a result of the Fed’s release of the minutes from the January FOMC meeting. 
       The Street didn’t get the impression the Fed was in a hurry to raise interest rates, holding to three rate increases in 2018 rather than the four some analysts feared.
        Nothing goes straight up, including interest rates. When they rebound, and they will, the market will take a hit.
        Newly appointed Fed Chairman, Jerome Powell will deliver his semiannual  testimony to the House Financial Services Committee at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday.
         A Trump appointee, I expect Powell to lean to the positive, lowballing  the prospect of an effort by the Fed to tighten credit if the economy heats further.
         IMHO, the Fed likes to micromanage the economy.  They did it during the Obama administration and will do it for Trump.
          As noted above, There is a remote chance the market will punch to new highs before the beginning of a major correction/bear market starting in May after
Q1’s stellar earnings report.
           This is what happened in 2007 and the underlying health of the economy was much worse then. 
         Everything, except for the Trump administration’s future prospects, is gangbusters.  The Obama economic recovery/bull market has been extended by a 40% tax cut for corporations and there is simply no bears or naysayers in sight.
        That’s what it looks like as bull markets top out.
Expect the market to jump sharply in expectation of statements tomorrow by Fed Chief Powell that the Fed will go easy on checking an overheating economy.
         The market will begin to challenge heavy resistance in the DJIA 25,600 – 25,800 (S&P 500: 2,775 – 2,800) area.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
SUPPORT “today”:DJIA:25,297;S&P 500:2,743;  Nasdaq Comp.:7.334
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:25,437; S&P 500:2,767; Nasdaq Comp.:7,379
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
       The late January/early February 12% plunge was a lot like August 2014 (S&P 500 down 15.8%) and Jan./Feb. 2016 down 17.7%), both in a matter of weeks. Both recovered in following months. 
       This one rebounded last week, but it stalled Tuesday after recovering half of the sell off’s loss.  That’s normal. A two-third’s recovery suggests strength, a one-third, weakness.
        WHAT HAS CHANGED ?
        Clearly, not on the earnings front. Q1 S&P 500 earnings are projected by Factset  to beat year ago by 17%, with 2018 posting an 18.5% increase.
        THE NEW ERA MENTALITY
        The myth that the 8-year bull market is unstoppable,
that the Street’s decision process based on algorithms thought to be flawless weren’t programmed for reality, that bull markets and economic expansions age, that stocks that are grossly overvalued will return to historic norms and even go lower in face of mounting fears.

          The Shiller S&P 500’s price/earnings ratio (P/E), based on average inflation-adjusted earnings over 10 years CAPE)  is now 31.7 vs. a mean of 16.8. This overvaluation cannot survive the negatives that are looming in the intermediate-term future.

          THE FED
       The Fed has raised its federal funds rate since December 2015 with no effect on the stock market and has continued to raise rates ever  since in an effort to “normalize” rates after seven years of  a zero-based interest rate policy following the Great Recession/Bear Market.
        While the 10-year Treasury recently jumped to 2.91% (20-year average: 3.74%), and the 2-year Treasury hit a 9-year high triggering a drop in stock prices, these rates have since backed  down, triggering a rebound in the stock market     
 TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IMPLODING ?
The prospect of a huge political scandal is unfolding, one which could result in a constitutional crisis. So far, the Street is in denial, and initially may ignore indictments of Trump’s closest staff, ones who have departed, maybe Trump himself.  Dysfunctional as our government is, it can get even more so, in face of  attempts to fire thwart  Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation, the removal of Trump from office (impeachment, 25th Amendment, resignation, or the presidential pardons of  administration persons.

         That uncertainty, combined with rising interest rates and the downward adjustment in stock valuations can take this market south big time.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
RECENT “INVESTORS FIRST READ. COM”  BLOGS LEADING UP TO THE MARKET’S PLUNGE
Starting with the DJIA at 26,392 (S&P 500: 2,839)   I wrote:  

     “The computer algos on the Street have been in cruise control buy mode for over a year, which is why the market has not had a 3% correction in more than 14 months. This is rare ! 
      At some point, these think-alike’s  will all get a sell signal at the same time, and then it will be straight down. This is why a cash reserve is necessary.
      Friday’s sharp plunges is a warning of things to come if the Street suddenly exits.  The potential exists for a correction of 12% – 16%.”

      I have repeated that  every day for emphasis.
       ON December 27, my annual forecast was “2018; The wildest One in Years,”
stating emphatically, “NO ONE IS BEARISH ! THAT’S BEARISH !
       My initial target for a correction was DJIA down 3,578 points to 22,735 (-13.6%) and for the S&P 500: down 349 points to 2,500 (-12.2%).

        Look, the is classic “Flash Crash,” where the Street, mostly following the same indicators all get a sell signal, or defer purchase signal at the same time,  that’s why I disparage them as “think-alikes.” Best computer is the human brain.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
Tsunami of anti-gun sentiment finally raging. High school students in Florida are organizing to force Trump, Congress and the NRA to take action.  Banks considering  measures to deny credit financing of gun purchases and advertising.
      Less than a week after the Parkland shootings, Florida lawmakers rejected an attempt to ban assault rifles and large capacity magazines. Big mistake.
      These lawmakers can be replaced, the dead students can’t.
      The outrage is just beginning.  It is estimated that just 3% of Americans own half of the 265 million guns in the country.  The NRA and supporters are out- gunned.
………………………………..

Trump launched 14 tweets over the weekend targeting the FBI, Mueller, Dems. Obama, Clinton his innocence, etc..  PRESIDENTIAL ?    Be prepared for ANYTHING !  January 3, 2017, I concluded he is a “human wrecking ball,” a huge mistake, and when you make huge mistakes, you pay a big price.
       There is a possibility he will survive his term, no impeachment, Art.25, resignation.  As much as the American voter should turn control of Congress over to the Democrats this year, I don’t think they understand the seriousness of the damage one politically extremist party controlling the presidency, Congress, the Supreme Court and a major television network can do to our representative democratic republic. To many voters, voting is a simplistic exercise in “My favorite color is red,” “I like his smile,”  “He played high school football,” etc.  America as we have known it for a century is being raped and pillaged by a narcissist and congressional members I consider constitutional anarchists.
…………………………………………

Yes, The issue of guns IS political.  The Republicans, many backed by millions of dollars from the NRA, have stood in the way of efforts to deny even mentally ill from acquiring an arsenal. 
 …………………………………………………..

Why are so many Americans beholden to guns ? It could be their sense of security was rocked by 9/11 plus the Great Recession/Bear Market.  Then it could be racial, a fear that people of different colors will eventually outnumber them, prompting  the need (in their paranoid minds) to stage a forceful change in governance (revolution).  This makes little sense, but from their point of  simplemindedness, they feel more secure with a dozen guns and cases of ammunition in house just in case.
     What these whackos don’t understand is they can’t use their guns outside of their homes for fear of injuring or killing an innocent person which not only sends them to jail, but opens them up to a lawsuit where they lose their stock portfolio, car, house and all those “blankies” that  go bang.  ………………………………………

 

A quasi-fascist state would give Trump the untethered power he craves.
Read: The Ghost of Fascism in the Age of Trump

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43529-the-ghost-of-fascism-in-the-age-of-trump
…………………………………………………….

TRUMP refuses to allow Democrat response to Nunes ‘MEMO.”  Even though the Democrat response was run by the FBI and DOJ for vetting, Trump claims it contains “classified and sensitive passages.”
      Yet, more obstruction ?   What is he hiding behind endless lies ?
……………………….
Number 3 at DOJ, Rachael Brand, resigns at DOJ (see below)
……………………..

WILL TRUMP FIRE MUELLER ? LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  A new appointment to the DOJ may signal Trump’s intent.
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ who will.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2?9/19)      Trump must find someone in DOJ to fire Mueller if he wants to do it.    

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ.     
        Trump has appointed (pending confirmation) former Boeing General Counsel, John Demers, to assume  Boente’s position as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. He could do it, but he has promised to support the Mueller investigation.
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit has shown an interest in the DOJ, and  CIA’s  Mike Pompeo, is a possibility for a post. there.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
 ………………………………………..
        FYI: The S&P 500 gained 36.6% in Obama’s first year, but only 23.7% under Trump. Obama inherited the worst bear market since the 1930’s, Trump inherited an accelerating bull market supported by a stable economy. If Obama’s first year gain is calculated from the Bear market bottom  March 6, 2009 shortly after he assumed office, the gain would be 74.2%.
………………………………………….
U.S. Ranking globally and domestically plunging under Trump
      Global approval of U.S. leadership from 134 countries has plunged to 30% from 48% in just a year.  Clearly, Trump isn’t making America Great Again in the eyes of all other countries. 
The downside of this is we need the support of those countries.  Our nationalistic policies are opening doors throughout the world for China. A Gallup poll shows Germany replacing the U.S. as the top-rated power in the world.
      Under Trump, the United States has dropped to 11th place in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, which in addition  to  R&D spending, includes post secondary, or tertiary, education-efficiency category, which includes the share of new science and engineering graduates. Value-added manufacturing also dropped.  South Korea ranked first, followed by Sweden, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Denmark, France, Israel.
       Also under Trump, Americans’ trust in institutions (government, companies and the  media) has suffered the greatest loss on record according to a poll conducted by Edelman New York. The poll, including 33,000 “informed” individuals showed the U.S. dropping to 43 out of a possible 100, down 23 points in a year.  He is a human wrecking ball.
…………………………………………

SOLUTION for our nation’s problems: Deport Trump’s base. Not the Republicans who vote their party because they are genuinely conservative, but the racist, violent, abusive element that opts for dumbing down solutions for issues because experienced and intelligent people remind them how incapable they are of emotionally and mentally developing rational, unbiased conclusions for issues  without bias that serve the best interests of all Americans.
……………………………..

According to the Washington Post, Trump’s false or misleading statements (lies) now exceed 2,000 after his first year.
……………………………………………
WOULD ANYONE WANT their spouse to lie repeatedly ?, their child ?, mother ?, father ?, minister ?, child’s teacher ?,  coach ?, employer ?.  IF NOT, why would they support President Trump who is on record with telling 4.5 lies per day, 1,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?.
……………………………………….

Trump ABANDONS voter fraud panel, but hands it off the Homeland Security where all the snooping can be done out of sight
. ………………………………………………….
CORPORATE TAX CUT IRRESPONSIBLE

“It's pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised,” Bloomberg continued. Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that. The tax bill is an economically indefensible blunder that will harm our future” –   Michael Bloomberg – billionaire business man former mayor NYC

      I don’t doubt some corporations need, and deserve a tax cut, but to reduce the rate from 35% to 21% is inexcusable, reckless, unjustifiable, and outright subversive to the best interests of America.
      Corporate income taxes comprise 9% of federal government receipts. If corporate taxes are slashed by 40% (from 35% to 21%), the government’s receipts from corporations are reduced by 3.6% from 9%.
      Individual income tax payments comprise 47% of  federal government receipts
. At this point, I have no idea how much of an impact  Congress’ tax cuts will have on this source of federal revenues, but it stands to be significant.
      The Republican administration expects economic growth will be triggered by a sudden change in heart by corporations to abandon stock buybacks and the repatriation of billions stashed abroad to plug the big hole left in federal receipts by tax cuts with a surge in hiring and capital expenditures.
      That assumption is flawed. For one, why would a corporation  go on a hiring and cap-ex spending spree  with an economic expansion that  is 8-1/2 years old, 3 years longer (73%) than the average over 65 years (1945 – 2009).
      For another, are they naïve enough to assume there will be no recessions within the next 10 years ?
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a study on “Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies”:  The report includes 258 corporations that were consistently profitable over an eight-year period between 2008 and 2015. Some conclusions:
-of 258 Fortune 500 companies studied, the effective federal income tax rate was 21.5%
18 of the 258 paid no income tax and 48 paid an effective tax rate of 10%.
83 companies (32%) paid a tax rate less than 17.5%
109 companies (42%)  paid a tax rate between 17.5% and 30%.
66 companies (26%) paid a tax rate greater than 30%
NOTE: The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School estimates the  effective tax rate  for corporates will drop to 9.2% as a result of  tax reform.
……………………………………………………
STATES NEEDING FED’s HELP THE MOST

       The twelve most federally dependent states are Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, Alabama, West Virginia, South Carolina, Montana, Tennessee, Maine,  Indiana, Arizona, Louisiana.
      The twelve least federally dependent states are Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Illinois, California, Kansas, Nevada, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Utah, and Nebraska.
  Red states (Republican) are 67% more dependent on federal government aid than Blue States (Democratic).
So why all the whining about the Feds being in their space ?  Want to go it alone ?   Careful
what you wish for   
.…………………………
The BIG question is, do American morals and respect for our republic  have to hit bottom before Congress and the American voter opts for decency, honesty, integrity and a moral compass ?
    Currently, odds favor neither will have a change of heart even if the findings of the Mueller probe uncover untold crimes against the constitution and American people. 
     The current extremist Republican Party is morally bankrupt, as are many of its supporters. Much of the Republican Congress is comprised congressional  anarchists, determined to raze time-tested checks and balances, and oppose any and all new proposals that do not pass their muster.
      It wasn’t enough that they obstructed progress for eight years of the Obama administration, they are now dismantling the things he did accomplish. Our republic is being mugged in plain sight.
    
There are a lot of very fine Republicans out there, but someone needs to tell them someone hijacked their party.
       This isn’t Reagan, this isn’t anything close to the Republican Party I grew up with.

       This is what the right wing has been waiting for – total control of the presidency, both Houses, and the Supreme Court. (and Fox News)  They want total control.  This is how democratic,  representative republics  perish.
      America is the biggest enchilada on earth.  Why wouldn’t a group of extremists want to wrest permanent control from its people ?  Americans must stop multitasking, and have the guts to endure the day-to-day angst that accompanies being well informed. They need to return to values.
………………………………………………….

Brian Benczkowski was nominated by President Trump in June to be U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. My  Sept. 15 post called attention to this since he previously represented one of Russia’s largest banks Russia’s Alfa Bank. Having  advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his nomination is pending full Senate confirmation. He once served under Jeff Sessions. If confirmed, he pledged independence, recusing himself for two years from any dealings with alfa Bank.  Sen. Feinstein voted against Benczkowski concerned that he never served as a federal prosecutor and the fact he would sit in on  meetings with special counsel Robert Mueller with Russia probe. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., was concerned his major qualification was his connection with Sessions.
……………………………………………
Mercer on the run ?  Bannon and Breitbart bankroller, Robert Mercer is rapidly severing financial ties to Breitbart News and support of Steve Bannon and alt-right’s Milo Yiannopoulos. Mercer was a major supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to gain the Republican nomination last year, but switched his allegiance to Trump when he won the nomination.
      In my March 21 post, I wrote, “Years from now, I suspect Mercer will be relaxing at his Long Island waterfront retreat, Owl’s Nest, or on his 200-foot yacht, Sea Owl, and look back over his illustrious career tarnished  by one regret – he backed the biggest con job in our nation’s history.”

………………………………..
IT’S NEVER THE GUNS !
………………………………..

Six states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Utah, Wisconsin),  are planning to require poverty stricken people on Medicaid  to get jobs  or lose the coverage. Maine, Utah and Wisconsin want to put a time limit on coverage, the latter wants to drug-test people. Excluded: People with long-tern disabilities, the elderly, and children.  Isn’t it bad enough these people are in poverty ? 
      Vox Media reports that 9.8 million Medicaid recipients  don’t have jobs  due to: Illness/disabled (35%), retired (8%), taking care of home or family (28%), going to school (18%), cannot find work (8%). The remaining 60.2 million Americans on Medicaid work full-time of part-time.  I’m not sure what’s the Republican beef here.
……………………………………
TRUMP’S PARDON POWER
    
The President has the power to grant conditional pardons; to commute sentences; remit fines and forfeitures; and grant amnesty. This power can be exercised at any time after the offense has been committed, before conviction of after. Pardons cannot be limited by or controlled by legislative action (US legal.com)
Expect Trump to attempt to pardon anyone he wants, including himself. It’s a way out of facing responsibility very much like dodging the draft. Like when he justified his numerous bankruptcies, saying he only used U.S. laws to his advantage.  Well, “pardons” are his prerogative, in many, not all cases. He would take advantage of whatever loophole to avoid consequences, sort of like dodging the draft, or did I already say that ?
     The President cannot pardon people for “state” crimes, and it is doubtful he can pardon himself.
      Can the Mueller investigation survive Mueller’s firing ?

Slate.com’s July 21 article, “Trump can’t Escape the States,” says “YES.”

1-A state [NY] could hire Mueller and team.
2-State attorneys general could use their quo warranto power to investigate Trump’s organization for fraud and money laundering from Russian sources.
3-A Congressional committee (Senate Intelligence Committee) could hire Mueller or create a Joint select Committee.
4-Congress could pass a new veto-proof independent counsel statute.
FINALLY: If Trump resigns and Pence takes over, Pence could pardon Trump, as Ford did Nixon.
……………………………………

THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIMENT UNDER SEIGE:  Not since the Civil War has the spirit and future of our nation been at such great risk, from within.  This  administration, Congress and U.S. Supreme Court is surgically dismembering  efforts over many years to ensure the safety  and well being of “all” Americans.
     The sooner, Americans recognize these are not genuine Republican conservatives, but extremists determined dismantle that which has been achieved over the years and replace it with “their” brand  of a  quasi-fascist state.  Ben Franklin was right when asked what kind of government  the Founding Fathers had given us.  “A Republic, if you can keep it,” was his respons.
 ……………………………………………………………………………
TRUMP looking for a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card if the Feds close in?”
   
Why not, he dodged military service with 5 deferments  during the Vietnam era (1964 – 1970).
     Reportedly, he has asked advisers about his power to pardon family members and himself  relating to Mueller’s investigation.
…………………………………

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETED ? If the Special Counselor  concludes it is “necessary and appropriate” he is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising out of the investigation, which he does after submitting a report to the attorney general explaining his reasons.

REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER:  Misconduct,  dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, good cause (??), violation of Department policies.
WOULD MUELLER BE REPLACED ? Unclear. If the Democrats controlled Congress they could appoint another Special Counselor
……………………………………
  “Connect the Dots.” This investigation is open-ended. These are people were part of the Trump team, or in a position to know information relating to activities before or after the 2016 election, though  not necessarily in any way guilty of any wrongdoing.
       Nigel Farage – President Trump- Hope Hicks, Jeffrey Sessions – Robert Mercer – Cambridge Analytics – Bannon- Carter Page – Kushner (Jared and Ivanka) – Eric Prince – Donald, Jr.  and Eric Trump – Wilbur Ross –  Michael Cohen – Ezra Cohen Watnick – Michael T. Flynn – Michael G. Flynn ( son)  – JD Gordon  –  Christopher Steele – Michael Caputo -Breitbart News – Roger Stone – Julian Assange – Paul Manafort – Rick Gates – Jill Stein – Sam Clovis –  Kellyanne and George Conway –Dana Rohrabacher – Bill Browder – Peter W. Smith (deceased: suicide), Paul Behrends – Brad Parscale – Sam Nunberg –  Alex Van Der waan – Boris Epshteyn, Ike Kaveladze, and  Russia’s alfa Group – Felix Sater – Rob Goldstone – alfa Group – Emin Agalarov – Sergey Gorkov –  Sergey Kislyak, ambassador to the U.S., Natalia Veselnitskaya, Oleg Deripaska all connect directly or indirectly to the Trump/Russia investigation and some have a connection to Brexit, as well.
      According to the “Observer,” Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica was connected with Canada’s AggregateIQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked together on the Brexit referendum. Aggregate is also a data mining company. While Mercer was a big supporter of Trump, there is no known connection between AggregateIQ and Trump’s campaign staff.
…………………………………………………

     REMOVING TRUMP FROM  OFFICE

Can Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, U.S. Constitution – Remove Trump ?
      It’s a stretch. 
The key for his removal is ”that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Section 4 mentions nothing  that he is unfit, delusional, unbalanced, crazy,  impulsive, irrational, impaired, sociopathic, psychopathic, narcissistic.
      That would be the threshold that would have to be crossed if Trump is removed from office via Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. There is no precedent

      It isn’t just Democrats, liberals, moderates and reasonable people who find Trump caustic, and dangerous, conservatives like George Will, David Brooks and Ross Douthart are also urging his removal.
      First, there are four ways to get rid of Trump – death, resignation, impeachment and Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.
      The procedure employing the 25th Amendment requires the Vice President and the majority of the cabinet of 15 (8) to vote to remove the president. They would submit their declaration in writing to the President pro tempore ( Sen. Orrin Hatch) and Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan) that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and the Vice President will immediately assume to office as acting president.
      However, the president may contend the move by submitting his own letter to the President pro tempore and Speaker of the House, that he believes he is capable of performing his duties, in which case he will resume the office of presidency.
       The Vice President and Cabinet members may then resubmit their declaration at which point Congress would vote within 48 hours if in session. If not, Congress  will act within 21 days where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove  him.  
        However, as “Business Insider.com” noted on Jan. 9, 2018, Trump could simply fire the Cabinet members who voted to oust him from office.
………………………………………
IMPEACHMENT
      A  Consult/Politico poll shows 43% of Americans want Congress to begin procedures for the impeachment of President Trump.

      The U.S. Constitution  enables Congress to remove a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Initially, the House votes on one or more articles of impeachment- if a majority vote is reached, he is impeached.  BUT, impeachment only means indictment. The Senate holds a trial overseen by the chief justice and Supreme Court. A group of House members serve as prosecutors and the Senate as jurors. If two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president takes over.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Note: Source of weekly economic calendar and good recap of indicators: mam.econoday.com
………………………………………………….

George Brooks
Investor’s first read
A Game-On Analysis, LLC publication
Brooks007read@aol.com
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 
Investor’s first read, is a Game-On Analysis, LLC publication for which George Brooks is sole owner, manager and writer.  Neither Game-On Analysis, LLC, nor George  Brooks  is  registered as an investment advisor.  Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed  as particularized or as investment advice as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment in keeping with their tolerance for risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018 Earnings to Surge-Why Not the Market ?

Investor’s first read Daily edge before the open
DJIA:24,962
S&P 500:2,703
Nasdaq Comp.:7,210
Russell 2000: 1,569

Friday, Feb 23,  2018    9:07 a.m.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
AR-15  Owners – Expecting a Revolution ? (see below)
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

      This is EXACTLY what I meant  December 27,  when I Warned:
“2018: The Wildest One in Years.”
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
CONCLUSION:
        I think we have seen the highs for the 2009 – 2018 bull market.
There is a remote chance of one more spike to new highs driven by April’s Q1 earnings which are projected by Factset to increase 17% over a year ago.
        This is why I am referring to  a “topping out” process for the bull market.
        Odds favor  double top with the second top coming in May after a Q1 earnings spike.
        Beyond May, I expect a steady plunge ( 14% to 18%) into fall and the mid-term elections.
 
TODAY:
       The choppiness of this market reflects the uncertainty that has raised its ugly head to spoil the bull’s party that has lasted close to  nine years.
        Everything smells like roses
with a strong economy, corporate earnings exploding, and Republicans controlling the Presidency, Congress, the Supreme Court and a major news network.
        But something is out of whack.
        Recently, a vastly over-priced market took a long overdue  hit as some big hitters locked in fat profits.
        While interest rates have been rising since the Fed’s decision to raise rates in December 2015, the Street suddenly became aware that the Fed would continue to bump rates.
         Interest rates in the open market can be fickle, down one day,  up the next, causing hope in one case, fear in another.
         The Fed will continue its “guess what we will do next” game, trying to have it both ways.  Even with that 12% Jan./Feb. crunch, the market is still overvalued and far too many highly leveraged big hitters are long stocks.
          April will bring powerhouse earnings and maybe another spike in the markets.  That’s well known, why isn’t there a surge now ?
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

SUPPORT “today”:DJIA:24,931;S&P 500:2,701;  Nasdaq Comp.:7,201
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:25,045; S&P 500:2,724; Nasdaq Comp.:7,241
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
       The late January/early February 12% plunge was a lot like August 2014 (S&P 500 down 15.8%) and Jan./Feb. 2016 down 17.7%), both in a matter of weeks. Both recovered in following months. 
       This one rebounded last week, but it stalled Tuesday after recovering half of the sell off’s loss.  That’s normal. A two-third’s recovery suggests strength, a one-third, weakness.
        WHAT HAS CHANGED ?
        Clearly, not on the earnings front. Q1 S&P 500 earnings are projected by Factset  to beat year ago by 17%, with 2018 posting an 18.5% increase.
        THE NEW ERA MENTALITY
        The myth that the 8-year bull market is unstoppable,
that the Street’s decision process based on algorithms thought to be flawless weren’t programmed for reality, that bull markets and economic expansions age, that stocks that are grossly overvalued will return to historic norms and even go lower in face of mounting fears.

          The Shiller S&P 500’s price/earnings ratio (P/E), based on average inflation-adjusted earnings over 10 years CAPE)  is now 31.7 vs. a mean of 16.8. This overvaluation cannot survive the negatives that are looming in the intermediate-term future.

          THE FED
       The Fed has raised its federal funds rate since December 2015 with no effect on the stock market and has continued to raise rates ever  since in an effort to “normalize” rates after seven years of  a zero-based interest rate policy following the Great Recession/Bear Market.
        Suddenly the 10-year Treasury has jumped to 2.91% (20-year average: 3.74%). The 2-year Treasury at 9-year high.  The Street is now worried about four rate hikes in 2018 instead of four. All this affects home buyers, credit card users, business lending , and the U.S. government.
       TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IMPLODING ?
The prospect of a huge political scandal is unfolding, one which could result in a constitutional crisis. So far, the Street is in denial, and initially may ignore indictments of Trump’s closest staff, ones who have departed, maybe Trump himself.  Dysfunctional as our government is, it can get even more so, in face of  attempts to fire thwart  Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation, the removal of Trump from office (impeachment, 25th Amendment, resignation, or the presidential pardons of  administration persons.

         That uncertainty, combined with rising interest rates and the downward adjustment in stock valuations can take this market south big time.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
RECENT “INVESTORS FIRST READ. COM”  BLOGS LEADING UP TO THE MARKET’S PLUNGE
Starting with the DJIA at 26,392 (S&P 500: 2,839)   I wrote:  

     “The computer algos on the Street have been in cruise control buy mode for over a year, which is why the market has not had a 3% correction in more than 14 months. This is rare ! 
      At some point, these think-alike’s  will all get a sell signal at the same time, and then it will be straight down. This is why a cash reserve is necessary.
      Friday’s sharp plunges is a warning of things to come if the Street suddenly exits.  The potential exists for a correction of 12% – 16%.”

      I have repeated that  every day for emphasis.
       ON December 27, my annual forecast was “2018; The wildest One in Years,”
stating emphatically, “NO ONE IS BEARISH ! THAT’S BEARISH !
       My initial target for a correction was DJIA down 3,578 points to 22,735 (-13.6%) and for the S&P 500: down 349 points to 2,500 (-12.2%).

        Look, the is classic “Flash Crash,” where the Street, mostly following the same indicators all get a sell signal, or defer purchase signal at the same time,  that’s why I disparage them as “think-alikes.” Best computer is the human brain.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
Tsunami of anti-gun sentiment finally raging. High school students in Florida are organizing to force Trump, Congress and the NRA to take action.  Banks considering  measures to deny credit financing of gun purchases and advertising.
      Less than a week after the Parkland shootings, Florida lawmakers rejected an attempt to ban assault rifles and large capacity magazines. Big mistake.
      These lawmakers can be replaced, the dead students can’t.
      The outrage is just beginning.  It is estimated that just 3% of Americans own half of the 265 million guns in the country.  The NRA and supporters are out- gunned.
………………………………..

Trump launched 14 tweets over the weekend targeting the FBI, Mueller, Dems. Obama, Clinton his innocence, etc..  PRESIDENTIAL ?    Be prepared for ANYTHING !  January 3, 2017, I concluded he is a “human wrecking ball,” a huge mistake, and when you make huge mistakes, you pay a big price.
       There is a possibility he will survive his term, no impeachment, Art.25, resignation.  As much as the American voter should turn control of Congress over to the Democrats this year, I don’t think they understand the seriousness of the damage one politically extremist party controlling the presidency, Congress, the Supreme Court and a major television network can do to our representative democratic republic. To many voters, voting is a simplistic exercise in “My favorite color is red,” “I like his smile,”  “He played high school football,” etc.  America as we have known it for a century is being raped and pillaged by a narcissist and congressional members I consider constitutional anarchists.
…………………………………………

Yes, The issue of guns IS political.  The Republicans, many backed by millions of dollars from the NRA, have stood in the way of efforts to deny even mentally ill from acquiring an arsenal. 
 …………………………………………………..

Why are so many Americans beholden to guns ? It could be their sense of security was rocked by 9/11 plus the Great Recession/Bear Market.  Then it could be racial, a fear that people of different colors will eventually outnumber them prompting  the need (in their paranoid minds) to stage a forceful change in governance (revolution).  This makes little sense, but from their point of  simplemindedness, they feel more secure with a dozen guns and cases of ammunition in house just in case.
     What these whackos don’t understand is they can’t use their guns outside of their homes for fear of injuring or killing an innocent person which not only sends them to jail, but opens them up to a lawsuit where they lose their stock portfolio, car, house and all those “blankies” that  go bang.  ………………………………………

 

A quasi-fascist state would give Trump the untethered power he craves.
Read: The Ghost of Fascism in the Age of Trump

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43529-the-ghost-of-fascism-in-the-age-of-trump
…………………………………………………….

TRUMP refuses to allow Democrat response to Nunes ‘MEMO.”  Even though the Democrat response was run by the FBI and DOJ for vetting, Trump claims it contains “classified and sensitive passages.”
      Yet, more obstruction ?   What is he hiding behind endless lies ?
……………………….
Number 3 at DOJ, Rachael Brand, resigns at DOJ (see below)
……………………..

WILL TRUMP FIRE MUELLER ? LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  A new appointment to the DOJ may signal Trump’s intent.
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ who will.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2?9/19)      Trump must find someone in DOJ to fire Mueller if he wants to do it.    

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ.     
        Trump has appointed (pending confirmation) former Boeing General Counsel, John Demers, to assume  Boente’s position as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. He could do it, but he has promised to support the Mueller investigation.
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit has shown an interest in the DOJ, and  CIA’s  Mike Pompeo, is a possibility for a post. there.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
 ………………………………………..
        FYI: The S&P 500 gained 36.6% in Obama’s first year, but only 23.7% under Trump. Obama inherited the worst bear market since the 1930’s, Trump inherited an accelerating bull market supported by a stable economy. If Obama’s first year gain is calculated from the Bear market bottom  March 6, 2009 shortly after he assumed office, the gain would be 74.2%.
………………………………………….
U.S. Ranking globally and domestically plunging under Trump
      Global approval of U.S. leadership from 134 countries has plunged to 30% from 48% in just a year.  Clearly, Trump isn’t making America Great Again in the eyes of all other countries. 
The downside of this is we need the support of those countries.  Our nationalistic policies are opening doors throughout the world for China. A Gallup poll shows Germany replacing the U.S. as the top-rated power in the world.
      Under Trump, the United States has dropped to 11th place in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, which in addition  to  R&D spending, includes post secondary, or tertiary, education-efficiency category, which includes the share of new science and engineering graduates. Value-added manufacturing also dropped.  South Korea ranked first, followed by Sweden, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Denmark, France, Israel.
       Also under Trump, Americans’ trust in institutions (government, companies and the  media) has suffered the greatest loss on record according to a poll conducted by Edelman New York. The poll, including 33,000 “informed” individuals showed the U.S. dropping to 43 out of a possible 100, down 23 points in a year.  He is a human wrecking ball.
…………………………………………

SOLUTION for our nation’s problems: Deport Trump’s base. Not the Republicans who vote their party because they are genuinely conservative, but the racist, violent, abusive element that opts for dumbing down solutions for issues because experienced and intelligent people remind them how incapable they are of emotionally and mentally developing rational, unbiased conclusions for issues  without bias that serve the best interests of all Americans.
……………………………..

According to the Washington Post, Trump’s false or misleading statements (lies) now exceed 2,000 after his first year.
……………………………………………
WOULD ANYONE WANT their spouse to lie repeatedly ?, their child ?, mother ?, father ?, minister ?, child’s teacher ?,  coach ?, employer ?.  IF NOT, why would they support President Trump who is on record with telling 4.5 lies per day, 1,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?.
……………………………………….

Trump ABANDONS voter fraud panel, but hands it off the Homeland Security where all the snooping can be done out of sight
. ………………………………………………….
CORPORATE TAX CUT IRRESPONSIBLE

“It's pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised,” Bloomberg continued. Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that. The tax bill is an economically indefensible blunder that will harm our future” –   Michael Bloomberg – billionaire business man former mayor NYC

      I don’t doubt some corporations need, and deserve a tax cut, but to reduce the rate from 35% to 21% is inexcusable, reckless, unjustifiable, and outright subversive to the best interests of America.
      Corporate income taxes comprise 9% of federal government receipts. If corporate taxes are slashed by 40% (from 35% to 21%), the government’s receipts from corporations are reduced by 3.6% from 9%.
      Individual income tax payments comprise 47% of  federal government receipts
. At this point, I have no idea how much of an impact  Congress’ tax cuts will have on this source of federal revenues, but it stands to be significant.
      The Republican administration expects economic growth will be triggered by a sudden change in heart by corporations to abandon stock buybacks and the repatriation of billions stashed abroad to plug the big hole left in federal receipts by tax cuts with a surge in hiring and capital expenditures.
      That assumption is flawed. For one, why would a corporation  go on a hiring and cap-ex spending spree  with an economic expansion that  is 8-1/2 years old, 3 years longer (73%) than the average over 65 years (1945 – 2009).
      For another, are they naïve enough to assume there will be no recessions within the next 10 years ?
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a study on “Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies”:  The report includes 258 corporations that were consistently profitable over an eight-year period between 2008 and 2015. Some conclusions:
-of 258 Fortune 500 companies studied, the effective federal income tax rate was 21.5%
18 of the 258 paid no income tax and 48 paid an effective tax rate of 10%.
83 companies (32%) paid a tax rate less than 17.5%
109 companies (42%)  paid a tax rate between 17.5% and 30%.
66 companies (26%) paid a tax rate greater than 30%
NOTE: The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School estimates the  effective tax rate  for corporates will drop to 9.2% as a result of  tax reform.
……………………………………………………
STATES NEEDING FED’s HELP THE MOST

       The twelve most federally dependent states are Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, Alabama, West Virginia, South Carolina, Montana, Tennessee, Maine,  Indiana, Arizona, Louisiana.
      The twelve least federally dependent states are Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Illinois, California, Kansas, Nevada, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Utah, and Nebraska.
  Red states (Republican) are 67% more dependent on federal government aid than Blue States (Democratic).
So why all the whining about the Feds being in their space ?  Want to go it alone ?   Careful
what you wish for   
.…………………………
The BIG question is, do American morals and respect for our republic  have to hit bottom before Congress and the American voter opts for decency, honesty, integrity and a moral compass ?
    Currently, odds favor neither will have a change of heart even if the findings of the Mueller probe uncover untold crimes against the constitution and American people. 
     The current extremist Republican Party is morally bankrupt, as are many of its supporters. Much of the Republican Congress is comprised congressional  anarchists, determined to raze time-tested checks and balances, and oppose any and all new proposals that do not pass their muster.
      It wasn’t enough that they obstructed progress for eight years of the Obama administration, they are now dismantling the things he did accomplish. Our republic is being mugged in plain sight.
    
There are a lot of very fine Republicans out there, but someone needs to tell them someone hijacked their party.
       This isn’t Reagan, this isn’t anything close to the Republican Party I grew up with.

       This is what the right wing has been waiting for – total control of the presidency, both Houses, and the Supreme Court. (and Fox News)  They want total control.  This is how democratic,  representative republics  perish.
      America is the biggest enchilada on earth.  Why wouldn’t a group of extremists want to wrest permanent control from its people ?  Americans must stop multitasking, and have the guts to endure the day-to-day angst that accompanies being well informed. They need to return to values.
………………………………………………….

Brian Benczkowski was nominated by President Trump in June to be U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. My  Sept. 15 post called attention to this since he previously represented one of Russia’s largest banks Russia’s Alfa Bank. Having  advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his nomination is pending full Senate confirmation. He once served under Jeff Sessions. If confirmed, he pledged independence, recusing himself for two years from any dealings with alfa Bank.  Sen. Feinstein voted against Benczkowski concerned that he never served as a federal prosecutor and the fact he would sit in on  meetings with special counsel Robert Mueller with Russia probe. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., was concerned his major qualification was his connection with Sessions.
……………………………………………
Mercer on the run ?  Bannon and Breitbart bankroller, Robert Mercer is rapidly severing financial ties to Breitbart News and support of Steve Bannon and alt-right’s Milo Yiannopoulos. Mercer was a major supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to gain the Republican nomination last year, but switched his allegiance to Trump when he won the nomination.
      In my March 21 post, I wrote, “Years from now, I suspect Mercer will be relaxing at his Long Island waterfront retreat, Owl’s Nest, or on his 200-foot yacht, Sea Owl, and look back over his illustrious career tarnished  by one regret – he backed the biggest con job in our nation’s history.”

………………………………..
IT’S NEVER THE GUNS !
………………………………..

Six states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Utah, Wisconsin),  are planning to require poverty stricken people on Medicaid  to get jobs  or lose the coverage. Maine, Utah and Wisconsin want to put a time limit on coverage, the latter wants to drug-test people. Excluded: People with long-tern disabilities, the elderly, and children.  Isn’t it bad enough these people are in poverty ? 
      Vox Media reports that 9.8 million Medicaid recipients  don’t have jobs  due to: Illness/disabled (35%), retired (8%), taking care of home or family (28%), going to school (18%), cannot find work (8%). The remaining 60.2 million Americans on Medicaid work full-time of part-time.  I’m not sure what’s the Republican beef here.
……………………………………
TRUMP’S PARDON POWER
    
The President has the power to grant conditional pardons; to commute sentences; remit fines and forfeitures; and grant amnesty. This power can be exercised at any time after the offense has been committed, before conviction of after. Pardons cannot be limited by or controlled by legislative action (US legal.com)
Expect Trump to attempt to pardon anyone he wants, including himself. It’s a way out of facing responsibility very much like dodging the draft. Like when he justified his numerous bankruptcies, saying he only used U.S. laws to his advantage.  Well, “pardons” are his prerogative, in many, not all cases. He would take advantage of whatever loophole to avoid consequences, sort of like dodging the draft, or did I already say that ?
     The President cannot pardon people for “state” crimes, and it is doubtful he can pardon himself.
      Can the Mueller investigation survive Mueller’s firing ?

Slate.com’s July 21 article, “Trump can’t Escape the States,” says “YES.”

1-A state [NY] could hire Mueller and team.
2-State attorneys general could use their quo warranto power to investigate Trump’s organization for fraud and money laundering from Russian sources.
3-A Congressional committee (Senate Intelligence Committee) could hire Mueller or create a Joint select Committee.
4-Congress could pass a new veto-proof independent counsel statute.
FINALLY: If Trump resigns and Pence takes over, Pence could pardon Trump, as Ford did Nixon.
……………………………………

THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIMENT UNDER SEIGE:  Not since the Civil War has the spirit and future of our nation been at such great risk, from within.  This  administration, Congress and U.S. Supreme Court is surgically dismembering  efforts over many years to ensure the safety  and well being of “all” Americans.
     The sooner, Americans recognize these are not genuine Republican conservatives, but extremists determined dismantle that which has been achieved over the years and replace it with “their” brand  of a  quasi-fascist state.  Ben Franklin was right when asked what kind of government  the Founding Fathers had given us.  “A Republic, if you can keep it,” was his respons.
 ……………………………………………………………………………
TRUMP looking for a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card if the Feds close in?”
   
Why not, he dodged military service with 5 deferments  during the Vietnam era (1964 – 1970).
     Reportedly, he has asked advisers about his power to pardon family members and himself  relating to Mueller’s investigation.
…………………………………

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETED ? If the Special Counselor  concludes it is “necessary and appropriate” he is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising out of the investigation, which he does after submitting a report to the attorney general explaining his reasons.

REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER:  Misconduct,  dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, good cause (??), violation of Department policies.
WOULD MUELLER BE REPLACED ? Unclear. If the Democrats controlled Congress they could appoint another Special Counselor
……………………………………
  “Connect the Dots.” This investigation is open-ended. These are people were part of the Trump team, or in a position to know information relating to activities before or after the 2016 election, though  not necessarily in any way guilty of any wrongdoing.
       Nigel Farage – President Trump- Hope Hicks, Jeffrey Sessions – Robert Mercer – Cambridge Analytics – Bannon- Carter Page – Kushner (Jared and Ivanka) – Eric Prince – Donald, Jr.  and Eric Trump – Wilbur Ross –  Michael Cohen – Ezra Cohen Watnick – Michael T. Flynn – Michael G. Flynn ( son)  – JD Gordon  –  Christopher Steele – Michael Caputo -Breitbart News – Roger Stone – Julian Assange – Paul Manafort – Rick Gates – Jill Stein – Sam Clovis –  Kellyanne and George Conway –Dana Rohrabacher – Bill Browder – Peter W. Smith (deceased: suicide), Paul Behrends – Brad Parscale – Sam Nunberg –  Alex Van Der waan – Boris Epshteyn, Ike Kaveladze, and  Russia’s alfa Group – Felix Sater – Rob Goldstone – alfa Group – Emin Agalarov – Sergey Gorkov –  Sergey Kislyak, ambassador to the U.S., Natalia Veselnitskaya, Oleg Deripaska all connect directly or indirectly to the Trump/Russia investigation and some have a connection to Brexit, as well.
      According to the “Observer,” Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica was connected with Canada’s AggregateIQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked together on the Brexit referendum. Aggregate is also a data mining company. While Mercer was a big supporter of Trump, there is no known connection between AggregateIQ and Trump’s campaign staff.
…………………………………………………

     REMOVING TRUMP FROM  OFFICE

Can Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, U.S. Constitution – Remove Trump ?
      It’s a stretch. 
The key for his removal is ”that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Section 4 mentions nothing  that he is unfit, delusional, unbalanced, crazy,  impulsive, irrational, impaired, sociopathic, psychopathic, narcissistic.
      That would be the threshold that would have to be crossed if Trump is removed from office via Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. There is no precedent

      It isn’t just Democrats, liberals, moderates and reasonable people who find Trump caustic, and dangerous, conservatives like George Will, David Brooks and Ross Douthart are also urging his removal.
      First, there are four ways to get rid of Trump – death, resignation, impeachment and Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.
      The procedure employing the 25th Amendment requires the Vice President and the majority of the cabinet of 15 (8) to vote to remove the president. They would submit their declaration in writing to the President pro tempore ( Sen. Orrin Hatch) and Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan) that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and the Vice President will immediately assume to office as acting president.
      However, the president may contend the move by submitting his own letter to the President pro tempore and Speaker of the House, that he believes he is capable of performing his duties, in which case he will resume the office of presidency.
       The Vice President and Cabinet members may then resubmit their declaration at which point Congress would vote within 48 hours if in session. If not, Congress  will act within 21 days where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove  him.  
        However, as “Business Insider.com” noted on Jan. 9, 2018, Trump could simply fire the Cabinet members who voted to oust him from office.
………………………………………
IMPEACHMENT
      A  Consult/Politico poll shows 43% of Americans want Congress to begin procedures for the impeachment of President Trump.

      The U.S. Constitution  enables Congress to remove a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Initially, the House votes on one or more articles of impeachment- if a majority vote is reached, he is impeached.  BUT, impeachment only means indictment. The Senate holds a trial overseen by the chief justice and Supreme Court. A group of House members serve as prosecutors and the Senate as jurors. If two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president takes over.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Note: Source of weekly economic calendar and good recap of indicators: mam.econoday.com
………………………………………………….

George Brooks
Investor’s first read
A Game-On Analysis, LLC publication
Brooks007read@aol.com
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 
Investor’s first read, is a Game-On Analysis, LLC publication for which George Brooks is sole owner, manager and writer.  Neither Game-On Analysis, LLC, nor George  Brooks  is  registered as an investment advisor.  Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed  as particularized or as investment advice as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment in keeping with their tolerance for risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shortly – A Mueller Market ?

Investor’s first read Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 24,797
S&P 500:2,701
Nasdaq Comp.:7,218
Russell 2000: 1,531

Thursday, Feb 22,  2018    9:07 a.m.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
AR-15  Owners – Expecting a Revolution ? (see below)
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

      This is EXACTLY what I meant  December 27,  when I Warned:
“2018: The Wildest One in Years.”
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
CONCLUSION:
        I think we have seen the highs for the 2009 – 2018 bull market.
There is a remote chance of one more spike to new highs driven by April’s Q1 earnings which are projected by Factset to increase 17% over a year ago.
        This is why I am referring to  a “topping out” process for the bull market.
        Odds favor  double top with the second top coming in May after a Q1 earnings spike.
        Beyond May, I expect a steady plunge ( 14% to 18%) into fall and the mid-term elections.
 
TODAY:
        Yesterday’s rollercoaster ride was typical of a market that lacks direction. Looks like the Street must re-program its algorithms after they got blindsided in late January/early February.
         But what can be written into a new algo ?
         Q1 earnings for all quarters of 2018 have been projected to increase sharply for months. But that is already factored in, its impact tempered by a healthy premium given in price/earnings ratios.  The economy looks strong, but with the consumer nearly tapped out, a recession next year must be considered.  To make matters worse, the Fed is normalizing (raising) interest rates, which stands to ensure a recession next year.
         Finally, algos to-date have not factored in the uncertainty of a constitutional crisis, and the possibility of the implosion of  the Trump administration, including Vice-President Pence.
         So, in keeping with my expectation for  a “topping out” of the 2009 – 2018 bull market in coming years,  trading will be choppy with wide swings both ways, mostly in response to comments by Fed officials and swings  daily trends of interest rates.
          The 12% crunch in Jan./Feb. got rid of potential selling that built up after 14+ months of  a market that experienced no 3% corrections.
          April will bring a host of good earnings reports, which should trigger a rally.   That should lead to the last hurrah for this bull market.
           
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
       The late January/early February 12% plunge was a lot like August 2014 (S&P 500 down 15.8%) and Jan./Feb. 2016 down 17.7%), both in a matter of weeks. Both recovered in following months. 
       This one rebounded last week, but it stalled Tuesday after recovering half of the sell off’s loss.  That’s normal. A two-third’s recovery suggests strength, a one-third, weakness.
        WHAT HAS CHANGED ?
        Clearly, not on the earnings front. Q1 S&P 500 earnings are projected by Factset  to beat year ago by 17%, with 2018 posting an 18.5% increase.
        THE NEW ERA MENTALITY
        The myth that the 8-year bull market is unstoppable,
that the Street’s decision process based on algorithms thought to be flawless weren’t programmed for reality, that bull markets and economic expansions age, that stocks that are grossly overvalued will return to historic norms and even go lower in face of mounting fears.

          The Shiller S&P 500’s price/earnings ratio (P/E), based on average inflation-adjusted earnings over 10 years CAPE)  is now 31.7 vs. a mean of 16.8. This overvaluation cannot survive the negatives that are looming in the intermediate-term future.

          THE FED
       The Fed has raised its federal funds rate since December 2015 with no effect on the stock market and has continued to raise rates ever  since in an effort to “normalize” rates after seven years of  a zero-based interest rate policy following the Great Recession/Bear Market.
        Suddenly the 10-year Treasury has jumped to 2.91% (20-year average: 3.74%). The 2-year Treasury at 9-year high.  The Street is now worried about four rate hikes in 2018 instead of four. All this affects home buyers, credit card users, business lending , and the U.S. government.
       TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IMPLODING ?
The prospect of a huge political scandal is unfolding, one which could result in a constitutional crisis. So far, the Street is in denial, and initially may ignore indictments of Trump’s closest staff, ones who have departed, maybe Trump himself.  Dysfunctional as our government is, it can get even more so, in face of  attempts to fire thwart  Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation, the removal of Trump from office (impeachment, 25th Amendment, resignation, or the presidential pardons of  administration persons.

         That uncertainty, combined with rising interest rates and the downward adjustment in stock valuations can take this market south big time.


>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
SUPPORT “today”:DJIA:;S&P 500:;  Nasdaq Comp.:

RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:; S&P 500:; Nasdaq Comp.:
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
RECENT “INVESTORS FIRST READ. COM”  BLOGS LEADING UP TO THE MARKET’S PLUNGE
Starting with the DJIA at 26,392 (S&P 500: 2,839)   I wrote:  

     “The computer algos on the Street have been in cruise control buy mode for over a year, which is why the market has not had a 3% correction in more than 14 months. This is rare ! 
      At some point, these think-alike’s  will all get a sell signal at the same time, and then it will be straight down. This is why a cash reserve is necessary.
      Friday’s sharp plunges is a warning of things to come if the Street suddenly exits.  The potential exists for a correction of 12% – 16%.”

      I have repeated that  every day for emphasis.
       ON December 27, my annual forecast was “2018; The wildest One in Years,”
stating emphatically, “NO ONE IS BEARISH ! THAT’S BEARISH !
       My initial target for a correction was DJIA down 3,578 points to 22,735 (-13.6%) and for the S&P 500: down 349 points to 2,500 (-12.2%).

        Look, the is classic “Flash Crash,” where the Street, mostly following the same indicators all get a sell signal, or defer purchase signal at the same time,  that’s why I disparage them as “think-alikes.” Best computer is the human brain.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
Tsunami of anti-gun sentiment finally raging. High school students in Florida are organizing to force Trump, Congress and the NRA to take action.  Banks considering  measures to deny credit financing of gun purchases and advertising.
      Less than a week after the Parkland shootings, Florida lawmakers rejected an attempt to ban assault rifles and large capacity magazines. Big mistake.
      These lawmakers can be replaced, the dead students can’t.
      The outrage is just beginning.  It is estimated that just 3% of Americans own half of the 265 million guns in the country.  The NRA and supporters are out- gunned.
………………………………..

Trump launched 14 tweets over the weekend targeting the FBI, Mueller, Dems. Obama, Clinton his innocence, etc..  PRESIDENTIAL ?    Be prepared for ANYTHING !  January 3, 2017, I concluded he is a “human wrecking ball,” a huge mistake, and when you make huge mistakes, you pay a big price.
       There is a possibility he will survive his term, no impeachment, Art.25, resignation.  As much as the American voter should turn control of Congress over to the Democrats this year, I don’t think they understand the seriousness of the damage one politically extremist party controlling the presidency, Congress, the Supreme Court and a major television network can do to our representative democratic republic. To many voters, voting is a simplistic exercise in “My favorite color is red,” “I like his smile,”  “He played high school football,” etc.  America as we have known it for a century is being raped and pillaged by a narcissist and congressional members I consider constitutional anarchists.
…………………………………………

Yes, The issue of guns IS political.  The Republicans, many backed by millions of dollars from the NRA, have stood in the way of efforts to deny even mentally ill from acquiring an arsenal. 
 …………………………………………………..

Why are so many Americans beholden to guns ? It could be their sense of security was rocked by 9/11 plus the Great Recession/Bear Market.  Then it could be racial, a fear that people of different colors will eventually outnumber them prompting  the need (in their paranoid minds) to stage a forceful change in governance (revolution).  This makes little sense, but from their point of  simplemindedness, they feel more secure with a dozen guns and cases of ammunition in house just in case.
     What these whackos don’t understand is they can’t use their guns outside of their homes for fear of injuring or killing an innocent person which not only sends them to jail, but opens them up to a lawsuit where they lose their stock portfolio, car, house and all those “blankies” that  go bang.  ………………………………………

 

A quasi-fascist state would give Trump the untethered power he craves.
Read: The Ghost of Fascism in the Age of Trump

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43529-the-ghost-of-fascism-in-the-age-of-trump
…………………………………………………….

TRUMP refuses to allow Democrat response to Nunes ‘MEMO.”  Even though the Democrat response was run by the FBI and DOJ for vetting, Trump claims it contains “classified and sensitive passages.”
      Yet, more obstruction ?   What is he hiding behind endless lies ?
……………………….
Number 3 at DOJ, Rachael Brand, resigns at DOJ (see below)
……………………..

WILL TRUMP FIRE MUELLER ? LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  A new appointment to the DOJ may signal Trump’s intent.
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ who will.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2?9/19)      Trump must find someone in DOJ to fire Mueller if he wants to do it.    

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ.      
        Trump has appointed (pending confirmation) former Boeing General Counsel, John Demers, to assume  Boente’s position as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. He could do it, but he has promised to support the Mueller investigation.
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit has shown an interest in the DOJ, and  CIA’s  Mike Pompeo, is a possibility for a post. there.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
 ………………………………………..
        FYI: The S&P 500 gained 36.6% in Obama’s first year, but only 23.7% under Trump. Obama inherited the worst bear market since the 1930’s, Trump inherited an accelerating bull market supported by a stable economy. If Obama’s first year gain is calculated from the Bear market bottom  March 6, 2009 shortly after he assumed office, the gain would be 74.2%.
………………………………………….
U.S. Ranking globally and domestically plunging under Trump
      Global approval of U.S. leadership from 134 countries has plunged to 30% from 48% in just a year.  Clearly, Trump isn’t making America Great Again in the eyes of all other countries. 
The downside of this is we need the support of those countries.  Our nationalistic policies are opening doors throughout the world for China. A Gallup poll shows Germany replacing the U.S. as the top-rated power in the world.
      Under Trump, the United States has dropped to 11th place in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, which in addition  to  R&D spending, includes post secondary, or tertiary, education-efficiency category, which includes the share of new science and engineering graduates. Value-added manufacturing also dropped.  South Korea ranked first, followed by Sweden, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Denmark, France, Israel.
       Also under Trump, Americans’ trust in institutions (government, companies and the  media) has suffered the greatest loss on record according to a poll conducted by Edelman New York. The poll, including 33,000 “informed” individuals showed the U.S. dropping to 43 out of a possible 100, down 23 points in a year.  He is a human wrecking ball.
…………………………………………

SOLUTION for our nation’s problems: Deport Trump’s base. Not the Republicans who vote their party because they are genuinely conservative, but the racist, violent, abusive element that opts for dumbing down solutions for issues because experienced and intelligent people remind them how incapable they are of emotionally and mentally developing rational, unbiased conclusions for issues  without bias that serve the best interests of all Americans.
……………………………..

According to the Washington Post, Trump’s false or misleading statements (lies) now exceed 2,000 after his first year.
……………………………………………
WOULD ANYONE WANT their spouse to lie repeatedly ?, their child ?, mother ?, father ?, minister ?, child’s teacher ?,  coach ?, employer ?.  IF NOT, why would they support President Trump who is on record with telling 4.5 lies per day, 1,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?.
……………………………………….

Trump ABANDONS voter fraud panel, but hands it off the Homeland Security where all the snooping can be done out of sight
. ………………………………………………….
CORPORATE TAX CUT IRRESPONSIBLE

“It's pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised,” Bloomberg continued. Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that. The tax bill is an economically indefensible blunder that will harm our future” –   Michael Bloomberg – billionaire business man former mayor NYC

      I don’t doubt some corporations need, and deserve a tax cut, but to reduce the rate from 35% to 21% is inexcusable, reckless, unjustifiable, and outright subversive to the best interests of America.
      Corporate income taxes comprise 9% of federal government receipts. If corporate taxes are slashed by 40% (from 35% to 21%), the government’s receipts from corporations are reduced by 3.6% from 9%.
      Individual income tax payments comprise 47% of  federal government receipts
. At this point, I have no idea how much of an impact  Congress’ tax cuts will have on this source of federal revenues, but it stands to be significant.
      The Republican administration expects economic growth will be triggered by a sudden change in heart by corporations to abandon stock buybacks and the repatriation of billions stashed abroad to plug the big hole left in federal receipts by tax cuts with a surge in hiring and capital expenditures.
      That assumption is flawed. For one, why would a corporation  go on a hiring and cap-ex spending spree  with an economic expansion that  is 8-1/2 years old, 3 years longer (73%) than the average over 65 years (1945 – 2009).
      For another, are they naïve enough to assume there will be no recessions within the next 10 years ?
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a study on “Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies”:  The report includes 258 corporations that were consistently profitable over an eight-year period between 2008 and 2015. Some conclusions:
-of 258 Fortune 500 companies studied, the effective federal income tax rate was 21.5%
18 of the 258 paid no income tax and 48 paid an effective tax rate of 10%.
83 companies (32%) paid a tax rate less than 17.5%
109 companies (42%)  paid a tax rate between 17.5% and 30%.
66 companies (26%) paid a tax rate greater than 30%
NOTE: The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School estimates the  effective tax rate  for corporates will drop to 9.2% as a result of  tax reform.
……………………………………………………
STATES NEEDING FED’s HELP THE MOST

       The twelve most federally dependent states are Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, Alabama, West Virginia, South Carolina, Montana, Tennessee, Maine,  Indiana, Arizona, Louisiana.
      The twelve least federally dependent states are Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Illinois, California, Kansas, Nevada, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Utah, and Nebraska.
  Red states (Republican) are 67% more dependent on federal government aid than Blue States (Democratic).
So why all the whining about the Feds being in their space ?  Want to go it alone ?   Careful
what you wish for   
.…………………………
The BIG question is, do American morals and respect for our republic  have to hit bottom before Congress and the American voter opts for decency, honesty, integrity and a moral compass ?
    Currently, odds favor neither will have a change of heart even if the findings of the Mueller probe uncover untold crimes against the constitution and American people. 
     The current extremist Republican Party is morally bankrupt, as are many of its supporters. Much of the Republican Congress is comprised congressional  anarchists, determined to raze time-tested checks and balances, and oppose any and all new proposals that do not pass their muster.
      It wasn’t enough that they obstructed progress for eight years of the Obama administration, they are now dismantling the things he did accomplish. Our republic is being mugged in plain sight.
    
There are a lot of very fine Republicans out there, but someone needs to tell them someone hijacked their party.
       This isn’t Reagan, this isn’t anything close to the Republican Party I grew up with.

       This is what the right wing has been waiting for – total control of the presidency, both Houses, and the Supreme Court. (and Fox News)  They want total control.  This is how democratic,  representative republics  perish.
      America is the biggest enchilada on earth.  Why wouldn’t a group of extremists want to wrest permanent control from its people ?  Americans must stop multitasking, and have the guts to endure the day-to-day angst that accompanies being well informed. They need to return to values.
………………………………………………….

Brian Benczkowski was nominated by President Trump in June to be U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. My  Sept. 15 post called attention to this since he previously represented one of Russia’s largest banks Russia’s Alfa Bank. Having  advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his nomination is pending full Senate confirmation. He once served under Jeff Sessions. If confirmed, he pledged independence, recusing himself for two years from any dealings with alfa Bank.  Sen. Feinstein voted against Benczkowski concerned that he never served as a federal prosecutor and the fact he would sit in on  meetings with special counsel Robert Mueller with Russia probe. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., was concerned his major qualification was his connection with Sessions.
……………………………………………
Mercer on the run ?  Bannon and Breitbart bankroller, Robert Mercer is rapidly severing financial ties to Breitbart News and support of Steve Bannon and alt-right’s Milo Yiannopoulos. Mercer was a major supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to gain the Republican nomination last year, but switched his allegiance to Trump when he won the nomination.
      In my March 21 post, I wrote, “Years from now, I suspect Mercer will be relaxing at his Long Island waterfront retreat, Owl’s Nest, or on his 200-foot yacht, Sea Owl, and look back over his illustrious career tarnished  by one regret – he backed the biggest con job in our nation’s history.”

………………………………..
IT’S NEVER THE GUNS !
………………………………..

Six states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Utah, Wisconsin),  are planning to require poverty stricken people on Medicaid  to get jobs  or lose the coverage. Maine, Utah and Wisconsin want to put a time limit on coverage, the latter wants to drug-test people. Excluded: People with long-tern disabilities, the elderly, and children.  Isn’t it bad enough these people are in poverty ? 
      Vox Media reports that 9.8 million Medicaid recipients  don’t have jobs  due to: Illness/disabled (35%), retired (8%), taking care of home or family (28%), going to school (18%), cannot find work (8%). The remaining 60.2 million Americans on Medicaid work full-time of part-time.  I’m not sure what’s the Republican beef here.
……………………………………
TRUMP’S PARDON POWER
    
The President has the power to grant conditional pardons; to commute sentences; remit fines and forfeitures; and grant amnesty. This power can be exercised at any time after the offense has been committed, before conviction of after. Pardons cannot be limited by or controlled by legislative action (US legal.com)
Expect Trump to attempt to pardon anyone he wants, including himself. It’s a way out of facing responsibility very much like dodging the draft. Like when he justified his numerous bankruptcies, saying he only used U.S. laws to his advantage.  Well, “pardons” are his prerogative, in many, not all cases. He would take advantage of whatever loophole to avoid consequences, sort of like dodging the draft, or did I already say that ?
     The President cannot pardon people for “state” crimes, and it is doubtful he can pardon himself.
      Can the Mueller investigation survive Mueller’s firing ?

Slate.com’s July 21 article, “Trump can’t Escape the States,” says “YES.”

1-A state [NY] could hire Mueller and team.
2-State attorneys general could use their quo warranto power to investigate Trump’s organization for fraud and money laundering from Russian sources.
3-A Congressional committee (Senate Intelligence Committee) could hire Mueller or create a Joint select Committee.
4-Congress could pass a new veto-proof independent counsel statute.
FINALLY: If Trump resigns and Pence takes over, Pence could pardon Trump, as Ford did Nixon.
……………………………………

THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIMENT UNDER SEIGE:  Not since the Civil War has the spirit and future of our nation been at such great risk, from within.  This  administration, Congress and U.S. Supreme Court is surgically dismembering  efforts over many years to ensure the safety  and well being of “all” Americans.
     The sooner, Americans recognize these are not genuine Republican conservatives, but extremists determined dismantle that which has been achieved over the years and replace it with “their” brand  of a  quasi-fascist state.  Ben Franklin was right when asked what kind of government  the Founding Fathers had given us.  “A Republic, if you can keep it,” was his respons.
 ……………………………………………………………………………
TRUMP looking for a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card if the Feds close in?”
   
Why not, he dodged military service with 5 deferments  during the Vietnam era (1964 – 1970).
     Reportedly, he has asked advisers about his power to pardon family members and himself  relating to Mueller’s investigation.
…………………………………

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETED ? If the Special Counselor  concludes it is “necessary and appropriate” he is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising out of the investigation, which he does after submitting a report to the attorney general explaining his reasons.

REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER:  Misconduct,  dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, good cause (??), violation of Department policies.
WOULD MUELLER BE REPLACED ? Unclear. If the Democrats controlled Congress they could appoint another Special Counselor
……………………………………
  “Connect the Dots.” This investigation is open-ended. These are people were part of the Trump team, or in a position to know information relating to activities before or after the 2016 election, though  not necessarily in any way guilty of any wrongdoing.
       Nigel Farage – President Trump- Hope Hicks, Jeffrey Sessions – Robert Mercer – Cambridge Analytics – Bannon- Carter Page – Kushner (Jared and Ivanka) – Eric Prince – Donald, Jr.  and Eric Trump – Wilbur Ross –  Michael Cohen – Ezra Cohen Watnick – Michael T. Flynn – Michael G. Flynn ( son)  – JD Gordon  –  Christopher Steele – Michael Caputo -Breitbart News – Roger Stone – Julian Assange – Paul Manafort – Rick Gates – Jill Stein – Sam Clovis –  Kellyanne and George Conway –Dana Rohrabacher – Bill Browder – Peter W. Smith (deceased: suicide), Paul Behrends – Brad Parscale – Sam Nunberg –  Alex Van Der waan – Boris Epshteyn, Ike Kaveladze, and  Russia’s alfa Group – Felix Sater – Rob Goldstone – alfa Group – Emin Agalarov – Sergey Gorkov –  Sergey Kislyak, ambassador to the U.S., Natalia Veselnitskaya, Oleg Deripaska all connect directly or indirectly to the Trump/Russia investigation and some have a connection to Brexit, as well.
      According to the “Observer,” Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica was connected with Canada’s AggregateIQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked together on the Brexit referendum. Aggregate is also a data mining company. While Mercer was a big supporter of Trump, there is no known connection between AggregateIQ and Trump’s campaign staff.
…………………………………………………

     REMOVING TRUMP FROM  OFFICE

Can Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, U.S. Constitution – Remove Trump ?
      It’s a stretch. 
The key for his removal is ”that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Section 4 mentions nothing  that he is unfit, delusional, unbalanced, crazy,  impulsive, irrational, impaired, sociopathic, psychopathic, narcissistic.
      That would be the threshold that would have to be crossed if Trump is removed from office via Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. There is no precedent

      It isn’t just Democrats, liberals, moderates and reasonable people who find Trump caustic, and dangerous, conservatives like George Will, David Brooks and Ross Douthart are also urging his removal.
      First, there are four ways to get rid of Trump – death, resignation, impeachment and Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.
      The procedure employing the 25th Amendment requires the Vice President and the majority of the cabinet of 15 (8) to vote to remove the president. They would submit their declaration in writing to the President pro tempore ( Sen. Orrin Hatch) and Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan) that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and the Vice President will immediately assume to office as acting president.
      However, the president may contend the move by submitting his own letter to the President pro tempore and Speaker of the House, that he believes he is capable of performing his duties, in which case he will resume the office of presidency.
       The Vice President and Cabinet members may then resubmit their declaration at which point Congress would vote within 48 hours if in session. If not, Congress  will act within 21 days where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove  him.  
        However, as “Business Insider.com” noted on Jan. 9, 2018, Trump could simply fire the Cabinet members who voted to oust him from office.
………………………………………
IMPEACHMENT
      A  Consult/Politico poll shows 43% of Americans want Congress to begin procedures for the impeachment of President Trump.

      The U.S. Constitution  enables Congress to remove a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Initially, the House votes on one or more articles of impeachment- if a majority vote is reached, he is impeached.  BUT, impeachment only means indictment. The Senate holds a trial overseen by the chief justice and Supreme Court. A group of House members serve as prosecutors and the Senate as jurors. If two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president takes over.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Note: Source of weekly economic calendar and good recap of indicators: mam.econoday.com
………………………………………………….

George Brooks
Investor’s first read
A Game-On Analysis, LLC publication
Brooks007read@aol.com
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 
Investor’s first read, is a Game-On Analysis, LLC publication for which George Brooks is sole owner, manager and writer.  Neither Game-On Analysis, LLC, nor George  Brooks  is  registered as an investment advisor.  Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed  as particularized or as investment advice as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment in keeping with their tolerance for risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perfect Storm Looms

Investor’s first read Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 24,964
S&P 500:2,716
Nasdaq Comp.7,234:
Russell 2000: 1,529

Wednesday, Feb 21,  2018    8:56 a.m.
…………………………………………..

      This is EXACTLY what I meant  December 27,  when I Warned:
“2018: The Wildest One in Years.”
       The late January/early February 12% plunge was a lot like August 2014 (S&P 500 down 15.8%) and Jan./Feb. 2016 down 17.7%), both in a matter of weeks. Both recovered in following months. 
       
This one rebounded last week, but it stalled Tuesday after recovering half of the sell off’s loss.  That’s normal. A two-third’s recovery suggests strength, a one-third, weakness.
        WHAT HAS CHANGED ?
        Clearly, not on the earnings front. Q1 S&P 500 earnings are projected by Factset  to beat year ago by 17%, with 2018 posting an 18.5% increase.
        THE NEW ERA MENTALITY
        The myth that the 8-year bull market is unstoppable,
that the Street’s decision process based on algorithms thought to be flawless weren’t programmed for reality, that bull markets and economic expansions age, that stocks that are grossly overvalued will return to historic norms and even go lower in face of mounting fears.

          The Shiller S&P 500’s price/earnings ratio (P/E), based on average inflation-adjusted earnings over 10 years CAPE)  is now 31.7 vs. a mean of 16.8. This overvaluation cannot survive the negatives that are looming in the intermediate-term future.

          THE FED
       The Fed has raised its federal funds rate since December 2015 with no effect on the stock market and has continued to raise rates ever  since in an effort to “normalize” rates after seven years of  a zero-based interest rate policy following the Great Recession/Bear Market.
        Suddenly the 10-year Treasury has jumped to 2.91% (20-year average: 3.74%). The 2-year Treasury at 9-year high.  The Street is now worried about four rate hikes in 2018 instead of four. All this affects home buyers, credit card users, business lending , and the U.S. government.
       TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IMPLODING ?
The prospect of a huge political scandal is unfolding, one which could result in a constitutional crisis. So far, the Street is in denial, and initially may ignore indictments of Trump’s closest staff, ones who have departed, maybe Trump himself.  Dysfunctional as our government is, it can get even more so, in face of  attempts to fire thwart  Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation, the removal of Trump from office (impeachment, 25th Amendment, resignation, or the presidential pardons of  administration persons.

         That uncertainty, combined with rising interest rates and the downward adjustment in stock valuations can take this market south big time.


CONCLUSION:
        I think we have seen the highs for the 2009 – 2018 bull market.
There is a remote chance of one more spike to new highs driven by April’s Q1 earnings which are projected by Factset to increase 17% over a year ago.
        This is why I am referring to  a “topping out” process for the bull market.
        Odds favor  double top with the second top coming in May after a Q1 earnings spike.
        Beyond May, I expect a steady plunge ( 14% to 18%) into fall and the mid-term elections.
 
        If the Street Panics, the market will waste no time plunging to a level that discounts the negatives noted above.   If interest rates suddenly flatten out or the Fed appears to be backing off its tightening policy, that panic will be delayed.
 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
SUPPORT “today”:DJIA:;S&P 500:;  Nasdaq Comp.:

RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:; S&P 500:; Nasdaq Comp.:
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
RECENT “INVESTORS FIRST READ. COM”  BLOGS LEADING UP TO THE MARKET’S PLUNGE
Starting with the DJIA at 26,392 (S&P 500: 2,839)   I wrote:  

     “The computer algos on the Street have been in cruise control buy mode for over a year, which is why the market has not had a 3% correction in more than 14 months. This is rare ! 
      At some point, these think-alike’s  will all get a sell signal at the same time, and then it will be straight down. This is why a cash reserve is necessary.
      Friday’s sharp plunges is a warning of things to come if the Street suddenly exits.  The potential exists for a correction of 12% – 16%.”

      I have repeated that  every day for emphasis.
       ON December 27, my annual forecast was “2018; The wildest One in Years,”
stating emphatically, “NO ONE IS BEARISH ! THAT’S BEARISH !
       My initial target for a correction was DJIA down 3,578 points to 22,735 (-13.6%) and for the S&P 500: down 349 points to 2,500 (-12.2%).

        Look, the is classic “Flash Crash,” where the Street, mostly following the same indicators all get a sell signal, or defer purchase signal at the same time,  that’s why I disparage them as “think-alikes.” Best computer is the human brain.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
Tsunami of anti-gun sentiment finally raging. High school students in Florida are organizing to force Trump, Congress and the NRA to take action.  Banks considering  measures to deny credit financing of gun purchases and advertising.
      Less than a week after the Parkland shootings, Florida lawmakers rejected an attempt to ban assault rifles and large capacity magazines. Big mistake.
      These lawmakers can be replaced, the dead students can’t.
      The outrage is just beginning.  It is estimated that just 3% of Americans own half of the 265 million guns in the country.  The NRA and supporters are out- gunned.
………………………………..

Trump launched 14 tweets over the weekend targeting the FBI, Mueller, Dems. Obama, Clinton his innocence, etc..  PRESIDENTIAL ?    Be prepared for ANYTHING !  January 3, 2017, I concluded he is a “human wrecking ball,” a huge mistake, and when you make huge mistakes, you pay a big price.
       There is a possibility he will survive his term, no impeachment, Art.25, resignation.  As much as the American voter should turn control of Congress over to the Democrats this year, I don’t think they understand the seriousness of the damage one politically extremist party controlling the presidency, Congress, the Supreme Court and a major television network can do to our representative democratic republic. To many voters, voting is a simplistic exercise in “My favorite color is red,” “I like his smile,”  “He played high school football,” etc.  America as we have known it for a century is being raped and pillaged by a narcissist and congressional members I consider constitutional anarchists.
…………………………………………

Yes, The issue of guns IS political.  The Republicans, many backed by millions of dollars from the NRA, have stood in the way of efforts to deny even mentally ill from acquiring an arsenal. 
 …………………………………………………..

Why are so many Americans beholden to guns ? It could be their sense of security was rocked by 9/11 plus the Great Recession/Bear Market.  Then it could be racial, a fear that people of different colors will eventually outnumber them prompting  the need (in their paranoid minds) to stage a forceful change in governance (revolution).  This makes little sense, but from their point of  simplemindedness, they feel more secure with a dozen guns and cases of ammunition in house just in case.
     What these whackos don’t understand is they can’t use their guns outside of their homes for fear of injuring or killing an innocent person which not only sends them to jail, but opens them up to a lawsuit where they lose their stock portfolio, car, house and all those “blankies” that  go bang.  ………………………………………

 

A quasi-fascist state would give Trump the untethered power he craves.
Read: The Ghost of Fascism in the Age of Trump

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43529-the-ghost-of-fascism-in-the-age-of-trump
…………………………………………………….

TRUMP refuses to allow Democrat response to Nunes ‘MEMO.”  Even though the Democrat response was run by the FBI and DOJ for vetting, Trump claims it contains “classified and sensitive passages.”
      Yet, more obstruction ?   What is he hiding behind endless lies ?
……………………….
Number 3 at DOJ, Rachael Brand, resigns at DOJ (see below)
……………………..

WILL TRUMP FIRE MUELLER ? LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  A new appointment to the DOJ may signal Trump’s intent.
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ who will.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2?9/19)      Trump must find someone in DOJ to fire Mueller if he wants to do it.    

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ.      
        Trump has appointed (pending confirmation) former Boeing General Counsel, John Demers, to assume  Boente’s position as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. He could do it, but he has promised to support the Mueller investigation.
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit has shown an interest in the DOJ, and  CIA’s  Mike Pompeo, is a possibility for a post. there.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
 ………………………………………..
        FYI: The S&P 500 gained 36.6% in Obama’s first year, but only 23.7% under Trump. Obama inherited the worst bear market since the 1930’s, Trump inherited an accelerating bull market supported by a stable economy. If Obama’s first year gain is calculated from the Bear market bottom  March 6, 2009 shortly after he assumed office, the gain would be 74.2%.
………………………………………….
U.S. Ranking globally and domestically plunging under Trump
      Global approval of U.S. leadership from 134 countries has plunged to 30% from 48% in just a year.  Clearly, Trump isn’t making America Great Again in the eyes of all other countries. 
The downside of this is we need the support of those countries.  Our nationalistic policies are opening doors throughout the world for China. A Gallup poll shows Germany replacing the U.S. as the top-rated power in the world.
      Under Trump, the United States has dropped to 11th place in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, which in addition  to  R&D spending, includes post secondary, or tertiary, education-efficiency category, which includes the share of new science and engineering graduates. Value-added manufacturing also dropped.  South Korea ranked first, followed by Sweden, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Denmark, France, Israel.
       Also under Trump, Americans’ trust in institutions (government, companies and the  media) has suffered the greatest loss on record according to a poll conducted by Edelman New York. The poll, including 33,000 “informed” individuals showed the U.S. dropping to 43 out of a possible 100, down 23 points in a year.  He is a human wrecking ball.
…………………………………………

SOLUTION for our nation’s problems: Deport Trump’s base. Not the Republicans who vote their party because they are genuinely conservative, but the racist, violent, abusive element that opts for dumbing down solutions for issues because experienced and intelligent people remind them how incapable they are of emotionally and mentally developing rational, unbiased conclusions for issues  without bias that serve the best interests of all Americans.
……………………………..

According to the Washington Post, Trump’s false or misleading statements (lies) now exceed 2,000 after his first year.
……………………………………………
WOULD ANYONE WANT their spouse to lie repeatedly ?, their child ?, mother ?, father ?, minister ?, child’s teacher ?,  coach ?, employer ?.  IF NOT, why would they support President Trump who is on record with telling 4.5 lies per day, 1,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?.
……………………………………….

Trump ABANDONS voter fraud panel, but hands it off the Homeland Security where all the snooping can be done out of sight
. ………………………………………………….
CORPORATE TAX CUT IRRESPONSIBLE

“It's pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised,” Bloomberg continued. Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that. The tax bill is an economically indefensible blunder that will harm our future” –   Michael Bloomberg – billionaire business man former mayor NYC

      I don’t doubt some corporations need, and deserve a tax cut, but to reduce the rate from 35% to 21% is inexcusable, reckless, unjustifiable, and outright subversive to the best interests of America.
      Corporate income taxes comprise 9% of federal government receipts. If corporate taxes are slashed by 40% (from 35% to 21%), the government’s receipts from corporations are reduced by 3.6% from 9%.
      Individual income tax payments comprise 47% of  federal government receipts
. At this point, I have no idea how much of an impact  Congress’ tax cuts will have on this source of federal revenues, but it stands to be significant.
      The Republican administration expects economic growth will be triggered by a sudden change in heart by corporations to abandon stock buybacks and the repatriation of billions stashed abroad to plug the big hole left in federal receipts by tax cuts with a surge in hiring and capital expenditures.
      That assumption is flawed. For one, why would a corporation  go on a hiring and cap-ex spending spree  with an economic expansion that  is 8-1/2 years old, 3 years longer (73%) than the average over 65 years (1945 – 2009).
      For another, are they naïve enough to assume there will be no recessions within the next 10 years ?
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a study on “Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies”:  The report includes 258 corporations that were consistently profitable over an eight-year period between 2008 and 2015. Some conclusions:
-of 258 Fortune 500 companies studied, the effective federal income tax rate was 21.5%
18 of the 258 paid no income tax and 48 paid an effective tax rate of 10%.
83 companies (32%) paid a tax rate less than 17.5%
109 companies (42%)  paid a tax rate between 17.5% and 30%.
66 companies (26%) paid a tax rate greater than 30%
NOTE: The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School estimates the  effective tax rate  for corporates will drop to 9.2% as a result of  tax reform.
……………………………………………………
STATES NEEDING FED’s HELP THE MOST

       The twelve most federally dependent states are Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, Alabama, West Virginia, South Carolina, Montana, Tennessee, Maine,  Indiana, Arizona, Louisiana.
      The twelve least federally dependent states are Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Illinois, California, Kansas, Nevada, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Utah, and Nebraska.
  Red states (Republican) are 67% more dependent on federal government aid than Blue States (Democratic).
So why all the whining about the Feds being in their space ?  Want to go it alone ?   Careful
what you wish for   
.…………………………
The BIG question is, do American morals and respect for our republic  have to hit bottom before Congress and the American voter opts for decency, honesty, integrity and a moral compass ?
    Currently, odds favor neither will have a change of heart even if the findings of the Mueller probe uncover untold crimes against the constitution and American people. 
     The current extremist Republican Party is morally bankrupt, as are many of its supporters. Much of the Republican Congress is comprised congressional  anarchists, determined to raze time-tested checks and balances, and oppose any and all new proposals that do not pass their muster.
      It wasn’t enough that they obstructed progress for eight years of the Obama administration, they are now dismantling the things he did accomplish. Our republic is being mugged in plain sight.
    
There are a lot of very fine Republicans out there, but someone needs to tell them someone hijacked their party.
       This isn’t Reagan, this isn’t anything close to the Republican Party I grew up with.

       This is what the right wing has been waiting for – total control of the presidency, both Houses, and the Supreme Court. (and Fox News)  They want total control.  This is how democratic,  representative republics  perish.
      America is the biggest enchilada on earth.  Why wouldn’t a group of extremists want to wrest permanent control from its people ?  Americans must stop multitasking, and have the guts to endure the day-to-day angst that accompanies being well informed. They need to return to values.
………………………………………………….

Brian Benczkowski was nominated by President Trump in June to be U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. My  Sept. 15 post called attention to this since he previously represented one of Russia’s largest banks Russia’s Alfa Bank. Having  advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his nomination is pending full Senate confirmation. He once served under Jeff Sessions. If confirmed, he pledged independence, recusing himself for two years from any dealings with alfa Bank.  Sen. Feinstein voted against Benczkowski concerned that he never served as a federal prosecutor and the fact he would sit in on  meetings with special counsel Robert Mueller with Russia probe. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., was concerned his major qualification was his connection with Sessions.
……………………………………………
Mercer on the run ?  Bannon and Breitbart bankroller, Robert Mercer is rapidly severing financial ties to Breitbart News and support of Steve Bannon and alt-right’s Milo Yiannopoulos. Mercer was a major supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to gain the Republican nomination last year, but switched his allegiance to Trump when he won the nomination.
      In my March 21 post, I wrote, “Years from now, I suspect Mercer will be relaxing at his Long Island waterfront retreat, Owl’s Nest, or on his 200-foot yacht, Sea Owl, and look back over his illustrious career tarnished  by one regret – he backed the biggest con job in our nation’s history.”

………………………………..
IT’S NEVER THE GUNS !
………………………………..

Six states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Utah, Wisconsin),  are planning to require poverty stricken people on Medicaid  to get jobs  or lose the coverage. Maine, Utah and Wisconsin want to put a time limit on coverage, the latter wants to drug-test people. Excluded: People with long-tern disabilities, the elderly, and children.  Isn’t it bad enough these people are in poverty ? 
      Vox Media reports that 9.8 million Medicaid recipients  don’t have jobs  due to: Illness/disabled (35%), retired (8%), taking care of home or family (28%), going to school (18%), cannot find work (8%). The remaining 60.2 million Americans on Medicaid work full-time of part-time.  I’m not sure what’s the Republican beef here.
……………………………………
TRUMP’S PARDON POWER
    
The President has the power to grant conditional pardons; to commute sentences; remit fines and forfeitures; and grant amnesty. This power can be exercised at any time after the offense has been committed, before conviction of after. Pardons cannot be limited by or controlled by legislative action (US legal.com)
Expect Trump to attempt to pardon anyone he wants, including himself. It’s a way out of facing responsibility very much like dodging the draft. Like when he justified his numerous bankruptcies, saying he only used U.S. laws to his advantage.  Well, “pardons” are his prerogative, in many, not all cases. He would take advantage of whatever loophole to avoid consequences, sort of like dodging the draft, or did I already say that ?
     The President cannot pardon people for “state” crimes, and it is doubtful he can pardon himself.
      Can the Mueller investigation survive Mueller’s firing ?

Slate.com’s July 21 article, “Trump can’t Escape the States,” says “YES.”

1-A state [NY] could hire Mueller and team.
2-State attorneys general could use their quo warranto power to investigate Trump’s organization for fraud and money laundering from Russian sources.
3-A Congressional committee (Senate Intelligence Committee) could hire Mueller or create a Joint select Committee.
4-Congress could pass a new veto-proof independent counsel statute.
FINALLY: If Trump resigns and Pence takes over, Pence could pardon Trump, as Ford did Nixon.
……………………………………

THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIMENT UNDER SEIGE:  Not since the Civil War has the spirit and future of our nation been at such great risk, from within.  This  administration, Congress and U.S. Supreme Court is surgically dismembering  efforts over many years to ensure the safety  and well being of “all” Americans.
     The sooner, Americans recognize these are not genuine Republican conservatives, but extremists determined dismantle that which has been achieved over the years and replace it with “their” brand  of a  quasi-fascist state.  Ben Franklin was right when asked what kind of government  the Founding Fathers had given us.  “A Republic, if you can keep it,” was his respons.
 ……………………………………………………………………………
TRUMP looking for a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card if the Feds close in?”
   
Why not, he dodged military service with 5 deferments  during the Vietnam era (1964 – 1970).
     Reportedly, he has asked advisers about his power to pardon family members and himself  relating to Mueller’s investigation.
…………………………………

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETED ? If the Special Counselor  concludes it is “necessary and appropriate” he is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising out of the investigation, which he does after submitting a report to the attorney general explaining his reasons.

REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER:  Misconduct,  dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, good cause (??), violation of Department policies.
WOULD MUELLER BE REPLACED ? Unclear. If the Democrats controlled Congress they could appoint another Special Counselor
……………………………………
  “Connect the Dots.” This investigation is open-ended
       Nigel Farage – President Trump- Hope Hicks, Jeffrey Sessions – Robert Mercer – Cambridge Analytics – Bannon- Carter Page – Kushner (Jared and Ivanka) – Eric Prince – Donald, Jr.  and Eric Trump – Wilbur Ross –  Michael Cohen – Ezra Cohen Watnick – Michael T. Flynn – Michael G. Flynn ( son)  – JD Gordon  –  Christopher Steele – Michael Caputo -Breitbart News – Roger Stone – Julian Assange – Paul Manafort – Rick Gates – Jill Stein – Sam Clovis –  Kellyanne and George Conway –Dana Rohrabacher – Bill Browder – Peter W. Smith (deceased: suicide), Paul Behrends – Brad Parscale Alex Van Der waan – Boris Epshteyn, Ike Kaveladze, and  Russia’s alfa Group – Felix Sater – Rob Goldstone – alfa Group – Emin Agalarov – Sergey Gorkov –  Sergey Kislyak, ambassador to the U.S., Natalia Veselnitskaya, Oleg Deripaska all connect directly or indirectly to the Trump/Russia investigation and some have a connection to Brexit, as well.
      According to the “Observer,” Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica was connected with Canada’s AggregateIQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked together on the Brexit referendum. Aggregate is also a data mining company. While Mercer was a big supporter of Trump, there is no known connection between AggregateIQ and Trump’s campaign staff.
…………………………………………………

     REMOVING TRUMP FROM  OFFICE

Can Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, U.S. Constitution – Remove Trump ?
      It’s a stretch. 
The key for his removal is ”that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Section 4 mentions nothing  that he is unfit, delusional, unbalanced, crazy,  impulsive, irrational, impaired, sociopathic, psychopathic, narcissistic.
      That would be the threshold that would have to be crossed if Trump is removed from office via Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. There is no precedent

      It isn’t just Democrats, liberals, moderates and reasonable people who find Trump caustic, and dangerous, conservatives like George Will, David Brooks and Ross Douthart are also urging his removal.
      First, there are four ways to get rid of Trump – death, resignation, impeachment and Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.
      The procedure employing the 25th Amendment requires the Vice President and the majority of the cabinet of 15 (8) to vote to remove the president. They would submit their declaration in writing to the President pro tempore ( Sen. Orrin Hatch) and Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan) that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and the Vice President will immediately assume to office as acting president.
      However, the president may contend the move by submitting his own letter to the President pro tempore and Speaker of the House, that he believes he is capable of performing his duties, in which case he will resume the office of presidency.
       The Vice President and Cabinet members may then resubmit their declaration at which point Congress would vote within 48 hours if in session. If not, Congress  will act within 21 days where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove  him.  
        However, as “Business Insider.com” noted on Jan. 9, 2018, Trump could simply fire the Cabinet members who voted to oust him from office.
………………………………………
IMPEACHMENT
      A  Consult/Politico poll shows 43% of Americans want Congress to begin procedures for the impeachment of President Trump.

      The U.S. Constitution  enables Congress to remove a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Initially, the House votes on one or more articles of impeachment- if a majority vote is reached, he is impeached.  BUT, impeachment only means indictment. The Senate holds a trial overseen by the chief justice and Supreme Court. A group of House members serve as prosecutors and the Senate as jurors. If two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president takes over.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Note: Source of weekly economic calendar and good recap of indicators: mam.econoday.com
………………………………………………….

George Brooks
Investor’s first read
A Game-On Analysis, LLC publication
Brooks007read@aol.com
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 
Investor’s first read, is a Game-On Analysis, LLC publication for which George Brooks is sole owner, manager and writer.  Neither Game-On Analysis, LLC, nor George  Brooks  is  registered as an investment advisor.  Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed  as particularized or as investment advice as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment in keeping with their tolerance for risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jitters ! Fed, Mueller, Inflated Values

Investor’s first readDaily edge before the open
DJIA: 25,219
S&P 500:2,732
Nasdaq Comp.:7,239
Russell 2000: 1,543

Tuesday, Feb 20,  2018    9:11 a.m.
…………………………………………..

      This is EXACTLY what I meant  December 27,  when I Warned:
“2018: The Wildest One in Years.”
       The late January/early February 12% plunge was a lot like August 2014 (S&P 500 down 15.8%) and Jan./Feb. 2016 down 17.7%), both in a matter of weeks. Both recovered in following months. 
       This one rebounded, as well, recovering half of the sell off’s loss, which is normal. A two-third’s recovery suggests strength, a one-third, weakness.
        I think we have seen the highs for the 2009 – 2018 bull market. There is a remote chance of one more spike to new highs driven by April’s Q1 earnings which are projected by Factset to increase 17% over a year ago.
        This is why I am referring to  a “topping out” process for the bull market.
        Odds favor  double top with the second top coming in May after a Q1 earnings spike.
         Everything looks good at market tops, but it is what things will look like nine months to a year from now that matters.
        Beyond May, I expect a steady plunge ( 14% to 18%) into fall and the mid-term elections.
      
         The Fed has made it clear for a year it was going to raise its benchmark federal funds rate. The minutes for last month’s meeting will be released tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. and may shed some light on the number of rate increases to expect this year.  The 10-year Treasury is up to 2.91% today a big jump from Friday’s close – not good.  
       The Shiller S&P 500’s price/earnings ratio (P/E), based on average inflation-adjusted earnings over 10 years CAPE)  is now 31.7 vs. a mean of 16.8.  That kind of euphoria could only last for so long until someone broke  ranks and sold.. It was simply a matter of time.
     
 A major risk looms which isn’t factored into stock prices and that is  there is the potential for a huge political scandal leading to a number of constitutional crises, as Special Counsel Robert Mueller ramps up indictments in the counsel’s probe.  We may see attempts to prevent the investigation from releasing results (my expectation) either by firing Mueller or  finding a way to strike down the regulation empowering the DOJ to be the only one whom can fire Mueller. Pardoning key people who are at risk of fines, jail time, etc.  would seriously divide America, but all of the above may happen creating enormous uncertainty. (See below).      

 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
SUPPORT “today”:DJIA:24,988;S&P 500:2,711;  Nasdaq Comp.:7,201

RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:25,245; S&P 500:2,737; Nasdaq Comp.:7,247
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
SIGNS OF EARLY STAGE BEAR MARKET

  1. The economy can’t get better than this – and won’t.  I see seeds of a recession setting in early 2019.

BEAR MARKETS START AHEAD OF RECESSIONS by a lead time of 3 to 9 months. Commentators and pundits say, don’t worry, the economy is strong. Many prominent money managers would like to say “sell,” but can’t for fear of triggering a PANIC.

  1. This economy and bull market are long in the tooth. The average of 11 economic expansions (1945  – 2009) has been 59 months. This expansion is 103 months old.  The average length of 15 bull markets runs 2.5 years or 30.4 months.  This bull has lasted 107 months. Credit card debt has doubled since 2013, the delinquency rate  is rising sharply.  The Personal Savings rate as a percent of  disposable income is 2.9%, down from 7.1% in July 2012.  This rate tends to drop sharply prior to recessions. The lowest level of savings over the last 71 years was 2.7% in 2005.
  2. CORRECTION: The Shiller S&P 500’s price/earnings ratio (earnings averaged over 10 years)  is now 31 vs.  an average of 16.8, a 94% overvaluation. Over the years, this P/E has ranged between 4.8 and 49.2 for various reasons, none the least of which is investors’ confidence in the stability of our government and its future.
  3. We are faced with the prospect of a Constitutional crisis, the possibility of the disclosure of high crimes in high offices.  That could result in total CHAOS. It may be dragged out into 2019, even 2020.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    RECENT “INVESTORS FIRST READ. COM”  BLOGS LEADING UP TO THE MARKET’S PLUNGE
    Starting with the DJIA at 26,392 (S&P 500: 2,839)   I wrote:  

     “The computer algos on the Street have been in cruise control buy mode for over a year, which is why the market has not had a 3% correction in more than 14 months. This is rare ! 
      At some point, these think-alike’s  will all get a sell signal at the same time, and then it will be straight down. This is why a cash reserve is necessary.
      Friday’s sharp plunges is a warning of things to come if the Street suddenly exits.  The potential exists for a correction of 12% – 16%.”

      I have repeated that  every day for emphasis.
       ON December 27, my annual forecast was “2018; The wildest One in Years,”
stating emphatically, “NO ONE IS BEARISH ! THAT’S BEARISH !
       My initial target for a correction was DJIA down 3,578 points to 22,735 (-13.6%) and for the S&P 500: down 349 points to 2,500 (-12.2%).

        Look, the is classic “Flash Crash,” where the Street, mostly following the same indicators all get a sell signal, or defer purchase signal at the same time,  that’s why I disparage them as “think-alikes.” Best computer is the human brain.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
Yes, The issue of guns IS political.  The Republicans, many backed by millions from the NRA, have stood in the way of efforts to deny even mentally ill from acquiring an arsenal. 
 …………………………………………………..

Why are so many Americans beholden to guns ? It could be their sense of security was rocked by 9/11 plus the Great Recession/Bear Market.  Then it could be racial, a fear that people of different colors will eventually outnumber them prompting  the need (in their paranoid minds) to stage a forceful change in governance (revolution).  This makes little sense, but from their point of  simplemindedness, they feel more secure with a dozen guns and cases of ammunition in house just in case.
     What these whackos don’t understand is they can’t use their guns outside of their homes for fear of injuring or killing an innocent person which not only sends them to jail, but opens them up to a lawsuit where they lose their stock portfolio, car, house and all those “blankies” that  go bang.  ………………………………………

 

A quasi-fascist state would give Trump the untethered power he craves.
Read: The Ghost of Fascism in the Age of Trump

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43529-the-ghost-of-fascism-in-the-age-of-trump
…………………………………………………….

TRUMP refuses to allow Democrat response to Nunes ‘MEMO.”  Even though the Democrat response was run by the FBI and DOJ for vetting, Trump claims it contains “classified and sensitive passages.”
      Yet, more obstruction ?   What is he hiding behind endless lies ?
……………………….
Number 3 at DOJ, Rachael Brand, resigns at DOJ (see below)
……………………..

WILL TRUMP FIRE MUELLER ? LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  A new appointment to the DOJ may signal Trump’s intent.
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ who will.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2?9/19)      Trump must find someone in DOJ to fire Mueller if he wants to do it.    

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ.     
        Trump has appointed (pending confirmation) former Boeing General Counsel, John Demers, to assume  Boente’s position as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. He could do it, but he has promised to support the Mueller investigation.
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit has shown an interest in the DOJ, and  CIA’s  Mike Pompeo, is a possibility for a post. there.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
 ………………………………………..
        FYI: The S&P 500 gained 36.6% in Obama’s first year, but only 23.7% under Trump. Obama inherited the worst bear market since the 1930’s, Trump inherited an accelerating bull market supported by a stable economy. If Obama’s first year gain is calculated from the Bear market bottom  March 6, 2009 shortly after he assumed office, the gain would be 74.2%.
………………………………………….
U.S. Ranking globally and domestically plunging under Trump
      Global approval of U.S. leadership from 134 countries has plunged to 30% from 48% in just a year.  Clearly, Trump isn’t making America Great Again in the eyes of all other countries. 
The downside of this is we need the support of those countries.  Our nationalistic policies are opening doors throughout the world for China. A Gallup poll shows Germany replacing the U.S. as the top-rated power in the world.
      Under Trump, the United States has dropped to 11th place in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, which in addition  to  R&D spending, includes post secondary, or tertiary, education-efficiency category, which includes the share of new science and engineering graduates. Value-added manufacturing also dropped.  South Korea ranked first, followed by Sweden, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Denmark, France, Israel.
       Also under Trump, Americans’ trust in institutions (government, companies and the  media) has suffered the greatest loss on record according to a poll conducted by Edelman New York. The poll, including 33,000 “informed” individuals showed the U.S. dropping to 43 out of a possible 100, down 23 points in a year.  He is a human wrecking ball.
…………………………………………

SOLUTION for our nation’s problems: Deport Trump’s base. Not the Republicans who vote their party because they are genuinely conservative, but the racist, violent, abusive element that opts for dumbing down solutions for issues because experienced and intelligent people remind them how incapable they are of emotionally and mentally developing rational, unbiased conclusions for issues  without bias that serve the best interests of all Americans.
……………………………..

According to the Washington Post, Trump’s false or misleading statements (lies) now exceed 2,000 after his first year.
……………………………………………
WOULD ANYONE WANT their spouse to lie repeatedly ?, their child ?, mother ?, father ?, minister ?, child’s teacher ?,  coach ?, employer ?.  IF NOT, why would they support President Trump who is on record with telling 4.5 lies per day, 1,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?.
……………………………………….

Trump ABANDONS voter fraud panel, but hands it off the Homeland Security where all the snooping can be done out of sight
. ………………………………………………….
CORPORATE TAX CUT IRRESPONSIBLE

“It's pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised,” Bloomberg continued. Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that. The tax bill is an economically indefensible blunder that will harm our future” –   Michael Bloomberg – billionaire business man former mayor NYC

      I don’t doubt some corporations need, and deserve a tax cut, but to reduce the rate from 35% to 21% is inexcusable, reckless, unjustifiable, and outright subversive to the best interests of America.
      Corporate income taxes comprise 9% of federal government receipts. If corporate taxes are slashed by 40% (from 35% to 21%), the government’s receipts from corporations are reduced by 3.6% from 9%.
      Individual income tax payments comprise 47% of  federal government receipts
. At this point, I have no idea how much of an impact  Congress’ tax cuts will have on this source of federal revenues, but it stands to be significant.
      The Republican administration expects economic growth will be triggered by a sudden change in heart by corporations to abandon stock buybacks and the repatriation of billions stashed abroad to plug the big hole left in federal receipts by tax cuts with a surge in hiring and capital expenditures.
      That assumption is flawed. For one, why would a corporation  go on a hiring and cap-ex spending spree  with an economic expansion that  is 8-1/2 years old, 3 years longer (73%) than the average over 65 years (1945 – 2009).
      For another, are they naïve enough to assume there will be no recessions within the next 10 years ?
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a study on “Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies”:  The report includes 258 corporations that were consistently profitable over an eight-year period between 2008 and 2015. Some conclusions:
-of 258 Fortune 500 companies studied, the effective federal income tax rate was 21.5%
18 of the 258 paid no income tax and 48 paid an effective tax rate of 10%.
83 companies (32%) paid a tax rate less than 17.5%
109 companies (42%)  paid a tax rate between 17.5% and 30%.
66 companies (26%) paid a tax rate greater than 30%
NOTE: The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School estimates the  effective tax rate  for corporates will drop to 9.2% as a result of  tax reform.
……………………………………………………
STATES NEEDING FED’s HELP THE MOST

       The twelve most federally dependent states are Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, Alabama, West Virginia, South Carolina, Montana, Tennessee, Maine,  Indiana, Arizona, Louisiana.
      The twelve least federally dependent states are Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Illinois, California, Kansas, Nevada, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Utah, and Nebraska.
  Red states (Republican) are 67% more dependent on federal government aid than Blue States (Democratic).
So why all the whining about the Feds being in their space ?  Want to go it alone ?   Careful
what you wish for   
.…………………………
The BIG question is, do American morals and respect for our republic  have to hit bottom before Congress and the American voter opts for decency, honesty, integrity and a moral compass ?
    Currently, odds favor neither will have a change of heart even if the findings of the Mueller probe uncover untold crimes against the constitution and American people. 
     The current extremist Republican Party is morally bankrupt, as are many of its supporters. Much of the Republican Congress is comprised congressional  anarchists, determined to raze time-tested checks and balances, and oppose any and all new proposals that do not pass their muster.
      It wasn’t enough that they obstructed progress for eight years of the Obama administration, they are now dismantling the things he did accomplish. Our republic is being mugged in plain sight.
    
There are a lot of very fine Republicans out there, but someone needs to tell them someone hijacked their party.
       This isn’t Reagan, this isn’t anything close to the Republican Party I grew up with.

       This is what the right wing has been waiting for – total control of the presidency, both Houses, and the Supreme Court. (and Fox News)  They want total control.  This is how democratic,  representative republics  perish.
      America is the biggest enchilada on earth.  Why wouldn’t a group of extremists want to wrest permanent control from its people ?  Americans must stop multitasking, and have the guts to endure the day-to-day angst that accompanies being well informed. They need to return to values.
………………………………………………….

Brian Benczkowski was nominated by President Trump in June to be U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. My  Sept. 15 post called attention to this since he previously represented one of Russia’s largest banks Russia’s Alfa Bank. Having  advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his nomination is pending full Senate confirmation. He once served under Jeff Sessions. If confirmed, he pledged independence, recusing himself for two years from any dealings with alfa Bank.  Sen. Feinstein voted against Benczkowski concerned that he never served as a federal prosecutor and the fact he would sit in on  meetings with special counsel Robert Mueller with Russia probe. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., was concerned his major qualification was his connection with Sessions.
……………………………………………
Mercer on the run ?  Bannon and Breitbart bankroller, Robert Mercer is rapidly severing financial ties to Breitbart News and support of Steve Bannon and alt-right’s Milo Yiannopoulos. Mercer was a major supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to gain the Republican nomination last year, but switched his allegiance to Trump when he won the nomination.
      In my March 21 post, I wrote, “Years from now, I suspect Mercer will be relaxing at his Long Island waterfront retreat, Owl’s Nest, or on his 200-foot yacht, Sea Owl, and look back over his illustrious career tarnished  by one regret – he backed the biggest con job in our nation’s history.”

………………………………..
IT’S NEVER THE GUNS !
………………………………..

Six states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Utah, Wisconsin),  are planning to require poverty stricken people on Medicaid  to get jobs  or lose the coverage. Maine, Utah and Wisconsin want to put a time limit on coverage, the latter wants to drug-test people. Excluded: People with long-tern disabilities, the elderly, and children.  Isn’t it bad enough these people are in poverty ? 
      Vox Media reports that 9.8 million Medicaid recipients  don’t have jobs  due to: Illness/disabled (35%), retired (8%), taking care of home or family (28%), going to school (18%), cannot find work (8%). The remaining 60.2 million Americans on Medicaid work full-time of part-time.  I’m not sure what’s the Republican beef here.
……………………………………
TRUMP’S PARDON POWER
    
The President has the power to grant conditional pardons; to commute sentences; remit fines and forfeitures; and grant amnesty. This power can be exercised at any time after the offense has been committed, before conviction of after. Pardons cannot be limited by or controlled by legislative action (US legal.com)
Expect Trump to attempt to pardon anyone he wants, including himself. It’s a way out of facing responsibility very much like dodging the draft. Like when he justified his numerous bankruptcies, saying he only used U.S. laws to his advantage.  Well, “pardons” are his prerogative, in many, not all cases. He would take advantage of whatever loophole to avoid consequences, sort of like dodging the draft, or did I already say that ?
     The President cannot pardon people for “state” crimes, and it is doubtful he can pardon himself.
      Can the Mueller investigation survive Mueller’s firing ?

Slate.com’s July 21 article, “Trump can’t Escape the States,” says “YES.”

1-A state [NY] could hire Mueller and team.
2-State attorneys general could use their quo warranto power to investigate Trump’s organization for fraud and money laundering from Russian sources.
3-A Congressional committee (Senate Intelligence Committee) could hire Mueller or create a Joint select Committee.
4-Congress could pass a new veto-proof independent counsel statute.
FINALLY: If Trump resigns and Pence takes over, Pence could pardon Trump, as Ford did Nixon.
……………………………………

THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIMENT UNDER SEIGE:  Not since the Civil War has the spirit and future of our nation been at such great risk, from within.  This  administration, Congress and U.S. Supreme Court is surgically dismembering  efforts over many years to ensure the safety  and well being of “all” Americans.
     The sooner, Americans recognize these are not genuine Republican conservatives, but extremists determined dismantle that which has been achieved over the years and replace it with “their” brand  of a  quasi-fascist state.  Ben Franklin was right when asked what kind of government  the Founding Fathers had given us.  “A Republic, if you can keep it,” was his respons.
 ……………………………………………………………………………
TRUMP looking for a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card if the Feds close in?”
   
Why not, he dodged military service with 5 deferments  during the Vietnam era (1964 – 1970).
     Reportedly, he has asked advisers about his power to pardon family members and himself  relating to Mueller’s investigation.
…………………………………

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETED ? If the Special Counselor  concludes it is “necessary and appropriate” he is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising out of the investigation, which he does after submitting a report to the attorney general explaining his reasons.

REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER:  Misconduct,  dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, good cause (??), violation of Department policies.
WOULD MUELLER BE REPLACED ? Unclear. If the Democrats controlled Congress they could appoint another Special Counselor
……………………………………
  “Connect the Dots.” This investigation is open-ended
       Nigel Farage – President Trump- Hope Hicks, Jeffrey Sessions – Robert Mercer – Cambridge Analytics – Bannon- Carter Page – Kushner (Jared and Ivanka) – Eric Prince – Donald, Jr.  and Eric Trump – Wilbur Ross –  Michael Cohen – Ezra Cohen Watnick – Michael T. Flynn – Michael G. Flynn ( son)  – JD Gordon  –  Christopher Steele – Michael Caputo -Breitbart News – Roger Stone – Julian Assange – Paul Manafort – Rick Gates – Jill Stein – Sam Clovis –  Kellyanne and George Conway –Dana Rohrabacher – Bill Browder – Peter W. Smith (deceased: suicide), Paul Behrends – Brad Parscale – Boris Epshteyn, Ike Kaveladze, and  Russia’s alfa Group – Felix Sater – Rob Goldstone – alfa Group – Emin Agalarov – Sergey Gorkov –  Sergey Kislyak, ambassador to the U.S., Natalia Veselnitskaya, Oleg Deripaska all connect directly or indirectly to the Trump/Russia investigation and some have a connection to Brexit, as well.
      According to the “Observer,” Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica was connected with Canada’s AggregateIQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked together on the Brexit referendum. Aggregate is also a data mining company. While Mercer was a big supporter of Trump, there is no known connection between AggregateIQ and Trump’s campaign staff.
…………………………………………………

     REMOVING TRUMP FROM  OFFICE

Can Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, U.S. Constitution – Remove Trump ?
      It’s a stretch. 
The key for his removal is ”that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Section 4 mentions nothing  that he is unfit, delusional, unbalanced, crazy,  impulsive, irrational, impaired, sociopathic, psychopathic, narcissistic.
      That would be the threshold that would have to be crossed if Trump is removed from office via Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. There is no precedent

      It isn’t just Democrats, liberals, moderates and reasonable people who find Trump caustic, and dangerous, conservatives like George Will, David Brooks and Ross Douthart are also urging his removal.
      First, there are four ways to get rid of Trump – death, resignation, impeachment and Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.
      The procedure employing the 25th Amendment requires the Vice President and the majority of the cabinet of 15 (8) to vote to remove the president. They would submit their declaration in writing to the President pro tempore ( Sen. Orrin Hatch) and Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan) that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and the Vice President will immediately assume to office as acting president.
      However, the president may contend the move by submitting his own letter to the President pro tempore and Speaker of the House, that he believes he is capable of performing his duties, in which case he will resume the office of presidency.
       The Vice President and Cabinet members may then resubmit their declaration at which point Congress would vote within 48 hours if in session. If not, Congress  will act within 21 days where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove  him.  
        However, as “Business Insider.com” noted on Jan. 9, 2018, Trump could simply fire the Cabinet members who voted to oust him from office.
………………………………………
IMPEACHMENT
      A  Consult/Politico poll shows 43% of Americans want Congress to begin procedures for the impeachment of President Trump.

      The U.S. Constitution  enables Congress to remove a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Initially, the House votes on one or more articles of impeachment- if a majority vote is reached, he is impeached.  BUT, impeachment only means indictment. The Senate holds a trial overseen by the chief justice and Supreme Court. A group of House members serve as prosecutors and the Senate as jurors. If two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president takes over.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Note: Source of weekly economic calendar and good recap of indicators: mam.econoday.com
………………………………………………….

George Brooks
Investor’s first read
A Game-On Analysis, LLC publication
Brooks007read@aol.com
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 
Investor’s first read, is a Game-On Analysis, LLC publication for which George Brooks is sole owner, manager and writer.  Neither Game-On Analysis, LLC, nor George  Brooks  is  registered as an investment advisor.  Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed  as particularized or as investment advice as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment in keeping with their tolerance for risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bull’s “Topping Out” Phase Could Take Months

Investor’s first read Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 25,200
S&P 500:2,731
Nasdaq Comp.:7,256
Russell 2000: 1,537
Friday, Feb 16,  2018    9:11 a.m.
…………………………………………..
>Provocative read: The Ghost of……(see below Political/Stock Market)

>Finally an infrastructure plan, but it appears to lack substance, (see below) ……………………………………………………….
      This is EXACTLY what I meant  December 27,  when I Warned:

“2018: The Wildest One in Years.”
      This bull market isn’t going gently into any dark night.  Bulls are heartened by  a projected 16% increase in corporate earnings this year and the expected benefits of the tax bill.
But this big increase in 2018 has been mostly, if not all, discounted by highly inflated price/earnings ratios.
      The market tried to decline Wednesday after a higher Consumer  Price Index (CPI)  and lower Retail Sales for January were reported at 8:30 a.m., but was met by buyers seeking to take advantage of lower stock prices after the recent  12% plunge.
      This is the  topping out process for the 2009 – 2018 bull market, I have been referring to, so expect a giant tug of war.  Interest rates are still low, but rising. We are seeing cracks in the 81/2-year economic expansion, but not a full fracture – yet.
        From here on in, expect frequent news releases from the administration and Fed designed to allay concerns about Fed policy and the economy. The market will be hard pressed to get back to the January 26 highs.
      Straight down from here ?  No, I think it’s going to take longer with wild swings in prices in coming months.
      The market will run into selling at higher levels by investors who feel they missed a chance to raise cash before the Jan./Feb. 12% plunge.
       Last week’s drop looks a lot like August 2014 (S&P 500 down 15.8%) and Jan./Feb. 2016 down 17.7%), both in a matter of weeks. Both recovered in following months.  This one will rebound too, but be limited as the topping out process of the bull market sets in.
       The Fed has made it clear for a year it was going to raise its benchmark federal funds rate.  
       The MAJOR reason the bubble was pricked this time,  triggering a flash crash, was the market was obscenely overvalued. The Shiller S&P 500’s price/earnings ratio (P/E), based on average inflation-adjusted earnings over 10 years CAPE)  is now 31.7 vs. a mean of 16.8.  That kind of euphoria can only last for so long until someone breaks ranks and sells in size. It was simply a matter of time.
       
The criteria  for a bear market is one that   drops 20%.  A 20% drop from the January 26 high would take the DJIA to 21,293, the S&P 500 to 2,298, and the Nasdaq Comp. to 6,004. When it happens, I can see a much bigger decline.
        A major risk looms which isn’t factored into stock prices and that is  there is always the potential for a huge political scandal.  Special Counsel Robert Mueller ramps up indictments in the counsel’s probe.  We may see attempts to prevent the investigation from releasing results (my expectation) either by firing Mueller or  finding a way to strike down the regulation empowering the DOJ to be the only one whom can fire Mueller. Pardoning key people who are at risk of fines, jail time, etc.  would seriously divide America. (See below).      

 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
SUPPORT “today”:DJIA:;S&P 500:;  Nasdaq Comp.:

RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:; S&P 500:; Nasdaq Comp.:
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
SIGNS OF EARLY STAGE BEAR MARKET

  1. The economy can’t get better than this – and won’t.  I see seeds of a recession setting in early 2019.

BEAR MARKETS START AHEAD OF RECESSIONS by a lead time of 3 to 9 months. Commentators and pundits say, don’t worry, the economy is strong. Many prominent money managers would like to say “sell,” but can’t for fear of triggering a PANIC.

  1. This economy and bull market are long in the tooth. The average of 11 economic expansions (1945  – 2009) has been 59 months. This expansion is 103 months old.  The average length of 15 bull markets runs 2.5 years or 30.4 months.  This bull has lasted 107 months. Credit card debt has doubled since 2013, the delinquency rate  is rising sharply.  The Personal Savings rate as a percent of  disposable income is 2.9%, down from 7.1% in July 2012.  This rate tends to drop sharply prior to recessions. The lowest level of savings over the last 71 years was 2.7% in 2005.
  2. CORRECTION: The Shiller S&P 500’s price/earnings ratio (earnings averaged over 10 years)  is now 31 vs.  an average of 16.8, a 94% overvaluation. Over the years, this P/E has ranged between 4.8 and 49.2 for various reasons, none the least of which is investors’ confidence in the stability of our government and its future.
  3. We are faced with the prospect of a Constitutional crisis, the possibility of the disclosure of high crimes in high offices.  That could result in total CHAOS. It may be dragged out into 2019, even 2020.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    RECENT “INVESTORS FIRST READ. COM”  BLOGS LEADING UP TO THE MARKET’S PLUNGE
    Starting with the DJIA at 26,392 (S&P 500: 2,839)   I wrote:  

     “The computer algos on the Street have been in cruise control buy mode for over a year, which is why the market has not had a 3% correction in more than 14 months. This is rare ! 
      At some point, these think-alike’s  will all get a sell signal at the same time, and then it will be straight down. This is why a cash reserve is necessary.
      Friday’s sharp plunges is a warning of things to come if the Street suddenly exits.  The potential exists for a correction of 12% – 16%.”

      I have repeated that  every day for emphasis.
       ON December 27, my annual forecast was “2018; The wildest One in Years,”
stating emphatically, “NO ONE IS BEARISH ! THAT’S BEARISH !
       My initial target for a correction was DJIA down 3,578 points to 22,735 (-13.6%) and for the S&P 500: down 349 points to 2,500 (-12.2%).

        Look, the is classic “Flash Crash,” where the Street, mostly following the same indicators all get a sell signal, or defer purchase signal at the same time,  that’s why I disparage them as “think-alikes.” Best computer is the human brain.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
FINALLY – AN INFRASTRUCTURE  PLAN – More Nonsense ?
      The administration has finally  introduced an infrastructure plan. Clearly it is a problem that must be addressed.  Unfortunately debt that will be encountered by way of its approved spending plan and an unjustified massive tax cut that reduced revenues the government will receive by way of the 40% tax cuts for corporations accounting for 9% of  federal receipts each year, there will be fierce debate by the deficit hawks.
     This is a $1.5 trillion proposal that includes$200 billion federal spending that relies on public/private funding. In addition to funding, there will be an effort to reduce the permitting process to expedite projects.
     
The Trump administration will expect the state, local  and private sources to bankroll infrastructure rebuilds via public/private partnerships (expensive), taxes and fees while the Feds  plan to streamline bureaucracy, cutting red tape that presumably has held up projects.
      Three obstacles: How many states have the money, and how long would it take to develop other means to finance projects.  Then there are the politics of the various issues that will arise, none the least of which would be finance projects on the backs of cuts to social programs.
      This is yet another disgraceful blunder.  The Trump administration had a chance to tie tax cuts and especially the repatriation of  trillions of dollars abroad to infrastructure funding.
……………………………………    
       The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) grade  the 16 sectors of  our nation’s infrastructure. As a group, they get D+. Broken down they get: Aviation D, Bridges C+, Dams D, Drinking Water D, Energy D+, Hazardous Waste D+, Inland Waterways D, Levees D, Ports C+, Public Parks D+, Railway B, Roads D, Schools C+, Transit D-, Waste Water D-.
      There are a host of companies that could benefit over time. I have identified as many as 27. If the administration announces a big push, most will jump in price on the hype. This happened  a year ago. The group jumped sharply, then lost momentum and drifted sideways-to-down.  Most of the infrastructure stocks listed below jumped 1% to 2% on the news  
       Potential beneficiaries:
Martin Marietta (MLM), Chicago Bridge (CBI), Cliffs (CLF), Vulcan Materials (VMC), Caterpillar (CAT), Arcelor Mittal (MT), Nucor (NUE), Fluor (FLR), USG (USG), United Rentals (URI), CEMEX (CX), U.S. Concrete (USCR), Jacobs (JEC), AECOM (ACM), Emerson El (EMR), Manitowac (MTW),Tetra Tech (TTEK), KBR (KBR), McDermott (MDR), Quanta Services (PWR), EMCOR (EME), Mastec (MTZ), American Water (AWK), American Tower (AMT), Granite Const’n (GVA, Eagle Materials (EXP), Steel Dynamics (STLD).
      one.
        Go to www.infrastructure report card.org for details on the “problem.”
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
A quasi-fascist state would give Trump the untethered power he craves.
Read: The Ghost of Fascism in the Age of Trump

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43529-the-ghost-of-fascism-in-the-age-of-trump
…………………………………………………….

TRUMP refuses to allow Democrat response to Nunes ‘MEMO.”  Even though the Democrat response was run by the FBI and DOJ for vetting, Trump claims it contains “classified and sensitive passages.”
      Yet, more obstruction ?   What is he hiding behind endless lies ?
According to Palmer.com, ranking Democrat on the House Intel Committee, Adam Schiff, could just read it on the House floor or the Committee could resort to “Rule X” and override the Presidents veto (doubtful)
……………………….
Number 3 at DOJ, Rachael Brand, resigns at DOJ (see below)
……………………..

WILL TRUMP FIRE MUELLER ? LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  A new appointment to the DOJ may signal Trump’s intent.
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ who will.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2?9/19)      Trump must find someone in DOJ to fire Mueller if he wants to do it.    

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ.     
        Trump has appointed (pending confirmation) former Boeing General Counsel, John Demers, to assume  Boente’s position as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. He could do it, but he has promised to support the Mueller investigation.
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit has shown an interest in the DOJ, and  CIA’s  Mike Pompeo, is a possibility for a post. there.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
 ………………………………………..
        FYI: The S&P 500 gained 36.6% in Obama’s first year, but only 23.7% under Trump. Obama inherited the worst bear market since the 1930’s, Trump inherited an accelerating bull market supported by a stable economy. If Obama’s first year gain is calculated from the Bear market bottom  March 6, 2009 shortly after he assumed office, the gain would be 74.2%.
………………………………………….
U.S. Ranking globally and domestically plunging under Trump
      Global approval of U.S. leadership from 134 countries has plunged to 30% from 48% in just a year.  Clearly, Trump isn’t making America Great Again in the eyes of all other countries. 
The downside of this is we need the support of those countries.  Our nationalistic policies are opening doors throughout the world for China. A Gallup poll shows Germany replacing the U.S. as the top-rated power in the world.
      Under Trump, the United States has dropped to 11th place in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, which in addition  to  R&D spending, includes post secondary, or tertiary, education-efficiency category, which includes the share of new science and engineering graduates. Value-added manufacturing also dropped.  South Korea ranked first, followed by Sweden, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Denmark, France, Israel.
       Also under Trump, Americans’ trust in institutions (government, companies and the  media) has suffered the greatest loss on record according to a poll conducted by Edelman New York. The poll, including 33,000 “informed” individuals showed the U.S. dropping to 43 out of a possible 100, down 23 points in a year.  He is a human wrecking ball.
…………………………………………

SOLUTION for our nation’s problems: Deport Trump’s base. Not the Republicans who vote their party because they are genuinely conservative, but the racist, violent, abusive element that opts for dumbing down solutions for issues because experienced and intelligent people remind them how incapable they are of emotionally and mentally developing rational, unbiased conclusions for issues  without bias that serve the best interests of all Americans.
……………………………..

According to the Washington Post, Trump’s false or misleading statements (lies) now exceed 2,000 after his first year.
……………………………………………
WOULD ANYONE WANT their spouse to lie repeatedly ?, their child ?, mother ?, father ?, minister ?, child’s teacher ?,  coach ?, employer ?.  IF NOT, why would they support President Trump who is on record with telling 4.5 lies per day, 1,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?.
……………………………………….

Trump ABANDONS voter fraud panel, but hands it off the Homeland Security where all the snooping can be done out of sight
. ………………………………………………….
CORPORATE TAX CUT IRRESPONSIBLE

“It's pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised,” Bloomberg continued. Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that. The tax bill is an economically indefensible blunder that will harm our future” –   Michael Bloomberg – billionaire business man former mayor NYC

      I don’t doubt some corporations need, and deserve a tax cut, but to reduce the rate from 35% to 21% is inexcusable, reckless, unjustifiable, and outright subversive to the best interests of America.
      Corporate income taxes comprise 9% of federal government receipts. If corporate taxes are slashed by 40% (from 35% to 21%), the government’s receipts from corporations are reduced by 3.6% from 9%.
      Individual income tax payments comprise 47% of  federal government receipts
. At this point, I have no idea how much of an impact  Congress’ tax cuts will have on this source of federal revenues, but it stands to be significant.
      The Republican administration expects economic growth will be triggered by a sudden change in heart by corporations to abandon stock buybacks and the repatriation of billions stashed abroad to plug the big hole left in federal receipts by tax cuts with a surge in hiring and capital expenditures.
      That assumption is flawed. For one, why would a corporation  go on a hiring and cap-ex spending spree  with an economic expansion that  is 8-1/2 years old, 3 years longer (73%) than the average over 65 years (1945 – 2009).
      For another, are they naïve enough to assume there will be no recessions within the next 10 years ?
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a study on “Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies”:  The report includes 258 corporations that were consistently profitable over an eight-year period between 2008 and 2015. Some conclusions:
-of 258 Fortune 500 companies studied, the effective federal income tax rate was 21.5%
18 of the 258 paid no income tax and 48 paid an effective tax rate of 10%.
83 companies (32%) paid a tax rate less than 17.5%
109 companies (42%)  paid a tax rate between 17.5% and 30%.
66 companies (26%) paid a tax rate greater than 30%
NOTE: The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School estimates the  effective tax rate  for corporates will drop to 9.2% as a result of  tax reform.
……………………………………………………
STATES NEEDING FED’s HELP THE MOST

       The twelve most federally dependent states are Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, Alabama, West Virginia, South Carolina, Montana, Tennessee, Maine,  Indiana, Arizona, Louisiana.
      The twelve least federally dependent states are Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Illinois, California, Kansas, Nevada, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Utah, and Nebraska.
  Red states (Republican) are 67% more dependent on federal government aid than Blue States (Democratic).
So why all the whining about the Feds being in their space ?  Want to go it alone ?   Careful
what you wish for   
.…………………………
The BIG question is, do American morals and respect for our republic  have to hit bottom before Congress and the American voter opts for decency, honesty, integrity and a moral compass ?
    Currently, odds favor neither will have a change of heart even if the findings of the Mueller probe uncover untold crimes against the constitution and American people. 
     The current extremist Republican Party is morally bankrupt, as are many of its supporters. Much of the Republican Congress is comprised congressional  anarchists, determined to raze time-tested checks and balances, and oppose any and all new proposals that do not pass their muster.
      It wasn’t enough that they obstructed progress for eight years of the Obama administration, they are now dismantling the things he did accomplish. Our republic is being mugged in plain sight.
    
There are a lot of very fine Republicans out there, but someone needs to tell them someone hijacked their party.
       This isn’t Reagan, this isn’t anything close to the Republican Party I grew up with.

       This is what the right wing has been waiting for – total control of the presidency, both Houses, and the Supreme Court. (and Fox News)  They want total control.  This is how democratic,  representative republics  perish.
      America is the biggest enchilada on earth.  Why wouldn’t a group of extremists want to wrest permanent control from its people ?  Americans must stop multitasking, and have the guts to endure the day-to-day angst that accompanies being well informed. They need to return to values.
………………………………………………….

Brian Benczkowski was nominated by President Trump in June to be U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. My  Sept. 15 post called attention to this since he previously represented one of Russia’s largest banks Russia’s Alfa Bank. Having  advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his nomination is pending full Senate confirmation. He once served under Jeff Sessions. If confirmed, he pledged independence, recusing himself for two years from any dealings with alfa Bank.  Sen. Feinstein voted against Benczkowski concerned that he never served as a federal prosecutor and the fact he would sit in on  meetings with special counsel Robert Mueller with Russia probe. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., was concerned his major qualification was his connection with Sessions.
……………………………………………
Mercer on the run ?  Bannon and Breitbart bankroller, Robert Mercer is rapidly severing financial ties to Breitbart News and support of Steve Bannon and alt-right’s Milo Yiannopoulos. Mercer was a major supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to gain the Republican nomination last year, but switched his allegiance to Trump when he won the nomination.
      In my March 21 post, I wrote, “Years from now, I suspect Mercer will be relaxing at his Long Island waterfront retreat, Owl’s Nest, or on his 200-foot yacht, Sea Owl, and look back over his illustrious career tarnished  by one regret – he backed the biggest con job in our nation’s history.”

………………………………..
IT’S NEVER THE GUNS !
………………………………..

Six states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Utah, Wisconsin),  are planning to require poverty stricken people on Medicaid  to get jobs  or lose the coverage. Maine, Utah and Wisconsin want to put a time limit on coverage, the latter wants to drug-test people. Excluded: People with long-tern disabilities, the elderly, and children.  Isn’t it bad enough these people are in poverty ? 
      Vox Media reports that 9.8 million Medicaid recipients  don’t have jobs  due to: Illness/disabled (35%), retired (8%), taking care of home or family (28%), going to school (18%), cannot find work (8%). The remaining 60.2 million Americans on Medicaid work full-time of part-time.  I’m not sure what’s the Republican beef here.
……………………………………
TRUMP’S PARDON POWER
    
The President has the power to grant conditional pardons; to commute sentences; remit fines and forfeitures; and grant amnesty. This power can be exercised at any time after the offense has been committed, before conviction of after. Pardons cannot be limited by or controlled by legislative action (US legal.com)
Expect Trump to attempt to pardon anyone he wants, including himself. It’s a way out of facing responsibility very much like dodging the draft. Like when he justified his numerous bankruptcies, saying he only used U.S. laws to his advantage.  Well, “pardons” are his prerogative, in many, not all cases. He would take advantage of whatever loophole to avoid consequences, sort of like dodging the draft, or did I already say that ?
     The President cannot pardon people for “state” crimes, and it is doubtful he can pardon himself.
      Can the Mueller investigation survive Mueller’s firing ?

Slate.com’s July 21 article, “Trump can’t Escape the States,” says “YES.”

1-A state [NY] could hire Mueller and team.
2-State attorneys general could use their quo warranto power to investigate Trump’s organization for fraud and money laundering from Russian sources.
3-A Congressional committee (Senate Intelligence Committee) could hire Mueller or create a Joint select Committee.
4-Congress could pass a new veto-proof independent counsel statute.
FINALLY: If Trump resigns and Pence takes over, Pence could pardon Trump, as Ford did Nixon.
……………………………………

THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIMENT UNDER SEIGE:  Not since the Civil War has the spirit and future of our nation been at such great risk, from within.  This  administration, Congress and U.S. Supreme Court is surgically dismembering  efforts over many years to ensure the safety  and well being of “all” Americans.
     The sooner, Americans recognize these are not genuine Republican conservatives, but extremists determined dismantle that which has been achieved over the years and replace it with “their” brand  of a  quasi-fascist state.  Ben Franklin was right when asked what kind of government  the Founding Fathers had given us.  “A Republic, if you can keep it,” was his respons.
 ……………………………………………………………………………
TRUMP looking for a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card if the Feds close in?”
   
Why not, he dodged military service with 5 deferments  during the Vietnam era (1964 – 1970).
     Reportedly, he has asked advisers about his power to pardon family members and himself  relating to Mueller’s investigation.
…………………………………

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETED ? If the Special Counselor  concludes it is “necessary and appropriate” he is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising out of the investigation, which he does after submitting a report to the attorney general explaining his reasons.

REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER:  Misconduct,  dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, good cause (??), violation of Department policies.
WOULD MUELLER BE REPLACED ? Unclear. If the Democrats controlled Congress they could appoint another Special Counselor
……………………………………
  “Connect the Dots.” This investigation is open-ended
       Nigel Farage – President Trump- Hope Hicks, Jeffrey Sessions – Robert Mercer – Cambridge Analytics – Bannon- Carter Page – Kushner (Jared and Ivanka) – Eric Prince – Donald, Jr.  and Eric Trump – Wilbur Ross –  Michael Cohen – Ezra Cohen Watnick – Michael T. Flynn – Michael G. Flynn ( son)  – JD Gordon  –  Christopher Steele – Michael Caputo -Breitbart News – Roger Stone – Julian Assange – Paul Manafort – Rick Gates – Jill Stein – Sam Clovis –  Kellyanne and George Conway –Dana Rohrabacher – Bill Browder – Peter W. Smith (deceased: suicide), Paul Behrends – Brad Parscale – Boris Epshteyn, Ike Kaveladze, and  Russia’s alfa Group – Felix Sater – Rob Goldstone – alfa Group – Emin Agalarov – Sergey Gorkov –  Sergey Kislyak, ambassador to the U.S., Natalia Veselnitskaya, Oleg Deripaska all connect directly or indirectly to the Trump/Russia investigation and some have a connection to Brexit, as well.
      According to the “Observer,” Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica was connected with Canada’s AggregateIQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked together on the Brexit referendum. Aggregate is also a data mining company. While Mercer was a big supporter of Trump, there is no known connection between AggregateIQ and Trump’s campaign staff.
…………………………………………………

     REMOVING TRUMP FROM  OFFICE

Can Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, U.S. Constitution – Remove Trump ?
      It’s a stretch. 
The key for his removal is ”that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Section 4 mentions nothing  that he is unfit, delusional, unbalanced, crazy,  impulsive, irrational, impaired, sociopathic, psychopathic, narcissistic.
      That would be the threshold that would have to be crossed if Trump is removed from office via Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. There is no precedent

      It isn’t just Democrats, liberals, moderates and reasonable people who find Trump caustic, and dangerous, conservatives like George Will, David Brooks and Ross Douthart are also urging his removal.
      First, there are four ways to get rid of Trump – death, resignation, impeachment and Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.
      The procedure employing the 25th Amendment requires the Vice President and the majority of the cabinet of 15 (8) to vote to remove the president. They would submit their declaration in writing to the President pro tempore ( Sen. Orrin Hatch) and Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan) that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and the Vice President will immediately assume to office as acting president.
      However, the president may contend the move by submitting his own letter to the President pro tempore and Speaker of the House, that he believes he is capable of performing his duties, in which case he will resume the office of presidency.
       The Vice President and Cabinet members may then resubmit their declaration at which point Congress would vote within 48 hours if in session. If not, Congress  will act within 21 days where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove  him.  
        However, as “Business Insider.com” noted on Jan. 9, 2018, Trump could simply fire the Cabinet members who voted to oust him from office.
………………………………………
IMPEACHMENT
      A  Consult/Politico poll shows 43% of Americans want Congress to begin procedures for the impeachment of President Trump.

      The U.S. Constitution  enables Congress to remove a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Initially, the House votes on one or more articles of impeachment- if a majority vote is reached, he is impeached.  BUT, impeachment only means indictment. The Senate holds a trial overseen by the chief justice and Supreme Court. A group of House members serve as prosecutors and the Senate as jurors. If two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president takes over.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Note: Source of weekly economic calendar and good recap of indicators: mam.econoday.com
………………………………………………….

George Brooks
Investor’s first read
A Game-On Analysis, LLC publication
Brooks007read@aol.com
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 
Investor’s first read, is a Game-On Analysis, LLC publication for which George Brooks is sole owner, manager and writer.  Neither Game-On Analysis, LLC, nor George  Brooks  is  registered as an investment advisor.  Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed  as particularized or as investment advice as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment in keeping with their tolerance for risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WILD ENOUGH ?

Investor’s first readDaily edge before the open
DJIA: 24,893
S&P 500:2.698
Nasdaq Comp.:7,143
Russell 2000: 1,522
Thursday, Feb 15,  2018    9:11 a.m.
…………………………………………..
>Provocative read: The Ghost of…………………..(see below Political/Stock Market)

>Finally an infrastructure plan (see below) ……………………………………………………….
TODAY:
      This is EXACTLY what I meant  December 27,  when I Warned:

“2018: The Wildest One in Years.”
      This bull market isn’t going gently into any dark night.  Bulls are heartened by  a projected 16% increase in corporate earnings this year and the expected benefits of the tax bill.
      The market tried to decline yesterday after a higher Consumer  Price Index (CPI)  and lower Retail Sales for January were reported at 8:30 a.m., but was met by buyers seeking to take advantage of lower stock prices after the recent  12% plunge.
       The market will follow through on the upside today but will increasingly run into sellers who didn’t raise cash before the recent plunge.
        Essentially, we have a topping out process for the 2009 – 2018 bull market, so expect a giant tug of war.  Interest rates are still low, but rising. We are seeing cracks in the 81/2-year economic expansion, but not a full fracture – yet.
        From here on in, expect frequent news releases from the administration and Fed designed to allay concerns about Fed policy and the economy. The market will be hard pressed to get back to the January 26 highs.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
SUMMARY

> I think we have seen the top in  the  2009 – 2018 Bull Market,  but bulls and the administration are not going to give up easily, they do not want a major market decline heading into the mid-term election.
>Last week’s 12% freefall was the first of two major corrections I forecast in December for 2018’s market.
>Last week’s drop looks a lot like August 2014 (S&P 500 down 15.8%) and Jan./Feb. 2016 down 17.7%), both in a matter of weeks. Both recovered in following months.  This one will rebound too, but be limited as the topping out process of the bull market sets in.
> Straight down from here ?  No, I think it’s going to take longer with wild swings in prices in coming months.

The market will run into selling at higher levels by investors who feel they missed a chance to raise cash before the Jan./Feb. 12% plunge.
>WILD SWINGS in prices  will be great for traders, but risky for the average investor. 
> Suddenly, the financial landscape has changed, as the Street’s automatic “buy-at-the-market” mode is now fraught with concern.   Blame algorithms that weren’t programmed for the fact things can only get so good.
>The Fed has made it clear for a year it was going to raise its benchmark federal funds rate. On
> The MAJOR reason the bubble was pricked this time,  triggering a flash crash, was the market was obscenely overvalued. The Shiller S&P 500’s price/earnings ratio (P/E), based on average inflation-adjusted earnings over 10 years CAPE)  is now 31.7 vs. a mean of 16.8.  That kind of euphoria can only last for so long until someone breaks ranks and sells in size. It was simply a matter of time.
>
The criteria  for a bear market is one that   drops 20%.  A 20% drop from the January 26 high would take the DJIA to 21,293, the S&P 500 to 2,298, and the Nasdaq Comp. to 6,004. When it happens, I can see a much bigger decline.
> The only thing investors can look forward to is  corporate earnings which will be surging sharply this year.  While the market has pretty much priced this
increase in earnings in at current levels, the reports will have a positive impact, the next being April.  This is why I see wide swings in stock prices during the first six months with a final slide starting mid-year.
        
> Higher interest rates will unnerve the Street, but the Fed will soft-talk the prospect, trying to avert another plunge in the market.  If the Fed reverses fields and opts not to raise rates aggressively, it would initially trigger a rally, but signal the Fed feared a sharp downturn in the economy which would also be a problem.
> Of course, there is always the potential for a huge political scandal.  Special Counsel Robert Mueller ramps up indictments in the counsel’s probe.  We may see attempts to prevent the investigation from releasing results (my expectation) either by firing Mueller or  finding a way to strike down the regulation empowering the DOJ to be the only one whom can fire Mueller. Pardoning key people who are at risk of fines, jail time, etc.  would seriously divide America. (See below).      

 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
SUPPORT “today”:DJIA:24,817;S&P 500:2,691;  Nasdaq Comp.:7,103

RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:24,993; S&P 500:2,709; Nasdaq Comp.:7,167  >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
SIGNS OF EARLY STAGE BEAR MARKET

  1. The economy can’t get better than this – and won’t.  I see seeds of a recession setting in early 2019.

BEAR MARKETS START AHEAD OF RECESSIONS by a lead time of 3 to 9 months. Commentators and pundits say, don’t worry, the economy is strong. Many prominent money managers would like to say “sell,” but can’t for fear of triggering a PANIC.

  1. This economy and bull market are long in the tooth. The average of 11 economic expansions (1945  – 2009) has been 59 months. This expansion is 103 months old.  The average length of 15 bull markets runs 2.5 years or 30.4 months.  This bull has lasted 107 months. Credit card debt has doubled since 2013, the delinquency rate  is rising sharply.  The Personal Savings rate as a percent of  disposable income is 2.9%, down from 7.1% in July 2012.  This rate tends to drop sharply prior to recessions. The lowest level of savings over the last 71 years was 2.7% in 2005.
  2. CORRECTION: The Shiller S&P 500’s price/earnings ratio (earnings averaged over 10 years)  is now 31 vs.  an average of 16.8, a 94% overvaluation. Over the years, this P/E has ranged between 4.8 and 49.2 for various reasons, none the least of which is investors’ confidence in the stability of our government and its future.
  3. We are faced with the prospect of a Constitutional crisis, the possibility of the disclosure of high crimes in high offices.  That could result in total CHAOS. It may be dragged out into 2019, even 2020.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    RECENT “INVESTORS FIRST READ. COM”  BLOGS LEADING UP TO THE MARKET’S PLUNGE
    Starting with the DJIA at 26,392 (S&P 500: 2,839)   I wrote:  

     “The computer algos on the Street have been in cruise control buy mode for over a year, which is why the market has not had a 3% correction in more than 14 months. This is rare ! 
      At some point, these think-alike’s  will all get a sell signal at the same time, and then it will be straight down. This is why a cash reserve is necessary.
      Friday’s sharp plunges is a warning of things to come if the Street suddenly exits.  The potential exists for a correction of 12% – 16%.”

      I have repeated that  every day for emphasis.
       ON December 27, my annual forecast was “2018; The wildest One in Years,”
stating emphatically, “NO ONE IS BEARISH ! THAT’S BEARISH !
       My initial target for a correction was DJIA down 3,578 points to 22,735 (-13.6%) and for the S&P 500: down 349 points to 2,500 (-12.2%).

        Look, the is classic “Flash Crash,” where the Street, mostly following the same indicators all get a sell signal, or defer purchase signal at the same time,  that’s why I disparage them as “think-alikes.” Best computer is the human brain.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
FINALLY – AN INFRASTRUCTURE  PLAN ?
      The administration has finally  introduced an infrastructure plan. Clearly it is a problem that must be addressed.  Unfortunately debt that will be encountered by way of its approved spending plan and an unjustified massive tax cut that reduced revenues the government will receive by way of the 40% tax cuts for corporations accounting for 9% of  federal receipts each year, there will be fierce debate by the deficit hawks.
     This is a $1.5 trillion proposal that includes$200 billion federal spending that relies on public/private funding. In addition to funding, there will be an effort to reduce the permitting process to expedite projects.
     
The Trump administration will expect the state, local  and private sources to bankroll infrastructure rebuilds via public/private partnerships (expensive), taxes and fees while the Feds  plan to streamline bureaucracy, cutting red tape that presumably has held up projects.
      Three obstacles: How many states have the money, and how long would it take to develop other means to finance projects.  Then there are the politics of the various issues that will arise, none the least of which would be finance projects on the backs of cuts to social programs.
      This is yet another disgraceful blunder.  The Trump administration had a chance to tie tax cuts and especially the repatriation of  trillions of dollars abroad to infrastructure funding.
……………………………………    
       The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) grade  the 16 sectors of  our nation’s infrastructure. As a group, they get D+. Broken down they get: Aviation D, Bridges C+, Dams D, Drinking Water D, Energy D+, Hazardous Waste D+, Inland Waterways D, Levees D, Ports C+, Public Parks D+, Railway B, Roads D, Schools C+, Transit D-, Waste Water D-.
      There are a host of companies that could benefit over time. I have identified as many as 27. If the administration announces a big push, most will jump in price on the hype. This happened  a year ago. The group jumped sharply, then lost momentum and drifted sideways-to-down.  Most of the infrastructure stocks listed below jumped 1% to 2% on the news  
       Potential beneficiaries:
Martin Marietta (MLM), Chicago Bridge (CBI), Cliffs (CLF), Vulcan Materials (VMC), Caterpillar (CAT), Arcelor Mittal (MT), Nucor (NUE), Fluor (FLR), USG (USG), United Rentals (URI), CEMEX (CX), U.S. Concrete (USCR), Jacobs (JEC), AECOM (ACM), Emerson El (EMR), Manitowac (MTW),Tetra Tech (TTEK), KBR (KBR), McDermott (MDR), Quanta Services (PWR), EMCOR (EME), Mastec (MTZ), American Water (AWK), American Tower (AMT), Granite Const’n (GVA, Eagle Materials (EXP), Steel Dynamics (STLD).
      one.
        Go to www.infrastructure report card.org for details on the “problem.”
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
A quasi-fascist state would give Trump the untethered power he craves.
Read: The Ghost of Fascism in the Age of Trump

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43529-the-ghost-of-fascism-in-the-age-of-trump
…………………………………………………….

TRUMP refuses to allow Democrat response to Nunes ‘MEMO.”  Even though the Democrat response was run by the FBI and DOJ for vetting, Trump claims it contains “classified and sensitive passages.”
      Yet, more obstruction ?   What is he hiding ?
According to Palmer.com, ranking Democrat on the House Intel Committee, Adam Schiff, could just read it on the House floor or the Committee could resort to “Rule X” and override the Presidents veto (doubtful)
……………………….
Number 3 at DOJ, Rachael Brand, resigns at DOJ (see below)

WILL TRUMP FIRE MUELLER ? LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  A new appointment to the DOJ may signal Trump’s intent.
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ who will.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2?9/19)      Trump must find someone in DOJ to fire Mueller if he wants to do it.    

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ.     
        Trump has appointed (pending confirmation) former Boeing General Counsel, John Demers, to assume  Boente’s position as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. He could do it, but he has promised to support the Mueller investigation.
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit has shown an interest in the DOJ, and  CIA’s  Mike Pompeo, is a possibility for a post. there.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
 ………………………………………..
        FYI: The S&P 500 gained 36.6% in Obama’s first year, but only 23.7% under Trump. Obama inherited the worst bear market since the 1930’s, Trump inherited an accelerating bull market supported by a stable economy. If Obama’s first year gain is calculated from the Bear market bottom  March 6, 2009 shortly after he assumed office, the gain would be 74.2%.
………………………………………….
U.S. Ranking globally and domestically plunging under Trump
      Global approval of U.S. leadership from 134 countries has plunged to 30% from 48% in just a year.  Clearly, Trump isn’t making America Great Again in the eyes of all other countries. 
The downside of this is we need the support of those countries.  Our nationalistic policies are opening doors throughout the world for China. A Gallup poll shows Germany replacing the U.S. as the top-rated power in the world.
      Under Trump, the United States has dropped to 11th place in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, which in addition  to  R&D spending, includes post secondary, or tertiary, education-efficiency category, which includes the share of new science and engineering graduates. Value-added manufacturing also dropped.  South Korea ranked first, followed by Sweden, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Denmark, France, Israel.
       Also under Trump, Americans’ trust in institutions (government, companies and the  media) has suffered the greatest loss on record according to a poll conducted by Edelman New York. The poll, including 33,000 “informed” individuals showed the U.S. dropping to 43 out of a possible 100, down 23 points in a year.  He is a human wrecking ball.
…………………………………………

SOLUTION for our nation’s problems: Deport Trump’s base. Not the Republicans who vote their party because they are genuinely conservative, but the racist, violent, abusive element that opts for dumbing down solutions for issues because experienced and intelligent people remind them how incapable they are of emotionally and mentally developing rational, unbiased conclusions for issues  without bias that serve the best interests of all Americans.
……………………………..

According to the Washington Post, Trump’s false or misleading statements (lies) now exceed 2,000 after his first year.
……………………………………………
WOULD ANYONE WANT their spouse to lie repeatedly ?, their child ?, mother ?, father ?, minister ?, child’s teacher ?,  coach ?, employer ?.  IF NOT, why would they support President Trump who is on record with telling 4.5 lies per day, 1,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?.
……………………………………….

Trump ABANDONS voter fraud panel, but hands it off the Homeland Security where all the snooping can be done out of sight
. ………………………………………………….
CORPORATE TAX CUT IRRESPONSIBLE

“It's pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised,” Bloomberg continued. Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that. The tax bill is an economically indefensible blunder that will harm our future” –   Michael Bloomberg – billionaire business man former mayor NYC

      I don’t doubt some corporations need, and deserve a tax cut, but to reduce the rate from 35% to 21% is inexcusable, reckless, unjustifiable, and outright subversive to the best interests of America.
      Corporate income taxes comprise 9% of federal government receipts. If corporate taxes are slashed by 40% (from 35% to 21%), the government’s receipts from corporations are reduced by 3.6% from 9%.
      Individual income tax payments comprise 47% of  federal government receipts
. At this point, I have no idea how much of an impact  Congress’ tax cuts will have on this source of federal revenues, but it stands to be significant.
      The Republican administration expects economic growth will be triggered by a sudden change in heart by corporations to abandon stock buybacks and the repatriation of billions stashed abroad to plug the big hole left in federal receipts by tax cuts with a surge in hiring and capital expenditures.
      That assumption is flawed. For one, why would a corporation  go on a hiring and cap-ex spending spree  with an economic expansion that  is 8-1/2 years old, 3 years longer (73%) than the average over 65 years (1945 – 2009).
      For another, are they naïve enough to assume there will be no recessions within the next 10 years ?
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a study on “Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies”:  The report includes 258 corporations that were consistently profitable over an eight-year period between 2008 and 2015. Some conclusions:
-of 258 Fortune 500 companies studied, the effective federal income tax rate was 21.5%
18 of the 258 paid no income tax and 48 paid an effective tax rate of 10%.
83 companies (32%) paid a tax rate less than 17.5%
109 companies (42%)  paid a tax rate between 17.5% and 30%.
66 companies (26%) paid a tax rate greater than 30%
NOTE: The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School estimates the  effective tax rate  for corporates will drop to 9.2% as a result of  tax reform.
……………………………………………………
STATES NEEDING FED’s HELP THE MOST

       The twelve most federally dependent states are Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, Alabama, West Virginia, South Carolina, Montana, Tennessee, Maine,  Indiana, Arizona, Louisiana.
      The twelve least federally dependent states are Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Illinois, California, Kansas, Nevada, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Utah, and Nebraska.
  Red states (Republican) are 67% more dependent on federal government aid than Blue States (Democratic).
So why all the whining about the Feds being in their space ?  Want to go it alone ?   Careful
what you wish for   
.…………………………
The BIG question is, do American morals and respect for our republic  have to hit bottom before Congress and the American voter opts for decency, honesty, integrity and a moral compass ?
    Currently, odds favor neither will have a change of heart even if the findings of the Mueller probe uncover untold crimes against the constitution and American people. 
     The current extremist Republican Party is morally bankrupt, as are many of its supporters. Much of the Republican Congress is comprised congressional  anarchists, determined to raze time-tested checks and balances, and oppose any and all new proposals that do not pass their muster.
      It wasn’t enough that they obstructed progress for eight years of the Obama administration, they are now dismantling the things he did accomplish. Our republic is being mugged in plain sight.
    
There are a lot of very fine Republicans out there, but someone needs to tell them someone hijacked their party.
       This isn’t Reagan, this isn’t anything close to the Republican Party I grew up with.

       This is what the right wing has been waiting for – total control of the presidency, both Houses, and the Supreme Court. (and Fox News)  They want total control.  This is how democratic,  representative republics  perish.
      America is the biggest enchilada on earth.  Why wouldn’t a group of extremists want to wrest permanent control from its people ?  Americans must stop multitasking, and have the guts to endure the day-to-day angst that accompanies being well informed. They need to return to values.
………………………………………………….

Brian Benczkowski was nominated by President Trump in June to be U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. My  Sept. 15 post called attention to this since he previously represented one of Russia’s largest banks Russia’s Alfa Bank. Having  advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his nomination is pending full Senate confirmation. He once served under Jeff Sessions. If confirmed, he pledged independence, recusing himself for two years from any dealings with alfa Bank.  Sen. Feinstein voted against Benczkowski concerned that he never served as a federal prosecutor and the fact he would sit in on  meetings with special counsel Robert Mueller with Russia probe. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., was concerned his major qualification was his connection with Sessions.
……………………………………………
Mercer on the run ?  Bannon and Breitbart bankroller, Robert Mercer is rapidly severing financial ties to Breitbart News and support of Steve Bannon and alt-right’s Milo Yiannopoulos. Mercer was a major supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to gain the Republican nomination last year, but switched his allegiance to Trump when he won the nomination.
      In my March 21 post, I wrote, “Years from now, I suspect Mercer will be relaxing at his Long Island waterfront retreat, Owl’s Nest, or on his 200-foot yacht, Sea Owl, and look back over his illustrious career tarnished  by one regret – he backed the biggest con job in our nation’s history.”

………………………………..
IT’S NEVER THE GUNS !
………………………………..

Six states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Utah, Wisconsin),  are planning to require poverty stricken people on Medicaid  to get jobs  or lose the coverage. Maine, Utah and Wisconsin want to put a time limit on coverage, the latter wants to drug-test people. Excluded: People with long-tern disabilities, the elderly, and children.  Isn’t it bad enough these people are in poverty ? 
      Vox Media reports that 9.8 million Medicaid recipients  don’t have jobs  due to: Illness/disabled (35%), retired (8%), taking care of home or family (28%), going to school (18%), cannot find work (8%). The remaining 60.2 million Americans on Medicaid work full-time of part-time.  I’m not sure what’s the Republican beef here.
……………………………………
TRUMP’S PARDON POWER
    
The President has the power to grant conditional pardons; to commute sentences; remit fines and forfeitures; and grant amnesty. This power can be exercised at any time after the offense has been committed, before conviction of after. Pardons cannot be limited by or controlled by legislative action (US legal.com)
Expect Trump to attempt to pardon anyone he wants, including himself. It’s a way out of facing responsibility very much like dodging the draft. Like when he justified his numerous bankruptcies, saying he only used U.S. laws to his advantage.  Well, “pardons” are his prerogative, in many, not all cases. He would take advantage of whatever loophole to avoid consequences, sort of like dodging the draft, or did I already say that ?
     The President cannot pardon people for “state” crimes, and it is doubtful he can pardon himself.
      Can the Mueller investigation survive Mueller’s firing ?

Slate.com’s July 21 article, “Trump can’t Escape the States,” says “YES.”

1-A state [NY] could hire Mueller and team.
2-State attorneys general could use their quo warranto power to investigate Trump’s organization for fraud and money laundering from Russian sources.
3-A Congressional committee (Senate Intelligence Committee) could hire Mueller or create a Joint select Committee.
4-Congress could pass a new veto-proof independent counsel statute.
FINALLY: If Trump resigns and Pence takes over, Pence could pardon Trump, as Ford did Nixon.
……………………………………

THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIMENT UNDER SEIGE:  Not since the Civil War has the spirit and future of our nation been at such great risk, from within.  This  administration, Congress and U.S. Supreme Court is surgically dismembering  efforts over many years to ensure the safety  and well being of “all” Americans.
     The sooner, Americans recognize these are not genuine Republican conservatives, but extremists determined dismantle that which has been achieved over the years and replace it with “their” brand  of a  quasi-fascist state.  Ben Franklin was right when asked what kind of government  the Founding Fathers had given us.  “A Republic, if you can keep it,” was his respons.
 ……………………………………………………………………………
TRUMP looking for a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card if the Feds close in?”
   
Why not, he dodged military service with 5 deferments  during the Vietnam era (1964 – 1970).
     Reportedly, he has asked advisers about his power to pardon family members and himself  relating to Mueller’s investigation.
…………………………………

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETED ? If the Special Counselor  concludes it is “necessary and appropriate” he is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising out of the investigation, which he does after submitting a report to the attorney general explaining his reasons.

REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER:  Misconduct,  dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, good cause (??), violation of Department policies.
WOULD MUELLER BE REPLACED ? Unclear. If the Democrats controlled Congress they could appoint another Special Counselor
……………………………………
  “Connect the Dots.” This investigation is open-ended
       Nigel Farage – President Trump- Hope Hicks, Jeffrey Sessions – Robert Mercer – Cambridge Analytics – Bannon- Carter Page – Kushner (Jared and Ivanka) – Eric Prince – Donald, Jr.  and Eric Trump – Wilbur Ross –  Michael Cohen – Ezra Cohen Watnick – Michael T. Flynn – Michael G. Flynn ( son)  – JD Gordon  –  Christopher Steele – Michael Caputo -Breitbart News – Roger Stone – Julian Assange – Paul Manafort – Rick Gates – Jill Stein – Sam Clovis –  Kellyanne and George Conway –Dana Rohrabacher – Bill Browder – Peter W. Smith (deceased: suicide), Paul Behrends – Brad Parscale – Boris Epshteyn, Ike Kaveladze, and  Russia’s alfa Group – Felix Sater – Rob Goldstone – alfa Group – Emin Agalarov – Sergey Gorkov –  Sergey Kislyak, ambassador to the U.S., Natalia Veselnitskaya, Oleg Deripaska all connect directly or indirectly to the Trump/Russia investigation and some have a connection to Brexit, as well.
      According to the “Observer,” Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica was connected with Canada’s AggregateIQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked together on the Brexit referendum. Aggregate is also a data mining company. While Mercer was a big supporter of Trump, there is no known connection between AggregateIQ and Trump’s campaign staff.
…………………………………………………

     REMOVING TRUMP FROM  OFFICE

Can Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, U.S. Constitution – Remove Trump ?
      It’s a stretch. 
The key for his removal is ”that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Section 4 mentions nothing  that he is unfit, delusional, unbalanced, crazy,  impulsive, irrational, impaired, sociopathic, psychopathic, narcissistic.
      That would be the threshold that would have to be crossed if Trump is removed from office via Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. There is no precedent

      It isn’t just Democrats, liberals, moderates and reasonable people who find Trump caustic, and dangerous, conservatives like George Will, David Brooks and Ross Douthart are also urging his removal.
      First, there are four ways to get rid of Trump – death, resignation, impeachment and Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.
      The procedure employing the 25th Amendment requires the Vice President and the majority of the cabinet of 15 (8) to vote to remove the president. They would submit their declaration in writing to the President pro tempore ( Sen. Orrin Hatch) and Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan) that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and the Vice President will immediately assume to office as acting president.
      However, the president may contend the move by submitting his own letter to the President pro tempore and Speaker of the House, that he believes he is capable of performing his duties, in which case he will resume the office of presidency.
       The Vice President and Cabinet members may then resubmit their declaration at which point Congress would vote within 48 hours if in session. If not, Congress  will act within 21 days where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove  him.  
        However, as “Business Insider.com” noted on Jan. 9, 2018, Trump could simply fire the Cabinet members who voted to oust him from office.
………………………………………
IMPEACHMENT
      A  Consult/Politico poll shows 43% of Americans want Congress to begin procedures for the impeachment of President Trump.

      The U.S. Constitution  enables Congress to remove a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Initially, the House votes on one or more articles of impeachment- if a majority vote is reached, he is impeached.  BUT, impeachment only means indictment. The Senate holds a trial overseen by the chief justice and Supreme Court. A group of House members serve as prosecutors and the Senate as jurors. If two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president takes over.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Note: Source of weekly economic calendar and good recap of indicators: mam.econoday.com
………………………………………………….

George Brooks
Investor’s first read
A Game-On Analysis, LLC publication
Brooks007read@aol.com
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 
Investor’s first read, is a Game-On Analysis, LLC publication for which George Brooks is sole owner, manager and writer.  Neither Game-On Analysis, LLC, nor George  Brooks  is  registered as an investment advisor.  Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed  as particularized or as investment advice as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment in keeping with their tolerance for risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inflation Up – Retail Sales Down

Investor’s first read Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 24,640
S&P 500:2,662
Nasdaq Comp.:7,013
Russell 2000: 1,494
Wednesday, Feb 14,  2018    9:11 a.m.
…………………………………………..
>Provocative read: The Ghost of…………………..(see below Political/Stock Market)

>Finally an infrastructure plan (see below)
……………………………………………………….
Briefly said:

      The market tried to decline yesterday, but couldn’t follow through. That prompted the bulls to step in, but not aggressively. The market was poised to rally at the open with futures up sharply.  Then the Consumer  Price Index (CPI)  and Retail Sales for January were reported at 8:30 a.m. with CPI up and sales down.  The market plunged.  Year over year, January’s CPI is up 2.1% (est. +1.9%).  January Retail Sales were down 0.3 percent, December sales revised downward.  This is in line with my warning that credit card debt and delinquencies are surging and savings as a percent of disposable income are at a 71 year low.  That sucks.
      The Fed can now be expected to raise rates next month, and possibly accelerate its plans to increase rates this year.  Not good.       
      Expect extreme volatility with big swings both ways. My expectations for 2018 was  WILD swings targeting January for the first one.  It came without warning with a nasty 12% plunge in the S&P 500 and DJIA.
      The market rebounded sharply from Friday’s lows, driven by bargain hunters and excitement about the introduction of an infrastructure plan.
      As the market rises will encounter overhead supply (investors waiting to sell on a rebound). That should be encountered at DJIA: 25,075; S&P 500: 2,710; Nasdaq Comp.: 7140.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
> I think we have seen the top in  the  2009 – 2018 Bull Market,  but bulls and the administration are not going to give up easily, they do not want a major market decline heading into the mid-term election.
>Last week’s 12% freefall was the first of two major corrections I forecast in December for 2018’s market.
>Last week’s drop looks a lot like August 2014 (S&P 500 down 15.8%) and Jan./Feb. 2016 down 17.7%), both in a matter of weeks. Both recovered in following months.  This one will rebound too, but be limited as the topping out process of the bull market sets in.
> Straight down from here ?  No, I think it’s going to take longer with wild swings in prices in coming months.

> The market will run into selling at higher levels by investors who feel they missed a chance to raise cash before the Jan./Feb. 12% plunge.
>WILD SWINGS in prices  will be great for traders, but risky for the average investor. 
> Suddenly, the financial landscape has changed, as the Street’s automatic “buy-at-the-market” mode is now fraught with concern.   Blame algorithms that weren’t programmed for the fact things can only get so good.
>The Fed has made it clear for a year it was going to raise its benchmark federal funds rate. On
> The MAJOR reason the bubble was pricked this time,  triggering a flash crash, was the market was obscenely overvalued. The Shiller S&P 500’s price/earnings ratio (P/E), based on average inflation-adjusted earnings over 10 years CAPE)  is now 31.7 vs. a mean of 16.8.  That kind of euphoria can only last for so long until someone breaks ranks and sells in size. It was simply a matter of time.
>
The criteria  for a bear market is one that   drops 20%.  A 20% drop from the January 26 high would take the DJIA to 21,293, the S&P 500 to 2,298, and the Nasdaq Comp. to 6,004. When it happens, I can see a much bigger decline.
> The only thing investors can look forward to is  corporate earnings which will be surging sharply this year.  While the market has pretty much priced this
increase in earnings in at current levels, the reports will have a positive impact, the next being April.  This is why I see wide swings in stock prices during the first six months with a final slide starting mid-year.
        
> Higher interest rates will unnerve the Street, but the Fed will soft-talk the prospect, trying to avert another plunge in the market.  If the Fed reverses fields and opts not to raise rates aggressively, it would initially trigger a rally, but signal the Fed feared a sharp downturn in the economy which would also be a problem.
> Of course, there is always the potential for a huge political scandal.  Special Counsel Robert Mueller ramps up indictments in the counsel’s probe.  We may see attempts to prevent the investigation from releasing results (my expectation) either by firing Mueller or  finding a way to strike down the regulation empowering the DOJ to be the only one whom can fire Mueller. Pardoning key people who are at risk of fines, jail time, etc.  would seriously divide America. (See below).      

 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
SUPPORT “today”:DJIA:24,387;S&P 500:2,627;  Nasdaq Comp.:6,845.

RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:24,667; S&P 500:2,663; Nasdaq Comp.:7,021  >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
SIGNS OF EARLY STAGE BEAR MARKET

  1. The economy can’t get better than this – and won’t.  I see seeds of a recession setting in early 2019.

BEAR MARKETS START AHEAD OF RECESSIONS by a lead time of 3 to 9 months. Commentators and pundits say, don’t worry, the economy is strong. Many prominent money managers would like to say “sell,” but can’t for fear of triggering a PANIC.

  1. This economy and bull market are long in the tooth. The average of 11 economic expansions (1945  – 2009) has been 59 months. This expansion is 103 months old.  The average length of 15 bull markets runs 2.5 years or 30.4 months.  This bull has lasted 107 months. Credit card debt has doubled since 2013, the delinquency rate  is rising sharply.  The Personal Savings rate as a percent of  disposable income is 2.9%, down from 7.1% in July 2012.  This rate tends to drop sharply prior to recessions. The lowest level of savings over the last 71 years was 2.7% in 2005.
  2. CORRECTION: The Shiller S&P 500’s price/earnings ratio (earnings averaged over 10 years)  is now 31 vs.  an average of 16.8, a 94% overvaluation. Over the years, this P/E has ranged between 4.8 and 49.2 for various reasons, none the least of which is investors’ confidence in the stability of our government and its future.
  3. We are faced with the prospect of a Constitutional crisis, the possibility of the disclosure of high crimes in high offices.  That could result in total CHAOS. It may be dragged out into 2019, even 2020.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    RECENT “INVESTORS FIRST READ. COM”  BLOGS LEADING UP TO THE MARKET’S PLUNGE
    Starting with the DJIA at 26,392 (S&P 500: 2,839)   I wrote:  

     “The computer algos on the Street have been in cruise control buy mode for over a year, which is why the market has not had a 3% correction in more than 14 months. This is rare ! 
      At some point, these think-alike’s  will all get a sell signal at the same time, and then it will be straight down. This is why a cash reserve is necessary.
      Friday’s sharp plunges is a warning of things to come if the Street suddenly exits.  The potential exists for a correction of 12% – 16%.”

      I have repeated that  every day for emphasis.
       ON December 27, my annual forecast was “2018; The wildest One in Years,”
stating emphatically, “NO ONE IS BEARISH ! THAT’S BEARISH !
       My initial target for a correction was DJIA down 3,578 points to 22,735 (-13.6%) and for the S&P 500: down 349 points to 2,500 (-12.2%).

        Look, the is classic “Flash Crash,” where the Street, mostly following the same indicators all get a sell signal, or defer purchase signal at the same time,  that’s why I disparage them as “think-alikes.” Best computer is the human brain.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
FINALLY – AN INFRASTRUCTURE  PLAN ?
      The administration has finally  introduced an infrastructure plan. Clearly it is a problem that must be addressed.  Unfortunately debt that will be encountered by way of its approved spending plan and an unjustified massive tax cut that reduced revenues the government will receive by way of the 40% tax cuts for corporations accounting for 9% of  federal receipts each year, there will be fierce debate by the deficit hawks.
     This is a $1.5 trillion proposal that includes$200 billion federal spending that relies on public/private funding. In addition to funding, there will be an effort to reduce the permitting process to expedite projects.
     
The Trump administration will expect the state, local  and private sources to bankroll infrastructure rebuilds via public/private partnerships (expensive), taxes and fees while the Feds  plan to streamline bureaucracy, cutting red tape that presumably has held up projects.
      Three obstacles: How many states have the money, and how long would it take to develop other means to finance projects.  Then there are the politics of the various issues that will arise, none the least of which would be finance projects on the backs of cuts to social programs.
      This is yet another disgraceful blunder.  The Trump administration had a chance to tie tax cuts and especially the repatriation of  trillions of dollars abroad to infrastructure funding.
……………………………………    
       The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) grade  the 16 sectors of  our nation’s infrastructure. As a group, they get D+. Broken down they get: Aviation D, Bridges C+, Dams D, Drinking Water D, Energy D+, Hazardous Waste D+, Inland Waterways D, Levees D, Ports C+, Public Parks D+, Railway B, Roads D, Schools C+, Transit D-, Waste Water D-.
      There are a host of companies that could benefit over time. I have identified as many as 27. If the administration announces a big push, most will jump in price on the hype. This happened  a year ago. The group jumped sharply, then lost momentum and drifted sideways-to-down.  Most of the infrastructure stocks listed below jumped 1% to 2% on the news  
       Potential beneficiaries:
Martin Marietta (MLM), Chicago Bridge (CBI), Cliffs (CLF), Vulcan Materials (VMC), Caterpillar (CAT), Arcelor Mittal (MT), Nucor (NUE), Fluor (FLR), USG (USG), United Rentals (URI), CEMEX (CX), U.S. Concrete (USCR), Jacobs (JEC), AECOM (ACM), Emerson El (EMR), Manitowac (MTW),Tetra Tech (TTEK), KBR (KBR), McDermott (MDR), Quanta Services (PWR), EMCOR (EME), Mastec (MTZ), American Water (AWK), American Tower (AMT), Granite Const’n (GVA, Eagle Materials (EXP), Steel Dynamics (STLD).
      one.
        Go to www.infrastructure report card.org for details on the “problem.”
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
A quasi-fascist state would give Trump the untethered power he craves.
Read: The Ghost of Fascism in the Age of Trump

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43529-the-ghost-of-fascism-in-the-age-of-trump
…………………………………………………….

TRUMP refuses to allow Democrat response to Nunes ‘MEMO.”  Even though the Democrat response was run by the FBI and DOJ for vetting, Trump claims it contains “classified and sensitive passages.”
      Yet, more obstruction ?   What is he hiding ?
According to Palmer.com, ranking Democrat on the House Intel Committee, Adam Schiff, could just read it on the House floor or the Committee could resort to “Rule X” and override the Presidents veto (doubtful)
……………………….
Number 3 at DOJ, Rachael Brand, resigns at DOJ (see below)

WILL TRUMP FIRE MUELLER ? LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  A new appointment to the DOJ may signal Trump’s intent.
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ who will.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2?9/19)      Trump must find someone in DOJ to fire Mueller if he wants to do it.    

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ.     
        Trump has appointed (pending confirmation) former Boeing General Counsel, John Demers, to assume  Boente’s position as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. He could do it, but he has promised to support the Mueller investigation.
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit has shown an interest in the DOJ, and  CIA’s  Mike Pompeo, is a possibility for a post. there.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
 ………………………………………..
        FYI: The S&P 500 gained 36.6% in Obama’s first year, but only 23.7% under Trump. Obama inherited the worst bear market since the 1930’s, Trump inherited an accelerating bull market supported by a stable economy. If Obama’s first year gain is calculated from the Bear market bottom  March 6, 2009 shortly after he assumed office, the gain would be 74.2%.
………………………………………….
U.S. Ranking globally and domestically plunging under Trump
      Global approval of U.S. leadership from 134 countries has plunged to 30% from 48% in just a year.  Clearly, Trump isn’t making America Great Again in the eyes of all other countries. 
The downside of this is we need the support of those countries.  Our nationalistic policies are opening doors throughout the world for China. A Gallup poll shows Germany replacing the U.S. as the top-rated power in the world.
      Under Trump, the United States has dropped to 11th place in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, which in addition  to  R&D spending, includes post secondary, or tertiary, education-efficiency category, which includes the share of new science and engineering graduates. Value-added manufacturing also dropped.  South Korea ranked first, followed by Sweden, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Denmark, France, Israel.
       Also under Trump, Americans’ trust in institutions (government, companies and the  media) has suffered the greatest loss on record according to a poll conducted by Edelman New York. The poll, including 33,000 “informed” individuals showed the U.S. dropping to 43 out of a possible 100, down 23 points in a year.  He is a human wrecking ball.
…………………………………………

SOLUTION for our nation’s problems: Deport Trump’s base. Not the Republicans who vote their party because they are genuinely conservative, but the racist, violent, abusive element that opts for dumbing down solutions for issues because experienced and intelligent people remind them how incapable they are of emotionally and mentally developing rational, unbiased conclusions for issues  without bias that serve the best interests of all Americans.
……………………………..

According to the Washington Post, Trump’s false or misleading statements (lies) now exceed 2,000 after his first year.
……………………………………………
WOULD ANYONE WANT their spouse to lie repeatedly ?, their child ?, mother ?, father ?, minister ?, child’s teacher ?,  coach ?, employer ?.  IF NOT, why would they support President Trump who is on record with telling 4.5 lies per day, 1,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?.
……………………………………….

Trump ABANDONS voter fraud panel, but hands it off the Homeland Security where all the snooping can be done out of sight
. ………………………………………………….
CORPORATE TAX CUT IRRESPONSIBLE

“It's pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised,” Bloomberg continued. Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that. The tax bill is an economically indefensible blunder that will harm our future” –   Michael Bloomberg – billionaire business man former mayor NYC

      I don’t doubt some corporations need, and deserve a tax cut, but to reduce the rate from 35% to 21% is inexcusable, reckless, unjustifiable, and outright subversive to the best interests of America.
      Corporate income taxes comprise 9% of federal government receipts. If corporate taxes are slashed by 40% (from 35% to 21%), the government’s receipts from corporations are reduced by 3.6% from 9%.
      Individual income tax payments comprise 47% of  federal government receipts
. At this point, I have no idea how much of an impact  Congress’ tax cuts will have on this source of federal revenues, but it stands to be significant.
      The Republican administration expects economic growth will be triggered by a sudden change in heart by corporations to abandon stock buybacks and the repatriation of billions stashed abroad to plug the big hole left in federal receipts by tax cuts with a surge in hiring and capital expenditures.
      That assumption is flawed. For one, why would a corporation  go on a hiring and cap-ex spending spree  with an economic expansion that  is 8-1/2 years old, 3 years longer (73%) than the average over 65 years (1945 – 2009).
      For another, are they naïve enough to assume there will be no recessions within the next 10 years ?
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a study on “Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies”:  The report includes 258 corporations that were consistently profitable over an eight-year period between 2008 and 2015. Some conclusions:
-of 258 Fortune 500 companies studied, the effective federal income tax rate was 21.5%
18 of the 258 paid no income tax and 48 paid an effective tax rate of 10%.
83 companies (32%) paid a tax rate less than 17.5%
109 companies (42%)  paid a tax rate between 17.5% and 30%.
66 companies (26%) paid a tax rate greater than 30%
NOTE: The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School estimates the  effective tax rate  for corporates will drop to 9.2% as a result of  tax reform.
……………………………………………………
STATES NEEDING FED’s HELP THE MOST

       The twelve most federally dependent states are Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, Alabama, West Virginia, South Carolina, Montana, Tennessee, Maine,  Indiana, Arizona, Louisiana.
      The twelve least federally dependent states are Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Illinois, California, Kansas, Nevada, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Utah, and Nebraska.
  Red states (Republican) are 67% more dependent on federal government aid than Blue States (Democratic).
So why all the whining about the Feds being in their space ?  Want to go it alone ?   Careful
what you wish for   
.…………………………
The BIG question is, do American morals and respect for our republic  have to hit bottom before Congress and the American voter opts for decency, honesty, integrity and a moral compass ?
    Currently, odds favor neither will have a change of heart even if the findings of the Mueller probe uncover untold crimes against the constitution and American people. 
     The current extremist Republican Party is morally bankrupt, as are many of its supporters. Much of the Republican Congress is comprised congressional  anarchists, determined to raze time-tested checks and balances, and oppose any and all new proposals that do not pass their muster.
      It wasn’t enough that they obstructed progress for eight years of the Obama administration, they are now dismantling the things he did accomplish. Our republic is being mugged in plain sight.
    
There are a lot of very fine Republicans out there, but someone needs to tell them someone hijacked their party.
       This isn’t Reagan, this isn’t anything close to the Republican Party I grew up with.

       This is what the right wing has been waiting for – total control of the presidency, both Houses, and the Supreme Court. (and Fox News)  They want total control.  This is how democratic,  representative republics  perish.
      America is the biggest enchilada on earth.  Why wouldn’t a group of extremists want to wrest permanent control from its people ?  Americans must stop multitasking, and have the guts to endure the day-to-day angst that accompanies being well informed. They need to return to values.
………………………………………………….

Brian Benczkowski was nominated by President Trump in June to be U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. My  Sept. 15 post called attention to this since he previously represented one of Russia’s largest banks Russia’s Alfa Bank. Having  advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his nomination is pending full Senate confirmation. He once served under Jeff Sessions. If confirmed, he pledged independence, recusing himself for two years from any dealings with alfa Bank.  Sen. Feinstein voted against Benczkowski concerned that he never served as a federal prosecutor and the fact he would sit in on  meetings with special counsel Robert Mueller with Russia probe. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., was concerned his major qualification was his connection with Sessions.
……………………………………………
Mercer on the run ?  Bannon and Breitbart bankroller, Robert Mercer is rapidly severing financial ties to Breitbart News and support of Steve Bannon and alt-right’s Milo Yiannopoulos. Mercer was a major supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to gain the Republican nomination last year, but switched his allegiance to Trump when he won the nomination.
      In my March 21 post, I wrote, “Years from now, I suspect Mercer will be relaxing at his Long Island waterfront retreat, Owl’s Nest, or on his 200-foot yacht, Sea Owl, and look back over his illustrious career tarnished  by one regret – he backed the biggest con job in our nation’s history.”

………………………………..
IT’S NEVER THE GUNS !
………………………………..

Six states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Utah, Wisconsin),  are planning to require poverty stricken people on Medicaid  to get jobs  or lose the coverage. Maine, Utah and Wisconsin want to put a time limit on coverage, the latter wants to drug-test people. Excluded: People with long-tern disabilities, the elderly, and children.  Isn’t it bad enough these people are in poverty ? 
      Vox Media reports that 9.8 million Medicaid recipients  don’t have jobs  due to: Illness/disabled (35%), retired (8%), taking care of home or family (28%), going to school (18%), cannot find work (8%). The remaining 60.2 million Americans on Medicaid work full-time of part-time.  I’m not sure what’s the Republican beef here.
……………………………………
TRUMP’S PARDON POWER
    
The President has the power to grant conditional pardons; to commute sentences; remit fines and forfeitures; and grant amnesty. This power can be exercised at any time after the offense has been committed, before conviction of after. Pardons cannot be limited by or controlled by legislative action (US legal.com)
Expect Trump to attempt to pardon anyone he wants, including himself. It’s a way out of facing responsibility very much like dodging the draft. Like when he justified his numerous bankruptcies, saying he only used U.S. laws to his advantage.  Well, “pardons” are his prerogative, in many, not all cases. He would take advantage of whatever loophole to avoid consequences, sort of like dodging the draft, or did I already say that ?
     The President cannot pardon people for “state” crimes, and it is doubtful he can pardon himself.
      Can the Mueller investigation survive Mueller’s firing ?

Slate.com’s July 21 article, “Trump can’t Escape the States,” says “YES.”

1-A state [NY] could hire Mueller and team.
2-State attorneys general could use their quo warranto power to investigate Trump’s organization for fraud and money laundering from Russian sources.
3-A Congressional committee (Senate Intelligence Committee) could hire Mueller or create a Joint select Committee.
4-Congress could pass a new veto-proof independent counsel statute.
FINALLY: If Trump resigns and Pence takes over, Pence could pardon Trump, as Ford did Nixon.
……………………………………

THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIMENT UNDER SEIGE:  Not since the Civil War has the spirit and future of our nation been at such great risk, from within.  This  administration, Congress and U.S. Supreme Court is surgically dismembering  efforts over many years to ensure the safety  and well being of “all” Americans.
     The sooner, Americans recognize these are not genuine Republican conservatives, but extremists determined dismantle that which has been achieved over the years and replace it with “their” brand  of a  quasi-fascist state.  Ben Franklin was right when asked what kind of government  the Founding Fathers had given us.  “A Republic, if you can keep it,” was his respons.
 ……………………………………………………………………………
TRUMP looking for a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card if the Feds close in?”
   
Why not, he dodged military service with 5 deferments  during the Vietnam era (1964 – 1970).
     Reportedly, he has asked advisers about his power to pardon family members and himself  relating to Mueller’s investigation.
…………………………………

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETED ? If the Special Counselor  concludes it is “necessary and appropriate” he is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising out of the investigation, which he does after submitting a report to the attorney general explaining his reasons.

REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER:  Misconduct,  dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, good cause (??), violation of Department policies.
WOULD MUELLER BE REPLACED ? Unclear. If the Democrats controlled Congress they could appoint another Special Counselor
……………………………………
  “Connect the Dots.” This investigation is open-ended
       Nigel Farage – President Trump- Hope Hicks, Jeffrey Sessions – Robert Mercer – Cambridge Analytics – Bannon- Carter Page – Kushner (Jared and Ivanka) – Eric Prince – Donald, Jr.  and Eric Trump – Wilbur Ross –  Michael Cohen – Ezra Cohen Watnick – Michael T. Flynn – Michael G. Flynn ( son)  – JD Gordon  –  Christopher Steele – Michael Caputo -Breitbart News – Roger Stone – Julian Assange – Paul Manafort – Rick Gates – Jill Stein – Sam Clovis –  Kellyanne and George Conway –Dana Rohrabacher – Bill Browder – Peter W. Smith (deceased: suicide), Paul Behrends – Brad Parscale – Boris Epshteyn, Ike Kaveladze, and  Russia’s alfa Group – Felix Sater – Rob Goldstone – alfa Group – Emin Agalarov – Sergey Gorkov –  Sergey Kislyak, ambassador to the U.S., Natalia Veselnitskaya, Oleg Deripaska all connect directly or indirectly to the Trump/Russia investigation and some have a connection to Brexit, as well.
      According to the “Observer,” Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica was connected with Canada’s AggregateIQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked together on the Brexit referendum. Aggregate is also a data mining company. While Mercer was a big supporter of Trump, there is no known connection between AggregateIQ and Trump’s campaign staff.
…………………………………………………

     REMOVING TRUMP FROM  OFFICE

Can Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, U.S. Constitution – Remove Trump ?
      It’s a stretch. 
The key for his removal is ”that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Section 4 mentions nothing  that he is unfit, delusional, unbalanced, crazy,  impulsive, irrational, impaired, sociopathic, psychopathic, narcissistic.
      That would be the threshold that would have to be crossed if Trump is removed from office via Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. There is no precedent

      It isn’t just Democrats, liberals, moderates and reasonable people who find Trump caustic, and dangerous, conservatives like George Will, David Brooks and Ross Douthart are also urging his removal.
      First, there are four ways to get rid of Trump – death, resignation, impeachment and Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.
      The procedure employing the 25th Amendment requires the Vice President and the majority of the cabinet of 15 (8) to vote to remove the president. They would submit their declaration in writing to the President pro tempore ( Sen. Orrin Hatch) and Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan) that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and the Vice President will immediately assume to office as acting president.
      However, the president may contend the move by submitting his own letter to the President pro tempore and Speaker of the House, that he believes he is capable of performing his duties, in which case he will resume the office of presidency.
       The Vice President and Cabinet members may then resubmit their declaration at which point Congress would vote within 48 hours if in session. If not, Congress  will act within 21 days where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove  him.  
        However, as “Business Insider.com” noted on Jan. 9, 2018, Trump could simply fire the Cabinet members who voted to oust him from office.
………………………………………
IMPEACHMENT
      A  Consult/Politico poll shows 43% of Americans want Congress to begin procedures for the impeachment of President Trump.

      The U.S. Constitution  enables Congress to remove a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Initially, the House votes on one or more articles of impeachment- if a majority vote is reached, he is impeached.  BUT, impeachment only means indictment. The Senate holds a trial overseen by the chief justice and Supreme Court. A group of House members serve as prosecutors and the Senate as jurors. If two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president takes over.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Note: Source of weekly economic calendar and good recap of indicators: mam.econoday.com
………………………………………………….

George Brooks
Investor’s first read
A Game-On Analysis, LLC publication
Brooks007read@aol.com
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 
Investor’s first read, is a Game-On Analysis, LLC publication for which George Brooks is sole owner, manager and writer.  Neither Game-On Analysis, LLC, nor George  Brooks  is  registered as an investment advisor.  Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed  as particularized or as investment advice as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment in keeping with their tolerance for risk.