The War On Cash Is Happening Faster Than We Could Have Imagined

Submitted by Simon Black via SovereignMan.com,

It’s happening faster than we could have ever imagined.

Every time we turn around, it seems, there’s another major assault in the War on Cash.

India is the most notable recent example– the embarrassing debacle a few weeks ago in which the government, overnight, “demonetized” its two largest denominations of cash, leaving an entire nation in chaos.

But there have been so many smaller examples.

In the US city of New Orleans, the local government decided earlier this month to stop accepting cash payments from drivers at the Office of Motor Vehicles.

As I wrote to you recently, several branches of Citibank in Australia have stopped dealing in cash altogether.

And former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers published an article last week stating that “nothing in the Indian experience gives us pause in recommending that no more large notes be created in the United States, Europe, and around the world.”

In other words, despite the India chaos, Summers thinks we should still curtail the $100 bill.

The conclave of the high priests of monetary policy almost invariably sings the same chorus: only criminals and terrorists use high denominations of cash.

Ken Rogoff, Harvard professor and former official at the International Monetary Fund and Federal Reserve, recently published a book blatantly entitled The Curse of Cash.

Ben Bernanke’s called it a “fascinating and important book”.

And, shockingly, a number of reviews on Amazon.com praise “brilliant” Rogoff’s “visionary concepts” in his “excellent book”.

Rogoff, like most of his colleagues, contends that large bills like the $100 or 500 euro note are only used in “drug trade, extortion, bribes, human trafficking. . .”

In fact they jokingly refer to the 500-euro note as the “Bin Laden” since it’s apparently only used by terrorists.

Give me a break.

My team and I did some of research on this and found some rather interesting data.

It turns out that countries with higher denominations of cash actually have much lower crime rates, including rates of organized crime.

The research was simple; we looked at the World Economic Forum’s competitive rankings that assesses countries’ levels of organized crime, as well as the direct business costs of dealing with crime and violence.

Switzerland, with its 1,000 Swiss franc note (roughly $1,000 USD) has among the lowest levels of organized crime in the world according to the WEF.

Ditto for Singapore, which has a 1,000 Singapore dollar note (about $700 USD).

Japan’s highest denomination of currency is 10,000 yen, worth $88 today. Yet Japan also has extremely low crime rates.

Same for the United Arab Emirates, whose highest denomination is the 1,000 dirham ($272).

If you examine countries with very low denominations of cash, the opposite holds true: crime rates, and in particular organized crime rates, are extremely high.

Consider Venezuela, Nigeria, Brazil, South Africa, etc. Organized crime is prevalent. Yet each of these has a currency whose maximum denomination is less than $30.

The same trend holds true when looking at corruption and tax evasion.

Yesterday we wrote to you about Georgia, a small country on the Black Sea whose flat tax prompted tax compliance (and tax revenue) to soar.

It’s considered one of the most efficient places to do business with very low levels of corruption.

And yet the highest denomination note in Georgia is the 500 lari bill, worth about $200. That’s a lot of money in a country where the average wage is a few hundred dollars per month.

Compare that to Malaysia or Uzbekistan, two countries where corruption abounds.

Malaysia’s top cash note is 50 ringgit, worth about $11. And Uzbekistan’s 5,000 som is worth a paltry $1.57.

Bottom line, the political and financial establishments want you to willingly get on board with the idea of abolishing, or at least reducing, cash.

And they’re pumping out all sorts of propaganda to do it, trying to get people to equate crime and corruption with high denominations of cash.

Simply put, the data doesn’t support their assertion. It’s just another hoax that will give them more power at the expense of your privacy and freedom.

Do you have a Plan B?

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The Guy Who Subpoenaed Reason, Preet Bharara, Met With Donald Trump Today

Remember last year, when Reason got slammed with a subpoena and subsequent gag order from the U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York? Yeah, well the guy whose John Hancock on that grand jury subpoena—Preet Bharara—was hanging out with President-elect Donald Trump today. Bharara has “agreed to stay on” as Manhattan U.S. attorney under the Trump administration after kicking it with the future POTUS for 40 minutes in Trump Tower. “I expect that I will be continuing to work at the southern district,” he told reporters.

That’s…just great.

Here’s what Reason wrote about the legal assault after the gag order was lifted:

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara subpoenaed all of the identifying information we had about the authors of such comments as, “Its (sic) judges like these that should be taken out back and shot.” And, “Why waste ammunition? Wood chippers get the message across clearly. Especially if you feed them in feet first.” This last comment is a well-known Internet reference to the Coen brothers’ movie Fargo.

The subpoena also covered such obviously harmless comments as: “I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman,” and “I’d prefer a hellish place on Earth be reserved for her as well.”…

Reason’s unmoderated comment space is rare among comparable publications and has, over the years, developed into a forum that is by turns exciting, intellectually advanced, outlandish, cringe-inducing, and more foul-mouthed than any locker room this side of the Crab Nebula. It is something to be celebrated as a voluntary community that can be engaged or ignored as the spirit moves you (we say that as writers whose work and physical shortcomings rarely escape unscathed from any thread). However trollish many of our commenters can be, they have created a sphere of free speech that delivers on one of the great promises of the Internet, which is unbridled expression, dialogue, and argument.

We took risks by creating an autonomous zone in which our readers are left to their own devices. Some of the risk is reputational—how many other serious outlets allow anonymous commenters to run riot as we do? Some of the risk is legal, as in the current situation.

Since the last webathon, over the past year alone, we have run 844,000 comments (just shy of 100 per hour). Suffice it to say, our speech—and our willingness to host yours—remains unchilled. That’s because when it comes to defending the right of American citizens to say what we believe, Reason has no chill (as the kids say).

At a time when sites from National Public Radio to News24 are closing down their comments sections—and some (cough, Vox, cough) never had them at all—Reason remains a glorious free-for-all.

As Voltaire almost certainly did not say: We may not like what you say, but we will defend to the death Fist of Etiquette’s “firsts,” Heroic Mulatto’s staunch pining for former Reason staffer Lucy Steigerwald, and everyone’s frankly unhealthy interest in Robby Soave’s grooming habits.

But commenter freedom isn’t free, is what I’m saying here. Given that The Donald and Bharara are besties now, we’re probably going to need to bulk up our legal defense fund. So what better time to do your part to defray the (wildly outsized, utterly infuriating) costs of ill-advised Fargo references with a donation to our webathon?

And if all that isn’t enough, we brought back your nemesis/crush/former Reason Editor in Chief/famous commenter skeptic Virginia Postrel as a columnist the dead tree magazine. (Subscribers get first crack at commenting on her stories. Just saying.) You’re welcome.

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Steven Mnuchin Roils Bond Markets With Suggestion Of 100 Year Treasury Bond

Barely having confirmed he will be Donald Trump’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin proceeded to roil the bond market when the former Goldman banker told CNBC he would look at extending the maturity of future Treasury issuance, hinting at 50 and 100 Year bonds, which promptly sent long-term US bond yields surging by the most since the turmoil following Trump’s election victory.

30-year Treasury yields spiked as much as 12 basis points to 3.06%, after Mnuchin said ultra-long bond sales would be considered. His comments also pushed 5s30s curve from a session low 115bps to above 122bp in just over an hour, rapidly steepening the curve, as the 30Y yield rose as much as 14bp to within 1bp of its YTD high.

While losses were later pared in the 3pm index rebalancing, the selloff capped the worst month for US Treasuries in more than five years, driven by gains for stocks and expectations Trump presidency will bring wider deficits, higher inflation and Fed rate increases

“I think interest rates are going to stay relatively low for the next couple of years.” Mnuchin told CNBC. “We’ll look at potentially extending the maturity of the debt, because eventually we are going to have higher interest rates, and that’s something that this country is going to need to deal with.” Ironically, with that statement, Mnuchin quickly sent yields spiking higher, although courtesy of foreign buyers these were promptly renormalized.

Asked if he would consider maturities of 50 or even 100 years, ultra-long issuance that has become increasingly popular in Europe in recent years as interest rates plunged to record lows as recently as July, Mnuchin said: “We’ll take a look at everything.”

While the US government bond market is the most liquid and deep in the world, compared to many of its peers especially in Europe, it has historically had much lower average maturities, with Treasury officials seeking a balance between cheaper short-dated bills and bonds, and more expensive long-term debt that minimizes “rollover risk”, the danger that Treasury won’t be able to refinance itself. So even as countries like Belgium, Austria and even Mexico have recently sold bonds maturing in 50, 70 or even 100 years (and led to significant MTM losses for all those who purchased them, thanks to their substantial duration) the US Treasury has never issued a bond with a maturity beyond 30 years,

According to Bloomberg, the average weighted maturity of outstanding US debt is just 5.7 years, the lowest among the G10 countries except Sweden. In comparison, the weighted average maturity of the UK gilt market is more than 14 years. This discrepancy – especially in a world where there is more than enough demand for longer dated debt – has led to repeat, if mostly muted, calls for the Treasury to start an ultra-long bond issuance programme, especially as interest rates and bond yields have plumbed record lows in recent years.

The TBAC, or Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee, a panel of Wall Street advisors (including Goldman) who provide feedback to the US Treasury, was tasked in August of 2015 to discuss whether the Treasury should take advantage of low rates to increase issuance of long-term debt. Minutes from the meeting showed that some participants focused on “the benefits of such issuance given low absolute interest costs.” In 2014, the Treasury Department asked the TBAC whether it should issue bonds that mature in more than 30 years.

The Treasury’s reluctance to issue ultra-long mautirities may very soon change, now that it is headed by a man who wants to lock in low rates for up to one century, especially once the “Trumpflation” revulsion emerges, and the scramble for and into duration returns. One potential stumbling block, however, is that the duration of 30-year Treasuries is already among the highest in the global bond market, lessening the need for even longer-term issuance.

On the other hand, if Mnuchin is indeed focused on alleviating potential debt rollover concerns beginning some time in 2046, then century bonds are almost certainly assured. And considering that Trump is expected to unleash a new debt issuance spree to fund his fiscal stimulus, there will be more than enough space to “experiment” with previously unused maturities.

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Jill Stein Files Official Recount Petition In Michigan

Despite a Wisconsin judge denying her request for a hand recount last night due to the fact that she “failed to show any mistakes or irregularities that would bring a machine recount into question,” Jill Stein continues her recount crusade today with an official petition in Michigan.  As usual, Stein released a statement along with the petition saying that “Americans deserve a voting system we can trust.” Michigan state officials have confirmed that the recount will start on Friday and must be completed by December 13th. 

Per The Hill

“The people of Michigan and all Americans deserve a voting system we can trust,” Stein said in a statement on Wednesday.

 

“After a presidential election tarnished by the use of outdated and unreliable machines and accusations of irregularities, people of all political persuasions are asking if our election results are reliable.”

 

Stein said in the statement the recounts are necessary to build trust in the country’s election system.

 

“We need to verify the vote in this and every election,” she said, “so that Americans can be sure we have a fair, secure and accurate voting system.”

Meanwhile, literally no one has any clue at this point what Jill Stein is doing and/or why she’s doing it.  As we’ve written over the past several days, everyone from Obama to Clinton to Stein’s own party has spoken out publicly against her recount crusade…yet she presses on.



 

Though it will have absolutely no impact on Stein’s resolve, Ronna Romney McDaniel, chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, joined the chorus of people who have criticized the recount efforts as a waste of taxpayer money.

“The filing by Jill Stein is a reckless attempt to undermine the will of Michigan voters,” she said. “Jill Stein made her 1% temper tantrum official and will waste millions of Michigan taxpayers’ dollars, and has acknowledged that the recount will not change anything regarding the Presidential election.”

Meanwhile, the only tweet that Jill Stein has sent out over the past week that has helped in anyway to shed some light on her seemingly odd behavior is the following which includes a picture of her with her cat…while we can’t be certain, we assume there has to be about 250 other cats roaming around that house…

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Steve Mnuchin To Be Nominated Treasury Secretary, Nancy Pelosi Re-Elected House Dem Leader, Nazi Haircuts: P.M. Links

  • President-elect Donald Trump said he would leave his business “in total” before assuming the presidency, yielding Twitter praise from the Office of Government Ethics. Trump indicated he would nominate Steve Mnuchin to be treasury secretary.
  • Nancy Pelosi was re-elected House Minority Leader.
  • The Charlotte police officer who shot and killed Keith Scott was justified in doing so, the local district attorney ruled.
  • More than 14,000 people have fled Gatlinburg and nearby Pigeon Rick as fires continue to burn in Tennessee.
  • Saudi Arabia helped push OPEC nations into a deal to cut production by more than previously expected.
  • The government in Italy raised public sector pay ahead of a constitutional reform referendum on which the prime minister has staked his career.
  • “Does this haircut make me look like a Nazi?”

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and don’t forget to sign up for Reason’s daily updates for more content.

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Jill Stein Files Official Recount Petition In Michigan

Despite a Wisconsin judge denying her request for a hand recount last night due to the fact that she “failed to show any mistakes or irregularities that would bring a machine recount into question,” Jill Stein continues her recount crusade today with an official petition in Michigan.  As usual, Stein released a statement along with the petition saying that “Americans deserve a voting system we can trust.” Michigan state officials have confirmed that the recount will start on Friday and must be completed by December 13th. 

Per The Hill

“The people of Michigan and all Americans deserve a voting system we can trust,” Stein said in a statement on Wednesday.

 

“After a presidential election tarnished by the use of outdated and unreliable machines and accusations of irregularities, people of all political persuasions are asking if our election results are reliable.”

 

Stein said in the statement the recounts are necessary to build trust in the country’s election system.

 

“We need to verify the vote in this and every election,” she said, “so that Americans can be sure we have a fair, secure and accurate voting system.”

Meanwhile, literally no one has any clue at this point what Jill Stein is doing and/or why she’s doing it.  As we’ve written over the past several days, everyone from Obama to Clinton to Stein’s own party has spoken out publicly against her recount crusade…yet she presses on.



 

Though it will have absolutely no impact on Stein’s resolve, Ronna Romney McDaniel, chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, joined the chorus of people who have criticized the recount efforts as a waste of taxpayer money.

“The filing by Jill Stein is a reckless attempt to undermine the will of Michigan voters,” she said. “Jill Stein made her 1% temper tantrum official and will waste millions of Michigan taxpayers’ dollars, and has acknowledged that the recount will not change anything regarding the Presidential election.”

Meanwhile, the only tweet that Jill Stein has sent out over the past week that has helped in anyway to shed some light on her seemingly odd behavior is the following which includes a picture of her with her cat…while we can’t be certain, we assume there has to be about 250 other cats roaming around that house…

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November To Remember – Unprecedented Month In Markets Ends Weak

What else could we use for today…

 

November was quite a month…

  • Russell 2000 +11% – best since October 2011
  • Dow +5.5% – best since March 2016
  • US Financial Stocks +14% – best since April 2009
  • Goldman Sachs +23% – best since December 2000
  • US Energy Stocks +9% – best since October 2015
  • FANG Stocks -6.2% – worst since March 2014
  • "Most Shorted" Stocks +11% – best since September 2010
  • US Treasury Bonds (TLT) -8% – worst since January 2009
  • Treasury 'VIX' +18% – worst since January 2015
  • Emerging Market Bonds -4.7% – worst since May 2013
  • Risk-Parity Funds -3.1% – worst since December 2015
  • USD Index +3.8% – best since September 2014
  • Mexican Peso -8.6% – worst since May 2012
  • Japanese Yen -8.9% – worst since August 1995
  • Chinese Yuan -2% – worst since December 2015
  • Emerging Market FX -4.5% – worst since May 2012
  • Gold -8% – worst since June 2013
  • Silver -8% – worst since May 2016
  • Copper +19% – best since March 2009
  • BIS "Fear' Index (Global Basis Swap) -3bps – worst since Feb 2016

 

So let's start with stocks…

Despite all the exuberance over oil and macro data today, stocks were not loving it…

 

S&P 500 2,200 was defended once again…BUT FAILED…

 

Nasdaq barely eked out a green close in November as Small Caps and Trannies exploded higher…

 

Futures show the real craziness…

 

FANG stocks were really ugly…

 

Banks led the charge (along with energy stocks)…

 

The Dow gained 1000 points in November (only the 4th month ever) but we note that 28% of that move was thanks to Goldman Sachs

In fact, just 5 names – GS, UNH, CAT, JPM, IBM – account for 50% of Dow gains

 

Global bonds had an ugly month…

 

But US Treasuries underperformed…

 

Since Thanksgiving yields are now unchanged thanks to a notable sell off early today. The nominal selloff deepened in early U.S. trading after Mnuchin on CNBC said U.S. will explore “extending the maturity of the debt”; asked whether 50Y or 100Y bonds would be considered, he said everything would be looked at. 30Y yield rose as much as 14bp to within 1bp of its YTD high

 

Comments were credited with pushing 5s30s curve from session low ~115bp to ~122bp in just over an hour…

 

Still decoupled from bank stock…

 

The USD Index spiked today driven by a collapse in AUD, EUR, and JPY….Notably the USD buying ended when Europe closed.

 

On the month, Yen was the hardest hit (down over 9%) but Cable rallied against the strong greenback…

 

Of course the biggest news of the day was the massive explosion in crude oil prices (soaring 10% to within 10c of $50)…

 

But given that the market got more than it expected, and closed back below $49, one wonders if the squeeze is over…

 

And finally, it does make you wonder if any of that buying was real or just algos playing catch up…

 

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China Burns More Coal: Climate Promises Broken or Just Deferred?

ChinaCoalHuangShipengFeatureChinaNewscomAt the end of the U.N. COP22 climate change conference in Marrakech earlier this month, Greenpeace China policy advisor Li Shuo fatuously declared: “We have seen China continue with its climate actions and support for the Paris Agreement because it is in its self-interest to do so. China´s drop in coal consumption is driving down global emissions and tackling air pollution at home. We can expect further action as China reaps the benefits of its climate policies.” Also at Marrakech, Chinese climate change negotiators reportedly chided President-elect Donald Trump for once tweeting that global warming was a hoax devised by the Chinese. A headline in The Guardian declared that “China emerges as global climate leader in wake of Trump triumph.”

The Marrakech conference ended just 12 days ago. Today the New York Times is running a front page article, “Despite Climate Change Vow, China Pushes to Dig More Coal.” As the paper of record explains:

A lack of stockpiles and worries about electricity blackouts are spurring Chinese officials to reverse curbs that once helped reduce coal production. Mines are reopening. Miners are being lured back with fatter paychecks.

China’s response to coal scarcity shows how hard it will be to wean the country off coal. That makes it harder for China and the world to meet emissions targets, as Chinese coal is the world’s largest single source of carbon emissions from human activities….

“I get a kick out of people in the West who think China is decarbonizing, because I see no sign of it whatsoever,” said Brock Silvers, a Shanghai banker who has previously served on the boards of two Chinese coal companies.

Of course, back in 2014 U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping issued a “joint announcement on climate change” in which the Chinese government promised to peak its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. So that means there’s plenty of time for China to keep its climate promises.

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The Last Ride Of The Unemployment Rate

Submitted by Jeffrey Snider via Alhambra Investment Partners,

It’s easy to set aside the nostalgia, so to speak, since this is likely the last Christmas holiday season to be talked about in the media in the positively glowing terms of the unemployment rate. Ever since the “recovery” began, each and every year the internet and TV channels are filled with stories about how strong the consumer is and therefore how great the economy must be. This tendency is greatly amplified as the holidays roll in, as it is the Christmas season where all of this is given its rightful importance.

This year is already no different; almost all of the content generated for the mainstream is downright giddy. Such as:

Shoppers lined up at stores and flocked to their computer screens in search of bargains on Black Friday, putting the retail industry on track for what it hopes will become a record sales weekend.

 

Shoppers appeared ready to open their wallets, buoyed by a generally strong economy and rising stock market. And major store chains did their part, offering dramatic discounts on their traffic-building “doorbuster” opening specials.

Those paragraphs were written under a headline of Retailers Aim To Smash Four-Day Weekend Sales Records as if the narrative of the past almost eight years weren’t perfectly clear by now. Retailers have been “smashing” all sorts of things during that time, but it was more likely in frustration and anger than in what was described by “reporters.”

The National Retail Federation got into the act, as is its custom. NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay was quoted in his organization’s official press release trying his best:

It was a strong weekend for retailers, but an even better weekend for consumers, who took advantage of some really incredible deals. In fact, over one third of shoppers said 100% of their purchases were on sale.

That is actually a very bad sign for retailers as well as about consumers. While you will hear any number of stories about the huge growth in online sales, the truth is a bit darker since consumers are taking their shopping virtual out of necessity. As the quote above shows, they will shop in the real world only when the price is there.

In the federation’s shopper survey, more than a third of respondents (36 percent) said that 100 percent of what they bought over the weekend was on sale. That compares with 11 percent who said they only purchased discounted merchandise last year.

According to the NRF and others, spending overall is suspect yet again for Black Friday weekend regardless of where the sale was made – at an actual cash register or an internet one. The Federation estimates that total net spending for the four days through yesterday $289.19 per person this year, down from $299.60 last year. In terms of total spending for the whole weekend, the NRF figures $310.86 per person in 2016 as compared to $319.64 in 2015, and $407.02 in 2013. Again, these totals include whatever was purchased wherever it was purchased.

That’s a 24% drop in just three years. Some of the decline is the dispersal of Christmas spending away from just Black Friday alone, as the weekend itself is stripped of some of its marginal importance, but that is the part always left out of the media reports. Americans have become far more frugal out of continuing necessity no matter what the unemployment rate says. That has been especially true of the past several years.

According to the mainstream, wages are rising as is employment, yet there isn’t any detectable effects in the actual numbers, just the commentary meant to frame them in a certain optimistic way. Black Friday in 2014, for example, was a disaster, presaging what was supposed to be “impossible”, which is why everyone wrote it all off as these same shifts in consumer preferences. I wrote just about two years ago that economists and policymakers should have been paying much more attention to that Black Friday message than the unemployment rate that represented a much smaller fraction of America:

There is an undoubted shift in the behavior of consumers, including and especially during the peak retail season between Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, to say that is the sole reason for the decline in actual sales volume is to stretch that truth into (in many cases intentional) utter misdirection. The initial indications from the retail outlets are so far beyond bad, worse than even last year’s decline…

 

In simply holiday sales alone, what happened during Black Friday was not anomalous at all, but rather all too representative of what was to come. It is simply too much to suggest both a growing decline and the timing of it as largely innocuous spending patterns inside an otherwise very healthy economy. There is nothing healthy about this, especially as it captures the movement of spending online.

In other words, Black Friday 2014 was a harbinger of the actual economy that would unfold under the “rising dollar.” Janet Yellen saw GDP was 4% and the unemployment rate falling more quickly than economists had modeled even for a QE3 economy, so her view prevailed despite overwhelming evidence right at that time it was beyond flawed. The economic weakness that developed to start 2015 was never “unexpected”, it was simply rewritten by the media that wanted Janet Yellen to be right.

What is relevant to the economy of 2016 is that Black Friday sales have never recovered since 2014. For the second year since, it seems that holiday spending will remain subdued, perfectly fitting the depression cycle pattern that shows the economy being getting knocked down further by monetary events and never getting back up. That will in all likelihood translate into a sales record as overall Christmas holiday sales will rise slightly from last year, but it is a hollow one because the total gain is likely to be harmfully, painfully small for still another year.

The media being what it is, this will very likely be the last time the data so diverges from the narrative. I have little doubt that next year under a President Trump things will be different; by that I don’t necessarily mean the economy, though there is the smallest hope, I suppose, that a new Trump Presidency gets the one thing right the world needs someone to someday get right (“dollars”). Rather, I strongly suspect that if holiday sales or any sales continue to be subdued during his term that they will actually be described that way.

After eight years of trying to see recovery where there was none, the constant spin of sunshine will very likely disappear on January 20. It is ironic in one sense since it is this very disparity between mainstream “reporting” and actual economic conditions that contributed to the Trump victory in the first place. As Black Fridays for years now, but especially 2014, a great many people were fed up with hearing how wonderful the economy was when they had to scrimp and save and cut back at each and every one. For the last several years, all that has mattered in the media has been the unemployment rate no matter how many times it was shown in the real economy that the statistic was misleading or even invalid.

This is the last holiday where mainstream deference to the employment numbers will be so absurdly absolute. Several years too late, realistic descriptions are set to return to the legacy media.

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Caught On Tape: Man Steals $1.6 Million Bucket Full Of Gold In Midtown Manhattan In Broad Daylight

Police released footage on Tuesday of what may be the luckiest theft in recent history. In the clip, a man brazenly swipes an 86-pound bucket full of gold worth $1.6 million from the back of an unattended armored truck on West 48th Street in the Diamond District on Sept. 29, in broad daylight, as tourists and locals were walking in and out of the jewelry stores that line the block.

The footage, first obtained by NBC 4 New York showed the man capitalizing on a 20-second window left open by the guards, one of whom was making a pickup while the other was walking to the front seat. The suspect allegedly cased the open Loomis International truck as it parked outside 48 W. 48th St., near Sixth Avenue. Realizing no one was looking, he then grabbed a black 5-gallon bucket carrying 86 pounds of gold flakes bound for Ontario and ran away with it in his arms, police said.

The heist, which was captured on tape, showed the man making off with the 86-pound bucket. Throughout his hour-long escape, he appears to struggle with the gold flakes, stopping to set them down several times and even attempting to carry them on his shoulder at one point.

Surveillance cameras tracked him weaving around a crowded sidewalk and onto Sixth Avenue where he disappears from view. 

The suspect, who hadn’t been arrested as of Wednesday morning, is about 5
feet 6 inches tall, 150 pounds and in his 50s, police said. Cops suspect that the man is lying low in Orlando or Miami until things blow over in the Big Apple. He was last seen wearing a black vest, green shirt, blue jeans and carrying a black messenger bag, police said.

According to the Post, authorities said his actions appeared to be those of a man who was completely unprepared. “I think he just saw an opportunity, took the pail and walked off,” NYPD Detective Martin Pastor told NBC, adding that police believe the sticky-fingered swindler had no idea what he had just scored.

“I think when the lucky charm opened up the bucket, he’d seen the rainbow and seen the gold,” Pastor said.

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