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Friday 11.25.2016

Wells Fargo asks U.S. court to dismiss account scandal lawsuit

Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) has asked a U.S. court to order dozens of customers who are suing the bank over the opening of unauthorized accounts to resolve their disputes in private arbitrations instead of court, according to legal documents.

The motion, filed in the U.S. District Court in Utah on Wednesday, is in response to the first class action lawsuit filed against Wells since it agreed to pay $185 million in penalties and $5 million to customers for opening up to 2 million deposit and credit-card accounts in their names without their permission.

The scandal has shaken Wells, the third-largest U.S. bank by assets. Its former Chief Executive Officer John Stumpf stepped down amid the furor, it has been put under tougher regulatory scrutiny and its reputation has been damaged as it faces multiple probes.

The move to enforce the mandatory arbitration clauses comes as Wells Fargo has launched an advertising campaign to win back customer loyalty in the wake of the scandal. A spokesman for Wells Fargo declined to comment on the filing.

Turkish Central Bank Lifts Interest Rates to Buoy Currency

Turkey's Central Bank has raised its interest rates, a move experts say is meant to support the currency after steep drops recently.

The bank said Thursday it was raising the overnight marginal funding rate by 0.25 percent points to 8.5 percent. The one-week repo rate was increased by 0.5 percentage points to 8 percent.

The bank's move came despite pressure from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for lower interest rates. Higher rates tend to boost a currency but weigh on the economy by making borrowing more expensive.

The central bank's monetary policy committee noted that "exchange rate movements due to recently heightened global uncertainty and volatility pose upside risks on the inflation outlook."

Trump Looks to Put Stamp on Fed in First Months of Presidency

Donald Trump is looking to reshape the Federal Reserve -- very quickly. Two transition team sources said that the president-elect will move within his first three months in office to fill two vacant seats on the Fed’s Board of Governors in Washington, which have been vacant recently.

Earlier Tuesday, Trump announced that Ralph Ferrara would lead the so-called "landing team" designed at looking at the central bank to see ways it could be improved to Trump’s liking.

The appointments will impact the Federal Reserve’s seven-member board of governors, each of whom vote on the Federal Open Market Committee to set the nation’s monetary policy.

Larry Kudlow, who describes himself as a "informal" Trump economic adviser, said that Trump could have at least four appointments during his presidency, noting that Fed chair Janet Yellen’s term expires in February 2018. Her vice chair, Stanley Fischer, will see his term end in June 2018.

Sanctuary city mayors push back against Trump

The numbers are in: Trump wins Michigan by 10,704

In the closest race for president in Michigan's history, Republican Donald Trump is hanging on to a 10,704 vote win over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The Michigan Secretary of State posted results Wednesday that were submitted by the state's 83 county clerks on Tuesday after the votes were reviewed and certified by each county.

Before that compiled count, Trump held a 13,107 lead over Clinton. But after each county certified its results, the lead shrunk to 10,704, with the biggest chunk coming from Wayne County, which showed that Clinton had gotten 565 more votes than originally tallied by the county.

The state's Board of Canvassers will officially certify the results on Nov. 28. The electoral college in all the states, including Michigan's 16 electors, will cast their votes on Dec. 19.

The Economy Needs Higher Oil Prices – Goldman Sachs

OPEC is closing in on a deal to cut production, which will surely cause oil prices to rise. Oil is already almost back to $50 per barrel, so cuts of nearly 1 million barrels per day could boost prices well into the mid-$50s, even up towards $60 per barrel. That will provide a windfall to oil producers around the world and the sacrifice for OPEC members will be more than paid for by higher revenues. For example, Iraqi officials say that for every $1 increase in the price of a barrel of oil, their revenues jump by $1 billion per year.

As a result, the odds of rising crude oil prices are high. But while that could be welcomed by the industry, consumers might not be as excited to see cheap gasoline disappear. After all, U.S. motorists have enjoyed two years of incredibly cheap fuel. Will rising oil prices put a dent in already tepid U.S and global economic growth?

Perhaps not. As Bloomberg reported, Goldman Sachs wrote in a Nov. 22 research note that the global economy could benefit from higher oil prices. That conclusion may not be obvious, but here is the logic the investment bank lays out: Higher oil prices lead to a wave of capital that flows into major oil producing countries such as Saudi Arabia. Unable to use all the capital, Saudi Arabia sends the excess savings back into the global financial system. Banks then use that capital to lend. Interest rates also fall as the financial markets are more liquid. The end result is lower interest rates, more financial liquidity, higher asset values and ultimately greater consumer confidence. In short, higher oil prices could boost economic growth.

These conclusions echo those from a team of IMF economists from earlier this year. In March, the IMF said that the assumed connection between oil prices and GDP (falling oil prices will boost GDP as consumers have more money in their pockets) is not as solid as previously thought. Many analysts, including those at the IMF, once assumed that although oil producing countries such as Saudi Arabia would be damaged from low oil prices, the benefits to consuming countries would more than offset those losses, delivering net benefits to the global economy.

Former Olympic host Rio faces deep financial crisis

Just months after Rio de Janeiro hosted the 2016 Olympics, the city is sinking into a deep financial crisis. As local lawmakers prepare to vote on steep austerity measures, public workers are enraged.

Aside from the Olympics, it hasn’t been a good year for Rio. For weeks, firefighters, police officers and hundreds of other public workers have being staging massive demonstrations in front of the state legislative assembly.

The building, covered with banners and heavily protected by the police, is where local legislators are discussing draconian austerity measures to cope with a rising deficit. The potential steps include higher taxes, a delay in pay raises, and ending some welfare programs.

“We, the public workers: active, inactive and retired can’t pay the price of a debt that was not created by us, but by our governors,” Police Officer Nilton da Silva said. Many are also worried about their paychecks. “It is a dramatic situation. Our October salary has been divided in seven installments, it’s crazy, for family heads that have bills to pay,” said Silvia Sprei, a technician at the Rio Institute of Land.

Banknote Ban Creates Trouble for Indians

Spain Launches War on Cash

India, Uruguay, Australia and now Spain. The Minister of Finance and Public Service, Cristóbal Montoro has reportedly just announced “anticipated measures in order to ‘reduce the use of cash.’ In other words, Spain is going to make cash transactions even more difficult. As of presstime, from what we can tell, this has yet to be reported anywhere in English media except here now at TDV.

As you can see, the chaos is increasing. Combine cash bans with attacks on fake news (more on that tomorrow), and you end up disturbing a significant amount of people as we wrote recently. This amounts to a trend of course, of the sort we’ve been analyzing for several years now. We’ve predicted increased social chaos throughout the West and beyond because globalism is not built by votes but by violence and widespread disaffection that allows globalist “solutions” to be rammed home.

I expect “cash banning” to be speeded up along with selected attacks on the alternative media – as part of a larger effort to create widespread social dissension. People believe attacks on cash and “news” are what they seem to be on the surface. They are not. They are part of a much deeper strategy that involves additional globalism.

We’ve expected just these sorts of actions and have profited from them for the past several years along with our newsletter subscribers. We await more of the same. Currently, violence spawned by this anti-cash trend can be seen in such countries as Uruguay and India where cash banning on large bills has ignited significant social chaos already. India is in the throes of riots while Uruguay has been hit with a nationwide strike aimed in part at derailing a mandate that all employers must pay employees electronically via a bank account, starting as soon as March.

Trump lobbies Carrier to keep Indiana plant open

President-elect Donald Trump spent at least part of his Thanksgiving trying to convince Carrier Corp. to keep its Indianapolis plant open.

Trump on Thursday hinted that he's "making progress" toward a campaign pledge of reversing Carrier Corp.'s plan to shutter its Indianapolis operations and relocate jobs to Mexico by 2019.

"I am working hard, even on Thanksgiving, trying to get Carrier A.C. Company to stay in the U.S. (Indiana)," Trump said in a Twitter post. "MAKING PROGRESS - Will know soon!"

The Connecticut-based air conditioning maker issued its own statement on Twitter, acknowledging that it has been in discussions with Trump's administration. Carrier did not describe the nature of those talks.

U.K. set to legalize collection of internet browsing history

You Won’t Believe Who Just Bought This Storied Gold Mine For $1B

Incredible deal in the gold mining space this week. With a completely unknown player emerging from the wings to pick up one of the world’s most iconic mining projects. That’s the Kalgoorlie superpit mine in Western Australia. One of the world’s largest operations — producing a whopping 800,000 ounces per year for current owners Barrick Gold and Newmont Mining.

Barrick however, has decided it wants to exit Australian mining. And this week struck a deal to sell its 50% stake in the Kalgoorlie mine — to a Chinese property developer.

The acquirer in question is Minjar Gold — a subsidiary of Shanghai-listed real estate firm Shandong Tyan Home. With that company saying it will pay $1 billion to get into the gold business by picking up the Kalgoorlie ownership.

The deal has reportedly stunned the mining industry. With this out-of-nowhere offer coming in much richer than competing bids that had been on the table from major miners like Newcrest Mining. That’s yet another reminder of the massive sums of cash available in China for global resource M&A. With players here able to pay much more than Western counterparts that are right now looking at assets coming available.

America's working age population is finally growing again

For most of the last two decades, the growth rate of America’s workforce has been declining because baby boomers have been retiring at a faster pace than younger workers are entering the labor force. However, the potential workforce recently began growing again. What impact will this have on the economy?

As shown in the chart below, the growth rate of the working age population increased in the 1960s and 1970s as baby boomers reached working age (the graph shows population growth, but the workforce grew even faster during these decades due to the increased participation of women). However, in the mid-1990s, this growth rate began falling persistently as baby boomers started retiring, and it became negative in September of 2008.

This age group’s falling growth rate finally turned around in January 2012, and it became positive once again in August 2013, though it remained relatively low, around 0.1 percent. But at the beginning of 2015, it jumped to 0.4 percent, and it appears poised to continue growing.

The workforce expansion rate is an important determinant of overall economic growth. According to economic theory, GDP’s growth rate can be decomposed into the sum of the growth rate in population and the growth rate in technology. In essence, what happens is that as the working age population grows, the demand for goods and services increases, the economy expands to create them and in the process creates new jobs for the expanded population.

Standing Alone: For What Comes Next Is Anyone’s Guess

Since we are in the Thanksgiving lull of the “markets.” I wanted to express something that takes place in my own head around these times. Where I (and believe others) may also share some of the same conflicted feelings as we not only try to give thanks, we simultaneously ponder thoughts to what the future might portend, and how we are going to move with it. For in the game of business as is life: the decision process never rests.

I used the term “conflicted” for a reason. If you’re anything like me (and I believe we’re all the same, it’s only how we deal with things that makes all the difference) they run the gamut from not just the good or bad, but some may range from the exuberantly spectacular – to the down right terrifying.

Then last, but certainly not least, buffeted with either a single-minded focus – to outright scatter-brained confusion, notwithstanding the myriad of combinations of some, if not all of them at once.

Nobody knows what the future may portend. Everything (and I do mean everything) is a best guess with whatever evidence you have at your disposal; a willingness to believe in your gut, and your abilities; and the willingness and fortitude to live with/by your decisions. That sounds simple enough, yes. However, it’s in the application, and the willingness of follow through, which makes all the difference. That’s the hard part.

Thanksgiving Online Spending Will Hit $2 Billion for the First Time

Online spending this Thanksgiving is off to a good start for retailers. Spending online is expected to hit a record $2 billion on Thursday, November 24 within the United States, which would be a nearly 16% increase from last year, according to Adobe ADBE -0.95% .

Similar to previous years, mobile shopping is also off to strong start as more consumers are purchasing items via their smartphones. Based on Thanksgiving spending to date, estimated at $336 million, consumers will spend a record $820 million shopping via iPhone, iPad, and Android phones and tablets. The average order value on Apple APPL devices is estimated at $144, which is higher than that of Android devices at $119 per purchase.

Consumers have spent $27.2 billion online in the month of November. Shopping ramped up on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, with shoppers spending $1.57 billion online, up 19% year-over-year. So far, 22 out of 23 days this month so far exceeded $1 billion in sales, also a first for the season.

The question is whether these record numbers will extend into Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving, as well as Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving.

The Left "grieves the loss of their safe space" after Trump's win

The rich have gotten so rich that they are ‘destabilizing societies’

Despite the best efforts of those raging against income inequality, the chasm between the world’s haves and have-nots doesn’t appear to be getting any narrower.

According to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report, a mere 0.7% of the global population owns nearly half the world’s wealth. At the other end, 73% of the popular have less than $10,000 each.

“In recent years, there has been a growing sense that the economic recovery is shallow, and has not reached all layers of society,” researchers said in the study. “Evidence from our global wealth database supports this view.”

The trend is only expected to continue. In 2000, the top 1% owned 49.6% of all household wealth. By 2009, that figure dropped to 45.4%. Since then, it has moved past the 50% mark, and it doesn’t look like that the trajectory is about to shift.

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