Media Worth Consuming - September 2017

Jonathan Rochford

How a one-man investigative operation exposes dodgy American companies. A US start-up gives house buyers a down payment in return for 1-3 years of Airbnb bedroom rentals. 15 reasons and 6 benefits from hiding your wealth. If you are starting out or just want a reminder, here’s 36 obvious truths about investing. Pensioners in two tiny Californian pension plans have had their pension payments cut by 70% and 92%. European soccer teams are promoting CFD providers offering over 300 times leverage. CFD exchanges will lever cryptocurrency bets up to 30 to 1. North Korea is stealing cryptocurrencies to finance its activities.

Jamie Dimon says he would sack any JP Morgan employee for trading bitcoin for “being stupid”, but JP Morgan is one of the biggest traders of Bitcoin in Europe. The company paid $13 billion for securitizing dodgy mortgages pre-crisis, but has pretended it did nothing wrong ever since.

HELOCs and second mortgages are booming in Canada, in some cases they are being used to defer bankruptcy. UBS estimates as much as $500 billion of factually inaccurate loans reside on Aussie bank balance sheets. Payments have been suspended on $8 billion of American student loans due to dodgy documentation and servicing. Earnings are becoming less of a driver of share prices, with monopoly power becoming more important.

Politics & Culture

Amazon deletes negative reviews of Hillary Clinton’s book but keeps positive ones. Hillary’s collusion with Russia goes much further than Trump’s. She claims that women wanted to vote for her but were bullied by their husbands to vote for Trump. Electricity theft in India speaks volumes about corruption, poverty and treatment of women. 70% of large donors to Chicago’s mayor have or are seeking contracts with the city.

Hungary’s wall has reduced illegal immigration by 99%. How Venezuela went from being a middle income democracy to an impoverished dictatorship, thanks to socialism. Spanish police raid Catalan govt offices and make arrests in an attempt to halt the referendum on independence. Kurds vote overwhelmingly for independence, now the negotiations begin. The consequences when truth speech and opinion is categorised as “hate speech”.

Economics & Work

US courts are rejecting union claims to automatically deduct union fees from non-members. Generation free lunch – American teenagers are taking fewer part time jobs. The Washington Post attacks an employee who wrote about newspaper’s poor labour practices. Hawaii is considering universal basic income, but it would need a tax equivalent to $3,400 for every family that holidays there to pay for it. Million dollar packages are being offered at a Chinese start-up in a war for top talent. A book that tracks the journeys of itinerant American workers shows that bad choices are mostly to blame for their relative poverty.

Environment

Puerto Rico was trashed by hurricane Maria with ATMs and credit card terminals out of action. The devastation there is likely to lead to further depopulation and lower bond recoveries. Damage to the US Virgin Islands may lead it to default as well.

One hurricane damaged country is issuing warnings about damaged property rather than helping residents clean up. Economic morons forget the broken window fallacy and claim that hurricanes are good for economic growth. A grocery store chain is far better than the Red Cross at helping after the Texas floods. The US has $696 billion in mortgages in hurricane affected areas, how many homeowners will walk away? America’s subsidized flood insurance rewards stupidity, including paying out 22 times on one property in 38 years.

Wind farms without subsidies may not be economical and may never be built despite winning tenders and signing contracts. Australia has lots of space for pumped hydro, but needs large electricity price variations to make it work. China is planning to double its nuclear power generation in the next decade. US spot electricity prices are at record lows. Battery cars have lower lifetime emissions than petrol cars, but the gap isn’t as big as perceived.

More CO2 in the atmosphere increases crop yields but reduces nutrient density. A visual future of food. How the Netherlands exports huge amounts of food and agricultural know how. Can mass growing of indoor fruits and vegetables replace traditional farming? How to turn methane into edible protein.

Miscellaneous

There’s hardly any lines for the new iPhone and Apple’s suppliers are feeling the pain. Almost all of Baltimore’s share bikes are out of action from damage or theft. High limit credit card details can be purchased on the dark web for under $20. One man’s story of how it took three years to clean up his stolen identity. A nurse was arrested after choosing not to commit the crime of taking a blood sample from an unconscious patient. A hilarious take on shareholder activism is a must read for some light relief.


Jonathan Rochford

Narrow Road Capital is a credit manager with a track record of higher returns and lowers fees on Australian credit investments. Clients include institutions, not for profits and family offices.

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