Friday, June 24, 2016

She's Right: Brexit Just Screwed British Millennials

I really have to agree with this sentiment.
For all intents and purposes, the referendum result is just the latest in a series of attacks on my generation’s future. First came the financial crisis, caused by poor decision-making on the part of baby boomers across the world. Soon after came austerity measures that disproportionately affected young people in favor of protecting British pensions. Now we are being forced from the European Union — against the wishes of the vast majority of young people — in an attack from a generation that will live to see very little of its consequences.
I mean she has been European her entire life and suddenly people that have no skin in the future of the European world have snatched that from her. Now the Brits have to renegotiate everything from the outside instead of making changes from the inside. Their negotiating power just went into the toilet.

I mean if I were Ireland and Scotland its time to break off from Britain and re-join the EU. Suddenly the locus of financial power would move from London to Dublin and Glasgow. US financial firms like how they can send their people over to another English speaking country and London doesn't have to be it.

In any case millennials have been seriously ripped off by the Boomers. Stuck with crisis after crisis and saddled with trillions in debt they will end up being far poorer than their parents. I wonder if there will be youthful brain-drain out of England into the EU going forward? Would be interesting to see.

At Last the GOP Tackles Taxes: Forget all that other Nonsense: Pass this ASAP and Growth will Flourish

This took them long enough but this is the kind of thing that could kick-start growth.
The House GOP blueprint reduces the number of tax rates from six to three. It consolidates or eliminates most tax breaks. And it promises that the revised tax code will be simple enough that most Americans can file their taxes on a postcard. 
It also cuts taxes so people have more money in their pockets.
The new individual income tax rates would be 12%, 25% and 33%, well below the 39.6% top rate today.

And while the bottom 12% rate is higher than today's 10% bracket, a much higher standard deduction would mean that low-income taxpayers would pay lower taxes than they do currently, the blueprint promises. (No objective outside analyses of the plan have been done yet.) 
So that would mean they would get a bigger tax refund if I read that right. More money in the pocket means more money to pump into the economy. This part is especially nice.

The House GOP plan would cut taxes on dividends and interest earned from stocks and mutual funds. That would result in a top effective rate of either 6%, 12.5% or 16.5% depending on one's tax bracket. 
In other words if you are a small/starting investor you would see cap gains and dividends slashed by double figures. I really don't care about the 16.5% for the Mitt Romneys of the world so if they keep that at 20% and it wouldn't bother me. However, paying 12% on all cap gains and dividends would be outstanding. No more hoarding losses or other mess to reduce the amount that the Feds take out of my pocket.

Friday, June 17, 2016

An Interesting Conversation: Should Gun Strore Owners be Able to Legally Discriminate?

After the Orlando Massacre I read that the Islamic terrorist purchased his guns legally.
The source further reports that Mateen had purchased a Sig Sauer .223 caliber assault rifle at a firearms shop near his Florida home, St. Lucie Gun Sales, on June 4 and then a Glock 17 at the same store on June 5. Mateen had returned to the store a third time on June 9 to buy magazines for his weapons. The store is a federally licensed firearms dealer. Under law, the seller would have had to notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation of Mateen's purchase so that his name could be checked against the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS.
I know that his name was on two FBI watch lists but currently that doesn't mean anything. He hadn't committed a crime so nothing could stop him from buying a gun. If they changed the law it would infringe on the rights of others. Being investigated or having been investigated should not be a crime.

However, an idea I was thinking about would be to allow gun shop owners to deny service to anyone they want to without running afoul of the ACLU. What this would mean is that they could conceivably discriminate against people with Muslim surnames and get away with it. This would be a special case only for gun shop owners and serve to make them a protected class of retailers.

The problem with this plan would be it stops law-abiding Muslims that simply want to defend themselves. That would strait-up infringe on their 2nd amendment rights. Also such a plan might have stopped Mateen or the San Bernadino killers but would not have stopped the Virginia Tech shooter, Sandyhook, or the Colorado shooter or the Boston Bombers because they all would dodge the ban for circumstances that were unique to their cases.

Another problem with this plan would be that Muslim gun shop owners might pop up to get around this idea if there was enough demand. In fact I could see deep-pocketed individuals like the Saudi's or Iran bankrolling gun shops that do not discriminate against Muslims. I could see ISIS starting a gun shop to funnel guns to would be Mateens. In fact I wonder if the FBI is investigating such a thing?

This plan also doesn't stop an Islamic terrorist from buying a gun at a gun show, online, or from a straw-purchase. I'm convinced Mateen would have did one of these things if that St. Lucie Gun Sales would have denied his purchase. So other than making it harder to buy the guns and ammo this kind of thing would have only slowed Mateen down. Only ideological change would have actually stopped it from happening. That would only happen in the Mosque or maybe if we destroyed ISIS once-and-for-all. This might unfortunately be the new normal.

At Last the Nerd Barbie: Game Developer Becomes Barbies New Job Title

I guess Mattel is finally going to amp up its role of becoming steward to little girls everywhere. This sounded absolutely egregious.
Back in 2014, Mattel took an unfortunate step backward when they continued to print the book Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer. Rather than setting out to inspire and empower girls everywhere, this publication ended up doing the opposite because, to put it simply, its plot involved Barbie needing two male characters to help her after she infects her computer with a virus.
Wait, what? She was a computer engineer and had to get two other guys to help her get rid of a virus that she infected her own PC with? Why didn't she just restore from backup or run a virus scan? That is pretty bad. However, Mattel seems to be making amends.
Rather than waiting for guys to step in and solve all her computer problems, Barbie is now self-sufficient. She can design and create her own game, especially since a she has an actual code written on her laptop. According to Slate, it seems that this Barbie is creating her very own version of Bejeweled on her screen.

In addition to her having a (surprisingly non-pink) laptop, Game Developer Barbie also has a workspace filled with things like flowcharts, a tablet, real programming books, headphones, action figures, and a cup of coffee. As for her clothes, she’s wearing what Mattel calls a “industry-inspired outfit.” This consists of white sneakers, skinny jeans, a comfy-looking graphic top, a green jacket, and gold glasses.
Now they need to come out with theoretical physics Ken that looks like Sheldon from Big Bang to date this particular Barbie.


Buy out the Coal Industry? Very Intriguing

This is an interesting idea but he is right Congress would kill it dead.
The basic rationale is that this would reduce US power plant emissions more quickly and more certainly than President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, which is currently on hold and bogged down in litigation and is dependent on state cooperation. What's more, a buyout would help the workers who'd be affected by the dislocation.
One thing that the article doesn't go into is that these coal plants need to be replaced with something that does not pollute as much. So if the government would go in and give generous incentives to convert all coal power plants to natural gas (and train the workers for the transition) Obama would have an actual positive legacy item.

Bullard Worse than a Weather Vane: Only One Rate Hike Until 2018!?

I think they should fire this guy already.
St. Louis Fed President Jim Bullard, in a significant shift in his outlook for the economy, now says low growth and a very low fed funds rate of just 63 basis points will likely remain in place through 2018. 

Bullard, reversing earlier forecasts that looked for growth to pick up and rates to rise, now says 2 percent growth is the most likely forecast and that rates will remain low. Bullard also sees unemployment at 4.7 percent and trimmed-mean PCE inflation of 2 percent during this window.
So he pretty much went from the biggest rate hawk to the biggest rate dove and he has the audacity to say this:
In a conference call with reporters following the release of the position paper, Bullard said the mismatch between Fed and investor expectations for the fed funds rate is eroding the central bank's credibility and causing distortions in the market.
He is the very one eroding the bank's credibility by going from hawk to dove after one bad jobs report. I know that rate rises are data driven but one data point shouldn't get someone to change so dramatically. I any case they should replace him with someone that isn't so damn vocal. I don't understand why they can't just be quiet and speak with one voice.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Juno had 34 for 34 patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) Achieve Complete Remissions? CAR-T is the real deal

Wow now that is some good news and might be a reason to be long the stock again.
In efficacy-evaluable ALL patients (N=34), complete remission was reported in 34/34 (100%) patients and complete molecular remission as measured by flow cytometry (CmR) was achieved in 32/34 (94%) patients.
ALL is a terrible form of cancer that kills in like a few months IIRC. It also seems to go after kids quite a bit so this part was real eye opener.
In addition to the adult JCAR014 data presented today, Rebecca Gardner, M.D., of Seattle Children’s, announced results from Seattle Children’s Phase I study of JCAR017 in pediatric and young adults with CD19+ r/r ALL (n=42) demonstrating 39/42 (93%) patients experienced a complete remission, all of which were a CmR by flow cytometry. In patients who received the Flu/Cy preconditioning regimen, 14/14 (100%) achieved a complete remission and a CmR.
That Flu/Cy preconditioning is a round of Chemo that kills some of the cancer cells so that the CAR-Ts can work on the rest of them.

However, this a tangible bad mark against the therapy
sCRS was observed in 10/42 (24%) patients and Grade 3 or higher neurotoxicity was observed in 10/42 (24%) patients.
That means Cytokine-release syndrome happened to 10 of the 24 patients and that stuff is no joke. That happens because the cancer cells die so rapidly they end up causing this syndrome.

In any case this could be a first line therapy for ALL and will strait-up save some kids lives. Juno is selling for $47.65 a share which is pricey for a stock in a Phase I/II study.  Also there is a big question mark if this therapy can go after solid tumors but it might be something to take a flier on with some risk-capital. It will also probably be really expensive to administer because you are essentially taking cells from the body and re-engineering them to kill the cancer. It would have been nice to catch that low in $24.50 range as well but that is pure hindsight.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Return to the Dorm? WeLive Rolls Out Communal Living Space: They Need an Artists Setup Next

It might not be the next Montparnasse or Taos, New Mexico but this sounds like an ideal living situation.
The layouts in WeLive’s 400 units range from small studios to four-bedrooms, and all apartments come fully furnished. Per-tenant pricing begins at $1,375 but if you want a bit more privacy, you’ll have to dole out at least $2,000 per month. The most common setup is the “studio plus,” which comes with two beds (one is a Murphy hidden in the wall); these range from $2,500 to $2,800. A flat monthly utilities payment of $125 covers electric, water, cable, wifi and cleaning costs (yes, housekeeping is included).

When I visited WeLive, I spoke with 26-year-old entrepreneur Tiffany Tibbot who moved there in March and finds the community enriching and inspiring. Despite having lived alone for the past five years, she opted for a four-bedroom at WeLive in order to save money and meet new people. “The community building reminds me of college,” she said. “It’s like a safety net.”

I have always liked the idea of a communal space for creative minds to work together. However, one of the things that made those old post WW1 art colonies like Montparnasse work is the people were actual starving artists living there. That may not happen with a $2000 a month apartment with cheap wifi and cleaning costs.

In any case I think this might take off quite a bit with many Millennials who are finally able to venture out of their parents houses. The shared experience of living together with people in a dorm setting might counteract some of that disconnectedness some of them feel.  

I Agree with Maisie Williams: Talk about the Charity Event and not Her Not Wearing a Bra to Said Event

I have to agree with her statement.
Rather than being about what she wore, Maisie’s version is about what she did: helped “raise thousands.” Right on.

Maisie’s point is well taken and totally empowering. Let’s talk way more about women’s work, and way less about what they wore.
The headline really needs to change from "Teen Girl Doesn't Wear Bra to Event" to "Teen Girl Attends Anti-Abuse Fund Raiser; Bra Status Irrelevant." I'm pretty sure whatever mag charts Maisie's bra status didn't ask whatever male celebrity was at the event whether he was wearing underwear or not.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Message to Anti-Trump Rioters: You are going to Win him the Election

Some people just cannot be non-violent even if they are playing into the hands of people they hate.
But Thursday evening, in San Jose, California, was the worst of nights. What began as a gathering of young people and labor rights’ groups outside of Trump’s rally here, turned into a raucous, bloody, dangerous affair. The crowd of hundreds became disorderly as a large group broke off with seemingly pernicious intentions; to seek out anyone they suspected of being a Trump supporter and intimidate, harass or even beat them into submission. 
Remember all those riots leading up to the election of Hitler? I'm not saying Trump is Hitler but bloody riots usually lead to the anti-reactionary gaining power. The great silent majority looks at Trump as a cure for the bloody rioters. He looks "law-and-order" and is keeping America from going even further into chaos. I heard a pundit say every time they show a riot at a Trump rally it buys in 5000 more votes. I think that is a very prescient statement.  

Thursday, June 02, 2016

The Case for Trump Winning it All? Jake Novak makes a Ton of Sense

It is always good to see a pundit make a strait-up mea culpa.
In the 80-odd days since I wrote that piece, I've been seeing more and more evidence of why my predictions for Trump's demise were wrong — and that his chances of winning in the general election look pretty decent.
He goes on to talk about Trumps management style and how he is distancing himself form the "conservative establishment" All of Novak's points make a ton of sense. I think the GOP needs to come to the realization that Trumps moves have been pretty well done. Getting away from the conservative establishment gets him away from what is, unfortunately, a losing brand. There just aren't enough hard-right conservatives to win a Presidential election and 8 years of Obama proves that.

And this point is especially true:

We all know Trump's key slogan/promise is "Make America Great Again." I'm still not sure what Hillary Clinton's key slogan/promise is and I follow her campaign very closely. Is it "I'm with Her?" If so, it's not very good in that it doesn't seem to have anything in it for the person who isn't "her."
Yeah that is especially bad at this juncture. Forget the idea that America is already great but Trump's slogan is kind of like "Hope and Change." Trump is saying things are bad now but they will get better under President Trump. While Hillary is just talking about blindly following this woman. It wouldn't be as bad if Hillary didn't lie about her unprotected email server, the Rose law firm records, Bengazi, etc. How are you supposed to blindly follow such a dishonest person?

It doesn't help that Bill is creeping around scaring off the Millennials. I think Trump is holding his fire and will unleash it on Bill as a rapist and a sexual predator and ask why Hillary is still married to that monster. Standing-by-ones-man doesn't fly in todays America especially when it comes to sexual violence. Many millennials are just learning about the salacious allegations, victim bashing, outright lies, etc. that went into the Clinton years of the 90s. Wait until Trump frames the narrative and keeps pounding it home that Hillary is married to a rapist and a sexual predator.  

One other thing that seems to be hurting Hillary is Trump know how to play the media like a fiddle. He says something outrageous and then the media pounces demanding an apology. Trump doubles down and doesn't apologize. The media then stands there dumbfounded as Trump moves onto the next thing. He understands that the news media is not trusted by a majority of Americans and are an easy mark.

Case-in-point is his tax returns. The media says every candidate for decades have released them and he should too. Then they try to goad him into doing it. Trump says he will not do it and then moves on to other things. The media is left there saying "its tradition" and "what does Trump have to hide?" Many Americans agree with that stance because why should they release their returns just to be a candidate? The media is again tone deaf on the matter. Trump just sidestepped something that could only be bad for him, looks tough, and puts a finger in the eye of the news media all at once. Novak makes a ton of sense so we might need to brace for a Trump presidency.