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NFL…Takes a knee while America takes a stand

Dave Cesario

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For the last few years, the NFL has slowly been hemorrhaging fans and viewers. If it’s not the restricted tackling and hitting, the fining of players writing “9/11” or “We will never forget” on their shoes…then it’s the Colin Kaepernick, taking a knee fiasco. Kaep, is The Godfather of disrespecting our National Anthem and flag during a sporting event.

What the NFL will learn, sooner than later, is that a large majority of us Americans despise anyone who disrespects our country or flag. The left likes to “Target” symbols as if they are the reason of some people’s struggles in their lives. If they were only honest with themselves, they may find that the solution has been right in front of them, this whole time.

Most Americans struggle each day just trying to make ends meet and take care of their families. They don’t have the privilege to play in the NFL and make millions of dollars and live like rockstars. We struggle with finances, illness, family issues and many other things that affect our daily lives. No one person is without a struggle. We ALL have this common thread that connects each and every one of us. This common thread does not care what color or religion you are, it touches us in different ways. Some have it better than others and some have it worse than others. We don’t protest our hardships or injustices. We pull up our big boy and big girl pants and tackle each day as best as we can. We don’t let our past, good or bad, define us. We find a way to make it happen and not give in or give up. No, it’s not easy at times and sometimes it’s not fun.

What we never do, is take our frustration or anger out on our flag and National Anthem. Too many people have fought and died for this. These Hero’s fought and died for ALL of us so that we may be free to prosper as we see fit in the greatest country on earth. Sure, I would love to be an NFL player and make millions playing a game I love. I’m too small, too slow and not talented enough. According to the left, this means that I’m “oppressed”.

You are truly blessed and fortunate, to be in the NFL. You are among the top wage earners in this country. The best of the best. Use your time and energy more wisely. Help the less fortunate rise up to your level instead of asking everyone to come down. Go to the areas that really are oppressed and show them how to pull themselves up from their bootstraps. If you, as an NFL player, don’t stay in shape, improve your skills through training and repetition or knowing your plays and schemes…you won’t have a job as a professional football player. This didn’t come easy, you worked your ass off to get to this point. Well, our Hero’s and all of the people that you are disrespecting, have done the same. The difference is that they sacrificed themselves and their families for what you and I have. We still hit the floor with two feet in the morning and have the option of making the most out of each day. For those that have lost hands, arms and legs…do not have the option to stand or put their hands over their heart. WE must do so in their place and not disrespect their sacrifices for us or this great nation.

So, stand up, put your right hand over your heart, look at that beautiful flag, that represents so much more good than bad, and be thankful that you are an American who plays a game that helps many of us forget our problems, if only for a few hours.

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Jacob Wohl: Are Uber and Lyft to Blame for the Auto Loan Bubble?

Jacob Wohl

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Fears that auto loans may be the next big bubble are beginning to permeate the market. The levels of care loans that have been securitized are now about $200B more than during the heights of the subprime bubble of 2006.

About 1% of car loan applications in the US contain some form of false information. That’s the same rate as existed on home mortgage applications in 2009. Point Predictive, a fraud prevention firm based in San Diego, CA, put together a group of 13 car lenders to share data in an effort to prevent fraud. The group determined that car loan fraud is often perpetrated by both consumers and car dealers.

One question that has yet to be addressed is whether Uber and Lyft could be responsible for the huge amount of fraud that is taking place on auto loan applications.

In 2016, Uber secured a $1 Billion loan from Goldman Sachs to underwrite subprime auto leases to its drivers. Much like with mortgage lenders in the run-up to the financial crisis, it seems that the meteoric rise of ride-sharing services could be fueling unscrupulous lending. Uber and Lyft are repeating history. They’ve realized that a good business isn’t good enough and that a good business that is levered to the hilt, becomes a great business.

Many people in urban centers who would not normally own and operate cars are now buying cars like never before, because they expect to make a living driving for Uber and/or Lyft, or because they believe that occasional ride-share driving will pay for the monthly payment and other expenses for the car. The rush of buying of automobiles, in order to allow people to bet on this thesis, which is commonly promoted by Uber/Lyft and many members of “Big-Auto” lobby has a big role fueling the auto loan bubble.

In many ways, an auto loan bubble is much worse than a mortgage bubble. The primary reason for this is that auto loans are collateralized by assets which depreciate, not appreciate over time. In the case of a typical mortgage-backed security, the underlying collateral typically consists of a home or other piece of real estate, which on-average (and I cannot stress ‘on average’ enough) is expected to appreciate and outperform inflation over time. With an auto loan, foreclosing on the underlying asset is a much less favorable outcome, and will often result in the recovery of pennies on the dollar of the initial loan value.

Much like in the mortgage bubble that popped 2008, it seems that the pricing of risk for auto loans is drastically mispriced and that once again, this underpricing of risk is fueled by an unusually low interest rate environment. Traditional risk models that model a given risk versus the risk-free rate struggle to work correctly when the risk-free-rate variable sits at or next to zero.

If interest rates stay low, markets stay calm, and Uber and Lyft continue to run at an eerily consistent rate of growth, then the auto loan bubble will continue to inflate. But if interest rates rise and the economy slows, it’s my belief that the auto loan bubble pop in a way that causes serious economic damage to those in the bottom income quartile in the US (particularly immigrants and young people residing in urban centers), and Uber and Lyft will almost certainly be parties which will take the blame, much as Countrywide and other mortgage lenders were blamed (if only after the fact) for the carnage of 2008.

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The GOP Tax Plan Could Sabotage the Trump Presidency

Jacob Wohl

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The GOP’s tax proposal, crafted by Paul Ryan and Kevin Brady does not set the Trump Administration up for a legislative victory, but rather for a political disaster.

The tax bill proposes raising taxes on as many as 70 million Americans who live in high tax states while cutting taxes on corporations in a way that preserves domestic profits while not going far enough to encourage the repatriation of cash held overseas. 

Recent leaks, including the Paradise Papers, reveal that Apple and other companies that have cash parked overseas pay almost zero tax on that money. While cutting the corporate rate from 35% to 20% is likely to boost profits domestically, 20% is still not zero percent. A 20% corporate tax will not present a worthwhile opportunity for companies like Apple to repatriate hundreds of billions of dollars that is parked overseas. 

If an unseasoned reader was told that the GOP tax proposal was written by Bernie Sanders, they would probably believe it.

The bill raises the effective tax rates on some Americans to more than 65%. This means that if a brain surgeon in California makes $1M/year, they will take home less than $350,000 after takes. Essentially, it may make more sense for that brain surgeon to only work 6 months per year, and not make the extra money in the first place.

In California, for Individuals with $1M/year ($1.2M for couples) under the GOP Plan:

1) The Federal Income tax rate jumps to 45.6% from 39% thanks to a new “surcharge” that’s baked into the law

2) The Obamacare Tax will remain at 3.8%, as Senate Republicans have repeatedly failed to pass an Obamacare repeal

3) State Income Tax for these well-off Californians will remain 13% but will no longer be deductible against federal taxes

4) Property Tax will remain variable based on property value but will no longer be federally tax deductible, and will likely result in downside for real estate prices

5) FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) will stay at 2.81%

The total tax burden for individuals making more than $1M in California will jump to at least 65.2 percent.

Those who make more than $1M in the State of California are part of a fairly small group of people, but this example reflects the type of tax increases that will be seen for about 70 million Americans who live in high tax states under the GOP plan.

Republicans are grasping to a notion that their tax reform bill will force high tax states to lower their state taxes. This notion that blue states will subsidize the public approval of their residents for a Trump Tax Bill is a notion entirely based on wild imagination. It simply will not happen.

Meanwhile, Republicans are hailing the great accomplishment of phasing out the estate tax. While the estate tax, which essentially allows the Federal Government to raid coffins, is a fundamentally immoral idea, the reality is that it makes no meaningful difference in the economy.

Trump Economic Adviser Gary Cohn infamously told a group of Senate Democrats that “Only morons pay the estate tax.” As crass as he comment was, it’s true.  A living trust, which is a three-party fiduciary relationship in which the first party transfers a property upon the second party for the benefit of the third party, the beneficiary, is a legal arrangement that costs about $100 to set up. This $100 legal document allows people to avoid the estate tax altogether. 

While Republicans hail the phasing out of the estate tax, there remains to be no solution to closing the carried interest loophole, which allows hedge fund and private equity managers to pay capital gains tax, rather than income tax, on the income that is generated through the capital gains on their clients’ capital. As a hedge fund manager, I’m quite happy about this. Even so, I realize that the survival of the carried interest loophole can be entirely attributed to hedge fund and private equity lobbyists, who are in the pocket of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

In the short-term, the GOP’s so-called “tax reform” will be able to be presented as a legislative victory for President Trump, as well as Republicans in Congress. In the long-term, when millions of Americans realize that their tax bill will be going up, rather than down, the GOP will suffer political losses the likes of which we can’t yet imagine.

The solution is simple. Republicans should forget about their current proposal, and instead, copy and paste the Bush Tax Cuts. The Bush Tax Cuts, or something similar to them, would cut taxes for all (not some) Americans and would likely receive bi-partisan support. 

 

 

 

 

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Perspectives

Waging War: President Trump Taking Action on Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis

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On June 18th, 1971, during a speech by President Nixon, the War on Drugs was officially waged and the term “War on Drugs” coined. President Nixon declared drugs “public enemy number one” and was determined to put a stop to the drug crisis. Half a million people died from drug overdoses between 2000 and 2015 with the majority of them coming from opioids.

I am a supporter of the War on Drugs. There is no doubt that the government’s efforts needed to be revitalized – that is where President Trump comes in! Last week, President Trump declared the current opioid crisis a “national emergency” and will ask Congress to adjust funding and to now properly fund the Public Health Emergency Fund. Even House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is supportive of this declaration, but has doubts that President Trump will deliver, telling President Trump to “show me the money.” Other senators have gone out and commended President Trump on his decision to take the opioid crisis head-on. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said: “I would like to commend the President for his continued commitment. When he visited us in the Senate earlier this week, he discussed the national epidemic and his administration’s efforts to fight back. Along with my colleagues, I stand ready to work with him on future proposals to provide necessary tools to protect our communities from this scourge.”

Now that we have established that the War on Drugs will not die and has been revitalized, I would like to address an intriguing question. As I am sure you know, marijuana is illegal on the federal level. Even in the states that legalized it, technically someone that uses marijuana in the States can be arrested by federal agents. Should professional athletes self-medicate with marijuana after a game to relieve the pain?  In short: I think not.  My sentiment is backed by many established professionals including former assistant secretary of state at the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Robert B. Charles “This is just another ruse by those who want to get high using an illegal drug; as the FDA and DEA have made clear, nobody “smokes” medicine, and there are 400 analgesics to choose from that do NOT make one high, they just relieve pain – how about living by common sense and rule of law?”

With my opinion and an anti-narcotic guru’s well-educated opinions now on the record, I am going to take a small dive into the other side of the argument. HERB released the first episode of their video series “Game Changers,” featuring football veterans Marvin WashingtonLeonard MarshallEben Britton, and Grant Mattos. Throughout the video, the players discuss injuries sustained during their careers and the NFL’s stance on marijuana use.

“This video makes it apparent how much cannabis has helped these players manage pain and avoid the dangers associated with prescription painkillers,” said Matt Gray, CEO of HERB. “With the 2017 football season now underway, we thought it was important for people to know what these players sacrifice in order to entertain fans every week and hope that fans can empathize and ultimately become advocates for cannabis in the NFL.” If players are going to get NFL teams to move away from the use of synthetic pain drugs to treat injuries, I feel they need to band together and form an alliance with one another regarding the use of CBD,” said Leonard Marshall, former 12-year NFL defensive lineman. “The general public may think these players are just looking to get high, however, many of these players are just looking to get healthy, and that’s more than fair.”

It is hard to deny that player’s do benefit from marijuana use, but that does not give anyone a license, or even a reason, to break the law. The NFL not allowing marijuana to be used by their players is a good thing. A good role model, something that athletes are viewed as, should get LEGAL medication to ease the pain so that they do not break the law.

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