Amit's Planet

November 29, 2018

Memes Intertwingly:

April 01, 2018

Brad DeLong - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

April Fools: John Cochrane Obtrudes Himself on My Consciousness Again...

It's time to spin the Big Wheel for April Fools' Day! Who will it be this year? Cliff Asness? Doug Henwood? Niall Ferguson? Donald Luskin? David Graeber?... No! The Big Wheel stops on... John Cochrane!

Alas! The smart Martin Sandbu has been sold a pile of horseshit by the clown John Cochrane. (No: I don't know why John Cochrane decided to become a clown in 2007, and has remained a clown without interruption since. But we describe the world as it is, not as it ought to be.)

Martin Sandbu: Free Lunch: Can the US return to high growth?: "There has been much harrumphing about Jeb Bush's pledge to target a real economic growth rate of 4 per cent... so far beyond the realm of possibility as to be irresponsible.... John Cochrane begs to differ.... From the 1950s to 1973, growth fluctuated around, yes, a 4 per cent average annual rate. For the next three decades it averaged between 3 and 3.5 per cent except for the early 1980s.... Cochrane's conclusion... "avoiding a recession and returning to pre-2000 norms gets you pretty close".

Free Lunch Can the US return to high growth FT com

The scorn that the idea has received elsewhere is no doubt a reaction to its somewhat crank pedigree. But it also reflects a certain disregard for the historical record. Mother Jones claims no president since FDR has managed to sustain a 4 per cent average growth rate throughout his presidency. But this is just false. Truman, Kennedy and Johnson all did: Notice a pattern there: the best growth spurts all happened under Democrats. In fact, with two exceptions, every postwar Democratic president has overseen faster growth than every Republican one. The first exception is the second-worst performing Democrat, Jimmy Carter, who with 3.3 per cent was pipped to the post by Ronald Reagan, the best-performing Republican with 3.5 per cent. The second exception is Barack Obama, who was elected seven weeks after the collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered the worst financial crisis since Harry Truman was a county court judge. This prompts two thoughts. The first is that 4 per cent may be hard, even unrealistic, but certainly not impossible. The second is that Democratic presidents - and by extension, Democratic policies - have been historically much more successful at making it a reality (Obama's record, shaped by the financial crisis, is hardly representative). And there is good reason to think this may still be true. Raising growth from its lacklustre rate means bringing output closer to its potential in the short term and raising the potential growth rate in the long run. The short-term imperative involves fiscal and monetary stimulus - ie worry less about the budget deficit and don't tie one arm behind the Federal Reserve’s back. These are positions more associated with Democrats than Republicans, to put it mildly. The long-term goal can only be achieved with contribution from all the components of GDP growth: faster productivity growth, faster population growth and greater labour force participation. That observation immediately invites more policy ideas to warm a liberal's heart: boosting public infrastructure, a more open immigration policy and copying the countries that are most successful at getting people into employment: Canada, Germany and the Scandis. Indeed getting the US employment rate to the Swedish level over 10 years would entail a 1 percentage point higher growth rate a year in that period, other things being equal. Why, then, are liberal economists and policy types so up in arms against a 4 per cent target? One possibility is the fear expressed in Carole Binder's intelligent blog: targeting the growth rate may favour short-termist stimulus to boost growth rather than a long-term measure. But that could be a whole lot better than the status quo - at least if it involves broad fiscal and monetary stimulus rather than Florida-style housing bubbles. A "high-pressure economy", which prominent centre-left economists call for, may well make longer-term structural policies easier, too. Another possibility is the fear that a Jeb Bush administration would use the 4 per cent target to push through policies, such as tax cuts for the rich, that they claim will raise growth but don't. If that's the reason, it reflects a sad lack of political confidence. A more inspiring response to Jeb Bush's growth target would be to match it and try to force the politics to be about which policies are most likely to achieve the goal. On the current state of US politics, that's a fight that the centre-left can and should win.

by J. Bradford DeLong at April 01, 2018 12:22 PM

November 02, 2017

giitaayan - Recently posted songs

har ek nazar idhar udhar... ik nayaa taraanaa

Album: Faraar / Dev Anand In Goa

har ek nazar idhar udhar hai beqaraar mere li_e
mahafil kaa dil dha.Dak rahaa hai baar-baar mere li_e

huu.N mai.n 
ik nayaa taraanaa ik nayaa fasaanaa ik na_ii kahaanii huu.N mai.n
ek ra.Ngiilii ek chhail chhabiilii ek mast jawaanii huu.N mai.n

ruup kii raanii naam hai meraa dil ta.Dapaanaa kaam hai meraa
ko_ii kahe matavaalii koi kahe bholii bhaalii ko_ii kahe diiwaanii huu.N mai.n 
ek ra.Ngiilii ek chhail chhabiilii ...

merii adaa_e.N mere bahaane ko_ii na samajhe ko_ii na jaane
ik pavan jhakolaa ek u.Dan khaTolaa ek yaad khaanii huu.N mai.n
ek ra.Ngiilii ek chhail chhabiilii ...

Contributed by Anonymous

November 02, 2017 01:35 PM

jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo

Album: Faraar / Dev Anand In Goa

jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo a.Nkhiyaa.N do chaar kar lo
suno ye raat nahii.n hai ek tiin chaar kii
suno ye raat hai bas do dilo.n ke pyaar kii

dil hai diiwaanaa samaa suhaanaa 
uff ye jawaanii uff ye zamaanaa
jab tak hai.n jhuum sako jhuumate jaanaa haay re jhuumate jaanaa
jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo 

ra.ngii.n fizaaye.n mast hawaaye.n
kal kaun jaane aaye na aaye
jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo 

ulfat ke pyaale pii le pilaa le
kar de ye duniyaa dil ke hawaale
jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo 

Contributed by Anonymous

November 02, 2017 01:18 PM

ek raat kii ye priit

Album: Faraar / Dev Anand In Goa

ek raat kii ye priit ek raat kaa hai giit
kahii.n to.D ke ye sapane ye raat na jaa_e biit

ai chaa.Nd na jaanaa so ai taaro na jaanaa kho
jo bhii ho so ho jag me.n ek bhor kabhii na ho

ye uu.Nchaa aasamaa.N ik baar jo kah de ho
to ye raat maa.Ng luu.N de ke dono.n jahaa.N

Contributed by Anonymous

November 02, 2017 01:06 PM

dil churaa luu.N

Album: Faraar / Dev Anand In Goa

dil churaa luu.N churaa luu.N dil me.n chhupii baat
ba.De-ba.De dil waale bhii rah jaa_e.N malate haath

subah kii a.Nga.Daa_ii huu.N mai.n raat kaa huu.N mai.n Kvaab
duniyaa kii mahafil me.n huu.N mai.n apanaa aap jawaab
mukh dekhe to, dekhe to chandaa khaa_e maat
ba.De-ba.De dil waale bhii ...

muskuraake jidhar dekhuu.N khilane lage phuul
aane jaane waale raahii rastaa jaa_e.N bhuul
mai.n chaahuu.N to, chaahuu.N to din ko karuu.N raat
ba.De-ba.De dil waale bhii ...

bhole-bhaale suurat waale matavaale diladaar
bachake rahanaa phir na kahanaa kiyaa na Khabaradaar
ba.Dii hai zaalim, hai zaalim in naino.n kii ghaat
ba.De-ba.De dil waale bhii ...

Contributed by Anonymous

November 02, 2017 12:57 PM

October 20, 2017

Zero Hedge

Owners Of Luxury Greenwich Homes Are Pulling From The Market As Sales Plunge

Once upon a time, a nonexistent income tax (Connecticut became the last state in the US to adopt an income tax in the early 1990s) and low property taxes - not to mention the gold coast tableau of beautiful beaches and lush greenery - made Greenwich, CT - just over the state line from Westchester - a haven for hedge fund bazillionaires and other wealthy finance types.

But since the financial crisis, sales of megamansions and other high-end homes in the city have tapered off as taxes have inexorably risen and trends have shifted to favor urban environments. As we reported back in June, there were only five sales of homes for $10 million or more in 2015 and 2016, less than half the historical average.

At the time, there were 38 properties listed for $10 million in and around Greenwich, meaning it would take at least seven years to sell them all.

And of course, the state’s looming fiscal crisis - and the prospect of still more tax hikes on top of the two that lame-duck Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy has pushed through in recent years - isn’t doing the real estate market any favors.

Amid the market washout, owners of many of the luxury homes mentioned above are finally throwing in the towel, as Bloomberg reports. Listings of luxury homes in the Connecticut town plunged more than 31% from a year earlier.

Luxury-home listings in the Connecticut town plunged 31 percent from a year earlier, according to a report Thursday by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. That’s largely because sellers who failed to get their hoped-for price quit trying to find buyers and took their properties off the market to wait for a better day.


“Inventory is declining but sales aren’t rising,” Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel, said in an interview. “It’s mostly listings being pulled off the market."

To be sure, part of the drop off in sales of mansions and other large, out-of-the-way homes is due to a shift in preferences. Buyers today are favoring smaller homes closer to the center of town - where they can easily catch a the New Haven line train for the 50 minute ride into Grand Central Terminal.

As one broker put it: “Small is the new big."

...kind of like how 30 is the new 20.

Tastes are changing in Greenwich, home to many Wall Street executives who take the 50-minute train ride to Manhattan. Lavish mansions on several acres have languished, while smaller homes closer to downtown get scooped up. In the third quarter, sales of luxury homes - the top 10 percent of deals by price - fell 13 percent from a year earlier to 21, the firms said. Condo purchases, meanwhile, jumped 35 percent to 58 transactions, the most for a quarter in data going back to 1999.


“Small is the new big,” said Scott Durkin, chief operating officer of Douglas Elliman. “Millennial buyers, they want to be in town, they want to be close to services, they don’t need 5,000 to 10,000 square feet -- they’re OK with 1,600 to 2,200.


“We really don’t have enough of those listings to sell,” he said. “We need more."


The closer that homes are to Greenwich’s commercial district or waterfront, the faster they’re selling. At the current pace of deals, it would take 7.8 months to sell all the listed properties south of Post Road, an area that includes the train station and tony shops of Greenwich Avenue, Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman said. In the Back Country section - north of the Merritt Parkway, featuring oversized estates set back from winding, two-lane roads - it would take more than three years to clear the listed inventory.

The owners of one property located on Greenwich’s iconic Old Mill Road agreed to three price cuts in the two years the 11,000 square foot property has been on the market. The property, on 5.3 acres that include a 2,329-square-foot guest house, was first listed in May 2015 for $17.35 million, and eventually lowered to $11.45 million. But was eventually pulled off the market in September, before brokers tried a different tactic: relisting it under a different address - 781 Lake Ave. - at the low, low price of $10.95 million.

Heavy discounts helped encourage a pickup in sales earlier this year. And with more sellers pulling homes off the market, brokers are hoping the drop in listings revives a “sense of urgency” that’s been missing from the market for years.

High-end sales had picked up earlier this year, largely because of price cuts, helping to clear some of the backlog. Sellers were still discounting this quarter, offering an average of 6.7 percent off the last listed price. The reductions drew in buyers for some costlier homes, pushing the median sale price in the luxury category up 34 percent to $6.5 million, Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman said. That’s the upside to having so many fatigued sellers giving up, according to Durkin. It clears the distractions and boosts confidence for those who want to commit to a high-end purchase in town.


“When there’s too much to choose from it takes off the intensity of the buying process,” Durkin said. “It doesn’t give you any sense of urgency and it doesn’t get you off the fence."


Brokerage Houlihan Lawrence, in its own Greenwich report, said that luxury sales did best at the top, with homes priced at $5 million and above. There were 18 such deals in the quarter, compared with 11 a year earlier. Two were for more than $10 million.

Given the state’s fiscal dysfunction, we’d be surprised if sales saw a meaningful acceleration any time soon.

by Tyler Durden at October 20, 2017 12:32 PM

Boy Genius Report

Holy crap, Amazon's only portable Alexa speaker is on sale at its lowest price ever

Amazon Tap Price

We know that Amazon is on the verge of releasing a bunch of nifty new Alexa speakers like the All-New Echo and Echo Plus, but today is the day to snag a new Alexa speaker if you want one. Why? Because Amazon just dropped its only portable Alexa smart speaker to its lowest price ever. The Certified Refurbished Amazon Tap is on sale today for just $64.99, and it's highly likely that you'll never see it drop to this price again. It's guaranteed, warrantied, and on sale for one day only. Go!

Here are some highlights from the product page:

  • A Certified Refurbished Amazon Tap is refurbished, tested, and certified to look and work like new
  • Just tap and ask for music from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn. Enable hands-free mode to control music and more from a distance.
  • Uses the Alexa Voice Service when connected to Wi-Fi or a mobile hotspot to play music, read the news, provide weather reports, and even order a pizza
  • Provides up to 9 hours of continuous playback (up to 8 hours when in hands-free mode), Charging Cradle included
  • Streams all your music via Bluetooth from your phone or tablet
  • Delivers crisp sound powered by Dolby, with dual stereo speakers that provide 360º omni-directional audio
  • Always getting smarter and adding new features and skills

Certified Refurbished Amazon Tap - Alexa-Enabled Portable Bluetoo…: $64.99

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by Maren Estrada at October 20, 2017 12:20 PM

Tim Harford

Fatal Attraction of Fake Facts Sours Political Debate

Undercover Economist

He did it again: Boris Johnson, UK foreign secretary, exhumed the old referendum-campaign lie that leaving the EU would free up £350m a week for the National Health Service. I think we can skip the well-worn details, because while the claim is misleading, its main purpose is not to mislead but to distract. The growing popularity of this tactic should alarm anyone who thinks that the truth still matters.

You don’t need to take my word for it that distraction is the goal. A few years ago, a cynical commentator described the “dead cat” strategy, to be deployed when losing an argument at a dinner party: throw a dead cat on the table. The awkward argument will instantly cease, and everyone will start losing their minds about the cat. The cynic’s name was Boris Johnson.

The tactic worked perfectly in the Brexit referendum campaign. Instead of a discussion of the merits and disadvantages of EU membership, we had a frenzied dead-cat debate over the true scale of EU membership fees. Without the steady repetition of a demonstrably false claim, the debate would have run out of oxygen and we might have enjoyed a discussion of the issues instead.

My point is not to refight the referendum campaign. (Mr Johnson would like to, which itself is telling.) There’s more at stake here than Brexit: bold lies have become the dead cat of modern politics on both sides of the Atlantic. Too many politicians have discovered the attractions of the flamboyant falsehood — and why not? The most prominent of them sits in the White House. Dramatic lies do not always persuade, but they do tend to change the subject — and that is often enough.

It is hard to overstate how corrosive this development is. Reasoned conversation becomes impossible; the debaters hardly have time to clear their throats before a fly-blown moggie hits the table with a rancid thud.

Nor is it easy to neutralise a big, politicised lie. Trustworthy nerds can refute it, of course: the fact-checkers, the independent think-tanks, or statutory bodies such as the UK Statistics Authority. But a politician who is unafraid to lie is also unafraid to smear these organisations with claims of bias or corruption — and then one problem has become two. The Statistics Authority and other watchdogs need to guard jealously their reputation for truthfulness; the politicians they contradict often have no such reputation to worry about.

Researchers have been studying the problem for years, after noting how easily charlatans could debase the discussion of smoking, vaccination and climate change. A good starting point is The Debunking Handbook by John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky, which summarises a dispiriting set of discoveries.

One problem that fact-checkers face is the “familiarity effect”: the endless arguments over the £350m-a-week lie (or Barack Obama’s birthplace, or the number of New Jersey residents who celebrated the destruction of the World Trade Center) is that the very process of rebutting the falsehood ensures that it is repeated over and over again. Even someone who accepts that the lie is a lie would find it much easier to remember than the truth.

A second obstacle is the “backfire effect”. My son is due to get a flu vaccine this week, and some parents at his school are concerned that the flu vaccine may cause flu. It doesn’t. But in explaining that I risk triggering other concerns: who can trust Big Pharma these days? Shouldn’t kids be a bit older before being exposed to these strange chemicals? Some (not all) studies suggest that the process of refuting the narrow concern can actually harden the broader worldview behind it.

Dan Kahan, professor of law and psychology at Yale, points out that issues such as vaccination or climate change — or for that matter, the independence of the UK Statistics Authority — do not become politicised by accident. They are dragged into the realm of polarised politics because it suits some political entrepreneur to do so. For a fleeting partisan advantage, Donald Trump has falsely claimed that vaccines cause autism. Children will die as a result. And once the intellectual environment has become polluted and polarised in this way, it’s extraordinarily difficult to draw the poison out again.

This is a damaging game indeed. All of us tend to think tribally about politics: we absorb the opinions of those around us. But tribal thinking pushes us to be not only a Republican but also a Republican and a vaccine sceptic. One cannot be just for Brexit; one must be for Brexit and against the UK Statistics Authority. Of course it is possible to resist such all-encompassing polarisation, and many people do. But the pull of tribal thinking on all of us is strong.

There are defences against the dead cat strategy. With skill, a fact-check may debunk a false claim without accidentally reinforcing it. But the strongest defence is an electorate that cares, that has more curiosity about the way the world really works than about cartoonish populists. If we let politicians drag facts into their swamp, we are letting them tug at democracy’s foundations.
Written for and first published in the Financial Times on 23 September 2017.

My new book is “Fifty Inventions That Shaped The Modern Economy”. Grab yourself a copy in the US or in the UK (slightly different title) or through your local bookshop.

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by Tim Harford at October 20, 2017 12:19 PM

Zero Hedge

Peter Schiff Warns Of "Calm Before The Storm"

Authored by Peter Schiff via Euro Pacific Capital,

In light of the 30-year anniversary of the Black Monday Crash in 1987 (when the Dow lost more than 20% in "one day", we should be reminded that investor anxiety usually increases when markets get to extremes. If stock prices fall steeply, people fret about money lost, and if they move too high too fast, they worry about sudden reversals. As greed is supposed to be counterbalanced by fear, this relationship should not be surprising. But sometimes the formula breaks down and stocks become very expensive even while investors become increasingly complacent. History has shown that such periods of untethered optimism have often presaged major market corrections. Current data suggests that we are in such a period, and in the words of our current President, we may be "in the calm before the storm."

Many market analysts consider the Cyclically Adjusted Price to Earnings (CAPE) ratio to be the best measure of stock valuation. Also known as the “Shiller Ratio” (after Yale professor Robert Shiller), the number is derived by dividing the current price of a stock by its average inflation-adjusted earnings over the last 10 years. Since 1990, the CAPE ratio of the S&P 500 has averaged 25.6. The ratio got particularly bubbly, 44.2, during the 1999 crescendo of the “earnings don’t matter” dotcom era of the late 1990’s. But after the tech crash of 2000, the ratio was cut in half, drifting down to 21.3 by March of 2003. For the next five years, the CAPE hung around historic averages before collapsing to 13.3 in the market crash of 2008-2009. Since then, the ratio has moved steadily upward, returning to the upper 20s by 2015. But in July of this year, the CAPE breached 30 for the first time since March 2002. It has been there ever since (which is high when compared to most developed markets around the world). (data from Irrational Exuberance, Princeton University Press 2000, 2005, 2015, updated Robert J. Shiller)

But unlike earlier periods of stock market gains, the extraordinary run-up in CAPE over the past eight years has not been built on top of strong economic growth. The gains of 1996-1999 came when quarterly GDP growth averaged 4.6%, and the gains of 2003-2007 came when quarterly GDP averaged 2.96%. In contrast Between 2010 and 2017, GDP growth had averaged only 2.1% (data from Bureau of Economic Analysis). It is clear to some that the Fed has substituted itself for growth as the primary driver for stocks.

Investors typically measure market anxiety by looking at the VIX index, also known as “the fear index”. This data point, calculated by the Chicago Board Options Exchange, looks at the amount of put vs. call contracts to determine sentiment about how much the markets may fluctuate over the coming 30 days. A number greater than 30 indicates high anxiety while a number less than 20 suggests that investors see little reason to lose sleep.

Since 1990, the VIX has averaged 19.5 and has generally tended to move up and down with CAPE valuations. Spikes to the upside also tended to occur during periods of economic uncertainty like recessions. (The economic crisis of 2008 sent the VIX into orbit, hitting an all-time high of 59.9 in October 2008.) However, the Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Easing bond-buying program, which came online in March of 2009, may have short-circuited this fundamental relationship.

Before the crisis, there was still a strong belief that stock investing entailed real risk. The period of stock stagnation of the 1970s and 1980s was still well remembered, as were the crashes of 1987, 2000, and 2008. But the existence of the Greenspan/Bernanke/Yellen “Put” (the idea that the Fed would back stop market losses), came to ease many of the anxieties on Wall Street. Over the past few years, the Fed has consistently demonstrated that it is willing to use its new tool kit in extraordinary ways.

While many economists had expected the Fed to roll back its QE purchases as soon as the immediate economic crisis had passed, the program steamed at full speed through 2015, long past the point where the economy had apparently recovered. Time and again, the Fed cited fragile financial conditions as the reason it persisted, even while unemployment dropped and the stock market soared.

The Fed further showcased its maternal instinct in early 2016 when a surprise 8% drop in stocks in the first two weeks of January (the worst ever start of a calendar year on Wall Street) led it to abandon its carefully laid groundwork for multiple rate hikes in 2016. As investors seem to have interpreted this as the Fed leaving the safety net firmly in place, the VIX has dropped steadily from that time. In September of this year, the VIX fell below 10.

Untethered optimism can be seen most clearly by looking at the relationship between the VIX and the CAPE ratio. Over the past 27 years, this figure has averaged 1.43. But just this month, the ratio approached 3 for the first time on record, increasing 100% in just a year and a half. This means that the gap between how expensive stocks have become and how little this increase concerns investors has never been wider. But history has shown that bad things can happen after periods in which fear takes a back seat.

Past performance is not indicative of future results. Created by Euro Pacific Capital from data culled from & Bloomberg.

On September 1 of 2000, the S&P 500 hit 1520, very close to its (up to then) all-time peak. The 167% increase in prices over the prior five years should have raised alarm bells. It didn't. At that point, the VIX/CAPE ratio hit 1.97…a high number. In the two years after September 2000, the S&P 500 retreated 46%. Ouch.

Unfortunately, the lesson wasn’t well learned. The next time the VIX/CAPE hit a high watermark was in January 2007 when it reached 2.39. At that point, the S&P 500 had hit 1438 a 71% increase from February of 2003. As they had seven years earlier, the investing public was not overly concerned. In just over two years after the VIX/CAPE had peaked the S&P 500 declined 43%. Double Ouch.

For much of the next decade investors seemed to have been twice bitten and once shy. The VIX/CAPE stayed below 2 for most of that time. But after the election of 2016, the caution waned and the ratio breached 2. In the past few months, the metric has risen to record territory, hitting 2.57 in June, and 2.93 in October. These levels suggest that a record low percentage of investors are concerned by valuations that are as high as they have ever been outside of the four-year “dotcom” period.

Investors may be trying to convince themselves that the outcome will be different this time around. But the only thing that is likely to be different is the Fed's ability to limit the damage. In 2000-2002, the Fed was able to cut interest rates 500 basis points (from 6% to 1%) in order to counter the effects of the imploding tech stock bubble. Seven years later, it cut rates 500 basis points (from 5% to 0) in response to the deflating housing bubble. Stocks still fell anyway, but they probably would have fallen further if the Fed hadn't been able to deliver these massive stimuli. In hindsight, investors would have been wise to move some funds out of U.S. stocks when the CAPE/VIX ratio moved into record territory. While stocks fell following those peaks, gold rose nicely.

Past performance is not indicative of future results. Created by Euro Pacific Capital from data culled from Bloomberg.

Past performance is not indicative of future results. Created by Euro Pacific Capital from data culled from Bloomberg.

But interest rates are now at just 1.25%. If the stock market were again to drop in such a manner, the Fed has far less fire power to bring to bear. It could cut rates to zero and then re-launch another round of QE bond buying to flood the financial sector with liquidity. But that may not be nearly as effective as it was in 2008. Given that the big problem at that point was bad mortgage debt, the QE program’s purchase of mortgage bonds was a fairly effective solution (although we believe a misguided one). But propping up overvalued stocks, many of which have nothing to do with the financial sector, is a far more difficult challenge. The Fed may have to buy stocks on the open market, a tactic that has been used by the Bank of Japan.

It should be clear to anyone that since the 1990s the Fed has inflated three stock market bubbles. As each of the prior two popped, the Fed inflated larger ones to mitigate the damage. The tendency to cushion the downside and to then provide enough extra liquidity to send stock prices back to new highs seems to have emboldened investors to downplay the risks and focus on the potential gains. This has been particularly true given that the Fed’s low interest rate policies have caused traditionally conservative bond investors to seek higher returns in stocks. Without the Fed’s safety net, many of these investors perhaps would not be willing to walk this high wire.

But investors may be over-estimating the Fed's ability to blow up another bubble if the current one pops. Since this one is so large, the amount of stimulus required to inflate a larger one may produce the monetary equivalent of an overdose. It may be impossible to revive the markets without killing the dollar in the process. The currency crisis the Fed might unleash might prove more destructive to the economy than the repeat financial crisis it's hoping to avoid.

We believe the writing is clearly on the wall and all investors need do is read it. It’s not written in Sanskrit or Hieroglyphics, but about as plainly as the gods of finance can make it. Should the current mother-of-all bubbles pop, for investors and the Fed it won’t be third time’s the charm, but three strikes and you’re out.

by Tyler Durden at October 20, 2017 12:13 PM

Frontrunning: October 20

  • Trump’s Tax Plan Takes a Big Step Forward, But What Comes Next Won’t Be Easy (BBG)
  • Low pay, no bonus: U.S. retailers struggle with hiring (Reuters)
  • Donald Trump Jr. Becomes a Rainmaker on the Republican Speaking Circuit (BBG)
  • In Kuroda's face - researchers find ways to predict central bank changes (Reuters)
  • One Month After Maria, a Crisis Still Rages in Rural Puerto Rico (BBG)
  • GOP Gears Up for Tax-Overhaul Push (WSJ)
  • A Fed for a Growth Economy (WSJ)
  • Three Wise Men: Xi Seeks to Join Mao and Deng in China’s ‘Holy Scripture’ (WSJ)
  • EU leaders demand UK raises Brexit divorce payment  (FT)
  • No trade talks but May wins gesture, warm words at EU summit (Reuters)
  • La Croix CEO Bubbles Over in Anger About Short-Sellers (BBG)
  • Nursing shortage strains U.S. hospitals (Reuters)
  • New GE Chief Slashes Forecasts, Plans to Exit $20 Billion in Businesses (WSJ)
  • Uruguay’s President, Who Won a Fight With Big Tobacco, Is Now Targeting Alcohol (BBG)
  • Austrian coalition talks set to begin, far right likely partner (Reuters)
  • Wall Street’s Robots Still Have a Lot to Learn About Being a Human Trader (Bloomberg)
  • Tillerson Balances Trump’s Objectives With His Own (WSJ)
  • Lawyers Begin Sketching Strategy to Challenge Possible Nafta Withdrawal (WSJ)
  • Celgene abandons Crohn's drug trials, shares drop (Reuters)

Overnight Media Digest


- U.S. Senate Republicans adopted a budget for the next fiscal year, clearing a critical hurdle in the GOP push to overhaul the tax code.

- U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described how he seeks to manage an often-fraught relationship with President Donald Trump, saying he tries to deliver short-term victories to an impatient commander-in-chief while focusing on a longer horizon himself.

- The Federal Bureau of Investigation has joined the investigation into how a group of militants thought to be Islamists killed four American soldiers in Niger two weeks ago, a move that comes as U.S. officials face criticism over their struggle to answer questions about the incident.

- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is near a deal to add Lord & Taylor to its website, part of a broader effort by the retail giant to build an online shopping destination that can compete with Inc.

- A federal judge sentenced Thomas C. Davis, the former chairman of Dean Foods Co, to two years in prison for engaging in a long-running insider trading scheme with legendary Las Vegas gambler William "Billy" Walters.

- Personal-shopping service Stitch Fix has filed for an initial public offering, revealing that the six-year-old startup's annual sales have zoomed to nearly $1 billion at a time when traditional clothing retailers are struggling.



Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein is planning to spend a lot more time in Frankfurt, he said on Thursday, as the Wall Street bank pushes ahead with plans to make the German city a major base after Britain leaves the European Union.

British lawmaker Nicky Morgan, chair of parliament’s Treasury Committee, voiced concern about a lack of gender and ethnic diversity at the top levels of the Bank of England, which currently has only two women serving across its three major policy committees.

Lyft Inc has raised $1 billion in fresh financing, the ride-services company said on Thursday, in a round led by one of Alphabet Inc’s investment funds, further complicating the convoluted world of ride-hailing alliances and dealing a blow to rival Uber Technologies Inc.



- Lyft has begun to explore going public in 2018 and is trying to strengthen its position by raising more capital, including $1 billion in new financing led by CapitalG, an investment arm of Google's parent company Alphabet Inc .

- Sean Penn and Netflix Inc are fighting over a documentary series "The Day I Met El Chapo: The Kate del Castillo Story" that will become available early Friday, with a lawyer for Penn saying in a letter to the streaming service that it is "hereby on notice that blood will be on their hands if this film causes bodily harm."

- U.S. President Trump has picked Joseph Simons to lead the Federal Trade Commission, the White House said Thursday.

- Senator John McCain and two Democratic senators moved on Thursday to force Facebook Inc, Google and other internet companies to disclose who is purchasing online political advertising, after revelations that Russian-linked operatives bought deceptive ads in the run-up to the 2016 election with no disclosure required.




Two of the biggest stars of the Canadian entertainment industry Gilbert Rozon and Eric Salvail have resigned from running their empires amid accusations they sexually harassed or assaulted people under their professional sway.

Former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty's chief of staff got instructions on how to double delete e-mails in the summer of 2012, a period when the government was under mounting pressure to release documents related to the controversial cancellation of two gas-fired power plants, court documents show.


A number of buyers have emerged to snap up assets from Cenovus Energy Inc as it divested oil and gas properties to pay down debt after announcing a C$1.3 billion ($1.04 billion) deal to sell its Palliser oil and gas properties.

Ontario man William Whyte, owner and CEO of an armoured vehicle company Armet Armored Vehicles in Virginia, has been convicted for his role in a scheme to provide the U.S. with shoddy equipment for use in Iraq.

by Tyler Durden at October 20, 2017 12:01 PM

The Big Picture

10 Friday AM Reads

My not too bad a crash anniversary morning train reads: • Jim Grant’s Botched Bridgewater Takedown: The anatomy of publishing disaster, investment-style. (Institutional Investor) • Big question for U.S. cities: Is Amazon’s HQ2 worth the price? (Chicago Tribune) see also Google’s Sidewalk Labs signs deal for ‘smart city’ makeover of Toronto’s waterfront (Globe and Mail) • The War To…

Read More

The post 10 Friday AM Reads appeared first on The Big Picture.

by Barry Ritholtz at October 20, 2017 12:00 PM

Wired Top Stories

Honeywell Starts Testing Its Windowless War Truck

The new system taps augmented reality to give operators a complete sense of their surroundings.

by Eric Adams at October 20, 2017 12:00 PM

Equifax Deserves the Corporate Death Penalty

Opinion: States have the power to dissolve companies that are bad actors. They should take action with Equifax.

by Ron Fein at October 20, 2017 12:00 PM


Hilariously Stupid Car Stunts is a vehicle simulation program that “applies basic engineering principles gleaned through its research into materials science,” as the BBC puts it. By accurately modeling how glass, plastic and steel all deform differently under impacts, the program’s physics engine can depict incredibly realistic crashes that might provide useful data to safety researchers, and Hollywood studios have reportedly expressed interest in using the game to pre-visualize automotive stunts before putting actual stuntmen at risk.

Released as a game on the Steam platform, people have been steadily abusing it to create hilariously stupid and elaborate ways to destroy a car. There are entire YouTube channels dedicated to showcasing their kinetic creativity:

Impossible Car Stunts

100 Speed Bumps at Over 100 M.P.H.

Narrowing Walls Car Crashes

Cars vs. Giant Concrete Balls

Cars Jumping Into Gigantic Circular Saw Blades

I’m not sure what’s funnier: The dumbness of the scenarios, or the fact that people spent hours conceiving of and executing them, or the fact that I’m sitting here watching them all.

You can find more at the following channels: ExtenPro, Car Pal and DestructionNation.










October 20, 2017 11:54 AM

Zero Hedge

Gold Up 74% Since Last Market Peak 10 Years Ago

Gold Up 74% Since Last Market Peak 10 Years Ago

 - 10 year anniversary of pre-Global Financial Crisis market peak in S&P 500 on October 9th
- Gold up 74% since the last market peak a decade ago; 11% pa in USD, 9.4% pa in EUR and 12.4% pa in GBP
- Precious metal has climbed $736/oz on Oct 9th 2007 to $1278.75 ten-years later
- S&P 500's 102% climb is thanks to asset-pumping policies by central banks, rather than value
- Gold's performance is slowly forcing mainstream to re-consider gold
- "Notion of gold as a hedge against serious risk aversion is true... " - Bloomberg analyst

Editor Mark O'Byrne


Ten years ago last week the U.S. stock market hit a peak before crashing during the financial crisis. That now seems a like a distant memory but with stocks making new record highs every day recently, it is prudent to step back and evaluate the long term performance of assets and indeed the outlook in the coming years.

Today the S&P 500 continues to make headlines as it repeatedly reaches new highs, most notably in September as it pushed past 2500 despite North Korean/Trump war drums.

Quietly in the background gold has been putting in its own stellar performance. Although few would have known, given the lack of interest most market participants have paid to it in recent years.

Decade run for gold

Since the last peak of the S&P500 the precious metal, and ultimate hedge against inflation, has climbed over 74%.

After massive gains during the financial crisis, it fell quite sharply in all currencies in 2013 prior to consolidating at lower levels in 2014 and 2015 and then eking out gains again in 2016 and so far in 2017.

This puts gold in the top five of best performing assets in the last ten years.

total return 10 years

In the year-to-date gold has almost been in line with the S&P's ongoing rally. Both remain in the top 10 performing markets, with an increase of 13.41% and 14.14%, respectively.

YTD asset performance

Much of the chatter regarding the S&P's recent performance is surrounded by whispers of concern. Some commentators wonder if equity markets are now entering the ebullient phase that we often see towards the end of bull markets and ahead of market peaks.

This is likely to be the case, but what does this mean for gold which has also had an excellent decade? Many mainstream analysts have been forced to reconsider their take on gold. An asset which, in their opinion, should not have performed so strongly against a backdrop of low inflation and strong, coordinated global growth.

How did the S&P500 recover to such highs?

First Trust History of U.S. Bear & Bull Markets Since 1926

According to the above chart produced by First Trust, this current bull run in the S&P500 is not particularly remarkable. The average bull market has lasted 9 years with an average cumulative total return of 472%.

At the moment markets are still riding a wave of optimism, much of which seems based on the somewhat unexpected Trump Bump. Investors are either optimistic or relieved in terms of what he may do or hasn't done already.

But the market hasn't only been climbing thanks to Trump's victory, it was already climbing for over seven years prior to his inauguration.

This bull-run is ultimately thanks to the ultra-loose monetary policies from major central banks.

The Federal Reserve used “QE bond purchases” to purchase assets in order to increase bond prices and reduce interest rates. The primary aim was to prevent a further crash in the housing market and indeed stock markets, it worked. However the Fed has made markets addicted to QE and they have been unable to stop the massive cash injections.

Quantitative easing has massively distorted asset prices. Just take a look at benchmark Spanish and Italian 10-year government bonds where yields have fallen from 6-7 per cent in July 2012, to below 2%.

It is unbelievable that investors are celebrating this state of affairs by pumping more money into the equity markets. Global growth is still slow, there is low U.S. productivity growth and rising inequality.

Inflation is beginning to tick higher both in the UK and the U.S. and many key property markets, such as London and New York city, are slowing down

One might say that we are seeing a stock market in a state of euphoria.

Will it last?

In a word: no.

Historically bull markets go out with a nice bang rather than a drawn-out whimper. They also like to go 'bang' right after they have shone at their brightest. Given the S&P500 has already outperformed analysts' expectations for the end of 2017, one might ask if we are now seeing some serious glow.

What will trigger the last swan song of this market? There is little a bull market fears above a recession.

As explained above, the rally is thanks to QE. As the year goes on more central banks are expected to  tighten monetary policy. But, there is a concern that investors are ignoring/misreading signals from central bankers or (worse) central bankers are failing to estimate the dangers of withdrawing stimulus and the recession it will likely trigger.

Citigroup recently expressed concern about how markets may react to quantitative tightening, in a research note, stating “even small balance sheet adjustments may create outsized responses in markets – especially when several central banks are adjusting policy simultaneously”.

This is of particular concern when one considers the high valuations in both global bond and equity markets (note, the S&P500 isn't the only one having a good run). As Citigroup also notes, withdrawing stimulus “would be less disruptive if market valuations were fair rather than expensive”.

A September survey of Bank of America hedge fund managers saw the largest net increase in those who had bought hedges against a market downturn, in over a year. So fearful are they of a severe sell-off, respondents showed their biggest underweight position in US stocks since November 2007.

Meanwhile cash holdings were above the average of the past decade.

Gold has done very well despite the massive bull market in stocks. This is largely due to concerns regarding loose monetary policy by those aware of gold's hedging and safe haven properties. If this is about to be reined in, what should we expect for the future performance of gold?

Gold "really is a good hedge"

One of the joys of gold's stellar decade-long performance is the manner in which it has forced the mainstream to confront their prejudices.

It is not unusual for mainstream analysts to dismiss gold's role as a hedge against multiple risks including inflation, recession and devaluation. But there is a change in the wind, helping gold's cause.

Last week Bloomberg's Macro Man (Cameron Crise) decided to really look into the stats and ask whether or not gold really is a good hedge.

I used the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) as a proxy for market risk aversion and ran a series of multifactor regressions to determine whether equity volatility is statistically significant as an explanatory variable for gold.

The answer, somewhat to my surprise, appears to be yes.

...the VIX appears to be a significant statistical driver of changes in the gold price over a meaningful period of time. Based on this evidence, it looks as if claims of gold as a risk-aversion hedge might be true.

Why does this matter given what we have just been discussing? Currently Wall Street's fear gauge, the VIX,  stands just above its lowest level in two decades. But evidence (such as the BAML) survey shows that some fear is seeping into the market.

This is good news for gold, especially when one considers historical episodes of increased risk aversion.

Crise looked at the following:

I identified 10 notable episodes of risk aversion over the past three decades, defining the duration of each as the peak-to-valley move in the S&P 500 index. I then calculated the performance of U.S. stocks, Treasuries, and gold during these episodes.

Again, on this metric, gold looks pretty good as a risk-aversion hedge. By definition, equity market performance was poor, with an average loss of almost 20 percent per episode. Treasuries proved a useful offset, returning an average 3.4 percent and performing positively on seven occasions. Gold, meanwhile, was a star performer, rising almost 7 percent per episode, with gains in 8 of the 10 periods.

Risk aversion gold history

Gold's vital role in a portfolio

This is good news for those of us looking to hold gold in our portfolios. We have brought many examples to you (both academic and anecdotal) of gold's safe haven role in investing. Crise's work is yet another to add to the growing list of support for the precious metal's vital role in portfolio insurance.

Crise constructed two sample portfolios to test gold's resilience and returns in a portfolio:

...a simple 60/40 asset mix calculated using the S&P 500 total return index and the Bloomberg Barclays US Treasury Total Return Index, and a 55/35/10 mix that reduced the stock and bond weightings by 5 percent apiece and replaced them with gold. (I used the spot gold price to calculate gold returns.)

It turns out that a portfolio including gold outperforms the 60/40 portfolio by about 55 basis points per year, albeit at the cost of higher volatility. (The risk-adjusted return was virtually identical for both portfolios.) Over a 30-year time frame, though, that half a percent per year accumulates into quite a tidy sum.

gold portfolio performance


For the past few years market bulls have been overjoyed to experience monetary stimulus and surging valuations. Now they cannot afford to ignore a reduction in stimulus against a backdrop of over-the-top valuations.

Investors also cannot afford to ignore what is about to happen. Wealth management schemes and pension plans have a huge amount of cash wrapped up in equity markets. Savers would be wise to consider the forthcoming risks and consider re balancing and allocating funds to gold in order to protect their wealth and portfolio.

The S&P500, along with other markets, may well continue to run for some time. History shows that equity bull markets have run for longer. Yet, on a host of metrics it looks very overvalued indeed and vulnerable to a sharp correction or indeed a crash.

At the moment much rests on the unlikely scenario of central banks not going through with their threats to raise rates and for global growth to continue its current synchronised rise.

Gold has performed incredibly well next to an asset class which it perhaps wouldn't have been expected to do so well against.

This does not mean that the two are complementary in their behaviour. Instead investors must consider the factors that drove the S&P 500 to such highs and how well gold will perform when they are no longer there.

This scenario sounds like it is already making more prudent, smart money investors nervous, a situation that bodes well for gold in the coming months and years.

News and Commentary

Gold prices hold firm as dollar sags (

Dollar Gains, Treasuries Fall on U.S. Tax Hopes (

Asia-Pacific stocks start lower, edge back into positive territory (

Trump leaning toward Powell for Fed chair, officials say (

Gold purchases on Moscow Exchange won’t change reserves’ outlook - Russia (

Source: ZeroHedge

How one of the first big property bubbles led to the Great Depression (

Warning of 'ecological Armageddon' after dramatic 75% plunge in insect numbers (Yahoo News)

S&P 500 Is Now Overvalued On 18 Of 20 Metrics (

2 Charts Show S&P A Bubble and Risk of Crash (

China’s Greater Bay Area gets a big green light (

Gold Prices (LBMA AM)

20 Oct: USD 1,280.25, GBP 974.27 & EUR 1,084.76 per ounce
19 Oct: USD 1,283.40, GBP 975.64 & EUR 1,087.42 per ounce
18 Oct: USD 1,280.65, GBP 972.53 & EUR 1,090.47 per ounce
17 Oct: USD 1,289.70, GBP 973.47 & EUR 1,097.02 per ounce
16 Oct: USD 1,305.15, GBP 981.08 & EUR 1,107.03 per ounce
13 Oct: USD 1,293.90, GBP 972.88 & EUR 1,093.73 per ounce
12 Oct: USD 1,294.45, GBP 977.96 & EUR 1,092.26 per ounce

Silver Prices (LBMA)

20 Oct: USD 17.08, GBP 12.96 & EUR 14.46 per ounce
19 Oct: USD 17.03, GBP 12.93 & EUR 14.40 per ounce
18 Oct: USD 16.95, GBP 12.86 & EUR 14.42 per ounce
17 Oct: USD 17.11, GBP 12.96 & EUR 14.55 per ounce
16 Oct: USD 17.41, GBP 13.09 & EUR 14.75 per ounce
13 Oct: USD 17.20, GBP 12.94 & EUR 14.55 per ounce
12 Oct: USD 17.20, GBP 13.06 & EUR 14.50 per ounce

Recent Market Updates

- How Gold Bullion Protects From Conflict And War
- Silver Bullion Prices Set to Soar
- Brexit UK Vulnerable As Gold Bar Exports Distort UK Trade Figures
- Puerto Rico Without Electricity, Wifi, ATMs Shows Importance of Cash, Gold and Silver
- U.S. Mint Gold Coin Sales and VIX Point To Increased Market Volatility and Higher Gold
- Global Outlook – Mad, Mad, Mad, MAD World: News in Charts
- Young Guns of Gold Podcast – ‘The Everything Bubble’
- London House Prices Are Falling – Time to Buckle Up
- Perth Mint Gold Coins Sales Double In September
- Survey shows UK and US Pensions Crisis is Imminent
- Gold Investment In Germany Surges – Now World’s Largest Gold Buyers
- Yahoo Hacking Highlights Cyber Risk and Increasing Importance of Physical Gold
- Safe Haven Silver To Outperform Gold In Q4 And In 2018

Important Guides

For your perusal, below are our most popular guides in 2017:

Essential Guide To Storing Gold In Switzerland

Essential Guide To Storing Gold In Singapore

Essential Guide to Tax Free Gold Sovereigns (UK)

Please share our research with family, friends and colleagues who you think would benefit from being informed by it.

by GoldCore at October 20, 2017 11:49 AM

Boy Genius Report

It looks like Apple wants to do something about the iPhone X’s sky-high price

iPhone X Release Date

Pricing for the iPhone X starts at $999, but most people won’t have to pay all of that at once. Carriers will probably engage in a fierce iPhone X pricing war come November, looking to ink as many new subscribers as possible. Not to mention that you can always pay for the iPhone in installments. But even so, you’re still going to spend a lot of money for the handset, even if you do it over a certain period, and take advantage of sales and trade-in offers.

But come next year, Apple may have cheaper iPhone X models in stores, and I’m not just talking about the 2017 phone that will cost $100 less than it does now.

Continue reading...

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by Chris Smith at October 20, 2017 11:45 AM

Zero Hedge

Democrat Wilson Slams John Kelly's "Empty Barrel" Comment: "This Has Become Totally Personal"

Yesterday, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly gave an emotional plea from the briefing room podium, saying he was "stunned" and "brokenhearted" at Democratic Representative Frederica Wilson’s criticism of what was supposed to be a private call between Trump and a killed military servicemember’s family.

I was stunned when I came to work yesterday morning and brokenhearted at what I saw a member of Congress doing.  A member of Congress who listened in on a phone call from the President of the United States to a young wife.  And, in his way, he tried to express that opinion that he was a brave man, a fallen hero.  He knew what he was getting himself into because he enlisted.  And he was where he wanted to be, exactly where he wanted to be with exactly the people he wanted to be with when his life was taken.  That was the message.  That was the message that was transmitted. It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation.  Absolutely stuns me.

The retired US Marine Corp General then launched into a fierce criticism of Rep. Wilson, labeling her “an empty barrel” for allegedly taking credit for raising funding for a new FBI field office during a 2015 ceremony dedicating the new building – located in Miramar, Florida – to two FBI agents who were killed during a gunfight with drug traffickers.

There were family members there," Kelly, who attended the ceremony in his capacity as Marine Corps general and head of US Southern Command, said Thursday. "Some of the children that were there were only 3 or 4 years old when their dads were killed on that street in Miami-Dade. Three of the men that survived the fight were there and gave a rendition of how brave those men were and how they gave their lives.


And a congresswoman stood up, and in a long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there in all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building, and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money, and she just called up President (Barack) Obama, and on that phone call, he gave the money, the $20 million, to build the building, and she sat down. We were stunned...

Wilson, who recounted Trump’s purportedly insensitive remarks – allegedly made during a conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson that Wilson was inexplicably present for – during interviews with the Washington Post and CNN, has fired back, accusing Kelly of giving an inaccurate account of a building dedication in an interview with the Miami Herald.

She added that the back and forth with the White House over the growing gold-star family controversy (several other families have come forward to complain about Trump’s condolence calls, with one father saying Trump promised to send him $25,000, but never followed through) has become “totally personal."

Thursday night, Wilson said Kelly got the story flat-out wrong. In fact, she said Washington approved the money before she was even in Congress. The legislation she sponsored named the building after Grogan and Dove, a law enacted just days before the ceremony.


“He shouldn't be able to just say that, that is terrible,” Wilson said of Kelly’s remarks in the White House briefing room, the latest volley in the controversy over Trump’s condolence call to a military widow from Miami Gardens, an area Wilson represents. “This has become totally personal.”

She rejected Kelly’s characterization of her remarks, claiming she has staff – speech writers and such – who write her speeches for her. She also claimed the funding for the building had been secured long before she got to Congress.

“That is crazy that I got [the money] and Mr. Obama just gave it to me,” Wilson said. “That building was funded long before I got to Congress. I didn’t say that. I have staff, people who write the speeches. You can’t say that.”

Johnson was killed during an Oct. 4 ambush in Niger in West Africa. Wilson said Trump was disrespectful to his widow, Myeshia, by saying her husband had known what he was getting into by joining the Army, and by calling him “your guy” instead of using his name. The Pentagon has opened an investigation into the ambush where Johnson was killed as troubling questions about the sequence of events have emerged. The attack, apparently carried out by militants affiliated with Islamic State, was the deadliest since Trump took office, yet the U.S. military’s Africa Command still does not have a clear “story board” of facts that commanders usually gather swiftly after deadly incidents.

Meanwhile, on Thursday night, Trump blasted Wilson in a tweet Thursday night, calling her “wacky” and accusing the Florida Democrat of lying about the content of his phone call with the family of a fallen soldier.

“The Fake News is going crazy with wacky Congresswoman Wilson(D), who was SECRETLY on a very personal call, and gave a total lie on content!” Trump tweeted.

For now, the national conversation has lingered on the exact language Trump used during phone calls with Gold Star families and absent a phone recording leaking, it is unclear how this topic will be resolved. Kelly, himself a Gold Star father, urged the press and public to keep the pain of Gold Star ‘sacred’. Unfortunately for military families everywhere, it looks like that ship has sailed. 

by Tyler Durden at October 20, 2017 11:45 AM

It's Nice That

Jeremyville to open pop-up studio at Dublin’s The Future festival


Jeremyville will be opening his first pop-up studio at The Future design and innovation festival in Dublin next month, giving complete insight to his creative process. Installed over the course of the event, A Trip to Jeremyville will allow visitors to watch the Australian born, New York-based artist draw, paint and create final pieces as well as ask him questions about his work.

Read more

by It's Nice That at October 20, 2017 11:32 AM

Rackspace Cloud Computing & Hosting

Music Behind the Tech: Marlene Rodriguez

Music and tech make a perfect pair — coding, troubleshooting and focusing on projects are often accompanied by a soundtrack for many in the IT industry. Whether it’s getting into that “flow state” or simply dialing in on a complex problem, listening to music seems to be the method of choice for IT employees looking […]

The post Music Behind the Tech: Marlene Rodriguez appeared first on The Official Rackspace Blog.

by Garrett Heath at October 20, 2017 11:30 AM

Zero Hedge

General Electric Plunges 5% After Slashing Guidance

While it may not have slashed its dividend, yet, General Electric shares plunged 5% in the pre-market after the company cut its 2017 profit forecast while its new CEO grapples with one of the deepest slumps in the iconic US manufacturer’s history. The company reported that adjusted earnings this year are expected to be only $1.05 to $1.10 per share, down over 30% from a previous range of $1.60 to $1.70 a share. This is also sharply lower than the sellside consensus of $1.54 a share.

For the current quarter, the industrial conglomerate and maker of jet engines and gas turbines reported adjusted Q3 EPS of 29 cents, nearly 50% below the 50 cent consensus estimate.

As Bloomberg reports, the revision underscores the severity of the challenges facing Chief Executive Officer John Flannery, who took over Jeffrey Immelt’s longtime post in August. With hurdles from poor cash flows to slumping power-generation markets, GE is by far the biggest loser on the Dow Jones Industrial Average this year and has seen a quarter of its market value evaporate.

The cut is the latest step in what is shaping up to be a dramatic repositioning of GE under its new leadership. Flannery this month welcomed a representative of activist investor Trian Fund Management to GE’s board and announced several management changes. He is seeking deep cost cuts and has said he will consider all options, including portfolio changes.

In addition to GE no longer using a "shadow" private jet for its CEO, not to mention slashing its fleets of private cars and other corporate perks as the WSJ infamously reported yesterday, expect thousands more in layoffs from what was once America's most iconic company, which in turn will follow to more complaints by the Fed about America's growing "qualified labor shortage." And now we wait news on the fate of the company's dividend which wall street expects to be "massively" cut.

by Tyler Durden at October 20, 2017 11:29 AM

Brand New

Reviewed: Friday Likes 223: From Kati Forner, BÜRO UFHO, and skinn branding agency

“From Kati Forner, BÜRO UFHO, and skinn branding agency”

Friday Likes 223

A crazy project gets sandwiched by two elegant ones this week, with work from Los Angeles, Singapore, and Brugge.

H. Smith by Kati Forner

H. Smith by Kati Forner

H. Smith is a curated, online boutique that caters to the fashion-forward woman and its identity by Los Angeles, CA-based Kati Forner oozes fashion-forward-woman-ness... not that that's even a thing but the point is that it looks elegant, unique, and high-end. The simple, Art Deco-ish wordmark looks great in all the materials, especially foil stamped in gold but even double-especially when set in a concentric circle as a secondary motif. The watercolor backgrounds are pretty nice too; not an entirely novel idea but very well used here to establish a lavender, salmon, tan color palette. All the finishes and materials chosen are spot on. See full project



And now for something completely different: GIF FEST, organised by kult and Noise Singapore, is a multi-day festival in Singapore celebrating the best of the animated GIF art form. While it's easy to convey GIFness online, it is much harder to capture their frenetic energy in print but the identity by local firm BÜRO UFHO manages the feat with a, well, frenetic use of illustration and typography. The hero animated GIF -- a kind of gummy skull (that you'll have to check out at the link, since it was very heavy to embed in the composite image above) -- translates amazingly into a busy, colorful illustration that easily becomes a recognizable symbol for the event. The typography is an old trick of throwing every style and weight of Hoefler & Co.'s Champion (or Knockout) unto the page, so, it's not new but when paired with this aesthetic it creates a very energetic result. This is probably not for everyone but I love the more is more approach of it and, more importantly, I love that there is a multi-day festival celebrating animated GIFs. See full project

Salt Real Estate by skinn branding agency

Salt Real Estate by skinn branding agency

Salt is a real estate developer that builds unique, boutique -- it rhymes! -- apartment complexes in Knokke-Heist, a coastal city in Belgium. Designed by Brugge, Belgium-based skinn branding agency, the concrete-hued applications of the identity echo the buildings by Salt with their clean and spare lines. The stencil logo is sharp, minimal, and lends itself quite nicely for all the different applications. There is something a tiny bit off about the "S" that looks different from "ALT" but all the applications are so well executed it's hard to notice. See full project

October 20, 2017 11:16 AM

Zero Hedge

Stocks Hit New Record Highs, Dollar Jumps On Senate Vote; Japan Has Longest Winning Streak In History

Global stocks hit new all time highs overnight, with US stock-index futures, Asian and European stocks all rising overnight after the Senate adopted a fiscal 2018 budget resolution, paving the way for Trump's $1.5 trillion in tax cuts, while news that "dove" Jay Powell may be the next Fed chair added to the risk-on sentiment.

Among key macro trades, the USD rallied on optimism Trump tax cuts are a step closer, with USD/JPY close to 113.50 and USD/CHF back above 200DMA. USTs push through overnight lows dragging bunds and gilts lower; short Sterling strip initially bid higher after dovish Cunliffe comments before unwinding due to steepening in Eurodollars. European equity markets opened higher but ground back towards flat, as mining stocks and banks  outperform. The euro slipped as investors awaited the next move in Spain’s Catalan crisis, and the yen fell ahead of Japan’s election. Gold dropped along with European bonds as safe havens lost favor. WTI crude fell as Iraq sought to restore flows from fields in a disputed region. Spanish banks Sabadell and Caixabank weigh on IBEX after Catalan separatists target them for deposit withdrawals; not reflected in Spanish bonds, however, which actually outperform. ZAR weakest in EMFX due to speculation Deputy PM could be fired; crude futures pressured by the strong USD.

In the top overnight event, the Senate voted to adopt budget resolution through 51-49 vote, which paves the way for a tax overhaul and shields a future tax reform bill from a Democrat filibuster. To be sure, this is only the first step in a process that only now becomes fraught with disagreement among republicans. Sure enough, “the budget still has to pass the House, but near-term, it should be supportive for the dollar,” said Shinichiro Kadota, a senior foreign-exchange strategist at Barclays Securities Japan Ltd. in Tokyo. “Senate passage of the budget was a step required for budget reconciliation to advance tax reform.”


There were also reports that US President Trump is leaning towards Powell for Fed Chair. However, it was later reported that US President Trump advisers are said to be leaning towards Taylor or Powell as the next Fed Chair and added that the Fed chair role was down to the aforementioned 2 candidates, although according to online betting site Predicit the contest is now over.

Investors continue to eye political developments in Spain, the decision on a Federal Reserve chair that may sway the path of U.S. interest rates, and Brexit negotiations, suggesting caution as markets head into the weekend. But Thursday’s bout of volatility dissipated quickly as tax-cut optimism took hold. The CBOE Volatility Index, which surged as much as 17 percent on Thursday, actually ended the day in the red and fell further on Friday. Spain’s IBEX was unchanged after falling -0.2% even as the Stoxx 600 gained as officials in Madrid are finalizing plans for taking control of Catalonia.  CaixaBank down 0.4%, Banco Sabadell were down 1.6%; separatist campaign group Catalan National Assembly called on supporters to pull cash from the two banks to protest at their decision to shift their legal domiciles out of the region.

Material and tech stocks are supporting European equities this morning after a resolutely weaker day yesterday, and earnings are the main focus with Volvo shares hitting a record high after its earnings beat estimates. Swedish firms are among the best performers with Ericsson also gaining 4.8% after its earnings. Meanwhile the IBEX is lagging peers as investors exercise caution ahead of a potential triggering of Article 155 this weekend.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose for a 14th day, matching the longest winning streak on record ahead of Sunday’s general election when the Abe administration’s popularity will be put to test. The last time the index saw a similar rally was back in 1961. The Nikkei 225 has gained on every trading day in October, rising 5.4 percent, while the Topix index extended its rally to a tenth session. Shares reversed an early decline as the yen weakened after the U.S. Senate adopted a fiscal 2018 budget resolution that boosted the odds for U.S. President Donald Trump’s tax cut plans. Stocks in Tokyo have been boosted on the outlook for strong corporate earnings, foreign buying and bets that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s coalition would retain power with a two-thirds majority in parliament. There’s “more stealth” in this Japan market rally, said Andrew Clarke, director of trading at Mirabaud Asia Ltd. in Hong Kong. Abe’s ruling coalition is projected to lose its two-thirds majority in the election, the latest Nikkei poll showed. The most likely scenario is the Liberal Democratic Party-Komeito bloc picking up 297 seats, shy of the 310 needed for a so-called super-majority. “If the Abe victory is not priced in or is even better than expected there are going to be a lot of people chasing their tails,” Mirabaud’s Clarke said.

Elsewhere in Asia, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index was little changed at 166.91. New Zealand retirement-village operator Ryman Healthcare Ltd. fell 4.1 percent, amid concerns incoming Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s policies will lead to lower property prices. Kiwi stocks fluctuated and the local dollar fell. “While political dust is settling in New Zealand with the formation of a coalition government to be headed by Jacinda Ardern, the climate is heating up in Japan ahead of general elections on Sunday, said Rob Carnell, head of research and chief economist at ING Bank in Singapore. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index gained 1.2 percent, rebounding from its biggest lost in two months Thursday. India is closed for a holiday after a ceremonial shortened trading session to mark Diwali on Thursday. Shares in New Zealand .NZ50 notched their 14th straight rising session and fifth winning week to close at a record after the nationalist New Zealand First Party agreed to form a new government with the centre-left Labour Party following weeks of political negotiations, ending the centre-right National Party's decade in power. But the New Zealand dollar wallowed at five month lows after a 1.7 percent fall on Thursday, its largest daily fall since June 2016, on concerns the new Labour coalition will take a tougher stance on immigration and foreign investment.

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude dipped 1 percent to $50.76 a barrel.  Gold fell 0.7 percent to $1,281.22 an ounce. Copper climbed 0.7 percent to $3.19 a pound.

In rates, The yield on 10-year Treasuries increased four basis points to 2.36 percent, the highest in more than a week.  Germany’s 10-year yield increased four basis points to 0.43 percent.  Britain’s 10-year yield advanced three basis points to 1.276 percent.

Economic data include existing home sales. P&G, General Motors, Honeywell and Baker Hughes are among companies reporting earnings

Bulletin Headline Summary from RanSquawk

  • US equity futures notably higher after the senate voted to adopt budget resolution, paving way for tax overhaul
  • President Trump is said to be leaning towards Powell for the next Fed Chair.
  • Looking ahead, highlights include Canadian CPI, US Existing Home Sales.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.2% to record 2,564.75
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.1% to 389.57
  • MSCI Asia down 0.07% to 166.90
  • MSCI Asia ex Japan up 0.4% to 550.70
  • Nikkei up 0.04% to 21,457.64
  • Topix up 0.03% to 1,730.64
  • Hang Seng Index up 1.2% to 28,487.24
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.3% to 3,378.65
  • Sensex down 0.6% to 32,389.96
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.2% to 5,906.99
  • Kospi up 0.7% to 2,489.54
  • German 10Y yield rose 4.1 bps to 0.436%
  • Euro down 0.4% to $1.1804
  • Italian 10Y yield fell 1.2 bps to 1.761%
  • Spanish 10Y yield rose 1.9 bps to 1.654%
  • Brent futures down 1% to $56.68/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.8% to $1,280.33
  • U.S. Dollar Index up 0.3% to 93.53

Top Overnight News

  • U.S. Senate adopted a fiscal 2018 budget resolution Thursday which House GOP leaders agreed to accept. The show of unity is aimed at speeding consideration of President Trump’s plan to enact tax cuts
  • Several people familiar with the process said President Donald Trump’s
    closest advisers are steering him toward choosing either Stanford
    economist John Taylor or Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome Powell to
    be the next Fed chief
  • The Catalan National Assembly called on independence supporters to pull cash from CaixaBank, Banco Sabadell and other major lenders to protest their shifting out of the region. The banks said business was normal
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel upended U.K. skeptics, offering Prime Minister Theresa May the political cover she has been asking to take further steps in Brexit talks. Merkel said there is zero indication that Brexit talks won’t succeed and that she truly wants an agreement
  • U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signalled impatience with China on issues from North Korea to trade, and vowed to remain on the job as long as Donald Trump will have him
  • Sprint, T-Mobile Deal Announcement Is Said to Likely Be Delayed
  • Barclays Sued by Fund for $850 Million in Metal Market Abuse
  • Daimler Profit Falls as Mercedes Stumbles on Diesel Costs
  • Trading Firms Fear Mutiny on MiFID Rule Demanding Passport Data
  • Madrid Doubles Down as Catalans Prepare to Declare New State
  • Existing home sales for September will be announced Friday

Asia equity markets traded with a modest tone amid a very light calendar and mixed US lead, although risk appetite was spurred in US equity futures after the senate voted to adopt the budget resolution which paves the way for a tax overhaul. ASX 200 (+0.2%) pared initial losses amid a recovery in the largest weighted financials sector, while Nikkei 225 (Unch.) failed to benefit from JPY weakness with underperformance seen in Toshiba amid financial-related probes and Nissan after reports it halted some domestic output and that unqualified inspections occurred for the past 2 decades. Elsewhere, Hang Seng (+1.0%) rebounded from its worst performance in 2 months, while Shanghai Comp. (+0.1%) was uninspired despite the PBoC’s largest weekly net injection since January. Finally, 10yr JGBs tracked the downside seen in T-notes as risk appetite was underpinned by the developments in Washington, although losses were stemmed amid the presence of the BoJ in the market for a respectable JPY 990bln in government debt of 1yr-10yr maturities. PBoC injected CNY 50bln via 7-day reverse repos and CNY 30bln via 14-day reverse repos for a weekly net injection of CNY 560bln vs. last week's net drain of CNY 240bln.

Top Asian News

  • Dymon Asia Hedge Fund to Raise $600 Million in Equity Expansion
  • Noble Group Faces 11th Hour Oil-Unit Sale as Stock Is Halted
  • Abe’s Coalition Seen Losing Two-Thirds Majority in Nikkei Poll
  • Foreigners Return to Add Momentum as Nikkei Surges 14th Day
  • Swiss $3 Billion Fund Bets Himalayan Nuts Will Crank Returns

European stocks are supported by material and tech stocks this morning after a resolutely weaker day yesterday, and earnings are the main focus with Volvo shares hitting a record high after its earnings beat estimates. Swedish firms are among the best performers with Ericsson also gaining 4.8% after its earnings. Meanwhile the IBEX is lagging peers as investors exercise caution ahead of a potential triggering of Article 155 this weekend. A bit more downside for debt futures in wake of the latest public sector deficit figures, despite some smaller than expected shortfalls. An 80% of GDP ex-banks/BoE headline is eye-catching and of course the Government’s financing position is just as contingent on the Brexit outcome in the longer run as the economy overall. Gilts remain on the backfoot within a 124.75-50 range, but in truth more in line with the general tone following a downturn in US Treasuries after Thursday’s European close. Indeed, Bunds are just a few ticks off a marginal new 161.54 Eurex session low, and 10 year US T-notes are just above their 124- 29+ nadir at 125-00. To recap, the catalysts for softer bonds – Washington passing the 2018 budget resolution and Fed chair favourites said to be Powell and Taylor. Spanish 10 year Bono yield back up around 1.65% ahead of the anticipated Article 155 activation against  Catalonia over the weekend.

Top European News

  • CaixaBank, Sabadell Say Business Normal After Calls to Pull Cash
  • Pearson Is Said in Advanced Talks to Sell Unit to Chinese Group
  • U.K. Budget Gap Narrows More Than Forecast on Solid Tax Growth
  • Austria’s Schelling Says ECB Should Slow Down Asset Purchases
  • Glencore Stake Swap Cements Ties With Russia’s Aluminum King
  • Telecom Italia Said to Be Open to Spinoff of Landline Grid
  • Betsson Drops Most in Year After a ‘Weak’ Third Quarter
  • Ericsson Gains on Improving Sentiment Amid High Short Interest

In currencies, the dollar index saw a recovery ahead of the 93.00 level, finding a bid following the US Senate’s decision to pass the budget blueprint, which is key to President Trump’s tax effort. EUR/USD failed to test October’s high, with the daily candle ‘head and shoulders’ formation, now evident, bears will look for a break through 1.1671 to indicate a change in direction in the pair, with eyes on the ECB next week. EUR/USD sees around 3bln worth of expires today between 1.1800 – 1.1850. USD/JPY has followed the vast majority of USD crosses in finding some greenback buying, however, has run into some resistance, with touted offers between 113.30/50. In cable, subdued data, and economical concerning commentary from BoE members Ramsden, Teneryo and Cunliffe this week has seen the percentage of a November hike from the BoE fall from 80% to around 70%. Cable has seen a bearish week, coming back to trade in the post Brexit range, a long term support trendline continues to act as a support, with bears likely to look for a break through 1.3. Brexit talk continues, with May, Davis and Merkel all weighing in yesterday; with Davis telling officials to step up planning for a potential no-deal in Brexit discussions. The Loonie will be in focus today, with inflation and retail sales due at 13.30. Excluding Canada’s latest  employment report, where the focus was on part-time employment moving to full-time employment, data has been a concern for the BoC following their unexpected hike, as likelihood of another move in 2017 lessens. USD/CAD trades in consolidation of late, stuck in this October 1.2450 – 1.2600 range, with many awaiting for the aforementioned data to possibly give the pair some monthly direction.

In commodities, WTI and Brent crude futures hovering at the lows amid the upside seen in the greenback, with WTI pushing through yesterday lows. Similarly selling pressure has been observed in the precious metal complex due to the strength in the aforementioned USD. Gold fell 0.7 percent to $1,281.22 an ounce. Copper climbed 0.7 percent to $3.19 a pound.

Looking at the day ahead, today will be a big day for Brexit talks with EU leaders set to meet and discuss at the European Council meeting in Brussels in the morning. Away from that, the day ends with the Fed’s Yellen speaking in the evening. Datawise we get US existing home sales data for September. General Electric and Proctor & Gamble results will be due.

US Event Calendar

  • 10am: Existing Home Sales, est. 5.3m, prior 5.35m; MoM est. -0.93%, prior -1.7%
  • 2pm: Fed’s Mester Speaks on Global Regulatory Structure
  • 7:30pm: Yellen Gives Lecture on Monetary Policy Since Financial Crisis

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

Stateside the S&P 500 looked at the early weakness and decided that it wasn’t
going to let it ruin its recent run and turned round a 0.5% intra-day loss at
the lows into a small (+0.03%) gain into the close, in part as Politico reported
that Fed Governor Powell is the “leading candidate” for the Fed Chair after
President Trump has now concluded interviews with the five potential candidates.
The report has also caused a small rally in US treasuries to close 2.9bp lower
yesterday. Later on, Bloomberg reported that VP Pence and Treasury Secretary
Mnuchin are advocating Taylor or Powell to President Trump.

Overnight, the most important news is that the senate has voted 51-49 to
adopt the FY18 budget resolution which clears one obstacle and enables
the Republicans to move onto the next stage of delivering tax reforms. This
morning, UST10y have reversed yesterday’s move at are trading at 2.355% as we
type, after being below 2.30% at the lows yesterday as risk markets were having
a mini wobble. It does feel Treasuries have been all over the place this past week
with CPI, the Fed Chair headlines, the risk off from yesterday and then the senate
vote giving ammunition to both sides.

Yesterday’s early losses originally stemmed from Asia as after going to print
yesterday, the Hang Seng fell from near flat deep into the afternoon session
to then close -1.92% (worst since mid-August). This was on the back of sharp
property sector falls as 3 month bank rates rose by the most this year. It couldn't
have helped the subsequent risk-off environment to hear the Chinese Central
Bank governor Zhou warning of a possible 'Minsky moment' for the economy
where “if we’re too optimistic when things go smoothly, tensions build up, which
could lead to a sharp correction”. He didn’t specify which asset class he was
referring to, but broadly noted that corporate borrowing in China is “very high”,
partly due to inadequate direct financing and inefficient capital allocation by
companies. This morning in Asia, markets are trading modestly higher though,
with the Hang Seng rebounding +0.98%, while Kospi (+0.54%), ASX 200 (+0.17%)
and Nikkei (-0.07%) are slightly up as we type.

Elsewhere the world's biggest company - namely Apple - fell (-2.37%) yesterday
as reports from the Chinese Economic Daily news suggested that orders for the
iPhone 8 had been disappointing. Obviously next month's launch of the iPhone
X was always going to overshadow the '8' so we'll see if that makes up for any
disappointments. Given it makes up c4% of the S&P 500 and c12% of the Nasdaq
then even us macro guys have to be aware of it. Suppliers of Apple also had a
weak day in sympathy. Weaker earnings in Europe (e.g. Unilever, Nestle, Thales
and Roche) also didn't help sentiment and neither did the signs that the Spanish
situation remains tense (more below).

Turning to Spain, where Catalan President Puidgemont has refused to
denounce the claim to independence, noting that “if the Spanish government
persists in blocking dialogue…the Catalan Parliament may proceed…to approve
a formal declaration of independence”. In response, Spain’s government has
issued a statement invoking Article 155 of the Constitution which starts the
process of potentially taking direct control of Catalonia. The Spanish cabinet
will meet this Saturday to approve specific measures before seeking approval
from the Senate, which could take weeks. Later on, sources told Bloomberg
that senior lawmakers from the main pro-independence parties will meet next
Monday in Catalan Parliament to discuss next steps. Spanish markets modestly
underperformed yesterday, with the IBEX -0.74% and 10y yields up 1.7bp while
core European bond yields fell slightly (Bunds -0.1bp; OATs -1.3bp; Gilts -3.6bp).

Onto Brexit talks which remains at a stalemate over at the EU Summit, with
one of the main sticking point being UK’s potential financial obligation to the
EU. The Dutch PM noted that PM “May has to come up with more clarity on
what is meant by other commitments in her Florence speech”. That said, rhetoric
continues to offer a glimpse of hope as Germany Merkel’s noted that “at this
point, it’s not sufficient to begin the second phase, but it’s encouraging enough
to continue working (on preparatory work) in order to reach the beginning of
the second phase (ie: talks on trade) in December” and that there is “zero
indication” that Brexit talks won’t succeed. Back in the UK, First Secretary of
State Green noted that it’s “hugely desirable” and likely that a Brexit deal will be
reached, while Foreign Secretary Johnson said “that we’ll get….a great deal…
but with any negotiation, you’ve got to be prepared to walk away”.

Staying with politics, this Sunday, we will see the Japanese election where polls
suggests PM Abe should win a two thirds majority in parliament and secure his
third term. According to a survey by Sankei newspaper on Tuesday, it forecasts
PM Abe’s coalition side could win 300-335 seats out of a total of 465 seats (Abe’s
LDP takes c300, coalition partner takes c35), which is slightly higher than earlier
polls. A win by PM Abe could lead to a continuation of accommodative monetary
policy along with potential changes towards higher sales tax and the approval of
gambling resorts.

Now quickly recapping other markets performance from yesterday. The
Nasdaq fell 0.29% while Dow was broadly flat. Within the S&P, modest gains from
the utilities and health care sectors were broadly offset by losses from consumer
staples and tech stocks, while United Continental dropped the most in eight
years (-12.08%) after a disappointing profit forecast. European bourses broadly
weakened, with peripherals such as Italy (-0.99%) and Spain (-0.74%) slightly
underperforming the core indices (Stoxx 600 -0.63%, FTSE -0.26%). The VIX touched an intra-day high of 11.78 (highest since early September) but closed at
10.05 (-0.02pts) for the day.

Onto currencies, the US dollar index dipped 0.1% while the Euro gained 0.55%
and Sterling weakened 0.35%, partly impacted by the lower than expected retail
sales readings. In commodities, WTI oil fell 1.44% while Russia and OPEC are
reportedly speaking to other members behind the scenes to ensure an extension
of oil supply cuts at next month’s OPEC meeting. Precious metals rebounded
slightly after three consecutive days of losses (Gold +0.71%; Silver +1.50%)
while other base metals were mixed but little changed (Copper -0.60%; Zinc
+0.08%; Aluminium +0.87%).

Away from markets and onto central banker commentaries. The ECB’s Nowotny
noted that the ECB must decide in October on how QE will continue and that
“there are good arguments for a slow reduction of purchases”, while also
noting that “we don’t have to wait until inflation reaches 1.9%, we can normalise
policy earlier”. Elsewhere, BOE’s policy maker Cunliffe sounded a bit dovish
where he is “very clear” that a slow and gradual rate hike is warranted, but “when
that process starts is a more open question”, with his decision “based in large
part on whether I see domestic inflation pressure and what I see happening to
pay in the economy”.

Finally, arguably the most consequential surprise across markets this year has
been the slowdown in inflation. The slowdown began in March even as growth
strengthened and the labour market tightened. Large cross asset impacts have
understandably led to an acute market focus on inflation, its drivers and debate
as to its prospects, but it has also led to a large number of myths about inflation.
DB’s multi asset strategists discuss 6 of them in their note and suggests that if
inflation was judged by historical standards to be completely normal, then a Fed
behaving in line with its past behaviour would have policy rates at 350bp instead
of being at 113bp.

Before we take a look at today’s calendar, we wrap up with other data releases
from yesterday. The US macro data was a bit mixed. The October Philly Fed
business outlook index was materially above expectations at 27.9 (vs. 22
expected) and now slightly above the June reading, while the weekly initial
jobless claims reached a 44 year record low at 222k (vs. 240k expected).
Elsewhere, the continuing claims was broadly in line at 1,888k (vs. 1,890k
expected), while the Conference board leading index was down 0.2% mom
(vs. 0.1% expected). In the UK, the core September retail sales fell more than
expected, at -0.7% mom (vs. -0.2%) and 1.6% yoy (vs. 2.2% expected)

Over in China, as we noted yesterday, its 3Q GDP reading was in line at 6.8% yoy,
but both the September retail sales (10.3% yoy vs. 10.2% expected) and IP (6.6%
yoy vs. 6.5% expected) slightly beat expectations. Our China economists have
revised up their 4Q GDP growth forecast to 6.6% (+0.1ppt) and 2017 full year
forecast to 6.8% (+0.1ppt), as growth momentum has been stronger than they
expected, particularly in the service sector. This is likely supported by the wealth
effect from the property market boom in the tier 3 cities. In their view, growth
will likely slow in 2018 but the pace depends on the growth target to be set
by the new group of leaders in the Central Economic Working Conference in
December . On balance, our China team expect a flexible growth target for 2018 and for growth to slow to 6.3%. However, the risk to this forecast is to the upside,
if the leaders decide to keep the target at 6.5%.

Looking at the day ahead, today will be a big day for Brexit talks with EU leaders
set to meet and discuss at the European Council meeting in Brussels in the
morning. Away from that, the day ends with the Fed’s Mester speaking in the
evening. Datawise UK public sector net borrowing data for September and US
existing home sales data for September are the only releases of note. General
Electric and Proctor & Gamble results will be due.

by Tyler Durden at October 20, 2017 11:06 AM

It's Nice That

A real bobby-dazzler, it’s Best of the Web!


If you’re still recovering from that time when the sky went dark and the sun went red, then this edition of Best of the Web is the perfect way to end a confusing week. This time we’ve got an interview with Jurgen Teller, a genius move from KFC on Twitter and a look back at an old Sony ad that’s still just as mesmerising.

Read more

by It's Nice That at October 20, 2017 11:02 AM

Wired Top Stories

Cutting Carbs Won't Save You From Cancer

A new study elucidating the mechanisms by which blood glucose fuels tumors is not the kind of science on which to build a diet.

by Megan Molteni at October 20, 2017 11:00 AM

Airbus' A330-900neo Takes Off for the Very First Time

The new jet is here to rival Boeing's successful 787 Dreamliner.

by Alex Davies at October 20, 2017 11:00 AM

Cryptojacking Lets Strangers Mine Cryptocurrency With Your Browser

The recent onset of "cryptojacking" has left victims befuddled, but reforms could make it a valuable tool.

by Lily Hay Newman at October 20, 2017 11:00 AM

Can We Still Rely On Science Done By Sexual Harassers?

Scholars have ways to think about "problematic" artists and their work. But what about science and equally problematic scientists?

by Adam Rogers at October 20, 2017 11:00 AM

Verizon's Longshot Bet to Disrupt Google and Facebook

Verizon says Oath, its unit combining AOL and Yahoo, reaped $2 billion in quarterly revenue. That's a long way from Google and Facebook.

by Klint Finley at October 20, 2017 11:00 AM

O'Reilly Radar

How to create products people want

How to observe what your customers are already doing and turn those habits into the basis for product ideas.

“What if you launch your product...and nobody buys it?”

These were the words that compelled me, as a would-be graduate of the 30x500 bootcamp (a class that teaches people how to create and sell their first products), to become a student. It was a moment that would change my life.

Less than six months after graduating from the course, I created two products from scratch that made more money with fewer customers than the venture-backed startup I was a part of for almost five years.

This is a testament to the 30x500 approach: it forces product creators to cut directly to the heart of why a product should exist: to find a customer.

Again, these sentiments aren’t new. I was paraphrasing Peter Drucker’s words from almost 50 years ago: “the purpose of the enterprise is to create a customer.”

Talk about cutting directly to what’s been causing technology’s all-too-frequent product failures.

That’s, in fact, one of the motivations Hoy and Hillman had for creating the 30x500 bootcamp: railing against the phenomenon they call “ego-first development”: thinking that a product or idea is special just because it’s yours.

It’s a fallacy that sets you up for failure. It creates an endless cycle of throwing ideas against the wall with the hopes of finding something that works. Hoy puts it like this:

The core problem with so many businesses is that they’re based on what the business owner wants. They’re fantasizing about being the hero: “I’m going to ride in on my white ‘software’ horse, and save these poor people.”

Their programs have produced some incredible statistics since starting in only 2011. Students who have never created a product in their lives have gone on to make tens of thousands of dollars for themselves in the first few months after following the 30x500 framework. Other product rookies were generating five figures in recurring revenue after only a few months. Their students have gone on to gross over $2 million in aggregate sales over the bootcamp’s lifespan—despite the fact that the course is offered on an extremely limited basis.

One of their core teachings is this: creating a product based primarily on what you want focuses the product in exactly the wrong direction. When you do so, the primary benefit becomes the fact that you’ve created it, instead of what your product can do for others.

Ego-first development flies in the face of everything we’ve explored about how successful products are made. That’s because, as we’ve seen, concocting a product idea is really an act of listening. And without knowing who you’re serving and what they need, building product is simply another form of optimistic speculation.

But wouldn’t the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop that’s been popularized by the Lean Startup model solve this problem? Isn’t the right path to “validate” your ideas with a “minimum viable product” through customer interviews?

The methodology behind the 30x500 class openly challenges what’s become common wisdom and all-too-frequent buzzwords in technologyland. Notions of “customer validation,” “minimum viable product,” and “pivoting” have successfully woven themselves deep into startup culture. But startup deaths aren’t letting up, despite the influx of capital and talent into technology startups and the occasional high-profile successes like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Airbnb in recent years. Despite the flood of cheap and eager money, 70% of dead technology companies were in the Internet sector.

The core tenet of the ready-fire-aim approach found in the Lean Startup framework is believing that one can find customers—and the right product to build—by asking what they want.

But this is an inherently flawed notion, because doing so relies upon:

  • Your ability to get your ego out of the way and to ask exactly the right questions at the right time from the right people.

  • Your potential customers being rational or aware enough to identify their own habits, wax eloquently about what bothers them, and express what would make them happy.

  • A freely accessible pool of people who aren’t going to tell you just what you want to hear, and who don’t change their habits after you interview them.

Hillman likens this belief to the dichotomy between observing lions in the zoo and how they behave in the wild:

Imagine going to see the lions on display in the zoo. Now imagine seeing the same species of lion in the wild on an African safari. Technically, you’re looking at the same animal both times. But they behave differently in the wild than they do in captivity.

You wouldn’t make a judgment call about what MOST lions do based on a lion in a zoo, because MOST lions aren’t in zoos.

So, what happens when you observe your customers like you’d observe lions on a safari? What happens when creating a new product isn’t an exercise in the “extreme uncertainty” espoused by the Lean Startup model?

You’ll know what your customers’ problems are. You’ll know what makes them happy and how they speak with each other. You’ll know exactly what to say and how to say it to pique their interest. And, ultimately, you’ll know how to make them want to use your product.

This approach forms the basis of 30x500’s modern ethnographic approach. Fittingly called “Sales Safari,” it’s a system that observes what your customers are already doing and turns those habits into the basis for product ideas.

Let’s take a look at Sales Safari now.

Find product ideas with sales safari

Going on a Sales Safari is the process of uncovering product ideas hiding in plain sight. It places the work of coming up with these ideas on your potential customers, and lays a foundation for repeatable success. Based on the observation techniques used by Lillian Gilbreth and Henry Dreyfuss, Sales Safari is what Amy Hoy—the method’s inventor—calls “net ethnography.”

“Sales Safari is ‘net ethnography,’ combined with some close reading and empathy,” she says. “[It’s] step-by-step empathizing with your customer to understand them.”

In case you’ve forgotten, ethnography’s central premise is that you can learn what people actually do when they’re not aware that you’re looking. By observing what people do and say, you’ll understand how they behave on their terms and not on yours.

Why’s this important when creating products? Because this observation enlightens us about two really important things: the contexts in which customers might use a product, and how that affects the relative value of your product in their daily lives.

“The key is to start by observing what [your customers] actually already do,” Hoy continues. “You don’t try to persuade a vegetarian to buy Omaha Steaks. You look at what they actually do in real life on the internet. What they read. What they share with each other. The problems they discuss. What things they ask help for. How they help others.”

What’s particularly unique about Sales Safari is that it takes place entirely online, for a number of reasons:


You can reach almost any unique community that exists on Earth without leaving your chair.


Online research affords tons of conveniences like search engines, copy and paste, and more. Doing offline research is much harder to complete—and much harder to obtain without it being tainted by your presence.

A reliable record

When people are speaking in “meatspace,” you either have to remember what they said, scribble notes, or awkwardly record your conversation. Online observation, though, is out there for you to read and parse at your leisure.

Time to analyze

Online observation provides “the ability to disassociate what someone is saying from what you interpret them saying,” says 30x500 coteacher Alex Hillman.


You’re not physically present to influence anybody’s opinions, nor are you tempted to pull the research pitch—the act of pitching your product while asking people what they want. “People need to not know that you’re there watching,” Hillman continues. “That sounds really creepy to say it that way, but there’s a reason for it. This is professional lurking if you want to look at it that way. You’re there to watch what they do and say when they don’t know you’re there.”


You literally have access to the entire internet to find people in a particular audience. You’re not limited to a local meetup or user group; instead, you can get the full picture of an audience’s pains from around the world.

Sales Safari’s intentional distance is designed to avoid the pitfalls of asking questions and influencing your subjects. In ethnographic circles, this is known as avoiding the “Margaret Mead problem.” Her story is a cautionary tale, and a predominant example of how being too close to the people you’re studying can distort the truth.

It’s 1928. Anthropologist Margaret Mead has finished writing her book, Coming of Age in Samoa, a study of the lives of teenage girls there: how they came of age, what their family structures were like, and so on.

The quick-and-dirty of the Mead story is that she lived with the villagers, asked about their lives, and listened to their stories—many of which were later revealed to have been made up by her teenage subjects. She took these stories at face value instead of observing their behavior. Years later, anthropologist Derek Freeman returned to the village, where the now-elderly teenage girls from Mead’s study admitted to making up stories just for fun.

That’s why observing people and not asking them is at the center of creating products that find a customer. And creating products that find customers depends on finding their pain.

Sales Safari’s designed to root out people’s pain. Because if you can discern what people’s problems are, then chances are you’re the one who’ll be able to solve those problems.

“People walk around trying to tune out their problems, because they don’t expect they can solve them,” says Hoy. “You have to reflect back to them. ‘Hey, this is the problem that you’re having. You know, it’s a big deal, but also we can fix it together.’”

Pain and problems—revealed by observation and empathy. It’s not a flashy notion, nor is it particularly groundbreaking. But it’s been at the center of how successful products get made for over a century.

By using modern online tools, Sales Safari can help you to start recognizing the patterns among your audience.

“In order for someone to go on the internet and ask a question of a group of strangers about how to solve their problem, [it’s] a very strong indicator of the level of pain they’re in,” Hillman says. “Even if it seems like very little pain to you. Like, ‘Oh, that’s so simple. Here’s how to fix it.’ It’s awesome that you think that, but that’s clearly not where they’re coming from. Otherwise, they would have fixed it by now.”

But how does Sales Safari help you uncover people’s problems? How does it help you to create products that will be used by more than just a few people?

Sales Safari works by observing “at scale.” That means spending not just a few hours, but dozens to hundreds of hours, analyzing your audience.

This, of course, implies that you’ve done the work beforehand to know where your audience or your customers hang out online. What forums, mailing lists, and link-sharing sites do they frequent? What are they writing in customer support emails or product reviews?

Then, it’s on to what Hoy says requires “close reading,” a study technique that’s meant to uncover layers of meaning in text. When you close read, you’re focusing on the way the person writes, how they see the world, or how they argue a particular point.

But we’re not doing this for literary analysis. We’re doing this to understand what people want.

Close reading, when used to understand an audience, uncovers a series of data points that will begin to form patterns.

“You start collecting jargon, some of their specific detailed language and words they use to describe the problem,” Hillman says. “Elements and contributions to their worldview, their deep-seated beliefs that are unshakable. Then also the things they talk about, they recommend. The things that they buy.”

Doing this can be overwhelming at first. It certainly was for me when I started studying designers as an audience. But what I found through Sales Safari led me to create both this book and two successful products.

And, to be honest, this is hard work. Hours will tick by. Probably days, actually. Pages upon pages of the internet will be scoured. But it’s work that the average person doesn’t do. Because it’s so easy to base a product idea on a handful of data points—a few coffee shop interviews, or what your friends and family think.

But Sales Safari’s power is that it’s a system designed to do two things: gather tons of data and help you analyze that data.

“[People] get one data point or they get one potential client or customer, and they think, ‘All right. This is it. I’m going to do [make this product].’ That’s really a recipe for failure,” Hoy says. “You need to keep doing whatever research you’re doing until it all comes together. It’ll seem fruitless up until the point where it immediately, like the clouds will part and a ray of sunshine will burst through. People like to go on one data point, because it doesn’t take any work and because it feels right. It’s bad, though. A bad idea.”

Gathering tons of data points means you’ll start to notice patterns trickling into your notes. Eventually, you’ll be able to categorize them: How does your audience see the world? What do they dwell on? How do they speak? What products do they use?

And, eventually, you’ll start noticing the most important element of all: what your audience’s problems are, written in their own words.

So, what happens when you’re able to empathize with a set of people, create something that they want, and pitch it to them in their own words? Sounds like you have an endless source of product ideas upon which to build.

As Hoy puts it, “The process is essentially, figure out what hurts them. Reflect that back to them in a very empathetic, understanding way. And then offer them assistance.”

And, applied over time, Sales Safari will help you track how your audience gradually changes. Tastes evolve. Worries morph. New pains are uncovered.

It’s really that simple, in theory—but only by actually putting it into practice will you and your product reap the benefits.

Continue reading How to create products people want.

by Scott Hurff at October 20, 2017 11:00 AM

Why delaying the retirement age could hurt some older Americans

Why delaying the retirement age could hurt some older AmericansAs the average life expectancy for Americans increases, individuals are facing new challenges when it comes to saving for a longer retirement period.

October 20, 2017 11:00 AM

naked capitalism

It's Nice That

Carine Roitfeld curates Veuve Clicquot’s annual Widow Series


Carine Roitfeld has followed in the footsteps of FKA twigs as the curator behind the third instalment of the annual Veuve Clicquot Widow Series which opens to the public today, Friday 20 October in an Islington Townhouse.

Read more

by Bryony Stone at October 20, 2017 10:54 AM

Max Guther is back with more hyper real illustrations visualising social trends


Earlier this year Max Guther’s Sims-like illustrations had many of the It’s Nice That team feeling nostalgic for his digitalised works that remain full of character.

Read more

by Lucy Bourton at October 20, 2017 10:53 AM

Boy Genius Report

Google will reimburse you for the Pixel 2 if you overpaid at its pop-up store

Pixel 2 Price

Google launched the first-gen Pixel last year, killing the Nexus family in the process, in a bid to reinvent its smartphones and focus on premium products. A year later, the Pixel 2 models are still high-end Android handsets running the latest version of Android and selling for iPhone-like prices.

For some inexplicable reason, Google started selling the phones on Thursday at pop-up stores for an extra $30 on top of the sticker price. That’s simply unacceptable for consumers, but Google will fix it.

Continue reading...

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by Chris Smith at October 20, 2017 10:50 AM

Prof. Jayanth R. Varma's Financial Markets Blog

Building credit bureaus that have no personal information

In two blog posts (here and here), I have argued that in an era of widespread hacking, the credit bureau’s business model is unsustainable because it requires storing enormous amounts of confidential information on tens of millions of individuals who are not even its customers.

However, these bureaus serve a useful function of aggregating information about an individual from multiple sources and condensing all this information into a credit score that measures the credit worthiness of the individual, An individual has credit relationships with many banks and other agencies. He might have a credit card from one bank, a car loan from another bank and a home loan from a third; he may have overdue payments on one or more of these loans. He might also have an unpaid utility bill. When he applies for a new loan from a yet another bank, the new bank would like to have all this information before deciding on granting the loan, but it is obviously impractical to write to every bank in the country to seek this information. It is far easier for all banks to provide information about all their customers to a central credit bureau which consolidates all this information into a composite credit score which can be accessed by any bank while granting a new loan.

The problem is that though this model is very efficient, it creates a single point of failure – a single entity that knows too much information about too many individuals. What is worse, these individuals are not customers of the bureau and cannot stop doing business with it if they do not like the privacy and security practices of the bureau.

We need to find ways to let the bureaus perform their credit scoring function without receiving storing confidential information at all. The tool required to do this (homomorphic encryption) has been available for over a decade now, but has been under utilized in finance as I discussed in a blog post two years ago.

Suppose there is only one bank

To explain how a secure credit bureau can be built, I begin with a simple example where the bureau obtains information only from one bank (or other agency) which has the individual as a customer. I will then extend this to multiple banks.

  • The credit score of an individual can be approximated by a linear function (weighted sum) of a bunch of attributes relating to the individual:

    score = w1 x1 + w2 x2 + ... + wn xn

    where wi is a weight (coefficient) and xi is an attribute (for example, xi could indicate whether the individual is delinquent on a car loan and x2 could represent the credit card debt outstanding as a percentage of the credit limit). Since xi could be a non linear function (for example, the square or logarithm) of the underlying variable, the linear form is not really restrictive.

  • The attributes xi are known only to the bank. These are never revealed to the bureau which sees only the weighted sum above.

  • The weights wi are proprietary information that needs to be known only to the credit bureau. The bureau encrypts the weights and sends the encrypted weights to the bank.

  • Homomorphic encryption allows the bank to compute the weighted sum

    score = w1 x1 + w2 x2 + ... + wn xn

    without decrypting the weights. Actually, the bank does not see the weighted sum (the score). What it computes using homomorphic encryption is the encrypted weighted sum, but the credit bureau can decrpyt this and obtain the score. Since the xi are known to the bank, the computation of this scalar product requires only Additive or Partial Homomorphic Encryption (AHE or PHE) which is much more efficient than Full Homomorphic Encryption (FHE). The GLLM method (Goethals et al. "On private scalar product computation for privacy-preserving data mining." ICISC. Vol. 3506. 2004.) based on the Paillier AHE can do the job.

  • At the end therefore:

    1. The credit bureau knows the credit score of the individual.

    2. The credit bureau has not revealed either its scoring rule or the credit score of the individual.

    3. The bank has not revealed any confidential information about the customer to the credit bureau other than the credit score. (Note for the geeks: The privacy guarantee here is at the highest possible level – it is information theoretical (Theorem 1 of Goethals et al.) and not merely cryptographic. Even in the implausible worst case scenario where the cryptography is somehow broken, that would leak information from the credit bureau to the banks but not in the other direction.)

  • The above procedure is repeated for each individual. The wi would be the same for all individuals, but xi would of course vary from individual to individual. To be precise, we should write the i’th attribute of the k’th individual as xki.

  • If the credit bureau is hacked, confidential information belonging to the individuals is not exposed because the bureau does not have this at all. The credit scores and the scoring rule may be exposed, but this is a loss primarily to the credit bureau and there are no negative externalities involved.

Extension to Multiple Banks

In general, the credit bureau will need information from many (say m) banks (or other agencies).

  • The credit score of an individual can be represented as a weighted sum of sub scores from various banks (the bureau may or may not use equal weights ui = 1 or ui = 1/m for this purpose):

    Total Score = u1 subscore1 + u2 subscore2 + ... + um subscorem

    where the uj is the weight of bank j and subscorej is the sub score computed using information only from bank j as follows:

    subscorej = w1 xj1 + w2 xj2 + ... + wn xjn

    where xji is the i’th attribute of the individual at bank j.

  • Bank j can use homomorphic encryption to compute uj subscorej. We first define a set of modified weights vji for attribute i for bank j as:

    vji = uj wi

    and then let the bank compute a weighted sum exactly as in the one bank case but using weights vji instead of wi:

    uj subscorej = vj1 xj1 + vj2 xj2 + ... + vjn xjn

  • The credit bureau adds up all the uj subscorej that it receives from various banks to find the credit score of the individual.

  • We can however get one further level of privacy in this case where the credit bureau is able to compute the total score of an individual without learning any of the subscorej. If this extra privacy is desired, we modify the procedure as follows:

    1. Bank j computes

      disguised_subscorej = uj subscorej + rj

      where rj is a random number chosen by bank j. The bank communicates the disguised_subscore to the credit bureau. (Note for the geeks: Actually since the bank computes and communicates an encrypted form of this quantity homomorphically, it needs to encrypt rj also. This is possible since we are using public key cryptography – the public key of the credit bureau is publicly available and anybody can encrypt using this key; but only the bureau can perform decrpytion because only it has the private key).

    2. All the banks collectively compute the sum of all the rj using secure multi party computation based on secret sharing methods which ensure that no bank learns the rj of any other bank. The sum of all the rj (let us call it sum_r) is communicated to the credit bureau.

    3. The credit bureau computes the sum of all the disguised_subscorej. From this result, it subtracts sum_r to get the correct total credit score.

  • At the end therefore:

    1. The credit bureau knows the total credit score of the individual.

    2. The credit bureau has not revealed either its scoring rule or the credit score of the individual.

    3. The bank has not revealed any confidential information about the customer to the credit bureau: not even the sub score based on data in its possession.

  • The above procedure is repeated for each individual. The modified weights vji would be the same for all individuals at the same bank, but xji would of course vary from individual to individual. To be precise, we should write the i’th attribute of the k’th individual at the j’th bank as xjki. The rj (and therefore sum_r) should also ideally vary from individual to individual: strictly speaking, these are actually rkj and sum_rk for individual k. Similarly, disguised_subscorej should strictly speaking be disguised_subscorekj

Allowing the individual to verify all computations

How does an individual detect any errors in the credit score? How does an external auditor verify the computations for a sample of individuals?

The individual k would be entitled to receive a credit report from the credit bureau that includes (a) the unencrypted total credit score (total_scorek), (b) the encrypted disguised_subscorekj for all j, (c) the encrypted modified weights vji for all i and j and (d) sum_rk. Actually, (b), (c) and (d) should be publicly revealed by the credit bureau on its website because they do not leak any information.

The individual k would also be entitled to get two pieces of information from bank j: (a) the attributes xjki for all i and (b) the random number rkj.

With this information, the individual k can verify the computation of the encrypted disguised_subscorekj for all j (using the same homomorphic encryption method used by the banks). The individual can also verify sum_rk by adding up the rkj. Using the public key of the credit bureau, the individual can also encrypt total_scorek - sum_rk and compare this with the encrypted sum obtained by adding up all the disguised_subscorekj homomorphically.

The same procedure would allow an auditor to verify the computation for any sample of individuals.

The careful reader might wonder how the individual can detect an attempt by a bank to falsify rkj. In that case, sum_rk will not match the sum obtained by adding up the rkj, but how can the individual determine which bank is at fault? To alleviate this problem, each bank j would be required to construct a Merkle tree of the rkj (for all k) and publicly reveal the root hash of this Merkle tree. Individual k would then also be entitled to receive a path of hashes in the Merkle tree leading up to rkj. It is then impossible to falsify any of the rkj without falsifying the entire Merkle tree. Any reasonable audit procedure would detect a falsification of the entire Merkle tree. Depending on the setup, the auditor might also be able to audit (a sample of) the secure multi party computation of rkj directly by verifying a (sub) sample of the secret shares.


At the end, we would have built a secure credit bureau. A Equifax scale hacking of such a bureau would be of no concern to the public; it would be a loss only for the bureau itself. Mathematics gives us the tools required to do this. The question is whether we have the good sense and the will to use these tools. The principal obstacle might be that the credit bureau would have to earn its entire income by selling credit scores; it would not be able to sell personal information about the individual because it does not have that information. But this is a feature and not a bug.

by Prof. Jayanth R. Varma at October 20, 2017 10:50 AM

Seth's Blog

A publishing master class

Announcing a two-day workshop in my office for 8 people.

I define publishing as the work of investing in intellectual property and monetizing it by bringing it to people who want to pay for it. The world of publishing is changing fast, and I'd like to help a few publishers make a difference.

Publishing can include music, books, conferences and other experiences and content. The ideas may change, but the work of publishing at scale has much in common across all fields.

[Update: We've had more than 1,000 applications, so I'm going to close the form, thanks.]

Here's a quick FAQ:

Who's it for? Thoughtful leaders who are committed to publishing in a new way, making a difference and contributing to our culture by bringing out work that matters (and supporting those who make it). We're particularly looking for a mix of people with experiences and dreams that fall outside the mainstream in terms of background, posture or credentials. I think publishing is a profession, and I'd like to help others that do as well.

How much does it cost? I'm not charging a fee. Running a workshop is a powerful exercise, and I'll probably learn as much as you will. You'll need to pay your way here and find a place to stay, so I figure you'll have some skin in the game. Not everything is about making a profit. Maybe we'll even change a few lives.

Can you do it remotely, or turn it into something bigger? Not right now, sorry.

What do you know about publishing? Well, I've been publishing books, software, music, courses and even action figures for more than thirty years. Here are some highlights. This seminar follows on from the SAMBA, the FeMBA, the Agenda session and other intensives I've hosted over the years.

If you're interested, please apply right away. The deadline is really soon, and we never admit the last four people who apply to anything we do.


by Seth Godin at October 20, 2017 10:37 AM


Apple's Self-Driving Lexus Spotted in the Wild; Points to Possibility of Aftermarket Add-On Autonomy

This week MacCallister Higgins, a software engineer who specializes in autonomous vehicles, Tweeted this video that's reportedly of Apple's self-driving car:

Higgins co-founded Voyage Auto, a group of ex-Apple, ex-Google and ex-Udacity engineers that are developing self-driving vehicles. It's possible he or his company is doing freelance work for Apple.

In any case, the car is apparently out in the wild for testing; a MacRumors reader also spotted the car and uploaded this quick clip of it:

What we're looking at here is a Lexus RX, and the ungainly rig up top is reportedly a sensor array consisting of LIDAR, cameras and either sonar or radar. You may remember that Apple once hoped to build their own car from scratch, but abandoned that plan and decided to pursue autonomous driving instead; so what's interesting about the roof array is that it may point towards a future in which these are fitted to existing cars as an aftermarket add-on, rendering the vehicle autonomous.

Apple fans have lamented the company's lack of recent hit products; might the roof add-on be the next one?

October 20, 2017 10:30 AM

It's Nice That

“Plans to end freedom of movement following Brexit imperil the creative industries” says report


A Global Talent Report published by the Creative Industries Federation stresses the vital need for international workers in the sector, and the threats posed by the impacts of Brexit. The report explores the reliance of creative businesses on international employees, stating that 75% (of surveyed businesses) employed EU nationals, yet two thirds said they could not fill these jobs with British workers.

Read more

by Jenny Brewer at October 20, 2017 10:22 AM


Closed Mondays Tiny Trays

These Tiny Trays by Brooklyn based Closed Monday will bring a bit of whimsy into any home.

by swissmiss at October 20, 2017 10:09 AM

Zero Hedge

Did Money Talk: Europe’s "Real Boss" Now Expects Progress On Brexit By December

?The “British press” is wrong (although it wasn’t just the British press): Brexit negotiations are going well and the divorce settlement should be finalised by December. Really?

This is what the EU’s "real" boss had to say on the state of Brexit negotiations following the first day of the EU summit. “My position wasn’t changed by Theresa’s May’s presentation, because I’ve kept in continuous contact with her by phone. What I heard today was a confirmation of the fact that, in contrast to what you hear in the British press, the process is moving forward step-by-step…At this point, it’s not yet sufficient to begin the second phase, but it’s encouraging enough to continue working in order to reach the beginning of the second phase in December.”

According to Reuters, Merkel dismissed suggestions that the talks should be broken off as “absurd”, commenting “I have absolutely no doubts that if we are all focused ... that we can get a good result. From my side there are no indications at all that we won’t succeed,’ she said.”

From Bloomberg, “Now both sides need to move,’ Merkel told reporters after hearing May speak at dinner, in a shift of rhetoric for the EU side, which has previously insisted that it’s up to the U.K. alone to make the next move.EU leaders are aware of the fragility of May’s position -- she’s trying to hold onto her job after a failed election and keep a squabbling Cabinet together. That’s why they offered her words of encouragement on Thursday, according to an EU official speaking on condition of anonymity. The conclusions of the summit also point to possible progress before year-end, while demanding more concrete steps from the U.K.”

Three days ago, Germany and France were reportedly taking a tougher line on talks and members of Theresa May’s team were briefing journalists that negotiations could collapse after the summit if no ground was given by the EU (see “Theresa May's Government Fears Imminent Collapse Of Brexit Negotiations”). However, UK Brexit Minister, David Davis, is slightly less confident and is still planning for a potential breakdown according to the lead story in today’s Times.

As we’ve said, “it boils down to money” and the EU is reluctant to move forward until both sides can agree on a number. This is where we suspect that some progress was made. If so, the more upbeat tone from Merkel makes sense and, according to an un-named UK official, this is what happened. The U.K. prime minister signalled she’s willing to offer more on the divorce bill, according to a U.K. official. May urged leaders at a European summit to help her find a deal she could sell to sceptics at home, and her counterparts responded with words of encouragement -- though no concrete concessions.”

In terms of numbers, May’s initial offer made in Florence on 22 September 2017 was about 20 billion euros along with further unspecified commitments that might amount to another 20 billion euros. The EU is thought to be demanding in the region of 60 billion euros.  

Before the dinner began, some thought had gone into the choreography, as TV footage was dominated by May's friendly chatting with both Merkel and Macron. The photo below shows what might have been the critical moment in the talks.

by Tyler Durden at October 20, 2017 10:08 AM

It's Nice That

Will Ferrell acts as a phone obsessed dad in non-profit campaign for a #DeviceFreeDinner


Actor Will Ferrell features in non-profit Common Sense’s latest campaign, encouraging families, kids and parents, to put down their phones and have a #DeviceFreeDinner.

Read more

by Lucy Bourton at October 20, 2017 10:06 AM

Smörgåsbord creates concept for new Welsh rugby shirt inspired by the landscape of Wales


The new rugby kit for the Welsh Rugby Union for the 2017/18 season has been unveiled designed around a concept developed by Cardiff and Amsterdam-based agency Smörgåsbord. Woven with Wales is inspired by the topography of the country and the history of the game in the country.

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by Owen Pritchard at October 20, 2017 10:04 AM

The Big Picture

2005 Ford GT

For my birthday, I’ll take one of these. (I expect it will be the last gasoline powered car I will ever buy . . .)   Source: Classic Driver

The post 2005 Ford GT appeared first on The Big Picture.

by Barry Ritholtz at October 20, 2017 10:00 AM

naked capitalism

Brexit: The Economics of International Disintegration

We can estimate Brexit's economic impact, but we do not yet understand what made people vote for it. Policy recommendations vary accordingly.

by Lambert Strether at October 20, 2017 09:55 AM

It's Nice That

Lush commissions Caterina Bianchini to portray "the art of bathing"


Lush is a global cosmetic retailer that focusses on producing hair and beauty products that contain no parabens, chemicals or unnatural ingredients and are all handmade in England. They have over 1,000 stores worldwide. In a bold visual move, the brand has commissioned former senior designer at Boiler Room, Caterina Bianchini, to create a series of posters for its new flagship store in Rome, Italy.

Read more

by Ruby Boddington at October 20, 2017 09:52 AM


O'Reilly Radar

It's Nice That

Friday Mixtape: a very rare mixtape from the one and only John Carpenter


A couple of weeks ago a very exciting e-mail dropped into our inbox saying that John Carpenter, one of the most successful directors and composers for cinema in history, had made It’s Nice That a Friday Mixtape.

Read more

by Lucy Bourton at October 20, 2017 09:43 AM

Zero Hedge

The World's Largest ICO Is Imploding After Just 3 Months

Earlier this summer, Tezos smashed existing sales records in the white-hot IPO market after the company’s pitch to build a better blockchain for cryptocurrencies made it one of the buzziest ICOs in the world. As we noted at the time, the company capitalized on that buzz by courting VC firms and other institutional investors with a $50 million token pre-sale. After the company opened up selling to the broader public, demand soared as investors greedily bought up tokens in spite of glitches that threatened to derail the sale early on. By the end of its weeks-long token sale in July, Tezos had sold more than $230 million.

Now, Tezos is proving that authorities in the US and China were on to something when they decided to crack down on the ICO market, which has become a cesspool of fraud and abuse. To wit, the company's management revealed this week that progress on its vaunted product has stalled as it has struggled to recruit engineering talent, and an acrimonious dispute between several of the company’s leading figures has spilled out into the open.

As WSJ’s Paul Vigna reports, “a battle between the founders of the company and the head of the Swiss foundation they installed to give it more independence has put most trading of Tezos coins on ice, possibly until early next year.”

The shakeup started after Tezos founders Arthur and Kathleen Breitman reported the delays in a blog post published Wednesday. But even more alarming, the pair accused Johann Gevers, the head of a Swiss foundation which oversees their funds, of attempting to overpay himself using the massive pot of investor capital - despite the fact that the company will likely blow through its promised deadline of allocating tokens to buyers by December (the tokens have yet to be created).

In early September we became aware that the president of the Tezos Foundation, Johann Gevers, engaged in an attempt at self-dealing, misrepresenting to the council the value of a bonus he attempted to grant himself. We have been working with the Tezos foundation to resolve the matter and have advocated for his removal from the foundation council. We are confident in the council’s ability to handle this sensitive matter with care and diligence. In the meantime, Johann’s operational role in the foundation has been suspended, pending an investigation by the council’s auditor.

The news sent Tezos futures contracts trading on BitMex, an exchange known for its cryptocurrency futures products, tumbling more than 50% as traders unwound bets the project would be launched before the end of the year, as Bloomberg pointed out.

Tezos’s struggles underscore the biggest flaw in the ICO market: Investors keep throwing capital at companies hoping to luck into the next bitcoin, even though most companies don’t have a working product and many have relied on “white papers” fleshing out their ideas to market their tokens, a strategy that has been surprisingly (or perhaps unsurprisingly) successful. To wit, ICOs have raised more than $3 billion this year according to Bloomberg, far surpassing Pitchbook analysts’ expectations for $1.7 billion by the end of the year.

The ICO was run by the Tezos foundation, which is based in Zug, Switzerland. Most ICOs are built on top of Ethereum’s platform. However, the impact on ether tokens was fleeting, with ether seeing a slight dip before moving higher early Thursday.

Under Swiss law, the Tezos foundation is supposed to be independent of the company that owns the nascent Tezos software. Because of this, the foundation holds all of the funds raised, which have mushroomed to more than $400 million in value because the contributions were made in two cryptocurrencies – bitcoin and ether – which have appreciated sharply in the past few months. But the battle between the Breitmans and the Gevers is threatening to derail the whole project, according to Reuters.

Reuters is also reporting that the Breitmans, who first opened a corporation in Delaware to work on the Tezos code, failed to make certain regulatory disclosures made necessary by Arthur Breitmans’ employment at Morgan Stanley.

Reuters reviewed a copy of a “Tezos Business Plan” from early 2015, which listed Breitman as chief executive. The plan projected that if the company survived 15 years, it would be worth between $2 billion and $20 billion. The budget called for paying Breitman $212,180 in salary by year three. In August 2015, Breitman, who was still working at Morgan Stanley, set up a company in Delaware called Dynamic Ledger Solutions Inc, or DLS, to develop Tezos. He listed himself as chief executive.

The U.S. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) requires registered securities professionals to provide prior written notice to their employer to conduct outside business activities if there is “reasonable expectation of compensation.” According to FINRA records, Breitman was registered and did not report any “other business activities.” Morgan Stanley and FINRA declined to comment.

Reuters also revealed that Tezos exaggerated its progress in its early days, following a seed investment by noted VC and blockchain enthusiast Tim Draper.

In pitching the story to Reuters, John O’Brien, a principal of Strange Brew, had made claims about Tezos’ progress. He wrote: “The applications of Tezos, ranging from derivatives settlement to micro-insurance, are real and recognized by industry giants. Ernst & Young, Deloitte, LexiFi, etc. have adopted Tezos in their development environments and labs.”

On Oct. 3, a spokeswoman for the accounting firm Ernst & Young told Reuters: “The statement is not correct. EY has not adopted Tezos.” A spokesman for Deloitte said Tezos’ code is “one of many technologies we’re considering” with blockchain, but it’s “still early stage and we haven’t used the technology for a client project.”

With the SEC already having filed the first civil charges against a man who launched two ICOs that the agency claims were completely fraudulent. If Tezos were the subject of regulatory action - the company’s founders said they chose to base the project in Switzerland because it didn’t have “too much oversight” - or even if it were to collapse in a heap of broken promises, its collapse has the potential to crash the whole ICO market.

Kathleen Breitman

Then again, given the resilience of other cryptocurrencies, it’s difficult to discern whether Tezos might become the ICO equivalent of Mt. Gox, or whether it will ultimately be remembered as a blip.

At this point, only one thing is certain: Tezos investors who’d hoped to receive their coins by the end of the year are bound to be disappointed.

by Tyler Durden at October 20, 2017 09:36 AM

Senate Passes 2018 Budget Paving Way For $1.5 Trillion In Tax Cuts, Sending Yields, Dollar Sharply Higher

Senate republicans took a major, if relatively easy, step toward passing Trump's tax plan on Thursday night with the critical passage of a budget blueprint that would protect a $1.5 trillion tax cut from a Democratic filibuster. Senators narrowly voted 51-49 to pass the fiscal year 2018 budget after a several hour-long marathon on the Senate floor. The budget resolution could also pave the way for opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil exploration by ensuring that drilling legislation can pass with only Republican votes according to the NYT.

With a 52-seat majority, Mitch McConnell had a narrow path to getting the 50 votes needed to clear the budget through the upper chamber. But GOP leadership caught a break this week when Sen. John McCain, a holdout over defense spending, announced he would vote yes, and Sen. Thad Cochran, recovering from health issues, returned early to Washington.

The budget’s passage could keep Republicans on track to pass a tax package late this year or early in 2018. That said, there are still plenty of possible complications, not least of all bickering within the GOP over the final shape of the tax package - where the fate of state and local tax exemptions has still to be decided - as the following Goldman flowchart shows: the steps that were successfully passed tonight are shown in green.

The House could pick up the Senate-passed budget as early as next week and give final approval to parliamentary language protecting the Republicans’ coveted tax effort. If House Republicans instead insist on negotiating a compromise that melds the Senate and House budget plans, tax legislation could be delayed.

“Passing this budget is critical to getting tax reform done, so we can strengthen our economy after years of stagnation under the previous administration,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The Senate gave its approval to the budget blueprint on Thursday night after considering a flurry of amendments, a tedious process that gives the minority party an opportunity to force the majority to endure politically difficult votes. One Democratic amendment that was rejected sought to stop tax cuts from going to the top 1 percent; another would have restored cuts to Medicare.

The Senate approved the budget after the previously discussed so-called vote-a-rama, a legislative whirlwind in which amendments are considered one after another

Giving tonight events an aura of fatalistic determinism, Senator Lindsey Graham, and a member of the Budget Committee, said "this is the last, best chance we will have to cut taxes,” and warned that the consequences would be ruinous if the party failed. “That will be the end of us as a party,” he said, “because if you’re a Republican and you don’t want to simplify the tax code and cut taxes, what good are you to anybody?”

Where things get laughable is when one considers the context of what just happened: In Congress, the annual budget resolution provides an outline of federal spending and revenues. The Senate’s blueprint, for the 2018 fiscal year that began Oct. 1, claims to achieve a balanced budget within a decade, assuming greater economic growth and using an accounting method that excludes Social Security. In order to erase projected deficits, it calls for trillions of dollars in spending cuts over the coming decade.But the cuts exist only on paper, without legislation to achieve them.

And as the GOP predicts that by 2028 US government spending will equal revenues, here is what will really happen:


Meanwhile, as Republicans played with excel's "goalseek" function, Democrats sounded the alarm, warning that the aspirational cuts in the budget plan called for slicing more than $1 trillion from Medicaid and about $470 billion from Medicare over a decade. Unfortunately for Democrats, they have exactly zero say in the matter: Though Democrats have pleaded to have more say in the tax overhaul, parliamentary language in the budget resolution would allow Republicans to pass a tax bill without any cooperation from the minority party.

“Passing this budget is not a requirement for passing tax reform,” said Senator Gary Peters, Democrat of Michigan. “Passing this budget is only a requirement to pass a tax bill with as few votes as possible, without input or buy-in from members of the minority.”

For Republicans, the budget debate provided a moment to showcase their main goal in the coming months, which according to the NYT is approving an overhaul of the tax code for the first time in decades, which they hope will lead to greater economic growth. But before they can move ahead with a tax bill, the House and Senate need to agree on the same budget resolution. The House approved its budget resolution, which had long been stalled, on Oct. 5. The House budget also lays the groundwork for a tax bill, but, unlike the Senate’s approach, it calls for the legislation to not add to the deficit.

The House budget resolution also seeks more concrete action when it comes to cutting spending, instructing committees to come up with legislation that would produce at least about $200 billion in savings.

However, according to The Hill, a House GOP source says the amendment seems sufficient to avoid a conference committee between the two chambers, and allow the House to simply pass the Senate resolution.

Ultimately, however, the only reason why the vote passed so easily is because as the Hill explained, it doesn't matter, and was merely viewed as a mere vehicle for passing tax reform

"This is the biggest hoax cast upon the American people ever that this budget process even exists. The only thing about this that matters is in preparation for tax reform," said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who voted for the budget.  Corker noted bluntly that he believes the budget doesn't have a real-world impact and if he was chairman of the Budget Committee he would disband it. When a staffer told him he was about to miss an amendment vote, he shot back: "yeah, on a vote that doesn't matter."

McCain, explaining why he would support the budget, added: “At the end of the day, we all know that the Senate budget resolution will not impact final appropriations.”

Then again, all of these nuances were lost on the shotgun headline scanning algos, which read that Trump's tax plan is one step closer to passage and sent both the USDJPY...

... and 10Y yields surging...

With gold lower...

And Dow Futs up over 100 points...

... and the Fed cursing their fate, because as Dudley explained yesterday, the last thing the feed needs right now as it is desperate to avoid tightening fast, is a burst of wage inflation, something which Trump's tax proposal, if it passes, will promptly lead to, crushing the Fed's carefully laid plan to take years and years in unwinding it balance sheet and rising rates.

by Tyler Durden at October 20, 2017 09:13 AM

datameet Google Group

Re: [datameet] BMTC ITS and Open Data

And, now, this: BMTC’s data-sharing plan on back burner STAFF REPORTER BENGALURU, OCTOBER 17, 2017 00:00 IST UPDATED: OCTOBER 17, 2017 03:39 IST There are more than

by Tejas AP at October 20, 2017 09:12 AM

The Big Picture

NYT > Economy

Australia Mourns the End of Its Car Manufacturing Industry

On Friday, Holden employees bid farewell to Australia’s last car factory, wondering if the government could have done more to save it.

by JACQUELINE WILLIAMS at October 20, 2017 08:56 AM

naked capitalism

India’s Demonetization Experiment Fails to Demonetize: Cash Comes Full Circle

Cash withdrawals from Indian ATM machines are nearly back to the level of just before Modi's demonetization shock.

by Lambert Strether at October 20, 2017 08:55 AM

It's Nice That

The Igor has landed: Igor Bastidas on our animated cover for Printed Pages AW17


Kicking off the AW17 issue of Printed Pages, our chirpy cover star was created by illustrator and animator Igor Bastidas and sets the tone for what’s in store for this issue. Below we find out Igor’s inspirations and what he wanted to portray with the cover.

Read more

by Rebecca Fulleylove at October 20, 2017 08:52 AM

Pointy Haired Dilbert: Charting & Excel Tips -

Conditional Rank, the easy way [quick tip]

Yesterday, my mate from across the ditch, Hui posted about conditional rank formula (RANKIFS) using awesome SUMPRODUCT.

Of course, not everyone can whip up a sumproduct formula like that. On a scale of One to Hui of Excel awesomeness, you would need to be at least an H to write sumproduct or countifs formulas shown in that post. So does it mean, you can’t conditional rank if you don’t know your X from L?

Don’t worry. We got you covered. You can still get your conditional ranks, without inception level array formulas. Simple, use pivot tables instead.

Two level (or multi-level ranking) with Pivot Tables

Let’s say you have data like this and you want to know what the department level rank of each student.

The process for creating these ranks is ridiculously simple. Just,

  1. Insert a pivot table from your data
  2. Add level and detail fields to row labels area (in this case, we shall add Department and Student to row labels area)
  3. Add field on which you want to rank to values area (ie Score)
  4. Right click on value field and go to “Show values as” > “Rank…”
  5. Set up base field as the lower level (ie Student in our case)
  6. Bingo, your ranking problem is sorted.

Here is a quick demo of how to use ranking feature in Pivot Tables.

Download Example Workbook:

Click here to download workbook with the few pivot table ranking scenarios. Check it out to learn more.


Do you use pivot tables for ranking?

I use them all the time for such complex, filter driven ranking in my reports. While we could use formulas to get similar results, I think Pivots shine when it comes to ranking, as they naturally resolve ties (without complex deduplication logic) and give results in short time. The only problem is we need to refresh them whenever there is a change in data. But it is a small price to pay for avoiding complex formulas.

What do you think?  Do you use pivot tables for ranking your data? Share your stories in the comments section.

Also, check out our Pivot Table Central for all things pivot, right from basics to ninja-level stuff.

by Chandoo at October 20, 2017 08:02 AM - Personal Finance Blog, Online Money Management, Budget Planner and Financial Planning

How to Eat Seasonally And Know What’s In Season [Video]

Oct 20 How to Eat Seasonally And Know What's In Season
Featured Video Play Icon

Welcome back to the collaboration between Mint and Brewing Happiness. I’m Haley, the girl behind Brewing Happiness – a blog about celebrating the small healthy choices we make in our lives, complete with recipes for everybody! I’m here to give you tips on living a healthy, happy life on a budget.

Today I am going to share with you some easy strategies to identify what is in season, why eating seasonally can help your budget, and even a few Fall recipe ideas! It is a misnomer that eating seasonally is hard to do, or difficult to identify. I find that eating seasonally is very intuitive and nourishing. Don’t worry, you don’t have to figure it out on your own – I am here to help make this a simple process for you.

Let’s begin with three easy ways to identify what’s in season:

1. Peruse your local farmer’s market.

Shopping at your local farmer’s market will insist that you buy seasonally, because all farmers’ market produce is seasonal! It takes out the guesswork, and allows you to support your local farmers. But if you are a person who doesn’t like the farmers’ market or doesn’t have one near, don’t worry; there are ways to identify what’s in season at your local grocery store.

2. Scour the grocery store for what’s abundant, cheap, and local.

When at the grocery store you want to look for three qualifiers in the produce you are buying that will indicate if it is seasonal. The first is abundance. Look around for what there are large amounts of at your grocery store, because often those are the items that are in season. Second, check out the prices. Seasonal food will often be on sale or priced fairly low, because of the supply being high. The third seasonal identifier is to check where the produce is grown. If signs or stickers indicate that it is grown fairly close to you it is most likely in season, but if they have to ship from a different country or very far away it is probably not.

3. Google it.

There are tons of great resources on the Internet that can guide you toward what is in season. Simply search the month you are in and seasonal produce USA. So for example this month would be, “October seasonal produce USA.” This way you can tailor your grocery list based on these guides, and check the prices once you get in store. I find this can be the most helpful strategy if I want to plan a large seasonal menu or if I’m just in a rush.

There are so many reasons to eat seasonally. Eating seasonally helps complete the circle of supply and demand, benefitting your local farmers. As I mentioned before, the high supply will create a lower cost, in turn helping reduce your food expenditure. Finally, seasonal foods often pair well together. So if you are a person intimidated by branching out in the kitchen – this is a great way to create reliable flavor parings.

Here is a brief list of what is in season for October and November:

  • Apples
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Oranges
  • Figs
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Beets
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Pears
  • Peppers
  • Cabbage
  • Kale

Mix and match your seasonal produce to create these seasonally inspired dishes!

Breakfast – Top your oatmeal or yogurt with apples, figs, cinnamon, and honey.

Lunch – Make a kale salad with oranges, broccoli, roasted beets, sweet potatoes, chicken and drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette.

Dinner – Try roasting squash, brussels sprouts, pumpkin, and cauliflower and serving it with salmon topped with pepitas and pomegranate seeds.

Snack – Make a trail mix with roasted pumpkin seeds and dried apples!Dessert – Roast pears in the oven with cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom. Serve over ice cream with a drizzle of honey.

Have fun with your seasonal parings and don’t be afraid to try something new, or combine some new flavors. I find that eating seasonally allows me to be more creative in the kitchen, because I know I can rely on the flavors tasting good together. Plus these foods are only around for a few months, so you might as well make the most of it as you can!

Follow along!

Over the next few months I’ll be covering a variety of ways to be healthy on a budget. Keep an eye out for those and head over to Brewing Happiness for healthy recipe inspiration in the meantime!

by Haley Davis at October 20, 2017 08:00 AM

Seth's Blog

What will you do with your surplus?

If you have a safe place to sleep, reasonable health and food in the fridge, you're probably living with surplus. You have enough breathing room to devote an hour to watching TV, or having an argument you don't need to have, or simply messing around online. You have time and leverage and technology and trust.

For many people, this surplus is bigger than any human on Earth could have imagined just a hundred years ago.

What will you spend it on?

If you're not drowning, you're a lifeguard.


by Seth Godin at October 20, 2017 07:48 AM

"Subramanian Swamy" - Google News

Subramanian Swamy: Taj Mahal sits on stolen property - Economic Times

Economic Times

Subramanian Swamy: Taj Mahal sits on stolen property
Economic Times
Subramanian Swamy: Taj Mahal sits on stolen property. Agencies|. Updated: Oct 20, 2017, 10.46 AM IST. 0Comments. Subramanian-swamy-tnn Swamy said that the BJP has no intention of demolishing Taj Mahal, but only want three temples out of thousands ...
Subramanian Swamy claims Taj Mahal was built on stolen
Subramanian Swamy joins Taj Mahal row; says it was built on land stolen from Hindu kingsInternational Business Times, India Edition
Taj Mahal may meet the same fate as the Babri Masjid, says Azam
NewsBytes -Times of India -ARY NEWS
all 116 news articles »

October 20, 2017 05:15 AM

Andrew Tobias

Melvin Reddick / Andrew Sullivan / Richard Painter

So much stuff.

Did you see the one about Breitbart and Sarah Palin blaming an immigrant for the 12 Northern California wildfires?  He had nothing to with any of them — read the story — but then again, neither did Hillary run a child porn ring out of a DC pizza parlor. In Trump/Putin/Palin world, truth is not a concern.

Our president — inducted into the fake-professional-wrestling hall of fame — is matched against Vladimir Putin, the genuine martial arts expert who installed him, and who continues to attack our democracy.

Do you know a guy named Melvin Reddick, from Harrisburg, PA?  Backward-facing baseball cap with a young daughter?  Nice guy — maybe you want to friend him on Facebook?  As the New York Times explained last month — read that story, too? — he’s just one of many remarkably convincing fake Americans created in Russia to set us against one another.

Have you read conservative columnist Andrew Sullivan in New York Magazine

. . . Trump is careening ever more manically into a force of irrational fury. I watched his infomercial with Hannity Wednesday night and see a sharp decline even from his previously unhinged and malevolent incoherence. He riffed for a while on how the rise in the stock market since he came to office somehow halves our national debt. He asserted, like an American Erdogan, that no citizen can disrespect our flag, anthem, or country … or else. He claimed that the economy — which a year ago was a “total disaster” — is now a staggering overnight success. He boasted of unemployment numbers he described as fraudulent only months ago. In his interview earlier this week with Forbes, he sounds like someone so stoned he can barely parse a sentence, let alone utter a coherent thought, and whose utter indifference to reality still staggers.

But it’s the impossible reactionary agenda that is the core problem. And the reason we have a president increasingly isolated, ever more deranged, legislatively impotent, diplomatically catastrophic, and constitutionally dangerous, is not just because he is a fucking moron requiring an adult day-care center to avoid catastrophe daily. It’s because he’s a reactionary fantasist, whose policies stir the emotions but are stalled in the headwinds of reality. He can’t abolish Obamacare because huge majorities prefer it to any Republican alternative, so he is sabotaging it. He hasn’t built a huge wall across the entire southern border because it’s a ludicrous project that cannot solve the problem it was designed for. Ditto ripping NAFTA to shreds, which would cause immense disruption to three countries’ economies and ricochet around the world. Or attempting to ally with Russia against the E.U., as if Merkel was worse a threat than Putin. Or removing NBC’s license, which it doesn’t actually have, for political reasons. Or deporting 11 million people. Or pretending that climate change is not happening. Or a massive tax cut on the wealthy, and arguing, as Trump did Wednesday night, that it would create surpluses as Reagan’s did, which, of course, Reagan’s didn’t.

These are not conservative reforms, thought-through, possible to implement, strategically planned. They are the unhinged fantasies of a 71-year-old Fox News viewer imagining he can reconstruct the late 1950s. They cannot actually be implemented, without huge damage. And so he resorts to executive sabotage — creating loopholes in the enforcement of Obamacare to undermine the entire system. Or he throws a temper tantrum because Obama’s Iran Deal is actually working as promised, and attempting to undermine that as well. At this point, the agenda is so deranged and destructive almost every sane senior member of his cabinet is trying to rein it in. . . .

Richard Painter, formerly of the Bush White House, asks: “Is America today in need of an unprecedented constitutional intervention?” The answer, surely: an emphatic yes.

. . . The 25th Amendment is the ultimate constitutional “check” — a corrective mechanism for an American president who is physically or psychologically unable to lead. Most important, it grants legal authority to those closest to power — first, the vice president and Cabinet members, then members of Congress — to stage an intervention. At the very least, these individuals are authorized to call a temporary timeout if the president is judged unfit to govern.

Is America today in need of such an unprecedented intervention?

The amendment, ratified in 1967 after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, was constructed to assure a smooth transition when a president becomes incapable of leadership. (Its vague wording leaves room for both physical and psychological justifications.) By the 1960s, the dangers of an incapacitated president were far greater than at the founding of our country. But arguably, the stakes have only gotten higher. With tensions flaring around the globe, there can be no doubt as to the fitness of the man or woman in possession of U.S. nuclear codes.

Pundits and politicians alike have called for the amendment’s implementation over the past few months. But it is both practically and philosophically a tool of last resort. Unlike impeachment, which is controlled solely by Congress, the 25th Amendment requires action by the majority of the president’s Cabinet and potentially Congress. This means that even in today’s polarized climate, partisan removal is unlikely. In addition, the bar for diagnosing mental health conditions is quite high.

It’s crucial to note that having a mental illness does not automatically disqualify a person from serving successfully as president. Indeed, as a Duke University Medical Center study estimates, up to half of the first 37 U.S. presidents displayed clinical features consistent with mental illness at some point in their lives. Two of our 10 most respected presidents, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson, displayed symptoms suggestive of depression and anxiety disorders.

So how would one diagnose a sitting president — if it is indeed even possible?

. . . [Read the piece to find out, after which it continues] . . .

Nearly 800 mental health professionals have joined a coalition asserting that they are so alarmed by Trump’s mental health that they feel a duty to warn the public. An online petition, intended for mental health professionals who believe the president is unfit to serve, has been signed by roughly 62,000 people.

At this juncture, waiting for unfitness to manifest beyond the types of observable and highly predictive behavior patterns studied by psychiatrists and psychologists is, we believe, naïve. Though remote, we cannot rule out the possibility that a president in a downward mental health spiral could destroy important global partnerships, alter centuries-old alliances and leave the United States vulnerable to terror attacks or war.

The 25th Amendment was created so that those closest to the president could respond in the event of a physical or psychological crisis. In turn, it is the duty of these individuals to be vigilant and act in the best interests of both the president and the citizens who rely on him — because responding to danger from within is as crucial to this nation’s survival as responding to danger from without.

Have a great weekend.


by A.T. at October 20, 2017 04:02 AM

Wheaties for Your Wallet

How to Save Money When Going to a Conference

Saving money when going to a conference is possible, but there are hidden costs you have to stay away from. Failing to plan can be costly. When attending a conference, travel preparation is one of the biggest tips for saving money. It can help you avoid overspending unnecessarily. Here are some basic tips to avoid spending more than you have to when heading to a conference.

1. Listen to your mom

Remember your mom’s packing advice? As a child, my mom would always mention bringing a light jacket or a sweater whenever I went on a trip. Nine times out of ten, she was right. Keep that advice in mind when packing clothing. The forecast will let you know what it will be like outside. That gives you some idea of how to pack appropriate clothing for your trip when you’re outdoors.

If you’re attending a conference, you might spend most of your time inside. Sometimes the temperature inside a building is very different than outside. If the air conditioning is going full blast in a conference room, you might need to throw on another article of clothing. Temperatures can drop at night too so it can’t hurt to dress in layers. This way, you won’t have to run out and purchase anything new.

2. Deliver yourself from high prices

There are many tips for saving money on food costs. Stop at a grocery store during your stay or get items delivered. Drinks and snacks tend to get marked up at a hotel. If you don’t want to fall on the floor from sticker shock for that bottle of H20 or some crackers and hummus, take some time to look for a more cost-effective option while away.

A grocery store like Whole Foods will bring items to you. Google “Whole Foods delivery.” The website promises to get your order to you in one hour. Usually, the first delivery is entirely gratis. Just make sure this is the case when you order. The prices and availability of offers are subject to change at any time and may expire so make sure you check.

Also, scope out the website in advance to see if there is a Whole Foods store in the area where you are going. No matter if you’re headed to Dallas, TX or Denver, CO, you can look up the area ahead of time. The site also lists the address and phone number of each store in case you need to call.

If you’re lucky, you can even find promo codes to reap additional savings off of your order. See if this option is available where you’re staying.

ways to save money

3. Pickup to the rescue

I once paid $14 for an order of mac and cheese at a swanky hotel restaurant. Regular restaurants seem so cheap after that experience. Avoid ordering at this type of place because it’s in the hotel. Whether you have a big block of time to eat or little time in between conference sessions, see if there’s a nearby Panera restaurant. Panera makes it easy to order and pay in advance. You can slip out quickly from the hotel, grab your order and leave.

If you have a rental car, you can make a quick trip to get your food. Pickup is also useful for miscellaneous items you might have forgotten to pack. If you didn’t bring personal care items such as toothpaste, deodorant or a bottle of Advil, see if there’s a CVS in town. They offer curbside pickup and will bring your order out to you. Use their app or check out

No need to sit in the parking lot twiddling your thumbs waiting for your purchase. They will text you when your order is ready. Be sure to have your phone handy. You’ll have to show the text to verify the order.

4. Make charging your phone a priority

Outside of ordering from your phone, also keep it in good working order if you need to stay in communication with clients or colleagues. If you have to carve out time to work while away, be sure to bring something you can do offline. While I want to hop online to answer emails, write an article or even e-invoice my clients, I try not to abuse my phone battery.

I always fear not being able to charge my phone and then not having it when I need it. This has happened to me several times before. When most people are running to get their luggage and go to the restroom, I’m secretly racing to the nearest outlet to charge my phone.

The Bottom Line

Fortunately, the days of waiting in line are coming to an end. Convenience is king and it doesn’t have to come with an inflated price tag. This can maximize your time when attending a conference. And hopefully, these tips for saving money will allow you to attend many more conferences. Don’t forget these travel tips before attending a conference.

The post How to Save Money When Going to a Conference appeared first on Due.

by Karen Cordaway at October 20, 2017 03:30 AM

Boy Genius Report

The new Mini Wired Gamepad for PS4 looks like the perfect travel companion

PS4 Mini Wired Gamepad

If you've been holding out for a cheaper, more compact PlayStation 4 controller for the young one in your household, you're in luck. This week, Sony announced on the PlayStation Blog that Hori's new Mini Wired Gamepad for PS4 will be available in the US and Canada this holiday season for $29.99 -- half the price of a standard controller.

The Mini Wired Gamepad is 40% smaller than the DualShock 4, but still features all of the same joysticks and buttons as its wireless counterpart. The only button that the Mini Wired Gamepad is missing is the touch pad, but Sony says that many of those inputs (which are often inessential) can be simulated with the right or left joysticks.

Continue reading...

Trending right now:

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by Jacob Siegal at October 20, 2017 03:05 AM

good coders code, great reuse

Next site in online tools network:

At Browserling we're building a network of online tools websites. Each site in the network focuses on one and only one tool category. Each tool does one and only one thing. The first website in the network was Online CSV Tools, which is all about working with Comma Separated Values data.

Now we just finished the second site.

The second site in our network is Online JSON Tools. Online JSON Tools is a collection of simple, free and easy to use JSON utilities. There are no ads, popups or other garbage. Just JSON utilities that work in your browser. Load JSON and instantly get result.

Here's a list of all JSON tools on this website:

Here are upcoming JSON tools that we'll be adding to this site:

  • Syntax Highlight JSON
  • Flatten JSON
  • Convert JSON to Base64
  • Convert JSON to a HTML Table
  • Display JSON Object Statistics

The next few sites are onlineXMLtools, onlineYAMLtools, onlineTSVtools, onlinePDFtools, onlineIMAGEtools, onlineBROWSERtools, onlineCRYPTOtools and then 20 more.

If you like what I'm doing you can subscribe to my blog and/or follow me on twitter and/or follow browserling on twitter and/or do nothing.

See you next time!

by Peteris Krumins ( at October 20, 2017 02:06 AM

Boy Genius Report

Verizon expects strong iPhone X demand this holiday season

iPhone X Release Date

The iPhone X sure is expensive, but that doesn’t mean that Apple won’t sell millions upon millions of units this year. Most reports say that Apple may meet its production goals for 2017 after all, although it’ll struggle to meet consumer demand well into 2018.

Verizon also said it expects strong iPhone X sales this quarter while confirming that iPhone 8 sales were not on par with what you’d expect from a new iPhone.

Continue reading...

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by Chris Smith at October 20, 2017 02:02 AM


DNA Lounge update

DNA Lounge update, wherein we have angered Poseidon once more.

by jwz at October 20, 2017 01:44 AM

The Latest: Senate passes $4 trillion budget blueprint

The Latest: Senate passes $4 trillion budget blueprintWASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Trump, Congress and $4.1 trillion budget plan (all times EDT):

October 20, 2017 01:34 AM

3 Heirloom Stocks to Hold Forever

3 Heirloom Stocks to Hold ForeverWant stocks for the very, very long term? Look no further.

October 20, 2017 01:33 AM

Boy Genius Report

Meet the five new Gen 3 Pokemon coming to ‘Pokemon Go’ this weekend

Pokemon Go Gen 3 Pokemon

On Thursday morning, Niantic revealed the details of the long-awaited Pokemon Go Halloween 2017 event, which begins on Friday at 12:00 PM PT. Along with offering players double candy for catching and hatching Pokemon, the event will also serve as the introduction to the 3rd generation of Pokemon from Ruby and Sapphire.

If you never played Pokemon Ruby or Pokemon Sapphire, you probably don't know much about the 135 creatures added to the Pokemon universe when the games launched in Japan in 2002. We're only getting a taste of the new generation during the Halloween event, but we figured it would be worthwhile to acquaint you with the five new Pokemon being added tomorrow before you left work or school to start searching for them.

Continue reading...

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by Jacob Siegal at October 20, 2017 01:32 AM


Rohingya refugees flee violence in Myanmar

More than half a million Rohingya refugees have flooded into Bangladesh to flee an offensive by Myanmar’s military that the United Nations has called ‘a textbook example of ethnic cleansing’. The refugee population is expected to swell further, with thousands more Rohingya Muslims said to be making the perilous journey on foot toward the border, or paying smugglers to take them across by water in wooden boats. Hundreds are known to have died trying to escape, and survivors arrive with horrifying accounts of villages burned, women raped, and scores killed in the ‘clearance operations’ by Myanmar’s army and Buddhist mobs that were sparked by militant attacks on security posts in Rakhine state on August 25, 2017. What the Rohingya refugees flee to is a different kind of suffering in sprawling makeshift camps rife with fears of malnutrition, cholera, and other diseases. Aid organizations are struggling to keep pace with the scale of need and the staggering number of them - an estimated 60 percent - who are children arriving alone. Bangladesh, whose acceptance of the refugees has been praised by humanitarian officials for saving lives, has urged the creation of an internationally-recognized ‘safe zone’ where refugees can return, though Rohingya Muslims have long been persecuted in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar. World leaders are still debating how to confront the country and its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who championed democracy, but now appears unable or unwilling to stop the army’s brutal crackdown. -- By Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

A Rohingya refugee boy cries as he fights his way in the crowd to get food aid from a local NGO at the Balukali refugee camp on Sept. 18, in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

October 20, 2017 01:08 AM

Study Hacks

Andrew Wiles on the State of Being Stuck

A Persistent Answer

Ben Orlin is a math teacher who publishes the clever essay blog, Math with Bad Drawings. Last year, Orlin had the opportunity, during a press conference at the Heidelberg Laureate Forum, to ask a question of Andrew Wiles, the Princeton Professor (now at Oxford) who in 1994 finally solved Fermat’s Last Theorem.

As Orlin reports on his blog, he asked the following:

“You’ve been able to speak to an unusually wide audience for a research mathematician. What are some of the themes you’ve tried to emphasize when talking to a broader public?”

Wiles’s answer, according to Orlin, can be summarized in six words: “Accepting the state of being stuck.”

As Wiles elaborated, research mathematics unfolds as follows:

“You absorb everything about the problem. You think about it a great deal—all the techniques that are used for these things. [But] usually, it needs something else. So, you get stuck.”

At this point, he explains, “you have to stop…let your mind relax a bit…[while] your subconscious is making connections.”

Then you “start again.” Day after day. Week after week. Until, one day:

“You find this thing…Suddenly you see the beauty of this landscape…[before,] when it’s still some kind of conjecture, it seems really far away…[but now] it’s like your eyes are open.”

Wiles admitted that the enemy he fights against most is “the kind of message put out by, for example, the film Good Will Hunting.”

And, in particular, the idea that for some people math comes easy (Matt Damon glancing at the chalkboard, and then dashing out the solution to the impossible problem), and for all others it’s hopeless.

The reality, as Wiles knows, is that math is just plain hard. Regardless of who you are. But it’s also amazingly rewarding if you’re used to the feeling of persisting even when you have no idea about how best to move forward.

A Good Response

I liked this answer (and Orlin’s commentary on it) for two reasons.

The first is personal. As a theoretical computer science I spend a lot of my professional life stuck on math problems. It’s hard to explain to outsiders what this is like, and Wiles’s  response does a good job of capturing the competing forces of frustration and joy that come from tackling such things on a regular basis.

The second has to do with my recent post about how we lack a good vocabulary for describing the varied cognitive efforts that comprise deep work. Wiles’s answer is a good step toward filling in some of those blanks.


For more on Andrew Wiles’s attack on Fermat’s Last Theorem, see Simon Singh’s popular book, Fermat’s Enigma. For a more raw and technical treatment of what it’s like to do Fields Medal-caliber math, see the more recent Birth of a Theorem. The image above is taken from Wile’s proof, as it appeared in the Annals of Mathematics.

(Hat tip: Amin)

by Study Hacks at October 20, 2017 01:06 AM

Boy Genius Report

Archaeologists find gates of Hell in Saudi Arabia

gates of hell

When researchers are searching for remnants of structures and settlements constructed by ancient peoples they typically focus on areas that are hospitable to human life. A new discovery in Saudi Arabia goes firmly against that notion, with archaeologists revealing the existence of hundreds of stone "gates" situated in and around ancient lava domes, in an area that is little more than a hellish landscape devoid of vegetation and water.

The structures, which measure anywhere from 40 feet to nearly 1,700 feet in length, are crude in their construction, built of rough rocks that have withstood thousands of years of wear and tear. What's most interesting is that it appears that the lava fields these structures were built upon was still active at the time, with hardened lava appearing to have flowed over some of the gates.

Continue reading...

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by Mike Wehner at October 20, 2017 01:01 AM

SANS Internet Storm Center, InfoCON: green

ISC Stormcast For Friday, October 20th 2017, (Fri, Oct 20th)

(c) SANS Internet Storm Center. Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

October 20, 2017 12:40 AM

There's a link between iPhone screen repairs and Apple's 2-year upgrade cycle

There's a link between iPhone screen repairs and Apple's 2-year upgrade cycleThere's a mental calculation most people do upon shattering their iPhone screen: Should I fix it immediately, or wait and buy a whole new phone? In the past, Apple has used a two-year cycle when designing iPhones. It's that timeline — which Apple only recently moved away from with the release of the iPhone 7, and did again with the iPhone 8 — that has traditionally impacted when people opt to fix their screen.

October 20, 2017 12:37 AM

Boy Genius Report

We love this 55″ 4K TV from Samsung, and it’s never been cheaper

4K TV Amazon

Unless you're buying a TV for a very large room, 55 inches is probably the ideal size. It's big enough that you can enjoy that nice ultra high-definition screen from anywhere in the room, but not so big that it looks silly. If you're in the market for a new TV and you agree that 55 inches is ideal, today is your lucky day. Everyone knows Samsung TVs have the best display quality, and one of Samsung's best bang-for-your-buck televisions is on sale on Amazon right now at its lowest price ever. Do yourself a favor and check out the Samsung Electronics UN55MU6300 55-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV while it's still on sale at Black Friday-level pricing.

Here are some highlights from the product page:

  • 4X more pixels than Full HD means you’re getting 4X the resolution, so you’ll clearly see the difference.
  • See vibrant and pure color for a realistic experience.
  • OneRemote automatically detects and controls all your connected devices and content with no manual programming required*.
  • Smooth action on fast-moving content with Motion Rate 120
  • Please note the differences between the MU6300 and the MU630D. MU6300: Black cabinet, 450 nits HDR sustained brightness, Mega Dynamic Contrast MU630D: Dark Titan cabinet, 430 nits HDR sustained brightness, Ultra Dynamic Contrast

Samsung Electronics UN55MU6300 55-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV (2017 Model): Too low to display

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by Maren Estrada at October 20, 2017 12:30 AM

Google Online Security Blog

Introducing the Google Play Security Reward Program

We have long enjoyed a close relationship with the security research community. To recognize the valuable external contributions that help us keep our users safe online, we maintain reward programs for Google-developed websites and apps, for Chrome and Chrome OS, and for the latest version of Android running on Pixel devices. These programs have been a success and helped uncover hundreds of vulnerabilities, while also paying out millions of dollars to participating security researchers and research teams.

Today, we’re introducing the Google Play Security Reward Program to incentivize security research into popular Android apps available on Google Play. Through our collaboration with independent bug bounty platform, HackerOne, we’ll enable security researchers to submit an eligible vulnerability to participating developers, who are listed in the program rules. After the vulnerability is addressed, the eligible researcher submits a report to the Play Security Reward Program to receive a monetary reward from Google Play.

With the ongoing success of our other reward programs, we invite developers and the research community to work together with us on proactively improving the security of some of the most popular Android apps on Google Play.

The program is limited to a select number of developers at this time to get initial feedback. Developers can contact their Google Play partner manager to show interest. All developers will benefit when bugs are discovered because we will scan all apps for them and deliver security recommendations to the developers of any affected apps. For more information, visit the Play Security Reward Program on HackerOne.

by Google Security PR ( at October 20, 2017 12:30 AM

Boy Genius Report

Report: AT&T is making the dumbest smartphone accessory of 2017

Moto Mods: AT&T DirecTV Now Chromecast

In a world of phone-holding hats and bluetooth-connected fidget spinners, I know that calling anything "the worst" is a bold statement. But I invite you to take a journey into the festering corpse of an idea that Moto and AT&T have come up with, and tell me I'm wrong.

According to Android Authority, Moto will shortly be releasing a Moto Mod for its modular smartphones, called the AT&T Mobile TV Cast. It's formed of two parts: a modular case that you snap onto the back of your phone, and an HDMI dongle that gets attached to your TV. With those in place, you'll be able to stream AT&T's DirecTV Now service from your phone to your TV.

Continue reading...

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by Chris Mills at October 20, 2017 12:00 AM

October 19, 2017

Boy Genius Report

YouTube star Casey Neistat slams video sharing site’s ad strategy

YouTube star Casey Neistat has slammed the video sharing site’s ad strategy, saying that the platform’s content creators are suffering.

Neistat, who has more than 8 million subscribers on YouTube, is a prominent video blogger. In a video posted on the platform Tuesday, he explained that YouTube’s revamped ad policies are hurting content creators.

“I genuinely don’t feel YouTube does enough to take care of and look after their community,” he said.

Continue reading...

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by at October 19, 2017 11:50 PM


T-Mobile and Sprint likely to delay merger announcement, report says

Recent rumors have said that T-Mobile and Sprint could announce their merger as soon as late October, but now it sounds like those plans have been pushed back. Sprint and T-Mobile might delay their merger announcement until “two or three weeks” after their quarterly earnings announcements. That’s according to sources speaking to Bloomberg, who explain that it’s unlikely that the two carriers will be able to finalize the details of their deal by the end ... [read full article]

The post T-Mobile and Sprint likely to delay merger announcement, report says appeared first on TmoNews.

by Alex Wagner at October 19, 2017 11:20 PM


Italy Is Teaching Students How To Spot Fake News

A new Politico poll just confirmed that nearly half of voters surveyed — a whopping 46% — think the media makes up stories about the president, while just 37% believe they do not. Meanwhile, actual fabricated articles and online hoaxes have had a negative impact on how Americans view the media and their public officials. While companies like Facebook have promised to do a better job of filtering out fake news stories from the masses, Italy is taking a more ambitious step.

Starting later this month, the Italian government will be rolling out a program to 8,000 high schools across the country that teaches students how to deal with fake news. In addition to training students how to identify fabricated stories, Italian journalists from national broadcaster RAI will also contribute to lessons on how not to disseminate fake news and conspiracy theories, how to demand evidence from those sharing questionable sources, and to always remember things on the web can be manipulated. Italian officials hope the lesson plans will serve as a defense against fabricated information that can be weaponized to sway elections and undermine democratic norms.

“Fake news drips drops of poison into our daily web diet and we end up infected without even realizing it,” Laura Boldrini, the president of the Italian lower house of Parliament, told The New York Times. “It’s only right to give these kids the possibility to defend themselves from lies.”

Italy isn’t the only one attempting to fight the rise of fake news. Members at the 70th National Newspaper Convention, hosted by the Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association, recently adopted a resolution that papers will “contribute to people living safely and with peace of mind, and aim to realise a free and peaceful society, through free speech and a free press.” Children’s book giant Scholastic created a primer on how to spot made-up articles, and even Pope Francis has announced he will take on the topic, giving a speech on “Fake news and journalism for peace” for World Communications Day 2018. 

by Britni Danielle at October 19, 2017 11:20 PM

Calculated Risk

Friday: Existing Home Sales, Yellen Speech

Note: It is possible that a new Fed Chair will be announced (or hopefully reappointed) on Friday.  If not tomorrow, the announcement will probably happen any time during the next couple of weeks.

From Matthew Graham at Mortgage News Daily: Mortgage Rates Sideways to Slightly Higher
Mortgage rates were unchanged to slightly lower today.  ... We're splitting hairs in the bigger picture, however, as rates are still in a very narrow range in general.  Few borrowers will have seen any change in their quoted rates.  Most adjustments have come in the form of slightly higher/lower closing costs over the past few weeks. [30YR FIXED - 3.875-4.0%]
• At 10:00 AM ET, Existing Home Sales for September from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The consensus is for 5.30 million SAAR, down from 5.35 million in August. Housing economist Tom Lawler expects the NAR to report sales of 5.38 million SAAR for September.

• Also at 10:00 AM, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment (Monthly) for September 2017

• At 7:30 PM, Speech by Fed Chair Janet Yellen, Monetary Policy Since the Financial Crisis, At the National Economists Club Herbert Stein Memorial Lecture and Annual Dinner, Washington, D.C

by Bill McBride ( at October 19, 2017 11:19 PM


Olympic Star Gymnast McKayla Maroney Says She Was Molested By A Team USA Doctor

Over the weekend, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted a call-out to victims of sexual abuse “so we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

The original #MeToo movement was started 10 years ago by Tarana Burke to help young women of color who had survived sexual abuse, assault, and exploitation. Milano brought it back to prominence after countless women had publicly admitted to being sexually assaulted by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Social media was soon flooded with responses by women everywhere. The movement inspired two-time Olympic medalist, McKayla Maroney, to tweet her story of abuse. Maroney alleges she was sexually assaulted by former Michigan State and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar as early as age 13. 

Photo by <a href="" target="_blank">USA Gymnastics/YouTube</a>.

“Dr. Nassar told me that I was receiving ‘medically necessary treatment that he had been performing on patients for over 30 years,’” Maroney wrote. “It started when I was 13 years old, at one of my first National Team training camps, in Texas, and it didn't end until I left the sport. It seemed whenever and wherever this man could find the chance, I was ‘treated.’”

According to Maroney, the most frightening moment came was when she was allegedly drugged by the doctor and woke up next to him in a hotel room. “For me, the scariest night of my life happened when I was 15 years old,” Maroney wrote. “... He’d given me a sleeping pill for the flight, and the next thing I know, I was all alone with him in his hotel room getting a ‘treatment.’ I thought I was going to die that night.”

Now 21, the star gymnast from the 2012 London games believes that by speaking out she can inspire others to overcome the abuse they’ve experienced. “Silence has given the wrong people power for too long, and it’s time to take our power back,” she wrote. Over 120 women are suing Nassar for alleged sexual assault, although it’s unclear if Maroney is involved. Nassar is currently in jail awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to federal child pornography charges.

by Tod Perry at October 19, 2017 10:40 PM

Wheaties for Your Wallet

Should You Invest in Cryptocurrency?

Investing is one of the best things you can do to provide financial security for your future. One good reason to invest is so that you can retire comfortably and still have income. Another is to ensure you can provide for yourself and your life partner should something happen to either of you. But should you invest in cryptocurrency?

Obviously, there are many different kinds of investments you could make to grow wealth for your future goals. You could invest in real estate, bonds, stocks or any number of other things that grow in value over time.

However, in addition to these choices, there is another form of investing that is a relatively newer way to increase your wealth for the future. It is called cryptocurrency. But you may question whether or not you should invest in cryptocurrency.

What is Cryptocurrency?

You can’t hold cryptocurrency in your hand like you can other forms of currency. Cryptocurrency is encrypted currency that exists digitally. Since it can be found only on computers or the internet it is not possible to put it in your pocket, purse, or wallet.

Although digital currency is not illegal, it is also not considered legal tender in the U.S. as well as many other countries. This means it is not backed by the United States at this time.

Of course, that status could change in the future. But at this time it is considered a legal asset rather than actual currency or legal tender.

Why Cryptocurrency is Appealing

Clearly there are a lot of good reasons cryptocurrency could make an appealing investment choice. I will go over a few of them below.

In the past there have been many documented cases of people whose investments and entire life savings have been stolen by others. But cryptocurrency investments are a comparatively safer way to invest.

For one thing, forgery and theft of cryptocurrency is nearly impossible because of the encryption. In addition, transactions usually flow between two parties through blockchain technology without the need for any third party intervention.

Another positive it that cryptocurrency transactions do not require a bank to complete. This can speed up the length of time it takes for transactions to be completed. In fact, transactions made with cryptocurrency are nearly instantaneous.

Cryptocurrency is an appealing way for start-ups to fundraise. They would make an Initial Coin Offering, or ICO, allowing backers to purchase cryptocurrency with regular currency. This allows the start-up to get off the ground and the backers to receive a return on their investment in the future.

Why You Should be Cautious to Invest in Cryptocurrency

There are reasons why you should be cautious about investing in cryptocurrency. Legality, legitimacy and volatility are a couple of them.

As mentioned earlier, cryptocurrency is not illegal in most countries. But what happens if you invest in it and its classification changes making it illegal? It is possible the value of your investment could plummet causing you to lose thousands of dollars.

You must also be wary of investing through an ICO. For example, if you decide to invest in this manner, do some research beforehand. Make sure the company you are investing in is legitimate and not out to scam you through the sale of fake cryptocurrency.

Volatility of the values of cryptocurrency is another reason to be very careful with this type of investment. In the past few years alone there have been crazy changes in its value. While some people have made millions virtually overnight, others have lost thousands if not millions as well.

The past successes others have had in investing have proven it is a valuable way to secure your future. As to whether or not you should invest in cryptocurrency, only you can decide how much risk you are willing to take.

The post Should You Invest in Cryptocurrency? appeared first on Due.

by Kayla Sloan at October 19, 2017 10:30 PM

Brad DeLong - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

Must-Read: Endorse. The biggest reason not to name John Taylor to run the Fed is his persistent refusal to take any steps to mark his beliefs to market—to perform any kind of view-updating exercise in response to the extraordinary economic troubles of the past decade. That is just not right for anyone claiming to be an economist. And that is doubly not right for anyone being considered for any senior policymaking position. If Taylor is nominated, the Senate Banking Committee should not confirm him:

Noah Smith: Taylor and His Rule Are Not What the Fed Needsg: "How much should the Fed worry about inflation versus unemployment?...

The Taylor Rule contains two number.... When Taylor made the rule, he rather arbitrarily set both values to be 0.5.... When compared to the numbers Taylor picked, it looks like the Fed assigns more weight to unemployment and less to inflation. The Fed’s approach seemed to work fairly well in the 1980s and 1990s.... Only in the Great Recession did this approach seem inadequate -- the Fed lowered rates all the way to zero, at which point it could lower them no further (since nominal interest rates can’t go much below zero). Taylor, however, would have done things differently. In a blog post in June 2011 -- when interest rates were at zero and the Federal Reserve was contemplating engaging in further rounds of quantitative easing -- Taylor wrote that the Fed ought to raise rates instead....

Taylor’s recommendation relied on his original rule, with its original arbitrary round numbers. That rule recommended raising interest rates above zero as early as 2010, and would have had rates at almost 4 percent in 2012. The Fed didn’t take Taylor’s advice. Instead, it kept rates at zero, and continued its program of QE. Inflation, which Taylor warned about, failed to appear. Taylor also warned of financial market volatility if interest rates weren’t raised. But that also failed to appear.... It’s safe to say that the outcome was fairly good. And none of the dangers that Taylor prophesied came to pass.

One would think that Taylor would have reconsidered his more hawkish policy rule in light of these developments. But he continued to defend his version of the rule, and to criticize the Fed’s actions, years later. This apparent refusal to revise his views, combined with a general reputation for monetary hawkishness, probably goes a long way toward explaining why Taylor appeals to the Trump White House.... As Fed chief, it's impossible to know in advance if Taylor would live up to these expectations of hawkishness.... But if Taylor did let himself be significantly influenced by the rule that bears his name, it would almost certainly push him to raise interest rates above what other Fed leaders like Yellen might choose. And that would pose a danger to the real economy.

by J. Bradford DeLong at October 19, 2017 10:16 PM

Wired Top Stories

How Social Media Endangers Knowledge

Social networks train us to focus on images and emotions, sapping the quest for knowledge.

by Hossein Derakhshan at October 19, 2017 10:10 PM


Why Larry Summers Is the Economist Everyone Hates to Love

(Photo: Ron Edmonds/Associated Press)

Season 7, Episode 7

This week on Freakonomics Radio: he’s been U.S. Treasury Secretary, a chief economist for the Obama White House and the World Bank, and president of Harvard. He’s one of the most brilliant economists of his generation (and perhaps the most irascible). And he thinks the Trump Administration is wrong on just about everything.

To find out more, check out the podcasts from which this hour was drawn: “Why Larry Summers Is the Economist Everyone Hates to Love” and “Legacy of a Jerk.”

You can subscribe to the Freakonomics Radio podcast at Apple Podcasts or elsewhere, or get the RSS feed.

The post Why Larry Summers Is the Economist Everyone Hates to Love appeared first on Freakonomics.

by Freakonomics at October 19, 2017 10:00 PM

The Big Picture

1987 Crash: The TV Recap

Some fascinating history here: Black Monday – Part 1 – Nightly Business Report Oct.19, 1987 Black Monday – Part 2 – Nightly Business Report Oct.19, 1987 ~~~ ABC News Oct. 19, 1987: ‘Black Monday’ for Stock Market In the largest drop at the time, panic selling pummels NYSE and world markets. Unfortunately your browser does…

Read More

The post 1987 Crash: The TV Recap appeared first on The Big Picture.

by Barry Ritholtz at October 19, 2017 10:00 PM

Swimming Pool by Maria Svarbova

Maria Svarbova

Maria Svarbova

I love the retro, sterile, futuristic, bright (and also somehow dull) look of these swimming pool photos by Maria Svarbova. She’s collected them into a book called Swimming Pool coming out in November. (via colossal)

Tags: Maria Svarbova   photography

by Jason Kottke at October 19, 2017 09:45 PM

Why TransEnterix Stock Tanked Today

Why TransEnterix Stock Tanked TodayThe harsh reality of launching a novel medical device is starting to weigh on TransEnterix&aposs shares.

October 19, 2017 09:34 PM


Loaf - mean & lean breadcrumb trails

The newest loaf has been fundamentally changed to provide even more flexibility and separation from view concerns. You can now specify how breadcrumbs are matched using new :match option and then render them using breadcrumb_trail view helper. It supports Rails >= 3.2. Enjoy!

October 19, 2017 09:32 PM


California Inmates Risk Their Lives Battling Fires For $1 An Hour

Fire season has been devastating in California this fall. As of mid-October, 17 large fires were burning across the northern part of the state, and five out of six major fires were contained in the south. Among the more than 10,000 firefighters waging war against the hellish flames are 3,800 heroes who earn just $1 an hour for their service: inmates of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

According to NBC Los Angeles, 13% of the state’s firefighters are inmates, which saves the state $124 million annually. Of the 3,800 inmate firefighters, 200 are women.

“We have female crews from other camps working on the Canyon Fire in Anaheim and also up in Napa,” Bill Sessa, a spokesman for the Malibu Conservation Camp #13 corrections facility told NBC Los Angeles. “The crews from the Malibu camp are on standby and also have to provide back-up fire protection for L.A. County.”

Female inmate firefighters, working in groups of about 14, use chainsaws and hand tools to cut containment lines that stop fires from spreading. “We basically fight fires, and it gives us a chance to better ourselves mentally and physically,” Latoya Najar, an inmate told NBC Los Angeles. “Every day is a difficult day,” Najar said. “This will show you that you can do anything you put your mind to.” Najar’s camp is a busy one; the Malibu Conservation Fire Camp #13 has worked over 170 fires in 2017 alone. 

Inmates can volunteer for the firefighting camps if they are imprisoned for a nonviolent crime, exhibit good behavior, and pass a physical examination. Those with any histories of sexual assault or arson are not considered for positions. The job is high-paying in terms of prison employment. Inmates receive $2 per day in firefighter camp and an extra $1 per hour when working a fire. There’s another added bonus for all the hard work: Inmates receive two days off their sentence for each day in fire camp. 

by Tod Perry at October 19, 2017 09:30 PM

SANS Internet Storm Center, InfoCON: green

Necurs Botnet malspam pushes Locky using DDE attack, (Thu, Oct 19th)


I've seen Twitter traffic today about malspam from the Necurs Botnet pushing Locky ransomware using Word documents as their attachments.  These Word documents use the DDE attack technique, something I already wrote about in a previous diary covering Hancitor malspam on 2017-10-16.  Here's a link to My Online Security's writeup about today's malspam from the Necurs Botnet.

I opened one of the Word documents in my lab environment and found a 1st stage malware (presumably a downloader) and a 2nd stage malware (Locky) during the infection.  Today's diary reviews the traffic and malware.

Shown above:  Flow chart for the infection process.


Below is a copy from one of the emails.  If found several dozen of them; however, I only noticed 3 distinct Word documents from the attachments.

Shown above:  Screen shot from one of the emails.


The email attachments exhibited characteristics similar to previous Word documents using the DDE attack method.

Shown above:  Opening the Word document in a test environment (1 of 3).

Shown above:  Opening the Word document in a test environment (2 of 3).

Shown above:  Opening the Word document in a test environment (3 of 3).

Network traffic

Traffic was a bit different than I've seen with recent attachments from the Necurs Botnet.  The first HTTP request returned a base64 string that contained further URLs for the 1st-stage malware download.  The second HTTP request returned the 1st-stage malware.  Two follow-up HTTP POST requests came from the 1st-stage malware with the User-Agent string Windows-Update-Agent.  Then came an HTTP POST request that returned the Locky ransomware binary.  The Locky binary was encoded as it passed through the network, and it was decrypted on the local host.

No callback traffic from the Locky binary was noted.  I just saw some more HTTP POST requests from the 1st-stage malware.

Shown above:  Traffic from the infection filtered in Wireshark.

Shown above:  First HTTP request returned a base64 string.

Shown above:  1st-stage malware downloaded.

Shown above:  1st-stage malware possible connectivity check.

Shown above:  1st-stage malware callback traffic to a probable command & control server.

Shown above:  Locky binary sent to the infected Windows host.

The infected Windows host

The infected host exhibited characteristics of a Locky ransomware infection.  The Locky binary deleted itself after the infection.  However, the 1st-stage malware was made persistent on the infected host, and I saw an update in the Windows registry for it.

Shown above:  Desktop of an infected Windows host.

Shown above:  Locky ransom cost was .25 bitcoin.

Shown above:  1st-stage malware persistent on my infected host.


Traffic from my infected windows host:

  • port 80 - - GET /KJHDhbje71
  • port 80 - - GET /eurgf837or
  • - POST /
  • port 80 - - POST /
  • port 80 - - POST /fef44gddd.enc
  • port 80 - - POST /
  • port 80 - - POST /
  • - GET /favicon.ico

Other URLs from the infected host:

  • port 80 - - GET /KJHDhbje71
  • port 80 - - GET /KJHDhbje71
  • port 80 - - GET /eurgf837or
  • port 80 - - GET /eurgf837or

Malspam attachments:

SHA256 hash:  3fa85101873d1c3447594c309ea1e324beb578843e1fab7c05189830d2def126

  • File size:  13,345 bytes
  • File name:  i_[six random digits].doc
  • File description:  attachment from the malspam

SHA256 hash:  ea132c34ebbc591eda78531e2bfb9a4cb40e55a245191f54e82df25be9b58db2

  • File size:  13,341 bytes
  • File name:  i_[six random digits].doc
  • File description:  attachment from the malspam

SHA256 hash:  4a7f805f6b8fec64d3cf07c02a1d200c703ce4cc6ddf2dabd56ad9d6c936c603

  • File size:   13,344 bytes
  • File name:  i_[six random digits].doc
  • File description:  attachment from the malspam

Malware from the infected Windows host:

SHA256 hash:  d2cca5f6109ec060596d7ea29a13328bd0133ced126ab70974936521db64b4f4

  • File size:  116,482 bytes
  • Initial location:  C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Temp\rekakva32.exe
  • Persistent location:  C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Temp\{b291bae7-2824-ea5c-c352-94c8757176af}\a3W22f79.exe
  • File description:  First-stage malware (checks in to C2 server/downloads Locky binary)
  • Registry update:  KHCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer\Run

SHA256 hash:  4c054127056fb400acbab7825aa2754942121e6c49b0f82ae20e65422abdee4f

  • File size:  651,264 bytes
  • File location:  C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Temp\a3W22f79.exe
  • File description:  Second-stage malware, Locky ransomware

Final words

Standard disclaimer:  As always, it's relatively easy to follow best security practices on your Windows computer.  Software Restriction Policies (SRP) or AppLocker can easily prevent these types of malspam-based infections from occurring.

This is an interesting development, because it shows how the DDE attack technique has spread to large-scale distribution campaigns.  It's not new, and I'm not sure how effective it really is.  If you know of anyone who was infected from one of these DDE-based Office documents, please tell your story in the comments.

Pcap and malware samples for this diary can be found here.

Brad Duncan
brad [at]

(c) SANS Internet Storm Center. Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

October 19, 2017 09:20 PM

Dark Reading: Dark Reading Column

'BoundHook' Technique Enables Attacker Persistence on Windows Systems

CyberArk shows how attackers can leverage Intel's MPX technology to burrow deeper into a compromised Windows system.

by Jai Vijayan Freelance writer at October 19, 2017 09:20 PM

Daring Fireball

Developer Camp 10th Anniversary

The 10th anniversary edition of Developer Camp — formerly iPhoneDevCamp and iOSDevCamp — is being held November 10–12 in San Jose. This is a great event, organized by Dom Sagolla, with a great record of diversity. Use this URL (with the “DF2017” code) and you’ll save 50 percent on tickets. This isn’t a sponsorship — I’m just happy to promote this event, and feel like the DF audience includes a lot of people who would enjoy this.

by John Gruber at October 19, 2017 09:11 PM