Possible Constitutional Crisis, Rising Interest Rates Spook Market

Investor’s first read – Daily edge before the open
S&P 500: 2,8222,823
Nasdaq Comp.:7,441
Russell 2000: 1,574
Thursday, Feb 1, 2018 9:11a.m.
What To Look For If Trump Plans to Fire Mueller (see below)
The market gave back most of a 189 point Dow gain yesterday, not a good sign. While the Dow closed up 70 points, it would have been down 44 points if Boeing’s stock didn’t gain 16.66 points. this is one of the fallacies in the construction of the DJIA. It is price based, not market value based like the other major market averages. One stock can distort the average.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were flat, the smaller company average, Russell 2000, took a hit.
It is not a good sign if the market loses all of a big prior day’s gain.
We need to see if there is a follow-through today. It will open lower, but the key is, will buyers be there ?
I warned yesterday, “Rally Must Hold…..or Straight Down.
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.
Yesterday’s sharp plunge was a warning. When the Street begins to sell, it will be straight down.
The major FLAW in the Republican’s economic game plan, which was touted to justify a massive, excessive corporate tax cut, is that no consideration has been made for the adverse impact of a recession.
The consumer is nearly tapped out. 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.
SUPPORT “today”: DJIA:26,076;S&P 500:2,821; Nasdaq Comp.:7,401
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:26,217; S&P 500:2,833; Nasdaq Comp.7,7,427;
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%.
INFRASTRUCTURE: Little was said Tuesday night in the SOTU. I’ll run the piece again if appropriate.
I really can’t say it any better than the following
I sense a constitutional crisis is imminent with Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicting high level Trump administration officials. I believe Trump will respond with an attempt to fire Mueller, or find another way to obstruct the progress of this investigation.
The key here is, how this will impact the market. Initially, a brief plunge followed by a sharp rally would be likely, since the Street is tuned-out on political, but as the severity of the constitutional crisis deepens, the market will take a huge hit with the DJIA giving up at least 3,578 to 22,735 (-13.6%) and the S&P 500 giving up 349 points to 2,500 (-12.2%).
That’s roughly one-third of what the market gained since the 2016 election. Markets frequently give up one-third of major upmoves. Obviously if the market gets hit with new negatives after a that pullback, the plunge would be greater.
The reason I think a crisis is imminent is because the Republicans have ramped up their efforts to discredit the FBI and the Mueller probe, and because Trump says he is willing to testify under oath to the Mueller commission.
Nonsense ! He has no intention to meet with Mueller or he would have done so months ago. He wants to give the impression he is willing to comply to orchestrate support from his base.
Our republic is being tested like never before. This is a battle for untethered control by what I view as constitutional anarchists who want to dismantle 75 years of progress toward developing a high quality of life for America as a whole. Why else would they gerrymander the Hell out of our electorate, make it difficult for people to vote, and stack the judicial system ?
This is the extremist right wing’s big chance; they know demographics are against them going forward. I doubt Congress will oust Trump regardless of the severity of his actions before and after talking office.
But Wall Street, corporate American and the BIG money got their tax cut, they may want to get rid of Trump before he ruins chances of the Republicans hanging on to control of Congress and the White House in 2020.
Late-stage bull markets offer opportunities to make money easier and faster, simply because speculative fever is ramped up and buyers are jumping on anything that gets favorable mention by the Street or in the press.
At some point, the BIG money will have to exit. They need eager buyers to do so without knocking stocks they are selling down. With reportedly $33.2 billion flowing into stocks in the January 24 week, this is the euphoria they have been waiting for.
I am keeping the following posted for new readers
What is written below will be difficult to believe. It’s just a matter of time before a major correction sets is, and a bear market.
No one is bearish, and that IS BEARISH ! Odds favor 12% to 18% correction not necessarily today, or this week, maybe not for months, but the market crossed the line above reasonable valuation months ago, and is vulnerable to one of those flash crashes I have prematurely warned about.
From November 2016 to December 2017, the market was driven by promises of a massive corporate and high-earner tax cut. The passage of the tax cut in December took stock prices an even greater extreme.
The economic recovery, that started in June 2009 after the Great Recession and 52% bear market decline, continues undeterred. But stock markets turn down well ahead of the start of recessions, generally with a lead time of 3 to 9 months.
I have wrongly warned of risk for the better part of 2017, even issued a Sell on August 29. Realizing I was wrong, I reversed that call two weeks later, headlining, “WRONG READ on timing – But Warning Stands.”
I have experienced 14 bull market tops, written about 12, and all came when “least” expected, when a downturn was dismissed as impossible.
What might be an extreme of over-valuation (or undervaluation) in one market, may not rank as one in the next market. Bear market bottoms are easier to read than bull market tops.
A severe correction, possibly a bear market, is out there. It will take a “trigger” to start it, or a sudden “no show” by the BIG money, followed by panicky selling to get it underway. The Street got its tax cut, what else is there to anticipate ? Most of the benefits of the tax cut are priced- in the market’s 31% gain in the S&P 500 over 15 months.
Yes, making money can be easy now, buying just about anything, even junk.
Warnings like mine are annoying, even provoke anger.
“Who is this jerk, talking about risk when people are making a killing in the market ?” one may ask.
“Aren’t there dozens of reports out there hyping what-to-buy after the tax cut ? Didn’t I just hear about someone making a bundle last year. Take a hike Brooks, I’m all-in !”
I am not alone in seeing risk.
I have enormous respect for James Stack of InvesTech Research (1-406-862-777). Stack is also warning of risk and has reduced exposure to the market. His set of economic and stock market indicators are near flawless. What’s startling about his last issue is the extremes to which many of his indicators have reached. While his economic indicators suggest a recession is not imminent, he also warns that stock markets turn down 6-9 months ahead of recessions. The market has not had a 3% correction in 14.4 months, which has not happened since stocks plunged in 2008, he writes.
What’s more, he says, the bearish sentiments of the Investment Advisors Sentiment Survey tracked by Investors Intelligence, just hit a 31-year low. This is a contrary indicator. Advisors are least bearish at market tops when they should be bearish and least bullish at market bottoms – that’s the pattern. Maybe that’s why it is so hard to buy-low/sell-high ! Maybe it’s just easier for these people to sell greed at market tops and fear at bottoms.
Then too, the S&P 500 price/earnings ratio based on earnings already reported is 26, well above the historic norm of 17.2, excluding the extremes of the 1990’s technology bubble and 2008-2009 financial crisis.
Finally, margin debt (borrowing to buy stocks). It has been hitting new highs. That spells leverage which is fine as long as stocks rise, but devastating in declines.
I am as concerned today about what I see, as I was in August 2007 before the Great Recession/Bear Market when I wrote:

Perfect Storm Looms

The perfect storm in our financial markets
is looming….It will take a heroic effort internationally
to avert a meltdown of huge magnitude…Trading in
everything may have to be stopped until some sort of
sanity is restored…This can get real ugly…No one has
a handle on the leverage amassed in derivatives ..No
one has a true handle on how precarious the situation out
there is, and that uncertainty feeds on itself prompting
increased selling…With few buyers, stocks tank…
Only when a cauldron of fear begins to boil do you have
a market that is reasonably safe to invest in.

George Brooks
August 19, 2007

I was two months early then, more so this time around. Conditions are a bit different now, but the odds that the Street will be blindsided this time are greater. They have blinders on – tunnel vision – in denial.
We are approaching perfect storm conditions, and I haven’t even touched on the total dysfunction of the Trump administration and Congress, and its imminent implosion in face of the findings of the Mueller investigation.
THE NATION’S BIGGEST EVER POLITICAL SCANDAL will hit in coming months, look for multiple constitutional crises, and possibly panic in the stock market.
SELL EVERYTHING ? That may work for some people, but the more nimble may be able to stay a while as euphoria takes stocks higher. For others, a healthy cash reserve is justified just in case a few of us, and historic precedence are right.
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 it is doubtful she would tarnish her career by firing Mueller, as did Robert Bork who fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox under orders of President Nixon in the Watergate Saturday Night Massacare, October 1973.
Trump must find someone in DOJ to fire Mueller if he wants to do it.
Until Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and recent appointment as general Counsel for the FBI by Director Christopher Wray, Boente would be in line. 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 recused himself from the Russian/Trump “investigation” March 2017.
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.
Trump ABANDONS voter fraud panel, but hands it off the Homeland Security where all the snooping can be done out of sight
. ………………………………………………….
“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 500companies 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.

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.”
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.

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