Another GOP Representative Blocks Disaster Aid Bill, Delaying Emergency Relief

A second attempt to pass a bipartisan disaster aid package has failed after a House Republican voted on Tuesday against a bill that would secure $19 billion in emergency relief.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) objected to the legislation’s passage during a voice vote and asked that another vote be held after the House returns from recess next week.

Lawmakers are currently on a 10-day recess for Memorial Day. Because of the recess, the bill required a unanimous vote to pass. This rule can be removed if recess is ended early, Roll Call reported.

“The Constitution is unambiguous, conducting this type of business requires at least half of Congress to be present,” Massie said on Twitter. “If Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi considered this must pass legislation, why did she send everyone home on recess for ten days before voting on it?”

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) voted against a bipartisan House disaster aid package on Tuesday.



Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) voted against a bipartisan House disaster aid package on Tuesday.

House Democrats had hoped to send the bill to President Donald Trump on Friday before Memorial Day weekend. In an earlier vote that same day, however, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) rejected the bill and demanded that it contain a “modest $4.4 billion” in funding for border security.

The bill, which Trump has said he will sign, contains funding for rebuilding and infrastructure improvements in areas affected by recent natural disasters, including hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires.

Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) was quick to lash out at Massie on Twitter, accusing him of putting his “own self-interest ahead of the national interest.”

“It’s pathetic that some members have chosen this moment to grandstand & get into the national headlines,” he wrote. “It’s time to quit the political games & get this disaster relief across the finish line.”

Pelosi also slammed the objecting vote as “heartlessness,” especially in the wake of deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma, Ohio and Indiana over the weekend.

“House Republicans need to immediately end this shameful sabotage, and allow the House to pass the bill that the bipartisan Senate has finally agreed to,” Pelosi said in a statement. “How many more communities need to suffer before Republicans end their political games?”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters that lawmakers will try to pass the bill unanimously again on Thursday. If that attempt also fails, the House will vote on it next week once all members have returned from the Memorial Day recess. 

Wells Fargo Strategist Throws Shade on Gold While Bitcoin Outshines All

By CCN: Wells Fargo’s name is synonymous with gold.  Henry Wells and William Fargo launched the bank in the Wild West during the California Gold Rush, supporting both the investment in and delivery of the precious metal via its famous stagecoach. The U.S. has come a long way since the stagecoach, and bitcoin is now encroaching on gold’s store-of-value territory. Shockingly, Wells Fargo Head of Real Asset Strategy John LaForge no longer believes the precious metal is the one to own, telling Kitco:

“Stocks, in the last few weeks have hit, and you see the days when stocks really get hit, and what does gold do? Gold is up $3, it’s up $5, it’s up $7. I think where we are in this gold super cycle, this long cycle with commodity prices, is we’re kind of in the dull period.”

LaForge didn’t jump on the cryptocurrency stagecoach. In fact, he suggested if anything, the bitcoin is too nascent of an asset class to cause any disruption to gold’s multi-trillion dollar market. But he didn’t have to validate crypto; the returns speak for themselves. While gold is struggling to deliver paltry single-digit returns, bitcoin investors are having the time of their lives as the biggest cryptocurrency reaches for the moon.

bitcoin price chart bitcoin price chart

The bitcoin price reached a new 2019 high on May 27. | Source: CoinMarketCap

What Safe Haven?

Gold is designed to be a safe haven from the volatile stock market, especially during times of heightened uncertainty in the economy. The precious metal’s uncorrelated nature to other asset classes is what makes it so special. Now that it has essentially lost its shine during a time when investors need a flight to quality more than ever, bitcoin is increasingly looking like the only asset class that’s packing a punch in 2019.

LaForge points investors to currencies instead of gold except he chooses the wrong one, suggesting the U.S. dollar instead of a cryptocurrency such as bitcoin and saying:

“If you want to get defensive, you’re almost better off in other defensive assets too, so the dollar versus say, gold, if you see volatility. Gold’s just not acting that well, frankly.”

‘No Interest Left in Gold’ While Bitcoin Demand Keeps Rising

June gold futures are currently hovering at $1,277. Perhaps the most telling sign that gold has lost its luster is that demand for the commodity is waning. Wells Fargo’s Lafarge has a $1,300 price target on the precious metal but don’t get your hopes up:

“There’s just no interest left in [gold].”

Meanwhile, over in crypto land, Fundstrat Co-Founder Thomas Lee tweeted today:

“The resilience of bitcoin in the face of heightening tensions shows that bitcoin/crypto is one of the few places to find alpha.”

It’s probably just a matter of time before the Wells Fargo strategist sees the light, too.

LA Rams QB Tries to Quit Tobacco – By Buying a $160,000 Tesla?

By CCN: Elon Musk is laughing all the way to the bank, thanks to Los Angeles Rams backup quarterback Blake Bortles.

Bortles signed with the LA Rams during the offseason and was determined to break his habit of using chewing tobacco, also known as “dip.” So he bought a Tesla.

The $160,000 Quit Tobacco Method That’s Guaranteed to Fail

The Blake Bortles logic path works as follows: The former Jaguars first-rounder only buys his dip at gas station convenience stores, so if he stops going to convenience stores, he won’t buy dip anymore. In order to eliminate gas station visits, he buys an electric vehicle – a Tesla.

This seems like an extremely expensive method for quitting tobacco, considering Blake Bortles ponied up $160,000 for his custom Tesla.

The method also is certainly not FDA-approved, so it’s not a good idea to follow his lead – especially since he carted $6.5 million in guaranteed money to the LA Rams when leaving the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Shockingly, the Blake Bortles “Quit Tobacco Now” plan failed. Now he just drives his $160,000 Tesla to the gas station and still buys his dip.

Don’t Use Tesla Autopilot, Blake!: LA Rams Fans Everywhere

Los Angeles RamsLos Angeles Rams

LA Rams fans had better hope their backup quarterback stops using the Tesla Autopilot feature. | Source: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

LA Rams fans, however, have more to be concerned about. Blake Bortles uses the autopilot function on his Tesla:

“I just let it get on the highway and you double-click the thing twice and it just drives you all the way there. I kind of check the news and see what’s going on. It beeps like every 60 seconds and you’ve got to touch the wheel, so you can’t take a nap.”

Given the apparent propensity for the Tesla autopilot to fail catastrophically and end in death, or burst into flames without warning, LA Rams fans had better hope that starting quarterback Jared Goff does not get injured.

How Blake Bortles Can Kill Two Birds With One Tesla

The LA Rams organization might consider getting Blake Bortles a driver.

This would not only remove the autopilot risk, but the driver could refuse to go to a convenience store, thereby denying Blake Bortles an opportunity to buy his dip.

There’s more to this story because the Tesla is also a status symbol here in LA. They are found in the driveways in the expensive parts of town, and in the parking lots of the top restaurants and nightclubs.

Bortles is trying to fit in, and he can’t be blamed for rightly believing that his pickup truck would be looked at askance at the fancy new Los Angeles Rams facility.

Don’t Give Elon Musk Any More Ideas

There’s an additional unintended downside to Bortles’ failed dip-addiction treatment plan.

Snake oil salesman Elon Musk must’ve heard about Bortles’ antics, and he is likely dreaming up other ways to dupe people into buying a Tesla for reasons that have nothing to do with the car, to further line his pockets.

So don’t be surprised when Elon Musk starts touting the Tesla as a way to “adjust your personal magnetic field.”

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not represent those of, nor should they be attributed to, CCN.

Morgan Stanley Rings Recession Alarm, Ignores Booming Economy

By CCN: An analyst at vaunted investment bank Morgan Stanley made himself look like the village idiot Monday, saying America’s economic outlook is crumbling toward recession even as the economy booms.

The U.S. Economy Is on ‘Recession Watch’

Chief U.S. Equity Strategist Michael Wilson spit out several data points while warning in a report that the U.S. is now on “recession watch.” He stated:

“Recent data points suggest U.S. earnings and economic risk is greater than most investors may think… The U.S. economy is vulnerable to a more significant slowdown due to overheating last year from the fiscal stimulus. This led to labor cost pressures for corporations, excessive inventories, and an overzealous capex cycle that is now reverting to the mean, which means well below trend spending for several quarters.”

Morgan Stanley’s strategist also expressed concern regarding U.S. economic cycles.

An economic cycle indicator that suggests the U.S. is headed into a recession. | Source: Morgan Stanley Cross Asset Research

The chart is partially derived from manufacturing activity, which hit a nine-year-low this month thanks to a slowdown in the services sector.

Economists point to the services sector as an indicator because healthcare and business services are utilized frequently by Americans. If those are slowing, then it means Americans are spending less money for those services.

Cherry Picking Data to Support a Dumb Prediction

Morgan Stanley economists, meanwhile, mention other concerning data:

“The April durable goods report was bad, particularly the details relating to capital goods orders and shipments. Coming on the heels of last week’s crummy April retail sales report, it suggests second quarter activity growth is sharply downshifting from the first quarter pace.”

Wilson pointed to an ongoing yield curve inversion in which the longer-term 10-year Treasury yields less than the 3-month Treasury bill, which typically signals a recession.

Wilson has also been sounding the economy and stock market alarm for some time now:

It Isn’t All Doom and Gloom, Not Even Close

Morgan Stanley is ignoring the plethora of opposing data.

Rival investment bank JPMorgan puts the risk of recession at only 15%. Its CEO Jamie Dimon does not see a recession in 2019.

Jamie Dimon dismisses the inverted yield curve signal:

“I would not look at the yield curve and its potential inversion as giving the same signals as in the past…There has simply been too much interference in the global markets by central banks and regulators to understand its full effect on the yield curve.”

What Recession Watch? The U.S. Economy Is on Fire

JPMorgan’s Dimon points to ongoing robust GDP growth, which is averaging 2.9% since Donald Trump took office and reached 3.2% in Q1. Global GDP growth has been stable since the end of the financial crisis.

Jamie Dimon believes the trade dispute with China will be resolved favorably. The labor market has been on fire, with more than 20 million jobs added since the bottom of the financial crisis.

Employed individuals. | Source: BLS/Bloomberg

That’s given a kick to wage growth, which had been stagnant for years and is now exceeding 2.5% annual growth.

US Consumer Comfort Index. | Source: Bloomberg

This has led to steady increases in personal income, which in turn has goosed the U.S. Consumer Comfort index.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not represent those of, nor should they be attributed to, CCN.

The S&P 500 is Booming, So Why Is the Stock Market Shrinking?

By CCN: The S&P 500 is having a blistering run in 2019. As of May 28, the large-cap stock market index is up 13.5 percent and shows minimal signs of slowing down.

One equity analyst, however, isn’t buying that the rise is organic. He believes the stock market is shrinking and has actually contracted by 2.3 percent since 2018.

S&P 500S&P 500

The S&P 500’s year-to-date rally masks a concerning fact: The stock market is shrinking. | Source: Yahoo Finance

Citigroup’s Chief Global Equity Strategist, Robert Buckland, “crunched” the numbers and ultimately blames the decline on share buybacks and mergers and acquisitions (MA). Bloomberg’s Tracy Alloway fittingly describes the idea as the “incredibly shrinking stock market“:

“Share buybacks and MA are a really easy way for companies to boost earnings per share… If you can grow through organic growth and, you know, actually improve your company’s performance then why not do it through financial engineering and arbitraging equity versus debt yields.”

Stock Market Shrinkage Is Simple Economics

Buckland estimates that the cost of equity in the US currently sits around 6.7 percent while the cost of debt is considerably lower at 4.1 percent. That may not sound significant, but as Bloomberg points out, executives won’t hesitate to jump on an easy two-and-a-half percent arbitrage opportunity in a low-growth environment.

The easy money won’t last forever, though. Debt-to-equity levels are rising sharply for the S&P 500, leaving behind a rapidly closing window for this kind of financial engineering.

SP500 Debt to Equity RatioSP500 Debt to Equity Ratio

The cost of raising debt continues to rise for S&P 500 companies. | Source: Bloomberg

Share Buybacks Were Once Outlawed

Stock buybacks have accelerated to record levels since the global financial crisis. Prior to the 1980s, however, company buybacks were illegal, outlawed for the same type of shenanigans that led to the Great Depression.

President Reagan repealed those laws in 1982, giving companies, for the first time in decades, the opportunity to buy back their own stock. That decision formed a major bottom in the S&P 500 and an epic run to this day.

S&P500 long term chart. Stock market is shrinkingS&P500 long term chart. Stock market is shrinking

A long-range view of the S&P500 since the 1930s. | Source: Macrotrends

Coincidence? You decide, but it’s not that hard to make the connection. The practice also raises questions around company leadership.

In an interview with CNN Business, veteran hedge fund manager Mark Yusko lambasted buybacks as “stock price manipulation,” deftly observing:

“I find it absolutely mind-numbing that a company like Apple can sit on $260 billion of cash, you’re telling me that all these genius people can’t think of one intelligent thing to do with that capital?”

You Feeling Lucky, Punk?

Similar to the great Westerns of old, a new modern standoff is taking place. On one end of the street is management with their hand firmly on the buy trigger. On the other, politicians like Elizabeth Warren, gunning to be the new sheriff in town:

Executives have every reason to buy back their own stock. Who wouldn’t? Their performance bonuses are heavily tied to their share options. Problem is, this creates a scenario where management is more interested in juicing their own stock instead of growing the business organically.

Perhaps this new gunfight will be labeled as an “Eastern” in the years to come. This time around, the showdown may take place between Congress and Wall Street.

Inflamed Trade War Tensions Threaten to Send the Dow Reeling

By CCN: The Dow Jones has remained relatively stable throughout recent weeks, keeping the 25,500 point level intact amidst rising tension between the U.S. and China.

The Dow Jones has remained stable The Dow Jones has remained stable

The Dow Jones has remained stable throughout the past month despite growing concerns of a long-lasting trade war (source: Yahoo Finance)

With analysts in both the U.S. and China such as the Center for a New American Security CEO Richard Fontaine and Global Times Chinese and English editions editor-in-chief Hu Xijin foreseeing a long-lasting trade war, the Dow Jones could struggle to maintain its stability in the near-term.

Why a deal in short-term is not likely, keeping Dow’s Future uncertain

Both sides were left pondering the motive of one another as the latest round of trade talks fell apart earlier this month.

According to Xijin, a growing portion of China’s population considers the reason behind the lack of progress in the trade talks as the intent of the U.S. to slow down the growth of China’s economy.

“More and more Chinese now believe the U.S. wants to sabotage China’s economic development, not so-called fair trade with China. [The] Huawei issue has greatly strengthened such an understanding among Chinese. Are we misreading U.S. intentions? The U.S. side should explain it seriously,” he said.

Many local analysts based in China have said quite consistently in recent weeks that the current structure of the deal in which the U.S. is requesting major changes to China’s industrial policies is simply not compelling to the domestic audience.

In the U.S., President Donald Trump has also received bipartisan support for his approach in dealing with the trade dispute with China, with Democratic leaders siding with the president’s decision to push for a better deal that meets the demands of the U.S.

The trade war is at a stalemate wherein the deal presented by the U.S. is not being accepted by the domestic audience of China and the Trump administration, with bipartisan support, is unwilling to compromise in its requests for industrial policy changes.

Whether the uncertainty in a deal would lead to a Dow Jones slump and a slowdown for the entire equities market would largely depend on the progress made by either side in the upcoming months.

The Center for a New American Security CEO Richard Fontaine wrote in a column:

“An indication that this conflict is here to stay is the striking bipartisan support for President Trump’s approach. Unlike every other aspect of the president’s foreign policy—toward Iran, for instance, or North Korea, Saudi Arabia, or Russia—Washington’s Democrats and Republicans largely agree that the time for a reckoning with China has come.”

Based on the intensifying conflict between the two sides, a comprehensive trade deal in the near-term has become seemingly unlikely.

ChinaDaily, the most widely read English newspaper in China with a readership of 150 million, said in an op-ed that even if President Xi and President Trump meet at the G20 summit next month, it could only result in a partial deal that limits the damage inflicted on farms, which are likely to suffer the most from the trade deal fall out.

“If Donald Trump and Xi Jinping strike a deal—perhaps at their planned meeting during next month’s G20 summit—it will be partial at best. Perhaps Beijing will commit to buy more American farm products, natural gas and autos,” the publication said.

Is a Slump Imminent?

At this point, the lack of progress in the trade talks is said to be priced into the market. Evidently, the conflict between the U.S. and China has nearly reached its peak and some foresee a scenario in which both governments become exhausted from the tariffs and the impact of the tariffs on the global economy, pushing for a deal.

If a deal does come into fruition, it would highly likely lead the Dow Jones and the SSE Composite rebound, raising the sentiment around the global economy. If a deal is not reached following the G20 summit, a decline in confidence from investors is a possibility to consider.

Giddy Jeff Bezos Hoards Amazon Billions as Exs Fortune Eyes 50% Hit

By CCN: Amazon boss Jeff Bezos didn’t become world-famous for philanthropy, but he is certainly charitable when showering praise. In a Tuesday tweet, Bezos heaped compliments on ex-wife MacKenzie Bezos for pledging to donate 50 percent of her $37 billion divorce payout to charity.

The irony was not lost on observers, though. This is because, among the top six richest billionaires in the U.S., Bezos is the only one who has not joined the Giving Pledge.

Under the Giving Pledge, the “world’s wealthiest individuals and families’ commit to giving away “more than half of their wealth.” This could be “to philanthropy or charitable causes either during their lifetime or in their will’.

Currently, over 200 billionaires, either as individuals or as family units, have signed the Giving Pledge. The Giving Pledge concept was created by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

Bezos Name Finally Appears on Giving Pledge List

MacKenzie is now the latest entrant to the list that includes her ex-husband’s business rivals such as Tesla’s Elon Musk and Oracle’s Larry Ellison. That it took a divorce for the Bezos’ name to appear on the list is remarkable.

Jeff BezosJeff Bezos

“Bezos” finally appears on the Giving Pledge list, but the Amazon boss remains notoriously absent. | Source: GivingPledge.org

Notably, even after the divorce payout, the Amazon CEO’s net worth is still more than three times than that of his ex-wife. Bezos’ net worth is also higher than his fellow Washington resident Bill Gates, who has become the face of the philanthropic initiative.

Not surprisingly, many reactions to Bezos’ tweet implored him to follow his ex-wife’s example.

Hoorah! Jeff Bezos Donates $1 Million to Charity!

To be fair, Bezos has occasionally donated to charity. This includes giving to Seattle’s homeless shelter and employment training nonprofit Mary’s Place. According to GeekWire, the multi-billionaire has given a whole $1 million to the organization!

Bezos’ approach to philanthropy has been criticized, and not just on the size of his donations. Philanthropy adviser Jay Hayman urged the Amazon CEO to focus on long-term durable solutions rather than short-term impact.

Specifically, Hayman warned Bezos that “doing good in the world is harder than making money.”

Amazon Boss: My Businesses Are Philanthropic

In the case of Mary’s Place, Hayman asked the multi-billionaire to invest his resources in reforming the systems that have contributed to homelessness. Otherwise, the philanthropy adviser warned, the vicious cycle of poverty would continue:

“Else you will go back to Mary’s Place in 20 years’ time and see the children of the people there today and realise that whilst some were helped, the point was missed and fundamental injustices went unaddressed in our quest for short term impact.”

So why is Amazon’s chairman not giving like other billionaires? The answer may lie in a tweet he published nearly two years ago while crowdsourcing for philanthropy ideas.

In the tweet, Bezos betrayed the fact that he sees his for-profit businesses as somewhat “philanthropic.” This is because, in his view, they were already contributing to society “in their own ways.”

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not represent those of, nor should they be attributed to, CCN.

Dow Reverses 100-Point Gain as Trade War Ravages iPhone Sales

By CCN: The Dow and broader U.S. stock market gave back gains Tuesday, as the threat of a trade-war escalation with China prompted Citigroup to slash its iPhone sales projections by half. Shares of Apple Inc. (AAPL) were little changed at the start of the holiday-shortened week, but that could soon change if Chinese residents shift their smartphone preferences.

Dow Rally Vanishes; S&P 500, Nasdaq Follow

All of Wall Street’s major indexes pivoted lower Tuesday afternoon, which reflected a tepid pre-market for Dow futures. The Dow Jones Industrial Average initially rose by as much as 132 points before giving back gains later in the session. It would settle down 52.5 points, or 0.2% at 25,533.44.

Dow Jones Industrial Average ChartDow Jones Industrial Average Chart

Dow Jones Industrial Average walks back triple-digit gains at the start of the holiday-shortened week. | Source: Yahoo Finance.

The broad S&P 500 Index of large-cap stocks declined 0.2% to 2,820.05. Losses were widespread, with consumer staples plunging more than 1.1% on average.

The technology-focused Nasdaq Composite Index held onto gains as technology stocks outperformed. The index edged up 0.1% to 7,647.59.

Trade War Will Ravage iPhone Sales

apple stock, trade warapple stock, trade war

U.S.-China trade war could ravage iPhone sales, according to Citigroup. | Source: REUTERS / Dado Ruvic

The ongoing trade war between the United States and China could have adverse effects on Apple. Analysts at Citigroup believe iPhone sales “could be cut in half” should Chinese consumers shift their purchasing preference to domestic brands.

“We are proactively slashing our iPhone unit sales as we believe the US/China trade situation will result in a slowdown of Apple iPhone demand in China as China residents shift their purchasing preference to China national brands,” Citi said, according to CNN.

Apple ranks as the sixth most heavily-weighted component in the Dow 30. It is also represented on the S&P 500 Index, and – further still – it trades on the Nasdaq. If Citigroup’s estimates are proven accurate, the technology sector as a whole could suffer significant losses as a result of the trade war.

Tech stocks in general and semiconductor companies, in particular, have the most to lose from a trade war. The Chinese territory of Taiwan is one of the most active regions for the semiconductor industry.

On Monday, President Trump said his administration isn’t ready to make a new deal with China, highlighting the fractious state of the current negotiations.

“I think they probably wish they made the deal that they had on the table before they tried to renegotiate it,” Trump said Monday at a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.

Apple admitted last year that it might have a China problem after the company downgraded its outlook on iPhone sales in the country. In its most recent quarter, Apple reported $58.02 billion in revenue, including $10.22 billion for Greater China.

Click here for a real-time Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) price chart.

The S&P 500 is Booming, So Why Is the Stock Market Shrinking?

By CCN: The S&P 500 is having a blistering run in 2019. As of May 28, the large-cap stock market index is up 13.5 percent and shows minimal signs of slowing down.

One equity analyst, however, isn’t buying that the rise is organic. He believes the stock market is shrinking and has actually contracted by 2.3 percent since 2018.

S&P 500S&P 500

The S&P 500’s year-to-date rally masks a concerning fact: The stock market is shrinking. | Source: Yahoo Finance

Citigroup’s Chief Global Equity Strategist, Robert Buckland, “crunched” the numbers and ultimately blames the decline on share buybacks and mergers and acquisitions (MA). Bloomberg’s Tracy Alloway fittingly describes the idea as the “incredibly shrinking stock market“:

“Share buybacks and MA are a really easy way for companies to boost earnings per share… If you can grow through organic growth and, you know, actually improve your company’s performance then why not do it through financial engineering and arbitraging equity versus debt yields.”

Stock Market Shrinkage Is Simple Economics

Buckland estimates that the cost of equity in the US currently sits around 6.7 percent while the cost of debt is considerably lower at 4.1 percent. That may not sound significant, but as Bloomberg points out, executives won’t hesitate to jump on an easy two-and-a-half percent arbitrage opportunity in a low-growth environment.

The easy money won’t last forever, though. Debt-to-equity levels are rising sharply for the S&P 500, leaving behind a rapidly closing window for this kind of financial engineering.

SP500 Debt to Equity RatioSP500 Debt to Equity Ratio

The cost of raising debt continues to rise for S&P 500 companies. | Source: Bloomberg

Share Buybacks Were Once Outlawed

Stock buybacks have accelerated to record levels since the global financial crisis. Prior to the 1980s, however, company buybacks were illegal, outlawed for the same type of shenanigans that led to the Great Depression.

President Reagan repealed those laws in 1982, giving companies, for the first time in decades, the opportunity to buy back their own stock. That decision formed a major bottom in the S&P 500 and an epic run to this day.

S&P500 long term chart. Stock market is shrinkingS&P500 long term chart. Stock market is shrinking

A long-range view of the S&P500 since the 1930s. | Source: Macrotrends

Coincidence? You decide, but it’s not that hard to make the connection. The practice also raises questions around company leadership.

In an interview with CNN Business, veteran hedge fund manager Mark Yusko lambasted buybacks as “stock price manipulation,” deftly observing:

“I find it absolutely mind-numbing that a company like Apple can sit on $260 billion of cash, you’re telling me that all these genius people can’t think of one intelligent thing to do with that capital?”

You Feeling Lucky, Punk?

Similar to the great Westerns of old, a new modern standoff is taking place. On one end of the street is management with their hand firmly on the buy trigger. On the other, politicians like Elizabeth Warren, gunning to be the new sheriff in town:

Executives have every reason to buy back their own stock. Who wouldn’t? Their performance bonuses are heavily tied to their share options. Problem is, this creates a scenario where management is more interested in juicing their own stock instead of growing the business organically.

Perhaps this new gunfight will be labeled as an “Eastern” in the years to come. This time around, the showdown may take place between Congress and Wall Street.

Missouri Set To Become First State Since Roe v. Wade With No Abortion Clinic

Missouri’s last remaining abortion clinic is set to close in just 72 hours, just days after the governor signed a strict anti-abortion measure into law. 

Planned Parenthood said Missouri’s health department is refusing to renew the St. Louis clinic’s license to operate in the state, which would force it to close at the end of the week.  

If it shuts down, Missouri would be the first state without a functioning abortion clinic since the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, according to the group. It is one of six states with just one remaining clinic

“This is not a drill. This is not a warning. This is a real public health crisis,” Leana Wen, Planned Parenthood president and CEO, said in a statement to HuffPost. “This week, Missouri would be the first state in the country to go dark ― without a health center that provides safe, legal abortion care. More than a million women of reproductive age in Missouri will no longer have access to a health center in the state they live in that provides abortion care.”

Protesters in Missouri speak out about an anti-abortion law. 



Protesters in Missouri speak out about an anti-abortion law. 

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services notified Planned Parenthood on May 20 of three issues that it needed to address to renew its license, according to CBS, which first broke news of the impending closure. 

The group agreed to two but said one demand was unacceptable: allowing the health department to interview seven doctors who work at the clinic. Planned Parenthood said it could provide interviews with two, but the others weren’t employed by the organization and hadn’t consented to be interviewed. 

The state health department said in its letter that it couldn’t complete its investigation into “potential deficient practices” without the interviews, and that “the investigation needs to be completed and any deficiencies resolved before the expiration of [the clinic’s] license on May 31, 2019.”

The state health department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

On Friday, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) signed a law banning abortion at eight weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions only for medical emergencies. 

Planned Parenthood plans to file a lawsuit Tuesday to keep operating in the state.