Category: Uncategorized

How To Save The NFL And Why It Won’t Happen

There is probably no bigger topic in business than the current debacle taking place within not just the NFL®, but all sports and the media that covers them.

Political protests are now not only the topic du jour, but nearly the entirety. So far off-the-rails of sports has this become that it lends itself to replace one old sport joke with another. i.e., Remember the old, “I was watching a boxing match and a hockey game broke out!” joke? It was funny because it had an element of truth behind it.

Today? It runs along the lines of “I was watching a political debate and a football game broke out!” This is leaving fans not only far from laughing, but they’re turning off and away from these venues in droves. And it’s not in the latter stages, rather, it’s just the beginning.

I was asked the other day in conversation (the reason why is because of my prior acumen. e.g., I’m a former turn around specialist.) what I would recommend if I were called in to advise what the NFL should do as to both arrest its ever falling ratings, along with how they could go about rebuilding both the sport, brand, and the image of the entire enterprise.

Here is my response, I’ll use a few bullet points for this example. First:

  • Fire the current commissioner: Roger Goodell.

The reasoning is simple: He’s been ineffective in addressing the issue (and many others years prior) of protests publicly, as well as what’s been inferred privately. The more he speaks, the more he appears to be on a different footing than the owners. The only thing worse is his latest public appearances via the media where he sounds absolutely robotic and focus-group driven. i.e., Says a lot of words using current phraseology that mean absolutely nothing, to anyone. He needs to remember he’s running a business enterprise, not a government one, which demonstrates de facto my assertion to begin with.

  • The owners have to re-emphasize, unanimously, that they are in a business – first. And, that business rules and ethics need to be applied, across the board, now. i.e., Current rules for conduct and more need to be applied with no-quarter vigor. Or said differently: star players can/should be ejected, suspended, or fired for proven violations. Period. (I’ll get to Players Union later)

The reason for this is simple: You either have rules, or you don’t. If “grey areas” aren’t allowed on the field, then neither should any other, whether it be a rule that applies during a game, or off the field.

  • Now is the time to not only change many of the rules, but also the enforcement mechanisms behind them.

In other words: Breaking rules have to have serious consequences. This is that moment to make sweeping changes in all areas for both the good of the teams and players, but the sport itself. No “dancing around the edges” is warranted in existential moments of business crisis. Wholesale changes are the order of the day. It’s the only effective course of action.

  • Of course here’s where you’ll get push back from the players and union. So here’s my point:

The NFL (and all sports for that matter) are a business. And without net profits to enable the owners to pay for players skills? There is no business. Political stances and other such distractions on the field are not “rights” owners have to pay for. What they have to pay for is the equal treatment and rights of players against extorting policies that can hurt or leave a player physically harmed. Not to enshrine the “rights” for the political player of the day to bring an entire industry too-its-knees with his/her politics.

What owners do not (nor should) have to pay for (nor stand for) is to have players interject their politics, and in ways, which can subsequently kill the sport in its entirety across all venues. e.g., Ticket sales, media coverage, advertisers, et al.

Yet, here is the “money quote” if you will: All while the “protesting” players continue to collect their salaries in toto and unaffected by their protests.

Currently it’s the owners, along with the entire sporting complex that are the ones continually suffering both financially, immediately. The players immediate monetary cost for protesting? Zero.

That is, until the NFL itself goes bankrupt as a result. Then everyone (i.e., players, owners, even municipalities alike) will be in bankruptcy court together. All kneeling, in unison, for the same reasons. Think about it.

Again, there’s far too many rules and such to address for this summary. So here’s a few more quick points:

  • The mindset going in has to be both forceful and understood by all – that if these rule changes are not enacted, the franchises, along with the sport itself, is at the cusp of collapsing both financially, as well as its esteem in the public eye.

Reasoning: 30% projected decreases (so far) in revenues or attendance in just one year, across the board itself, are going to put many current markets into total disarray financially. If this holds to (or through) next year? Or worse – is worse? Everyone concerned is going to have plenty of time for taking a knee in solidarity – at the unemployment lines.

Recommendation?

  • Ban all political protests across the board immediately, along with over-the-top celebrations (i.e., end zone dancing and such) anywhere on the field or sidelines during games.

This is where sportsmanship can reassert itself back into the game and is so desperately needed. In other words: The “field of play” is a place for sport – not political sport, or poor sportsmanship. The visual cues would have immediate impact and would be easily discernible to the fans. i.e., No reading-between-the-lines interpretations needed.

In my opinion: You can’t ban one without the other and have either one stick. Do both. And make the fines punitive, as in violations can be punitive to the sum of $Millions, if not entire contract dismissals. i.e., What enforcement is there if $100K fine for a violation makes that athlete $1Million worth of ancillary media self promotion for having a “bad boy” persona? Both on, and off the field.

People are dismissed from employment everyday throughout the U.S. for inappropriate use of social media alone. Businesses have the right to distance themselves from employees should they demonstrate not only on the job, but off bad behavior that could reflect poorly on their employers business.

Currently sports is the only venue where felonious arrests are now seen as “career enhancements.” It’s gone well beyond the pale of defensible reason. (For those currently howling as this is ridiculous or unfair? Hint: See any college professor for not touting just the ideology line of that particular day.)

  • There needs to be a short and concise message aired by the team owners and player representatives before each of remaining games. i.e., The owners of that games teams and their player representatives whether they be the team captains or such.

Both the owners, along with player representatives should make a televised public announcement before each game stating they are all in favor of removing politics from the field of play during game time. And are.

They both (owners and players) need to make the point, and make it forcefully, that “this stage” is for sports, not politics.

They can state that doesn’t mean that they don’t have views which they firmly believe in. But (and it’s a very big but) during the game is not the place for it. i.e., Say something to the effect: “We know why you’re here, and it’s to see our game, not our opinion of politics. And we respect that. And we will show our respect for you by not protesting the political during games. There are other venues for that outside, where we can make our voices heard, along with yours should the need arise. So let us start by saying, thank you for being a fan. And we want to give you what fans like you truly deserve – the best game, at the highest level of athleticism and sportsmanship we can deliver. Again, thank you, and enjoy the game.”

It can all be worded and shot in a 60 second venue.” Less is more.

  • If players don’t agree? Don’t sign or renew contracts going forward. Regardless of the talent or marquis name. Even if it means lockouts and more. Period. Full Stop.

Why? The political intrusion of just one individual (e.g., Colin Kaepernick) has demonstrated that all it takes is one to bring down the entire franchise, if not sport. It’s the NFL today, I’ll garner it’ll be the NBA® next and so forth. It has to stop somewhere. Might as well stop it where it started – for the good of all sports.

Remember: It’s “taking a knee” today. Tomorrow? ___________(fill in the blank) and it will never stop, and it’s already shown how far and fast it’ll spread. (Hint: again, see NBA for latest clues)

The only way to get rid of the political – is to get rid of it all together. And there is no price to be paid today that will be higher than what will be extracted tomorrow – willingly or not. i.e., A 30% decrease in revenues and viewership will look “fantastic” as compared to what looks to be coming on the horizon should this all continue.

There’s only one choice in this matter: Remove the political in one entire sweeping motion, much resembling the amputating an entire limb to save the body. Or, die-the-death of a thousand political cuts, day in, and day out, from this moment forward.

Allowing the political to enter into the sports world resembles much that other old sage about pregnancy. i.e., There’s no such thing as “a little bit.” You either are, or not.

Just like politics, you either are a political game, or not. The only way to relinquish the ever tightening death grip of politics into sports is to jettison it entirely. And yes, using another old sage fits, just not in the way most think of it. i.e., Erring on: “Throwing the baby out with the bath water” needs to be the rule, not just the cautionary tale. At least in the near term.

So now the big question: Will any of the above be even remotely enacted? All I’ll say is this – and it comes via a career of experience.

I highly doubt it. All sides are trying to be simultaneously “politically correct” while traversing the “political, ideological line.” You can’t have both. The only thing that’ll finally get everyone on the same playing field will be when the franchise bankruptcies begin to appear. And by then (if it isn’t already) it’ll be too late.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

And There You Go

I’ve related over the past few days what I interpreted as a precursor to a what used to be a relatively reliable signal in what’s known as technical analysis when looking at markets and charts. (Here are the links for those who may be new: Here and Here)

As I looked at the “markets” this AM, here’s what is currently taking place. To wit:

(Chart Source)

The above chart is of the S&P™ futures via the same 4-hour chart I used previously. It was taken at approximately 6:30AM ET.

As you can see the “market” has currently moved into, as well as, had a “close” within that box area I had highlighted using the open hours market.

Should this pattern be confirmed with it being reproduced during the open market? Then, as I stated previously: Caution should be paramount, for it signals a change. How much of a change? No one knows. But that’s irrelevant to the first order that should be – caution. What that means to you, is up to you to decide. Yet, here’s the bigger take-away if you will…

As I also stated: “Technical analysis has been rendered near useless when trying to garner information via the main indexes since the rise of HFT (high frequency trading) and central banking largesse. However, with that said, with the Fed. now reversing that largesse where there’s less money for the bots to manipulate as before, patterns that used to be reliable may become reliable once more.”

That’s the real tell-tale signal if it is. And that “signal” is ominous indeed.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

An Update To “It’s Just Worth Mentioning”

The other day I made an observation I felt deserved mention.

In that post I used the S&P™ futures contract as my example, because it was pertinent for timing (it was before the opening bell in the US.) My observations still hold and are now being expressed in clearer detail via the actual S&P 500 index during market hours.

Here’s what I’m looking at for those who want to know, because I was inundated by friends and colleagues after the post to explain my interest further. So, without further ado, here’s what I’m watching. To wit:

(Chart Source)

The above is the S&P 500 a few minutes after the opening bell via a 4 HR chart. (e.g. every bar/candle) represents 4 hour intervals when the markets are open. As you can see the what I referred to as the “diagonal” pattern appears here as well. Here’s what matters:

As I stated in the prior post, this pattern is usually a signal or precursor, if you will, for the ending of a prior trend. Doesn’t mean it will, just means it’s a signal to watch and now see if other “signals” develop that make its forecast all the more foretelling. It may be doing just that as I type this. So here’s the next step to look for if it has a significance.

We are currently in what is known technically as the “Throwover” stage. i.e., We gapped over, and out of the pattern entirely.

What would make this what is known as a “bearish” pattern is if in the very near future (i.e., next few days or so) the market begins to move and prices close within or thereabout the highlighted box. If so, concern should be your utmost concern, because that would be a signal that a reversal may be upon the markets.

Can we go higher? Sure can, but the dynamic and technical to watch remains. The “markets” could spike higher, but it’s the sudden reversal of it that’s the key.

Let me remind everyone this one point: Technical analysis has been rendered near useless when trying to garner information via the main indexes since the rise of HFT (high frequency trading) and central banking largesse. However, with that said, with the Fed. now reversing that largesse where there’s less money for the bots to manipulate as before, patterns that used to be reliable may become reliable once more.

As always, we shall see. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be watching for clues.

That’s just good business sense.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

It’s Just Worth Mentioning

If you are anything like myself you’ve probably grabbed a coffee, or other beverage of choice and put on some financial show where you could hear the latest “earnings” reports as they came through. Personally I listen to these reports as to just how colorful they’ll be spun. i.e., “Fantastic!”, “Incredible!!”, “Wow, just WOW!!!” and so forth.

The reason the commentary more often than not resembles something akin to a comedy show is because many of these earnings are completely managed before hand, as in either adjusted up or down, on the fly over the course of the cycle, so that if there are any “surprises” they are already knowns. Which by the way is actually required by SEC regulations. But that’s for another article.

The reason I felt compelled to share the following is for the reason of: when I looked at a few charts what I saw was concerning in my opinion. Here’s what I’m alluding to. To wit:

(Chart Source)

The above is the S&P™ futures, and the bars represent 4-hour intervals as of about 8:15AM ET.

What the above chart shows is what is known in technical analysis as an “ending diagonal.” (and yes, I can read charts with the best of them.) What this pattern represents more often than not is what is also described as a “terminal pattern.” i.e., The trend that preceded it has run out of steam, and is about to reverse.

Could it consolidate further? Sure. Could it move even higher? Of course. Does it portent anything concrete? No, it’s always a statistical odds equation. But, with that said, it is a well-known and defined pattern observed by many as a signal that the “trend” as they say may be about to encounter a pause, or worse.

In my opinion, this is an ominous pattern to develop at the beginning of the earnings season. I would expect to have seen the appearance of this pattern (if it were at all) far more into it, or near the end of the cycle or reporting period. That’s why I was a little startled when I looked at a few other charts and seen the same pattern developing in a myriad of other indexes as I perused them.

Whether or not anything comes of it, is as always, pure speculation. But here’s the thing to remember…

If this is a pattern in the HFT arsenal of pattern recognition programs? It doesn’t matter what you, or I think…

It’s what the machines will think – then do.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

The Political Celebrity Is Now A Business Liability

Business is about creating choices in products and services that change people’s lives, hopefully for the better. Politics is a about controlling the lives of its people, businesses, and the choices they can make. For the betterment of whom – is an open question.

It’s one thing for a celebrity spokesman to give their endorsement to any product. Whether it’s a true one (as in they actually use, believe in the product) or, it’s just one of the myriad of paid-for versions, where you instinctively know what their selling – they’re more likely than not – not using.

We all know the game, and understand it. (Hint: I doubt very much any A-list Hollywood actor would be seen, let alone photographed driving around in a Lincoln®. Nothing against driving one and they’re nice cars, but do I really need to say more?)

However, everything changes in nearly every dynamic when a celebrity (and/or business) begins selling the political, whether it be a position or candidate. The reason?

There’s no choice for the people (or customer) who doesn’t want to “buy”, for lack of a better term. i.e., What ever it is – they’re now forced into it. When it comes to politics (or the insertion of it) this dynamic can not be avoided. Whether good, bad, or indifferent.

In business (i.e. the offering of a product or service) one has a choice: as in buy it, or not.

In the political: There is no choice once the polls close.

Everyone (as in customers) now has to deal with what the celebrity endorsed, whether they want to, or not. That’s the political example. And most people instinctively understand the difference. Which is why many take great offense when a celebrity becomes politically involved, especially when it pertains to so-called “hot button issues.”

This is the reason why injecting politics into business should be avoided at all costs. Why? Because adding the political into ones product, in any way, forces the dynamic of alienating customers within your own customer base. A Business 101 no-no.

It (being the political) can not be managed out, or away, once inserted.

The moment you allow politics into the business – the political business is what you are now in. Regardless, if you want it – or not. It supersedes all other business considerations in the eyes of many, both customers and company alike.

Here’s a rule of thumb example: If you have 100 customers, then suddenly add a political element to your business structure. You immediately have to assume you’ve put at risk 50 (or around half thereabout) of your existing customers to either consider, or decide, to shop elsewhere.Yet, it doesn’t end there.

For once you openly add the political – so too have you added an “us vs them” within your own company. And factions will align and work against each-other to show their solidarity to the “cause.” Employees, or departments will no longer work as one. Far too many business leaders forget this all too important dynamic.

That’s why it’s to be avoided (or at least was) at all costs, because the costs are potentially far too high to begin with. Yet, the lesson/reminder of this dynamic, and its cascading repercussions, are playing out for all too see on the biggest stage, and under the brightest lights, than those even imagined by Hollywood itself.

Of course, I’m referring to the Weinstein debacle, with all of its intrigue and allegations.

What this moment in history has also done is exposed for all to see what will now to be forever monikered as the “Hollywood Hypocrite” moment.

This is going to be a type-casting label that’ll be applied to not only all of Hollywood, but almost any political wanna-be celebrity so firmly, and with such a broad brush, it’ll make bottles of Superglue® envious.

Back in December I penned the article: “The Political Celebrity: Another Jump The Shark Moment” This was in direct response to the sheer lack of intellectual honesty, as well as critical thought emanating via Hollywood.

Here’s a portion of what I wrote. To wit:

However, with that said I do believe the most recent incarnation of the “political celebrity” may indeed be going way of the Dodo bird. Case in point: Martin Sheen and his leading of the gaggle to influence electors of the electoral college to stand up – and cast their vote for someone else.

In what was supposedly some form of call-to-action video Martin Sheen (did you notice the purple shirt?) and others called for electors to change their votes away from their sworn obligated duties and cast them for someone else. They wouldn’t openly state their desired choice (cough-Hillary-cough) however the intent was clear.

The problem? A few electors did just that. The result? The exact opposite of what they prayed, begged, tantrum’d hoped for, inflicting even further humiliation into what can only be described as – rubbing rock salt into an already mortal wound.

It doesn’t matter which side of the political spectrum you fall on. If you look at this latest episode in the effectiveness of “celebrity” endorsements you can not come away with anything less than it no longer works.

Yet, that hadn’t stopped Hollywood from trying, with Herculean fashion and effort.

The pompous, “we know better than you,” “we are better than you,” and more wreaked from not only television, but radio, print, and live stages everywhere. And just when you thought you could escape it? It was inserted into every gala or award show as a world-stage-event to get up and openly ridicule, attack, insult, again, and again the viewing audience. i.e., Their customers.

Everyone was on the bandwagon. That is, except the band. Which just so happens to be about 50% of the electorate, again, their customers. (some will/may put that 50% much higher, but this is just for demonstrative purposes.)

The result? Need I bring up any ratings or viewership stats for any of these programs? Hint: Use the search engine of your choice and just include the word “abysmal.” I just leave it at that.

And then: Harvey Weinstein happened. And the “stage” for all of those political celebrities changed with it. Or, said differently: All their so-called “enlightened viewpoints” have descended down the drain, in unison, along with Mr. Weinstein.

And they ain’t coming back any time soon. Why?

The responses both in content, context, and timing via all of Hollywood, and especially those who were first to a camera or microphone to denounce anything they did not deem “proper” has been not only disingenuous. But rather, has put on full display for the world to see some of the most pathetic, and bad acting, ever portrayed in unison by not only Hollywood itself, but by all its ancillary counterparts such as magazines, talk shows, late night comedy shows, and more.  And yes, even many of the politicians they so adored, embraced, and shilled for. It has been beyond pathetic in all cases.

Everyone knows, and I mean just that – everyone – knows Hollywood knew, along with all its ancillary enablers (all media/entertainment) including the political. The only ones who are still in disbelief are those still thinking their “I didn’t know!” acting job has helped sway their prior culpable demeanor. Hint: It hasn’t, it’s only magnified the hypocrisy making it even easier to see with every denial uttered.

And with that comes the ensuing, pent-up backlash. And it’s showing up in far more numbers, and far more boisterous that suddenly it’s the political celebrity finding themselves in the crosshairs of indignant reprimands.

This is already taking place across the spectrum. George Lopez for one has already found himself in those crosshairs. He’s far from going to be the first, or last. Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Meryl Streep, and more have already lost more credibility in the last few weeks than their latest box office proceeds.

People have had enough, again, regardless of what side of the political aisle one strides: they want the political striding off their “red” carpets and out of their entertainment venues. Both Left, and Right have had enough.

The Weinstein affair has now made all of it (e.g. the insertion of politics) as toxic as the meltdown of nuclear reactor’s core . And at the center of it, the “fuel-rods” if you may, is the “political celebrity.” The meltdown effects are probably equal in both scale and outcome, with a similar half-life.

Many a once lauded “political celebrity” is going to suddenly find themselves the recipient of many a cold shoulder. Some will be lucky if they don’t find themselves as they did in the old days, as in recipients of “rotten tomatoes” of the real kind.

Will “Hollywood” learn its lesson? Probably not. But if you, or anyone else, want to see just how pernicious and business damaging allowing the political into one’s business can be. Don’t take my word for it. (as I argued in 2015) And forget Hollywood. Just look to the NFL® or ESPN™ today. Or rather…

Look at how many are no longer watching may be a better metric to judge the effects. And all businesses should take heed, before, it’s too late.

Although, for some – that moment may have already passed.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

Just A Note Of Fact With A Note Of Thanks

Over the years I have advocated why knowing your own metrics, and what they mean to you, is not only imperative in business, but paramount to those looking to climb the ladder of success in their field, or quest of their choosing.

The reason, as it would appear to be self-evident, is that you don’t want to be fooled by the worst trickster in the world. That trickster of course, would be – yourself.

Vanity metrics are one of the most lethal game chasing endeavors you’ll ever embark on. (e.g., “likes” and such) The reason is pretty simple: Once you obtain them (that is if you can at all) you’ll find more often than not they’re worth less than the digital paper they’re printed on.

Recognition for your actual trials, tribulations, or contributions is one thing. Recognition via ways of gaming the system, any system, may lead to accolades in the short-term. But, more often than not it leads to nothing more than that sinking feeling of non-fulfillment when there’s no one around and you’re sitting alone, by yourself, trying to admire that so-called “trophy” you were once so proud of to tell everyone about. History is rife with such cautionary tales and examples. (Remember: “Followers” or “likes” or “subscribers” and more can be purchased for coffee change per thousand.)

So it was in this light I wanted to share the following for two reasons. 1) I’m quite proud of it. (You may feel different, but that’s your prerogative.) And, 2) It factually puts to bed any calls for those out there who have questioned my metrics, examples, or just never believed anything I’ve said over the years as its pertained to audience size and more.

As I’ve always said and done over the years, since I first began writing, you can’t kid yourself with vanity metrics if your goal is to actually put out ideas on leadership, business, and more that others may actually find value in. And social media, I have argued, is the worst place to try to do that. Why?

Because it’s far too easy to kid yourself with “Likes” and “Tweets” and “Followers” et al. The reason being is because more often than not – most are all fake to begin with. And far more fake than the “fake news” they complain about within it. That’s the real scandal.

This is the reason, from the start, (to be honest, I did try for a bit, but jettisoned the entire idea a few months later) I’ve never gone the social media route, to the jeers and scorn of social media aficionados, business experts/gurus, writers, and more everywhere.

The examples of which I’ve documented and shared are all within the archives. I’ve always used myself as the example (unlike most others) to show what I’ve done and the results from it. Good, bad, or indifferent.

So with that all said for context here’s the reason for all the above…

I was notified on Tuesday morning one of my articles made it onto the front page of The Drudge Report™.

Some of you may be shrugging your shoulders thinking, “So what.” Others may have never visited it, and even a few others would never. And that’s fine. However, the reason for this, on my end, is for this reason: You can’t petition, or beg, or send money and have your article put up on Drudge. Trust me, some of the most highly profiled reporters, writers, news organization, websites, and more try just that, too no avail. The audience size is that big of a deal. In other words: Drudge finds you, not the other way around.

There are professional writers, organizations, and more that may work their entire career and never get a Drudge posting.

Yet, the guy who can’t spell cat without spell checker, and has more violations with the Grammar Gestapo and Punctuation Police that if they could lock me up? Throwing away the key would be considered too light of a sentence. Now has one.

Now to address the nagging issue of many when I have described audience sizes and more that have said to me when I’ve met them or via any other communication, “C’mon…millions? What are you collectively counting every post you’ve ever done and where it could possibly have ever shown up, and trying to make it sound real?” Fair point – so here’s a fact to absolve any prior, as well as future doubts. To wit:

That’s the Drudge Report’s stated, quantifiable, and verifiable statistical report for the day my article appeared.

As I’ve stated over the years when it was applicable: One of my articles, at any time, can be in front of millions, and over the course of a month that audience size can be in the 10’s of millions.”

So, for those over the years that thought that was all smoke-and-mirrors (and you know who you are) the above puts that all to rest. Because being on Drudge moved that “millions” to the “10’s” category, and the “10’s” to the near BILLION category.

Remember, by all the so-called “experts” opinions: I’m not suppose to be there – and there I am. Why?

Well, I have to give a lot of that credit for this one to Seth Godin who opened my thought process to it all by pushing the mantra of “pick yourself first” which allowed me to then do the work, and subsequently get picked where it mattered, and not kid myself.

Again, the reason for this post is, in a way, not just to share some news I’m proud of. But to also push back on the many of you who are wasting time either not doing, or not starting, or not fulfilling your heart’s desires because someone else is either telling you “you can’t”, or worse – you’re telling that to yourself.

You can, if you really want to, but you have to start with not kidding yourself as to what constitutes actual work towards the goal, and the fulfillment of not just getting it – but doing it. Even if no one ever comes, which is always the greatest possibility.

You have to be able to take pride in the fulfillment of doing the actual work, first. Then, when the rest comes, if it does at all, you can enjoy it all the more.

I know this to be true, and can impart it too you, because not only do I know it to be true, but I’ve actually done it. Unlike most who have only…

Read a book about what someone else read in another’s book, who has now written their own book, about what they’ve read, so you can buy their book, and read about what they’ve read.

And too all of you who’ve been with me over the years, and to those who may only be reading here for the first time, and all the other news-sites, blogs, media-venues and more: You have my sincerest, and most heartfelt gratitude.

For without you, there would be no reason to have done any of this to begin with.

Once again, thanks too all of you.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

 

A Bit Of Anecdotal Evidence On Why Listening In Business Is Paramount

It would be hard to imagine anyone, no matter the discipline, that hasn’t heard some version of the old adage of: “Listen more than you talk.”

As a person who helps teach business leaders how to hone, or learn new skills. One of the traits I try to instill in anyone that will listen (pun intended) is this…

One of the ways you’ll know that you’re actually improving your skills, no matter what level you are beginning from, is how often and how instinctively you begin realizing, then extrapolating, meanings for its significance – in real-time.

The above may seem a little bit hard to understand for those unfamiliar with the true meaning of this discipline, especially when it comes to trying to explain it in such a limited way as in this post. (e.g., This would be explained in detail, with real examples in one of my 1/2 day or such courses)

So, what I would like to do is offer up two examples, consisting of 3 videos, which have shown up over the past few days and let’s see if you can extrapolate a few pieces of pertinent information which would be very valuable if you were, let’s say, involved in any type of business.

I’ll give you one hint: It pertains to Silicon Valley. I’ll reveal what my take away is at the bottom of this post, let’s see if you hear what I hear. Call it a real-time, real-life example as to illustrate how important it is to truly be able to listen.

This is a necessary skill that has to be both developed, honed, as well as practiced if you’re going to be the consummate professional.

(And remember: No “peeking” If you do, you’ll miss the point entirely.)

Note: I’m using direct links to YouTube™ so there’s no need to worry about if I’m sending you off to some clandestine site within cyberspace. Although in today’s world, people are beginning to feel that way about YouTube. But I digress.

So here we go…

First: Here is a video interview about automation in pizza making and delivery by TechCrunch™ from 2016. It’s only about 3 minutes long, but it’s important to listen from beginning to end. Here’s the direct link to it via YouTube: (Click here)

Next: After you’ve watched the first, I would like you to watch this next one. Same basic report, just a different interview on the same company by Engadget™. Again, only about 3 minutes long, but it’s important to watch from beginning to end. Here’s the direct link, again via YouTube: (Click Here)

Now that you’ve done the above, I want you to do the same with the next one which was posted the other day by James Altucher. This one is a bit different in context, but there’s a reason why it’s germane to the two above. Again, it’s only about 3 minutes long. Same criteria about watching as the above. Here’s the direct link to it again, via YouTube: (Click Here)

So with the above complete (and you’re not cheating, right?) my answer, or interpretations below…


After listening to the first two videos pertaining to pizza. Did you pick up the wording, as well as the descriptions as it pertained to not just the workers, but the robots? Here’s a hint: The people in the video are referred to as “humans” nearly every time they are referenced. The robots on the other hand? All given names. e.g., Pepe, Giorgio, Marta, Leonard, and so on.

This isn’t just some aberration in my view. This is (all opinion of course) scripted, purposeful, focus grouped, language as to try to give the impression that it’s not about replacing people with robots. i.e., It’s about robots “working with” people.

But if you listen closely, it’s the people who are being intentionally morphed from “people” to expendable humans within the chain and replaced with the machines or “robots” which are now personified. e.g., People are referred to via the impersonal wording of “humans” and the impersonal robots have all adopted the personification to delineate them from humans with names.

The people, more often than not, are referred to in the way one used to describe a robot in conversation. Here’s an example.

The old: “Here is where Fred prepares the dough for the robot to dispense the sauce. After the sauce is dispensed it moves onto the next step where we have people like John and Maria here putting on the more intricate toppings that a robot just can’t manipulate well. Then it moves onto the next robot where it’s sliced, etc., etc., etc.

Instead, what you heard was the exact opposite. e.g., “This is the station where the human prepares the dough for our robot, he’s called Bruno. Then it’s on to the next station where Maria our sauce dispensing robot measures out the perfect amount of sauce. Then it’s on to Leonardo our pizza cutter. Our humans have very little interaction etc., etc.”

So why is this important you ask? Well, if you listen you hear two very distinct things going on that can give you insight into the current Silicon Valley culture, along with business in general for upcoming trends and how the verbiage, along with the industry, is setting up for the “worker vs robot” paradigm.

Again, usual conversation, even in business, would use terms like, “And here’s where a/our worker, line tech, or Bill our dough stretcher et cetera would be used. Nobody uses the term “human” to describe workers or people when they are in the presence of people. Using the term “human” to describe people is one of the most dehumanizing ways to describe anyone.

And that’s precisely the point. Why?

You’re not putting Bill, or Bob, Joan, or Sally out of work by replacing them with a robot. No, you’re just making the manufacturing process more streamlined by removing any necessary human interactions with one of those fancy new robots we like to call “Leonardo.”

This makes cutting divisions, or moving factories, or displacing employees much easier to digest from the boardroom. i.e., “It’s much easier to replace or expel “humans” and replace them with machines as long as you don’t need to remember any of those human names. And if you do need a human toucch? Just label the machine as a person, like “Roberto” or something else that has a ring to it.

Do not let this point to be lost on you, it’s an important psychological understanding of human nature. i.e., If you are a mid-level manager, and you hear coming from the executive meetings words like “humans” and such. You can just about guarantee one of those “humans” being discussed for replacement or exile probably has a name that curiously sounds or begins like yours.

You can also foresee something similar to this if you’re one of the managers of an entire department, as in: “He’s a great asset to any company, doesn’t take time off, doesn’t need supervision, and doesn’t file work grievances, or ask for pay raises in ‘Human Resources.’ Matter of fact, how much more money can we save if we’re able to downsize and no longer need the ‘Human Resources’ department? After all, with less humans as the underlying scenario implies…”

Are you seeing my point?

So why is the above important a few might be asking? Well, it’s for these reasons…

You’re now hearing how “Silicon Valley” thinks about automation and how they will deal with the unpleasant issue of actively putting people out of work. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with what they’re doing. What I’m pointing out is how the genesis for both describing, as well as the psychological dispensation that will be instilled for easily replacing workers with robots will be both told and sold. And how that will become easily palatable not only to businesses or boardrooms, but the public at large, along with the governments services that will have to deal with the aftermath.

You see it’s much easier to replace, or begin the discussion about replacing 100 humans with 6 robots named “Robbie” than it is to fire or lay off Bill, Bob, Suzzie, Janie, Steve, George, and so forth with a machine.

Or, it’s much easier to extol the virtues of machines when you personify them with names like “Pepe”, because it gives the psychological camouflage that what you’re doing is not replacing Billy with a machine, but instead replacing the burdensome tasks humans have to endure with “Marta.”

Oh yes, and they’ve named them with male and female monikers to imply diversity. You might think I’m making too much of this? I would strongly disagree.

It’s not about making too much of anything. What I’m doing is pointing out very specific clues that should jump out at you when you’re listening to someone speak. Especially if you’re in any leadership position, or even sales.

There ae clues everywhere in this one scenario that would give you a leap-frog like ability to see what may pertain over the horizon and how you may position yourself, council, or whatever, to prepare for the inevitable upcoming scenarios. Because they are coming. The above videos show you (if you’re truly listening) just how close to that horizon they already are.

If you still have doubts, try the following…

Re-watch the above with your new-found approach and everywhere you see a “human” involved, as the person is explaining, think or say to yourself: “And as soon as we figure it out, this human task will also be replaced.”

If you do, you can see the next opportunity step this company has in their sights.

Think using this context: If you’re, let’s say, an oven manufacturer. What would you be doing 30 seconds later after watching? If you were building or designing an oven that needed a “human” to work it, would you maybe call a meeting and say, “How can we make this work without any human intervention, because the market is already trying to do that without us?”

See my point?

Or, let’s say you’re a government official. (I know, but stay with me, it’s only for example purposes) “Are we about to see an explosion to our social services budgets as these minimum wage law increases take effect? Maybe we need to rethink the costs of what we’re doing here?” (I know, stop laughing, again, it’s for demonstration purposes only)

Again, I think you can see my point. There are more, but there’s far too many for this post. That’s why this would be during a 1/2 day or more seminar.

So now with the above, let’s move onto the second with Mr. Altucher.

Personally I don’t follow Mr. Altucher. I have nothing against him, I just never cared for him when he was schlepping the market when he was running a hedge fund years back. It seems my initial “bullsh_t meter” was correct, because it is he himself that has both written, and spoken about how miserable, and phony he was while doing it.

He has done a lot as of late in turning his life around (and some would say upside-down) rediscovering himself and his ideas about life and deserves kudos, because no matter what one thinks about what he’s doing. He’s doing one thing that’s commendable: He’s living what he’s preaching or arguing. Which leads to me to this last video and why it is important.

But not for the reasons you’ll think at first blush.

I was talking with a colleague the other day and for some reason Mr. Altucher came up during the conversation where, what at first, appeared as a throw away comment by my friend turned into a very revealing insight.

Again, but one had to be listening in both situations.

The line came up as we were discussing rental pricing and homes when he nonchalantly said “Hey, prices are so affordable I guess even James Altucher is getting an apartment!”

That led to me asking why that was relevant (because I really hadn’t any clue) and where he elaborated that Mr. Altucher has been living with no possessions other than what he carries around in a shoulder bag. e.g., No apartment or home, no nothing, but for the clothes on his back and a few tech items like a laptop and such. Nothing else. If it didn’t fit into his shoulder bag? He didn’t have it. That’s a pretty amazing, thing in-and-of itself.

So like anyone I asked, “So where does he sleep? Hotels? Friends and family?” And the response was, “No, I think he stays at AirBnB™s.” Fair enough I thought, and we left it at that.

So, the next day, out of curiosity, I found his blog and visited it where the above video was located and watched it. That’s when I heard something that truly perked my ears. I wonder if you heard the same. Maybe you did, but did it set off the same “Wait…what?”  moment that I had? Here’s that moment.

Paraphrasing Mr. Altucher: “I used to stay at AirBnB’s, but New York is cracking down on them and they’re getting harder to find.”

Re-read that line one more time.

This is being said by someone who has been living, to the extreme, for years, the AirBnB model. And in New York, one of the biggest markets in the world, again quoting, “They’re getting harder to find” and the reason? “Because New York is cracking down on them.”

Now if you are an “investor” or thinking about “investing” or anything else when it comes to the #2 valued unicorn in the world – do you think that one line gives you more insight over the horizon and what maybe coming over it than what you’re being told (or sold) by the next-in-rotation fund manager crowd, or talking head?

Or, better yet, any one of that crowd?

Remember when Uber™ was set for world domination? Then ______________ (fill in the blank.)

Now, you have the entire Valley, as well as Tech, and VC world pinning all it’s future hopes on the #2 deca-corn (because unicorn is so blasé in “The Valley”) with rationalizations, and expectations for rainbows and lollipop riches – and one of people living, breathing, and followed by many in that Valley openbly states – it’s getting harder to find an AirBnB because New York regulators are cracking down on their legality.

Can you say – “Uh, oh?”

And here’s another thing I’ll wager you: No one else even has a clue, because all they are reporting or listening to is what’s emenating from within it’s own bubble. And in that bubble? Unicorn’s are still worth what the VC’s say they are. (insert laugh track here.)

That’s fine, unless – you happen to be a prospective investor and you’re sitting across from those trying to sell you into any latest funding round where the calls for “world domination” are more boisterous than the parade of fund mangers waiting to spread the news.

That’s because unlike like most you would probably be the only one to ask…

“So tell me how the New York market is currently playing out? I would like to see the details and growth patterns over the last 3 years on that market specifically.”

Trust me – the room would suddenly go silent. All because you were listening when everyone else was just talking. Why? Like I’ve stated prior in the article “Silicon Valley Snake Oil: It’s Passed ‘It’s Sell By Date'” To wit:

Just like Uber – the longer it remains private – the more time is allotted for any, and all lawsuits either resting, or being drawn, to ferment ever further.

Uber has its driver issues and such. AirBnB has its own regulatory hurdles to still fight. And those fights just may get hit with an accelerant if the latest proposals being bandied about for increasing its presence draw it closer into the spotlight.

I believe a regulatory crack down, in one of the largest and most premier markets, which forces even one of its most frequent users to suddenly decide and rent an apartment because even he admits that crackdown is underway with its repercussions states volumes about just what you’re not hearing anywhere else. That is, except here I guess.

What you do with what you hear, as always, is up for you to decide.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

Are Tim Cook’s Days As CEO Numbered?

Why I posit the above is for this reason:

Back in May of 2014 I penned the article: “Did Apple Just Become Microsoft?” In it I made the following points. To wit:

“However since the passing of Jobs, quite rightly, there has been an intense spotlight focused squarely on the Apple tradition going forward. Just what new products or changes to existing lines would be forth coming, and how will they be packaged for sale to an ever-increasing market.

Everyone (and I mean everyone) understood that the new management structure at Apple would both need to pay homage to the ever-present shadow of Jobs while also needing to blaze or create new trails free of the ominous Jobs overhang. i.e., Something Jobs would say, “Wow, I never thought of that!” as compared with nothing more than a refinement to an already Jobs inspired creation.

However, it would seem we not only have the latter taking place, but is veering way off the path Apple has been so skillful in avoiding: Buying an also ran business. e.g., The Beats™ headphone line. Some say it’s for it’s streaming music service or some other thing but if that is the case, not putting the money into a true revamp of iTunes seems even more as an un-Jobs move.”

And here we are nearly 4 years later (or 4 product cycles, if you will) and what has been the result of this once “fantastic” partnership? When was the last time you heard anything or any buzz about Beats®? ____________ (insert crickets here.)

Oh, but wait you say, “What about iTunes? It was updated as to allow easier downloading of apps and such for mobile.”

Yes, yes it was. An update that most users will only encounter when they go to update or purchase something, then, find out they can’t do it the way they’ve been doing for-e-ver. i.e., “Oh, wait, I have to do this on my phone now, and not my computer? Wait, how do I…? Wait…what…I mean…WTF!”

I believe this to be a blatant design faux pa. Why? Because if you look at the iTunes of today, it looks no different that it did years, and years ago. The only difference? The “Apps” option is no longer there. This is to “reduce clutter” via Apple’s thinking.

But the same old, tired, antiquated looking and seemingly lifeless iTunes of old? It’s still there, but now with less clutter – so you can see more clearly how lame it has become due to design atrophy.

Most will only notice the “redesign” when they go to use it the way they’ve been using it habitually, only to find it no longer is possible. And the design cues that would intuitively make someone take notice immediately, that maybe there’s something new going on? That too is completely absent. Along with the old way of doing it.

In my opinion, that’s such a design faux pa it’s unconscionable, especially, for any company where “design” is so front and center. (Please don’t tell me about the little pop up to tell you somethings “new.” Again, please! If that’s the extent for “design?” I’ll just leave it at that.)

It (meaning iTunes) looks, feels, and performs (as in it’s completely outdated and still clunky to the point of frustrating) as the same old, same old, old iTunes it’s been since Jobs passed.

Sorry, but I still can not get over just how pathetic this all so important portal to one of the most important selling points Apple has to both consumers, developers, and Wall Street has become. Hint: Ecosystem is (or was) for all intents and purposes the iTunes portal to everything Apple. Period.

Yet, that doesn’t mean that Apple (aka “Cook and company”) didn’t make sweeping changes and innovations to many of Apple’s once empirical red lines. Again, from the same article To wit

One of the first signs that Cook and company were going to do things very differently was when they announced that Apple which had for years steered clear of donating or giving away resources (as in donations) abruptly reversed Jobs stance and stated very publicly they would now begin contributing to education and other charities.

Whether one agrees with this decision or not is irrelevant. It was the first very public statement showing there was a true sea change transpiring in Cupertino. I myself wrote about this and more that it seemed to be shaping up to look more concerned for public image in the eyes of political groups as well as Wall Street than anything else. It’s beginning to look like both my concerns as well as others might be coming into fruition.”

Here’s a little more from the same article, for a bit more context, because it’s germane to this discussion. Again, to wit:

“Next is what has been seen by many as a complete and utter cave in to Wall Street.

In what seems like a total collapse to these outside pressures it was announced at the last earnings report the new product line wasn’t consumer product based: it was now products for Wall Street with new improvements and features unfathomable under Jobs tenure.

Dividends, debt, splits, and more. I don’t think the iPhone has added as many new features at once as the new features released in Apple the stock.

And here we are, again, nearly 4 years later and what has been the empirical evidence that my assumptions were correct? Once again, to wit:

(Chart Source)

And how about that “political” argument I brought forth? Surely no CEO worth-their-salt would ever be seen throwing not only himself, but his company, along with its employees into the political fray intentionally. Especially when the evidence for it clearly showed the accusations were a bit more than specious.

Again, what prudent CEO would ever willingly set up an “us vs them” to be played out within its customer base? I mean that’s Business 101, correct? Well, it is, but it’s now also Silicon Valley 2.0, which has become anything but a fundamental business ethos. And this is Cook and Co., not Jobs and crew. Here are a few headlines to ponder. To wit:

“Apple gives $1M to liberal group labeling pro-lifers as ‘hate groups’”

Don’t like that headline? Fair enough, you can see it, as well as be asked for it in, da, da, da, dahhhh: iTunes itself. To wit:

“Apple is now taking donations for the Southern Poverty Law Center through iTunes”

(Screenshot from above noted source)

Some are thinking right now, “I thought it was about Nazi’s, not pro-life?” Yes, that’s what was touted, but that’s the problem when one decides to do anything via the political, for sometimes, more often than not, you don’t know whom – is in bed – with whom.

That’s why the business default is always to not involve yourself, at least publicly. (Remember: the accusations, along with the evidence for it was iffy to begin with, and proved to be completely untrue when examined rationally away from the political eye.)

To be clear: what one does in private is another matter entirely. But the cardinal rule of business is, has, and should remain: Never, ever, ever (did I say never?) openly involve your company, employees, and their collective coffers into the political. Period. Full stop.

Once you add the political to business – you’re not only asking for troubling, but your courting it. And what’s worse is this: Just like the old saying of “The camel’s nose under the tent.” Once it sticks its nose in, more of it, and in greater quantity, will follow till eventually there’s nothing left inside but the camel.

If you believe there’s any doubt to that scenario just look to the current debacle within not only the NFL®, but ESPN™ and sports in general. Ratings, ticket sales, and more are being boycotted in one form or another, in droves. (something I stated in 2015 would result when everyone else said otherwise)

And the worst is far from over, because these entities are doubling down on the political even further. i.e., They’re confusing the political uproar as some form of “roar from the field,” and playing too it. The issue is, that “roar” could very well spell “The End” of what had been a near magical run.

No comparison for Apple you say, as in, apples-and-oranges? Fair enough, so explain this, again, to wit:

The above screenshot image was taken from the Zero Hedge™ article, “It’s Not Just China: No Lines For New iPhone 8 Virtually Anywhere”

And just to put the above into further context. Here’s a pull quote from the afore-mentioned article, again, to wit:

“According to CBS LA, the Pasadena store was also missing a line of eager fans. Previous releases of the iPhone attracted hundreds of Apple fans waiting in the early morning hours at several stores across Southern California. The Apple Store has a ticketing system, but that never stopped eager iPhone fans from camping out overnight. But on Friday morning, all was quiet on Colorado Boulevard, except for employees inside the store handing out tickets.”

I know it’s possibly a little bit of a stretch, but it has to be asked: Do you think that maybe there were a few people who were just a little bit ticked off at Apple’s new-found political stance, and maybe decided they would take a stand and not show up for Apple’s newest “shiny thing?”

If it was just one, that’s infinitely more than what did show up since Mr. Cook’s new declaration for Apple’s political involvement. (i.e., as in 1 paying customer is infinitely better than none.)

People (especially the next-in-rotation fund-manger crowd) are attributing that it’s because they’re all waiting for the “X.” Fair point, but that doesn’t mean some customers aren’t unhappy. And let’s remember: no one knows at this point, it has to all be speculated.

But here’s the real issue: the only thing to use as evidence to build any theory – is this latest roll out. And so far disaster seems to be an understatement. And the proximity of Mr. Cook’s political stance, along with call for action, combined with the empirical results showing up in other venues of business elsewhere? Are you beginning to see my point?

Apple the stock is currently teetering in “priced for perfection” territory. Any damage to its “perfection” thesis gets multiplied exponentially. Multiplied as in “profit takers” show up in droves at the sell window, not the sales counter at first sign that the thesis is indeed hindered.

Should this take place with Apple’s continuous lack of innovations, dumbing down of existing products (see any forum of Apple power users) and continuing focus on both Tim Cook, his political stances, along with his pushing the involvement of Apple the company, its employees, and coffers into the political fray, simultaneously against a backdrop of uninspiring (think Pencil®), clichéd (think: any Apple presentation), openly mocked, (think: when demos were conducted on stage via Microsoft employees) laughed at, (think: CNET™ live coverage of any event) as well as live product demos gone wrong, (think: face recognition) displays on the world stage. This is a string of “hits” no one any wants, especially current share holders.

Should the stock now falter, along with any iPhone rumblings confirming sales numbers will look like what the latest roll out last month foretold? Watch how fast things not only change from the narrative of “great stewardship,” but calls for management change begin to bubble to the surface in unison.

In my opinion, Tim Cook really doesn’t have a lot things to hang-his-hat on, along with hold-his-chair, but for Apple’s stock price under his tutelage.

Everything else since the passing of Jobs has been nothing more than a derivative of what Jobs had already begun or envisioned for the near future. And some will say that derivative has been more of a dumbing down of the original products, rather than a raising the bar. See “How Apple Is Giving Design A Bad Name” for clues.

These are not the types of things one wants to think of when thinking about Apple, yet, it’s coming more front-and-center, and front-of-mind daily.

Using myself as an example, for I am still an Apple user: I just replaced and upgraded two of my Macs. That upgrade consisted of upgrading two older models – to two 2012 models. Spending 3 times the price to only get only a negligible, or rather, imperceptible performance difference seemed ludicrous. The issue? I can afford the newest, and didn’t even bother. How many are like me I have to wonder. I’ll garner there are more than even I think.

The only thing that has helped hold up, or bolster, Apple’s mythical overhang of design excellence instilled under Jobs these years since he passed has been its current share price.

Lose the share price plateau? The mythical overhang falls way with it. Why? Because it’s just not there.

Again, for this is far too important of a point: it’s been the CEO, Tim Cook himself, that has not just allowed, but pushed all of this front-and-center as to now be included into any, and all, calculations of sales and valuations.

Think about that very carefully, it’s that important, as well as a mind-boggling foolish CEO misstep from a business viewpoint.

It could very well be Mr. Cook made a political calculation which may result in not just bad timing, but also, a step too far. And one that leads him himself out the very door he entered, unable to fill the shoes for innovation which are sorely missed.

Sometimes, nothing focuses the mind like a crisis – and maybe what Apple desperately needs is something to focus on besides its management resting on its laurels, and stock options, all while looking out upon vistas from within its own big new “shiny thing” they now call home to contemplate what politically calculated move is to be made next.

Maybe it’s time to focus on the product, rather than the political. Or maybe better yet…

Hoist out a pirate flag, plant it, and actually do something under it other than contemplate which new superlative will be used to describe a stylus.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

For Those Wondering What I’m Thinking

It is inevitable if you indulge in commentary on the “markets”, whether good, bad, or indifferent, along with provide any reasoning that X, Y, or Z might occur, and A, B, or C takes place instead?  You’re going to hear about it.

So far, this week has been no different.

It seems the more calls for caution that I (or anyone else) expresses – the higher, and faster the “markets” vault. Maybe what I should do is proclaim at the top of my lungs “All is clear! Buy, Buy, Buy!! Worry, is for losers!!! After all, isn’t that what most are doing right about now?

Oh, wait, I’m sorry, what they do now (since many the reputation is still tarnished from 2008) is they throw the caveat of “This will end badly.” as some form of disclaimer should it all fall apart. You know, like it did in 2008 when they said it wouldn’t. Hint: Need I remind anyone of Jim Cramers’ famous Bear Sterns endorsement?

Nobody knows what these “markets” are going to do next. And I mean just that: no body. That is, unless you were one of the very few “friends of the Fed” which did know precisely that since 2012 when no one else did. Don’t remember? Hint: This was the period of time that no one believed the Fed. would continue the path of QE for years forward. That is – unless you were fortunate enough to be on one of former Fed. president Lacker’s conference calls back then where you would have learned precisely that. The issue was no one else knew until 2017 – that’s when everyone else found out – and he resigned.

Now, with that behind us, what we can at least surmise is this: If the Federal Reserve’s largess has been the responsible factor for most, if not all, of this so-called “bull market.” Then by reasonable assumptions, along with a little bit of common sense, it’s not hard to surmise what will happen when that largess is withdrawn. e.g., Things are about to get “jiggy.”

Trying to predict precisely when, as for week, day, time, and second, is a fool’s errand. All one can do is be prepared the best they believe themselves to be, then work with what comes before them. That’s it. The only known factor currently is that process (e.g., normalization) begins this month, at a pace of $10Billion per month, increasing in subsequent months as the schedule unfolds.

As far as the “markets” propelling ever higher as of this week? Well, there are two factors to remember. 1) As I said last week: “end of month, and quarter window dressing is more likely at play. 2) Earnings begins, and exposure to it begins in earnest also.

I believe what you’re seeing now is relative to that conclusion. Can we go higher? Sure, probably will. Can we drop like a stone out of nowhere? Yep, that’s certainly possible. And no, I’m not trying to have it both ways, for here’s how I answered a collegue when I was asked my thoughts earlier today. To wit:

He: “What do think?”

Me: “I don’t think anymore, I stopped trying to reason or rationalize what these “markets” do from day-to-day anymore. Nothing makes sense, it’s just a battle of algos vs algos at this point.”

He: “Do you still think this market is set up for a fall?”

Me: “More so today than ever.”

He: “You know, you’ve been saying that for a long time and it hasn’t happened. What if you continue to be wrong for even longer?”

Me: “Fair point. But let me ask you this. If you get a 5% sell off, will you be a seller or buyer? If you’re a buyer and it falls another 5%, will you buy more, or begin selling what you have? If it falls another 5% what then?”

He: “I haven’t thought that far through, yet. I’ll just have to wait and see I guess.”

Me: “That’s the problem. And will be your biggest problem going forward. You’ve never even had to think about that in years. And the scenario I just gave you used to be common, but now, it’s considered an outlier. Yet, that’s an easy scenario. What would you do if it went down 15% in one fell swoop, what then? Buy? Sell? Hold? You don’t even have a plan for the easiest scenario, and what was once deemed ‘normal’ market behavior. How do you think you’ll react if it’s the latter? Or, better yet: What do you think will be the reaction of those who presumably know even less about the ‘markets’ than you do?”

He: “You s-ck.”

Me: “Thanks. I love you too. But that’s why I’m saying it. Again, it’s up too you to decide what aspects, or degree of caution, works for you, But at least you need to truly give it that thoroughness of thought, because the stakes as of this month have changed. Not by someone like myself trying to access what may, or may not happen via Fed. innuendo. The Fed. itself has now dictated precisely what is coming due. The issue for the ‘market’ now, is trying to figure out if it can afford it or not. My assumption? It’s going to be surprised just how much this final bill due may be. Much like how no one cares how much those bottles of champagne ordered in the V.I.P. lounge costs, until suddenly, the ‘credit card’ gets rejected and you have to come with cash immediately – or else. That’s what I think these ‘markets’ are set up for.”

As always, what you do with the above is entirely up to you. But at least you know what I’m thinking. And again, as always…

If anyone tells you they know precisely? Don’t just walk, but run, and fast.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

 

 

Janet X Course, Trajectory Confirmed For Octotober

Being a prognosticator of any type is a dangerous occupation, openly stating that events will happen with any remote assurance of certainty raise those stakes immensely. Giving dates, times, and outcomes turns that “dangerous” aspect up to 11.

This is why it’s far easier, and less problematic, for people to declare “The end of the world is nigh!” rather, than “The end of the bull run is upon us.”

You can predict, and say, what you want about the world ending tomorrow, and people will shrug. Say (or even imply) that the “top’s in” in regards to the markets? And people begin sharpening not only their tongues, but long knives, pitchforks, plowshares, and more.

A perfect example of this was the impending “end of days” predicted by the self-proclaimed “numerologist” David Meade that was to transpire on Sept. 23rd when the celestial body known as Planet X was to pass by Earth, so close, it would basically wipe out everything. Problem? It’s October, and you’re reading this.

But that doesn’t mean he was wrong per se, for just like most Ph.D’d economists, he just changed the date. Now it’s October 21st. I guess all that “data” tracking of trajectory, speed, and timing must have hit a “transitory” gravitational wave. I guess we’ll all have to just wait and see if we’re here in November. Who knows, maybe even “inflation” will finally show by then. Personally, I’m not cancelling my order for turkey, just saying.

It would be a fair assessment that some reading this will argue, “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, just look at your own calls for impending financial mayhem.” And in some regards it’s a very fair point. But that doesn’t mean I (or people like myself) have been wrong, for the wrong reasons. As I’ve argued ad nauseam, “I’ve been wrong, for all the right reasons.”

I stand by that statement more fervently today than ever before. The reason? You don’t need a telescope to see what’s heading directly at the “markets.” e.g., “Janet X” aka Balance Sheet Normalization, begins this month. Or said differently, channeling REM, “It’s the end of the world as we know it.”

Here’s the real heart of the issue, for all of those still clinging to the absurd notion that, “stocks are fairly valued, and are poised to run further.” Hint: They never have been fairly valued since Mr. “Courage To Print, and Print More” Bernanke perverted the entire process of price discovery, adulterating the capital markets, allowing the fostering and subverting of capitalism itself to the point where crony-capitalism is now an accepted form of business. (Hint: see any TBTF bank for clues.)

Just 7 years ago such a notion was seen, taught, and openly defended as patently absurd. Even within the Ivory Tower’d class. Today? Central banks openly buying government debt, corporate debt, and equities is now not only an accepted “tool” of monetary policy – it’s encouraged, celebrated, and now being taught at those same Ivory Towers. It’s beyond pornographic.

On an aside: If you think the above was just a one time “experiment” as the so-called “smart crowd” is clamoring, then answer this one point: Then why did the Chair in her latest presser after the deliberations inform a questioner that the Fed. stands ready to reverse its reinvestment policy should they deem it necessary? You think Wall Street isn’t going to test that assertion? Hint: Bet on it.

No one would have guessed prior, let alone predicted, that they (meaning central banks) would travel such a road – and yet here we are.

The only issue that has held off the resulting, or impending chaos that is sure to follow this trajectory of lunacy, as day follows night, was just how much, and for how long these monetary “wizards” would bear down on that “print button.”

We now know – for the Fed. at least – it’s October. (cue REM music, once again, here)

Unlike the planet Nibiru (aka Planet X) there are quite a few tell-tale signs that are visible with even the naked eye, although most next-in-rotation fund managers act as if they don’t exist.

These are what are known as charts, aka technicals. And it is here you don’t have to be a rocket-scientist to see, or garner, any respect to what they may imply, as in: the impending trajectory of what may happen since the “fuel source” aka QE, and its reinvestment, has now been all but extinguished. To wit:

(Chart Source)

The above chart contains the current daily price action of the most coveted, along with most responsible, for much of the “markets” gains since November 2016. aka FAANG, with a bonus chart representing the cross rate of the $Dollar vs the Swiss Franc. Why is that chart germane? Hint: See “Swiss National Bank” holdings for clues. The pattern is the same only inverted.

As you can see I’ve highlighted these charts with a box. What that box represents is what’s known in technical analysis as “a topping pattern.” i.e., Basically an inflection point for either a leveling off period, (aka as going sideways to nowhere) or  signaling an impending retracement may be imminent. I’m siding with the latter, here’s why:

What most people (especially 401K holders) don’t understand is just how much the Fed, along with other central banks have been responsible for the “markets” to continue ever higher, with no memorable pull back of even 5% (at one time a normal occurrence) for years. Again, repeat: years.

This was not only due to interest rates being pegged to the zero bound, allowing companies near free carry cost to repurchase their own shares. But more important (in my opinion) to this whole mix was not just the fact that the Fed. printed to begin with, but (and it’s a very big but) in conjunction with printing ever-the-more – reinvested any and all proceeds of that printing.

To understand this in layman terms think of it this way: Much like one would do with a stock which yields a dividend, the common investing thesis is, you reinvest that dividend. e.g., buy more of the same stock using that payment, increasing your holding ever-the-more. Rinse, repeat.

Basically that’s what has been transpiring in the “markets” for about the last 7 years. Now – it’s over, as in, there will not only be no more printing (i.e., buying) along with, there will also be no more “reinvestment.” And that my friends is the key.

What “normalization” truly means is this: all the money that the Fed. allowed to be used will not only be withdrawn, but will be destroyed, as in “poof” it’s gone.

What that implies is: all the money that was used to buy the stocks, along with the profits that were used to buy more – suddenly, and abruptly vanishes. i.e., There’s no money there to buy at any price. And that begins at $10Billion a pop (or month) beginning right now. It’s no longer a hypothetical exercise to contemplate. The Fed. has now declared it. (Think: If there’s no “buyers” because they can’t buy unless they sell something else – what’s the market price of any stock? Truly ponder that.)

On Friday of last week the “markets” collectively (once again) posted record highs. Some are using that as a confidence argument that stocks are just setting up to punch higher. I’m of the view that argument is more inline with a “con game.”

Yes, the “markets” did reach new highs, but it should have come as no surprise. For it was right on cue for two events. 1) End of month, end of quarter window dressing. 2) It’s the last chance to do so with full knowledge of Fed. intentions, and its largesse.

Planet X may be a mythological argument much like the book of Revelations, Myan predictions, and others. But “Janet X” has not only appeared on the monetary horizon, but stated forcefully on camera, audio, computer screens and more, in her own words (paraphrasing) “Winter is coming.”

No numerologists, economists, next-in-rotation fund managers, telescopes, rocket scientists or rose-colored glasses needed for translation.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr