The Daily Alpha: Alternative Thinking on Bull-Fighting Bears, Bill Ackman’s Blues, and The Trump Conspiracy Theory

Aug 3 2016 | 11:37pm ET

"The greatest bullfighter of all time, Manolete, was gored to death by a Miura bull, an event that left Spain in a state of shock in 1947. Many contemporary hedge fund managers can probably relate."

Business Insider offers some insight on how hedge funds can’t understand this ongoing bull run and that the fundamentals make little sense. They should read more often…

Here’s what’s happening…

Central banks… central banks… central banks…

Lower rates… lower rates… even lower rates…

More stimulus… more stimulus… more stimulus…

The ECB… the Federal Reserve… the Bank of Japan…


“It’s run by a Bill Ackman protégé.”

It was a great month for Marcato International.

Fortune explains that the activist hedge fund returned 10.4% in July.

We will see how Bill Ackman feels today on that news.

But he also will likely have something to say after Herbalife reports earnings later.

In an interesting twist this week, Andrew Ross Sorkin had a few things to say about Ackman’s arguments about Herbalife.

His argument? Maybe Ackman has been right. 


“I’m not saying this conspiracy theory is true…”

On Wednesday morning, Joe Scarborough almost went full “Wag the Dog” on the 2016 election.

He reminded his panel of the old theory that Bill Clinton called Donald Trump and asked him to run for President. The goal: To get Hillary Clinton the presidency.

We are now deeper down the rabbit hole.

If you’ve never seen Wag the Dog, it’s a classic Barry Levinson vehicle starring Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman about a group of Washington communications experts rigging an election in the final two weeks of campaign season. The incumbent, dogged by a sudden sex scandal, needs the assistance of Hollywood and great PR spinners to sell a fake war in Albania. Hilarity ensues as their latest efforts to sell the message “Don’t Change Horses Midstream” lead to remarkable setbacks and ensuing triumphs.

The more we watch the media these days, the more that life imitates art.

Trump, a brash showman “who tells it like it is” – a quality consumed by Red Meat Republicans – effectively won a high stakes reality show by employing elimination tactics on his competition in the GOP. Now – with the GOP nomination in hand – he is completely imploding and completely unwilling to let any of Hillary Clinton’s ongoing campaign problems steal the spotlight from him.

The timing of the implosions and the nonstop self-inflicted gunshot wounds are what seem so amazing about the conspiracy theory. This morning, it was reported that the Obama Administration engaged in possible “quid pro quo” of $400 million for the release of Iranian hostages.

The Obama Administration dismissed this exchange as part of a broader coincidence. Not one hand at CNN, MSNBC, or ABC has been raised yet today. Instead, we are focusing on Trump’s remarkably petty fight against the father of a slain soldier over… what exactly again? 

Meanwhile, the Government Accountability Institute released a massive report questioning the relationship between the Clinton Foundation, Russia, and Vladimir Putin. From the media: Crickets.

Instead, non-stop questions about Trump’s tax returns and loans from Russia in the past. Some even went so far to accuse Trump to be an agent of the Putin government.  

This pattern is constant; it’s been going on for months.

Clinton blatantly lies on Sunday to the American public about the FBI investigation, and the next day Trump is locked into a petty battle with a DNC speaker.

It has been shown that just 9% of Americans actually nominated Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Both of them are in a race to the bottom to achieve that percentage of a favorability rating.

Clinton has made this race about a referendum on Trump, which is a stunning accomplishment given the fact that national security was likely compromised by foreign governments, the DNC rigged the election in her favor, and Wikileaks plans to release more information on the machinations of the Clinton Foundation.  

Which brings us back to the original question:

Is it possible that Trump is a plant in this?

There’s a possibility of anything, right?

Come on... that would be a remarkable coup, and the fact that it has even been pitched is a testament to how smart and politically calculating some people believe Bill and Hillary Clinton to be in these times. One also must completely ignore that Trump would have a lot to lose to go along with such a plan.

His campaign is a dumpster fire right now.

The alternative – and likely -- reality is that this is still a referendum on Republicanism for thirty years of public policy that has left many people feel alienated about American opportunity.

Yes, the 1980s set off an economic revival.

Yes, financial policies that are pro-business and lower tax rates are important to helping individuals achieve economic freedom, particularly for risk-taking entrepreneurs.

The challenge – is that many people have been left behind as they do not know how or where to begin. There has been a lot of people – smart, successful people out there – who has touted hard work and independence. Some have said that being an entrepreneur and understanding how to embrace failure are things you cannot teach.

That attitude is incorrect. It is something that can and must be taught. The fact that it is something that is not taught – and taught every day in class rooms – is a sign that there is a problem.

Perhaps one of the most important scenes on television that illustrates this comes from Season 4 of the critically acclaimed HBO series The Wire.

A conversation between ex-felon Cutty and A young, struggling boy named Dukie takes place in a boxing gym. Cutty explains how all he has known in life has been boxing and working on corners as a drug dealer.

Cutty tells Dukie there is another life out there for him, that things have changed, and opportunties exist.

“The world is bigger than that, at least that’s what they tell me,” Cutty says, reflecting on how small his world was coming up.

“How do you get from here to the rest of the world?” Dukie replies, uncertain of what exists beyond the streets of Baltimore.

Cutty simply says, frustrated: “I wish I knew.”

There’s the problem. This is art imitating life.

Unless the GOP can start answering that question for millions of people of this nation, don’t expect 2020 to end any better for the Party of Lincoln.

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