Sunday, February 19, 2017

Observations and Sample of Trades (UMPQ, GMTA, GJO, DLRPRI, MRK): 2/19/17/ Trump The Classless/Trump as the Victim of a Fake News Conspiracy

Trump as the Victim of a Massive Fake News Conspiracy

The Kremlin ordered "its" media to cut back on their fawning Donald Trump coverage. I can see why Donald admires Putin so much.  

Donald tweeted the other day demanding an apology from the failing New York Times "and others".

"Leaking, and even illegal classified leaking, has been a big problem in Washington for years. Failing New York Times (and others) must apologize"

I agree. The NYT and Washington Post need to apologize for reporting about (1) pre-election communications between members of Trump campaign and Russian intelligence officers and (2) for reporting that Flynn had mislead the VP and others about his Russian contacts and was considered a security risk by the intelligence agencies.

Let me now apologize to Donald on my hands and knees for every true statement that I have made about him. I do not want to end up in jail like the CNN guy on SNL who is behind bars and in his underwear at the press conferences. (at 5:09: Sean Spicer Press Conference (Melissa McCarthy) - SNL - YouTube)

Another tweet published at the same time came up with a cogent explanation why the Lying Press was reporting false stories. It is a conspiracy to improve their circulation numbers. 

"FAKE NEWS media, which makes up stories and "sources" is far more effective than the discredited Democrats--but they are fading fast!"

All of the recent news stories about Donald's Russia issues originate from Democrats who are just trying to explain why they lost the election so badly.

"The Democrats had to come up with a story as to why they lost the election, and so badly (306), so they made up a story-RUSSIA. Fake news!"

DT Tweets 2/16/17: Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

If I understand Donald's "thinking" correctly, the Democrats conspired with the intelligence community and the Lying Free Press to conjure up this Flynn story and prior contacts between Russia and Trump's campaign which Trump has repeatedly denied ever took place. 

The Failing Lying Press cooperated in this Fake News conspiracy apparently to slow down their rapid movement into bankruptcy by temporarily increasing their revenues with the Fake News.

I am having some difficulty in following Donald's train of "thought" so feel free to correct me if my characterization of those tweets is in error. Perhaps, when I am deep into dementia, somewhere short of being totally brain dead, it will become clear to me. 

As far as I can tell listening to Donald, the only trustworthy news sources are Breitbart, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, the Fox and Friends show, and Alex Jones' Infowars which claims that Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that resulted in 20 children being murdered was staged in an effort to take away our guns and to increase the government's tyrannical power. 

Why Won’t Donald Trump Denounce Sandy Hook Deniers? - The New Yorker

Donald Trump and the “Amazing” Alex Jones - The New Yorker

USA Today: Fact check: President Trump's press conference falsehoods

Trump is upset that the intelligence agencies concluded that Russia interfered in the election on his behalf.  Intelligence community says Putin ordered campaign to influence election, 'denigrate' Clinton His remedy is to shoot the messenger.  


Trump's Thursday News Conference: A Total Lack of Class But That is Not News

In his news conference last Thursday, Donald continued ranting and raving against the Lying Press. 

Some will be comforted by Donald's assurance that he was not ranting and raving:

"Tomorrow, they will say, "Donald Trump rants and raves at the press." I'm not ranting and raving. I'm just telling you. You know, you're dishonest people. But -- but I'm not ranting and raving. I love this. I'm having a good time doing it.
But tomorrow, the headlines are going to be, "Donald Trump rants and raves." I'm not ranting and raving."
Maybe he is ranting and raving about not ranting and raving. 

The True Believers would not characterize the following as rants but the whole truth, and nothing but the Truth: 

“Many of our nation's reporters will not tell you the truth.”

 “The press honestly is out of control.” 

“The level of dishonesty is out of control.”

These kind of repetitive statements are key features in Trump's authoritarian and demagogic dialogue with his 60+M followers who believe those statements and view Trump as the real Truth Teller.  

Trump was in one of his best reality creation modes since he become President. Sure things become garbled here and there:

"And, you know, you can talk all you want about Russia, which was all a, you know, fake news, fabricated deal, to try and make up for the loss of the Democrats and the press plays right into it. In fact, I saw a couple of the people that were supposedly involved with all of this -- that they know nothing about it; they weren't in Russia; they never made a phone call to Russia; they never received a phone call.
It's all fake news. It's all fake news. The nice thing is, I see it starting to turn, where people are now looking at the illegal -- I think it's very important -- the illegal, giving out classified information. It was -- and let me just tell you - it was given out like so much.  ...  it's an illegal process and the press should be ashamed of themselves. But more importantly, the people that gave out the information to the press should be ashamed of themselves, really ashamed."
If he was my Dad, I would have to take away his keys. 

He is taking the position that all of the recent disclosures about Russian and his campaign are fabrications by the failing New York Times and other papers: 

"TRUMP: The failing New York Times wrote a big, long front-page story yesterday. And it was very much discredited, as you know. It was — it’s a joke. And the people mentioned in the story, I notice they were on television today saying they never even spoke to Russia. They weren’t even a part, really — I mean, they were such a minor part. They — I hadn’t spoken to them. . . . And I can tell you, speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don’t have any deals in Russia. . . Russia is fake news. Russia — this is fake news put out by the media. The real news is the fact that people, probably from the Obama administration because they’re there, because we have our new people going in place, right now. . . . I have nothing to do with Russia. I told you, I have no deals there, I have no anything. "

Transcript And Analysis: Trump Press Conference On Labor Secretary, Russia, 'Fake News' | WBUR News

The Curious World of Donald Trump’s Private Russian Connections - The American Interest

Donald Trump delivers a series of raw and personal attacks on the media in a news conference for the ages - The Washington Post

I wonder what Donald means when he says the leaks were real but the news was fake

Think about that for a few seconds, which should be all the mind chewing necessary. 

The only way to reconcile those two thoughts, assuming one is still a rational and sane human being with at least five functioning brain cells, is that real facts were given to the Lying Press and then the Lying Press created Fake Facts/Fake News from those Real Leaks. 

If the media was only reporting what was told to them by sources in the intelligence community, then the leaks were real and the news was true, and the later is what got our Dear Leader into a lather. 

Trump needs to release his tax returns so we can see for ourselves whether he has any business interests relating to Russia. He is not going to do so since it would be damaging to him.  

The White House petition calling on Donald to release his tax returns now has over 1 million signatures.

Petition the White House on the Issues that Matter to You | We the People: Your Voice in Our Government  

As I have been saying for over a decade now, and maybe you have to live in the heartland to see it clearly, the greatest danger to our freedoms and democracy comes from within the U.S. 

I do wonder whether Russia is sitting on incriminating evidence involving Trump. If Russia wants to cause more chaos in the U.S., it might be more beneficial to leak whatever they may have through WikiLeaks, their favorite route, rather than trying to blackmail Trump. The U.S. is ripe for chaos now and creating chaos for no sane reason is Trump's specialty.  

Russian dossier on Trump gaining credibility with law enforcement - CBS News

Is the FBI taking the Russian dossier about Trump more seriously? -


Just Another Example of Donald's Lack of Class 

During the news conference, Our Dear Leader was asked the following question by an orthodox Jewish reporter Jake Turx: 

“what we are concerned about and what we haven’t really heard being addressed is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it. There’s been a report out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to——”

Trump cut him off saying "not a fair question"  and then said "sit down". 

Trump then volunteered again that he was least racist person that ever existed. 

The reporter tried to say something and Trump told him to be "quiet, quiet, quiet".  Sit down and shut your mouth. 

A Jewish Reporter Got to Ask Trump a Question. It Didn’t Go Well. - The New York Times

'Telephone terrorism' rattles 48 Jewish centers -

In 2016, people have read anti-Semitic tweets 10 billion times, many from Trump supporters - The Washington Post

Surge in Anti-Semitism Alarming American Jewish Leaders |

ADL Audit: Anti-Semitic Assaults Rise Dramatically Across the Country in 2015

The CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League Jonathan Greenblatt wrote an article asking why Trump had such difficulty in rejecting racism and hatred: President Trump thinks asking him to condemn anti-Semitism is ‘insulting.’ Why? - The Washington Post 

In the same news conference, Trump asked a black reporter April Ryan to arrange a news conference with the Black Congressional Caucus since they are her friends. Trump asks black reporter to schedule meeting with Congressional Black Caucus-ABC News Just another example of Trump's total lack of class.

Cummings' office denies canceling meeting with Trump - POLITICOCummings: Trump made up a story about me -


Flynn's FBI Interview

Flynn in FBI interview denied discussing sanctions with Russian ambassador - The Washington Post

If the CBS sources are correct, and Flynn is not charged with lying to the FBI, then Jeff Sessions may at least have to explain his decision. CBS News reported last Friday that the Justice Department will probably not charge Flynn due to a "lack of evidence".
Michael Flynn unlikely to face charges for lying to FBI, sources say - CBS News

I have zero confidence that Comey and Sessions will do their jobs when it conflicts with the interests of the GOP. And, the republicans in Congress will nothing that would sink the Trump Presidency.  He is furthering their reactionary agenda. 


New Immigration EO Coming: 

Trump did state in his news conference that a new immigration EO will be signed next week. 

The government's brief filed with the Ninth Circuit  on the 2/16 also mentions that a new EO will be coming. Supplemental Brief for Defendants on En Banc Reconsideration The brief indicates to me that the government has some good lawyers now working to provide legal cover for Trump. However, I found sections of the brief to be farcical (e.g. starting at page 16).

I am assuming that some of the bad lawyering that led to defects in the first EO will be corrected, and the new EO will likely survive court challenges. 

The EO, for example, will disguise the Christian exception much better and will exclude legal U.S. residents from its scope. 

More discussion will likely be made on the alleged security threat issue. 

Given the wide authority granted to the President to implement travel bans for security purposes, this is one area where a President can abuse his power fairly easily with bad motives. 

One of those motives practiced by other demagogues throughout history is to whip up fear and anger. A minority group will be the focus. The demagogue then takes decisive and strong actions in dealing with the threats created or exaggerated for the purpose of acquiring and maintaining power. 

This group believes Islam threatens America: ‘It’s a spiritual battle of good and evil.’ - The Washington Post

So a temporary travel ban will survive legal challenges. Later, "extreme vetting" measures will be adopted that will in practice bar entry to Muslims from several nations including all Muslim Syrian refugees. This will mostly be out-of-sight, out-of-mind. 

Maybe Trump needed to engage first in extreme vetting of his cabinet nominees and his former national security advisor.  


Lügenpresse: The Free Press As Public Enemy # 1   

McCain: Dictators 'get started by suppressing free press' -

At least there is one republican willing to point out the obvious.  The Democrat politicians are far too passive about Trump's authoritarian tendencies.

The GOP is not a conservative party but a deeply reactionary one that now IMO threatens core American values. For the first time in our history, a far right demagogue has been elected President and is receiving succor from virtually all republican politicians. As demagogue's go, I can not name one who lies anywhere near as much as Trump. True has indeed become false and false is now true under Trump.  It is already a done deal. 

No modern American President  has made a statement like this one: 


"The FAKE NEWS media (failing , , , , ) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!"

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) | Twitter

Lock Them Up, Lock Them Up, Lock Them Up, Lock Them Up, Lock Them Up  

White House chief of staff says take Trump seriously when he calls press "the enemy" - CBS News

I was reminded of Joseph Goebbels after reading that Trump remark. The Nazi propaganda minister was fond of calling Jews "enemy of the people".  Goebbels on the Jews (1941)

The GOP's 5+  decade effort, starting with Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, to demonize the free press and and to undermine confidence in voting results and voting rights has been an unqualified success.   

Donald Trump is the natural and inevitable result of those efforts. For about 1/2 of the voting population, true is now false and false is true. 

It is not just talk either. The Trump Administration will abuse its power in efforts to silence criticism. A recent example was reported by the WSJ. Jared Kushner Delivers Critique of CNN to Time Warner Executive - WSJ 

Time Warner and AT & T need the government's approval to merge. The clear message sent to the Time Warner executives and its Board is to change their coverage of Trump or pay the consequences. (For those without WSJ subscriptions: WSJ: Jared Kushner Rips CNN in Time Warner Meeting

This is only the beginning. Trump and his supporters will not change. 

The U.S. will lose a considerable amount of goodwill and prestige in the world over the next four years. I view that as inevitable now.     

"The indifference about the distinction between truth and lies is the precondition of fascism. When truth perishes so does freedom"-Simon Schama


Stock Jocks-Nothing But Blue Skies

All of the foregoing is irrelevant to the Stock Jocks who only see blue skies ahead. 

Trump's clear authoritarian tendencies and unwillingness to learn information that is not contained in a picture or a map will not be regarded as relevant until his many shortcomings as President have a discernible negative impact on the economy. The odds of negative consequences flowing from this bizarre character are currently given a zero probability by the Stock Jocks IMO. 

When it comes to intelligence briefings, 'the president likes maps' | MSNBC

Turmoil at the National Security Council, From the Top Down - The New York Times

Perhaps, someone needs to give him some crayons and a national security coloring book.  I sort of like coloring things myself. However, I would use my crayons to color parts of a real 6 page briefing memo rather than one dumbed down for Our Dear Leader. 

This is what Trump said about a Russian ship patrolling in international waters near the U.S.: 

" If we could get along with Russia, that's a positive thing. We have a very talented man, Rex Tillerson, who's going to be meeting with them shortly and I told him. I said "I know politically it's probably not good for me." The greatest thing I could do is shoot that ship that's 30 miles off shore right out of the waterEveryone in this country's going to say "oh, it's so great." That's not great. That's not great. I would love to be able to get along with Russia."  
Just a bizarre and incredible statement. If Obama or Clinton had made that statement, the millions of Trump Trolls would have lit the internet on fire with their poisonous venom.

Russia spy ship patrolling off U.S. East Coast - CBS News 

It is not difficult to imagine his conversations with world leaders such as the Australian P.M. and Mexico's President. 

I am continuing to move slowly down a long ramp leading to my bunker. 

1. Intermediate Term Bond Ladder Strategy- Underweighted

A. Bought 2 AT & T 2.45% Senior Unsecured Bonds Maturing on 6/30/2020

FINRA Page: Bond Detail

Moody's RatingBaa1 (08/29/2016)
Standard & Poor's RatingBBB+ (04/23/2015)
Fitch RatingA- (10/24/2016)

YTM at Total Cost (99.743) = 2.53%

I now own 4 of this 2020 AT&T bond.  

B. Bought 2 JPM 2.4% Senior Unsecured Maturing on 6/7/21

FINRA Page: Bond Detail

Moody's RatingA3 (06/02/2016)
Standard & Poor's RatingA- (06/01/2016)
Fitch RatingA+ (12/13/2016)

YTM at Total Cost (99.433) = 2.539%

C. Bought 2 Southern 2.375% Senior Unsecured Bonds Maturing on 6/1/20:

Finra Page: Bond Detail
Moody's RatingBaa1 (05/13/2016)
Standard & Poor's RatingBBB+ (05/15/2015)
Fitch RatingBBB+ (05/12/2016)

YTM Total Cost (99.954) = 2.389%

2. Continued Paring Stock Allocation:

A. Eliminated Umpqua (UMPQ): Sold 50+ at  $19.09+

Profit Snapshot: $194.75 

The 50 share lot was purchased on 11/8/16 and was discussed here. South Gent's Comment Blog # 4

The current 2017 E.P.S. estimate is $1.24. UMPQ Analyst Estimates The forward P/E based on a $19.09 share price and that consensus estimate is 15.39 which I view as being high for this bank.

I am also becoming more concerned that investors have made to many optimistic assumptions about regional bank earnings. 

There are already rumblings that Dodd-Frank will remain largely intact. Trump’s Top Legislative Goals Are Bogged Down - Barron's ("Even opponents of the law concede that chances are slim that it will be abolished, because this is a measure that would require 60 votes in the Senate.")

Yield spreads have not been expanding this year when you look at short term rates compared to the five and ten year treasury yields. Deposit costs on shorter term CDs are starting to reprice at higher levels. A .25% increase in the FF rate is likely on or before the July 2017 FED meeting. Countdown to FOMC - CME Group The odds as of last Friday were at 73.8% of at least one .25% move up and at 30.7% for more than one .25% increase. A .25% increase on or before the June meeting is currently at 67.4%.

3 Month Treasury Bill 

11/8/16 .43%
1/3/17  .53%
2/17/17 .53%

5 Year Treasury Note:

11/8/16 1.34%
1/3/17   1.94%
2/17/17 1.92%

10 Year Treasury Note

11/6/16 1.88%
1/3/17 2.45%
2/17/17 2.42%

2016 Daily Treasury Yield Curve Rates

2017 Daily Treasury Yield Curve Rates

I am not sure what regional bank investors are seeing this year in terms of net interest margin expansion. It is possible that a rise in the FF rate will cause yield compression which is what happened in 2004 when the Fed started to increase that rate from a 1% starting point. The first .25 increase was in June 2004:

I compressed this 10 year treasury chart to start in June 2004 when the 10 year was near 4.9%:

In June 2005, one year into the tightening cycle, the ten year yield was near 3.9%. The Federal Funds rate was then at 3% with the 3 month Libor near 3.4%. CPI had risen from 1.6% in 2002 to 3.4% in 2005.

10-Year Treasury Constant Maturity Rate-St. Louis Fed
Effective Federal Funds Rate-St. Louis Fed
3-Month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR)-St. Louis Fed
Consumer Price Index, 1913- | Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

I have bought and sold this stock several times as part of my regional bank strategy.

The lowest prices paid were $12.05 and $11.53 as a LT: Item # 2 Bought 50 UMPQ at $12.05 (10/22/12 Post); Item # 6 Bought 30 UMPQ as LT at $11.53 (5/4/11 Post)

Total UMPQ Trading Gains = $534.88


B. Sold 113+ Merck at $65.28

Profit Snapshot: +$741.19

The primary reasons for this sell were profit taking and the ongoing reduction in my stock allocation. 

One secondary reason is that Merck had yet another drug failure: Merck Announces EPOCH Study of Verubecestat for the Treatment of People with Mild to Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease to Stop for Lack of Efficacy 

Another secondary reason is that Merck's stock has been in a funk since hitting $95 in 2001: MRK Stock Chart 

Merck and Pfizer were amazing stocks starting in the early 1980s into the late 1990s. Peak prices were hit almost two decades ago. 

My 2016 MRK trading gain was smaller: 

2016 MRK 50 Shares +$183.54
3. Continued Paring Recently Bought Potentially Long Duration Exchange Traded Bonds

This pare leaves with 90 GMTA shares. 

A. Sold 20 GMTA at $25.17 (used commission free trade)

Quote: GATX Corp. 5.625% Senior Notes due 2066 (GMTA)

GATX is an Exchange Traded baby bond with a $25 par value. It is traded like a stock on the stock exchange.

I sold on the quarterly ex-interest date which was 2/13/17. The shares remained unchanged from the 2/12 close which simply means that they gained back the entire interest payment.  
Using FIFO accounting, this 20 share was the highest cost lot left in my Schwab account: 

Profit Snapshot  +$44.25

I also own 40 shares in a Roth IRA account bought at $21.76: 

I am inclined to keep those shares due to the tax free nature of the interest payments. The yield at $21.76 is about 6.45%. I discussed purchasing that lot here.

GMTA is a senior unsecured exchange trade bond that has a 5.62% coupon applied to a $25 par value.  Unless redeemed early at the issuer's option, the bond will mature on 5/30/2066. The issuer may elect to redeem at par value plus accrued interest on or after 5/30/21. 

GATX's senior unsecured bonds are rated at Baa2 and BBB. I am not currently concerned about credit risk. The potentially long duration creates an abundance of interest rate risk. The fact that the bond bull market started in 1982 is also a matter of concern. There is such an animal as a long term bond bear market and the last one lasted about 32 years. 

I consequently have a hair trigger on these long duration bonds where interest rate risk is asymmetric in favor of the issuer. 

If interest rates decline and it is advantageous for the issuer to redeem at par, then the bond's owners will have to accept a lower yield for a similar quality bond or invest the proceeds in lower quality bonds to achieve the same yield. 

On the other hand, if interest rates rise significantly, and the value of the bond goes down in price, the issuer will allow the owner to keep the bond. Heads the issuer wins, tails the issuer wins. 

The only interest rate protection in a ETB for its owners is the issuer generally can not redeem the bond within five years after the IPO.    

4. Short Term Bond/CD Ladder Basket Ladder Strategy

A. Bought 2 Great Southern .75% (monthly interest) CDs Maturing on 11/22/17

I am continuing to build a maturity cluster between 11/1/17-1/31/18 since I anticipate a .25% rise in the FF rate at the FED's December 2017 meeting.

B. Bought 2 Sterling Bank .75% CDs Maturing 9/11/17

C. Bought 1 Southern California Edison 1.25% First Mortgage Bond Maturing on 11/17/17

FINRA Page: Bond Detail (Prospectus Linked at Finra Page)

YTM at Total Cost = 1.081%

The prospectus contains a standard make whole provision that uses the comparable treasury rate plus 7.5 basis points.

This bond was issued in November 2014.

The issuer could redeem now, but would not be able to refinance another 3 year mortgage bond with a lower coupon and similar maturity. On the day of my purchase, a 3 year treasury was trading at a 1.54% yield.

The last preferred stock or bond sold by Southern California was last March, and that was the 5.45% fix to floating rate equity preferred stock SCEPRK.  I still own a similar security, SCEPRJ but may pare the position.

5. Continued Paring Recently Bought and Potentially Long Duration Equity Preferred Stocks:

A. Sold 50 DLRPRI at $26.67-$26.72

Stock Quote: Digital Realty Trust Inc. 6.35% Cumulative Preferred Series I Stock (DLR.PI) 

Digital Realty Announces Closing Of 6.350% Series I Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Stock Offering


I got an an odd fill on a limit order at $26.67:

Profit Snapshot: +$86.23

DLRPRI Trading History in this Account:

I discussed the purchase of that lot 

I had previously sold 100 shares in that account at $26.375, realizing a $181.55 gain:

I still own 50 shares of DLRPRI in a Roth IRA account:

I discussed that purchase here: 1. Bought 50 DLRPRI at $24.59-ROTH IRA: Update For Bond And Preferred Stock Basket Strategy As Of 9/10/15 - South Gent | Seeking Alpha

I also still own 50 shares of DLRPRF in the Schwab taxable account. 

I discussed that purchase here

DLRPRI Prospectus 

Digital Realty Trust Inc. 6.625% Cumulative Preferred Series F Stock (DLR.PF) closed last Friday at $25.49 which translates into a 6.5% yield at that price. DLRPRI has a lower coupon at 6.35% and closed at $26.32 last Friday. Both stocks are equity preferred stocks that pay cumulative dividends and have $25 par values. 

There is a reason for this anomaly. What is it?   

6. Sold 50 GJO at $21.52

 Profit Snapshot: +$81.06

GJO is a Synthetic Floater that pays a .5% spread over the 3 month treasury bill with a 7.5% maximum coupon on a $25 par value. The underlying bond in the GJO Trust Certificate is a WMT senior unsecured bond maturing on 2/15/30. Prospectus The Trust Certificates matures on the same day.

The current monthly interest payments are not going to help me with my nursing home expenses:

2/15/17 = $1.59
I have a history of trading this security in small lots.

Snapshots of round-trip synthetic floater trades are included in my Trust Certificate Gateway Post.

Stocks, Bonds & Politics: Trust Certificates: New Gateway Post

My net realized gains in this Exchange Traded Bond niche category now stands at $29,646.11, all in small lots. 

An exchange trade bond is traded on the stock exchange and trades flat which simply means that whoever owns the security on the ex-interest date receives the entire payment and does not have to pay accrued interest to the seller at the time of purchase.  

I may use the proceeds to buy another 50 shares of GJT, but not unless I can hit an ask price lower than $18. I currently own 150 shares. I last discussed that security here: Item # 2 Added 50 GJT at $17.55: Update For Exchange Traded Bonds And Preferred Stocks Basket Strategy As Of 4/14/16 - South Gent | Seeking Alpha

GJT is another synthetic floater that makes monthly interest payments at a .8% spread over the U.S. 3 month T Bill rate on a $25 par value. This security has a maximum coupon of 8%. The underlying security is an Allstate senior unsecured bond maturing on 4/1/36. With GJT, I have a .35% greater spread to the 3 month Treasury Bill and a lower price. The credit quality is not that much different, with Allstate senior debt currently rated at A- by S & P and A3 by Moody's. The owner of these synthetic ETB's bear all of the credit risk of the underlying bonds. 

Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor but simply an individual investor who has been managing my own money since I was a teenager. In this post, I am acting solely as a financial journalist focusing on my own investments. The information contained in this post is not intended to be a complete description or summary of all available data relevant to making an investment decision. Instead, I am merely expressing some of the reasons underlying the purchase or sell of securities. Nothing in this post is intended to constitute investment or legal advice or a recommendation to buy or to sell. All investors need to perform their own due diligence before making any financial decision which requires at a minimum reading original source material available at the SEC and elsewhere. A failure to perform due diligence only increases what I call "error creep". Stocks, Bonds & Politics: ERROR CREEP and the INVESTING PROCESS Each investor needs to assess a potential investment taking into account their personal risk tolerances, goals and situational risks. I can only make that kind of assessment for myself and family members


  1. KO (owned): Coca Cola increased its quarterly dividend last week by 5.7%. The new penny rate will be 37 cents up from 35 cents.

    The annual dividend rate is now at $1.48:

    There is a major problem with KO's dividend increases over the past several years. The dividend payout ratio to free cash flow and earnings is moving higher each year.

    As noted in this article, the payout ratio to free cash flow was 92.5% last year and long term debt has increased by 40.17%. I do not view those numbers as healthy.

    Dividends per share pretty much consume GAAP net income per share.

    I am on the fence about what to do with my shares. I see at best a stagnant share price and dividend growth running into a brick wall. I don't think that a dividend supported in part by a return of capital is a good idea for KO or any other regular "C" corporation.

    I currently own 266 shares at a total cost per share of $25.41.

    The dividend increase bumps my yield based on that constant average cost number to 5.82%.

  2. Kraft abandoned its takeover attempt for Unilever which will likely cause UL shares to retrace last Friday's gain:


    Nixon did say in private conversation that the press was his enemy. He was referring to the press as his enemy rather than the enemy of the American people.

    One of those private conversations was with Henry Kissinger and was captured on the oval office tape recorder.

    He did say in public once that he had no respect for the press.

    All of that is understandable in that the press exposed his criminal conduct that led to his impeachment and resignation before the Senate trial on the article of impeachment.

  3. Have you ever wanted to be a room with someone for 1/2 hour? I could tell so much. Is he really superficial? Or really crafty with his use of unclear language, running of the mouth on his selected motifs that send messages? I saw a lot about Obama in a split second when a campaign interview ended, he thought camera wasn't on him, and this expression came over his face that completely contradicted his "I'm just an innocent newbie." Whatever one wanted to do with that information, it was information you couldn't get from hours of campaign speeches.

    There will be townhalls during the break. There's a request for voters to go to their townhalls and let the representatives know what's important to them. Be it ACH, or an independent investigation into Russia, or those tax returns... I'm speaking to the chorus in my own little district, but it's something you might be able to contribute. Response feels ridiculous because the problem is overwhelming (it's even worldwide with the French votes, etc.) But if we all keep doing, it can make a difference. Each move is tiny, tiny, but Trump would have done even more (with EOs, more extreme ones), if there hadn't been between 500,000 and 1 million people marching just in D.C. to express their presence.

    Did I mention my favorite chant I heard that day?
    "We won't go away,
    Welcome to your first day."

    The lawyer response to the immigration EO was critical. Not because of immigration or Muslims, but because it made the guy notice that he's not alone in government. He apparently couldn't pass a 3rd grade standardized U.S. history test.

    This is also chaotic, so we don't know what will happen. It's possible with enough pressure, this person will step down and claim he can't lead if we don't want him to. Or he will simply crack in a way that is undeniable.

    On leaks being real but the contact with Russia not being real, I think, I understand what he means. He means that there were leaks, but the leakers were not telling the truth. I imagine that's what his supporters are interpreting it as that. However, that he hasn't straight out said the leakers are lying, is telling something. However, he may well think that he said exactly that.

    I am frustrated that the WSJ reported intelligience is withholding info from him, and the NSA head said that's not true. Any falsewood will never be lived down the the collective media. I believe it's very possible the lower downs are withholding stuff, that the NSA lead doesn't realize. Or he is lying too. Or WSJ's source was lying.

    BTW, he talks like a child because we don't attack children. It's a manipulative way of keeping himself buffered and secure. For many people their rage is kept down because rage responds differently to a child with those wordings... than it would to an adult with the same idea but in adult form.

    I came just to comment on investing, and went on a side track.

    I am not enough in the market to just wait it out. I can't bring myself to buy when 1) the market has really accelerated 2) a black swan can arrive. It always can but this black swan might well not have a recovery round. As I write that, I'm wrong. It will have a recovery round. It would be safe to buy and just know to get out on the first oops.

    That leaves valuations as the issues. I have to go looking again to see what subsectors are out of favor again, to spot something in them...

  4. LMH: Trump will be our President for the next 4 years. I do not see him quitting or being removed from office.

    The leaks about a recording of Flynn's conversation with the Russian ambassador and the fact that Sally Yates told the White House counsel in late January about the recording were accurate and forced Trump, who knew about all of that, to dismiss Flynn. Without the leaks, Flynn would still be the head of the NSC. Trump knew that he had lied and had kept him until the Washington Post broke the truth.

    The other major leak was that the FBI had recordings of Trump campaign officials and Russian intelligence operatives. The NYT first broke that story relying on four sources. The paper was careful to say that nothing had been uncovered-yet-that those conversations were meant to aid the Russian effort to influence the U.S. election on Trump's behalf. I do not question that there are recordings.

    Some additional background information was presented in today's NYT:

    "A Back-Channel Plan for Ukraine and Russia, Courtesy of Trump Associates"

    Trump repeatedly denied the existence of any contacts.

    They are now saying that Trump is unaware of any contacts. So what caused that change?

    The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister said there were contacts between Russia and Trump's team two days of the election and it has ballooned from there.

    Trump knows how to manipulate his supporters into believing just about anything he tells them.

    So, yes, many Trump voters may believe that the leakers are providing false information. It might cause them to have a brain meltdown to reconcile that opinion with how events actually unfolded as to Flynn. Reality creations among them would permit both the opinion and those facts to co-exist in equanimity.

    The intelligence agencies are not backing down from their collective assessment that Russia interfered with the U.S. election on behalf of Trump.

    The Kremlin could create a considerable amount of chaos by releasing whatever damaging information that may have through Wikileaks. The Trump supporters, almost one-half of the nation, will never believe it and the republicans in Congress would find it difficult to suppress or bury thereby creating a crisis far bigger than Watergate.

    As to the market, there is still nothing in the internals that point to an imminent correction.

    The Stock Jocks still see no problems ahead.

    I believe that will change when something is done or not done that causes them to be less ebullient about Trump creating economic nirvana and a perpetual U.S. growth machine.

    I would not be assuming as a fact now that the GOP's tax package will look anything like what the market now envisages. There is a lot of GOP opposition to the border tax for example and other aspects of the House plan.

    Trump is making it less likely by the day that any Democrat can be peeled off to support whatever plan is eventually developed, and that means that he will probably need every GOP vote in the Senate. Just about anything can pass the House that is approved by the leadership and Trump. Democrats can face primary challenges just like any republican who fails to standby Donald no matter what.

  5. "Trump will be our President for the next 4 years. I do not see him quitting or being removed from office. "

    I wasn't suggesting action to get him out. I was suggesting action to get voices heard ... because even that can have an impact. Even if it's one vote on one odorous legislative law, it can matter.

    A bigger effect would be if Republicans see and feel some small threat to their own seats individually, they may just start signing up for a tax demand... or conflicts of interest law or at least letting Trump know he won't get everything he wants every time.

    Maybe townhalls aren't the right thing (too noisy for my comfort zone)... but people can make a difference. If we don't try, we absolutely can't. It's already made differences.

    On leaks, I was saying what he thinks he's saying, and his followers hear. Not that it's accurate or an "effective" rebuttal to the many elements of information that's out already.

    The Kremlin's not releasing anything. At least not now. They have their stooge in place. They are backing off their side of the lovefest today I heard. That's not good. Stage 2 is happening. Not sure what all is in stage 2 but our media isn't prepared enough for this kind of sociopathic-authocratic chess game, and uncovering the pieces.

    The best way to understand all this seems to be looking up abuser patterns. They are all over this place. The most obvious is the gaslighting... telling of non-truth as though you are crazy to believe what you saw or heard with your own eyes.

    ....An interview on Meet the Press or Ari's show before/afterward, had an interviewee talking about Trump using carrots and sticks with media. He polishes up someone talking nicely about him, then criticizes when they aren't so good. It's a familiar pattern to abusers. First they make you feel doubt about yourself. Not anger, which you know to look out for, but DOUBT. You are polite enough to consider their questioning of who you are. Then with the doubt, they complement you. That makes them authority. You hand over some sense of authority to them, and now trust them because they are making you feel better about your doubt. Then they start sticks, just little ones. This goes on for a while. Until you are so lost in your own head and insecurities and dependent on them for approval or at least a sense of who you are through their judgement... that you are now stuck, and putty. It's complex to figure out how it's playing out here...

    So if the tax package isn't likely to take Trump's form, and the rest of the economic changes aren't going to be flying through... market should do some retreating and now wouldn't be best time to go all in.

    It looks like there is a general economic improvement happening. Also with less gov't regs that's good for business even if it's a disaster in many other places (which is why there are regs in the first place, like against dumping toxins into rivers.)

    I'm going sleepy, so hopefully have made sense but will stop here.

  6. The ordinary Unilever shares traded in London, priced in British Pence, did give back some of last Friday's gains today after Kraft Heinz announced that it has abandoned its offer. A new takeover offer can not be made under British takeover laws for six months.

    Unilever PLC (ULVR.L)
    LSE - LSE Delayed Price. Currency in GBP
    3,548.00-249.00 (-6.56%)
    At close: 5:11PM GMT

    Closing Prices

    Last Friday: 3,797.00 Pence
    Last Thursday: 3,347.50 "

    I would anticipate the price to drift back down to last Thursday's close.

    The question is how will other potential targets respond to this news when the market reopens tomorrow. Those potential targets include GIS, CPB and MDLZ.

  7. Markit's "flash" composite PMI for the eurozone's manufacturers and service providers rose to a better than expected 56 in February from 54.3 in January. The February number was the highest since April 2011.

    The flash Markit numbers are preliminary estimates.

    "Inflows of new work grew at the strongest rates for almost six year in both manufacturing and services, reflecting a broad-based upturn in demand".

  8. Any thoughts on why the economy worldwide seems to have turned around and is now steamrolling higher or into growth?

    I noticed your comments on politics have disappeared the last couple days. I hope nothing I said sounded like they weren't appreciated. I find out things here, that I missed in the news (and then go looking for.) You seem to be just as bothered by the muck as I am. I got excited to share that, and didn't mean to seem pushing on doing things, if I came across that way. I've reached a point of a small bit of permanent nausea, and trying to figure out how to deal with that.

    My JCC got left out of the round of threats yesterday. Go figure, we weren't good enough this time!

    Hopefully less busy soon, and will focus more on investing options to specifically buy. You are going to a bunker for obvious reasons, and you don't need growth. I need growth. I think FG may be right that this is the 3rd leg of the bull, with the recent breakout, and I'll be missing out for a long while, as sentiment gets above 50 and then the FOMO trade gets started... and it's a while before the blow off top and crash. Well, paint me unsure or uncertain about things.

    1. LMH: I will have some political comments when I publish my next post later today, probably after the market closes.

      Europe is improving at least in part due to the lower Euro helping exports. Animal spirits are on super duper steroids in the U.S.

      Animal spirits are surging ahead of observable growth.

      I would not call anything that I am seeing as steamrolling growth based on current data.

      The Stock Jocks are probably predicting much higher real GDP growth than the 2% or so that the U.S. has now. I am not buying into their assumptions.

      The stock market has benefited since 2009 from this not too hot and not too cold economy.

      If growth picks up too much and inflation accelerates more than currently expected, the FED just might take the punch bowl away as the saying goes. Faster increases in the FF rate may be in store in that kind of growth scenario.

      So far at least, intermediate term bonds are holding steady in yield as the stock market soars skyward.

      This suggests to me that either the Bond Ghouls or the Stock Jocks will be in for some disappointments before year end.

      I still have a significant stock allocation. I am paring the allocation slowly now. I will keep my T.Rowe Price stock mutual funds, most of my Vanguard Equity Income fund, and several individual stocks that pay dividends. When I am done to those stocks and funds, I will be in what I call my bunker. I dumped all stocks in 1998-2000 and I am not going to do that now. I have turned off all stock fund reinvestments and most individual stock reinvestments except for special cases where I still see value in buying more shares at current prices with the dividends. OHI is one example.

  9. OHI: Omega paid its quarterly dividend on 2/15/17.

    Schwab will buy shares in the open market the day after receiving the cash payment. The reinvestment price for my shares in that account was $31.632.

    I also own a 50+ share lot in a Vanguard Roth IRA. That firm bought the shares in the open market on 2/15/17. The reinvestment price was $31.1.

    As I have discussed previously, brokers implement requests for dividend reinvestments mostly through open market purchases. This timing will cause differences in the reinvestment prices.

    A family member owns OHI in a Fidelity Keogh account that I manage. Fidelity did not credit the reinvested shares until today and the price was $30.5726.

    The delay in crediting the shares and the price tells me that Fidelity participated in OHI's dividend reinvestment plan indirectly through the DTC. The price is lower than the others probably due to a 1% discount on the reinvestment price.

    In the OHI Reinvestment Plan, OHI could buy the shares in the open market. If it elects to issue new shares, then shareholders enrolled in the plan "may be entitled to a discount, which is currently set at 1%. The discount in effect at any given time, if any, can be obtained by calling us at (866) 996-6342."

    When held in a taxable account, the discount percentage will be treated as income and consequently the cost basis will be adjusted up to reflect that amount.

  10. TENN: "Trump repeatedly denied the existence of any contacts.

    They are now saying that Trump is unaware of any contacts. So what caused that change?"

    If Trump is not aware of something, it doesn't exist.

    Apparently he is learning (or being coached) how to be more clever in his denials.

    LMH: "It looks like there is a general economic improvement happening."

    Don't forget, it's been improving for 8 years, but the current administration will try to take credit for any positive developments, while holding the previous administration responsible for the "inherited...mess."

    At the same time, they will have no problem undermining the credibility of government-issued economic data when it suits their agenda.

    1. Cathie: Trump will take credit for jobs that corporations had plan to create before the election and has already done so.

      He will no longer make statements that the unemployment rate is "total fiction" as he did during the campaign. He will take credit for the unemployment rate being low.

      During his campaign, he would tell Trump Nation that the unemployment rate was 42%, a number he created, and he will not be saying that anymore for the BLS numbers during his term.

      "Don't believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 and 5 percent unemployment," Trump said. "The number's probably 28, 29, as high as 35. In fact, I even heard recently 42 percent."

      There was an article published in the WP today that his administration has already set in motion efforts to cook the books to make him look better.

      There is no doubt that the government can generate growth by spending more borrowed money while cutting taxes.

      That kind of government juiced growth is a sugar high and the piper will get his due down the road, but the key for Donald is that some other President will have to deal with the trillions added to the nation's overall debt burden.

      And those problems will accelerate even more when federal revenues decline during a recession and its aftermath (or spiral down in a Near Depression as in the 2008-2009 collapse or another Great Depression) as automatic safety net programs like food stamps and unemployment insurance skyrocket in costs assuming they are not eliminated by the GOP.

  11. I have just published a new post:

    "Observations and Sample of Recent Trades- 2-22-17 (BSCL, DCPRD,FFHPRG, BBC, SCHC, PGNX)/Trump as Alex Jones' Fake News Parrot/The GOP and The Coal Industry"