WaPo Reporter Caught On Hidden Camera Being A Bit Too Honest; Admits “No Evidence” Of Trump-Russia Collusion

After exposing the shocking, yet predictable, political bias of journalists at CNN and New York Times, Project Veritas has now set their sights on the Washington Post.  In a candid conversation with an undercover Project Veritas journalist, the Post's National Security Director, Adam Entous, put himself in danger of being a bit too honest, at least by his employer's standards, by admitting that "there's no evidence of [Trump-Russia collusion] that I've seen so far."  Entous goes on to admit that "it's a fucking crap shoot" and that he has no idea how Mueller's investigation might turn out.

Entous: "Our reporting has not taken us to a plcae where I would be able to say with any confidence that the result of it is going to be the president being guilty of being in cahoots with the Russians.  There's no evidence of that that I've seen so far."


PV Journalist: "There has to be something, right?"


Entous: "Maybe, maybe not.  It could just be lower-level people being manipulated or manipulating, but it's very hard to, it's really...It's a fucking black box."


"We've seen a lot of flirtation, if you will, between them but nothing that, in my opinion, would rank as actual collusion.  Now that doesn't mean that it doesn't exist, it just means we haven't found it yet.  Or maybe it doesn't exist."


"I mean it's a fucking crap shoot. I literally have no prediction whatsoever as to what would happen, and I do all the stuff for the Post on this so..."

Of course, on the surface, Entous' opinions are not that explosive and likely mimic the views held by many Americans...namely that despite 1.5 years of investigations no one has presented any actual, tangible evidence of Trump-Russia collusion. 

That said, what is explosive about this particular undercover sting is just how different Entous' private views on the Trump-Russia investigation are from the constant stream of narrative-building collusion headlines that flood the Washington Post's homepage each and every day.

Like this one...

Or this one if you prefer...

Of course, rather than focus on the blatant media bias that has once again been exposed by Project Veritas, the mainstream media rushed to the defense of the Washington Post by focusing instead on the foiled attempt of one of O'Keefe's journalists to plant a fake story at WaPo to see if they would simply run it with no questions asked or actually do their jobs.  Apparently CNN thought the foiled plot had put O'Keefe "on the defensive"...


...but O'Keefe seemed to not be all that defensive in his response below...which presumably means we'll all be treated to many more undercover stings in the years to come.

Finally, here is the latest Project Veritas video for your viewing pleasure:

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Tech Wreck Hits Asia – TATS Turmoil After FANG Flush

While FANGs cratered in US markets, the turmoil in tech stocks has spread to AsiaPac with Hong Kong down hard as TATS tumble to one-month lows at the open...

Asia's "FANG"  equivalent - accounting for 16% of MSCI Emerging Market Stock index is TATS - Taiwan Semi, Alibaba, Tecent, and Samsung...

All four names are down notably in the last week...

Following the biggest tumble in South Korea Industrial Production (and the first rate hike by Bank of Korea in 6 years), it appears there are no dip-buyers yet. KOSPI is down at one-month lows...

All the major China indices are opening lower...

As Blomberg strategist Garfield Reynolds warns, China’s deleveraging drive toward slower, steadier growth represents a major risk for markets, even if the transition is managed smoothly.

The key concern isn’t some sort of general meltdown such as a chain reaction of defaults, yield spikes, stock routs and economic turmoil.


While that’s possible, the strength of China’s economy and Xi Jinping’s enhanced political grip make it extremely unlikely.


The greater danger is that the program succeeds, but that markets are way too optimistic about the world’s capacity to cope with a slower-growing China .

Investors should face up to the prospect that an engineered slowdown can be as disruptive as the spontaneously created, burst-bubble variety

One warning sign is the way mainland China’s equities have underperformed Hong Kong and the broader Asia-Pacific index, despite the country being the region’s engine of growth.



That suggests that the rest of the region may suffer a higher- beta correction even if the deleveraging campaign doesn’t take too much out of Shanghai and Shenzhen shares.


As the biggest producer and consumer of most of the major industrial metals, China has regularly caused market ructions either through the vagaries of collateralized lending or through direct intervention via shutdowns or output curbs.


Aluminum is the latest poster child for the latter. It has slumped after the government’s curbs didn’t match the draconian expectations that spurred smelters to boost output earlier in the year.


Industrial metals broadly have had a strong 2017 and are the only sector keeping the Bloomberg Commodity Index anywhere close to breaking even this year. Subindexes for energy and agriculture are a long way under water. Any further reversal for base metals will throw a big question mark over the robust-global-growth-lifts-all- boats hypothesis.

Whatever the goals may be, China is working to stop growth from either overheating or from creating too much environmental or societal pollution.

And it’s doing so in pursuit of an agenda that Xi — the most powerful Chinese leader in decades — has just made the cornerstone of his legacy. So the willingness to tolerate collateral damage shouldn’t be underestimated.

The optimistic scenario that a steadier China will be better for all relies on trusting that Xi’s success in consolidating power will translate into success in guiding the economy. And that the path he chooses will end up leading to a stronger global outlook.

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Meanwhile, South Korean Industrial Production Crashes

With South Korean stocks soaring in the face of nukes from their northern neighbor and a credit-crunching China, it appears the South Korean economy just caught down to reality...

South Korean Industrial Production crashed 5.9% YoY in October - the biggest plunge since Feb 2013 - driven by a 17.5% collapse in auto production.

Economists had forecast a 3.0% surge in IP this month.

Of course, for the rampant buyers of South Korean stocks, none of that matters...

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McDonald’s Bun-Supplier Loses 35% Of Staff To Immigration Raids

President Trump has made it widely known that he will not tolerate sanctuary cities like Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. Since taking office, he has threatened to slash federal funding to cities who do not comply with federal immigrations laws, along with ICE agents circumnavigating local authorities in a nationwide federal operation to arrest undocumented immigrants.

In the latest immigration raids, ICE agents targeted a Swiss supplier of hamburger buns for McDonald’s Corp., who said it’s Chicago bakery lost 35% or about 800 of its workers at the Cloverhill Plant.

The company is owned by Zurich-based Aryzta AG, who makes baked products for fast-food chains and supermarkets.

ICE agents pinpointed the Chicago bakery after its job placement agency went under federal investigation earlier this year.

Kevin Toland, Chief Executive Officer of Aryzta said on a call with analyst, “it’s proceeding very, very slowly because it’s like having a brand new factory and a brand new workforce. That’s presenting a lot of challenges, as you can imagine.”

According to Bloomberg, President Trump’s immigration raids are a major headache for U.S. companies who employ undocumented works. The challenges that Aryzta faces are likely to cause short term economic pain for the company, but on the longer end could cause its end products to increase prices directly impacting the consumer.

The raid on workers at Cloverhill is one of the biggest U.S. employment headaches reported by a European company so far as President Donald Trump has made curbing undocumented immigration a centerpiece of his presidency. Aryzta said it faces challenges in retaining staff in the U.S. and pressure to raise wages.

For employers, the loss of illegal immigrants can be expensive. Training a new workforce of American hires can increase the cost of labor and certainly cut into margins.

But in Cloverhill’s case, the cost of labor is relatively inexpensive not because of the illegal immigrants, but each of their factories (2) have highly automated production lines that involve minimal human interaction. Future wage pressures are not expected to threaten profitability too much due to automation, but in the intermediate timeframe a severe loss in margins is due to volume loss.


According to RT, the Chicago Immigration Court has never been busier since President Trump entered office. Across the United States, there are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, which signals immigration raids are just getting started.

The Chicago Immigration Court has 24,844 pending cases in its system as of this spring, according to the DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review. That is up from 13,000 pending cases in 2010. Nationally, the pending caseload has doubled since 2011.


According to EOIR, total orders for removal between Trump’s inauguration and the close of the fiscal year hit 63,634. At the end of fiscal year 2017, some 1,940 people were detained in Chicago, up from 1,669 at the end of the prior year. Most of them are of Mexican descent, statistics show.


The Trump administration set in motion sweeping changes in how the federal government dealt with those living in the US illegally. It is estimated there are 11 million immigrants living the US without legal status.

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The StingRay Spy Device Is Exactly Why The 4th Amendment Was Written

Authored by Olivia Donaldson via The Foundation for Economic Education,

Imagine you are in the middle of your typical day-to-day activities. Maybe you are driving, spending time with family, or working. If you are like most people, your phone is at your side on a daily basis. Little do you know that, at any time, police and law enforcement could be looking at information stored on your phone.

You haven't done anything wrong. You haven't been asked for permission. You aren't suspected of any crime.

The StingRay

Police have the power to collect your location along with the numbers of your incoming and outgoing calls and intercept the content of call and text communication. They can do all of this without you ever knowing about it.

How? They use a shoebox-sized device called a StingRay. This device (also called an IMSI catcher) mimics cell phone towers, prompting all the phones in the area to connect to it even if the phones aren't in use.

The police use StingRays to track down and implicate perpetrators of mainly domestic crimes. The devices can be mounted in vehicles, drones, helicopters, and airplanes, allowing police to gain highly specific information on the location of any particular phone, down to a particular apartment complex or hotel room.

Quietly, StingRay use is growing throughout local and federal law enforcement with little to no oversight. The ACLU has discovered that at least 68 agencies in 23 different states own StingRays, but says that this "dramatically underrepresents the actual use of StingRays by law enforcement agencies nationwide."

The Violation

Information from potentially thousands of phones is being collected every time a StingRay is used. Signals are sent into the homes, bags, and pockets of innocent individuals. The Electronic Frontier Foundation likens this to the Pre-Revolutionary War practice of soldiers going door-to-door, searching without suspicion.

Richard Tynan, a technologist with Privacy International notes that, “there really isn’t any place for innocent people to hide from a device such as this.”

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution states that, “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The StingRay clearly violates these standards. The drafters of the Constitution recognized that restricting the government from violating privacy is essential for a free society. That's why the Fourth Amendment exists. The StingRay is creating a dangerous precedent that tells the government that it's okay for them to violate our rights. Because of this, freedom is quietly slipping out the window.

Little Regulation

Law Enforcement is using StingRays without a warrant in most cases. For example, the San Bernardino Police Department used their StingRay 300 times without a warrant in a little over a year.

In 2010, the Tallahassee Police Department used a StingRay in a warrantless search to track down the suspect of a crime. A testimony from an unsealed hearing transcript talks about how police went about finding their target. The ACLU sums it up well:

"Police drove through the area using the vehicle-based device until they found the apartment complex in which the target phone was located, and then they walked around with the handheld device and stood ‘at every door and every window in that complex’ until they figured out which apartment the phone was located in. In other words, police were lurking outside people’s windows and sending powerful electronic signals into their private homes in order to collect information from within."

A handful of states have passed laws requiring police and federal agents to get a warrant before using a StingRay. They must show probable cause for one of the thousands of phones that they are actually searching. This is far from enough.

Additionally, there are many concerns that agents are withholding information from federal judges to monitor subjects without approval - bypassing the probable cause standard laid out in the Constitution. They even go as far as to let criminals go to avoid disclosing information about these devices to the courts.

If the public doesn’t become aware of this issue, the police will continue to use StingRays to infringe on our rights in secret and with impunity.

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Deutsche Bank Explains The Five Biggest “Market Conundrums”

While pundits contemplate whether the bitcoin bubble is bigger, smaller or the same size as the dot com bubble, few are willing to admit that day to day events in the equity market are just as ridiculous, bubbly and bizarre as what takes place in the crypto realm. To address this lack of coverage, yesterday Bloomberg was nice enough to publish an article titled "What to Worry About in This Surreal Bull Market" which however only barely touched the surface of just how truly insane capital markets have become, a market which as Citi said last week, even central bankers are worried they have lost control over.

So overnight, as human traders no longer comprehend what is going on in a market dominated by machines and controlled by central bankers, and only know to BTFD, Deutsche Bank's Masao Muraki took it upon himself to explain five of the most prevalent, and confusing, market conundrums.

We present his analysis below in its entirety for the sake of (carbon-based) traders' sanity.

Market upsets: Rationally explaining five conundrums

Change in market tone since September:  From 2016 through August 2017, global interest and forex rates and stock prices were strongly influenced by 10y UST yield movements. This led investors  globally to focus on US rates. However, since September this simple landscape has changed, creating headaches for bond, forex, and stock market investors. In this report, we highlight five conundrums (questions) and our proposed explanations for them. Rationally explaining recent market moves will be essential to forecasting next year's market.

Our global financial research team's view is that “the current combination of strong economic conditions, low interest rates, low inflation, and narrow credit spreads are supporting a rise in value of  risk assets.”, “If the risks (such as difficulties with negotiating a higher US debt ceiling as 8 December approaches) do not materialize, and conditions remain stable (though the path would gradually  narrow), then risk asset prices will likely keep rising."

The key focus for 2018 will be the sustainability of low interest-rate/spread/volatility conditions and the Goldilocks market

Five market conundrums

  • Question 1: Japanese stocks' divergence from our approximation model (US stocks/forex)
  • Question 2: Ongoing stock rally (rise in P/E due to decline in risk premium)
  • Question 3: Ongoing yield-curve flattening
  • Question 4: Ongoing decline in interest-rate and stock-price volatility
  • Question 5: Ongoing tightening in credit spreads

Question 1: Japanese stocks' divergence from our approximation model (US stocks/forex)

90% or more of Japanese stock movements through August were explainable via a multiple regression model using US stock prices and forex. Forex movements could mostly be explained by US interest-rate movements.

Since Japan's 22 October Lower House elections, Japanese stocks including financials have diverged upward from our approximation model. Japanese stocks fell sharply following the 9 November volatility shock, and by 15 November had returned to near our approximation model (Figures 3-4, 20). At that point, we noted that the focus was on whether stocks would revert to the trend implied by our model or diverge again. Recently volatility decreased, and stocks have begun to diverge upward from our model again.

See Figures 4-6. Since September, stock-market volatility has been a major factor behind TOPIX's divergence from our model. This appears to be because some of the funds that flowed into the market during this year's Japan stock rally (from macro hedge funds, CTA etc.) have adjusted risk positions (stock positions) based on implied volatility in option-marke . In our view, the determinants of present Japanese stock-price levels appear to be (1) US stocks (particularly the Dow Average), (2) USD/JPY, and (3) implied volatility of stock prices in US and Japan. We think the third factor in particular should be uppermost in investors' minds, though its sustainability is questionable.

* * *

Question 2: Ongoing stock rally (rise in P/E due to decline in risk premium)

Japan and US stock prices continue to rise. This reflects the impact of (1) fundamentals, in the form of strong Jul-Sep results announcements, and (2) a rise in P/E amid the Goldilocks market conditions created by low interest rates and USD weakness.

Obviously, share prices are equivalent to EPS x P/E, and the inverse of P/E is earnings yield. As shown in Figures 7-10, the earnings yield in Japan, the US, and Europe can mostly be explained by the term premium observed in bond-market (the yield premium for long-term bonds due to price fluctuation and illiquidity risk) and the risk neutral rate (average forecast short-term interest rate over the next 10 years).

A one standard deviation decline in term premium causes stock prices to rise 2.5% in the US, 1% in Europe, and 5% in Japan. A one standard deviation increase in forecast short-term rate results in increases of 2%, 2.75%, and 7.8%. The recent decline in term premiums have led to a rise in P/E via a decline in risk-free rate and equity risk premium.

* * *

Question 3: Ongoing yield-curve flattening

Flattening European and US yield curves are a source of frustration for investors who had forecast steepening. Fed fund rate hikes amid structurally low interest rate conditions have (1) raised the average forecast short-term rate, but (2) have conversely lowered the term premium (Figure 11-12). Dominic Konstam from our Rates Strategy team estimates 2.25% as the fair end-2017 level for 10y yield.

Francis Yared from our Rates Strategy team sees US tax reforms as the main driver over the next 2-3 months. Our base scenario is for the passage of a mid-sized tax cut (increasing the fiscal deficit by $1.5trn) in early 2018. We expect long-term rates to rise due to the above factor and above-trend US economic growth. Matthew Luzetti from our US Economics research team estimates a neutral real short-term rate (neutral for economy) of 0.3% and a neutral real 10-year rate of around 1.5% (Figure 13). If we assume the Fed achieves its 2% inflation target, this would imply a neutral nominal 10-year rate of around 3.5%, suggesting ample room for long-term rates to rise.

Peter Hooper from our US Economics research team, does not expect the change in Fed Chair to have a significant impact on monetary policy. Chair-designate Powell is likely to be strongly opposed to the Taylor Rule or other limitations on Fed behavior. Powell lacks the specialist economic and monetary policy knowledge of previous Fed Chairs, but has front-line financial and capital market experience. He may also be more receptive to arguments about a structural decline in inflation than Chair Yellen. However, it is unclear whether he would continue to support an approach that combines a regulatory and supervisory response to monetary disequilibrium (excessive risk-taking) and monetary policy to optimize inflation and employment. Also, his biggest point of difference with Yellen is likely his stance on deregulation for largest banks.

* * *

Question 4: Ongoing decline in interest-rate and stock-price volatility

As shown in Figure 17, interest rate and stock-price volatility are both at all-time lows.

In Figures 15-16, US interest-rate volatility is approximated using (1) the percentage of MBS held by general investors (other than the Fed or banks), (2) neutral interest rate minus real Fed funds rate, (3) net inflows to bond funds minus net inflow to stock fund, and (4) repo positions on dealers versus debt securities outstanding. In our view, this model suggests that the fall in interest-rate volatility was led by (1) a decline in general investors' ratio of MBS holdings (they tend to buy volatility to hedge convexity risk), (2) a narrowing gap between the neutral interest rate and real Fed funds rate (which implies the required level of rate hikes; a contraction reduces future interest-rate policy uncertainty), and (3) fund inflows to bond funds (signifying expansion in bond index funds due to a graying population seeking stable income). Conversely, the decline in (4) due to tighter regulation should act to increase volatility.

In the stock market, we think a structural decline in volatility has resulted from (A) an increase in investors adopting a volatility targeting strategy (following volatility trends), (B) an increase in hedge funds and individual investors seeking option premiums and capital gains from selling volatility (shorting VIX or selling various option types) (Figure 19), (C) the shift of capital from active to passive funds (including AI funds), and (D) an increase in minimum variance investing as an alternative to bonds.

While we recognize the structural factors that are depressing volatility, we are also concerned about the risk of a sudden spike. We have noted a historical pattern of moderate volatility decline followed by sudden dramatic increase (normalization) in volatility (Figure 17). There is possibility of greater volatility amplitude than in the past because of the participation of less-experienced retail investors in addition to traditional volatility selling entities of hedge funds.

* * *

Question 5: Ongoing tightening in credit spreads

Since late October, widening corporate bond and CDS credit spreads (Figures 28-29) have been a subject of market debate. This trend has recently receded due to an excess liquidity and investors' search for yield.

The default rate (Figure 30) clearly shows that the corporate credit cycle reversed. The recovery in energy prices and stiffer competition for bank lending (relaxed lending conditions) are supporting a turnaround in bad corporate loans and credit costs. The SLOOS data released on 6 November showed that banks' lending stance has eased (Figures 33-35).

Nevertheless, corporate debt levels remain high. There are signs in areas such as subprime auto loans, credit-card loans, and CRE (commercial real estate collateral) loans that credit and economic growth may be nearing an end.

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Bitcoin Flash-Crashes To $8,500, Then Rebounds As Biggest US Exchange Breaks

Chaos: Bitcoin bounced back $1500 from the lows, rising as high as $10,400 from nearly $2000 lower just an hour earlier, before trading in a range around $10,000.

*  *  *

Update: The crash is continuing with Bitcoin now collapsing below $9000...

Ethereum and Litecoin are also under pressure.

Numerous exchanges and trading platforms are suffering outages.

*  *  *

Having soared in the last 24-48 hours to as high as $11,395 this moring, Bitcoin has just tumbled back below $10,000...

While a notable pump and dump, this drop is a mere 13% (following an 8% drop overnight after initially breaking $10,000).

There is some chatter than Bitcoin flash-crashed to as low as $9130 on Coinbase...

Remember on November 8th to 10th, Bitcoin crashed 30% amid rumors of its death.

image courtesy of CoinTelegraph

And as we noted previously, Bitcoin crashes at least once every quarter...


Amid a record day for traffic, Coinbase website is down once again...

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Best Beige Book Anecdotes: “It’s No Longer Possible To Build A Starter Home For Under $200K In Cleveland,” And More

While many, and certainly the FOMC, tends to gloss over the periodic Beige Book report, it does provide a snapshot of the US economy, if not in quantiative terms, then in qualitative anecdotes, some of which can be rather amusing at times.

First, here are the big picture economic assessments of the Nov. 29 Beige Book, which was prepared by the St. Louis Fed based on information collected on or before Nov. 17, 2017. First, on overall economic activity, courtesy of Bloomberg:

  • Retail spending largely flat; outlook for holiday sales generally optimistic
  • Residential real estate activity remained constrained, with most districts reporting little growth in sales or construction
  • All districts reported that manufacturing activity expanded, with most describing growth as moderate
  • Some respondents concerned or uncertain about impact of potential changes to taxes and other policies

Employment and Wages:

  • Reports of tightness in the labor market widespread
  • Wage growth modest or moderate in most districts; increases most notable for professional, technical, and production positions that remain difficult to fill
  • Many districts reported that employers were raising wages and increasing their use of signing bonuses and other nonwage benefits to retain or attract employees


  • Most districts reported modest to moderate growth in selling prices and moderate increases in non-labor input costs
  • Construction-material costs rose in most regions, with many districts reporting increased lumber costs and increases in demand for materials due to hurricane rebuilding efforts
  • Fuel prices rose, with multiple districts reporting upward pressure on oil and natural gas prices

And while the above is nothing that we didn't know, here are some of the more notable anecdotes from the various regional Feds:

  • Boston: Residential contacts expressed concern about the possible impact of the tax reform bill in Congress, which they feared could increase the cost of buying a home and disrupt the housing market
  • New York: Rents across New York City have edged down overall, led by the high end of the market, where landlord concessions have remained steady at high levels
  • Philadelphia: Retailers and banking contacts reported no signs of inflationary pressure, while homebuilders reported increases for various construction materials, including lumber and products containing petroleum
  • Cleveland: One homebuilder reported that he can no longer build a starter home for less than $200,000, given rising input costs
  • Richmond: An IT service provider noted that it was able to raise prices considerably in recent months without losing any customers
  • Atlanta: District contacts noted that Florida tourism activity bounced back after Hurricane Irma with the exception of the Florida Keys
  • Chicago: One contact indicated that machinery exports to Canada were artificially high as stricter regulations on emissions that begin in 2018 pulled sales into late 2017
  • St. Louis: Multiple contacts in Louisville reported rising construction costs, and a Memphis contact noted a significant increase in lumber prices
  • Minneapolis: A rural Wisconsin banker noted that tight labor was pushing up starting wages, but longer-term employees were seeing smaller increases similar to previous years
  • Kansas City: Respondents in the energy industry continued to focus on operating within cash flows, but said private equity capital remained readily available
  • Dallas: Some banks reported that labor was becoming a bigger issue than regulatory compliance; A clothing retailer noted that Houston-area stores benefited from the Astros playoff and World Series excitement, as well as some additional spending by flood victims
  • San Francisco: Contacts in Seattle noted continued strong demand for commercial office space, driven mainly by demand from large technology companies

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