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Mark's Market Blog

11-8-15: The world is getting more dangerous.

By Mark Lawrence

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On Wednesday we hit S&P 2115, but stalled there. The dollar is going up again, China, Japan and Europe are lowering interest rates, and it seems more and more likely that this little mini-bull market is doomed. Some, a minority I think, believe markets will continue up until and perhaps beyond January 1. I'm not confident either way. I continue to firmly believe we're entering the third stage of this financial crisis: Stage 1 was the collapse of the US housing market and the near collapse of Wall Street; Stage 2 was the near collapse of Europe; Stage 3 will be chaos in emerging markets.

S&P 500 May 16 2014 to November 30 2015

The jobs report was excellent - 220,000 new jobs, unemployment down to 5.0%, and wages starting to rise. The Fed will almost certainly raise rates in December. This is likely to cause another stock market correction and, over the longer term, a stronger US dollar which will cause havoc on emerging markets and our own companies profits.

China's markets continue to recover, nearly hitting 3600 this week. They've opened up the flood gates of cheap money again - withdrawal was too painful so they're back on the heroin for the moment. I predicted they would hit 2000 before they hit 4000; I'm not overly nervous about my prediction yet.

The Heritage Foundation reports "North Korea has an extensive ballistic missile force that could strike South Korea, Japan, and US military bases in Asia. Pyongyang has deployed at least 400 Scud short-range tactical ballistic missiles, 300 No-Dong medium-range missiles, and 100 to 200 Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missiles." The most serious of North Korea's missile threats to the US comes from the KN-08 missile. The KN-08 is a road-mobile intercontinental missile; other long-range missiles must be fired from stationary launch pads. Heritage notes that the KN-08 "is operational today. Our assessment is that they have the ability to put a nuclear weapon on a KN-08 and shoot it at the [US] homeland." I believe time will reveal this is the true legacy of Obama: nuclear armed rogue states. I also believe this will end very badly.

Paranoia department: Last weekend a Russian airliner bound to Moscow from the Sinai crashed shortly after takeoff, killing 224. A few days ago the Obama administration said it appeared there was an explosive device on the airplane. U.S. officials told NBC News Friday that intelligence intercepts picked up chatter between ISIS operatives boasting about taking down an airliner after the Russian Metrojet passenger plane crashed in the Sinai last weekend, killing all 224 aboard. Details about how the plane was brought down were also intercepted, but the officials wouldn't specify what information was shared between the militants. Egyptian airports have notoriously lax security; it's frequently reported that for a few dollars you can get your luggage on the plane without being examined. Yesterday the Russian government announced all flights to and from Egypt were canceled pending an investigation into the crash. Friday, Putin more or less declared war on ISIL over the bombing. That's the facts. Here's where I go off the deep end. When I first Putin's statement, my immediate reaction was, "This is a false flag operation! Putin had the bomb planted." Putin has been chomping at the bit to have a proxy war with the US in Syria: him on Assad's side, us on the rebel side. If you ask anyone in the middle east, especially the Kurds, they'll tell you that ISIL is a creation of Obama and the CIA - we left hundreds of humvees and tens of thousands of weapons behind to arm them, we gave them several hundred new Toyota Tacomas, we made them to put an army between Iran and Israel and to harass and possibly unseat Assad. Lately reporters are finding some evidence for this, that ISIL is indeed an American creation gone rogue. Putin would love to show off some of his missiles and jets, a live version of the Paris air show. And Russia is really struggling economically, this is the time for a good despot to ignite nationalism. Is it all true? I dunno. The US has used false flag operations many times on our history, sooner or later it was bound to happen to us. All I know is we're about three miles from a shooting war with China and now perhaps the reports of sorties between US and Russian jets will increase dramatically. If we decide we need a war, there's a couple just laying around for us to sign up.

Fat is the new normal in the US. This year the number of obese people (BMI > 30) passed up the number of overweight people (BMI 25-30). In 2014 it was found that 83 million Americans were completely sedentary. Below are the 50 states + DC ranks 1 to 51. Lousiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama have it worst.

I just upgraded my laptop; sorry, this has been a process and my blogs have suffered last week and this week a bit as a result. My old laptop needed some rather significant repairs including a new fan / heat sink unit and a new backlight for the display. Those are being replaced by my son at a cost of about $120 and a couple of hours. A lot of my readers are perhaps a bit less comfortable with computers than I, so here's a few free utilities that I recommend. These go onto a new computer before my files do.

  1. PrivateFirewall. An excellent free firewall. Don't go online with a PC without one. Chinese poll every computer in the country about every 5 seconds looking for unprotected PCs.
  2. Auslogics. Free disk defragmenter. Use to speed up your hard drive. Don't defrag a solid state or flash drive.
  3. CCleaner. Free. Cleans your hard drive of worthless files and cleans up your registry. Use this a couple times a year.
  4. Gorilla Flash Drive. A 32 gigabyte flash drive that will withstand up to 250psi of pressure, is water resistant to 65 feet and is heat resistant up to 225° Fahrenheit. About $15. You can get a normal 32 gigabyte flash drive on Ebay for about $3.50.
  5. Photoscape. Functionally similar to Photoshop, but free. I like it.
  6. FileZilla. The free FTP program I use to maintain my web site.
  7. TextPad. A free text editor. It bugs you to pay $25. I paid up about 10 years ago and have had free updates since. I write nearly all my HTML in this, and also use it for data analysis because of its ability to sort on columns and its regular expression search and replace.
  8. SeaMonkey. Occasionally I write HTML with a WYSIWYG editor instead of by hand, especially for large tables. I use Seamonkey composer. It's free. The user interface isn't awful, but the HTML it generates is seriously ugly. If I'm going to keep the HTML around for a while I use Textpad to clean it up.
  9. Chrome. Like about 2/3 of everyone, I use Chrome with the extensions AdBlock, Chrome Refresh, Email this page, Flashcontrol, Gestures and Ghostery.

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