The Daily Alpha: Real Talk at the 2017 Salt Conference

May 18 2017 | 12:47pm ET

Today, we discuss Edward Snowden, Donna Brazille, Karl Rove, Syria and David Cameron

Hair of the Dog

Shot: As investigators circled Flynn, he got a message from Trump: Stay strong

Chaser: Flynn’s lawyer says he won’t answer subpoena

Quotes of the Day

“As a country and a world, we haven’t come to terms in determining the role of government in protecting the internet from cyber threats.”

Former CIA Director John Brennan kicked off the second day of panels at the 2017 SALT Conference Thursday. Brennan spoke with Lara Logan in a session titled, “Truth & Consequences: A Discussion on War, Terror & Global Threats.”

Brennan explained that the United States has never had control of the Internet, and advocated that we adopt standards that enables the government to ensure greater cybersecurity protection for a society that is growing more dependent on the digital world.

Brennan also commented on North Korea and its leader Kim Jung-Un.  

“He’s someone who very much has a mind of his own. He doesn’t play by the mindset of his father and grandfather,” Brennan said. He argued that Kim Jung-Un is frustrating China for playing by his own rules, and frustrating the international community by demanding that his nation be recognized as a nuclear state. To reduce the nuclear ambitions, Brennan argues that economic sanctions on institutions engaged in financial activity with the rogue nation.

“The next time I get a phone call to run a major political party, I’m going to hang up.”

The 2017 SALT Conference hosted a morning session of leading political pundits and thought leaders to discuss the current state of Washington and the months after the 2016 election. Participants included former DNC Chair Donna Brazille, Trump Deputy Campaign Manager David Bossie, former White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, and former Bush advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove.

The panel started with a quick question for Donna Brazille, who called 2017 a difficult political year and said that she has spent the last few weeks fishing. She plans to return to teaching later this fall.

Brazille said that she was fighting for resources over the last week of the campaign just to get a basic “Get Out the Vote” effort. She said that the Clinton campaign was build around “data and analytics” and not around people and strong messaging.

“Every day I got to make an argument.”

Former White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest reflected on his time as a member of the Obama administration during today’s morning panel. He said that in order to prepare to address the media each day, he would hold a rigorous morning session to understand the arguments on all sides of an issue.

Earnest would later attempt to make an argument about Russian interference in the 2016 election, but Rove and Bossie made it hard to hear at first. He would later state that it would be good for the American people if everyone allowed a special investigation would “get to the bottom” of what happened with the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

“Let’s wait until the election results come in.”

That’s Karl Rove, recounting election night. Rove said that during the early evening of the 2016 election, Fox talking heads gathered to view exit polling. The data showed that exit polling favored Hillary Clinton and that the network would likely call the election for the democrat by 8:30 p.m. The only problem – as Rove explained – was that the exit polling had been wrong in the previous five elections.

Rove said that he recognized that Trump was going to win when he saw polling results from a small town called Cuba, Wisconsin, a historically Blue town that had swung hard to the Trump side.

“We were surprised by the victory. We were surprised by the level of the victory.”

David Bossie, deputy campaign manager to the Donald Trump Presidential Campaign, said discussing the results of election night last November. Bossier said that he questioned the pro-Clinton exit polling data when he realized that Colorado figures were conducted 100% by phones. However, they had already informed Trump off the flawed data, setting the tone for a wild night of emotions for his entire campaign team.

Thursday’s SALT Reading List

·      Yahoo Finance: A rolling update from the SALT conference

·      Barron’s: SALT Spotlight: Are Tech Stocks Too Expensive?

·      The Daily Mail: David Cameron travels to Las Vegas to give ANOTHER speech on the lucrative conference circuit - as Theresa May ditches many of his flagship policies as she unveils the Tory Party's manifesto

·      The Street: At SALT, One of the Richest Real Estate Investors Alive Is Still Pitching Gloom and Doom

·      Vanity Fair: Markets Drop as Wall street Contemplates a World Without Tax Cuts

Hedge Fund Reading List

Australian Business Review: Investors snub emerging-market hedge funds despite returns

“Hedge funds that invest in emerging markets are generating some of their best returns on record and growing their assets to all-time highs. The trouble is, they aren’t getting much love from investors.”

Smarter Analyst: Hedge Fund Guru Ric Dillon’s Latest Positions

“For the first quarter of 2017, Dillon lost some confidence in tech giants Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), while instead raising the bar of expectations for Bank of America Corp (NYSE: BAC).”

Finalternatives: S&P Global Intelligence: Hedge Funds Flock To Consumer Staples

"This momentum is clearly a signal that hedge funds, as a group, are seeing upside potential in consumer staples; it will be telling to see how those moves evolve over the remainder of the year."

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You can also pick up a copy of the June Hedge Fund issue at Barnes & Noble.

Garrett Baldwin is the voice of the The Daily Alpha, the features editor for Modern Trader magazine, and the author of The Man with The Big Red Balloon. 


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