Saturday, January 19, 2019

Why the Google Memo Brings Forward an Overdue Conversation – Part 2 (‘The Firing’)

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by Michael Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg:

Today’s piece was originally supposed to be the second and last part of a short series on the Google memo, but in light of the author’s rapid termination, I’ve decided to add at least one other installment on the topic. As such, my analysis on how Spiral Dynamics fits into the whole drama will have to wait till another day.  

As everyone knows by now, Google went ahead and fired James Damore, the author of the now infamous memo on Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber. In yesterday’s piece I remarked about how shocked I was by the extraordinarily charged and hyperbolic language being used by so many of those who disagreed with what Mr. Damore wrote. Indeed, the language and mischaracterizations of the memo itself were so completely unhinged in many instances, it’s hard for me to believe that many of these people even read it in the first place.

First off, while I happen to agree with a lot of what he wrote, that’s besides the point. If you read the memo it’s obvious that the author went out of his way to avoid triggering people who are easily triggered. Whether or not you agree with the conclusions, it was written in a respectful and measured way. He goes out of his way to clarify what he’s saying so as not to be misunderstood Here are just a couple examples of what I mean:

 

I’m not saying that all men differ from all women in the following ways or that these differences are “just.” I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership. Many of these differences are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women, so you can’t say anything about an individual given these population level distributions.

I hope it’s clear that I’m not saying that diversity is bad, that Google or society is 100{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} fair, that we shouldn’t try to correct for existing biases, or that minorities have the same experience of those in the majority. My larger point is that we have an intolerance for ideas and evidence that don’t fit a certain ideology. I’m also not saying that we should restrict people to certain gender roles; I’m advocating for quite the opposite: treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism).

Incredibly, people are calling this guy (who has a masters degree in Systems Biology from Harvard) a Nazi because he has a different opinion than the dogmatic prevailing consensus within what clearly is a Google echo chamber culture. He was politely trying to have a discourse about a topic he feels passionately about and did so in a respectful way. For that unforgivable act, he’s been deemed a misogynist Nazi and fired. I’m not the first person to note that by firing him for writing this, Google essentially proved his point regarding the company’s closed cultural and ideological environment.

Indeed, what Google did to this employee is a textbook example of “ritual defamation,” as Yale professor Nicholas Christakis explained in a recent tweet.

Despite being fired, James Damore will be just fine. There are enough people completely sick and tired of the authoritarian left for him to have countless opportunities. I’m not so sure about Google. In fact, I’d expect many talented people at the company to start looking for new, less ideologically stifling jobs, and I think ten years from now the brain drain from Google will likely be obvious. Google has publicly demonstrated itself as a drab and intellectually dishonest place to work, and such a place cannot and will not attract the best and brightest in tech.

Read More @ LibertyBlitzkrieg.com

Czar vs. Pope

by Antonius Aquinas, via Acting Man:

Vladimir the Great Sums Up Pope Francis the Fake

Vladimir Putin has once again demonstrated why he is the most perceptive, farsighted, and for a politician, the most honest world leader to come around in quite a while.  If it had not been for his patient and wise statesmanship, the world may have already been embroiled in an all-encompassing global conflagration with the possibility of thermonuclear destruction.

Vladimir Putin is sizing up Pope Francis with his “good grief, where did they find that one” stare. Since the East-West schism of AD 1054 there have been differences between the Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Church, one of which concerns the issue of papal primacy (which the Orthodox Church rejects, although it would be prepared to acknowledge the Pope as a primus inter pares). Under Pope John Paul II previous doctrinal differences were downplayed in favor of further rapprochement. In this John Paul II followed the spirit of the decree Unitatis Redintegratio promulgated by Pope Paul IV in 1964. As the time the Catholic Church altered its stance toward the Protestant and Eastern Orthodox Churches by no longer referring to them as “heretics and schismatics”, but rather as “dissidents and separated brethren”. John Paul II went a step further by declaring that the major theological differences between East and West should be viewed as complementary rather than conflicting. Said differences concern primarily Palamist doctrine, which emerged in the 14th century in the course of the dispute over Hesychasm.  They revolve mainly around the nature of the Holy Trinity (specifically the so-called “filioque” clause,as well as Palamas’ differentiation between God’s essence and energy) and the rational (scholastic) vs. the mystical (Orthodox) approach to the faith. Laymen may well deem these controversies as examples of “how many angels can stand on the head of a pin” type disputes (consider e.g. that theologians fervently debated whether the writings of Gregory Palamas indicated that he regarded the essence-energy distinction as “real”, “virtual”, or “formal”). In times past, much could depend on how such doctrinal disagreements were resolved. Maximus the Confessor, a 7th century monk and theologian who was eventually canonized by both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches is a good example. His views on monothelitism (the interaction between Christ’s divine and human nature) initially led to his conviction as a heretic. In order to prevent him from spreading his alleged heresies, his tongue and right hand were cut off so that he could no longer speak or write and he was exiled. Less than twenty years after his death, he was fully rehabilitated; soon thereafter he began to be venerated as a saint. The East-West schism has been in place a lot longer, but a trend toward reconciliation emerged in the second half of the 20th century, with the Catholic Church adopting the view that its differences with Eastern Orthodox Churches were largely of an ecclesiastical rather than a theological nature. Most people think of the Catholic Church as inflexible, but in the words of Catholic theologian G. Philips: “The essence-energies distinction of Palamas is a typical example of a perfectly admissible theological pluralism that is compatible with the Roman Catholic magisterium”. John Paul II seems to have agreed with this viewIn fact, the Eastern mystical concepts of khatarsis, theoria and theosis are far more apodictic than the rational “theological pluralism” permitted by today’s Roman Catholic Church. In short, the Eastern Orthodox Churches actually tend to be more inflexible and dogmatic in their outlook. It is little wonder that Putin – who sees himself as the temporal protector and patron of the Russian Orthodox Church – looks askance at a Pope who often sounds like a representative of Marxism-inspired “liberation theology”. [PT]

His latest comments on the purported head of the Catholic Church may have been his most perceptive as of yet and should be heeded not only by Western secular leaders, but by the globe’s one billion or so Catholics, most of whom regard Jorge Bergoglio as their pope.

The Russian President’s statement came on a visit to the Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Kronstadt.  Mr. Putin succinctly sums up what Pope Francis is not: “If you look around at what he (the Pope) says it’s clear that he is not a man of God.  At least not the Christian God, not the God of the Bible.”*

No truer words have as yet been said about this cretin by a world leader since his wretched pontifical reign began in 2013! While Mr. Putin and those with “eyes to see and ears to hear” recognize that “Pope Francis” is not a Christian, the current occupant of St. Peter’s Chair is disqualified for that position on theological grounds as well.

To be a legitimate pope, one must be “Bishop of Rome,” and prior to becoming a bishop, one must be a priest.  Jorge Bergoglio was not ordained (1969) in the traditional Apostolic ordination rite of the Church, nor was he consecrated (1992) as a true bishop in that rite.  His predecessor, Benedict XVI was likewise not consecrated in the traditional rite, although he was at least ordained as a priest under the “old rite.”

Simply put: Jorge Bergoglio is just a layman masquerading as a pope, as are all of the other priests and bishops which were given Holy Orders under the new rites which came into effect in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Anti-Council (1962-65).

Secular Sins

Not only is Pope Francis a Christian fraud as Vladimir Putin and other perceptive commentators have observed, but in secular matters he is a neo-Marxist in economic thought, a One-World Government advocate, and an enthusiast of open borders and mass migration.  In other words, an enemy of what is left of Western Civilization.

Mr. Putin accurately describes his “secular sins:”

  • Pope Francis is using his platform to push a dangerous far-left political ideology on vulnerable people around the world, people who trust him because of his position
  • He dreams of a world government and a global communist system of repression
  • As we have seen before in communist states, this system is not compatible with Christianity**

If these despicable qualities are not bad enough, there is a seedier side of Bergoglio that Mr. Putin did not address.  Pope Francis is now the third Pope presiding over the Church’s great pedophile sex and embezzlement scandals.

Read More @ Acting-Man.com

Gold-Backed Scholarship Helps Students Cope With Runaway Tuition Inflation

from Activist Post:

A major national precious metals dealer has just opened its gold-backed scholarship fund for 2017 applicants.  Funds will be awarded to students who understand that gold is money and are able to clearly articulate the many failures of the inflation-creating Federal Reserve System.

Money Metals Exchange, a national precious metals dealer recently ranked “Best in the USA,” teamed up with the Sound Money Defense League, setting aside 100 oz of physical gold, currently worth almost $130,000, to help outstanding students pay for ever-rising education costs.

“The Federal Reserve’s inflationary policies have jacked up education costs, and our company is proud to help students who understand this problem as they cope with this unfolding disaster,” said Stefan Gleason, president of Money Metals Exchange. “Because of abusive and ongoing devaluation of the Federal Reserve Note, we expect the gold that we have set aside to fund the scholarship program will grow in nominal value dramatically over time.”

This scholarship will be open to high school seniors, undergraduate students, and graduate students with an interest in economics, specifically the tradition of the Austrian school. However, one does not have to be an economics major to apply.

The ongoing devaluation of the Federal Reserve Note “dollar” pushes up the nominal prices of assets, goods, and services across America.

Central planners have further contributed to the problem of skyrocketing education costs through easy access to government-subsidized loans which are usually awarded regardless of merit or creditworthiness. Colleges and universities can spend frivolously and raise their tuition costs aggressively.  Meanwhile, students frequently leave college with debt that exceeds a home mortgage.

Essays will be reviewed by a blue ribbon committee of professors, economists, and executives of Money Metals Exchange and Sound Money Defense League. The panel will select two (2) undergraduate winners and two (2) graduate winners. All four (4) articles will be published on one or both organizations’ websites. The four (4) winners will also have the opportunity to win the People’s Choice Award which goes to the student whose article attracts the most interest from social media (Facebook, Twitter).

Jp Cortez, Assistant Director of Sound Money Defense League, said, “Last year was a huge success. We had well over one hundred entries from students. Applicants are excited at the prospect of having their essays read and graded by some of the most notable sound money economists and thinkers in the world.”

Read More @ ActivistPost.com

Is Bitcoin Money?

by Jim Rickards, Daily Reckoning:

At various times in history, feathers have been money. Shells have been money. Dollars and euros are money. Gold and silver are certainly money. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can also be money.

People say some forms of money, such as Bitcoin or U.S. dollars, are not backed by anything.

But that’s not true.

They are backed by one thing: confidence.

If you and I have confidence that something is money and we agree that it’s money, then it’s money. I can call something money, but if nobody else in the world wants it, then it’s not money. The same applies to gold, dollars and cryptocurrencies.

Governments have an edge here, because they make you pay taxes in their money. Put another way, governments essentially create an artificial use case for their own forms of paper money by threatening people with punishment if they do not pay taxes denominated in the government’s own fiat currency.

And the dollar has a monopoly as legal tender for the payment of U.S. taxes. According to John Maynard Keynes and many other economists, it is that ability of state power to coerce tax payments in a specified currency that gives a currency its intrinsic value. This theory of money boils down to saying we value dollars only because we must use them to pay our taxes — otherwise, we go to jail.

So-called cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have two main features in common. The first is that they are not issued or regulated by any central bank or single regulatory authority. They are created in accordance with certain computer algorithms and are issued and transferred through a distributed processing network using open source code.

Any particular computer server hosting a cryptocurrency ledger or register could be destroyed, but the existence of the currency would continue to reside on other servers all over the world and could quickly be replicated. It is impossible to destroy a cryptocurrency by attacking any single node or group of nodes.

The second feature in common is encryption, which gives rise to the “crypto” part of the name. It is possible to observe transactions taking place in the so-called block chain, which is a master register of all currency units and transactions.

But the identity of the transacting parties is hidden behind what is believed to be an unbreakable code. Only the transacting parties have the keys needed to decode the information in the block chain in such a way as to obtain use and possession of the currency.

This does not mean that cryptocurrencies are fail-safe. But on the whole, the system works reasonably well and is growing rapidly for both legitimate and illegitimate transactions.

It’s worth pointing out that the U.S. dollar is also a digital cryptocurrency for all intents and purposes. It’s just that dollars are issued by a central bank, the Federal Reserve, while Bitcoin is issued privately. While we may keep a few paper dollars in our wallets from time to time, the vast majority of dollar-denominated transactions, whether in currency or securities form, are conducted digitally.

We pay bills online, pay for purchases via credit card and receive direct deposits to our bank accounts all digitally. These transactions are all encrypted using the same coding techniques as Bitcoin.

The difference is that ownership of our digital dollars is known to certain trusted counterparties such as our banks, brokers and credit card companies, whereas ownership of Bitcoin is known only to the user and is hidden behind the block chain code.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies present certain challenges to the existing system. One problem is that the value of a bitcoin is not constant in terms of U.S. dollars. In fact, that value has been quite volatile, fluctuating between $100 and its present high above $3,400 over the past few years. It’s currently around $3,467.

It’s true that dollars fluctuate in value relative to other currencies such as the euro. But those changes are typically measured in fractions of pennies, not jumps of $100 per day.

Read More @ DailyReckoning.com

Henry Kissinger’s NAFTA and Why It Must Be Abolished, not Simply Re-Negotiated

by Tim Brown, Freedom Outpost:

Just how important is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)  in the general scheme of things?  This is a question that the head of The John Birch Society, Arthur Thompson has addressed, and we should give heed to what he is saying.

NAFTA was on the radar as President Donald Trump entered the White House saying that it was a bad deal for Americans and would be renegotiated.

In fact, he said that the 1994 NAFTA, interestingly signed by Trump’s then presidential opponent’s husband, Bill Clinton (though it was negotiated by George H. W. Bush), was the worst trade deals in the history of the united States.

 Trump promised that NAFTA would be one of his first things he dealt with in his first 100 days of office.

This leads us to Art Thompson’s commentary concerning Henry Kissinger and NAFTA.

“Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State for President Richard Nixon, put it this way,” said Thompson.

“It will represent the most creative step towards a new world order taken by any group of countries since the end of the Cold War… The revolution sweeping the Western Hemisphere points to an international order based on cooperation… It is this revolution that is at stake in the ratification of NAFTA.” -Henry Kissenger, Los Angeles Times, 1993

Thompsons quoted Kissinger from the Los Angeles Times as saying that what Congress had before it in NAFTA was “not a conventional trade agreement, but the architecture of a new international system.”

Here’s Kissenger’s op-ed in the LA Times, July 18, 1993.

 

Read More @ FreedomOutpost.com

A Follow-up Visist With Bryan Slusarchuk of K92 Mining

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by Turd Ferguson, TF Metals:

K92 Mining is a company that we first brought to your attention last summer. The company has made some significant progress over the past 12 months so we were excited to get an update from the president, Bryan Slusarchuk.

This discussion was recorded last Thursday and it just happened to fall on the same date that K92 put out a press release that detailed all of the recent developments for the company. You can read it here: https://www.barchart.com/stocks/quotes/KNTNF/news#/news/3610141/k92-production-ramps-up-and-exploration-drilling-to-commence-to-follow-up-on-kora-extension-discovery-hole

So, as you might expect, we took the opportunity to get more details on all of this directly from Bryan. I think you’ll find this to be a fascinating discussion and it may very well pique your interest in giving K92 another look.

Click HERE to listen.

Read More @ TFMetals.com

Facts Supplanted by Propaganda Wherever We Look

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by Paul Craig Roberts, Paul Craig Roberts:

Russia is under economic and propaganda attack from the US. Additionally, the US is surrounding Russia and China with military and missile bases, leading both countries to the conclusion that Washington is preparing a surprise nuclear attack. Despite the high level of threat that Washington represents to the two nuclear powers, the English language Russian press can still find time to alert us to the increasing persecution of male Americans in behalf of feminist myths.

RT reports on a memo sent by a male engineer within Google. The memo committed the impermissible offense of challenging the feminist allegation that women are paid less than men in science and technology because of male discrimination against women. The engineer expressed a cogent argument, once understood as the obvious truth, that, despite sexism and all that, there are “differences in distributions of traits between men and women.” He lists male traits and female traits and nowhere says female traits are less important, only that they lie in different areas. https://www.rt.com/usa/398766-google-memo-viral-women/

The engineer says that truth about male/female differences can no longer be uttered, because of “our shaming culture” that feminists and Identity Politics have created. We are obliged to ignore all factual evidence, because the evidence does not support the ideology.

The engineer, so far undiscovered and not yet fired, was denounced by Google’s new vice president for Diversity, Integrity and Governance, Danielle Brown—a woman of course—for advancing “incorect assumptions about gender.” There is no known scientific evidence attesting to the incorrectness of the engineer’s exposition, and even if there were there is nothing unusual about Americans having incorrect opinions. What Danielle Brown means is that what we all know to be true is inconsistent with the feminist ideology and therefore impermissible.

The unasked and unanswered question remains. How does a culture, or merely ordinary competence, survive when propaganda is elevated over fact?

Read More @ PaulCraigRoberts.org

Top 10 edible roots to help keep you alive and healthy in a survival situation

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by Rhonda Johansson, Natural News:

When hermit monk Brother Simon reappeared at the farmer Farrin’s market after not being seen for seven years, people thought they were seeing a ghost. After realizing that Brother Simon was, in fact, alive and well, people started asking him how he managed to survive completely off grid. “I used the knowledge of our wilderness which I learned from my father…When God created the world, He made it flourish with beautiful and edible plants,” Brother Simon said humbly. “My vow was to eat only edible roots. The past seven years have tested my understanding of my father’s lessons.”

Brother Simon then listed 10 edible roots that he personally ate to survive.

  1. Arrowroot – As the name suggests, the plant has leaves that are shaped like arrows. Arrowroots like to grow around muddy areas. They may look small, but they actually have an extensive root system. The roots can be yellowish or white (resembling a parsnip) but with constricted rings down its length. The tubers are starchy and can help people feel full longer. Before you boil the roots though, make sure to remove the scales.
  2. Cattail – More known as the small bulrush, this rhizome grows abundantly along the temperate northern hemisphere. You’ve probably seen a bunch of these plants along the edges of lakes and marshes. Most parts of the plant are edible, but Brother Simon says that the rootstock is the most nutritious and filling. He says that the rhizome can be eaten raw or boiled. The roots can even be roasted until they are black. The inside flesh is then eaten as a snack.
  3. Chicory – This plant grows quite fast, and is sometimes considered to be a weed. They are easily distinguished by their white and slightly blue flowers. Each part of the plant can be eaten, but it is recommended to boil the root before eating it. Taking chicory raw can cause some gastrointestinal issues.
  4. Dandelion – We all think of dandelions as weeds, but this backyard plant has many medicinal properties. The plant can be enjoyed in many ways; maybe you remember your own grandmother adding the flower to salads or making the leaves into a refreshing tea. The roots of the dandelion are also highly nutritious and can stave off hunger during emergencies. (Related: 14 Reasons To Become Obsessed With Dandelions.)
  5. Flowering Rush – Many botanists consider this plant to be an invasive species; thus making it a weed in many people’s eyes. Still, the small plant with bright pinkish blooms can be found near bodies of water. Once they are pulled out, they are revealed to have a thick, fleshy root which can be peeled and boiled like a potato.
  6. Garlic Mustard – Practically all parts of this plant can be eaten, although the leaves tend towards a bitter flavor during warmer seasons. Garlic mustard roots are somewhat spicy, similar to the horseradish.
  7. Jerusalem Artichoke – This is one of the easiest plants to spot due to their bright yellow flowers. Brother Simon said that the root should be harvested around two weeks after the flowers begin to fade. One of the ways he enjoyed eating the root of the Jerusalem artichoke was as a soup.
  8. Milk Thistle – This is a popular plant used in homeopathy and naturopathic medicine. The plant contains various antioxidants that promote liver health and weight loss. It has also been noted to reduce the symptoms of asthma. To gain their full benefits, it is best to boil them. You can easily identify them by their violently purple flower with unique leaves that have milky-white veins running through them.
  9. Nut Grass – This is another plant that thrives along the edges of marshes and ponds. The root of this plant can be taken raw, but it is best consumed when boiled and peeled. Nut grass is a favorite among traditional Chinese healers, who call the plant, Xiang Fu or Sha Cao. It is typically prescribed as an antidote for various skin diseases like insect bites and ringworms. It can also be used to alleviate symptoms of acid reflux.
  10. Wild Onion – A bulb that you can easily find in woodlands or fields is the wild onion. “There are several varieties, but all have a distinct ‘onion’ odor — if it smells like an onion it’s safe,” said Brother Simon. “If it looks like an onion but doesn’t smell like one, it may be toxic.” These bulbs can be eaten raw or cooked.  

As you can see, these are plants that you would not give second notice to, but are actually very useful. Preppers should take note of these plants and learn how to spot them around their own neighborhood. You can learn more when you visit Survival.news. For a more in-depth review of other edible plants, visit NaturalPedia.com

Read More @ NaturalNews.com

This Hits the Wheezing Commercial Real Estate Bubble at Worst Possible Time

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by Wolf Richter, Wolf Street:

The last big enthusiastic buyer, China, is leaving the party.

Commercial real estate, such as office and apartment towers, in trophy cities in the US and Europe has been among the favorite items on the long and eclectic shopping lists of Chinese companies. At the forefront are the vast, immensely indebted, opaquely structured conglomerates HNA, Dalian Wanda, Anbang Insurance, and Fosun International. In terms of commercial real estate, the party kicked off seriously in 2013. Over the two years in the US alone, according to Morgan Stanley, cited by Bloomberg, Chinese firms have acquired $17 billion worth of commercial properties.

In the second quarter in Manhattan, Chinese entities accounted for half of the commercial real estate purchases. This includes the $2.2 billion purchase in May of the 45-story office tower at 245 Park Avenue, the sixth largest transaction ever in Manhattan. At $1,282 per square foot, the price was also among the highest ever paid for this type of property.

Most of HNA’s funding for this deal — one of its 30 major acquisitions since the beginning of 2016 — was borrowed from China’s state-owned banks. But HNA also borrowed $508 million from JPMorgan Chase, Natixis, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, and Societe Generale. This has been the hallmark for all Chinese acquirers: a lot of borrowing from China and some funding from offshore sources.

Similarly, Chinese acquirers accounted for about one-quarter of commercial property transactions in central London in 2016, according to the Morgan Stanley report. In Australia, over the past few years, Chinese firms accounted for 12{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} to 25{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} of all office transactions by value.

But now these conglomerates and other Chinese firms engaging in outbound acquisitions have run into a veritable buzz saw of regulatory efforts by Chinese authorities designed to accomplish two things: slow down these capital outflows; and keep the Chinese banks from getting perforated by their exposure to the overleveraged conglomerates.

The authorities put the banks under intense pressure to deleverage. And the banks put the conglomerates under pressure to deleverage. A number of deals have already gotten scuttled.

US and European banks too are getting second thoughts about funding these deals. Bank of America, for example, has already pulled back from doing business with HNA — “We simply don’t know what we don’t know, and are not prepared to take the risk,” BofA president for Asia Pacific, Matthew Koder, had said in an internal email.

Morgan Stanley estimates that China overseas direct property investment could plunge by 84{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} in 2017 and another 15{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} in 2018 — to just $1.4 billion. In other words, just a tiny trickle.

So what would happen to the US commercial property sector when the last big enthusiastic buyer, China, is leaving the party? Will the sellers get to dance with each other?

The party isn’t entirely over just yet: For example, Sunac China Holdings, now one of China’s most debt-burdened property investors after buying assets from Dalian Wanda, was able to sell $1 billion of dollar bonds last week, according to Bloomberg. So foreign-currency funding is still available to Chinese property buyers, but getting harder and more expensive to come by.

Commercial real estate prices in the US, after a seven-year boom, peaked last year. Green Street’s Commercial Property Price Index in July 2017 was below where it had been in June 2016. This marks the first year-over-year decline – albeit a small one – since the Financial Crisis. December had been the peak:

In many markets, transaction volume has dropped, as domestic buyers have become leery. Across the US, deal volume fell 8{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} in the first half of 2017. And Q2 (down 5{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528}) was the third quarter in a row of year-over-year declines. “Investor caution” hurt higher-priced markets such as Manhattan in particular, according to Real Capital Analytics.

Everyone had been hoping that China’s formerly insatiable appetite for US properties would keep the market afloat and would let domestic sellers, after running up the seven-year boom, get their money out at peak prices.

Read More @ WolfStreet.com

What’s Killing U.S. Productivity? America’s Narcissism Era.

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by Pam Martens and Russ Martens, wallstreetonparade:

Yesterday, Neel Kashkari, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, spoke to the Rotary Club of Downtown Sioux Falls, South Dakota and then opened up the mic to questions from the audience. One question concerned today’s lack of true innovation rather than just innovations in social media. Kashkari responded as follows:

Kashkari: “This is a big complicated topic. A big question mark in the economics profession is why is productivity growth in the U.S. economy so low. It’s much lower than it has been in prior decades. And, we think, you pull out your iPhone or Twitter or Facebook – you think, wow, all this stuff is happening. Well, some experts say the things that we’re creating now – that we’re innovating now – just aren’t that impactful. They don’t really move the needle very much. So if you compare Facebook and Twitter, which seem pretty cool, to electricity or the internal combustion engine, or the airplane, it’s just not that important.”

Kashkari is on to something significant but we have to differ with him in this regard: this is not really “a big complicated topic.” It’s a very basic concept: we are living in the most narcissistic era that America has ever experienced and it’s dragging down not only U.S. productivity but the country itself.

Memorializing this era just last week was the unprecedented “Lazy Boy” cover of Newsweek, depicting the leader of the free world as a slouch, replete with the critical necessity of this era: the smartphone on his lap — which affords him instant narcissistic gratification to his Twitter followers.

Walk on any bustling sidewalk today and you will observe a sea of pedestrian faces buried in their iPhone or some other digital device. These people are not likely thinking about creating the next internal combustion engine. They are posting personal photos to their Facebook page, Tweeting, sending selfies, checking out the latest cool restaurant, or simply gossiping with friends. Innovative minds have succumbed, on a mass scale, to digital hedonism.

Putting self above country extends to the Wall Street analysts who have made easy money fueling this craze by putting out buy recommendations on the social media companies that make these products and the billionaire hedge fund owners who have crowded into these stocks, simply because it’s a lazy boy trade.

On June 9 of this year, Robert Boroujerdi of Goldman Sachs released a report on the FAAMG stocks: Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google-parent Alphabet. The report found that these five stocks have increased their market value by $600 billion this year, accounting for approximately 40 percent of the year-to-date performance of the entire 500 stocks that make up the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index.

And yet, the essential purpose of the stock market is to efficiently allocate capital to the most promising businesses for innovation that will drive productivity, job and wage growth, and a higher standard of living for all Americans.