2018 Greatest Hits: The most popular articles of the past year and a look at the future • Good Non profit

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One year ago, when we look at the 20 most popular stories of 2017We admitted that, perhaps because of too many contradictory stories and results, it was difficult to find a coherent theme of the key events that shook the world and that you, our readers, found very interesting and remarkable.

  • The year 2017 has been a year of persistent populist upheavals and political shocks, twists, turns and unexpected results, a continuation of the "unexpected" outcome of Brexit and Trump's shocking victory in the presidency, which have forced a lot to reevaluate what "the expert", pundit "and certainly" opinion poll "means; it was also the year when the concept of" false news "was used ubiquitously by the establishment to criticize the reports with which it disagreed and justify why it was so bad about everything, but that would have a boomerang effect and would lead to an even greater collapse of the mainstream credibility of media.
  • The year 2017 was a year of class war in the United States, with unprecedented antagonisms between races, genders, ethnicities, ideologies, age groups and incomes. reaching the peaks and literally bursting into the street, while the American public was inundated with ordinary citizens pulling and murdering their peers in cold blood, demanding students demanding compliance and culminating in the deadliest mass shooting event of US history, when an armed man from Vegas killed 58 people and injured 851 people. His motives are still unknown.
  • The year 2017 has been a worrying year of calm for the market: despite the daily news of political, geopolitical and social upheavals, the market has ignored virtually all potential risks and has continued to grow, volatility has increased. collapsing to an unprecedented level while the VIX was printing a record number of days. in the simple numbers.
  • This is a year in which the S & P has closed much higher than many would have expected and challenging the murderers who predicted a crash after Donald Trump's victory in the presidential election, despite the proliferation of various imbalances, largely thanks to Trump's unprecedented fiscal stimulus, China's ongoing credit injections, which alone represent the largest source of debt creation in the world since the financial crisis, as well as the now widely accepted support of central banks around the world, who have poured a record amount of liquidity in 2017 and whose only mandate is to support asset prices or risk another crash, the collapse of the pension system of a developed world increasingly aging, resulting in violent social upheavals.
  • This is a year in which the geopolitical situation outside the United States has continued to deteriorate, although, because of the non-US intervention of the United States in Syria, we also witnessed the end of ISIS, even as the historic refugee crisis and the raging wave of immigrants unleashed. The Syrian proxy war would change the ethnic and demographic face of Europe in the years to come, while launching a wave of terrorist events as governments around the world sought to exploit the crisis for their own reasons , while causing an even greater upsurge in the populist power of Europe
  • In summary, 2017 has been a year of confused flux and dramatic change: a largely amorphous and chaotic change, but one that we believe will crystallize in 2018, "unpredictably and, unfortunately, violent."

Indeed, while many of the trends observed in 2017 reached their logical extremes in 2018, it is hard to say that 2018 put an end to the need for many of the themes and stories that emerged the year before and the previous years. which took place on the political scene, where, for the first time in decades, the non-president president of the world's largest superpower, a manifestation of the "protest vote" that has been built over the last decadehas upset all that the world had taken for granted, paving the way for a dramatic revulsion against widely accepted norms and principles.

As we had warned for years, the vast, so silent majority, feeling fooled and neglected by the political oligarchy and central bankers around the world, decided to take back power, which is the only way to do so. it has done within the bounds of the democratic process, thus defeating the establishment, rejecting long-standing narratives by replacing decades of failed and failing American political systems with something … different.

And yet, looking back over the past 12 months, it remains to be seen whether these changes will succeed and will bear fruit, or whether they will only make things worse.

True, the defeated establishment forces refused to gently enter this good night and created an unprecedented McCarthyism 2.0 narrative that desperately hoped that Trump's victory would appear as the result of a collusion with Russia, but now – 24 months after the elections and halfway through Trump's presidential term – we are still waiting for the much anticipated Mueller report which should definitively prove that the president has plotted with Moscow for a title or to another.

It is also true that, while many were hoping that Trump would prove to be an agent of substantial change, the president first of all avoided these expectations by rushing to surround himself with Wall Street experts and oligarchs. companies that quickly hijacked the position of president. Obama's transition process culminating … at pretty much the same. As such, it is hardly surprising that the Trump administration, in terms of legislation, is a tax cut that benefits businesses and the rich, even if it adds billions of dollars in more to the already record debt of the United States.

That being said, changes within the administration began to occur during the year, when Gary Cohn, Trump 's chief economic adviser and former director of operations at Goldman, resigned after repeating confrontations with Trump. Things only get worse: from that point on, a prominent Trump advisor pulled out the revolving door of administration, which saw the departure of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson , FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and National Security Advisor HR McMaster and Jeff Sessions Attorney General John Kelly, Chief of Staff, and James Matthis, Secretary of Defense.

Some have called Trump "draining the swamp". Others saw in the accelerated departures the clear evidence that the White House had become a ship in distress. Whatever we want to call it, the reality is simple: in 2018, people were fed up and wanted change. In the words of the established media, it was called "populism", and the transformation process that allowed it to be done was decried under the generic definition of "false information".

This is also why, in a wave of popular discontent against the Trump government, the Republican party suffered a major defeat in the House in the mid-term elections, even though the GOP retained its majority in the Senate, resulting in guaranteed government blocking for at least two years.

And if few people consider Trump's domestic or foreign policy to be a resounding success, the president is doing what would probably have been his most important task, his accomplishment: second conservative justice at the Supreme Court – despite an unprecedented campaign by the left to smear Brett Kavanaugh – and with recent news Due to the deterioration of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's health, Trump could achieve an unprecedented trifecta, virtually ensuring a conservative majority in the Supreme Court for years, if not decades.

To be fair, Trump had another feat in 2018: it was the year that the US economy decoupled from the rest of the world, if only briefly, as the The US economy and stock market have both grown at a remarkable pace for much of the year. even as the president waged an increasingly harsh trade war with China and the rest of the world, which brought China's economic growth back to its lowest level in modern history, while provoking Collapse of the Chinese stock market. The counter-argument is that this remarkable decoupling from the east of the world and the impressive GDP growth of the US economy has only been made possible thanks to unprecedented fiscal stimulus measures from Trump which , while offering a brief pullback, will lead to budget deficits of several billion dollars a year, a massive increase in the debt of the US government, and could potentially risk a debt crisis if foreign and domestic investors hesitate and refuse to fund America's spending means. Indeed, it was an inflation and fear of interest rates in October – associated with President Powell's comment on the "long road to neutrality" – that the decisive moment for the US financial markets in 2018 was clearly defined, with the two phases clearly defined for US equities: a phase of gradual transition. up for the first nine months of the year, which peaked with the S & P's all-time record on September 20, followed by a brutal sale that left countless traders stunned and confused as markets Realize the Fed may be in a recession Recent comments by the Fed's President have suggested that the many Fed rate hikes in 2019 may actually be nil.

At the same time, after a year of record low volatility mainly due to the unparalleled $ 2.5 trillion of liquidity injected by the Central Bank in 2017, at a time of the first coordinated global recovery for more than 10 years, 2018 was a picture mirror from the start, January's merger of actions resulted in VIX's violent February explosion, "negative convexity" emerging from a record-breaking gamma volume suddenly reaching spontaneous combustion to destroy sellers of volatility and wiping out Overnight the universe of inverted VIX ETFs, leading to the first S & P500 correction since the Shanghai Accord of 2016. This would not be the last because if many optimistic experts have said not to overemphasize here- On top, the February 5 VIXtermination event was only the forerunner of the market chaos that was to emerge towards the end of the year. .

Another problem, as many banks have pointed out during the year, is that some people think that the global economic recovery may be the result of the liquidity of the central bank which, from now on, is finally withdrawn after a decade of liquidity injections. And, as central banks draw a record $ 1 trillion in global liquidity and realize now that they have created a huge asset bubble, the result could be disastrous, according to deputy chiefs. innumerable skeptics.

Of course, 2018 is the year when, in addition to a new interest in monetary stimulus, fiscal policies have been excellent, so to speak, if only for the moment, while Trump's $ 1 trillion fiscal stimulus boosted the economy at the same time as wage growth and inflation finally bounced back and the labor market reached a critical point where there was more job vacancies unemployed; It was this stimulus that caused the Fed to fear overheating late in the summer and that resulted in Powell's famous speech that "we are far from neutrality for the moment" which, as we have noted at the time, "Fed Chairman Powell hints that he could soon crush the market"We were right, just after this speech, the market sank into a historic fading that briefly plunged into a bearish market on Christmas Eve, when, as a result of massive liquidations of hedge funds, the worst eve of all time has been recorded in the stock market. result of last year, we said that "It would be ironic that Trump's greatest legislative achievement in 2017 will also be the catalyst for the next US recession" and for the future, it has almost become a consensus that a recession is imminent. The only question that arises is whether it will have effects in 2020 or before the end of 2019. Unfortunately, the market has already forecast the end of the Fed's rate hike in 2019. the first rate hike – an indicator coincide recession – will take place in early 2020.

And speaking of our prospects for the coming year exactly one year ago today, We have also says that "One of the biggest issues facing 2018 is whether this transition from monetary policy to fiscal policy will actually take place and whether the transfer of responsibilities will be smooth. For the moment, optimism and hope prevail: global markets closed the year 2017 to a record high with barely record volatility. "Needless to say, procurement has been all but smooth, while the fiscal stimulus has faded – and China's inability to stimulate its own economy, handicapped by what is already a record debt – coupled with what is now a net drain on global liquidity by central banks has led to what has been the most turbulent stock market since the financial crisis and spawned the the worst decline in world stocks over the last decade.

With regard to the Chinese economy, in addition to the ongoing debate on fiscal and monetary stimulus, the biggest geopolitical event of 2018 has almost certainly been the ongoing trade war between the United States and China, which has intensified to the point that virtually all Chinese imports (and US exports to China) are or will soon be subject to tariffs, crippling global trade flows and forcing producers on both sides of the Pacific to look for alternative supply chains. If Trump and Xi can not find an amicable solution to this ongoing commercial dispute, we expect the commercial war rhetoric to dominate the capital markets in 2019, which will result in even more difficulties for actions as globalization undergoes its last blow. Meanwhile, the Chinese economy continues to experience an unprecedented slowdown, blocked on one side by the deterioration of its diplomatic relations with the United States, and limited on the other by the organic growth of credit that Beijing can inject to stimulate which is already an unprecedented economy. debt.

Continuing on the themes of the previous year, the year 2018 also showed how much political discourse has become dominant in finance and capital markets. For all those who deplore this relentless coverage of politics in a financial blog (which unfortunately includes all of Donald Trump's tweets), why finance seems to have played a secondary role and why the political "narrative" has played a dominant role in Financial analysts, the past year has clearly shown why. After all, none other than the President publicly rejoiced at each new S & P record high, and conversely, he remained unusually quiet during the recent sharp decline.

The reason for Trump's recent radio silence is self-imposed on everything that affects the market is simple: after declaring the S & P500 a "massive bubble," Trump had reached a point where it was "deadly". he would earn every day a credit for market records. And, as we said last year, "the time will come when Trump will pay the price". This period took place in the fourth quarter of 2018, when the S & P, as well as most other developed markets, fell suddenly, which had been working for years, was no longer working and the dominant strategy of the decade, namely "buy the dip", finally failed and was replaced by" sell the tear. "

But if we have to sum up as simply as possible the dramatic market upheavals in 2018, it's that last year, and in fact, in the last three months, we've seen a dramatic reversal in which traders, who was used to a world where nothing can happen again, We have finally remembered – violently – that unfavorable news flows and negative events have consequences and that in a world where central banks no longer provide training wheels, we must take the risk of generating returns. that most hedge funds had forgotten and suffered the worst consequences. year for sector "2 and 20" since 2011.

Another problem with this addiction that "no news can ever be bad news again" is that said in our 2017 end-of-year statement – it was no longer clear what the market might have or had not taken into account, in the absence of hope and expectations of a central bank intervention to put end to future sales episodes; the intervention of the central bank which, in 2017, has reached unprecedented highs and digitally reaches more than 15 trillion USD of cumulative liquidity injections. And, as we said in December 2017"With a major shift away now from monetary policy to fiscal policy, the" presumption of hope "will be put to the test in 2018. Perhaps violently."

This violence was fully highlighted in the fourth quarter, especially in December when volatility exploded and the Dow moved three digits in 13 days, leaving traders shaken, shocked and paralyzed.

Another hypothesis that will be tested in the coming year is whether "China no longer counts" for US markets, which was certainly not the case in 2018. In 2015, US futures contracts would miss out soon that the PBOC reportedly announced a slight decline in its yuan. By contrast, for most of 2017 and 2018, US equities made no mention of what Beijing had done, the increase in bad debt among Chinese banks, the widespread failure of Chinese companies, or that the future reserved it, and its 40 000 billion US dollars. Financial assets. We constantly suspect that whether or not the US succeeds in avoiding a recession in 2019, and that the business cycle is so long in the tooth that the current expansion is now the second longest in the world. history of the United States, any global shock will finally take place. Beijing, regardless of whether Trump and Xi manage to find a common language and put aside the trade war between the two nations.

Yet, while many themes, both political and financial, have been resolved, dramatic changes have persisted in 2018 and will continue to manifest dramatically, often violently and unexpectedly – from the unprecedented obsession with everything that's done Trump, declares and tweets, about the "populist" upheavals in Europe and the developed world, about the resumption of capital flight out of China. Perhaps these uninterrupted changes are why 2018 was another record year for Zero Hedge, which has recently surpassed 5 billion page views since its inception. a little over five years after reaching our first milestone of a billion page views.

As always, we thank all our readers for creating this website – which has never seen a dollar of outside funding (and despite recurring amusing allegations, has certainly never seen a KGB ruble), and Never spent a dollar on marketing – a small (or not so small) part of your daily life. This also brings us to another amusing subject: that of the false news and something of which we – and others who do not respect the established story – have been accused. Although we find the tale of false news laughable, after all, every article of this website is supported by facts and links to outside sources, we find it a dangerous development and a very slippery slope that the developed world in its together is, once devoid of fancy jargon, censorship on the Internet under the pretext of protecting the average person from "false and dangerous information".

To preserve its aura of counter-establishment, it goes without saying that the current government should cancel this blatant attack on the First Amendment and let people decide for themselves what is false news. Rather, it is conventional conventional media, most of which are owned by a handful of companies with strong ties to the government, that have repeatedly demonstrated in 2018 that they are the main creator and distributor of "false information". that has not escaped the American population in the broad sense of whose majority no longer trust conventional media.

In addition to the other themes mentioned above, we expect the repression of freedom of expression to accelerate in the coming year, particularly as shown in the following list of Top 20 articles for 2018, many of the most popular articles of the past year were precisely those that were published. conventional media did not want to touch for fear of repercussions, which allowed alternative media to find an entry point and conquer significant market share of established outlets by covering topics that the branch of relations established media refused to do, in the process earns itself the pejorative condemnation of "false news".

We are grateful to our readers – who reached a new record in 2018 – for realizing that it is incumbent upon their to decide what is, and is not "false news".

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Before going into the details of what has now become an annual tradition for the last day of the year, those who wish to follow their trail, can refresh our most popular items for each year during our shorter, almost 10 minutes. year of existence, starting with 2009 and continuing with 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

So without further ado, here are the articles you, our readers, have found most appealing, interesting and popular based on the number of hits, over the past year.

  • In 20th position, just behind 600 000 pages viewed, was a question about a company that investors like or hate: Tesla. Elon Musk had a lot of trouble with the SEC in 2018 after he tweeted, for no reason, that he had "secured funding" for an LBO contract, only for it to come out that he just hoped to "burn the shorts" and force a short press. Well, the shorts took advantage of a brief moment in the sun as the shares of TSLA collapsed, before bouncing back after the company's best quarter. However, questions came up when people asked "Why are "thousands" of Teslas sitting in a field in California?? "raises questions if Musk simply hides excess stockpiles to represent the ongoing strong demand for model 3. This, along with many other questions regarding Tesla and its ongoing viability, will likely be answered in the coming year.
  • In 19th position, with a little over 650,000 page views, a troubling report on the omnipresent presence of the big brother "Police raided the home of the man who posted photos of his mushroom dinner on Facebook"In which we described the story of a man who posted photos of his morels grown on Facebook, and who led the police to visit his home a few hours later apparently to investigate the possible use of psychedelic mushrooms Increasingly, social media As many people around the world have learned in a year of scandals for Facebook and its peers, it has emerged that There was no "confidentiality" and his data was sold with impunity to the highest bidder.
  • 18th place, with more than 667,000 pages viewed, was the last story of the economic collapse of this Latin American "socialist paradise" – Venezuela – which, as part of its ongoing hyperinflationary disintegration, has succumbed to another series of "Chaos After Maduro announces massive 95% devaluation" with the new exchange rate linked, paradoxically, to the cryptocurrency of the country. While Venezuela's officially failing final phase is clear, the big question is how long will the people tolerate Maduro at the helm of what is now the case. worst example of hyperinflation in the history of the world, the hyperinflation of 1,000,000% of Venezuela even exceeding that of the Weimar Republic.
  • In 17th position, over 687,000 readers were shocked to learn that alongside what Trump has dubbed the greatest "witch hunt in history," theDOJ's Inspector General, Horowitz, found that the FBI and the GM were breaking the law at Clinton Probe"and referred to a prosecutor for criminal charges." President Trump has repeatedly accused the DOJ of leading a campaign to spy on and discredit his presidency, and said the "Russian collusion" was that an ongoing attempt to divert attention from reality: concealment Hillary 2019 mail server will put an end to some alleged crimes, the Mueller investigation to be completed early this year. to know what will happen next and whether Trump will be removed from the proceedings.
  • In 16th place, readers turned their attention to another political crisis, this time in South Africa, where "While land confiscations are imminent, South Africa regulates 300,000 firearms owners surrender their weapons."While the South African economy was relatively stable in 2018, this might not persist next year especially if, as decided by the ruling party, the land of white property owners must to be expropriated, which could lead to the nationalization of private property.And since such an act can accompany a massive confiscation of weapons, some see in the current events in South Africa a glimpse of the worst case scenarios for any developed country in which the government becomes too powerful and seeks to please a specific group of voters.
  • In 15 hours, with just under 690,000 page views, former National Intelligence Director James Clapper confessed in a surprising and shocking way that he admitted in an interview with CNN: Former President Obama has been the instigator of ongoing investigations into Donald Trump and those in its orbit. Meanwhile, instead of focusing on the potential abuses of the old administration, the American media and public conscientiously follow each turn and refer to the most artificial story, that of Vladimir Putin, somehow winning the election of Trump pour lui, ce qui bien sûr a été récurrent Ces deux dernières années, elles visaient principalement à "expliquer" la raison pour laquelle Hillary Clinton avait perdu une élection dont tous les experts ont assuré qu'elle était assurée de l&#39 ;emporter.
  • Le 14ème lieu, avec plus de 738 000 pages vues, était le dernier développement troublant en Suède, qui était devenu ces dernières années un refuge pour les immigrants avec des conséquences désastreuses pour la population locale et qui "brûlait" après "Des gangs de migrants déchaînent des ravages de bombes incendies coordonnées dans plusieurs villes"Et parmi les appels publics à des politiques plus sévères en matière de criminalité et d'immigration, 2018 a vu un autre parti populiste anti-immigrés, le parti dirigé par Jimmie Åkesson Suède Démocrates, assaillent les urnes lors des élections législatives de septembre dans le pays, lors du dernier affront pour l’héritage européen, résultat qui n’a été rendu possible, ironiquement, que grâce aux politiques libérales d’Angela Merkel.
  • À la 13e place, plus de 787 000 lecteurs ont été choqués d'apprendre qu'une photo de deux enfants migrants dormant dans une cage dans un centre de détention de ICE était rapidement devenue virale sur le réseau et avait servi de centre d'intérêt à l'indignation. of the day à la politique d'immigration du président Trump, avait en fait été prise sous Obama, suscitant des réponses hilarantes de la part de libéraux marqués de bleu, comme Hadas Gold de CNN, qui a supprimé son précédent tweet scandalisé en disant "Le tweet précédent supprimé parce qu'il donnait l'impression de photos récentes (ils datent de 2014)"
  • La 12ème publication la plus populaire de 2018, avec plus de 804 000 pages vues, appartenait à la nouvelle icône socialiste du parti démocrate – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez -, qui avait été dans une intense presse depuis sa victoire primaire contre le démocrate Joe Crowley. Le phénomène socialiste avait dit au Washington Post "Je ne suis pas né d’une famille riche ou puissante – une mère de Porto Rico, un père du South Bronx. Je suis né dans un endroit où votre code Zip détermine votre destin." Sauf qu'Ocasio-Cortez a grandi dans l'un des comtés les plus riches des États-Unis, Yorktown Heights, une banlieue riche du comté de Westchester. Il y a eu beaucoup de dissonance cognitive au sein des socialistes démocrates américains depuis lors.
  • Plus de 886 000 lecteurs ont été écoutés le 7 novembre, lorsque les sondages à mi-parcours ont révélé qu'une partie importante de l'Amérique était devenue désillusionnée par les politiques de Trump / Republican. La Chambre passe sous le contrôle des démocrates avec une majorité considérable alors même que le gouvernement conservait le contrôle du Congrès (et le processus décisionnel important de la Cour suprême). Cette impasse garantit que la classe moyenne américaine fera encore moins de choses au cours des deux prochaines années que les deux années précédentes.
  • En 10ème position, avec plus de 935 000 pages vues, les lecteurs ont été amusés d'apprendre la chute de l'un des leaders les plus en vue de la résistance anti-Trump, l'avocat Michael Avenatti, qui s'était élevé à la résistance en défendant la star du porno Stormy Daniels et en organisant une campagne furieuse pour discréditer le dernier choix de Trump pour la Cour suprême, Brett Kavanugh, seulement pour le voir se retourner contre "Michael Avenatti devient radioactif alors que les libéraux accusent l'avocat de la pornographie d'avoir confirmé la nomination de Kavanaugh"Après que de nombreuses allégations de sa cliente Julie Swetnick se soient révélées fausses, discréditant ainsi une grande partie de la campagne populaire anti-Kavanaugh, ce faisant, il a également mis fin à tous les espoirs qu'Avenatti aurait pu se présenter à la présidence en 2020.
  • À la neuvième place, plus de 964 000 lecteurs ont été étonnés d'apprendre une "proposition modeste" présentée par le La Fed de Chicago, qui a dévoilé en mai sa "solution" au problème des retraites à Chicago: comme nous l’avions signalé, le public a eu le souffle coupé lorsqu'un orateur de la Fed de Chicago a proposé de demander une évaluation foncière spéciale, estimant qu’il représenterait environ 1% de la valeur réelle de la propriété pendant 30 ans. En d'autres termes, la Fed venait juste de proposer "de confisquer la richesse des propriétaires actuels car ils paieraient, qu'ils restent ou non, par le biais d'une réduction immédiate de la valeur de leur maison". Si Wirepoints a déclaré: "Elle fait certainement partie des idées les plus manifestement inhumaines et stupides que nous ayons vues jusqu'à présent", cela pourrait être un signe avant-coureur des propositions que la Fed mettra en œuvre lors de la prochaine crise financière, surtout si elle est incapable de réduire les taux à négatif ou lancer un nouveau cycle de QE.
  • Près d'un million de lecteurs ont été surpris d'apprendre, ou peut-être pas, que, alors que les relations diplomatiques entre Washington et Moscou se détérioraient brusquement au printemps, la Russie – qui l'avait averti à plusieurs reprises de poursuivre la dédollarisation, avait tranquillement liquidé la quasi-totalité de ses avoirs du Trésor, dans le processus déclencher une forte hausse des rendements du Trésor. En effet, de 96 milliards de dollars en mars, Poutine a réduit ses avoirs du Trésor américain à seulement 9 milliards de dollars en mai, convertissant ainsi le gros des recettes en or et en yuan chinois. La plus grande question demeure: la Chine fera-t-elle de même?
  • 1 147 000 lecteurs se sont peut-être demandés si on plaisantait ou non quand on a rapporté que "les patrouilleurs de merde"À San Francisco, les salaires et les avantages sociaux représentent 185 000 dollars par an. Hélas, ce n'était pas une blague, mais simplement la dernière d'une série de révélations choquantes révélant à quel point la crise de San Francisco causée par de vastes quantités de selles générées par des vagabonds couvrait ses rues publiques Il est également le 7ème article le plus populaire de 2018.
  • À propos du problème des sans-abri à San Francisco, le 6ème article le plus populaire, avec plus de 1 167 000 pages vues, était notre rapport selon lequel les touristes "terrifiés" de San Francisco étaient choqué de trouver des vagabonds agressifs, des aiguilles jetées et des cadavres. "Est-ce normal ou suis-je dans une" mauvaise partie de la ville? " Nous venons juste de passer devant de nombreux sans-abri, criant et courant sur tout le trottoir près du QG de Twitter, puis sur une scène de meurtre. Sa femme a peur de quitter l'hôtel maintenant ", a écrit un utilisateur de Reddit sous le choc. Meanwhile, despite its homeless crisis, San Francisco remains the city with the biggest real estate bubble in the US, courtesy of the unlimited dollars flowing through the Silicon Valley Venture Capital mecca.
  • In 5th spot, with over 1,240,000 page views, a troubling report involving California's unstable geological foundations found that "California Was Hit By 39 Quakes In 24 Hours As Scientists Warn Of "Movement Along The San Andreas Fault"." As we wrote at the time, when you live in an area that sits along a major earthquake fault, it can be easy to forget the potential danger if nothing happens for an extended period of time. But the danger is always there, and for many California residents the rattling that we witnessed was a clear reminder of that fact. The good news is that so far "the big one" has yet to strike.
  • In 4th spot, with 1,380,130 page views in 2018, readers were amazed to learn, at long last, that the CFO of the Clinton Foundation admitted to investigators that the charity had widespread problems with governance, accounting and conflicts of interest, and that Bill Clinton has been commingling business and personal expenses for a long time. In other words, confirming what for years the mainstream media has slammed as, you guessed it, "fake news."
  • The third most popular article of 2018, with almost 1.4 million page revealed even more reader fascination with events in South Africa, where popular politician Julius Malema, aka "the Hitler of South Africa", was recorded saying that “we have not called for the killing of white people. At least for now. I can’t guarantee the future." It is unclear what will happen in the future if and when Malema Is order the killing of white people.
  • In late April, in response to an incident in which a Philadelphia manager called the police on a pair of black men who were sitting in A Starbucks store without having purchased anything, the contrite coffee chain announced that as part of its "inclusiveness" training, it would allow vagrants to use the coffee chain's bathrooms as they please. So, perhaps it wasn't surprising, that with over 1,465,000 page views, the second most popular post of 2018 were the furious responses Starbucks employees to "becoming the world's biggest public toilet" as yet another attempt at virtue signalling imploded spectacularly.
  • And speaking of "spectacular backfiring", it is perhaps appropriate that the most popular article of 2018 was what happened in September when the head of the California Democratic Party called for a boycott of famed burger chain In and OUt after a public filing revealed that the company had recently donated $25,000 to the state’s Republican Party. The result was that instead of a boycott, a torrent of customers came to their favorite restaurant and bought extra food, resulting in a blockbuster revenue day for the private hamburger chain. Nearly 2.1 million readers got a chuckle out of that one.

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With all that behind us, what is in store for 2019, besides our tenth year anniversary in just ten days of course?

We don't know: as frequent and not so frequent readers are aware, we do not pretend to be able to predict the future and we don't try despite endless allegations that we constantly predict the collapse of everything: we leave the predicting to the "smartest people in the room" who year after year have been consistently wrong about everything, and never more so than in the last three years, which destroyed the reputation of the conventional media and the professional "polling" and "strategist" class for ever. We merely observe, try to find what is unexpected, entertaining, amusing, surprising or grotesque in an increasingly bizarre, sad, and oftentime crazy world, and then write about it.

We do know, however, that after $16 trillion in liquidity has been conjured out of thin air by the world's central banks, and the tens of trillions of credit money created (and misallocated) by China – a country which was the world's growth dynamo for the past three decades and which is now not only rapidly slowing down but engaged in a trade war with the US (there is a saying that shooting wars usually follow trade wars) – the entire world is floating on an ocean of excess money, which for one more year almost succeeded in masking just how ugly the truth beneath the calm surface is. Now, as the Fed hiking and actively shrinking its balance sheet and the ECB set to join in just a few days (with the BOJ not too far behind), as the liquidity tide starts to come out in earnest, those swimming naked will finally be exposed, especially if as we expect, the handoff from monetary to fiscal policy is far more volatile than what the market currently prices in.

The question we have: how far will the tide be allowed to recede before central banks step in again, or as has become topical recently, how long before Trump's displeasure with the falling market finally manifests itself in a change among the Fed's top echelons.

We are confident, however, that in the end it will be the very final backstoppers of the status quo regime, the central banking emperors of the New Normal, who will eventually be revealed as fully naked. When that happens and what happens after is anyone's guess. But, as we have promised – and delivered – every year for the past nine, we will be there to document every aspect of it.

Finally, and as always, we wish all our readers the best of luck in 2019, with much success in trading and every other avenue of life. We bid farewell to 2018 with our traditional and unwavering year-end promise: Zero Hedge will be there each and every day – on most occasions with a cynical smile – helping readers expose, unravel and comprehend the fallacy, fiction, fraud and farce that the system is reduced to (ab)using each and every day just to keep the grand tragicomedy going for at least one more year.