RANCHO SANTANA, NICARAGUA – In the fifth century, Christian scholars counted 88 different heresies. Arianism. Eutychianism. Nestorianism. If there was a way to “offend” God, they had a name for it.
One group of “heretics” argued that there was no such thing as “original sin.” Another denied the trinity. And another claimed Jesus was not divine. Which one had the truth?
Not waiting for divine revelation, they fought it out in the streets… in wars and mass murders. Heretics were persecuted, tortured, and burned at the stake.
Our subject this week is the elusive nature of truth. And today, we toy with it… We try to tease it out of public life.
Heresy or Truth?
“The seething resentment and unhinged attacks of what is rightly called ‘fake news’ have reached unprecedented levels of irresponsibility and dishonesty,” says Newt Gingrich, a man with more than a passing acquaintance with fakery.
But wait. He goes on to say that this unprecedented attack on fake news has been directed “against President Trump – because he is determined to pursue an agenda which benefits the American people instead of the establishment elite.”
Heresy or truth? We don’t know. Sometimes, there is no truth to tease out.
Remarkably, Mr. Gingrich claims insight worthy of the Grand Inquisitor Torquemada, reaching beyond the physical world into the president’s “determination,” not just his words and acts.
Even more remarkable, he claims to know that Trump’s policies would “benefit” Americans. How does he know that? Harvard economist Peter Navarro says they would.
Walk into the economics department in Cambridge and you will find a dozen others who say they won’t.
They might as well be arguing about the Virgin Birth.
Mr. Gingrich has jumped in with both feet. He is not merely commenting on the vast pool of fake news… He is splashing around in it.
The mainstream media… commentators… politicians… do-gooders… left and right – all frolic in the same swamp. And heck, we’ll jump in, too. As near as we can tell, the Trump administration poses no threat to the establishment elite.
It’s promised $54 billion more to the military… almost as much as Russia’s entire defense budget.
As for the Obamacare reform of which Trump is so “proud,” one analysis shows it adding a trillion in extra costs to the existing system.
But what is the “truth?”
The jesting Pilate did not even bother to stay for an answer. But we are more curious.
In preview, what we will discover is that “truth” has little to do with this kind of chatter; in public affairs, it barely exists.
A Simpleton’s Universe
Meanwhile, news comes that Maryland has slipped in Bloomberg’s ranking of the states based on “gender equality.”
Bloomberg adds a companion report that the Trump administration is hiring “three men for every woman.”
Already, we can feel the greasy water dripping from our skin.
“Gender equality?” We all know the two sexes are different. If they weren’t, we’d only have one sex… and about a million fewer jokes… half our libraries would be empty… and the internet porn industry would be left as limp and flaccid as a joint session of Congress.
What shallow and depressing lives these people must live!
Such a simpleton’s universe, with no art, no irony, no genuine sentiment, no real emotion or authentic beauty. All they have are numbers, measuring quantity… and leaving out the important parts.
Imagine one of these poor dumbbells when he tells you he has fallen in love.
Why? “She is 5’4”, weighs 112 pounds, and has an IQ of 125,” he says.
“Is that all?” you ask.
“No… her body temperature is 98.6.”
A human being can recognize thousands of different faces – each with its own story of heartbreak, betrayal, love, and joy etched on it.
A competent chef can whip up an infinite variety of dishes… each with its unique flavor… from hundreds of different ingredients.
But a world improver has only 10 digits to work with, which he piles up like lumps of Limburger cheese… adding one to another, in a bigger and bigger heap, and not noticing that the whole thing stinks.
“How many women are on corporate boards?” he asks. How much does the average woman earn? How many women has Trump hired?
Why not ask: How much joy does a woman get from doing what no man can – having a child?
She also lives, on average, six years longer than a man; how much is that worth to her?
Tiresias, the blind Greek prophet who was transformed into a woman for seven years, said he even got more pleasure from sex as a woman than when he was a man. How could the world improvers equalize that?
You Can’t Measure “Better”
Bloomberg goes on, with no trace of self-awareness or hint of much-needed sarcasm:
Diversity “leads to better problem solving, better outcomes and in some cases better financial performance,” said Brande Stellings, vice president of corporate-board services at Catalyst, a nonprofit organization that promotes women in the workplace.
Ms. Stellings doesn’t fall into the swamp of false knowledge. Like Gingrich, she jumps in, confident that her prejudices will buoy her up. And she sinks.
Is she saying that if the Wehrmacht had had more women field marshals, it might have won WWII?
If there had been women priests aiding Torquemada during the Inquisition, would the heretics have been exterminated faster?
“Better problem-solving?” “Better outcomes?” Are you kidding? How would anyone know? “Better” is qualitative; it can’t be measured with numbers alone.
Besides, how can you promote diversity and equality at the same time? Wouldn’t a diverse society be one where, well, the sexes were not equal? Equality suggests a lack of diversity, not more of it.
Again, it is not that the drive for equality is untruthful… It’s just that there is no truth in it. It is public information, where all the facts are alternative and all the news is fake.
We have a friend who has managed to mock the whole business…
In Europe – perhaps in the U.S., too – the push for gender equality and “transgender” rights led governments to allow citizens to choose their own gender. The mischief in this fantasy went unnoticed by almost everyone, but not by our friend.
One of the legislative diktats designed to encourage gender equality required that corporate boards have at least one token woman on them. So our friend declared himself a woman. No operations or drugs were necessary; he was a woman simply because the law gave him the right to be one.
And now his business has a “woman” on its board. Problem solved.
The legislature, in its wisdom, passed the law. The law now says he is a woman. So there can be no doubt. He is a woman.
Women are equal to men, said a further law. So now he is equal to a man in every way. Even the essential ones.
P.S. We’ve spent the week talking about truth, but our usual beat here at the Diary is money. How it moves. Where it goes. And why. As for putting more of it in your pockets… well… we leave that to longtime friends and star analysts like Chris Mayer and Jeff Brown.
And today, we want to introduce our newest colleague, Jeff Clark.
Your editor may be an old fuddy-duddy when it comes to investing; Jeff is not. Your editor is a very long-term investor; Jeff is a trader. And very different from our Diary‘s “big-picture” view, Jeff believes you can spot short-term trading opportunities by studying the numbers alone. In the following “Investing Insight,” we invited Jeff to show you how he finds a good trade.
BY Jeff Clark, Editor, Delta Report
Stock traders have been having all the fun these past few weeks.
But right now, it’s the bond market that’s ready to make a big move.
Take a look at this chart of the iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond Fund (TLT)… (TLT tracks T-bonds that mature in 20 to 30 years.)
TLT has spent the past two months trading back and forth between about $118 on the downside and $122 on the upside. Nimble traders could have done quite well by simply buying TLT at support ($118) and then selling it at resistance ($122).
[Stocks tend to bounce back from support levels… and have trouble breaking through resistance levels.]
But here’s the thing…
The more times a support line is tested, the weaker it becomes. It’s kind of like jumping up and down on a frozen lake.
As long as the ice holds, it’s all fun and games. But if the ice breaks… well… you know.
The ice broke this week. TLT failed to hold support at $118. It broke down and now appears headed toward the next support line near $116. That’s another frozen lake. And since it hasn’t been tested since December, the odds are pretty good that the $116 level will hold as support.
So buying TLT at yesterday’s closing price of about $117 is a trade that has about $1 worth of risk.
On the other hand, if support holds, then TLT may make another run-up toward resistance at $122. So there’s about $5 worth of potential reward.
But here’s another thing…
Resistance works the same way as support: The more times it’s tested, the weaker it becomes. So while there’s a chance that support may not hold on this current test, there’s an equal chance that the resistance line won’t hold on the next challenge.
And if TLT manages to break out to the upside of its recent trading range, the next resistance is all the way up at $130.
So buying TLT right here gives us $1 worth of risk, but it offers almost $13 of reward.
That’s a pretty decent trade setup.
It’s also worth noting that the commercial traders – the “smart money” in the Treasury bond market – are net long over 500,000 10-year U.S. Treasury futures contracts. That’s the biggest net-long position in history.
Commercial traders are the banks, brokers, insurance companies, and primary dealers in U.S. Treasury bonds.
They’re considered the “smart money” because the success of their companies, and the digits on their paychecks, relies on them being right on their positions. And as you may guess, the smart money has an amazing track record.
On the other hand, the small traders – the “dumb money” – are net short the largest amount of 10-year Treasury futures contracts since January 2016, right before the 10-year T-note rallied 5% in about a month.
So given the risk-reward setup and the HUGE position of the smart-money traders, I’m willing to bet the ice holds on this test of support. Aggressive traders should be looking to buy TLT right here near $117.
I’ll be following this trade closely. So watch these pages for updates…
Best regards and good trading.
– Jeff Clark
P.S. I’m grateful to Bill for the opportunity to share my moneymaking strategies with you. Hope you enjoy…
Yes… Politics Can Move Markets
Brexit… Trump… the collapse of the European Union – the narrative of global markets is shifting away from its focus on central banks and monetary policy toward geopolitics and fiscal policy.
Russia and President Trump: A Timeline
In 2008, Donald Trump Jr. said, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets.” Here’s a timeline of President Trump’s Russia connections.
How Fascism Comes to America
Fascism is totally the whim of the people in control… but they’ll prove to be ever more ruthless. And what happens now that Trump is president could change everything in sudden, unexpected ways…
In yesterday’s mailbag, we ran a piece of feedback from Canadian Diary reader Ed L. He argued that you can’t be a First World country without a public health care system like they have in Canada, Australia, and most of Europe. And Ed has hit a nerve…
The Commonwealth Fund [an American health care think tank] did an analysis of the health care systems of advanced countries. Canada came in 10 out of 11. The U.S. was 11th.
I damaged my knee last year and have had to wait for just over a year here in Canada to get an appointment with a knee and hip board. If the hip and knee board decide that I need some work on the knee and am worthy, it can be up to a year before I have a surgeon do an operation.
Where the Canadian system is good is catastrophic care – for example a heart attack and or an accident. It’s also good once you get into the system, for example cancer care. Sorry, Ed L., but I cannot worship a system that prizes mediocrity.
Best system I have seen is the New Zealand system. It’s a mixture of private and public care. The Swiss system is also very good. Everybody has private insurance, and the government subsidizes the premiums of poorer people.
– Charles M.
Any healthcare reform, in my opinion, needs to start with the person and personal responsibility. Does anyone remember that famous oath that doctors are supposed to take? Do no harm. That should go to the patients as well. Take care of yourself throughout life, and I’ll bet your need for medical attention will go down drastically. Lack of exercise, smoking, drinking to excess, and drug abuse are all signs of a lack of responsibility to one’s self to do no harm.
Can a public medical care system do that? Not if the politicians won’t tell the folks what they need to hear. They want to dish out the goodies, take the credit (get re-elected), and keep spending other people’s money. If folks would take better care of themselves, and leave the government out of this debate, the market will find a workable solution. Just give it a chance.
– Tom A.
You and others are missing the obvious: Healthcare was re-engineered about a century ago to be expensive. Look up “The Flexner Report” [a study of medical education in the U.S. and Canada]. Enough money was invested in the “right” medical colleges that would teach new doctors to become drug pushers for the new drug cartels (commonly referred to as “Big Pharma”) to bury the competition. Thus we have never had a capitalist, free-market medical system where there is true or open competition.
– John N.
Don’t forget that “Guns & Butter” does not work for long.
– George M.
In Case You Missed It…
Our friend and colleague Teeka Tiwari just released his latest Market Minder video. It’s a great three-minute clip about a massive trend that is really going to take off this year.