Daily Archives: September 15, 2019

September 15 Spiritual Safety

Scripture Reading: Matthew 17:15–23

Key Verse: Matthew 17:22

Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.”

Physical safety is on our minds today, especially after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, which changed our world forever. We are rightly concerned about homeland security, yet when it comes to protection, many people neglect the even more precious arena of soul and spirit. The fact is that there are spiritual terrorists on the loose. Jesus called them “wolves in sheep’s clothing” and issued some stern warnings to alert us.

These wolves are false teachers and false prophets who appear to be genuine spiritual guides but are instead full of schemes to advance their own agenda. They look good and they sound good, but they are consumed with lust and greed. None of this is apparent at first. Instead, they preach a fine gospel in a most compelling manner. Gradually, however, they begin to blend inaccuracy with fact. At this point, people seem to forget that truth mixed with error is no longer truth; instead, it has become error.

You can recognize these folks in a number of ways. Jesus said they would bear fruit that would eventually reveal their true character. At first you might detect that they are subtly questioning the Bible’s authority and its relevance for the twenty–first century. Then you will notice little is said about living a holy life or being careful to obey the whole counsel of God. Later they will begin to equate obedience to God with living the way they want you to live. False teachers desire a following more than they care for your welfare. Here we must be very discerning, so remember: “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16).

Dear Lord, protect me from false teachers and false prophets. Let me recognize them by their fruits. Keep me safe spiritually.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 270). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

September 15 The Cost of True Discipleship

Scripture Reading: Luke 14:25–35

Key Verse: Luke 14:27

Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

Jesus certainly knew how to drive away a crowd. When He spoke of wholehearted commitment and absolute surrender to His mission, the multitudes melted away. The only ones left were those who recognized that He spoke the words of life, uncompromising yet loving truth about what it means to really know Him.

Oswald Chambers wrote in My Utmost for His Highest about the kind of total absorption Christ wants us to have:

There is no such thing as a private life, or a place to hide in this world, for a man or woman who is intimately aware of and shares in the sufferings of Jesus Christ.

God divides the private life of His saints and makes it a highway for the world on one hand and for Himself on the other. No human being can stand that unless he is identified with Jesus Christ. We are not sanctified for ourselves. We are called into intimacy with the gospel, and things happen that appear to have nothing to do with us.

But God is getting us into fellowship with Himself. Let Him have His way. If you refuse, you will be of no value to God in His redemptive work in the world, but will be a hindrance and a stumbling block.

Jesus wants all of your devotion, not just a portion. You cannot have other priorities plus Jesus. He is the priority.

Precious Lord, adjust my priorities. Call me into greater intimacy with the gospel. Deepen my relationship and fellowship with You.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 270). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

September 15 An Anger-Ridden Spirit

Scripture reading: 1 Samuel 25:2–38

Key verse: Proverbs 29:8

Scoffers set a city aflame,

But wise men turn away wrath.

David was furious. He and his fatigued cadre of wilderness warriors had sought provisions from a rich businessman named Nabal, whose flock of sheep and herdsmen they had protected.

Nabal spurned David’s request. David’s response was quick and vivid. “Every man gird on his sword,” he ordered his fighting men (1 Sam. 25:13). Only the intervention of Nabal’s circumspect wife, Abigail, prevented David from murdering Nabal and his men.

You probably have never reached this level of hostility, but seething anger has no doubt caused you to consider irrational acts or erupt in speech you wish you could later retract. This illustration is marked with several takeaway principles.

First, it’s not the fact that we are angry that matters; it’s what you do with your anger that counts. Everybody gets angry. But does your anger remain as the impetus for future deeds and words? David’s rage distorted his reasoning and prompted him to vengeful behavior.

Second, you can count on God to assuage your anger. If you take your hostile feelings to Christ, He will always prompt you to turn away from anger.

Third, it is better to trust God for the outcome than to take matters into your hands. If another wrongs you, leave the results to the Lord. Forgive as Christ has forgiven you, and you won’t pay the price for an anger-ridden spirit.

Dear heavenly Father, help me trust in You rather than take matters into my own hands. Keep me from an anger-ridden spirit.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 270). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Sunday Talks: Kellyanne Conway -vs- Bill Hemmer… — The Last Refuge

Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway appears on Fox News Sunday for an interview.  Bill Hemmer is filling in for Chris Wallace.  The recent Iranian attacks on Saudi Arabia oil production is the top issue covered.

Additionally, Ms. Conway discusses John Bolton’s replacement as National Security Adviser, current WH positions on legislation to restrict firearm ownership, the ongoing negotiations with China on trade, the impeachment nonsense and the democrat 2020 race.

via Sunday Talks: Kellyanne Conway -vs- Bill Hemmer… — The Last Refuge

Why parents should be concerned about their kids’ ‘EQ,’ not just their IQ | Washington Post

Emotional intelligence involves our ability to identify our feelings and emotional responses, and to empathize. You can help foster that in your kids.

Source: Why parents should be concerned about their kids’ ‘EQ,’ not just their IQ

5 Things to Remember When Your Faith is Weak | Core Christianity

When life is hard and trials seem to flood over us, we can easily feel like we are useless— maybe even worse than useless. Temptation loves to strike us in these moments. Doubts about God’s grace knock us down when we feel weakest. It is in those moments, when our faith seems smallest, that we need to have patience with God himself. We need to remember why we were created and that God gives something to us that can never be taken away. When your faith feels small, remember these five things:

1. God created us for his delight and joy.

Pain in this life is inescapable for anyone who wants to live in this world. Difficulties will always come. Nevertheless, we must remember to trust in God, knowing these hard providences are never in vain. God created you because he delights in you. He wants you to know him, delight in him, and love him even in the midst of suffering. God offers you a life of meaning and purpose. All good things come from his hand. His goodness never changes, even when we do (James 1:16–18).

Remember what a wonderful thing life is and how God created each one of us for eternal communion with him. Falling and failing cannot overcome his purpose for us and will never prevent his goal of having us with him in eternity (Rom. 8:32). Reach out to God when you fail, and earnestly seek his face in prayer. He will never deny joy and delight to those who seek it in him. Pray that he will convert your soul again and again to his love each morning (Psalm 23).

2. God pursues us when we fall.

Too often we attempt to use God to merely get things from him, or worse, we give things to God to get what we want. Yet, God often doesn’t give us what we want, because it would not lead to our actual good. When God fails to give us what we want, that is usually when we fall into temptation—when we want something too much. We may think that we need something or someone to find happiness and so we are willing to cut corners to get it. We are looking to use God for our personal happiness. God sees what we are doing but, nevertheless, pursues us.

God had compassion on us in our foolishness and folly. Our heavenly Father demonstrated his mercy by sending Jesus Christ, his Son to die for our sins (John 3:16–17). He knew we would fall again and again. Even when we pursued our own glory and happiness apart from him, he still sent his Son! He pursued us like a good father running after a wayward child.

God reached down to us in our sin because he wants to be with us and he prizes us. Christ took on the likeness of men in humility, being obedient to his Father even to the point of death, so we would be reunited with him (Phil. 2:5–11). The cross is where we see God’s reckless pursuit when we fall. He won us to himself on that day.

3. God still loves us when we fail.

Even when we continually fail, God still loves us. The good work God began in declaring us righteous by faith will continue until his last Word finalizes that restoration and perfection, making us just like his Son (Rom. 5:5Gen. 1:26). We will never enter into eternal judgment. Nothing can or will separate us from his love—nothing (Rom. 8:38–39).

When Christ died on the cross, his sacrifice made it possible for you to enter the very presence of God (Heb. 4:16). When the Father looks at us, he sees his Son and the life Jesus lived on our behalf. There is no blemish or spot, no sin or failing that can change his vision of us. The very thing we need and want, that we look for in the arms of so many other idols—God’s unconditional love—is what we receive as a gift of grace.

Just as Christ is in heaven at the Father’s right hand, so our inheritance of love can never be taken away. The Spirit of God is given to us so we might know that nothing will separate us from that inheritance. We can now approach God as his own children. We can approach this loving Father who loves and cares for his children even when we fail. We have been reconciled to God by Jesus’ death. How much more then will we be saved by his life?

4. God gives us himself in the gospel.

We often think of salvation as the entirety of what we get from God. He loves to forgive, I love to sin—could there be a better deal?  Yet, when we think of grace in this way, we miss the whole point. We often think of salvation as one thing over there, quite apart from our personal happiness right here and now. “Salvation” is religion and dealing with God, and yet happiness is something radically different. Or so we think. We look for happiness everywhere else, believing God is not very interested in those sorts of things. We cannot find happiness and so we get mad at God in our circumstances. But this gets at everything all wrong.

Grace is not a something. Grace is a someone. When God saves us, it is because he gives us himself. When God saves us, he is saving us to find true happiness and love. But God can only do that by giving us himself—which is precisely what salvation is. His unconditional love which is imperishable is what we were made and saved for. He saves us for an eternity with himself—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He can give us no greater thing than himself and that is precisely what he does by giving us his Son. In so doing, he actually gives us the happiness we were made for. As Augustine famously wrote, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you” (Confessions, Book 1).

5. God provides us with a new delight in him.

If we truly understand that God gives us himself by creating us and by pursuing us when we fall and that he gives us himself again in Christ, we will see how God provides us with a new delight in him. Even when the flood waters of this world seem to drown us, God gives us himself again by the Spirit and speaks words which cannot be uttered, declaring God’s abiding love (Rom. 8:26–27). No chasm of sin or doubt is too deep for God to deliver us! We have a redeemer who delights in us so that we can delight in him. Christ would have us live life at his side and remember the suffering he went through to bring us to himself and the future hope of glory.

So when your faith feels small and weak, when you fall into temptation, when you doubt God’s goodness or grace, have patience with God. Remember that God gives us salvation and happiness, joy and delight because he has given us nothing less than himself— the triune God. He has given us eternal life. And so, remember, that when your faith is in this eternal God, it is never small or weak.

Source: 5 Things to Remember When Your Faith is Weak

Traders Are “Playing With Fire” | ZeroHedge News

Authored by Sven Henrich via NorthmanTrader.com,

This week’s renewed move above 3,000 on $SPX prompted victory laps by bulls as the multiple expansion program inspired by central bank intervention and trade optimism once again dominated the market action. Whether these victory laps were justified or were rather pre-mature remains to be seen. From my perch bulls are playing with fire as stock market capitalization to GDP once again exceeded 144% by Friday’s close making markets accident-prone to unexpected events.

The unexpected weekend event of one of Saudi Arabia’s key oil production facilities getting hit by a drone attack shutting down a significant portion of its oil production being a possible example.

Hope is that any production shutdown will be fixed in short order and whatever happens in the next few days in oil markets will not have a lasting impact. That may well be the case, but the event imposes a new element of political uncertainty onto a fragile global economic backdrop that can ill afford any accidents or mistakes.

Bulls are counting on central banks to fix everything again as in 2012 or in 2016. Continued efficacy of central bank intervention at this stage of the business cycle is indeed key to everything and an open question. So far central banks indeed look to retain control as equity prices once again appear well protected from any slowdowns in economic growth and earnings. I remain of the variant view that all these efforts are an expression of policy failure and that these desperate efforts will eventually fail miserably.

My perspective on the recent rally: Four main factors.

1. Central bank meetings.

Keeping it in its simplest form the rally can be viewed as a simple front run into the big central bank meeting in September. The ECB was expected to cut rates and re-introduce QE and hence $DAX rallied for 3 weeks straight right into resistance back testing its broken wedge:

And of course US stocks rallied right into the US Fed meeting scheduled for this coming week as well. Two big central banks offering intervention is a carrot hard to resist for bulls. And as most Fed meetings are viewed as positive triggers for market gains this rally was simply a front run on the expectation of easy money greatly aided by additional factors:

2, Bond reversal.

Bonds were historically overbought and we saw a technical reaction off of the most overbought weekly bond RSI readings in history:

Is it a long term bottom in yields or simply a corrective move before heading to lower yields eventually? We’ll get a sense of this when $TLT hits some basic technical retrace levels, the .382 fib being one of these potential pivot points. Note that fib now shows confluence with the 2016 high of $TLT, if it now proves support $TLT may bounce off of there and resume its ferocious uptrend. A key chart to be watched for sure.

Banks and small caps of course benefited from this reversal in bonds and put in fierce rallies as a result:

None have broken out of their respective ranges, but have clearly put in a chink in the bear argument, that of lack of broader market participation. The recent rotation out of growth momentum into value could be viewed as shift in the market structure, but one which could have lasting consequences as big cap stocks have dominated the landscape for so long and hence the short term relief may turn into long term pain as the market’s valuation equation is so closely intertwined with extreme market cap concentration just a few stocks.

But note on the $RUT chart a structural pattern on its underlying volatility index. It’s a key indicator to watch which brings me to the 2nd factor in this rally:

3. Volatility compression.

This coming week is September OpEx (quad witching) and also expiry of the monthly $VIX futures contract, and volatility compression into the monthly expiration has been a regular part of the market structure:

And this month has been no different, yet $VIX retains its pattern of higher lows in 2019 and could well be on the ascent again following this pattern of compression. The first test of this will come on Monday following the drone attack on the Saudi oil production facility.

The timing couldn’t be more interesting, after all it could be argues that the recent rally simply backtested the broken 2019 trend while compressing $VIX to the bottom range of its flag pattern:

Ironically this backtest has an eerie similarity to the fall of the 2018 when $NDX did precisely the same thing, backtesting its broken wedge then:

What was then a cause for victory laps turned into a valley of tears as this backtest marked the top for 2018.

Note also the repeat pattern of wedges that ultimately fail and this rally here is no different which bring us to the final factor behind the rally:

4. Trade Optimism.

We’ve seen a multitude of trade optimism inspired rallies this past year and a half, any sign of easing of tensions and markets rally. How worried are markets about trade tensions at this point? With $SPX near all time highs I submit not very, but they should, because there is likely not to be a trade deal of size or consequence. It is no accident that the idea of an interim trade deal was trial ballooned this week. Why? Because they know they can’t agree on the big issues:

And will an interim trade deal be enough to cause companies to re-invest? Doubtful. It may be enough to inspire a year end rally, but it will not be enough to address any of the major issues and likely disappoint many of the supporters for the trade war in the first place.

But because the rally was again headline driven and not substance based we again see a rising wedge and many open gaps below on the charts:

Not only do we see many open gaps note last week’s rally stopped precisely at the 3020 gap left open in July on the heels of the Trump tariff tweet.

Gap filled, and now many open gaps below. And I mean many open gaps:

September 2019. A Fed meeting on September 18 expected to cut rates and declaring little to no recession risk and a president calling for zero rates or lower and the re-launching of QE.

Irony is like the gin in the campari, the cream in the coffee Christoper Hitchens once opined and one can’t help but be impressed of the irony of history aligning here.

For not only was it a September 18 when the Fed was going through the same motions as it is now:

…but it was also a September when a certain someone called the Fed’s intervention efforts a form of manipulation intended on creating artificial numbers for short term gains:

Oh yes irony, the creme in the coffee.

But that’s not all: In 2007 the September rate cut produced a rally that lasted 3 weeks before it was all over. The irony for me? It was the early October time frame that I suggested as a potential point of technical combustion back in April with this chart:

Bottomline: From my perch bulls have been and continue to play with fire and can’t afford a single misstep.  The winds of intervention via central banks remain in bull’s favor as does the continued efficacy of “trade optimism” jawboning. As long as this remains the case rallies can continue to push the wall of valuation toward unprecedented territory, but resistance remains (measured move), multiples keep expanding and earnings growth continues to decline.

The housing market recently saw little incremental growth from recent record low yields. Will it now benefit from rising yields? Doubtful. Ex auto sales recent retail sales were flat year over year. As auto loan interest rates and credit card interest rates are at cycle highs monthly payments will increasingly impact consumer monthly budgets. A sudden jump in gas prices would likely not help matters.

At 144% market cap to GDP US markets remains priced to perfection in an increasingly imperfect world. No bull market without central bank intervention. That has been the game for 10 years. In 2001 and 2007 that was not enough. No bull market even with central bank intervention.

And hence the Fed’s action this week absolutely must produce new highs on markets this week. If they don’t Powell and crew will stare at a 2nd failed break above 3,000 following its 2nd rate cut action in this cycle. And then what are we looking at ? A double top? No bull market despite repeated central bank intervention? And now a Fed with even less ammunition than before and nothing to show for?

As I said: Playing with fire. Sustained new highs are imperative here or this all looks like a failed backtest on the charts and recent compressed volatility could come back with a vengeance and bull victory laps will turn into a valley of tears. But there’s always a silver lining in bad news. Will the new geopolitical uncertainty be a cause for the Fed to suddenly cut by 50bp? We will know more on Wednesday.

Source: Traders Are “Playing With Fire”

September 15, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

36:26 The statement I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you reflects the teaching of Dt 30:6–8—that the Lord will circumcise the hearts of his people so they may live in obedience. This radical new creation (Ezk 11:19; 18:31; Jr 31:31–34) was necessary to break the people’s bondage to the cycle of sin and retribution emphasized in Ezk 20. Regeneration is a secret act of God by which he imparts new spiritual life to dead hearts. Texts that address regeneration include Eph 2:5; Col 2:13; Jms 1:17–18; and 1Pt 1:3.[1]

36:26 new heart … new spirit. See 11:19 and note on 18:31. Instead of a heart of stone, unable to respond to God with love and obedience, God will provide a new heart and a new spirit. Note that these come as the result of divine initiative and not human attainment. Jeremiah describes the new covenant in the same way (Jer. 31:33; and Prov. 3:3; 7:3; Rom. 2:15, 29; 2 Cor. 3:3).[2]

36:26 a new heart to you, and a new spirit Develops the promise from Ezek 11:19–20. Yahweh’s cleansing entails a total transformation of heart and spirit. From a biblical perspective, the heart was the seat of the mind and will, not just emotion. Ezekiel seems to use heart and spirit in tandem to refer to a person’s whole being (compare 18:31).

I will remove the heart of stone See 11:19. The people’s arrogance and stubborn self-reliance had hardened their hearts, making them unable to respond to Yahweh as they should.[3]

36:26 — “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

God does not want remodeled hearts, but brand new ones. He doesn’t want a reform in character, but a new spirit that loves to do His will. He wants transformation, not mere accommodation.[4]

26. new heart—mind and will.

spirit—motive and principle of action.

stony heart—unimpressible in serious things; like the “stony ground” (Mt 13:5, 20), unfit for receiving the good seed so as to bring forth fruit.

heart of flesh—not “carnal” in opposition to “spiritual”; but impressible and docile, fit for receiving the good seed. In Ez 18:31 they are commanded, “Make you a new heart, and a new spirit.” Here God says, “A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” Thus the responsibility of man, and the sovereign grace of God, are shown to be coexistent. Man cannot make himself a new heart unless God gives it (Php 2:12, 13).[5]

[1] Rooker, M. F. (2017). Ezekiel. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 1300). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[2] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1191). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Eze 36:26). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Eze 36:26). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[5] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 610). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Salt and Light: Practical Applications for Today | Meet The Puritans

How can we be salt and light in our world, so that instead of being “trodden under foot” or “hidden under a bushel” (vv. 13, 15), we can resist evil and do good, and moving unbelievers to glorify God as our Father in heaven?  To answer that question, let’s listen to the wisdom of the English Puritans.

Practical Applications for Today

What have we learned about being the salt of the earth and the light of the world, as Christians and as Christ’s church on earth? Here are four concluding lessons:

  1. Know what your position is, what your resources are, and where your strength lies. You must be in Christ by faith, and under Him as Lord. The gospel must be “the power of God unto salvation” in your hearts and lives, as Christ works in you by His Word and Holy Spirit. In fact, the Word of God must be your rule of faith and life. And You must have grace to be gracious, and light to be light. Remember that your strength lies in God! “The God of Israel is He that giveth strength unto his people” (Ps. 68:35). Draw strength from Him by the continuous exercise of faith laboring in prayer: “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your hearts before him” (Ps. 62:8).
  2. Beware, lest your salt lose its savor and the light be hidden under a bushel. Great pressures are exerted by the world to entice, cow, or coerce us into a situation of compromise with the man-centered values and ways and ends of the world. Our power to influence the world for good lies in our resolve to be faithful to our God and our Savior at all costs. We must fear God and not men. We must obey God and not men. We must be willing to be hated of all men for Christ’s sake. Nor can we bring the light of God’s Word to bear on the life of the world if we retreat into a safe place of our own where we hide from the world and preach only to ourselves. The church is not to be a monastic cloister or an underground bunker. Whether we like it or not, Christ has set His city on a hill, to be seen of all men. He bids us lift up the gospel as a candle put on a candlestick, to give light to all the world. We cannot fulfill our mission if we hide ourselves away and talk only to ourselves.
  3. Let your vision for Christian life and witness be as high and holy, as loving and gracious, and as wide and open-handed as the gospel itself. We cannot call men to faith in Christ if we do not walk by faith in Him. We cannot call men to repentance if we are hardhearted and impenitent. We cannot commend the grace of God to others if we are ungracious and unforgiving in our dealings with them. We cannot proclaim the love of Christ for sinners if we are unloving toward one another. We cannot expect the world to be better than we are, or have higher standards than we have set for ourselves as Christians.
  4. The Word preached must become the Word practiced. Your faith in Christ and love for God must be translated into visible terms. Men must see your good works. These works must be done in obedience to God’s Word, out of faith in Him; and done to His glory, out of love for Him. Those who see them will see God’s grace at work in you and say, “Blessed be the God whom these Christians serve! He is great and good, and mighty to save!” Many will be gained to Christ by your godly conversation; others will at least be put to shame by their own evil deeds. “The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth” (Ps. 107:42).

More In This Series: 

  1. Salt and Light
  2. Like a Little Salt
  3. Let the Light Shine
  4. Working Lights
  5. Lights for God’s Glory

Joel Beeke (@JoelBeeke) is president and professor of Systematic Theology and Homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and one of the pastors of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation both in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has written, co-authored, and edited over 80 books.

Related Links:

Source: Salt and Light: Practical Applications for Today

“We Need A Back-Up Plan”: Middle-Class Hong Kongers Look To Emigrate As Protests Drag On, Rents Crash | ZeroHedge News

Hong Kong’s wealthy elite didn’t wait long before they started moving assets abroad after the anti-extradition bill protests morphed into a broader pro-democracy movement over the summer. Apparently, they could sense where the wind was blowing. Now, Hong Kong’s rank-and-file are starting to catch up.

According to Reuters, as the pro-democracy demonstrations stretch into the fall with no end in sight, more Hong Kongers are starting the lengthy process of relocating outside the special administrative region. Many are looking to join family in areas with large Chinese immigration populations – cities like Sydney, Australia and Vancouver, Canada.

The city government recorded what appears to be a surge in applications for migration. Since these types of data aren’t as readily available in HK as they are in the US, here’s how Reuters arrived at this conclusion: Requests for police-record printouts (which cost HK$225, or about $29) have jumped more than 50% in the month of August compared with last year. These records, according to Reuters, are only issued for visa applications or child adoptions. From what the news agency can tell, the number of adoptions has remained roughly constant. Last year, the city estimates that 7,600 citizens left HK for good.

Plus, attendance at emigration seminars, which help Hong Kongers learn and understand the complex process of leaving China, has soared. Via conversations with regular Hong Kongers, reporters got the sense that many who own property in the city feel that now might be the best time to capitalize on HK’s still frothy property market, sell, and move elsewhere. The protests have also started to have an impact on the city’s notoriously high rents, which have fallen in recent months along with property values.

On the other end, authorities in Malaysia, Australia and Taiwan have reported a spike in emigration inquiries and applications. Property agents also told Reuters that their phones are ringing ‘off the hook’.

One investor who spoke with Reuters after buying a house-and-land package in suburban Melbourne said her motives are simple: She wants to provide a stable home for herself and her child because, as she said, “there are many uncertainties in Hong Kong.”

“There are many uncertainties in Hong Kong,” one investor on a property agent’s late-August tour of suburban Melbourne said before, laying out A$600,000 ($410,000) for a house-and-land package.

“People like me in their 40s and 50s – we think about our child,” said the investor, who gave only her family name, Lee, because her employer forbids speaking to the media.

“We want a back-up home, a better place to live,” she added. “At least if something bad happens, they have a back-up plan, an exit plan.”

Reuters reported that Lee’s sentiments were echoed by 10 other families that agreed to be interviewed for the story.

Though there are no official data tracking immigration out of Hong Kong, at least one of Reuters sources believes the volume of people seeing to emigrate now is higher than it was back in 2014, when the last round of pro-Democracy protests roiled the city.

“The numbers are the highest in recent years, even higher than 2014,” said Peggy Lau, a sales director at Uni Immigration Consultancy in Hong Kong, where enquiries have surged sevenfold since protests began in June.

To be sure, there is no official data tracking emigration applications from Hong Kong, which has a population of about 7 million. Nor is there evidence of departures or cash outflows on the scale of those in the aftermath of the 1997 handover from Britain to China.

But there are firm signs of preparations.

Favored destinations such as Malaysia, which is relatively cheap, and Taiwan, which is culturally similar to Hong Kong, show sharp rises in interest.

At Johor, near Malaysia’s southern tip, property consultant Bruce Lee said Hong Kongers have poured into a project called Forest City, developed by China’s Country Garden Holdings Co Ltd, buying 800 units since June.

That compares with 200 units purchased between then and 2016, when sales began.

In Taiwan, the number of visas issued to Hong Kongers in June and July was 38% higher (at 884) than during the same period from a year ago, according to the island’s Ministry of the Interior National Immigration Agency. Given the sudden upswing in violence during the month of August, it’s likely that the number of applicants continued to climb. In Australia, authorities confirmed to Reuters a “significant” increase in visa applicants from Hong Kong, but declined to give specific information. In New Zealand, applications for residency visas from Hong Kong passport holders hit 34 in June and 44 in July, modestly higher than the average of 29.

Property agents report that they’re already beginning to shift their focus away from Hong Kong’s real estate market, as prices edge lower for a second straight month, and are beginning to focus on finding new homes for Hong Konger clients in Taiwan and elsewhere.

There are no signs yet of an effect on prices in destination markets, but demand is strong enough that agents and developers say they have begun actively courting Hong Kongers.

“We see there is an opportunity,” said Ken Dodds, sales director at Melbourne homebuilder Resimax, which hosted 43 Hong Kong investors last month, after previously focusing on buyers from Malaysia and Singapore.

“People are keen to look for a safe haven,” he said, adding that the investors bought or reserved a dozen properties, which he described as a “great” result.

And while destination markets haven’t seen much of an impact on prices, many suspect that a “safe haven” premium could soon arise in popular markets around Taiwan, and elsewhere.

Source: “We Need A Back-Up Plan”: Middle-Class Hong Kongers Look To Emigrate As Protests Drag On, Rents Crash

Medical Debt is Crushing Many Americans -The Organic Prepper

Health care expenses are a massive burden for many Americans, and for some, they can be financially devastating.

A new report from Kaiser Health News revealed some shocking examples of just how bad things can get for some people.

‘UVA Has Ruined Us’: Health System Sues Thousands Of Patients, Seizing Paychecks And Claiming Homes covers the cases of individuals who are dealing with serious financial hardship due to the University of Virginia Health System’s aggressive collection practices.

The article begins with the story of Heather Waldron, who required emergency surgery in 2017. She believed she had insurance at the time – it wasn’t until after her hospitalization that she learned a computer error involving the HealthCare.gov website caused a lapse in her coverage.

The UVA health system slapped Waldron with a lawsuit and a lien on her home to recoup the $164,000 in charges, leading to serious financial hardship for her family:

She is now on food stamps and talking to bankruptcy lawyers. A bank began foreclosure proceedings in August on the Blacksburg house she shared with her family. The home will be sold to pay off the mortgage.

She expects UVA to take whatever is left.

The $164,000 billed to Heather Waldron for intestinal surgery was more than twice what a commercial insurer would have paid for her care, according to benefits firm WellRithms, which analyzed bills for Kaiser Health News using cost reports UVA files with the government. Charges on her bill included $2,000 for a $20 feeding tube. (source)

Waldron is not alone. There are many stories similar to hers – and some are much worse.

The UVA Health System aggressively pursued patients for medical bills for years.

The Kaiser Health News (KHN) analysis found that during a six-year period ending in June 2018, “the UVA health system and its doctors filed 36,000 lawsuits against patients seeking a total of more than $106 million, seizing wages and bank accounts, putting liens on property and homes and forcing families into bankruptcy.”

People who have received treatment in the UVA system are facing a particularly formidable opponent. “UVA stands out for the scope of its collection efforts and how persistently it seeks payment, pursuing poor as well as middle-class patients for almost all they’re worth,” the KHN report explains. Court records, documents, and interviews with hospital officials and dozens of patients revealed that UVA has sued people for as much as $1 million and as little as $13.91.

The system has garnished thousands of paychecks, seized $22 million over six years in state tax refunds owed to people with outstanding bills, sued about 100 patients every year who were their own system’s employees, filed thousands of property liens, and hit some patients with legal fees and interest that added up to more than the original bill. UVA has the most restrictive eligibility guidelines for financial assistance of any hospital system in Virginia. “Savings of only $4,000 in a retirement account can disqualify a family from aid, even if its income is barely above the poverty level,” KHN reports.

UVA Health System spokesman Eric Swensen told KHN that UVA gave $322 million in financial assistance and charity care in fiscal 2018. But legal and finance experts said that’s not a reliable estimate:

The $322 million “merely indicates the amount they would have charged arbitrarily” before negotiated insurer discounts, said Ge Bai, an accounting and health policy associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.

The figure is “based on customary reporting standards used by hospitals across the U.S.,” Swensen said.

Insurers would have paid UVA only $88 million for that care, according to an accounting of unpaid bills presented in September 2018 to the UVA Health board. Even that unpaid figure did not come out of UVA’s purse since federal and state governments provided “funding earmarked to cover indigent care” for almost all of it — $83.7 million, according to Bai.

The real, “unfunded” cost of UVA indigent care: $4.3 million, or 1.3% of what it claims, according to the document.

“That’s nothing,” given how much money UVA makes, Bai said. “Nonprofit hospitals advance their charitable mission primarily through providing indigent care.” (source)

Perhaps the most surprising detail about the UVA Health System is that it is not a for-profit system and does not have shareholders making demands. It is funded with taxpayer and state money (also taxpayer money, of course):

Like other nonprofit hospitals, it pays no federal, state or local taxes on the presumption it offers charity care and other community benefits worth at least as much as those breaks. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, a pediatric neurologist, oversees its board.

UVA Medical Center, the flagship of UVA Health System, earned $554 million in profit over the six years ending in June 2018 and holds stocks, bonds and other investments worth $1 billion, according to financial statements. CEO Sutton-Wallace earns a salary of $750,000, with bonus incentives that could push her annual pay close to $1 million, according to a copy of her employment contract, obtained under public information law. (source)

Other hospitals in the US are suing patients too.

Recently, journalists and academics have exposed hospital collections practices in BaltimoreMemphis, New Mexico, North CarolinaNebraska, and Ohio. In 2014, NPR and ProPublica published stories about a hospital in Missouri that sued 6,000 patients over a four-year period.

NPR recently reported on collection practices at Mary Washington, another Virginia hospital. According to their report, Mary Washington sues so many patients that the court reserves a morning every month for its cases.

Since KHN and NPR exposed the collection practices at the two Virginia hospitals, both have stated they are going to change their ways.

“Gov. Ralph Northam and the president of the University of Virginia committed to changing UVA Health System’s collections practices a day after Kaiser Health News detailed its aggressive and widespread pursuit of former patients for unpaid medical bills,” KHN reported.

NPR added an Editor’s note to its June 25 article about Mary Washington that states:

The day after this story published, Mary Washington Healthcare announced it will suspend its practice of suing patients for unpaid bills, stating: “We are committed to a complete re-evaluation of our entire payment process to ensure that all patients know they have access to care.” When asked what they will do about any patient whose wages are currently being garnished, Eric Fletcher, Mary Washington’s senior vice president, said in a statement to NPR: “We are happy to try to work with that patient and the courts and their employer to try to eliminate the garnishment.” (source)

According to a study published in the American Medical Association’s journal, JAMA in June, an estimated 20% of US consumers had medical debt in collections in 2014. Medical debt has been increasing with direct patient billing, rising insurance deductibles, and more out-of-network care being delivered, even at in-network facilities.

For the JAMA study, researchers looked at Virginia court records from 2017 and found that in the state, 36% of hospitals sued patients and garnished their wages in 2017. They identified 20,054 warrant-in-debt lawsuits and 9232 garnishment cases. Garnishments were MORE common in non-profit hospitals (71%).

“If you’re a nonprofit hospital and you have this mission to serve your community, [lawsuits] should really be an absolute last resort,” says Jenifer Bosco, staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, told NPR:

Bosco explains that IRS rules require nonprofit hospitals to have financial assistance programs and prohibit them from taking “extraordinary collection actions” on unpaid medical bills without first attempting to determine patients’ eligibility for financial assistance.

Nonprofit hospitals, Bosco says, “have to provide some sort of financial help for lower-income people, but the federal rules don’t say how much help, and they don’t say how poor you have to be to qualify [or] if you have to be insured or uninsured.” (source)

“Hospitals were built — mostly by churches — to be a safe haven for people regardless of one’s race, creed or ability to pay. Hospitals have a nonprofit status — most of them — for a reason. They’re supposed to be community institutions,” Dr. Martin Makary, one of the JAMA study’s authors and a surgeon and researcher at Johns Hopkins Medicine, told NPR.

Unpaid hospital bills are a leading cause of personal debt and bankruptcy in the US.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health earlier this year, 66.5 percent of all bankruptcies in the US are tied to medical issues, either because of high costs for care or time out of work. An estimated 530,000 families turn to bankruptcy each year because of medical issues and bills, the researchers found.

The study, titled Medical Bankruptcy: Still Common Despite the Affordable Care Act, states, “Despite gains in coverage and access to care from the ACA, our findings suggest that it did not change the proportion of bankruptcies with medical causes.”

Prior to the ACA’s implementation in 2014, 65.5 percent of debtors reported medical reasons for filing bankruptcy. After the Act was implemented, 67.5 percent cited medical expenses as their reason. In 2007, an estimated 62.1 percent cited medical bills as contributors to their bankruptcy, and 40.3% cited income loss due to illness.

Other studies have found that at least 25 percent and as many as 50 percent of bankruptcies include significant medical debt, according to a recent report from The Balance.

One study found that the insured were a bit more likely to declare bankruptcy (3 percent) than the uninsured (1 percent), The Balance reports:

Most probably thought their insurance protected them from medical costs. They weren’t prepared to pay for unexpected deductible and coinsurance costs. Almost a third weren’t aware that a particular hospital or service wasn’t part of their plan. One-in-four found that the insurance denied their claims.

How did those with insurance wind up with so many bills? After high deductibles, co-insurance payments, and annual/lifetime limits, the insurance ran out. Other companies denied claims or just canceled the insurance. (source)

According to GoFundMe CEO Rob Solomon, one-third of the donations made through the site help people pay for medical care. Roughly 250,000 campaigns for assistance with medical bills and healthcare costs are set up on the crowdfunding site annually, raising total contributions of $650 million per year.

Millions of Americans are struggling to pay healthcare-related costs.

Even Americans who have insurance coverage are struggling to afford medical bills. As the research shows, health insurance won’t completely protect you. Many people have been bankrupted by high deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses. This is why you should try to have at least the amount of your deductible in savings.

Rising healthcare costs have serious implications for many Americans. According to a recent report from The Balance, many people cannot afford groceries, rent, and clothing due to medical costs. Many have burned through their savings, and others have taken on extra work to pay medical bills. Some cut back on or skip prescription medications and follow-up care, and many rack up credit card debt and use loans to pay for healthcare expenses.

Here are some more troubling facts from The Balance report:

In 2015, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that there were 1 million adults who declared medical bankruptcy. That is more than those going bankrupt for unpaid credit card debt or mortgage defaults. A 2013 Nerdwallet study found that almost 30 percent maxed out their credit cards, while 8 percent were forced into bankruptcy because the illness cost them their jobs.

Even more disturbing was that 78 percent of them had health insurance that failed to cover all their bills. Sixty percent were let down by private insurance, not Medicare or Medicaid. Ten million of them will incur medical costs they can’t pay off each year, thanks to high-deductible plans.

How did those with insurance wind up with so many bills? Before the ACA, many were sunk by annual and lifetime limits. Others were stuck when insurance companies denied claims or just canceled the policy once they got sick.

But even after Obamacare, many weren’t prepared for high deductibles and co-insurance payments. In 2017, 31 percent of the insured found it difficult to afford copays. That’s up from 24 percent in 2015, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study. Similarly, 43 percent found deductibles too high, compared to 34 percent in 2015. (source)

What are the causes of rising health care costs?

A recent report from The Balance answered this question. Here are some shocking statistics from that report:

In 2017, U.S. health care costs were $3.5 trillion. That makes health care one of the country’s largest industries. It equals 17.9 percent of gross domestic product. In comparison, health care cost $27.2 billion in 1960, just 5 percent of GDP. That translates to an annual health care cost of $10,739 per person in 2017 versus just $146 per person in 1960. Health care costs have risen faster than the average annual income. (source)

There are two causes of this massive increase – government policy and lifestyle changes, the report goes on to explain:

First, the United States relies on company-sponsored private health insurance. The government created programs like Medicare and Medicaid to help those without insurance. These programs spurred demand for health care services. That gave providers the ability to raise prices. A Princeton University study found that Americans use the same amount of health care as residents of other nations. They just pay more for them. For example, U.S. hospital prices are 60 percent higher than those in Europe. Government efforts to reform health care and cut costs raised them instead.

Second, chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease, have increased. They are responsible for 85 percent of health care costs. Almost half of all Americans have at least one of them. They are expensive and difficult to treat. As a result, the sickest 5 percent of the population consume 50 percent of total health care costs. The healthiest 50 percent only consume 3 percent of the nation’s health care costs. Most of these patients are Medicare patients. The U.S. medical profession does a heroic job of saving lives. But it comes at a cost. Medicare spending for patients in the last year of life is six times greater than the average. Care for these patients costs one-fourth of the Medicare budget. In their last six months of life, these patients go to the doctor’s office 29 times on average. In their last month of life, half go to the emergency room. One-third wind up in the intensive care unit. One fifth undergo surgery. (source)

The best way to avoid medical debt is by taking care of yourself.

Accidents are often not preventable, and neither are some health conditions.

But many of the health issues that lead to massive medical debt are preventable, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

A 2014 study published in The Lancet revealed that

…chronic diseases are the main causes of poor health, disability, and death, and account for most of health-care expenditures. The chronic disease burden in the USA largely results from a short list of risk factors—including tobacco use, poor diet and physical inactivity (both strongly associated with obesity), excessive alcohol consumption, uncontrolled high blood pressure, and hyperlipidaemia—that can be effectively addressed for individuals and populations. (source)

If you’d like to improve your health (and hopefully reduce your risk of accruing medical debt), here are some resources that may help.

45 Ways To Add More Physical Activity to Your Day

Quit Smoking program

Bug Out Boot Camp

99 Healthy No-Cook Meals and Snacks

Source: Medical Debt is Crushing Many Americans. Is the Health Care System on the Verge of Collapse?

Chick-fil-A meets goal of antibiotic-free chicken at all restaurants | WND

(FOX NEWS) Chick-fil-A announced this week that it has made good on a goal it set in 2014 – to no longer serve meat that has been raised with antibiotics.

The No Antibiotics Ever (NAE) initiative was started in 2014 with the fast-food chain aiming to offer only antibiotic-free chickens in all of its roughly 2,400 restaurants by the end of 2019.

Though the restaurant stated in its blog, The Chicken Wire, the brand has been serving only NAE chicken at Chick-fil-A restaurants since May, the packaging will not reflect the change until the beginning of October.

Source: Chick-fil-A meets goal of antibiotic-free chicken at all restaurants

How to respond to an atheist who complains about slavery in the Bible


Lets take a closer look at a puzzle Lets take a closer look at a puzzle

I often hear atheists going on and on about how the Bible has this evil and that evil. Their favorite one seems to be slavery. Here are three things I say to atheists when they push this objection.

The Bible and slavery

First, you should explain to them what the Bible actually says about slavery. And then tell them about the person responsible for stopping slavery in the UK: a devout evangelical named William Wilberforce.

Here’s an article that works.


We should compare Hebrew debt-servanthood (many translations render this “slavery”) more fairly to apprentice-like positions to pay off debts — much like the indentured servitude during America’s founding when people worked for approximately 7 years to pay off the debt for their passage to the New World. Then they became free.

In most cases, servanthood was more like a…

View original post 563 more words

Has The Narrative Been All Priced In? | ZeroHedge News

Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

The Bullish Narrative

This past week was built for the “bulls” as just about every item on their “wish list.” was fulfilled. From a “trade deal” to more “QE,” what more could you want?

Trade Deal Near?

Concerning the ongoing “trade war,” our prediction that Trump would begin to back peddle on negotiations to get a “deal done” before the election came to pass.

Trump has once again delayed tariffs to allow the Chinese more time to position. China, smartly, is using the opportunity to buy soy and pork products (which they desperately need due to a virus which wiped out 30% of their pig population) to restock before the next meeting.

This is a not so insignificant point.

China is out for “China’s” best interest and will not acquiesce to any deal which derails their long-term plans. In the short-term, they may “play the game” to get what they need as a country, but in the long-run, they will protect their own interests. As we noted previously:

“If China does indeed increase U.S. imports, the stronger dollar will increase the costs of imports into China from the U.S., which negatively impacts their economy. The relationship between the currency exchange rate and U.S. Treasuries is shown below.”

“China uses U.S. Treasury bonds to “sanitize” trading operations. When the currency exchange rate is not favorable, China can adjust treasuries holdings to restore balance.”

However, don’t mistake China’s move as “caving” into Trump. Such is hardly the case.

While Beijing will allow Chinese businesses to purchase a “certain amount of farm products such as soybeans and pork” from the US, China has also cut a deal for soy meal from Argentina.

“China will allow the import of soymeal livestock feed from Argentina for the first time under a deal announced by Buenos Aires on Tuesday, an agreement that will link the world’s top exporter of the feed with the top global consumer.”

Hmmm…that sounds very familiar:

Trade is a zero-sum game. There is only a finite amount of supply of products and services in the world. If the cost of U.S. products and services is too high, China sources demand out to other countries which drain the supply available for U.S. consumers. As imbalances shift, prices rise, increasing costs to U.S. consumers.” – Game Of Thrones 05-10-19

As Hua Changchun, an economist at Guotai Junan Securities, a brokerage in the PRC, said:

“Beijing’s latest ‘gesture’ has increased the prospects for a narrow trade deal with the US. But it’s a small deal. It means that there would be no escalation of tariffs as China has agreed to make more purchases. It could provide a certain level of comfort to US farmers and give Trump something to brag about.”

China knows how to play this game very well, and they know that Trump needs a way “out” of the mess he has gotten himself into.

Not surprisingly, as Trump said on Thursday, while he prefers a broad deal, he left open the possibility of a more limited deal to start, which is also code for:

“Let’s get a deal on the easy stuff, call it a win, and go home.”

Hmm, this is what we wrote earlier this year:

“Importantly, we have noted that Trump would eventually ‘cave’ into the pressure from the impact of the ‘trade war’ he started.”

For Trump, he can spin a limited deal as a “win” saying “China is caving to his tariffs” and that he “will continue working to get the rest of the deal done.” He will then quietly move on to another fight, which is the upcoming election, and never mention China again. His base will quickly forget the “trade war” ever existed.

Kind of like that “Denuclearization deal” with North Korea.

ECB Goes All In

If the potential for a “trade deal” wasn’t enough to spur equities, then surely the ECB throwing in the monetary policy stimulus towel would do the trick. Last week, the ECB went “all in” by:

  • Cutting already negative deposit rates for the first time since 2016 to stimulate the sagging European economy, by 10bps to -0.50%.
  • Restarted QE by €20 billion per month and it will be open-ended
  • The ECB dropped calendar-based forward guidance and replaced it with inflation-linked guidance, noting that key ECB interest rates will “remain at their present or lower levels until it has seen the inflation outlook robustly converge to a level sufficiently close to, but below, 2% within its projection horizon.”
  • The ECB eased TLTRO terms with banks whose eligible net lending exceeds a benchmark.
  • Additionally, the maturity of the operations will be extended from two to three years.
  • Finally, the ECB will introduce a two-tier system for reserve remuneration in which part of banks’ holdings of excess liquidity will be exempt from the negative deposit facility rate, in an attempt to mitigate the adverse impact to banks. 

(h/t Zerohedge)

We had previously stated the Central Banks are going to act to bail out systemically important banks which are on the brink of failure – namely, Deutsche Bank ($DB)

Not surprisingly, this was the same conclusion Bloomberg finally arrived at:

“Deutsche Bank AG will benefit the most by far from the European Central Bank’s new tiered deposit rate. Germany’s largest lender stands to save roughly 200 million euros ($222 million) in annual interest paymentsthanks to a new rule that exempts a big chunk of the money it holds at the ECB from the negative rate the central bank charges on deposits. That’s equivalent to 10% of the pretax profit the analysts expect the bank to report in 2020, compared with an average of just 2.5% for the EU banks included in the analysis.”

Duetsche Bank was heard singing:

“Thank you for the bailout,

On your way out,

Mr. Draghi.” 

But it isn’t just the ECB easy monetary policy to support global markets and economies. According to Charlie Bilello, everyone is doing it:

Importantly, QE and negative rates are destroying the banking system globally. These programs DO NOT stimulate economic growth or an incentive for productive investment. Rather, these programs only succeed in inflating asset prices, increasing demand for risky debt, and acting as a “wealth transfer” system from the middle-class to the wealthy.

The reality is that these interventions have been “required” just to hold the current construct up. As we will discuss in a moment, the Federal Reserve tried to normalize rates, but was only able to make minimal progress before the “wheels came off the cart.”  

The question is, what’s going to happen when a recession finally occurs?

That is a question for later.

The Economy Shows Signs Of Life

Adding fuel to the “bullish” case, the economy did show signs of improvement.

Before you get all excited, all this indicator denotes is that economic data is “less bad” than it was previously. The chart below is our RIA Economic Output Composite Index which is a comprehensive measure of the U.S. economy from both the manufacturing and service side of the ledger.

While the data may have surprised recently, the overall economy is not accelerating; it just isn’t declining as quickly. With the Citi index already much improved, the temporary run of “less bad” data will likely reverse in the next couple of months.

Then, there is the last “hold out.”

The Fed Is On Deck

All the bulls need now is the Fed to “cut” rates at the meeting next week.

It is expected the Fed will cut rates by 0.25% at the next meeting. However, what will be important is how they couch their views going forward.

The problem for the Fed is two fold.

  1. If they come out too “dovish,” they will appear to be “caving” to Trump’s demands which would threaten their “independence.” 
  2. If they come out too “hawkish,” they run the risk of disappointing the markets, and already weaker consumer confidence. 

The Fed is in really a tough spot. Given they have already cut rates once this year, they have already depleted what little bit of “ammunition” they have to combat the next recessionary downturn in the economy.

Furthermore, core CPI jumped over the past month, which will lead the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation which is the Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) index.

With PCE forecasted to rise over the next several months, this potentially puts the Fed in a box. Interestingly,  when Fed began “hiking rates” in 2015, over concerns of rising inflationary pressures, PCE is now higher than back then. This is going to make it difficult to support the case for “zero interest rates.” 

With markets hovering at all-time highs, the unemployment rate near record lows, and inflationary pressures near their target levels, there is little reason to be cutting rates now. 

For the bulls, the good news is, they will cut rates anyway.

Is It All Priced In?

With all the bullish news this past week, it is certainly not surprising that market rallied sharply.

Oh, wait….it was only a 0.6% gain?

“But, it’s a lot higher for the month. “

Yes, the market has rallied 3.4% for the month so far, but since the May highs, the market has risen by only 1.9%. Given the volatility and angst of the summer months, bonds have provided a better return.

However, with all the “bullish” news one could hope for, it certainly seems like the markets would/should have responded better.

Or, maybe its the fact that the markets have been front running this news ever since the December lows.  From December 24th to today, the market has already risen markedly. 

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen 5427 points
  • The S&P 500 has risen 656 points.
  • The Nasdaq Composite has surged 1983.79 points.

At the same time as markets were surging on hopes of a trade deal, Fed rate cuts, and more ECB QE, corporate profits have declined. (Note: Profits have fallen on a pre-tax basis and are barely stable at 2012 levels despite a full 5% decline in effective tax rate)

Earnings expectations have fallen.

Valuations have increased.

There is a decent argument to be made that whatever positive benefit may come from all these actions have already been priced into equities currently. 

As we noted last week, the “bulls” regained the narrative when the S&P 500 broke above 2945. Unfortunately, they just haven’t been able to do much with it so far.

Currently, the risk/reward is not in the bulls favor short term. With the market back to very overbought conditions, the upside to the top of the bullish trend channel is about 1.9%. The downside risk is about 5.5%.

What about that bloodbath in bond yields?

Yes, we finally got the much-needed sell off in bonds. This is something we have been expecting now for several weeks as discussed with our RIAPRO subscribers:

  • Like GLD, Bond prices have surged on Trump ramping up the trade war.
  • The overbought condition is rather extreme, so be patient and wait for a correction back to the breakout level to add holdings.
  • Prices could pullback to the $135-137 range which would be a better entry point.
  • Long-Term Positioning: Bullish

That correction came last week with bonds taking it on the chin as shown in the chart below.

However, let’s keep it in perspective for a moment. That little red square, if you can see it, is the rate jump this past week. 

I will note that previous overbought conditions (bonds are inverse from stocks) have led to decent reversals in rates, which have repeatedly been outstanding buying opportunities for bond investors.

This is because higher rates negatively impact economic growth. It is also worth noting that collapsing bond prices tends to lead the S&P 500 as it suggests that something “just broke” in the market.

While there are certainly many arguments supporting the “bullish case” for equities at the moment, the reality is that much of the “news” has already been priced in. 

More importantly, if that is indeed the case, then where will the next leg of support for the bull market going to come from?

It is hard to suggest there will be a aggressive reversal of economic growth, profit margins, and confidence considering the current length of the economic cycle.

I will reiterate from last week:

“This is why, despite the bullish overtone, we continue to hold an overweight position in cash (see 8-Reasons), have taken steps to improve the credit-quality in our bond portfolios, and shifted our equity portfolios to more defensive positioning. 

We did modestly add to our equity holdings with the breakout on Thursday from a trading perspective. However, we still maintain an overall defensive bias which continues to allow us to navigate market uncertainty until a better risk/reward opportunity presents itself. “

That remains the case this week as well.

Source: Has The Narrative Been All Priced In?

Sunday’s Hymn: My Hope is Built — Rebecca Writes



My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest upon unchanging grace;
In ev’ry rough and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, his covenant, his blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When I shall launch in worlds unseen,
O may I then be found in him;
Dressed in his righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

—Ed­ward Mote


Other hymns, worship songs, or quotes for this Sunday:

via Sunday’s Hymn: My Hope is Built — Rebecca Writes

The Suicide Rate In The U.S. Has Hit The Highest Level In 50 Years, And There Is Concern That It Will Go Much Higher | The Economic Collapse Blog

Despite the fact that more money is being spent on suicide prevention efforts than ever before in our history, the suicide rate in the United States continues to rise dramatically.  As you will see below, one new study has discovered that our suicide rate actually increased by 41 percent between 1999 and 2016.  Even though we have the highest standard of living that any generation of Americans has ever enjoyed, we are an exceedingly unhappy nation and we are killing ourselves in unprecedented numbers.  This shouldn’t be happening, but unfortunately the forces that have taken over our culture have convinced multitudes of Americans that their lives are not worth living any longer.  In a culture where truth has been abandoned, it is easy for lies to run rampant, and it takes a great deal of deception to get someone to willingly choose to embrace suicide.  No matter what you are going through right now, there is always a way to turn things around, and we all have been given lives worth living.

Sadly, the suicide rate in this country has continued to escalate year after year.  According to the Los Angeles Times, 2017 is “the latest year for which reliable statistics are available”, and in that year the U.S. suicide rate hit a 50 year high…

Whether they are densely populated or deeply rural, few communities in the United States have escaped a shocking increase in suicides over the last two decades. From 1999 to 2016, suicide claimed the lives of 453,577 adults between the ages of 25 and 64 — enough to fill more than 1,000 jumbo jets.

Suicides reached a 50-year peak in 2017, the latest year for which reliable statistics are available.

These numbers come from a new study that was just released, and it claims that our suicide rate actually increased by 41 percent between 1999 and 2016…

The researchers evaluated national suicide data collected between 1999 and 2016, then created a county-by-county estimation of suicide rates among all adults between the ages of 25-64. In that time period, suicide rates rose an astonishing 41%; from a median of 15 suicides per 100,000 county residents in 1999 to 21.2 in the last three years of analysis.

And suicide is also a rapidly growing problem among our teens and young adults as well.

In fact, suicide is now the second leading cause of death for Americans from age 10 to age 24.

Everyone goes through very low times, and for many people it can seem like those low times will never end.  But when I was at my lowest points many years ago, I always had faith that better days were coming, even though at the time I couldn’t even imagine the absolutely amazing things that were ahead for me.  The point that I am trying to make is that we simply do not know what the future will hold.  No matter how dark things may seem to you right now, a miracle could literally be right around the corner.

This new study that just came out also discovered that suicide rates are significantly higher in rural parts of the country

It was noted that suicide rates were at their highest in less-populous counties and in areas where people have lower incomes and diminished access to resources. For example, between 2014 and 2016, there were 17.6 suicides per 100,000 people in large metropolitan counties, noticeably lower than the 22 suicides per 100,000 people recorded in rural counties.

The quality of life in rural areas is so much nicer in so many ways, but there is also a lot of isolation and poverty as well.  Humans are meant to be social creatures, and when there aren’t a lot of people around that can feed feelings of depression.  And if someone is deeply struggling with poverty, it can be difficult to see a way out in an area with few economic opportunities.  According to Brookings Institution research analyst Carol Graham, many Americans living in such areas “see no optimism for the future”

“These are the places that used to be thriving rural places, near enough to cities and manufacturing hubs,” she said. “They’re places that accord with a stereotypical picture of stable blue-collar existence — and a quite nice existence — for whites in the heartland.”

With the collapse of extractive industries such as coal mining, the departure of manufacturing jobs, and a strapped agricultural economy, “these communities just got flipped on their head,” Graham observed. “And the people in those places became unhinged. You’d have a sense of places where everything has left. And among those who stay, you see no optimism for the future.”

If this is happening now, while economic conditions are still relatively stable, what is going to happen to the suicide rate during the next major U.S. economic downturn?

There is never, ever, ever a good reason for someone to commit suicide, but unfortunately during the next recession we are likely to see the suicide rate rise substantially higher.

Another factor that is resulting in a higher rate of suicide in rural areas is a lack of health insurance

Last but certainly not least, a lack of health insurance coverage is significantly associated with rising suicide rates in rural US counties.

Specifically, the researchers observed that the more people in a county who didn’t have health insurance coverage, the higher that county’s suicide rate was.

When you are buried in medical bills that you know that you will never be able to pay, it can be exceedingly difficult to envision brighter days ahead.  Our healthcare system is deeply, deeply broken, and this is something that I wrote about on Tuesday.

It is such a tragedy when people choose to end their lives because of financial circumstances, because financial circumstances are always temporary.

No matter how bad things are in your life right now, there is always a way to turn them around.  The best days of your life could still be ahead for you, but you have got to be willing to believe that this is true.

Life is an absolutely incredible gift, and don’t let anyone ever convince you that you should end it.

It has been said that life is like a coin.  You can spend it any way that you want, but you can only spend it once.  I would encourage you to spend it loving others greatly, enjoying each day to the fullest, and doing something that truly matters.

Source: The Suicide Rate In The U.S. Has Hit The Highest Level In 50 Years…

The top 15 Democratic presidential candidates, ranked | Washington Post

The conventional wisdom coming out of Thursday night’s third Democratic presidential debate is that it probably didn’t change much. And that may be true. With the exception of Sen. Kamala D. Harris’s (D-Calif.) bump following the first debate, we haven’t really seen big shifts after the candidates clash in these forums.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t mean anything. And on Thursday, we learned plenty about many of the top candidates. Given that, we decided this would be a good time to dust off our regular look at the top 15 Democratic presidential hopefuls.

As usual, this is in order of likelihood to win the nomination.

Others running: Bill de Blasio, Tim Ryan, Joe Sestak, Marianne Williamson

15. Sen. Michael F. Bennet (Colo.): He has none of the four qualifying polls to make the next debate, nor has he passed the donor threshold. The Coloradan may not be long for this race. (Previous ranking: 11)

14. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock: See above and substitute “Montanan” for “Coloradan.” (Previous ranking: 13)

13. Former congressman John Delaney (Md.): Ditto for the Marylander, but he does have his own money to keep throwing at the race (specifically, Iowa), as long as he doesn’t start viewing it as good money after bad. (Previous ranking: 15)

12. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii): Gabbard is the big question mark ahead of the next debate. Unlike the above candidates, she has two qualifying polls and has met the donor threshold. That means she needs two more qualifying polls at 2 percent or more before Oct. 1. She claimed she had a third this week (the Washington Post-ABC News poll), but the Democratic National Committee said she didn’t hit 2 percent among the right group of respondents. (Previous ranking: N/A)

11. Tom Steyer: He’ll be a new face at the next debate, after meeting the poll requirement. And he’s done it by basically inundating the early states with ads paid for by his personal fortune. Impeachment didn’t come up at Thursday’s debate; it will in October, thanks to Steyer. (Previous ranking: N/A)

10. Andrew Yang: The businessman makes his debut on this list not because his debate was especially good (his $120,000 giveaway was a gimmick and legally problematic), but because he has a real, unique message on artificial intelligence and automation that could be compelling if he can deliver it — and because he’ll apparently have that opportunity at future debates. That’s not something the previous candidates can necessarily say, as you can see above. (Previous ranking: N/A)

9. Former congressman Beto O’Rourke (Tex.): O’Rourke has now staked his candidacy on being the gun-control candidate, going further than anyone in the race (and almost any Democrat in recent history) by supporting mandatory assault weapon buybacks. Republicans have said for decades that Democrats are coming for people’s guns, and now O’Rourke is confirming it — at least in his case. We’ll see if it can arrest his almost continuous backward momentum. (Previous ranking: 9)

8. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.): As a Minnesotan, I feel that Klobuchar’s jokes have set back my home state. Mostly, though, I don’t think she has a constituency yet. Even the pragmatic progressive lane is kind of full between Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg and Julián Castro. Maybe she can pick up support if Joe Biden implodes, but that’s a big if combined with a big maybe. (Previous ranking: 7)

7. Former housing and urban development secretary Julián Castro: Castro’s botched attack on Biden obscures his thus-far-solid debate performances. But even those performances haven’t gotten him much. Perhaps that’s why he tried too hard on Thursday. He’s clearly still playing to win, but at some point you have to wonder if he starts to worry about alienating front-runners for whom he might be an attractive running mate. (Previous ranking: 8)

6. South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg: A third solid, studied debate performance. The hurdle with him remains whether people are intrigued by the young upstart or actually see him as a president. And you could certainly argue that he hasn’t produced as much momentum as his fundraising suggests he should. (Previous ranking: 6)

5. Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.): This was the best debate to date for him. Engaging, personal, funny (“First of all, I want to say no. Actually, I want to translate that into Spanish: No.”). He’s still at 1 or 2 percent in virtually every poll, though, and given that, you wonder whether he’s raising the kinds of funds he needs to truly compete. We’ll find out in a few weeks. (Previous ranking: 4)

4. Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.): She’s lost any semblance of her initial first-debate bump, and her performance Thursday was occasionally somewhat strange — particularly when she was laughing hard at her own lines. She’s an upside candidate, but she’s not realizing that upside yet. (Previous ranking: 2)

3. Former vice president Joe Biden: Thursday was his first decent debate, meriting a bump up on this list. But he still was clearing his own rather low bar. And some of his answers — particularly on race and when he said, “Nobody should be in jail for a nonviolent crime” (uh, what about Bernie Madoff?) — suggest he hasn’t fully righted the ship. (Previous ranking: 5)

2. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.): He got pushback on Medicare-for-all on Thursday unlike what we’ve seen before, with plenty of opponents arguing against getting rid of private insurance. Buttigieg in particular crystallized the opposing case: “We take a version of Medicare, we make it available for the American people, and if we’re right, as progressives, that that public alternative is better, then the American people will figure that out for themselves. I trust the American people to make the right choice for them. Why don’t you?” There are reasons it’s impractical to keep private insurance alongside a public option, but at least we’re having that debate now. Its resolution is hugely important for Sanders. (Previous ranking: 3)

1. Sen Elizabeth Warren (Mass.): She was something of a bystander in Thursday’s debate, but her opening statement about her Oklahoma upbringing and early professional life was on point, and we have yet to see anybody really be able to knock her down (even on Medicare-for-all, which she supports). Given her sustained upward momentum, the status quo is good for her. She’s not tops in the polls, but she’s the odds-on favorite. (Previous ranking: 1)

Source: The top 15 Democratic presidential candidates, ranked

The War on Yemen and Pompeo’s Shredded Credibility | The American Conservative

A major Saudi oil installation was attacked on Saturday that reportedly forced a halt to roughly half of all Saudi oil production. The Houthis claimed credit for launching the attack with a fleet of drones:

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for drone strikes on two Saudi Aramco oil facilities early Saturday, according to a statement by a Houthi spokesman.

Reuters and The Wall Street Journal report that about half of the country’s oil production has been disrupted, or 5 million barrels a day.

An attack on Saudi infrastructure and installations would be consistent with how the Houthis have been fighting Saudi Arabia for the last several years. The Houthi use of drones to carry out targeted attacks on Saudi coalition forces has become increasingly sophisticated and effective, and if this really was their attack it was by far the most significant one they have carried out. If they aren’t the ones responsible, why would they take responsibility when they know that they will provoke more attacks from the Saudi coalition by doing so? The war on Yemen had already proven to be a disaster for Saudi security, and this attack provides one more reason why the Saudi government and its allies should halt their war and pull out of Yemen entirely.

True to form, Pompeo rushed to deny that the attack came from Yemen and instead sought to blame Iran directly for that and for other previous attacks that have also come from Yemen:

Needless to say, Iran denies the charge, and the Iraqi government also says that no attacks were launched from their territory. If the attack didn’t come directly from Iran, and it didn’t come from Iraq, where else could it have come from if not Yemen? Pompeo is the one who is making assertions without providing any evidence. The “nearly 100 attacks” he refers to are Houthi attacks from Yemen, but he wants us to believe that this one is the exception. Admitting that this attack came from Yemen would be admitting that our ongoing support for the war on Yemen is a disastrous policy, and Pompeo isn’t going to do that.

Pompeo is only too happy to hold Iran responsible for anything that goes wrong in the region. He is usually eager to conflate the Houthis and Iran when it suits his purposes, and he tries to fault Iran for whatever happens in Yemen. When the Houthis attack Saudi Arabia for their own reasons because they are fighting a war with the Saudis, Pompeo simply blames Iran. When the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition causes mass starvation and the world’s largest humanitarian crisis in Yemen, Pompeo blames Iran. He finds Iran guilty for things it hasn’t done, and he condemns them for things that Iran’s rivals actually do. He would probably blame Iran for cancer and the bubonic plague if he thought anyone would believe him, but of course no one believe him about anything. Pompeo has shredded his credibility and that of the United States with his constant, shameless lying about Iran, and the president is also a notorious liar, so we have no reason to trust them when they level serious accusations like this against another government.

Source: The War on Yemen and Pompeo’s Shredded Credibility

Iran rejects US’ claim it attacked Saudi oil facilities and declares its readiness for war (Video) | RT

Iran has rebuffed US accusations of launching a drone attacks that cut Saudi Arabia’s oil output in half. A senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander, meanwhile, has warned Washington that Tehran is ready for war. READ MORE: https://on.rt.com/a1rt RT LIVE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFAcqaNzNSc Check out http://rt.com Subscribe to RT!