In One Chart: Under Trump, the EPA’s enforcement efforts fall to a 40-yea…

As the Trump administration draws flak for how it’s running the Environmental Protection Agency, one critic is putting out charts like the one above to make his case.

The Environmental Data & Governance Initiative’s Chris Sellers provided the above graphic and others to a Democratic-controlled House subcommittee that held a hearing this week on a drop in the EPA’s enforcement efforts.

The chart shows how “civil judicial referrals” have slumped to a level last seen in 1976. Such cases refer to “the most egregious offenses” that the EPA refers to the Justice Department, Sellers said at the Tuesday hearing.

“Over the past two years, EPA enforcement has declined significantly,” he told the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s panel on oversight and investigation. “Most of the available measures of the agency’s performance are registering 10- or 15-year lows at the very least.”

Sellers, a professor of environmental history and politics at New York’s Stony Brook University, was representing EDGI, a watchdog group.

Related: Ethanol lobby and Republican senators with oil ties pressure Trump’s EPA pick

Another witness at the hearing pushed back on concerns about the EPA’s enforcement efforts.

“This data is, as I often put it, noisy. Single-case outcomes from year to year can drive the annual results,” said Ronald Tenpas, a lawyer who represents companies that have environmental obligations or potential violations.

“For all of the attention that these annual statistics may get, at the end of the day, they are proxies, and they are somewhat poor proxies, for the real objective here, which is consistent compliance with our environmental regulations,” added Tenpas, a former U.S. assistant attorney general. “Enforcement is not an end in itself.”

In addition, while the EPA’s supporters are sounding alarms, business owners have praised the Trump administration’s push to curb regulations, saying that has encouraged them to make plans to expand.

Victor Reklaitis is MarketWatch’s Money & Politics reporter and is based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter @VicRek.

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US Dollar Index Technical Analysis: Greenback bulls break above the 96.10…

DXY daily chart

  • The US Dollar Index (DXY) is trading in a bull trend above its 200-day simple moving averages (SMA).

DXY 4-hour chart

  • DXY is trading below its main SMAs suggesting bearish momentum in the medium-term.

DXY 30-minute chart

  • DXY broke above 96.10 and the 50 and 100 SMAs opening up the doors to 96.35 resistance. 
  • DXY is trading below its 200 SMA and a break below 96.10 would lead to 95.90 and potentially all the way down to 95.40 level.


Additional key levels 

Dollar Index Spot

    Today Last Price: 96.18
    Today Daily change %: 0.02%
    Today Daily Open: 96.16
    Daily SMA20: 96.46
    Daily SMA50: 96.29
    Daily SMA100: 96.44
    Daily SMA200: 95.63
    Previous Daily High: 96.19
    Previous Daily Low: 95.88
    Previous Weekly High: 97.08
    Previous Weekly Low: 96.29
    Previous Monthly High: 96.96
    Previous Monthly Low: 95.03
    Daily Fibonacci 38.2%: 96.07
    Daily Fibonacci 61.8%: 96
    Daily Pivot Point S1: 95.96
    Daily Pivot Point S2: 95.77
    Daily Pivot Point S3: 95.65
    Daily Pivot Point R1: 96.27
    Daily Pivot Point R2: 96.39
    Daily Pivot Point R3: 96.58


MMT advocate responds to Powell — ‘deficits do matter’ but not how you th…


Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and Stephanie Kelton

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell took a shot this week at the philosophy known as modern monetary theory in a Senate hearing.

“I have heard pretty extreme claims attributed to that framework and I don’t know whether that’s fair or not,” said Powell. “The idea that deficits don’t matter for countries that can borrow in their own currency is just wrong. I think U.S. debt is fairly high at a level of GDP, and much more importantly than not, it’s growing faster than GDP.”

Caroline Baum: Does debt matter? It doesn’t until … it does

One leading advocate of MMT, Stephanie Kelton, the former economics adviser to the 2016 Bernie Sanders presidential campaign and professor at Stony Brook University, told CNBC on Thursday that he’s looking at it wrong.

“What Chairman Powell is saying when he says, ‘I don’t believe that it’s true that deficits don’t matter,’ well neither do I, deficits do matter. But they don’t matter in the ways we’ve conventionally been thinking about them,” she said.

“The way we usually think about a deficit is that it is evidence of excessive spending. And that’s just wrong, evidence of excessive spending is inflation. So I would argue you don’t have a deficit problem or debt problem unless you have an inflation problem.”

The Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, the PCE price index, was below the central bank’s 2% target in the fourth quarter.

When asked what country has used MMT, Kelton replied, “the United States.”

She argues that the U.S. has not taken advantage of its position to fund its critical spending needs.

With over $22 billion in debt and a deficit that could hit $1 trillion this fiscal year, U.S. interest rates are still low. After a year of nearly 3% growth, the yield on the benchmark 10-year yield

TMUBMUSD10Y, +1.35%

 was 2.72%. Low interest rates have fueled a fresh rally for U.S. stocks this year, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, -0.27%

 up over 10%.

Related: Greenspan warns U.S. budget deficit will ultimately lead to higher inflation

Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch’s Washington bureau chief. Follow him on Twitter @MKTWgoldstein.

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FTSE 100 creeping up on near term trend line support around 7005, guardin…

  • U.K. shares on the back foot following weak Chinese factory data and geopolitics. 
  • The FTSE 100 ended down 0.5% at 7,074.73 as traders squared up for the month – ending higher by 3.3% for the month. Sterling dropped 0.3% vs the dollar at 1.3264 and a touch lower by 0.4% against the euro at 0.8577.

Global markets were reminded of the slowdown in China which weighed on stock markets with factory activity contracting to a three-year low in February. Chinese NBS manufacturing dropped to 49.2 in February from 49.5 expectations and prior data from the month before. As for the pound, US data pressured cable off its 500 pip rally highs with the greenback bulls kicking back into gear following the US gross domestic product upside surprise, arriving at 2.6% and beating the expected 2.3% for the fourth quarter.

Elsewhere, Geopolitics is creeping back in again, from trade to India and Pakistan and the Vietnam summit between US President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that ended abruptly with Trump walking out on the meeting. As per Brexit, it is quite clear that Parliament doesn’t want any deal Brexit and there is growing speculation that indeed, Article 50 will be extended. This lead to the resignation of Tory’s agriculture minister, George Eustice.

Best and worst performers

On the corporate front, the Chinese data disappointment weighed on miners with Antofagasta, BHP and Rio Tinto both slipping up. However, the worst of the top flight index were EasyJet (EZJ )1,227.50p -6.40%, followed by Mondi (MNDI) 1,728.50p -6.31% and Smith (DS) (SMDS) 335.50p -3.56%.  The top three performers were Rentokil Initial (RTO) 351.00p 6.69% followed by St James’s Place (STJ) 972.40p 3.31% and NMC Health (NMC) 2,704.00p 3.28%. 

FTSE levels

The month is leaving a bullish extension on the monthly charts, although zooming in, the weekly chart’s upside correction has stalled for a second down week within the rising wedge. At this juncture, the bears are in control within the 2019 uptrend support area between 7002 and 8th Feb lows at 7064, toying with the 7070 (recent double bottom daily lows (made up of 38.2% Fibo of May 2018 highs to Dec 2018 lows and Feb/Mar 2018 and Feb 8th 2019 lows)). A move lower will be in breach of the trend line support at 7005 and weekly and daily stochastics lean bearish, favouring the outcome. A clean break there opens risk to the 6870/60s ahead of the 6730/40s and late Jan double bottom lows. However, an extension of the upside, bulls will look to the recent high of 7261 and confluence with the 200-D SMA at the round 7270 level, a moving average that was last tested and breached momentarily back in Sep 2018. 



The Conversation: Here’s why black families have struggled for decades to…

Black History Month has become the time to reflect on all the progress black Americans have made, but the sobering reality is that when it comes to wealth — the paramount indicator of economic security — there has been virtually no progress in the last 50 years.

Based on data from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finance, the typical black family has only 10 cents for every dollar held by the typical white family.

While there is no magic bullet for racism, access to wealth, and the security to pass it down from one generation to the next, would go a long way toward changing the economic trajectory for blacks.

As researchers who study historical and contemporary racial inequality, we mostly conceive of wealth as a maker of success, but its true value is functional: the independence and economic security that it provides.

Out of slavery

Until the end of legal slavery in the U.S., enslaved people were considered valuable assets and a form of wealth. In the South, entrepreneurs and slave owners took loans out against the collateral value of their property in the form of people to fund new businesses.

The U.S. government has a long history of facilitating wealth for white Americans. From at least the Land Act of 1785, Congress sought to transfer wealth to citizens on terms that were quite favorable. In some instances, land could be attained by the luck of the draw — but only if you were a white man.

It was never the case that a white asset-based middle class simply emerged. Rather, it was government policy, and to some extent literal government giveaways, that provided whites the finance, education, land and infrastructure to accumulate and pass down wealth.

While the 1866 Homestead Act sought to include blacks specifically in the transfer of public lands to private farmers, discrimination and poor implementation doomed the policy. Black politicians during Reconstruction attempted to use tax policy to force land on the market, but this was met with violent resistance.

While blacks did make gains in wealth acquisition after chattel slavery ended, the pace was slow and started from a base of essentially nothing. Whites could use violence to force blacks from their property via the terrorism of whitecapping, where blacks were literally run out of town and their possessions stolen. This includes the race riots, as in Memphis in 1866 and Tulsa in 1921, which systematically destroyed or stole the wealth blacks had acquired, and lowered the rate of black innovation. Black wealth was tenuous without the rule of law to prevent unlawful seizures.

By 1915, black property owners in the South had less than one-tenth of the wealth of white landowners.

This trend remained stable for the next 50 years. In 1965, 100 years after Emancipation, blacks were more than 10% of the population, but held less than 2% of the wealth in the U.S., and less than 0.1% of the wealth in stocks. Wealth had remained fundamentally unchanged and structurally out of reach of the vast majority of blacks.

Housing assistance and education

These racially exclusionary systems endured well into the 20th century.

A complicit Federal Housing Administration permitted the use of restrictive covenants, which forbade home sales to blacks; redlining, which defined black communities as hazardous areas, directly reducing property values and increasing rates; and general housing and lending discrimination against African-Americans through the 20th and 21st centuries.

Moreover, blacks were largely excluded from the New Deal and World War II public policies, which were responsible for the asset creation of an American middle class.

The GI Bill is one example of several postwar policies in which the federal government invested heavily in the greatest growth of a white asset-based American middle class, to the exclusion of blacks. Historian Ira Katznelson documents that, by 1950, via the GI Bill, the American government spent more on education than the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe. But most American colleges and universities were closed to blacks, or open to only but a few in token numbers.

Meanwhile, GI benefits in education, employment, entrepreneurship and housing assistance were all distributed overwhelmingly toward whites. In the Jim Crow segregated South, there was a truncated housing supply. These factors limited the ability of historically black colleges and universities to accommodate the education and housing needs of black veterans.

It is important to note that it was never the case that a white asset-based middle class simply emerged. Rather, it was government policy, and to some extent literal government giveaways, that provided whites the finance, education, land and infrastructure to accumulate and pass down wealth. In contrast, blacks were largely excluded from these wealth generating benefits. When they were able to accumulate land and enterprise, it was often stolen, destroyed or seized by government complicit theft, fraud and terror.

Building new wealth

Nonetheless, blacks have still been able to overcome tremendous odds, particularly in acquiring education. Social science research indicates that blacks attain more years of schooling and education credentials than whites from families with comparable resources. In other words, blacks place a premium on education as a means of mobility.

Despite this investment, the racial wealth gap expands at higher levels of education. Black families where the head graduated from college have less wealth than white families where the head dropped out of high school.

Rather than education leading to wealth, it is wealth that facilitates the acquisition of an expensive education. The essential value of wealth is its functional role; the financial security to take risks and the financial agency that wealth affords is transformative.

In our view, education alone cannot address the centuries-long exclusion of blacks from the benefits of wealth-generating policies and the extraction of whatever wealth they may have. The most just approach would be a comprehensive reparation program that acknowledges these grievances and offers compensatory restitution, including ownership of land and other means of production.

Darrick Hamilton is executive director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University. Trevon Logan is the Hazel C. Youngberg Distinguished Professor of Economics at The Ohio State University. This was first published by The Conversation — “Why wealth equality remains out of reach for black Americans”.

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EUR/JPY Technical Analysis: Euro confirms bullish bias after breaking ano…

  • The EUR/JPY pair continues to move with a bullish bias, now with overbought readings favoring some consolidation ahead, but still the positive momentum remains elevated after the breakout of key resistance levels. 
  • Support levels are seen at 126.65 and 126.30.

EUR/JPY 1-hour chart


  • The euro broke another key resistance and gained more support. The next target is seen at 127.00, and above 127.15 it would target 127.60/65. 
  • Critical support for the bullish outlook stands at 125.50.

EUR/JPY Daily chart 


    Today Last Price: 126.84
    Today Daily change: 0.63 pips
    Today Daily change %: 0.50%
    Today Daily Open: 126.21
    Daily SMA20: 125.25
    Daily SMA50: 125.08
    Daily SMA100: 126.89
    Daily SMA200: 128.12
    Previous Daily High: 126.35
    Previous Daily Low: 125.52
    Previous Weekly High: 125.94
    Previous Weekly Low: 124.7
    Previous Monthly High: 127.07
    Previous Monthly Low: 118.84
    Daily Fibonacci 38.2%: 126.04
    Daily Fibonacci 61.8%: 125.84
    Daily Pivot Point S1: 125.71
    Daily Pivot Point S2: 125.2
    Daily Pivot Point S3: 124.88
    Daily Pivot Point R1: 126.53
    Daily Pivot Point R2: 126.85
    Daily Pivot Point R3: 127.36



J.C. Penney thinks the key to its growth is… shrinking

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. is plotting its turnaround path to growth by cutting back in a number of areas, including shrinking its inventory, shuttering stores and reducing the number of retail categories it will focus on.

Shares of the department store retailer soared 24% on Thursday after fourth-quarter earnings beat expectations. Inventory for the quarter was down 13.1% year-over year.

“We will continue to clear unproductive inventory swiftly and thoughtfully and implement new processes and training across our organization to ensure we prevent future buildup of excess inventory,” said Chief Executive Jill Soltau on the earnings call, according to a FactSet transcript.

Read: Best Buy sees opportunity in foldable phones and smart home technology

J.C. Penney

JCP, +22.58%

 will also shutter 18 full-line stores in 2019, including three that were announced in January and nine home and furniture stores. The company expects to record a pre-tax charge of about $15 million in the first half of the year associated with the store closures.

J.C. Penney announced that it would stop selling major appliances in early February. In the fourth quarter, major appliances and furniture were among the categories that underperformed.

“These businesses represented 2.7% of sales in 2018, but were significantly negative in operating profit,” said Trent Kruse, J.C. Penney’s senior vice president of finance, on the call.

“While configurations will vary by store, we are finalizing new layout options including the possible reduction of store space, previously dedicated to appliance and furniture showrooms to maximize efficiencies, reduce inventory and create enhanced experience that inspires repeat shopping trips and customer loyalty.”

Also: T.J. Maxx parent will reap rewards from a tighter economy

J.C. Penney isn’t the only major company that’s taking a look at its portfolio and operations to see where scaling back would yield a business benefit. L Brands Inc.

LB, -4.64%

  has shuttered its luxury department store chain Henri Bendel and sold its lingerie business La Senza in an effort to refocus on the struggling, core Victoria’s Secret brand.

Where J.C. Penney is expanding is areas that are doing well, including women’s apparel, which, Kruse said, has historically indicated the state of the overall business. In the fourth quarter, same-store sales for women’s apparel was up 2% while inventory in the category continues to decline.

J.C. Penney announced a new chief merchant with its earnings; Michelle Wlazlo will join, effective March 1. She was most recently the senior vice president of apparel and accessories merchandising at Target Corp.

TGT, -0.51%

  And she spent 19 years at Gap Inc.

GPS, +0.20%


“Reducing inventory 13% from last year and hiring a new chief merchant are key steps by J.C. Penney as it works towards getting the right product and presentation to the customer,” says Christina Boni, Moody’s vice president. “Despite its weak fourth-quarter performance, J.C. Penney continues to have very good liquidity with approximately $1.9 billion and minimal short term maturities.”

Don’t miss: Macy’s sales hurt by fire and promotional event fumble

Despite the positive signs, GlobalData Retail says J.C. Penney must move quickly to improve the business, making few mistakes, “a tall order in today’s complex and fast-moving retail environment.”

Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData, also has a suggestion.

“To make its large, expensive stores work, J.C. Penney need to stimulate cross-department shopping,” he said. “In other worlds, it needs to draw customers in and ensure they buy items from home, fashion, beauty, and other areas. Sadly, our consumer data shows that this trend is going in reverse with cross-department shopping falling steadily over the past few years.”

Soltau says the company is stepping on the gas pedal to make improvements.

“[W]e have been moving fast to substantially address the areas where we can make a difference as we methodically lay the groundwork for long-term growth plan,” she said on the call.

J.C. Penney stock has shed more than 64% over the last year while the S&P 500 index

SPX, -0.28%

  has gained 2.8%.

Tonya Garcia is a MarketWatch reporter covering retail and consumer-oriented companies. You can follow her on Twitter @tgarcianyc. She is based in New York.

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USD/CAD Canadian Dollar Flat Awaiting Monthly GDP

The Canadian dollar is flat against the US dollar on Thursday. The loonie is trading at 1.3158 ahead of the monthly GDP release to be published on Friday morning. The currency stood its ground versus the greenback despite disappointing data. The Canadian current account deficit was wider than expected and raw material prices were weaker than expected at 3.8 percent.

The Bank of Canada (BoC) will be one of the highlights of next week, but it’s not expected to raise its benchmark rate above 1.75 percent. The Fed pausing its rate hike path and global growth concerns, give the BoC some room for patience.

usdcad Canadian dollar graph, February 28, 2019

Oil prices were mixed as the North American benchmark rose still impacted by a surprise drawdown in weekly inventories in the US.

The resurgence of the US dollar and the potential downside risks for oil prices will put pressure on the Canadian dollar next week. Only a hawkish assessment of the economy by Governor Poloz could relieve some of that pressure, but a soft GDP data point could take that off the table.

The US dollar is higher against most major pairs. The greenback has appreciated against the GBP, JPY, NZD and AUD, but is flat against the CAD and has depreciated against the CHF and the EUR.

Gold Lower on Strong US Data and Higher Safe Haven Appeal of Swiss Franc

Gold fell 0.44 percent on Thursday after a strong US GDP and with India and Pakistan tensions easing with the expected release of an Indian fighter pilot reducing the appetite for the metal as a safe haven. Investors looking to hedge exposures went looking instead to the Swiss franc.

The resurgence of the US dollar was in part thanks to the first estimate of growth in the fourth quarter. The Q4 GDP capped a 2.9 percent growth for the US in 2018. While there are some dark clouds setting on the horizon for the US, the data dependant Fed could bring back at least 1 rate hike this year.

Mixed Global Economic Data Begets Mixed Crude Benchmarks

WTI rose 0.42 percent while Brent is flat after yesterday’s surprise drawdown in US weekly crude inventories and the Chinese factory activity dropped to a 3-year low. Oil stocks fell 8.65 million barrels when the market was expecting a rise of 2.8 million. West Texas Intermediate is still down 0.16 percent on a weekly basis with crude lower with a 1.18 percent loss.

US President Trump’s tweet warning OPEC to relax caused a massive drop in both benchmark, but as economic data in the US has remained strong with baked in demand for energy forecasted higher the American benchmark is closer to rebounding.

West Texas Intermediate graph

Saudi Arabia responded to Trump and no immediate change is expected as OPEC+ will continue to limit production seeking to stabilize prices.

The producers that are part of the agreement have given no signs that they are ready to reassume normal production, but there are concerns on how long they can keep limiting their revenue.

Brent crude graph

Despite positive trade news as the US and China appear near an agreement to end their tariff feud, there are still lots of unknowns on what the deal will look like. Global growth estimates have been slashed as the two largest economies engaged in a trade war.

Supply disruptions will continue to boost prices, but once those are priced in there is little to suggest global energy demand is on the mend, putting more pressure on crude going forward.

Slow Brexit News Day Gives Way to Profit Taking

The pound lost 0.34 percent on Thursday, but so far this week the currency has advanced 1.63 percent on the back of higher chances of avoiding a no-deal Brexit. The lack of information brought about a bout of profit taking until there are more news to price into the currency.

European leaders have given strong hints that an extension could be in the cards, but as much as those comments have eased some concerns, they are merely delaying what now seems inevitable. All scenarios are still on the table, and they have the backing of certain groups that will fight to the end making the prospect of an orderly exit almost impossible.

Theresa May’s cabinet continues to lose members who disagree with her strategy putting into evidence the difficulty of reaching a compromise within the UK, let alone with the EU.

Swiss Franc Rises on Safe Haven Flows

The Swiss franc rose 0.41 percent as investors were looking to the currency as a safe haven. Soft Chinese factory activity, tensions between India and Pakistan, the collapse of the US-North Korea summit and the lack of progress on the US-China trade negotiations are amplifying market anxiety.

usdcad Canadian dollar graph, February 28, 2019

This article is for general information purposes only. It is not investment advice or a solution to buy or sell securities. Opinions are the authors; not necessarily that of OANDA Corporation or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, officers or directors. Leveraged trading is high risk and not suitable for all. You could lose all of your deposited funds.

S&P 500 : Traders Remain Net-Short



US 500: Retail trader data shows 23.5% of traders are net-long with the ratio of traders short to long at 3.25 to 1. In fact, traders have remained net-short since Jan 07 when US 500 traded near 2516.31; price has moved 10.8% higher since then. The number of traders net-long is 2.0% lower than yesterday and 1.2% higher from last week, while the number of traders net-short is 1.1% higher than yesterday and 16.4% higher from last week.

For more in-depth analysis, check out the Q1 2019 Forecast for Equities


We typically take a contrarian view to crowd sentiment, and the fact traders are net-short suggests US 500 prices may continue to rise. Traders are further net-short than yesterday and last week, and the combination of current sentiment and recent changes gives us a stronger US 500-bullish contrarian trading bias.

— Written by Nancy Pakbaz, CFA, DailyFX Research

Follow Nancy on Twitter @NancyPakbazFX

USDJPY: Traders Net-Short Decrease By 5.6% from Last Week



USDJPY: Retail trader data shows 47.4% of traders are net-long with the ratio of traders short to long at 1.11 to 1. The number of traders net-long is 9.9% lower than yesterday and 5.2% lower from last week, while the number of traders net-short is 1.8% higher than yesterday and 5.6% lower from last week..

For more in-depth analysis, check out the Q1 2019 Forecast for USDJPY


We typically take a contrarian view to crowd sentiment, and the fact traders are net-short suggests USDJPY prices may continue to rise. Positioning is more net-short than yesterday but less net-short from last week. The combination of current sentiment and recent changes gives us a further mixed USDJPY trading bias.

— Written by Nancy Pakbaz, CFA, DailyFX Research

Follow Nancy on Twitter @NancyPakbazFX