Daily Archives: January 21, 2019

January 21 The Test of Faith

Scripture Reading: James 1:2–8

Key Verse: James 1:12

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Most of us know the story of Joseph and the depth of his faith. Genesis 39–50 records the events of his life and how God provided emotional strength for him to rise above discouragement. The principle involved in Joseph’s life is one of extreme faith.

He didn’t enjoy being sold into bondage. Like any of us, he probably fought feelings of rejection, loneliness, and fear. He had worshiped and trusted God. Yet he ended up in a foreign land with no immediate hope of returning home to his family. Even there, Joseph held fast to his conviction—God had a plan for his life. He had been given a vision, and he refused to fall prey to sin and discontentment.

Each of us will face times of trial and discouragement. But it is here among life’s darker moments that God exposes the depth of our faith.

For the psalmist to write about his victorious journey through the valley of the shadow of death, there had to be a valley experience. For Joseph to testify to God’s faithfulness, there had to be an Egyptian encounter. For you to affirm the eternal love and strength of God, there must be a test of faith in your life as well. Remember, God will never abandon you. Just as He was with Joseph, He is with you—forever!

Precious Lord, despite the feelings of rejection, loneliness, and fear that sometimes flood my soul, I know You have a plan for me. Through all my trials, expose and then strengthen the depth of my faith.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 22). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Morgan Stanley: “A Retest Of The December Lows Is Coming On Scary Fundamental News”

Last week, Morgan Stanley’s chief US equity strategist, Michael Wilson, doubled down on his reputation as one of Wall Street’s biggest bears, when having predicted much of the market turbulence in 2018 – which most of his peers missed – he again warned that with (1) valuations still too high and (2) earnings downside even greater than what has been priced, he expects some further deterioration in US economic data, and thinks “the S&P 500 will suffer a re-test of the lows we experienced in December, but on less negative momentum and better breadth.

Fast forward to this weekend, when in Morgan Stanley’s “Sunday Start” note, Wilson triples down on his warning, and urges clients to cash out of stocks ahead of an imminent retest of the 2018 lows.

We republish his note “Wait for the Retest” below, with highlights.

2019 has begun as strongly as 2018 ended badly. After the worst December since 1931, we’re on track for one of the best Januarys ever, with the MSCI All Country World Index up 4.5% and every region participating. Unfortunately, we don’t think this will hold up because the things we, and the market, have been worrying about for the past six months are now taking shape and turning out to be worse than we expected in some cases.

Specifically, economic growth is decelerating sharply and corporate earnings are being revised lower at a rate we haven’t seen since the global recession in 2015-16. Speaking of earnings, 4Q reporting season began last week. While it’s way too early to draw any conclusions, the EPS beat rate so far for the S&P 500 is only +0.75% – the lowest since 2016. As usual, financials have dominated the first week of reporting season, and this quarter the results are essentially coming in line with expectations which, in today’s world of managed earnings, amounts to a miss. Despite these weak results, financials were the best-performing sector on the week, both in the US and globally.

After a stretch of terrible performance in a stock or an index, positive price action on bad news can often be a strong buy signal, as it suggests the bad news is already in the price. In fact, it’s something I’ve been waiting for to get more constructive and blow the all-clear whistle for US equities more broadly. However, I can’t help but think that from this perspective, the strength in financials might be a bit of a trap. First, US financials were one of the worst performers last year, reaching their lowest valuations since 2011, a time when it wasn’t clear whether many of these companies would survive. In short, more was “in the price” for financials by the end of 2018 than perhaps any other sector. Second, earnings revisions have not yet troughed, in our view, and many companies have yet to report whose stocks are not pricing in bad results. Finally, the deterioration in the economic data is accelerating, thanks to the US government shutdown, ongoing trade uncertainty, unsuccessful Brexit negotiations and continued Fed balance sheet reduction.

Back in September, our call for a 2019 earnings recession in the US was out of consensus. But now that stocks have corrected and earnings are being revised lower, others are beginning to embrace our view and clients are starting to ask what the chances are that this turns into an economic recession. Our response has been that it doesn’t really matter to us because an earnings recession is the same thing to the market and it essentially got priced in this past December. I don’t know of a single prognosticator calling for an economic recession, but if that view gains traction, it’s likely to be a buying opportunity, not a time to sell.

The moment of recognition by the consensus of either bad or good news is typically the time for investors to go the other way. As an example, think about last year’s euphoria around tax cuts. The consensus got excessively bullish in January, precisely the wrong time. I think we could be setting up for the exact opposite situation this year as the negative news flow reaches a peak.

December’s sell-off was scary, with a large majority of stocks pricing in a recession and breaking support on very high volume. Some of this was due to poor Fed communication and tight year-end liquidity, but we also think the market was coming around to our view on earnings recession risk. In technical terms, this was a momentum low. Typically, the market needs to revisit that low on price but with less momentum to mark a definitive buying opportunity. We call that a retest, and it usually happens when the bad things the market has been worrying about become so glaring that they’re in every headline.

We think this time is no different and expect to see a retest as economic and earnings data deteriorate while concerns linger around the trade deadline and the Fed’s balance sheet reduction. Our advice is to lighten up here as the market rallies and wait for a retest of the December lows on what may seem like scary fundamental news, mixed in with more political theatre. In addition, we think the stocks that have been hit the hardest will prove to be the best buys as the rolling bear market turns into a rolling bottom. Think of it as a First-In, FirstOut (FIFO) process. Indeed, the recent strength in higher-beta stocks like financials, homebuilders and energy means they fit the bill.

We just think you’ll get a better chance to buy them lower, along with most other stocks.

Source: Morgan Stanley: “A Retest Of The December Lows Is Coming On Scary Fundamental News”

With Radical Muslims – Israel Hating Representatives in the House – the Possibilities are Frightening

Absolute Truth from the Word of God

Have you seen some of  the various videos about Rashida Tlaib since she was elected to our House of Representatives?

From timesofisrael.com

Wiesenthal Center slams Muslim lawmakers for anti-Semitic, anti-Israel remarks

The Jewish human rights group writes to Nancy Pelosi to complain about ‘extreme’ comments from newly elected Democrats Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar

The Simon Wiesenthal Center wrote to House speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday to complain about comments made by two freshman Muslim Congresswomen, labeling them “extreme anti-Israel and anti-Semitic statements.”

The Jewish human rights group singled out Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib for comments she made earlier in the month questioning the loyalty of lawmakers who were pushing a bill that would protect states that penalize Israel boycotters.

Tlaib, in a January 6 tweet, attacked a Senate bill initiated by Senator Marco Rubio and Senator James Risch, an Idaho Republican, that incorporates four Middle East-related bills that languished in…

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‘Fake news’ is okay if it’s about #RussiaGate: Top 7 fake ‘collusion’ stories the media pushed

BuzzFeed’s ‘bombshell’ claim last week that Donald Trump told ex-lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to congress is just the latest in a long line of ‘Russiagate’ stories that have later turned out to be false.

But BuzzFeed’s rubbished article is part of a phenomenon of what could be termed ‘acceptable fake news’ — fake news that gets a pass from the media because it serves a certain narrative. In this case, it furthers the ‘Russiagate’ narrative, which the mainstream media has been pushing breathlessly for two years. Lacking hard proof that Trump ‘colluded’ with Russia to win the 2016 election, they have clung to anything shred of fake evidence they can find.

Last week, one astute Twitter user compiled a list of a whopping 42 Russiagate stories which were billed as bombshells but which ended up needing to be retracted or corrected. Here are seven of the most scandalous instances.

I’ll start a thread here to count them (I had started one for a CounterPunch article more than a year ago, but gave up partly because the list just kept growing as I tied to write). So:

— Doug Johnson Hatlem (@djjohnso) January 19, 2019

1. MSNBC pushed line that WikiLeaks released ‘fake’ Clinton emails

When WikiLeaks published the emails belonging to Hillary Clinton aide John Podesta in 2016, MSNBC sought to actively encourage its viewers to believe the emails were doctored by Russia.

They based that spurious claim on the fact that a fake transcript of a Clinton speech to Goldman Sachs was drifting around Twitter. The fake transcript had not been published by WikiLeaks, however. Rather, it was the creation of a pro-Clinton troll who had intended to trick Trump supporters into believing it was real so he could later embarrass them for their gullibility. MSNBC reporters who used the fake Twitter transcript to tarnish WikiLeaks’ authentic documents never corrected their false claims.

2. WaPo claims Russia ‘hacked’ the Vermont power grid

In one of the most infamous cases of a botched Russia-related story, the Washington Post claimed that Russia had hacked the Vermont power grid. In its zeal to deliver bombshell proof that Russia was attempting to attack the US, the Post reporters didn’t even bother to contact the utility company which could have told them that there had been no hacking or penetration of the power grid at all The post admitted later in an editor’s note that the story was fake.

3. CNN fires three journalists over botched story

It’s not often journalists who publish fake Russia-related ‘bombshells’ face real consequences, but last June, three CNN journalists, including the executive editor of a shiny new ‘investigative’ branch had to resign following the retraction of a false story which claimed Congress was investigating a Russian investment fund “with ties” to Trump’s team. The story quoted a single anonymous source and CNN later admitted that its reporters failed to follow “some standard editorial procedures” before publishing it.

10. A CNN Russia/Trump story based on a single anonymous source had to be retracted and led to the resignation of three CNN journalists. https://t.co/Im5VIrx02U

— Doug Johnson Hatlem (@djjohnso) January 19, 2019

4. Oops? CNN gets date on email wrong, causes mass panic

In a rush to prove that the Trump campaign had advance knowledge of and access to hacked DNC emails published by WikiLeaks, CNN (again) got the date of an email wrong. CNN claimed “multiple” sources had told them the email about the documents had been sent to the Trump campaign on September 4, but in reality, it had been sent on September 14 — a day after the WikiLeaks documents were made public — not, as CNN had claimed, nine days before.

I still think the single worst humiliation was when CNN screamed EXCLUSIVE!!!: Trump Jr. had advanced access to the WikiLeaks archive, & MSNBC’s @KenDilanianNBC claimed he “independently confirmed” this, all based on a wrong email date – they still haven’t explained that. But….

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 19, 2019

5. ABC’s dud on Michael Flynn and ‘contact’ with Russians

Veteran ABC journalist Brian Ross was suspended after reporting last December that Trump had ordered former adviser Michael Flynn to contact Russian officials during the presidential campaign. It turned out, Trump had made this request of Flynn after he had won the election — not an unusual request for someone about to become the president of the US. Ross left ABC for good a while later after a career littered with embarrassing reporting blunders.

BREAK: ABC has suspended @BrianRoss for 4 weeks without pay for going to air with inaccurate story that said candidate Trump (instead of President-elect Trump) had told Flynn to contact the Russians pic.twitter.com/eanGzSGeYn

— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) December 2, 2017

6. Russian supersonic tech or…crickets?

MSNBC reported last year that Russia was likely responsible for a supersonic attack on US diplomats stationed in the Cuba embassy. One ‘expert’ appeared on the channel stating that possible Russian “sophisticated microwaves” targeted the diplomats, while a reporter claimed Russian guilt had been “backed up” by interceptions of Russian communications. Meanwhile, intelligence sources told the New Yorker that no such evidence existed. When the Associated Press later released an audio recording, two US scientists deciphered that the sounds the diplomats had heard were more than likely the sounds of a species of Caribbean crickets during mating season.

Remember when the US media credulously repeated the Reagan administration’s claims about Soviet “yellow rain” chemical warfare in Afghanistan & elsewhere? It turned out to be bee crap. Now Americans in Cuba are being attacked by crickets. https://t.co/jNraU3iGa6 by @ggreenwald

— Jon Schwarz (@schwarz) January 21, 2019

7. Guardian claims Manafort had ‘secret meetings’ with Assange

WikiLeaks raised more than $55,000 in donations to sue the Guardian after the British newspaper published a story alleging (without corroborated evidence) that Julian Assange had held secret meetings with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where Assange has been living since 2012. The story which WikiLeaks claims is completely false — and which has also been questioned by other journalists — was written by Luke Harding, a Guardian reporter who has been accused before of fabricating stories and who went AWOL after the report was received with serious skepticism.

7/ In less than 48 hours, we went from “MANAFORT SECRETLY MET WITH ASSANGE 3 TIMES IN THE EMBASSY” (Guardian) to “MAYBE THE RUSSIANS TRICKED THE GUARDIAN INTO PUBLISHING A FALSE STORY” (Politico’s CIA writer). Next: why do people not trust news outlets??? It’s so unfair!

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) November 28, 2018

Unfortunately, the regularity with which these Russiagate stories have turned out to fake still hasn’t raised any red flags with establishment journalists, who seem more eager to bolster a narrative than to uncover actual facts.

Source: ‘Fake news’ is okay if it’s about #RussiaGate: Top 7 fake ‘collusion’ stories the media pushed

Senate to Investigate Obama-Era Scandals, Democrats Furious

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham just announced that the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to be investigation Obama-era scandals, and Democrats are furious, as The Hill reports:

New tensions are flaring on the Senate Judiciary Committee over plans by newly minted Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to dig into Obama-era scandals.

Graham, a close ally of President Trump’s, has outlined several areas he wants to probe now that he has the Judiciary Committee gavel.

They include the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server and the FISA warrant applications targeting former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), asked about Graham’s plans, started laughing and compared it to the “thrilling days of yesteryear.”

“This is going to be like the History Channel it turns out. Instead of taking a look at the current issues, Lindsey Graham wants to go back and answer important questions about the Bermuda Triangle and Hillary Clinton,” Durbin told The Hill.

Durbin said he “concerned” about Graham’s plans but quipped that “you know there is that question about Jimmy Carter which he probably wants to ask.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), another member of the panel, said maybe Graham should “investigate Benghazi some more too”— an apparent reference to a years-long House probe that Democrats considered a political stunt.

Good for Lindsey Graham!

You know you’re on the right track when the Democrats get furious about what you plan to do.

Graham told reporters earlier this month that he would do a “deep dive into the FISA issue” as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. And he told Fox News last month that he believed the FBI “phoned in” the Clinton probe and were “in the tank” for the Democratic presidential candidate.

“There’s a certain unevenness here about how you investigate campaigns,” Graham said, adding that he believed there was “100 percent” a double standard between how the bureau handled the investigation into Clinton compared to investigating the Trump campaign.

Graham also said late last year that he would “totally” investigate the FBI’s handling of its investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and Clinton’s email. He added separately last month that he would “get to the bottom of” the FISA warrant applications against Page and that he wanted to have an “an in-depth discussion” with Comey.

Asked about his investigation plans and the criticism from Democrats, a spokeswoman for Graham pointed to a pair of tweets from the GOP senator on Friday where he doubled down.

Graham described as “stunning” a Fox News report that Justice Department official Bruce Ohr discussed his views on a controversial research opposition dossier on Trump with individuals now on special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

“These purported revelations will NOT get a pass in Senate Judiciary Committee,” Graham added.

Hopefully the Senate investigation is able to gain access to documents that the House was unable to obtain due to FBI stonewalling.

American politics will be forever tainted until the true story of the Obama administration’s nefarious misdeeds is told.

Let the games begin!

Source: Senate to Investigate Obama-Era Scandals, Democrats Furious