Oct 192022
 


Salvador Dali Self-portrait in the studio 1919

 

People Who Resisted Covid Jabs Are ‘Superheroes’ (Blanchon)
Russian General In Charge Of Ukraine Operation Speaks Out
US Should Not Listen To Kiev, Former Ambassador To Moscow Says (RT)
Erdogan Still Wants To Bring Putin And Zelenskyy Together (RT)
The End Game (Batiushka)
Russia Destroys Power And Water Infrastructure Across Ukraine (RT)
Cui Bono? The Big Picture (Blair)
EU Won’t Introduce Gas Price Cap For Now As Countries Disagree (Az.)
US Warned Of Winter Blackouts – WSJ (RT)
Lawmakers Seek Emergency Powers For Pentagon’s Ukraine War Contracting (DN)
Pentagon Considering Paying For Musk’s Starlink Network In Ukraine (G.)
Details Of Nord Stream Probe Shared By Media (RT)
Nord Stream 1: First Underwater Images Reveal Devastating Damage (G.)
Germany Facing Retail Collapse – Der Spiegel (RT)
CDC To Vote On Permanently Shielding Pfizer, Moderna From Vaccine Liability (JS)
Joe Biden KNEW of Hunter’s Shady Business Dealings: Whistleblowers (PM)

 

 

 

 

Trump Larry King 1987

 

 

 

 

Malhotra

 

 

 

 

Maher

 

 

 

 

“The text of the tribute letter may have originated with Spanish biologist and film-maker Fernando López-Mirones, or France’s General Christian Blanchon.”

People Who Resisted Covid Jabs Are ‘Superheroes’ (Blanchon)

Even if I were fully vaccinated, I would admire the unvaccinated for standing up to the greatest pressure I have ever seen, including from spouses, parents, children, friends, colleagues, and doctors. People who have been capable of such personality, courage, and such critical ability undoubtedly embody the best of humanity. They are found everywhere, in all ages, levels of education, countries, and opinions. They are of a particular kind; these are the soldiers that any army of light wishes to have in its ranks. They are the parents that every child wishes to have and the children that every parent dreams of having. They are beings above the average of their societies; they are the essence of the peoples who have built all cultures and conquered horizons.

They are there, by your side, they seem normal, but they are superheroes. They did what others could not do; they were the tree that withstood the hurricane of insults, discrimination, and social exclusion. And they did it because they thought they were alone and believed they were alone. Excluded from their families’ Christmas tables, they have never seen anything so cruel. They lost their jobs, let their careers sink, and had no more money… but they didn’t care. They suffered immeasurable discrimination, denunciations, betrayals, and humiliation… but they continued. Never before in humanity has there been such a casting; we now know who the resisters are on planet Earth.

Women, men, old, young, rich, poor, of all races and all religions, the unvaccinated, the chosen ones of the invisible ark, the only ones who managed to resist when everything fell apart. Collapsed. You’ve passed an unimaginable test that many of the toughest marines, commandos, green berets, astronauts, and geniuses couldn’t pass. You are made of the stuff of the greatest that ever lived, those heroes born among ordinary men who shine in the dark.

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“..Ukraine is preparing a massive strike on the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant, located on the Dnieper River.”

Russian General In Charge Of Ukraine Operation Speaks Out

Army General Sergey Surovikin on Tuesday spoke to the media for the first time since assuming overall command of the ongoing Russian military operation in Ukraine. Describing the situation as particularly “tense” around the city of Kherson in his statement to the broadcaster Rossiya-24, he added that the military may be forced to make “difficult decisions.” “The NATO command of the armed forces of Ukraine has long been demanding offensive operations in the Kherson direction from the Kiev regime, regardless of any casualties – both in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and among the civilian population,” Surovikin stated. The Russian military is aware of Kiev’s plans to use “prohibited” means of waging war in the Kherson area, Surovikin added.

Namely, Ukraine is preparing a massive strike on the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant, located on the Dnieper River, as well as launching massive rocket and artillery attacks on Kherson itself. “These actions can lead to the destruction of the infrastructure of this large industrial center and massive casualties among the civilian population,” Surovikin said. In the ongoing effort to dislodge the Russian military from its positions, Kiev is pouring its reserves en masse into the frontline, the general said. The vast majority of those reserves are “territorial defense units, who have not been properly trained,” Surovikin added. Such troops have low morale, thus they are propped up by “barrier squads”composed of hardline nationalists “who shoot anyone trying to leave the battlefield,” he claimed.

“The enemy’s daily losses amount to hundreds of casualties. We have a different strategy. <…> We are not aiming at fast-paced offensives, we spare every soldier and methodically grind the enemy’s attacking forces. This not only minimizes our own losses, but also significantly reduces the amount of victims among the civilian population.” “The enemy is the criminal regime that pushes Ukrainian citizens towards death. We are one people with Ukrainians and only wish for Ukraine to be a state independent from the West and NATO and friendly towards Russia,” Surovikin said. Surovikin assumed overall command of Russian troops participating in the military operation earlier in October. The general has significant combat experience, ranging from hostilities in Chechnya to the operation in Syria, for which he was awarded the title of Hero of Russia back in 2017.

According to media reports, Surovikin was given the nickname ‘General Armageddon’ by his colleagues over his hardline and unorthodox approach to warfare. His elevation into the new role has coincided with Russia ramping-up aerial bombings across Ukraine, with cruise missiles and suicide drones attacking crucial infrastructure sites in the country.

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“..Washington is in a position to “encourage the Ukrainians to agree to a ceasefire..”

US Should Not Listen To Kiev, Former Ambassador To Moscow Says (RT)

The Ukraine crisis was preventable but now seems doomed to further escalation, the last US ambassador to the Soviet Union has warned. Washington is making the mistake of delegating to Kiev many of the decisions about American involvement, he added. Kiev does “not know best what is in the security interests of the American people, and that should be the primary concern of any American government,”Jack Matlock wrote in an article published on Monday by the website Responsible Statecraft. The Ukrainians, “under the stress of war, may not be the best judges of their own ultimate security interests,” he argued. Matlock cited a situation from his own time as the top US diplomat in Moscow. He recalled a moment in 1990 when the leadership of Soviet Lithuania declared independence from the USSR right before the Soviet Union itself ceased to exist, and requested “immediate recognition” from the US.

Washington had never formally recognized the three Baltic states, which were captured during World War II, as parts of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, Matlock advised against acting on the Lithuanian request. “I had total sympathy with the Lithuanian aspirations but had to explain that it would be a mistake to do so until Lithuania was in fact free. Why? Because, in 1990, US recognition would almost certainly have precipitated a Soviet crack-down which the US could not counter without risking nuclear war,”he explained. Matlock said it is natural for Americans to admire “the valiant resistance” that the Ukrainians have demonstrated against Russia, but that “does not mean that Ukraine has to recover all the territory it inherited in 1991.” He explained that people in some regions claimed by Kiev may resist a return to its control, given that they consider the 2014 overthrow of the Ukrainian government to be a US-organized coup.

The former ambassador noted that Kiev had multiple opportunities to avert war. He believes that Russia would not have sent troops into Ukraine in February if Kiev “had been willing to abide by the Minsk agreement, recognize the Donbas as an autonomous entity within Ukraine, avoid NATO military advisors, and pledge not to enter NATO.” Now, however, neither side seems willing to take a pause in hostilities and let diplomacy take hold, he said, adding that the longer the conflict continues, the harder it will be to avoid the “utter destruction” of Ukraine.“The reality is that if the war continues Russia is capable of damaging Ukraine more than Ukraine can damage Russia without risking a wider war,” Matlock said. He concluded that Washington is in a position to “encourage the Ukrainians to agree to a ceasefire” and urged it to do so.

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“..Kalin said that Vladimir Putin wants negotiations now.”

Erdogan Still Wants To Bring Putin And Zelenskyy Together (RT)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan still wants to meet Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Spokesperson of the President of Turkiye, Ibrahim Kalin said, Report informs. Kalin said that Vladimir Putin wants negotiations now – after Russia annexed four regions of Ukraine: “Despite all the difficulties, the door of diplomacy should be kept open. The President of Turkiye can do it.”

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“..we need a consolidated society, and this consolidation can only be based on sovereignty, freedom, creation, and justice. Our values are humanity, mercy and compassion.”

The End Game (Batiushka)

The partial mobilisation of 300,000 Russian reservists is nearly complete. Their presence in Donbass will free up the regulars to advance further, although some of the land taken by Kiev forces in September has already been taken back and more is liberated every day. After seven days of aerial attacks (only two days of them reported in the Western media) on Ukrainian infrastructure, especially on power supplies, even Zelensky has today admitted that 30% of the Kiev regime power stations have been destroyed throughout the Ukraine. This is all in response to his terrorism in Zaporozhye, Donetsk, Belgorod, Moscow (Daria Dugina), and on Nordstream and the Crimean Bridge. What else did he expect? France is on strike. Italy is fed up and wants arms deliveries to the Kiev Neo-Nazis to stop.

In the bankrupt UK, to the amazement of all, Truss is still ‘present’, but the Daily Mail website reports that many pubs will have to close for the winter. The landlords cannot afford to pay for heating bills. In Germany, the Health Minister, Karl Lauterbach, has warned of the risk of even hospitals having to close because of the energy crisis. Some ask: But why did the Russian Federation not start the liberation campaign last February by turning up the pain dial there and then? The answer is simple. It is not just that the Federation underestimated the utter stupidity of NATO and the Kiev junta. It is much more than that, it is quite simply that Russia never did wanted to inflict pain on ordinary Ukrainians and on its own Union soldiers. Ordinary Ukrainians have NEVER been the enemy. Russian targeting has always been of the NATO-supplied and NATO-trained Kiev military.

Russians are not Americans who spray the bushes with machine gun bullets and the trees with Agent Orange, or who blast Hamburg and Dresden off the map like the British. They target. They are not terrorists. Have you not read President Putin’s 30 September speech? Please listen again: ‘I want the Kiev authorities and their true handlers in the West to hear me now, and I want everyone to remember this: the people living in Lugansk and Donetsk, in Kherson and Zaporozhye have become our citizens, forever.…We call on the Kiev regime to cease fire and all hostilities immediately; to end the war it unleashed back in 2014 and to return to the negotiating table. We are ready for this, as we have said more than once. But the choice of people in Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson will not be discussed.

The decision has been made, and Russia will not betray it. …We will defend our land with all the forces and resources we have, and we will do everything we can to ensure the safety of our people. This is the great liberating mission of our nation.’ Today, we are fighting so that it would never occur to anyone that Russia, our people, our language, or our culture can be erased from history. Today, we need a consolidated society, and this consolidation can only be based on sovereignty, freedom, creation, and justice. Our values are humanity, mercy and compassion.

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Targeted. But the story is they hit apartment buildings at random.

Russia Destroys Power And Water Infrastructure Across Ukraine (RT)

Ukraine said Russia had destroyed almost a third of its power stations over the past week as Moscow stepped up a pre-winter campaign to strike infrastructure, a move the West says is a calculated attempt to disrupt and demoralize. Missiles struck power-generating facilities in a clutch of Ukrainian cities home to millions of people and several people were killed. Moscow acknowledged targeting energy plants, while Ukraine said water infrastructure had also been hit. “The situation is critical now across the country … the whole country needs to prepare for electricity, water and heating outages,” Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, told Ukrainian television.


At least one man died when a Russian missile reduced his apartment in the southern river port of Mykolaiv to rubble. “They (Russians) probably get pleasure from this,” said Oleksandr, the owner of a local flower shop damaged in the attack. “They get pleasure from us feeling bad. I think they want us to bomb and shell (their) city buildings. But we won’t do that to be different from them.”

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“..eventually the destabilization of the USA: perhaps with civil war and revolution in the USA, resulting from its own inevitable economic collapse..”

“note: the author is not Russian, knows no Russians and has never been to Russia”

Cui Bono? The Big Picture (Blair)

First of all, we need to be absolutely clear that this insane FUBAR Ukraine situation was 100% concocted, fabricated and engineered by the USA, certainly since the droolin’ Nuland / lamebrained McCain / CIA Maidan coup of 2014, but even dating back before that. There are few situations in life where one party can be found to be 100% guilty and evil and morally bankrupt, and where the other party is 100% acting in self defence and self preservation. However history will show that with respect to this Ukraine situation, the USA was 100% the evil aggressor and Russia was 100% acting in self preservation and in defense of civilian Russian speakers in Ukraine. This is truly a war of good against evil and in case you still haven’t got the message yet, let me repeat: the USA Deep State is EVIL.

This reality is indisputably obvious to any semi-comatose person remotely interested in historical, documented FACTS. For those with any remaining doubts, they need to listen to this comprehensively researched three part podcast summary by a journalist and a military historian (both Anglophones). They actually obtained their information from Western mainstream media sources before those reports and articles mysteriously vanished from the Google search algorithms (or were relegated to 500th priority on the search list) after 24 Feb 2022. It is unfortunate that the stupid sheeple of the West, probably 99% of the “golden billion”, believe the exact opposite of the Truth, which is testimony to the incredible effectiveness of the relentless lying propaganda pooped out from the AngloEuroZionist mainstream media sewer outlets ever since 24 Feb 2022.

Until the two recent terrorist bombings (Nordstream pipelines and Kerch bridge), Russia had been reacting in a highly restrained manner to the US and US proxy aggravations. The US started provocations many years ago and contemptuously rebuffed multiple opportunities for peaceful settlements. Russia will soon end it. How? With the humiliating defeat of Ukraine for sure, but more widely we will see the economic devastation of Europe (apart from those who buy energy in Rubles – eg Hungary and Turkey) and eventually the destabilization of the USA: perhaps with civil war and revolution in the USA, resulting from its own inevitable economic collapse. The latter two eventualities were never Russia’s intended goal, but will be unintended consequences of the malicious actions of the US and EU themselves, blowback or karma if you like.

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Another big plan down the drain.

EU Won’t Introduce Gas Price Cap For Now As Countries Disagree (Az.)

The European Union is unveiling a new emergency package to tackle the energy crunch, betting on steps to bolster solidarity among member states. But the bloc will refrain from immediate gas-price caps amid political divisions and concerns over security of supply, Report informs referring to Bloomberg. The European Commission plans to propose measures to avoid extreme price spikes in energy derivatives and to use the EU’s joint purchasing power as a leverage in negotiations with global gas suppliers, according to a draft document seen by Bloomberg News. The bloc’s executive arm, also wants to launch a new liquefied natural gas index to better reflect the region’s energy reality after a cut in supplies of pipeline gas from Russia. At stake is the future of the bloc’s $17 trillion economy, which the energy crisis threatens to push into recession as companies and consumers reel from high power and gas bills.


The EU is trying to balance demands by more than a half of the EU’s 27 member states to limit gas prices with the need to avoid undermining its single market or deepening economic splits among member states. “This is the moment to act, for this winter and beyond,” according to the draft document. “The current situation causes economic and social hardship, placing a heavy burden on citizens and on the economy. Rising energy costs are leading to reduced purchasing power for citizens and loss of competitiveness for companies.” The EU’s executive arm is also seeking authority from national governments to propose – only as a last resort – price limits on transactions on the Dutch Title Transfer Facility, whose main index is the benchmark for all gas traded on the continent.

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“They also cannot buy US-produced LNG due to the Jones Act, which bans the movement of ships between US ports..”

US Warned Of Winter Blackouts – WSJ (RT)

New England could face blackouts in the coming months as more global shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) are being directed to Europe, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing power producers. According to the report, the surging LNG demand across the ocean amid dwindling gas flow from Russia puts the supplies needed to provide electricity to the US’ northeastern region – including Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island – in jeopardy. These states have limited pipeline capacity and rely on LNG imports from abroad for more than a third of their gas supply during periods of peak demand, according to the Energy Information Administration.

They also cannot buy US-produced LNG due to the Jones Act, which bans the movement of ships between US ports.Europe is also a much more attractive buyer for LNG suppliers than New England. According to the news outlet, while the European benchmark price for natural gas was over $100 per one million British thermal units, gas prices in New England rarely climb above $30. Earlier this year, the governors of some New England states sent a letter to US Energy Secretary Jennifer Graholm asking her to dispel the Jones Act and allow for domestic LNG imports to the region. However, there are no reports so far regarding a change in legislation.

The situation in the region is expected to be especially dire if there are prolonged cold spells, as gas volumes would be redirected from power generation to heating homes. According to ISO New England, the region’s power-grid operator, an extremely cold winter could result in the need for rolling blackouts to balance the supply and demand for electricity. Analysts warn that supply shortages may also drive power producers to purchase gas on the spot-market, which would result in larger bills.

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What you’re paying for. Limitless.

Lawmakers Seek Emergency Powers For Pentagon’s Ukraine War Contracting (DN)

Bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate would grant the Pentagon wartime procurement powers, allowing it to buy massive amounts high-priority munitions using multi-year contracts to help Ukraine fight Russia and to refill U.S. stockpiles. The Senate Armed Services Committee’s chairman, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and ranking member, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., proposed the legislation as an amendment to the annual defense authorization bill, which the Senate is expected to vote on in November. It was offered instead of the critical munitions acquisition fund that the Pentagon and some lawmakers sought for the same purposes, before Senate appropriators rejected it. The amendment, the text of which was released last week, offers multi-year contracting authorities typically reserved for Navy vessels and major aircraft.

As drafted, it would let the Pentagon lock in purchases of certain munitions made by Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Technologies, BAE Systems and Kongsberg over fiscal 2023 and 2024, a step aimed at encouraging manufacturers to expand production lines for sought-after munitions. The Pentagon would also be permitted to team with NATO to buy weapons for its members in mass quantities, and for Ukraine-related contracts, the legislation would ease several key legal restrictions on Pentagon procurement through fiscal 2024 – a sign lawmakers see the war dragging on. The intent of the legislation is to spur the Pentagon and industry to move more aggressively by removing bureaucratic barriers, with an eye not only on Russia but the potential for a confrontation with China over Taiwan, according to a senior congressional aide [..]

“Whether you want to call it wartime contracting or emergency contracting, we can’t play around anymore,” the aide said. “We can’t pussyfoot around with minimum-sustaining-rate buys of these munitions. It’s hard to think of something as high on everybody’s list as buying a ton of munitions for the next few years, for our operational plans against China and continuing to supply Ukraine.” If the language becomes law, the Department of Defense would be allowed to make non-competitive awards to arms manufacturers for Ukraine-related contracts, an idea spearheaded in legislation from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and 13 other senators.

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“..25,300 terminals were sent to Ukraine, but, at present, only 10,630 are paying for service..”

Pentagon Considering Paying For Musk’s Starlink Network In Ukraine (G.)

The Pentagon is considering paying for Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite network in war-torn Ukraine, Politico reported on Monday, citing two US officials involved in the discussions. The most likely source of funding would be the US Department of Defense’s Ukraine security assistance initiative, designed to support the country as it fights Russia, the report added. Musk had said on Friday that SpaceX could not indefinitely fund Starlink in Ukraine, but backtracked over the weekend to assert the rocket company would continue to fund the service in the country. He said in a tweet on Monday that SpaceX had already withdrawn its request for funding, an acknowledgement that such a request was made.A Pentagon spokesman said the defense department would not speculate on future security assistance announcements before they occur.


A separate report in the Financial Times said the European Union was also weighing funding Starlink in Ukraine, citing three officials with knowledge of the decision. Musk, the world’s richest person and chief executive of Tesla Inc, recently said SpaceX spends nearly $20m a month maintaining satellite services in Ukraine and that the company has spent about $80m to enable and support Starlink there. “To be precise, 25,300 terminals were sent to Ukraine, but, at present, only 10,630 are paying for service,” Musk tweeted on Monday. Starlink has helped Ukraine’s civilians and military stay online during the war, with Ukraine’s vice prime minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, last week saying Starlink’s services helped restore energy and communications infrastructure in critical areas.

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“Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted that this summer, NATO conducted military drills not far from Bornholm.”

Details Of Nord Stream Probe Shared By Media (RT)

The blasts that ripped through the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines last month were likely caused by sabotage, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing German officials familiar with the investigation. Earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that NATO had conducted a military exercise this summer close to the location where the leaks were found. According to the outlet, while German investigators have so far failed to definitively identify the culprits, they are “working under the assumption that Russia was behind the blasts.” Moscow has repeatedly denied that it had anything to do with the incident.

German officials reportedly believe that the alleged attack was not likely to have been conducted by a military submarine, given that the Baltic Sea around Denmark’s Bornholm Island, where the explosions occurred, is relatively shallow. This would make it difficult for underwater vessels to operate without being detected. According to one theory, an explosive device may have been dropped from a ship and detonated remotely, sources told the WSJ. [..] Moscow has denounced the incident as a terrorist attack and called for an investigation into the matter. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted that this summer, NATO conducted military drills not far from Bornholm.

She was apparently speaking about the BALTOPS 2022 exercises held in June, in which ‘’deep-sea equipment’’ was used intensively. According to Germany’s Interior Ministry, Sweden rejected a plan to set up a joint investigation team with Berlin and Denmark. Stockholm argued that its own findings are too sensitive to share even with other EU member states, Reuters reported. All three nations have said they will not grant access to the investigation to Russia. This prompted Moscow to summon the German, Danish, and Swedish envoys, while declaring that it would not recognize the results of the probe unless Russian experts are invited to take part.

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“At least 50 metres of the gas pipeline appeared to be missing..”

Well, it’s there somewhere. More interesting: is Sweden, after refusing a joint probe with Germany and Denmark, let alone Russia, now also going to refuse a Gazprom repair of the pipeline?

Nord Stream 1: First Underwater Images Reveal Devastating Damage (G.)

The first underwater images taken of the ruptured Nord Stream 1 pipeline reveal the devastating damage caused by what Danish police have described as “powerful explosions” under the Baltic Sea. Swedish newspaper Expressen on Tuesday published photographs and film footage taken by an underwater drone at the site near the island of Bornholm where the gas pipeline between Russia and Germany ruptured on 26 September. They appear to show long tears in the seabed near the concrete-reinforced steel pipe that was not merely cracked but torn apart in an act of suspected sabotage. At least 50 metres of the gas pipeline appeared to be missing, Expressen said. Three separate investigations are currently trying to assess the full extent of the damage to the two twin pipelines, Nord Stream 1 and 2, and collect evidence as to who was behind the sabotage.


A German government official on Monday confirmed there would be no joint investigations team working on clearing up the pipeline blast as initially envisioned, but three separate investigations carried out by Danish, Swedish and German authorities would coordinate closely. According to German news magazine Der Spiegel, the offer of a joint investigation was rejected by the Swedish side, with a state prosecutor from the country telling Reuters that “there is some information in our investigation that is confidential because it is directly linked to national security”. A preliminary investigation by Danish authorities established the leak had been caused by “powerful explosions”, Copenhagen police said in a statement on Tuesday.

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Getting serious.

Germany Facing Retail Collapse – Der Spiegel (RT)

Germany’s retail industry is in jeopardy amid rising energy costs and a sharp decline in consumption, Der Spiegel reported on Monday, citing the German Retail Federation (HDE). According to the organization’s forecasts, the first to face the risk of bankruptcy are smaller stores in city centers. Retail turnover in Germany started to decrease in August. According to the Federal Statistical Office, sales in real terms fell by 1.3% compared to July, and by 4.3% versus August 2021. Food sales were down 1.7% from July and 3.1% year-on-year, reaching their lowest level since 2017. Textiles and shoes, household appliances, and construction supplies were other segments seeing a decline in sales.


An HDE spokesman said that the financial assistance promised by the German government to ease energy price spikes should be used to support retail stores. “If this does not happen, we will face a disaster in many urban centers,” he said, as cited by the news outlet. However, he thinks the crisis can be avoided through investments and new creative ideas, although this would require cooperation between retailers and the authorities. “In the current acute crisis, everything is becoming a little more difficult. The money pots will certainly not get fuller for the time being… If the concepts are to work, all stakeholders in the municipalities would have to work together – from the top of the town hall to city marketing, retail and gastronomy to cultural providers and citizens,” he stated.

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“By adding the shots to the childhood schedule, the CDC [..] will transfer liability for vaccine injuries to the federal government..”

CDC To Vote On Permanently Shielding Pfizer, Moderna From Vaccine Liability (JS)

A CDC committee will convene this week and likely vote Thursday to deliver permanent legal indemnity to Pfizer and Moderna, through the process of adding the drug companies’ mRNA injections to the child and adolescent immunization schedules. By adding the shots to the childhood schedule, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will transfer liability for vaccine injuries to the federal government’s National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), allowing for Pfizer and Moderna to finally bring an FDA approved shot to the market without opening itself up to lawsuits. Moreover, it will act as another windfall for companies that have already brought in hundreds of billions of dollars in revenues, by requiring these vaccinations for children who attend public schools.

In March 2020, the federal government invoked the PREP Act, which gave Pfizer and Moderna a tort liability shield due to the declared “public health emergency,” which the government is reportedly going to revoke in early 2023. The companies’ emergency use authorization shots have since been protected by the federal government through this 2005 congressional action. [..]The Health Resources & Services Administration has clarified what needs to happen for a vaccine to become liability free. “For a vaccine to be covered, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) must recommend the category of vaccine for routine administration to children or pregnant women, and it must be subject to an excise tax by federal law.”

The Dossier has reported extensively on the coordinated effort by Big Pharma and the Biden Administration to delay the rollout of an FDA approved COVID vaccine, with legal experts suspecting the process is in place to protect Pfizer and Moderna from legal liability from vaccine injuries. Once described as the cure to the coronavirus, the novel mRNA shots have resulted in catastrophic failure, with a side effect profile exponentially higher than advertised. Thanks to a fraudulent, deceptive marketing campaign, assisted by top federal officials and high-profile pharmaceutical executives, the drugmakers and the federal government convinced millions of Americans to take shots that were much more dangerous (especially for young men), and much less effective than advertised.

RFK

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“.. the interview summary states that work “remained intentionally uncompensated while Joe Biden was vice president.”

Joe Biden KNEW of Hunter’s Shady Business Dealings: Whistleblowers (PM)

New whistleblower documents obtained by Senator Chuck Grassley have revealed that President Biden “was aware of Hunter Biden’s business arrangements and may have been involved in some of them.” On Monday morning, Grassley sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and US Attorney for Delaware David Weiss outlining new whistleblower allegations that claim the FBI has “significant, impactful and voluminous evidence with respect to potential criminal conduct by Hunter Biden and James Biden,” according to Fox News. The whistleblowers allege that the FBI has documents relating to information on Mykola Zlochevsky, who is the owner of Burisma Holdings, where Hunter Biden sat on the board.

“The documents in the FBI’s possession include specific details with respect to conversations by non-government individuals relevant to potential criminal conduct by Hunter Biden,” Grassley wrote. “These documents also indicate that Joe Biden was aware of Hunter Biden’s business arrangements and may have been involved in some of them,” Grassley said. The Senator added that it is “unclear whether the FBI followed normal investigative procedure to determine the truth and accuracy of the information or shut down investigative activity based on improper disinformation claims in advance of the 2020 election.” “It is also unclear whether US Attorney Weiss has performed his own due diligence on these and related allegations,” Grassley continued.

Grassley, alongside Senator Ron Johnson, led an investigation into Hunter Biden starting in 2019, which discovered that officials within the Obama administration “knew” of Hunter Biden’s “problematic” position on the board, saying that it interfered “in the efficient execution of policy with respect to Ukraine.” Hunter Biden joined the board in April of 2014, while his father was serving as vice president and running US-Ukraine relations and policy for the administration. Additionally, Grassley noted an FBI interview with Tony Bobulinski, Hunter Biden’s ex-business partner, from October 2020, where he stated that Hunter Biden and his uncle, James Biden, had created a business agreement with foreign nationals connected to the Chinese government during Biden’s vice presidency.

Grassley said that the interview summary states that work “remained intentionally uncompensated while Joe Biden was vice president.” “After Joe Biden left the vice presidency, the summary makes clear that Hunter Biden and James Biden worked with CEFC and affiliated individuals to compensate them for that past work and benefits they procured for CEFC,” Grassley said. Hunter Biden, James Biden, and their business partners created a joint venture, known as SinoHawk Holdings, that would be a “vehicle to accomplish that financial compensation.” The venture was a partnership between the two Bidens, and CEFC Chairman Ye Jianming. 50 percent of SinoHawk was owned by Oneida Holdings, which according to the summary, was made up of five evenly divided LLCs, two of which went to Hunter and James Biden, and 10 percent, Bobulinski revealed, was “to be held for Joe Biden.”

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Aluminum

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cockatoo

 

 

 

 

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Oct 172022
 
 October 17, 2022  Posted by at 8:20 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  69 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Self portrait 1919

 

Gazprom Outlines Consequences For Price Cap On Russian Gas (RT)
Ukraine Finance Minister To Chair IMF, World Bank Governing Boards In 2023 (R.)
Russia Responds To UN Official’s Rape Claims (RT)
EU Blackmails Serbia – Interior Minister (RT)
Kremlin Speaks On NATO’s ‘De-facto’ Role In Ukraine (RT)
China Orders Evacuation Of All Citizens Still In Ukraine (ZH)
Energy Crisis Will Breed Extremism – Bavarian President (RT)
From Decolonisation to Desperation to Hopelessness to Farce (Batiushka)
Echoes Of A Brush With ‘Armageddon’ (Tony Cox)
The Gaslighting of the Masses (CJ Hopkins)
The Non-West Coalesces (Patrick Lawrence)
EU to Demand Holidaymakers’ Fingerprints and Facial Images at Borders (DS)
Why Ron DeSantis Doesn’t Stand a Chance Against Donald Trump (CTH)
Alarming Rise In Cancer Among Young People Across Globe (CNN)
One Serious Adverse Event Per Eight-Hundred Vaccinations (Arora)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halloween

 

 

 

 

Fauci

 

 


Iran hasn’t invaded a country in 300 years, yet we, the United States, being 246 years old, have been at war for 236 years.

 

 

Tedros

 

 

The universe contains more planets than seconds that have passed since the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago.

 

 

 

 

The consequences have been known for months: NO GAS. And also:

“..Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksander Novak said the US should set a price cap on its own liquified natural gas (LNG) going to Europe..”

I think if serious peace talks don’t start within a month, it’s too late to stop the cold, the hunger, and the resulting riots.

Gazprom Outlines Consequences For Price Cap On Russian Gas (RT)

Plans to set a price cap on Russian gas sales, which are currently being considered by Western leaders, would cause supplies to be halted, according to Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller. “We rely on the contracts that have been signed. A unilateral decision of the kind is, of course, a violation of essential terms of the agreements which would lead to a termination of supplies,” Miller said on Sunday in an interview with Russia 1 TV. Numerous sanctions have been introduced by the US, EU, and allies on Moscow over its military operation in Ukraine. EU customers have so far reduced their purchases of Russian energy, and the G7 and EU are currently trying to introduce a price cap on Russia’s oil and gas.

Miller’s comments echoed a similar warning from President Vladimir Putin, who said last month that Moscow would cut off energy supplies if price caps are imposed. Earlier this month, EU leaders reached an agreement to impose yet another package of sanctions on Russia, including banning maritime transportation for Russian oil to third-party countries unless the oil is sold below or at a certain price. The measures would take effect after December 5, 2022 for crude and February 5, 2023 for refined petroleum products.

Earlier this week, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that a price cap on Russian oil exports of around $60-per-barrel would likely reduce Moscow’s energy revenues while allowing profitable production, thus keeping Russian crude on the global market. Yellen stressed that the measure is still being discussed by the US and its Western allies. On Friday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksander Novak said the US should set a price cap on its own liquified natural gas (LNG) going to Europe, as American fuel is being delivered to Europe at prices four times higher than the price for domestic consumption.

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We’ve given them so much money, might as well hand over the keys to the safe too…

Ukraine Finance Minister To Chair IMF, World Bank Governing Boards In 2023 (R.)

The shareholders of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank on Friday selected Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko as the next rotating chair of the boards of governors of both institutions in 2023. The decision, which was announced during the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Washington, means that Marchenko will also chair next year’s annual meeting of the institutions, which is scheduled to be held in Morocco. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the war’s massive impact on the global economy have dominated this year’s meetings, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urging international donors to provide $55 billion in additional funding next year to keep his country’s economy running and fund some initial reconstruction.

World Bank President David Malpass told shareholders of both institutions on Friday that the World Bank Group had mobilized $13 billion in emergency funding for Ukraine since the war began, including grants, guarantees, and linked parallel financing from the United States, Britain, Europe and Japan. “I remain horrified by Russia’s actions and call for Russian forces to leave Ukraine,” Malpass said in his most explicit remarks on the war to date. Marchenko said his selection was unanimously approved by all governing member countries of the two global lenders, and marked the first time that Ukraine would lead the institutions since it joined 30 years ago.

The move was unanimously approved since there was no objection during the business portion of the plenary, a source close to the discussions said. Russia is a member of the institutions and could have objected, but did not. “It is a great honor to represent Ukraine” in the international financial arena, Marchenko said in a statement released by his ministry, adding that Ukraine would be able to increase its cooperation with international financial organizations and the member countries of the World Bank and IMF.

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From the Putin (and Genghis Khan, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Saddam) Eats Babies book:

Russia Responds To UN Official’s Rape Claims (RT)

Claims made by the UN special representative on sexual violence, Pramila Patten, go “beyond the reach of reason,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement on Sunday. Earlier this week, Patten accused Russia of employing a “deliberate” rape “strategy”as part of its military campaign in Ukraine. “One cannot even comment on P. Patten’s … words in a serious way,”Zakharova said, adding that the UN official’s conclusions were based on data that is difficult to verify, according to Patten herself. “Once again, what we are seeing is a classic ‘highly likely’ [story], which has this time reached the level of twisted imagination,” Zakharova said.

According to her, the UN official made her conclusions based on fragmentary data provided by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine – a group created in spring 2022 on the basis of a resolution of the UN Human Rights Council. Russia has not recognized its mandate, Zakharova added. Patten’s claims resemble those made by the former Ukrainian human rights commissioner, Lyudmila Denisova, Zakharova said. Denisova was fired from her position in late May after a no-confidence vote over her failure to perform duties such as organizing humanitarian corridors and prisoner exchanges amid the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Later, Ukrainian media reported that most of Denisova’s allegations regarding “sexual atrocities”committed by Russian soldiers in the country had not been confirmed by Ukrainian prosecutors.

The Foreign Ministry spokeswoman’s reaction was sparked by an interview Patten gave to AFP this week, in which she claimed that sexual violence is a “deliberate tactic” and “military strategy”of Russia, aimed at dehumanizing its “victims.” She also claimed that Russian soldiers are “equipped with Viagra.” Zakharova pointed out that similar claims have been made by Western officials in the past. In 2011, the US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, reportedly accused then-Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi of supplying his troops with Viagra to supposedly encourage mass rape during a conflict that broke out following a NATO-backed coup attempt which ended with the brutal murder of Gaddafi. US military and intelligence officials subsequently told NBC that there was no evidence that the Libyan military was being supplied with Viagra or engaging in systematic rape in “rebel areas.” “The West is using the same patterns in its hybrid war,” Zakharova said on Sunday, commenting on Patten’s statements.

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“Judging by the insane blackmail they are exposing us to…they don’t want us. The sooner we accept that they don’t want us and that we don’t belong there, the better off we will be.”

EU Blackmails Serbia – Interior Minister (RT)

The EU’s offers to Serbia are unacceptable, and Serbs should “accept that they don’t want us,” Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin told the Novosti news site on Saturday. He added that Belgrade should instead turn its attention to “free countries that accept us without blackmail,” such as Russia and China. “The question is not whether we want to join the EU, but whether the EU wants Serbia,” Vulin told Novosti. “Judging by the insane blackmail they are exposing us to…they don’t want us. The sooner we accept that they don’t want us and that we don’t belong there, the better off we will be.” A traditional ally of Russia, Serbia has come under intense pressure from the West to back the sanctions regime against Moscow over its military operation in Ukraine.

The European Parliament has considered freezing accession talks with Belgrade over the latter’s refusal to back its eight rounds of economic penalties, US state media reported last month, while Germany and France have offered to “accelerate” Serbia’s path to EU membership if it recognizes the independence of the province of Kosovo, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stated last week. For Vulin and Vucic, the answer to these offers is a clear “no.” “How much would our friends respect us if they saw us neglecting our interests in the face of enemy force?” Vulin asked. “Who would fight for us if we chose not to fight for ourselves? “Relations with Russia, China and other free countries that accept us without blackmail and conditions are the future of Serbia,” he continued.

“I believe that friendship with Russia is of the greatest importance and that without it we risk the physical disappearance of Serbia.” sAccording to a poll taken in March, some 61% of Serbs oppose any cooperation with the US-led NATO alliance, largely due to the bloc’s support for Kosovo’s independence and its 1999 bombing campaign that brought about the end of Yugoslavia. Furthermore, while Serbia applied for EU membership in 2009, accession looks to be off the table for now. The EU’s latest sanctions package targeting Russian oil exports looks set to cost Belgrade hundreds of millions of euros, Vulin said last week, describing it as the “first EU sanctions package against Serbia.” Hungary has responded to the sanctions by announcing a new pipeline to help Serbia tap into the supply of Russian crude oil.

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If you live in a NATO country, you are now in a war you can’t win.

Kremlin Speaks On NATO’s ‘De-facto’ Role In Ukraine (RT)

NATO has “de-facto become involved in the Ukraine conflict,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russia 1 TV on Sunday, adding that this will not prevent Moscow from following through with its plans and achieving its military goals in Ukraine. The Kremlin spokesman acknowledged, however, that NATO’s interference makes it “significantly harder” for Russia to conduct its operation, though it does not change the goals. “This [NATO involvements] requires… our internal mobilization in the field of economy and other spheres,” he told Russia 1, adding that there is a major difference between “the Kiev regime and… the NATO potential.” However, Russia’s own “potential allows [it] to continue the operation under such circumstances,” Peskov said.


The Kremlin spokesman provided no further details about Moscow’s plans and strategy in the military campaign, which has lasted for more than seven months. Earlier this week, Moscow denied rumors that the operation in Ukraine is being redesignated as a counter-terrorism campaign. Peskov also said at the time that there have been no decisions regarding the introduction of martial law in Russian regions which have been targeted by Ukrainian strikes in recent weeks. Moscow also denied that it has considered travel restrictions for men eligible for military service amid the continuing partial mobilization. Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that over 200,000 reservists have been called up, most of which are still undergoing training, while adding that the draft will be completed in around two weeks.

Jimmy Dore

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Because it’s now NATO vs Russia.

China Orders Evacuation Of All Citizens Still In Ukraine (ZH)

China’s foreign ministry on Saturday issued an urgent call for any Chinese nationals still in Ukraine to exit immediately, kicking off speculation over what’s behind the unspecified appeal and scramble. The notification is being widely seen as the most forceful evacuation order yet, and suggests that Beijing might be aware of Russian plans for possibly imminent bigger, sweeping airstrikes against Ukrainian cities, such as the widespread escalatory strikes conducted last Monday into Tuesday. The first big evacuation of Chinese citizens took place starting last March, in which some 6,000 Chinese nationals left the country amid the Russian invasion.

But now, as state media Global Times writes, “Some Chinese nationals still in Ukraine have signed up for evacuation from the country, with most registering for organized evacuations, while others are preparing to leave Ukraine on their own, the Global Times learned on Sunday, after the Chinese Foreign Ministry urged Chinese citizens to leave Ukraine, citing the grave security situation.” The foreign ministry and embassy warned of the “grave security situation” and ordered an immediate departure, citing the need “to enhance safety precautions and evacuate.” The statement indicated that “the embassy will assist in organizing the evacuation of people in need.” Russian state sources also on Sunday began publicizing the new alert notification.

GT is reporting that an evacuation is now in progress: “As of press time on Sunday, 161 people had registered on the form the embassy sent out for organized evacuation, and another 27 people registered on the form for self-evacuation, according to a Global Times’ count of the registration on the embassy’s WeChat account.” It additionally comes at a moment of stepped-up cross-border attacks on the Russian city of Belgorod, which lies just north of the Ukrainian border opposite Kharkiv.

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The energy crisis is the result of NATO extremism.

Energy Crisis Will Breed Extremism – Bavarian President (RT)

Skyrocketing energy costs could lead to a rise in extremist sentiment across Germany, Bavarian President Markus Soder told Bild am Sonntag on Sunday. “The mix of crises, such as energy and coronavirus, can lead to overstrain and destabilization of democracy,” he said, urging “democratic parties” to “take a clear position, argue less, and encourage citizens.” Soder pointed to the increasing electoral success of the right-wing AfD party as proof that extremism is on the rise. He argued for a cap on gas prices and financial relief for citizens, as well as aid to small and medium-sized businesses to head off growing anti-government sentiment. Some 15,000 German stores are reportedly on the brink of closure due to spiraling energy costs, according to Der Spiegel.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck and Finance Minister Christian Lindner must also quit arguing over the future of nuclear power in the country, Soder continued. He insists the government should extend the operation of the remaining nuclear plants through at least 2024, as Lindner has proposed, and has called on Chancellor Olaf Scholz to broker a peace between the two officials. Germany began shutting down its nuclear reactors in 2011 following the Fukushima disaster in Japan but has recently reconsidered the move in light of record gas prices exacerbated by the sanctions on Russian supplies. While former Chancellor Angela Merkel had promised to phase out all 17 of Germany’s nuclear reactors by the end of 2022, three remain in service. Lawmakers recently agreed to keep at least two of those on standby status, should the plan to make it through the winter by burning coal prove insufficient to meet demand.

In August, Stephan Kramer, president of the Thuringian Office for the Protection of the Constitution, predicted a “winter of fury” in which “violent” extremists would hijack “legitimate” protests against the energy crisis. He also expects higher unemployment and other economic issues, warning broadcaster ZDF that mounting economic pressures combined with the strsess of the pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine could shake the nation when the temperature drops. While both Soder and Kramer have argued that “the trust of the population in state institutions and authorities” is crucial to maintaining order come winter, just 38% of the population believes Chancellor Scholz is fit for the top job, according to a poll conducted last month – and that was an improvement over public sentiment in August. Habeck and Lindner rate even lower, with approval ratings of 35% and 33.6%, respectively.

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“Then it will be the turn of the EU to be kicked out of Europe and ultimately the US will be kicked out of the Americas, especially out of the US.”

From Decolonisation to Desperation to Hopelessness to Farce (Batiushka)

The Western European Empires have gone. The bankrupt Spanish Empire went first, in the century before last, the Germans lost their colonies in 1919 (at the same time as the Austro-Hungarians lost their European colonies), then the Italians lost their fantasies in Africa during the Second World War, the Germans got kicked out of their colonies in Eastern Europe in 1945, but the Portuguese much later, only getting kicked out of Africa in the 1970s. By that time the Dutch, the British, the Belgians and the French had also been kicked out of their colonies. Only the NATO Danes still hold on to Greenland, which is a lot of ice and snow and all of 56,000 people, though both Eisenhower and Trump wanted to buy it. However, since the US has its base at Thule, it effectively controls the country anyhow.

Since 1947 the UK has been kicked out of almost everywhere, infamously from the Indian Subcontinent in 1947, from Palestine in 1948 and humiliatingly, by their Americans ‘allies’, from Suez in 1956. All that remains is, for the moment, a small group of tiny enclaves and islands like Bermuda, the Caymans, Gibraltar, St Helena, the Falklands etc, about 18,000 square kilometres and fewer than 300,000 people in all, plus a lot of ice in the ‘British Antarctic Territory’. As for France, after its humiliation in South-East Asia in 1954, it has gradually been kicked out of Africa (1946-2022) (Suez in 1956, Algeria in 1962 etc) and soon, even after its decades of assassinating independentist African politicians and military interventions, it will have nothing left there, though it still has a few islands in various oceans here and there.

As for the short-lived US Empire, over the last fifty years it has largely been kicked out of several Asian countries (Vietnam (1975), Iran (1979), Iraq (2011-2021) Afghanistan (2021), now out of Russia (2022), and soon out of China, India and Saudi Arabia. True, it still hangs on in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Israel, but not for much longer. Eurasia is to be US-free. As regards the Western withdrawal from Europe, the UK left Europe in 2020. It still hangs on to Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and above all to England, but it will not last. Now it is the turn of the US to be kicked out of Europe. It is happening in the Ukraine at this very moment, but this rejection will later spread to Western Europe. Then it will be the turn of the EU to be kicked out of Europe and ultimately the US will be kicked out of the Americas, especially out of the US.

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“At the time, the long-range missiles in Soviet territory took hours to fuel up and fire, meaning a delayed response to a US first strike.”

Echoes Of A Brush With ‘Armageddon’ (Tony Cox)

In 1962, the triggering event was the secret placement of Soviet missiles in Cuba, right on America’s doorstep. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev saw the move as a way to protect Cuba against a US invasion after the failed Bay of Pigs assault in April 1961, as well as a tit-for-tat response to the Pentagon’s deployment of Jupiter missiles in Turkey and Italy, which positioned Washington’s nuclear warheads to hit USSR territory in as few as 10 minutes. At the time, the long-range missiles in Soviet territory took hours to fuel up and fire, meaning a delayed response to a US first strike.

“Since the Americans have already surrounded the Soviet Union with a ring of their military installations, we should pay them back in their own coin and give them a taste of their own medicine so that they find out for themselves how it feels to live as a target of nuclear arms,” Khrushchev was quoted as saying by Aleksandr Alekseev, then Moscow’s ambassador to Cuba. US President John F. Kennedy didn’t see it that way when a U-2 spy plane spotted surface-to-surface missiles in Cuba on October 16. As Ukrainian-born author Serhii Plokhy wrote in his 2021 book, ‘Nuclear Folly,’ Kennedy was initially inclined to order an attack on the missile sites, which easily could have escalated into a Soviet response and, eventually, mushroom clouds on both sides.

The American president wasn’t yet aware that the Soviets had already shipped nuclear warheads to Cuba. Nor did he know that the USSR had 43,000 troops on the island, as well as tactical nukes that could be used to destroy a US attack force. But Kennedy knew that having Soviet ballistic missiles just across the Florida Straits – Havana is only about 1,100 miles from Washington and 230 miles from Miami – was intolerable and potentially gave the USSR the ability to win a nuclear war with the US. Russia has raised similar concerns about NATO’s eastward expansion. The Western military alliance was formed to ensure collective security against the USSR, but instead of reaping a peace dividend after the Soviet collapse in 1991, the bloc expanded to 30 states, nearly doubling in size. It also placed strategic weapons in Eastern Europe, which Moscow perceived as a threat.

As if those moves weren’t provocative enough, NATO has also pledged to eventually let Ukraine and Georgia join the US-led bloc, which would expand its reach into two former Soviet republics on Russia’s borders. Tensions escalated further when a US-backed coup overthrew Ukraine’s elected government in 2014, setting off a war between Kiev and separatists in the Donbass that left an estimated 14,000 people dead even before Russia began its military offensive last February. Some observers have blamed the US and NATO for provoking the conflict. “As the one who started the Ukraine crisis and the biggest factor fueling it, the US needs to deeply reflect on its erroneous actions of exerting extreme pressure and fanning the flame on the Ukraine issue,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in July.

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“They may end up doubting their memory, their perception, and even their sanity.”

The Gaslighting of the Masses (CJ Hopkins)

For students of official propaganda, mind control, emotional coercion, and other insidious manipulation techniques, the rollout of the New Normal has been a bonanza. Never before have we been able to observe the application and effects of these powerful technologies in real-time on such a massive scale. In a little over two and a half years, our collective “reality” has been radically revised. Our societies have been radically restructured. Millions (probably billions) of people have been systematically conditioned to believe a variety of patently ridiculous assertions, assertions based on absolutely nothing, repeatedly disproved by widely available evidence, but which have nevertheless attained the status of facts. An entire fictitious history has been written based on those baseless and ridiculous assertions. It will not be unwritten easily or quickly.

I am not going to waste your time debunking those assertions. They have been repeatedly, exhaustively debunked. You know what they are and you either believe them or you don’t. Either way, reviewing and debunking them again isn’t going to change a thing. Instead, I want to focus on one particularly effective mind-control technology, one that has done a lot of heavy lifting throughout the implementation of the New Normal and is doing a lot of heavy-lifting currently. I want to do that because many people mistakenly believe that mind-control is either (a) a “conspiracy theory” or (b) something that can only be achieved with drugs, microwaves, surgery, torture, or some other invasive physical means. Of course, there is a vast and well-documented history of the use of such invasive physical technologies (see, e.g., the history of the CIA’s infamous MKULTRA program), but in many instances mind-control can be achieved through much less elaborate techniques.

One of the most basic and effective techniques that cults, totalitarian systems, and individuals with fascistic personalities use to disorient and control people’s minds is “gaslighting.” You’re probably familiar with the term. If not, here are a few definitions: “the manipulation of another person into doubting their perceptions, experiences, or understanding of events.” American Psychological Association “an insidious form of manipulation and psychological control. Victims of gaslighting are deliberately and systematically fed false information that leads them to question what they know to be true, often about themselves. They may end up doubting their memory, their perception, and even their sanity.” Psychology Today

“a form of psychological manipulation in which the abuser attempts to sow self-doubt and confusion in their victim’s mind. Typically, gaslighters are seeking to gain power and control over the other person, by distorting reality and forcing them to question their own judgment and intuition.” Newport Institute. The main goal of gaslighting is to confuse, coerce, and emotionally manipulate your victim into abandoning their own perception of reality and accepting whatever new “reality” you impose on them. Ultimately, you want to completely destroy their ability to trust their own perception, emotions, reasoning, and memory of historical events, and render them utterly dependent on you to tell them what is real and what “really” happened, and so on, and how they should be feeling about it.

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“Every nation just named is currently subjected to U.S. sanctions.”

The Non-West Coalesces (Patrick Lawrence)

Something of epochal importance happened in Vienna, where the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, now known as OPEC–Plus with the inclusion of the Russian Federation, convened recently for its first in-person session since 2020. You would not know of this development if you rely solely on the reports carried in our corporate-owned media. The world just took a significant turn into the 21st century. Let us stay abreast of it, leaving those who refuse to see this to their own devices. [..] As reported everywhere, OPEC–Plus decided to reduce the oil production of member nations by two million barrels per day as of next month. This may amount to an actual cut of half that amount, as many OPEC–Plus members—Nigeria, for instance—have not been lifting to their quotas anyway. But oil prices are already increasing, and we will soon see this at our filling stations. As retail prices rise, it is likely to complicate the political fortunes of the Biden administration and Democrats on Capitol Hill just as the midterm elections approach. So, a pretty big deal.

But this is not the half of what transpired in Vienna two weeks ago. Saudi Arabia, long the driving wheel in OPEC, effectively declared its long history of subservience to Washington, by way of which oil production has been exchanged for security guarantees, to be on the way out. One of Washington’s bedrock allies in the Middle East, Israel being the other, just took a major step toward the coalescence of non–Western nations into a coherent bloc acting in its own interests. This is more than a pretty big deal. It brings us considerably closer to the new world order Russia and China, the two most influential non–Western nations, have been talking about for several years and notably since the Biden administration took power in January 2021.

Within months, Beijing and Moscow concluded that there is no making sense of a nation that, even as its power declines, has no intention of working with them as equals to mutual benefit. Since then, numerous other countries have had little trouble detecting which way the wind blows.The Ukraine crisis has sent a new bolt of electricity through this geopolitical trend. Nations representing more than 80 percent of the global population and a like percentage of global gross domestic product are perfectly capable of seeing the Biden administration’s pointed provocations and do not approve. Partnerships that stop just short of alliances—a term of statecraft entailing explicit obligations in the way of mutual defense—have multiplied so quickly since Joe Biden took office it is hard to keep track of them.

Russia’s “no limits” relationship with China is the premier case. Russia has recently consolidated its cooperative ties with Iran. So has China. Iran and Venezuela, China and Cuba, China and Nicaragua—the list goes on. As we speak, Moscow and Beijing are developing partnerships of various kinds in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. But these nations, it is easy to note, are by and large beyond Washington’s fence posts: The policy cliques, this is to say, have them down as enemies. Every nation just named is currently subjected to U.S. sanctions. Parenthetically, I do have to wonder what happens when most of the world other than the Anglosphere and Western Europe is condemned in this way, but that is another conversation.

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“This may be the biggest biometric data collection operation in European history. What could possibly go wrong?

EU to Demand Holidaymakers’ Fingerprints and Facial Images at Borders (DS)

As of May 2023, the EU is to start demanding holidaymakers’ biometric data at its borders, greatly increasing both the level of surveillance in the bloc and the length of delays at transport terminals. Silke Carlo sounds the warning in the Telegraph: “Brits hopping across the Channel will first have their fingerprints and photos taken. The new mass data-gathering scheme, which will go live in May, is part of the evolution of a so-called ‘Smart Border’. But there is nothing ‘smart’ about the plans. The data grab has been justified by the aim of improving detection of dangerous travellers, finding vulnerable people, and reducing fraud, but it comes at an eye-watering cost to liberty and logistics. The border plans have been rightly described by civil society groups as “disproportionate and unnecessary”, while the Port of Dover’s boss has warned of “significant and continued disruption for a very long time”.

All travellers aged over 12 will need to be biometrically logged, creating an EU datastore loaded with hundreds of millions of people’s unique personal data. The EU is demanding not only a U.S.-style set of four fingerprints, but facial images too. Holiday-makers’ personal information will be mixed in with eventually billions of pieces of data, spanning photographs, palm prints, DNA records and facial biometrics, to which controversial recognition algorithms can be applied. This may be the biggest biometric data collection operation in European history. What could possibly go wrong?

Too many of our European friends have an indifferent attitude to the emergence of a data-hungry superstate – over 1.7 billion EU Digital Covid Certificates were issued during the pandemic – but even those falling out of love with liberté must be concerned about the disastrous impact on tourism and transport. The Big Brother-style EU border checks are estimated to take seven times longer than checks today and the tailback at Dover could grow by 19 miles – roughly the distance of the Channel crossing itself.

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Just explaining this to a friend yesterday. DeSantis’ moment is 2028.

Why Ron DeSantis Doesn’t Stand a Chance Against Donald Trump (CTH)

Appearing for an interview with Dave Rubin, the founder of Locals and a major conscript of the branding and image shaping effort behind Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Megyn Kelly gives Mr. Rubin the bitter pill of truth. Within this excerpt, Mr. Rubin struggles through the five stages of grief following Kelly’s red pill delivery, eventually stabilizing his emotion by accepting Florida Governor Ron DeSantis can still deliver good political outcomes for the state. It’s a very interesting dynamic to watch for a few reasons. First, because Megyn Kelly has first-hand experience with the power of the MAGA attachment to the atypical America-First leader. Second, because Kelly’s truthful statements cut against the objective for why Rubin was recruited by DeSantis Inc.

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Get them vaxxed!

Alarming Rise In Cancer Among Young People Across Globe (CNN)

More young people around the globe under the age of 50 are being diagnosed each year with early-onset cancer, according to a new study. Dr. Suneel Kamath, a gastrointestinal medical oncologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, said the variety of different cancers on the rise in young people really surprised him. “The number of people that are presenting with advanced and unfortunately often incurable cancers in their 20s and 30s definitely seems to be skyrocketing,” Kamath said. Early-onset cases are rising for 14 types of cancers, many of which affect the digestive system, according to a review of 44 countries’ cancer registries published in the journal Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology.


“The typical risk factors we think of that would cause these different tumor types are definitely different, specific to each one,” Kamath said. The review mentions that sensitive testing happening more in young people could account for part of the upswing, but many, including Kamath, say it mostly comes down to lifestyle: obesity, diets rich in processed foods, smoking and alcohol consumption are among the factors. Kamath said one of the most important things young people can do is advocate for themselves when something doesn’t feel right. “Pay attention to, you know, what’s going on with your body,” Kamath said. “Some people are going to get some resistance from their medical team, and it does mean they need to push a little harder to get to the bottom of what’s going on.”

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Should be 1 in 1 million at most.

One Serious Adverse Event Per Eight-Hundred Vaccinations (Arora)

A recent study published in the peer-reviewed journal Vaccine—known for publishing the highest-quality vaccinology research—contains bombshell findings about the safety of Covid vaccines. Crucially, the authors found one serious adverse event for ever 800 mRNA vaccinated participants, orders of magnitude higher than the 1 to 2 per million reported for other vaccines. The researchers conducted a secondary analysis of original data from Pfizer and Moderna’s phase 3 clinical trials, focusing on “adverse events of special interest (AESIs)” as listed by the Brighton Collaboration—a “global authority” on vaccine safety. As the authors write, this World Health Organization-approved priority list of adverse vaccine events hasn’t been used to examine side effects in COVID-19 vaccine trial data. The stunning finding was as follows: the risk of serious adverse events from the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine exceeds the benefit of reduction of COVID-19 hospitalisation.


In the analysis, Moderna caused higher adverse events than Pfizer, but both were elevated compared to the placebo arm. “Higher risk of serious AESI was observed in the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine group relative to placebo in both the Pfizer and Moderna adult phase III trials, with 10.1 (Pfizer) and 15.1 (Moderna) additional events for every 10,000 individuals vaccinated,” the authors wrote. The average risk difference across both vaccines was 12.5 serious AESIs per 10,000 individuals vaccinated. As the authors write, these results “raise concerns that mRNA vaccines are associated with more harm than initially estimated at the time of emergency authorization.”

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Seed oils

 

 

 

 

Odense geese

 

 

 

 

 

 

A handful of insects.

 

 

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Apr 222022
 


Hayami Gyoshu Tea bowl and fruits 1921

 

Biden Brags About Sending Weapons at ‘Record Speed’ to Ukraine (Celente)
The Collective West Is Stumbling Towards Nuclear Armageddon (Doctorow)
New World Disorder (Charai)
Why So Many Middle-Aged Deaths in 2021? (Briand)
Poking Holes In The Brain-blood Barrier. Is That Such A Good Idea? (Girardot)
A Moratorium on mRNA ‘Vaccines’ is Needed (Byram Bridle)
Fauci Complains About ‘Dangerous Precedent’ of Mask Mandate Ruling (TH)
Tulsi Gabbard Releases Cease And Desist Letter To Mitt Romney (JTN)
Destroying Democracy To Save It? (Turley)
Barack Obama Outlines Perils Of Unregulated Big Tech (G.)
Big Tech’s ‘Cancel Culture’ Love Affair (Pepe Escobar)
Feds Subpoenaed Hunter Biden Paternity Documents, Including Tax Returns (CBS)
Black Lives Don’t Matter To BLM (Blaze)
Elon Musk To Collect $23bn Bonus As Tesla Beats Targets (G.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Webb

 

 

 

 

Medvedev

 

 

Am I the only one who thinks they’re too eager to get all these people into the US?

President Biden: “I’m announcing a program, Unite for Ukraine, a new program to enable Ukrainians seeking refuge to come directly from Europe to the United States.”

 

 

And not a word about peace.

Biden Brags About Sending Weapons at ‘Record Speed’ to Ukraine (Celente)

President Joe Biden on Thursday took to Twitter to inform Americans that his administration will send another $800 million in military aid to Ukraine to “further augment” Kyiv’s ability to counter the Russian offensive in the eastern region of the country. No mention of peace. Just more war. Biden, who called Putin a killer and war criminal, bragged that the new package will include heavy artillery weapons, dozens of howitzers, 144,000 rounds of ammunition, and tactical drones. “In the past two months, we have moved weapons and equipment to Ukraine at record speed. The United States alone has provided 10 anti-armor systems for every one Russian tank that is in Ukraine,” he posted.

Biden has sent $3.4 billion in less than two months to Ukraine. He also announced that he will send a supplemental budget request to Congress to get the funding for the weapons. He also plans to send $500 million more in direct economic aid to Ukraine and accept more refugees. Biden said the war is at a critical point and about to enter its “next phase” (which only means more weapons). The weapons will go “directly to the front lines of defending freedom,” he said. [..] John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said the new weapons batch will include 72 tactical vehicles to tow the howitzers, 121 Phoenix Ghost tactical drones—a new weapon rapidly developed by the Air Force for the Ukrainians, according to Defense One. Biden also announced that $500 million more is being provided to Ukraine.

Biden, who earlier held a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal, said Americans should take pride in providing the weapons and intelligence that “beat back Putin’s savagery.” “Putin has failed to achieve his grand ambitions on the battlefield. After weeks of shelling Kyiv. Kyiv still stands,” he said.

Scott Ritter

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“..overcome with pure hatred for the West brought on by the sanctions, by the rampant Russophobia that is now public policy in Europe and the USA..”

The Collective West Is Stumbling Towards Nuclear Armageddon (Doctorow)

[Mosfilm general director Karen] Shakhnazarov expressed amazement and deep worry that Western leaders have literally ‘lost their minds’ by pursuing measures to destabilize Russia in the hope of precipitating the overthrow of Vladimir Putin and maybe even the disintegration of Russia in a way similar to the dissolution of the USSR in late 1991. Shakhnazarov remarked that total absence of common or any other sense in Joe Biden is to be expected because of his health (read: senility). But his jaw dropped when he heard that the Chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz, declared a couple of days ago that “Russia must not be allowed to win this war!” Where are his brains? Shakhnazarov asked rhetorically.

The point of Shakhnazarov’s reasoning is as follows: Russia is the world’s leading power in terms of nuclear arms. An overthrow of Putin would lead to chaos, and very likely to genuine radicals assuming power. Their aggressive inclinations for policy to the West would be underpinned by the vast majority of the Russian population, which, in Shakhnazarov’s view, is now overcome with pure hatred for the West brought on by the sanctions, by the rampant Russophobia that is now public policy in Europe and the USA. If the conflict should escalate to use of tactical nuclear missiles and beyond, then Russia would no longer limit its strikes to military installations but will happily target all capitals and population centers in Europe and, we may assume, in North America. In a word, Shakhnazarov equates destabilization of Russia with nuclear Armageddon.

I repeat, these are the fears of a highly responsible and publicly visible Russian general manager in the arts. Is anybody in the West with comparable standing even beginning to imagine the coming catastrophe let alone speak out about it? Before closing, I redirect attention to a major newsworthy development in Russia yesterday afternoon which even our Western media have reported on this morning: the test launch of Russia’s new Sarmat ICBM, which sets new records for speed, distance, destructive force of its MIRV warheads and, surely most important, imperviousness to all known and projected anti-missile systems in the West. Part of the invulnerability of the Sarmat is a function of its range, which extends to every point on planet Earth. Sarmat’s trajectory can be set as best suits its undetectability.

For example, it can hit the USA by approach via the South Pole, thereby evading American tracking systems, which look to attack from the Northwest. The Sarmat’s 7 or 15 nuclear warheads can each also evade ABM systems and head for target at hypersonic speeds. Starting in September, the Sarmat will be installed in silos till now housing the world’s most powerful ICBM, the Voevoda, which will be gradually retired and redeployed as launchers for commercial satellites.

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“The view from the rubble of Kyiv’s suburbs isn’t hopeful.”

New World Disorder (Charai)

The latest battle zone in the Russia-Ukraine war was in the quiet, mostly mannerly halls of the United Nations. There, in the UN’s iconic New York headquarters, the world voted on Russia’s largest invasion since World War II — revealing fractures and fissures in global support for democracy. Suspending Russia from the UN Human Rights Council was technically the issue put before the delegates. But every diplomat knew it was really a vote on Russia’s assault on Ukraine. The consensus for democracy and self-determination was fragile: only 93 states (out of 193) voted for removing Russia from the UNHRC, and therefore condemning its actions against its smaller, weaker neighbor. Another 24 nations (including China) voted with Russia.

Most worrisome, 58 countries abstained, refusing to take sides in what many see as a duel between the great powers. Others feared that energy, food, and fertilizer prices might continue to climb if the conflict escalates. (Both Russia and Ukraine are major producers of oil, gas, wheat, and fertilizing petrochemicals — all of which are a matter of life and death for developing nations.) Fear and food are more important to many developing nations than democratic ideals. American and European policy makers will have to face a hard truth: while Russia is diplomatically isolated, it is not entirely alone, and many countries do not side with Ukraine and its democratic hopes. The view from the rubble of Kyiv’s suburbs isn’t hopeful.

Ukraine’s democratically elected leaders know that they could be captured, wounded, or killed. And they also know that the history of sanctions, the weapon of choice of the Western coalition, shows that they almost always fail to tame invaders. All of these facts were known to the UN delegates. Indeed, they would have heard them directly from Ukrainian diplomats. But high ideals and real desperation didn’t move them.

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“..a 45-54 years old death peak in September is unheard of.”

Why So Many Middle-Aged Deaths in 2021? (Briand)

Martin Kulldorff recently wrote: “For the mRNA vaccines, the big question that needs an urgent answer is whether they cause an increased risk of heart attack and/or other serious heart problems. There are many anecdotal reports, especially among young male athletes, and many VAERS reports. [..] Public health officials face a temptation to summarily dismiss anecdotal vaccine injury stories and people concerned about the publicly available VAERS reports, but in public health, we cannot do that. We must take people’s concerns seriously. What’s an economist’s reaction to anecdotal evidence? A friend recently asked me about the statistical relevance of anecdotal evidence. My answer to him was the following. The sum of life experiences by the many leads to a picture of the whole, while a picture of the whole hides unique and varied life experiences.

No “anecdotal evidence” should be dismissed a priori, just because it has been observed over a small and/or unique sample. The questions are the same, whether about “anecdotal evidence” or “evidence over a larger sample or population”: Have we really observed a change in the pattern in our data? What kind of inferences, if any, can we make from our observations? I have never paid much attention to athletes (no offense to the athletes), but I have recently paid attention to U.S. deaths. Using publicly available CDC data, I simply plotted monthly U.S. deaths, from 1999 to 2021. To my surprise, deaths due to suicides do not show an increase in 2020-21. But we thought they did, didn’t we? Does this mean we were not paying attention to suicides before, but recent events made us more attune to the suffering of others?

Or does it mean deaths of despair are found in other cause of death categories? Deaths due to accidental poisoning and exposure to noxious substances (which include accidental drug and alcohol overdose) have increased. Deaths due to homicide, and deaths due to liver diseases, have too. Some thought April 2020 deaths were too high and justified putting our lives on hold, but January 2021 numbers were worse—the percentage death rate in 2021 is the same as it was in 2020. Why the increase in January 2021 deaths? Continued upward trend in deaths due to the increase and aging of the US population? Deaths of despair? Increased deaths due to untreated conditions in 2020? Deaths due to COVID or one of its variants? Vaccine deaths?

In 2021, death numbers have peaked at unprecedented levels, in September, for the 45-54, 35-44 and 25-34 years old. September 2021 deaths for the 65-74 and 55-64 years old were also higher than their April 2020 numbers. Ok, so why is that significant? Let’s take the 45-54 years old group for example. Seasonal variations in deaths for this group has always been less pronounced than for the 85 years and older group, but whatever peaks they had, they still occurred mostly in January for both groups—so a 45-54 years old death peak in September is unheard of.

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“As long as the brain-blood barrier is leak-proof, very limited quantities of lipid nanoparticles – or pseudo-virus vectors – will penetrate the brain.”

Poking Holes In The Brain-blood Barrier. Is That Such A Good Idea? (Girardot)

Utilising 20% of the body’s energy, the humain brain contains ~650 kilometers of blood vessels, roughly 6 times the lungs’ own vascular system. As such it would be natural that the brain would face the most endothelial risk in the human body. When the data about the LNP distribution came out last year, most of us naturally focused on the organs where most of the nanoparticles seemed to be principally localised: liver, spleen, ovaries, heart, lungs … Strangely, the brain seemed relatively untouched with a peak estimate at 2 million nanoparticles in the brain, whereas the lungs seem to retain 6 times more vaccine particles… an inverted proportion.


Chart 1 – Lipid Nanoparticle Estimate for Pfizer Vaccine based on Mouse Model

There’s an acute difference between the brain and other organs: As a vascular system, the brain-blood-barrier (BBB) is a much tighter assembly of specialised endothelial cells than the rest of the circulatory system. The BBB controls what penetrates the brain much more tightly and rigourously. In other words, vaccine particles can come in and out freely in most organs, not in the brain. As long as the brain-blood barrier is leak-proof, very limited quantities of lipid nanoparticles – or pseudo-virus vectors – will penetrate the brain.

As we have witnessed with the escape from the injection point, it doesn’t mean necessarily that tissues are favourable to transfection…so a significant proportion of cytotoxic LNPs accounted for in Chart 1 aren’t necessarily synonymous with severity. Indeed, they might leak back into the lymphatic system and the blood stream later on. What I am trying to say is that it might seem from Chart 1 that the brain is not so much at risk, but effectively it probably is. Simply the brain isn’t storing LNPs in the tissue the way muscles or the heart might…and therefore the 2 million LNPs accounted for in the brain are likely transfected BBB endothelial cells !

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Too late already?

A Moratorium on mRNA ‘Vaccines’ is Needed (Byram Bridle)

Do you remember when public health and government officials assured everyone that the mRNA ‘vaccines’ function like traditional vaccine technologies? …meaning that they largely remain in the shoulder muscle where they are injected, with some portion going to the draining lymph nodes where an immune response is initiated. Well, back in May 2021, I, along with some international colleagues, looked at a document that Pfizer had submitted to the Japanese health regulatory agency. It was a pre-clinical biodistribution study. This means it was an experiment done with an animal model to predict where the vaccine formulation might go when injected into people. What I saw was startling. Most of Pfizer’s vaccine spread throughout the body instead of staying at the injection site.

This also meant there was the potential for toxicities that would never occur with traditional vaccines that largely remain at or close to the injection site. To ensure people could make a fully informed decision about whether to take the jab I went public with this information in a radio interview. I wasn’t surprised by the systemic distribution of the vaccine per se. Being a vaccinologist, I knew that lipid nanoparticle delivery systems were originally designed to spread far and wide throughout the body with the hopes they could be a vehicle for gene therapy and/or drug delivery. Instead, my surprise came from the fact that the data confirmed my historical understanding and contradicted public health messaging that the mRNA jabs behaved like traditional vaccines.

Public statements by health officials made me assume the lipid nanoparticles had somehow been modified to stay at the injection site, which was news to me. This highlights one of the first rules of thumb when practicing science. Transparently presented raw and/or peer-reviewed data are the cornerstones of objective science; not personal proclamations or data disseminated via media releases. In May 2021 I realized two things: 1. There was a lack of transparency about data supporting COVID-19 inoculations. 2. Incorrect messaging was being relayed to the public. As an academic public servant with relevant expertise, I spoke up when enquiries came from the public. I spoke the truth then and continue to do so.

Ryan Cole Cancer and T cells

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Fauci declares himself above the law. And the courts should stay out of it.

Fauci Complains About ‘Dangerous Precedent’ of Mask Mandate Ruling (TH)

After Fauci himself acknowledged that the rise in cases of this new variant may not lead to increased hospitalizations, he claimed that “it was perfectly logical for the CDC to say ‘wait a minute, we were planning on ending this mandate on a certain date, let’s wait a period of time until May 3” and also tried to convince that that “was a very sound public health decision.” He continued to complain about Judge Mizelle’s ruling, saying that “for a court to come in, and interfere in that, is really unfortunate. It’s unfortunate because it’s against public health principles, number one, and number two is because that’s no place for the courts to do that, this is a CDC decision, and that’s very bad precedent when you have courts making a decision and looking at what the basis of the decision, it was not sound.”

What? Is the CDC accountable to no one? Also, when it comes to waiting until “a certain date,” plenty of us remember the powers that be at the time telling us, over two years ago now, that we just needed two weeks to stop the spread. Such exchanges certainly highlight an entitlement that Dr. Fauci, the CDC, and the Biden administration all have when it comes to their authority in handling the Wuhan coronavirus. It’s all on these members of the mainstream media for throwing Biden such softball questions. These remarks came after Dr. Fauci just recently, during an appearance on ABC News’ “This Week” acknowledged that “this is not going to be eradicated … Each individual is going to have to make their [risk] calculation.”


Fauci has hardly been the only one to denigrate Judge Mizelle though, with other liberals going after her, including to do with her age and her qualifications, as Spencer and our friends at Twitchy highlighted. When it comes to Fauci’s sense of entitlement, he may need to be reminded that the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have found that the CDC overstepped its authority before when it comes to the pandemic. Last August, in a 6-3 decision, the Court ruled against the CDC’s eviction moratorium, which even President Joe Biden had acknowledged was likely unconstitutional, though he issued it regardless.

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And Keith Olberman. But nobody takes him serious anymore.

Tulsi Gabbard Releases Cease And Desist Letter To Mitt Romney (JTN)

Former Democrat Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has sent Sen. Mitt Romney a cease-and-desist letter over the Utah Republican’s recent accusation that she has told “treasonous lies.” The letter, which Gabbard posted to her social media, accuses Romney of making “false and defamatory statements” and encourages him to enter into a settlement with her before the process reaches the litigation stages. “Tulsi Gabbard is parroting false Russian propaganda,” Romney tweeted March 13 about the ex-Hawaii congresswoman, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was roughly two weeks old. “Her treasonous lies may well cost lives.” The senator and former Massachusetts governor and 2016 GOP presidential nominee did not offer specifics.

But he purportedly was referring to comments Gabbard – a major in the Army National Guard who served two tours of duty in the Middle East – made about biolabs in Ukraine. Last month, Gabbard, also a 2020 presidential candidate, told Fox News show host Tucker Carlson that she was “deeply concerned” about the biolab issue and posted a video to her social media accounts in which she said that there are more than 25 “U.S.-funded biolabs in Ukraine, which if breached would release and spread deadly pathogens.” “While your tweet lacked any context, we surmise that your tweet was made in reference to a video Representative Gabbard published on Twitter that same day,” Gabbard’s attorney said about the Romney tweet.

“In her video, Representative Gabbard called for a ceasefire in the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine so that any biological laboratories in Ukraine could be secured,” states the cease-and-desist document, which also argues everything Gabbard said in her video was “factually accurate.” Treason can be punishable by death, according to U.S. House code. Gabbard’s lawyer also writes: “Representative Gabbard’s loyalty to the United States is beyond reproach. You knew your claims of treason were false, or, at a minimum, you made your claims of treason with reckless disregard for the truth.” Biolabs in Ukraine are the focus of a conspiracy theory that alleges the Biden administration was funding biological weapon labs in the country now under attack from Russia.

Tucker Tulsi

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“Whether Jan. 6 was a riot or an actual insurrection remains a matter of deep and largely partisan disagreement — but the disqualification clause was written in reference to a real Civil War in which more than 750,000 people died in combat.”

Destroying Democracy To Save It? (Turley)

As the country braces for the midterm elections, the left seems to be rallying behind three D’s: Democracy, Disinformation and Disqualification. The latter effort just received a huge boost from a judge in Georgia who has allowed a challenge to knock Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) off the ballot as an insurrectionist. Nothing says “democracy” like preventing others from voting. Many of us have criticized Greene for her inflammatory rhetoric and her extreme views. No less dangerous, though, is the means being used by some of Greene’s critics to get rid of her. It is all part of a new movement to defend democracy by denying it. To paraphrase the Vietnam strategy, democracy can only be saved by destroying it through the denial of speech or the right to vote.

[..] Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was written after the 39th Congress convened in December 1865, following the end of the Civil War. At the time, many members were not pleased to see former Confederates like Alexander Stephens (D-Ga.), the Confederacy’s vice president, appear in Congress to retake the very oath they previously violated by waging war against the country. Whether Jan. 6 was a riot or an actual insurrection remains a matter of deep and largely partisan disagreement — but the disqualification clause was written in reference to a real Civil War in which more than 750,000 people died in combat. The Confederacy was a separate government with its own army, currency and foreign policy.

There is another problem: To the extent that a person can be disqualified under the 14th Amendment, it requires action from Congress, not a local board of election. Despite an otherwise long, careful opinion, Totenberg blithely set aside such details, including an 1869 decision by then-Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase. The case in question challenged the right of Hugh W. Sheffey to hold a Virginia state court office, given his support for the Confederacy. Chase ruled that Section 3 did not disqualify Sheffey because “legislation by Congress is necessary to give effect to” Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, and disqualification from office “can only be provided for by Congress.” Congress later passed the Amnesty Act of 1872, which overrode the Disqualification Clause except for “Senators and Representatives of the thirty-sixth and thirty-seventh Congresses.”

The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that states cannot impose their own qualifications for Congress because it would “erode the structure envisioned by the Framers.” Under such an approach, partisan state election boards could simply conclude that a member is an insurrectionist and prevent voters from being able to make such choices for themselves.

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Cancel Culture. As per the Guardian.

Barack Obama Outlines Perils Of Unregulated Big Tech (G.)

Technology companies must be reined in to address the “weakening of democratic institutions around the world”, Barack Obama said Thursday, in a sweeping keynote speech on the perils of disinformation. Speaking at Stanford University in Silicon Valley, the former president made his most extensive remarks yet about the technology landscape, which he said is “turbo-charging some of humanity’s worst impulses”. “One of the biggest reasons for the weakening of democracy is the profound change that’s taken place in how we communicate and consume information,” he said. The address came as Obama has increasingly focused his post-presidential messaging on misinformation and what should be done about the largely unchecked power wielded by big tech. On Thursday, he solidified those calls, endorsing specific legislation.

“Do we allow our democracy to wither, or do we make it better?” Obama asked. “That is the choice.” Obama’s speech called attention to the grave impacts of disinformation and misinformation – including manipulation of the 2016 and 2020 elections and the rise of anti-vaccination sentiments. He was candid about regrets he had surrounding Donald Trump’s election, saying his administration had long known that Russia had incentive to manipulate US democracy but he underestimated the effectiveness of the efforts. “What still nags at me is my failure to appreciate at the time just how susceptible we had become to lies and conspiracy theories,” Obama said.

A Senate panel report in 2020 found conclusively that Russia had interfered in the 2016 elections to sway votes in favor of Trump, echoing findings from a prior report published by the Department of Justice. In addition to impacting the results of those elections, disinformation and misinformation has also caused many Americans to reject the results of democratically sound elections, Obama said – noting that the majority of Republicans doubt the legitimacy of Biden’s 2020 win. Much of these issues can be attributed to a decline in media literacy, the erosion of local news sources, and an “information overload” as we come into contact with limitless content each day. “The sheer proliferation of conflict and the splintering of information and audiences has made democracy more complicated,” Obama said.

Obama

“Despite the fact that we have now essentially clinically tested the vaccine on billions of people worldwide. Around 1 in 5 Americans is still going to put themselves at risk… rather than get vaccinated.”

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And this is where Obama’s views lead:

Big Tech’s ‘Cancel Culture’ Love Affair (Pepe Escobar)

This month, several of us – Scott Ritter, myself, ASB Military News, among others – were canceled from Twitter. The – unstated – reason: we were debunking the officially approved narrative of the Russia/NATO/Ukraine war. As with all things Big Tech, that was predictable. I lasted only seven months on Twitter. And that was long enough. Contacts in California had told me I was on their radar because the account grew too fast, and had enormous reach, especially after the start of Operation Z. I celebrated the cancelation by experiencing an aesthetic illumination in front of the Aegean Sea, at the home of Herodotus, the Father of History. Additionally, it was heart-warming to be recognized by the great George Galloway in his moving tribute to targets of the new McCarthyism.

In parallel, comic relief of the “Mars Attacks” variety was provided by expectations of free speech on Twitter being saved by the benign intervention of Elon Musk. Techno-feudalism is one of the overarching themes of my latest book, Raging Twenties – published in early 2021 and reviewed here in a very thoughtful and meticulous manner. Cancel culture is inbuilt in the techno-feudalist project: conform to the hegemonic narrative, or else. In my own case regarding Twitter and Facebook – two of the guardians of the internet, alongside Google — I knew a day of reckoning was inevitable, because like other countless users I had previously been dispatched to those notorious “jails”.

On one Facebook occasion, I sent a sharp message highlighting that I was a columnist/analyst for an established Hong Kong-based media company. Some human, not an algorithm, must have read it, because the account was restored in less than 24 hours. But then the account was simply disabled – with no warning. I requested the proverbial “review”. The response was a demand for proof of ID. Less than 24 hours later, came the verdict: “Your account has been disabled” because it had not followed those notoriously hazy “community standards.” The decision was “reviewed” and “it can’t be reversed”. [..] My hit-by-a-Hellfire missile Facebook page clearly identified for the general public who I was, at the time: “Geopolitical analyst at Asia Times”.

The fact of the matter is Facebook algorithms canceled a top columnist from Asia Times – with a proven record and a global profile. The algos would never have had the – digital – guts to do the same with a top columnist from The New York Times or the Financial Times. Asia Times lawyers in Hong Kong sent a letter to Facebook management. Predictably, there was no response. Of course becoming a target of cancel culture – twice – does not even remotely compare to the fate of Julian Assange, imprisoned for over three years in Belmarsh under the most appalling circumstances, and about to be dispatched for “judgment” in the American gulag for the crime of committing journalism. Yet the same “logic” applies: journalism that does not conform to the hegemonic narrative must be taken down.

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They’re coming for him from all sides. By definition, that means they’re coming for his dad, too, even if they don’t recognize it.

Feds Subpoenaed Hunter Biden Paternity Documents, Including Tax Returns (CBS)

Prosecutors investigating Hunter Biden subpoenaed documents from a paternity lawsuit that included tax records for the president’s son, according to documents and an attorney involved in the matter. “They wanted every record relating to Hunter Biden we had,” Clint Lancaster told CBS News. Lancaster represented Lunden Roberts, a woman who filed suit against Hunter Biden in 2019 alleging he was the father of her child. A December 2020 subpoena from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Delaware, obtained by CBS News, requested all documents “regarding [Hunter] Biden’s income, assets, debts, obligations, and financial transactions… and all personal and business expenditures.” The request specified January 2017 to the present. The subpoena also requested a wide range of tax documents pertaining to Hunter Biden.

“All federal, state, local and foreign tax documentation related to Biden,” the subpoena reads, “including but not limited to, IRS Forms 1099, income and payroll tax returns, state tax returns, and amended tax returns.” Hunter Biden’s personal and business conduct have been the subject of scrutiny — and the target of Republican political attacks — since the earliest days of the 2020 presidential campaign. The move by federal authorities to obtain these records offers a new, if narrow, glimpse into the long-running investigation into the president’s son — a probe that began as a tax inquiry several years ago. Lancaster told CBS News that in the fall of 2021, the Assistant U.S. Attorney in Delaware, Lesley Wolf, traveled to his Arkansas law office, joined by at least two federal agents, one from the FBI and the other an IRS enforcement agent.

Lancaster said he and his client spent about half a day answering questions about Hunter Biden and his business practices. Lancaster said that in the meeting, investigators asked for information about several companies affiliated with Hunter Biden, including Rosemont Seneca Partners, a firm where he worked for several years. The line of questioning tracks with a separate 2019 federal subpoena from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Delaware. The subpoena, obtained by CBS News, sought “all records, documents and accounts pertaining to all financial/banking transactions” between 15 business entities and Hunter Biden, the president’s brother James, as well as two business partners dating back to 2014, when Joe Biden was vice president.

Lancaster said that during the paternity suit Hunter Biden had supplied an “affidavit of financial means,” which detailed his finances through income statements and a breakdown of monthly expenses. Lancaster said the tax records he and his client supplied overlapped with the time period of Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings. Roberts testified before a Delaware grand jury in February of this year, according to her lawyer. An Arkansas court filing from November 2019 states, “DNA testing has established with scientific certainty” that Hunter Biden is the father of Roberts’ child. The child is believed to be around 3 years old today. The paternity case was settled in 2020. Some of the records in the case are under seal.

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Defund.

Black Lives Don’t Matter To BLM (Blaze)

It had even more corporate and cultural support than the vaccines and Ukraine. It was the greatest juggernaut in politics that even ensnared many Republican politicians. Yet never have we seen a movement that accomplished the opposite of what it was purported to do in such a short time frame. It turns out that as a result of the BLM-induced crime wave, reversing a generation-long trend of reduced crime, there were thousands of excess black homicide victims, a body count that is still climbing. Hannah Meyers, director of the policing and public safety initiative at the Manhattan Institute, told Fox News’ Emma Colton that there were nearly 2,500 excess black murders in 2020 over the previous year and the 10-year average. Here is a breakdown of the data from Fox:

In 2019, at least 7,484 Black Americans were murdered. That number shot up to at least 9,941 murders in 2020, meaning there was an increase of 2,457 Black Americans murdered over the previous year. The number of Black murders was also far higher than White murders in 2020. The FBI data shows there 7,043 White people murdered that year, meaning 2,898 more Black people were killed compared to Whites. Between 2010 and 2019, there was an average of 5,954 White murders, which is roughly 16% lower than the 10-year average of Black murders. During that same time period, an average of 6,927 Black Americans were murdered each year, meaning Black murders shot up by 43% in 2020 compared to the previous 10-year average.

What is evident from this analysis is that there were two periods of abnormal increases in black homicides: one in 2015 after Ferguson and Freddie Gray and then a much sharper increase in 2019 with George Floyd. In other words, every time they promote the anti-police and anti-incarceration message, it backfires, and black people are harmed the most. Preliminary numbers from 2021 show an even greater increase in homicides. And given that major cities like Baltimore and Philadelphia set new records, it’s very likely that black victims accounted for an even greater share of the excess.

Republicans stupidly squandered the Trump years trying to outflank the Democrats on de-incarceration in an effort to pander to the black vote. They wrongly focused on the fact that blacks are disproportionately incarcerated, even though that is an unfortunate reflection of the crime rate. What they should have focused on is that black victims of crime are disproportionately affected by jailbreak policies. Despite composing just 13% of the population, they account for the majority of the homicide victims. Releasing career criminals ensures that the body count goes up.

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“Tesla today has a market value of $1.1tn, following a 1,300% rise in its share price since the target was set in January 2018..”

Elon Musk To Collect $23bn Bonus As Tesla Beats Targets (G.)

Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla and the world’s richest person, is set to collect a $23bn bonus after the Californian electric car company’s first-quarter results exceeded performance targets. Musk, who is already sitting on an estimated $249bn fortune, is in line for the bonus share payout after Tesla hit share price and financial growth milestones in its earnings on Wednesday night. Tesla made an adjusted profit of $5bn on revenue of $18.8bn in the first quarter of the year – an 81% increase on the same period a year earlier. The results, combined with the growth in Tesla’s share price performance, mean Musk has hit targets that should lead to a bonus share payout worth about $23bn.

The company outlined an extraordinary deal for Musk in 2018 that would pay him an unprecedented $55.8bn bonus if he built the business into a $650bn company within a decade. He achieved that milestone early, in January 2020. Tesla today has a market value of $1.1tn, following a 1,300% rise in its share price since the target was set in January 2018. It means Musk, who collects no salary, should now have unlocked the final three parts of the 12-tranche bonus scheme. Each tranche gives Musk the right to buy 8.4m Tesla shares at $70, a huge discount on the current $977 share price. His profit on each tranche could be $7.7bn or a combined value of $23bn. The payments need to be signed off by the board, and he must hold on to the shares for five years before selling.

Musk, who is attempting to buy Twitter for more than $43bn, said he was not in talks with Tesla’s board over a new bonus scheme after completing the 2018 deal early. “There are no discussions underway about incremental compensation for me,” he said on the company’s earning call. “The future is very exciting,” Musk said in the call with investors. “I’ve never been more optimistic or excited about the future of Tesla than I am right now.”

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Clinton campaign ad, October 15, 2016.

 

 

Haney suicide

 

 

Greeks eat lamb for Easter

 

 

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Mar 172022
 


René Magritte L’empire des lumières 1949

 

Zelensky Slaps Down Russia’s 15-Point Peace Plan (DM)
For Washington, War Never Ends (Diana Johnstone)
Waltzing to Armageddon (Chris Hedges)
In the Modern Adaption of The Wizard of Oz…
Neo-Nazis In Ukraine Fake Incidents To Gain More ‘Western’ Support (MoA)
The Russian ‘Denazification’ PR Disaster: How, Why And What To Do (Mazaheri)
Say Hello To Russian Gold And Chinese Petroyuan (Escobar)
The Illusion of Evidence Based Medicine (BMJ)
Woman Died From Rare Vaccine Side-effect (BBC)
The Vindication of D.A. Henderson (Tucker)
DOJ Ordered To Produce Documents Related To Steve Bannon Prosecution (Pol.)
New Legal Hurdles for Julian Assange (Craig Murray)

 

 

 

 

5%

 

 

PFIZER REMOVED FROM THE STOCK EXCHANGE – & THEIR HEADQUARTERS IS NOW ABANDONED !

 

 

“.. the biggest sticking point was Russia’s insistence that Ukraine recognises the annexation of Crimea and the independence of Luhansk and Donetsk.”

Zelensky Slaps Down Russia’s 15-Point Peace Plan (DM)

Volodymyr Zelensky has slapped down Russia’s 15-point peace plan by insisting Ukraine’s priorities include ‘restoring territorial integrity’. The Kremlin had drafted a proposed agreement with a list of 15 demands which insisted that Ukraine recognise the annexation of Crimea and the independence of Donbass. But Zelensky has seemingly rejected the proposals, despite Ukrainian cities continuing to be pummelled by Russian forces, with Mariupol’s theatre targeted in Putin’s latest savage attack. In a video shared on Telegram, Zelensky said: ‘The talks on Ukraine continue. My priorities at the talks are crystal clear: end of the war, security guarantees, sovereignty, restoring territorial integrity, real guarantees for our country, real protection of our country.’

Earlier, sources on both sides had signalled that progress had been made in talks that would secure a ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops. The provisions in the 15-point plan would mean Kyiv would agree to neutrality and accept limits on its military to stop the barbaric attacks against its civilians by Putin’s forces. It would also see Zelensky renounce his NATO ambitions and promise not to host Western military bases or weaponry in exchange for protection. Sources briefed on the talks told the Financial Times that another provision includes enshrining rights for the Russian language in Ukraine. But the biggest sticking point was Russia’s insistence that Ukraine recognises the annexation of Crimea and the independence of Luhansk and Donetsk.

Putin insists that the whole of the Donbass should split from Ukraine, and not just the parts occupied by pro-Moscow rebel forces before fighting broke out. Zelensky’s comments that Ukraine’s priorities include restoring Ukraine’s territory suggest the two sides are some way off finalising an agreement. The wartime leader again accused Putin of war crimes in his latest video address. He said: ‘Ukraine received powerful support of our American friends. I’m thankful to President Biden for it. I’m thankful for leadership that united the democratic world. ‘But the war doesn’t stop. Russian war crimes don’t stop. The Russian economy is still capable to feed their military machine.’

[..] Russia’s negotiator Medinsky echoed the line to reporters on Wednesday that talks were ‘slow and difficult’ but said the Kremlin wants peace, ‘as soon as possible’. He reiterated that the core issue at the talks is a ‘neutral’ Ukraine, citing the status of Austria and Sweden as possible examples to follow. It would mean Ukraine could retain its armed forces but that Kyiv would not be allowed to have any foreign bases, according to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. ‘A whole range of issues tied with the size of Ukraine’s army is being discussed’, Medinsky said, having earlier mentioned the sides are discussing an idea for a future Ukraine with a smaller, non-aligned military.

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“The lackadaisical U.S. “de-Nazification” of its sector of occupied Germany was accompanied by an organized brain drain of Germans who could be useful to the United States..”

For Washington, War Never Ends (Diana Johnstone)

It goes on and on. The “war to end war” of 1914-1918 led to the war of 1939-1945, known as World War II. And that one has never ended either, mainly because for Washington, it was the Good War, the war that made The American Century: why not the American Millenium? The conflict in Ukraine may be the spark that sets off what we already call World War III. But this is not a new war. It is the same old war, an extension of the one we call World War II, which was not the same war for all those who took part. The Russian war and the American war were very, very different.

Russia’s World War II For Russians, the war was an experience of massive suffering, grief and destruction. The Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union was utterly ruthless, propelled by a racist ideology of contempt for the Slavs and hatred of “Jewish Bolsheviks.” An estimated 27 million died, about two thirds of them civilians. Despite overwhelming losses and suffering, the Red Army succeeded in turning the Nazi tide of conquest that had subdued most of Europe. This gigantic struggle to drive the German invaders from their soil is known to Russians as the Great Patriotic War, nourishing a national pride that helped console the people for all they had been through. But whatever the pride in victory, the horrors of the war inspired a genuine desire for peace.

America’s World War II America’s World War II (like World War I) happened somewhere else. That is a very big difference. The war enabled the United States to emerge as the richest and most powerful nation on earth. Americans were taught never to compromise, neither to prevent war (“Munich”) nor to end one (“unconditional surrender” was the American way). Righteous intransigence was the fitting attitude of Good in its battle against Evil. The war economy brought the U.S. out of the depression. Military Keynesianism emerged as the key to prosperity. The Military-Industrial-Complex was born. To continue providing Pentagon contracts to every congressional constituency and guaranteed profits to Wall Street investors, it needed a new enemy. The Communist scare – the very same scare that had contributed to creating fascism – did the trick.

The Cold War: World War II Continued In short, after 1945, for Russia, World War II was over. For the United States, it was not. What we call the Cold War was its voluntary continuation by leaders in Washington. It was perpetuated by the theory that Russia’s defensive “Iron Curtain” constituted a military threat to the rest of Europe. At the end of the war, the main security concern of Stalin was to prevent such an invasion from ever happening again. Contrary to Western interpretations, Moscow’s ongoing control of Eastern European countries it had occupied on its way to victory in Berlin was not inspired so much by communist ideology as by determination to create a buffer zone as an obstacle to repeated invasion from the West.

Stalin respected the Yalta lines between East and West and declined to support the life and death struggle of Greek communists. Moscow cautioned leaders of large Western European Communist Parties to eschew revolution and play by the rules of bourgeois democracy. The Soviet occupation could be brutal but was resolutely defensive. Soviet sponsorship of peace movements was perfectly genuine. The formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the rearmament of Germany confirmed that for the United States, the war in Europe was not entirely over. The lackadaisical U.S. “de-Nazification” of its sector of occupied Germany was accompanied by an organized brain drain of Germans who could be useful to the United States in its rearmament and espionage (from Wernher von Braun to Reinhard Gehlen).

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“The desperate effort to counter the steady loss of economic dominance by the U.S. will not be offset by military dominance.”

Waltzing to Armageddon (Chris Hedges)

The Cold War, from 1945 to 1989, was a wild Bacchanalia for arms manufacturers, the Pentagon, the C.I.A., the diplomats who played one country off another on the world’s chess board, and the global corporations able to loot and pillage by equating predatory capitalism with freedom. In the name of national security, the Cold Warriors, many of them self-identified liberals, demonized labor, independent media, human rights organizations, and those who opposed the permanent war economy and the militarization of American society as soft on communism. That is why they have resurrected it.


The decision to spurn the possibility of peaceful coexistence with Russia at the end of the Cold War is one of the most egregious crimes of the late 20th century. The danger of provoking Russia was universally understood with the collapse of the Soviet Union, including by political elites as diverse as Henry Kissinger and George F. Kennan, who called the expansion of NATO into Central Europe “the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-Cold War era.” This provocation, a violation of a promise not to expand NATO beyond the borders of a unified Germany, has seen Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro and North Macedonia inducted into the Western military alliance.

This betrayal was compounded by a decision to station NATO troops, including thousands of U.S. troops, in Eastern Europe, another violation of an agreement made by Washington with Moscow. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, perhaps a cynical goal of the Western alliance, has now solidified an expanding and resurgent NATO and a rampant, uncontrollable militarism. The masters of war may be ecstatic, but the potential consequences, including a global conflagration, are terrifying. Peace has been sacrificed for U.S. global hegemony. It has been sacrificed for the billions in profits made by the arms industry. Peace could have seen state resources invested in people rather than systems of control. It could have allowed us to address the climate emergency. But we cry peace, peace, and there is no peace. Nations frantically rearm, threatening nuclear war. They prepare for the worst, ensuring that the worst will happen.

So, what if the Amazon is reaching its final tipping point where trees will soon begin to die off en masse? So what if land ice and ice shelves are melting from below at a much faster rate than predicted? So what if temperatures soar, monster hurricanes, floods, droughts, and wildfires devastate the earth? In the face of the gravest existential crisis to beset the human species, and most other species, the ruling elites stoke a conflict that is driving up the price of oil and turbocharging the fossil fuel extraction industry. It is collective madness.

The march towards protracted conflict with Russia and China will backfire. The desperate effort to counter the steady loss of economic dominance by the U.S. will not be offset by military dominance. If Russia and China can create an alternative global financial system, one that does not use the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency, it will signal the collapse of the American empire. The dollar will plummet in value. Treasury bonds, used to fund America’s massive debt, will become largely worthless. The financial sanctions used to cripple Russia will be, I expect, the mechanism that slays Americans, if not immolation in thermonuclear war.

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“..and the strawman is selected as the new U.S. President.”

In the Modern Adaption of The Wizard of Oz… (CTH)

… When this scene is remade in the 2022 version, the media munchkins will grab clubs, beat Toto to death, pull the curtain back closed and throw a parade for the Wicked Witch. Dorothy then dies from a vaccine induced blood clot, the tin man is recycled by China, the cowardly lion becomes Senate majority leader, and the strawman is selected as the new U.S. President.

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The materity ward didn’t work, the theater doesn’t appear to either.

But that’s not just Azov. Ukraine as a whole has a well-oiled information warfare division.

Neo-Nazis In Ukraine Fake Incidents To Gain More ‘Western’ Support (MoA)

The Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University has collected quite a bit of information of the Azov battalion. “The Azov Battalion is an extreme-right nationalist paramilitary organization based in Ukraine. Founded in 2014, the group promotes Ukrainian nationalism and neo-Nazism through its National Militia paramilitary organization and National Corps political wing. It is notable for its recruitment of far-right foreign fighters from the U.S. and Europe as well as its extensive transnational ties with other far-right organizations. In 2022, the group came to prominence again for fighting against Russian forces in Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Mariupol.

In 2014 Newsweek and others documented that Azov is a fascist organization: “Norwegian channel TV2 presented footage yesterday of the Azov battalion flying flags with the symbols of Ukraine’s neo-Nazi party – Patriot of Ukraine.” In 2016 Amnesty International accused the Azov battalion of “Enforced Disappearances, Arbitrary Detentions, and Torture”.

Since at least 2015 Ukrainian fascist formations like the Azov battalion have been trained by the CIA: “As the battle lines hardened in Donbas, a small, select group of veteran CIA paramilitaries made their first secret trips to the frontlines to meet with Ukrainian counterparts there, according to former U.S. officials … Until now, however, the details of the CIA’s paramilitary training program on Ukraine’s eastern frontlines have never been revealed. This initiative, say former agency officials, has helped battle-hardened Ukrainian special operations forces for the current Russian assault, which has plunged Europe into its worst conflict in decades.”

One of the aims of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine is to de-nazify the country. The elimination of the Azov battalion in Mariupol and similar groups elsewhere in Ukraine is certainly on their agenda. It is no wonder then that Azov is faking incidents to gain more ‘western’ support for its side.

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Ramin Mazaheri at the Saker blog appears to suggest Putin must speak in terms the west understands. But why? If Russians have a different definition of nazis, isn’t that perhaps more relevant to him?

The Russian ‘Denazification’ PR Disaster: How, Why And What To Do (Mazaheri)

Many have heard of Godwin’s Law, or the rule of Nazi analogies: an Internet adage asserting that as an online discussion grows longer (regardless of topic or scope), the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Adolf Hitler approaches. However, an important corollary is that whenever someone compares someone or something to Nazism – that person has lost the argument and/or the argument is summarily over. Essentially, the world is to accept that all discussions of Western politics cannot discuss the anti-Western Liberalism ideology which was German Nazism.” Yes, Russia should have accepted that in February. Practically nobody west of the Oder River understood what Moscow meant by “denazification”, and they still don’t after a month of Russian explanations.


Russia’s military operation has made much harder by failing to recognise the iron Western cultural reality of Godwin’s Law, and the reality that the West only associates Nazis with anti-Semitism and – not at all! – with Russophobia, despite the 20+ million Russian deaths at the hands of the Germanic Nazis. This is how iron that law is: Political science PhD holders have responded to me with, “But… Ukraine’s president is Jewish – how can there be Nazis?” If you cannot even get Western political science PhD holders to see where you are coming from – even remotely – you have zero chance to get the average Westerner to understand you. Thus it’s a total, ongoing public relations catastrophe.

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“The US dollar and imperial hegemony are facing stormy seas.”

Say Hello To Russian Gold And Chinese Petroyuan (Escobar)

It was a long time coming, but finally some key lineaments of the multipolar world’s new foundations are being revealed. On Friday, after a videoconference meeting, the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and China agreed to design the mechanism for an independent international monetary and financial system. The EAEU consists of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Armenia, is establishing free trade deals with other Eurasian nations, and is progressively interconnecting with the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). For all practical purposes, the idea comes from Sergei Glazyev, Russia’s foremost independent economist, a former adviser to President Vladimir Putin and the Minister for Integration and Macroeconomics of the Eurasia Economic Commission, the regulatory body of the EAEU.

Glazyev [..] saw the western financial squeeze on Moscow coming light-years before others. Quite diplomatically, Glazyev attributed the fruition of the idea to “the common challenges and risks associated with the global economic slowdown and restrictive measures against the EAEU states and China.” Translation: as China is as much a Eurasian power as Russia, they need to coordinate their strategies to bypass the US unipolar system. The Eurasian system will be based on “a new international currency,” most probably with the yuan as reference, calculated as an index of the national currencies of the participating countries, as well as commodity prices. The first draft will be already discussed by the end of the month.

The Eurasian system is bound to become a serious alternative to the US dollar, as the EAEU may attract not only nations that have joined BRI (Kazakhstan, for instance, is a member of both) but also the leading players in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as well as ASEAN. West Asian actors – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon – will be inevitably interested. In the medium to long term, the spread of the new system will translate into the weakening of the Bretton Woods system, which even serious US market players/strategists admit is rotten from the inside. The US dollar and imperial hegemony are facing stormy seas.

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“..through company control of the research agenda and ghostwriting of medical journal articles and continuing medical education, academics become agents for the promotion of commercial products.”

The Illusion of Evidence Based Medicine (BMJ)

The advent of evidence based medicine was a paradigm shift intended to provide a solid scientific foundation for medicine. The validity of this new paradigm, however, depends on reliable data from clinical trials, most of which are conducted by the pharmaceutical industry and reported in the names of senior academics. The release into the public domain of previously confidential pharmaceutical industry documents has given the medical community valuable insight into the degree to which industry sponsored clinical trials are misrepresented. Until this problem is corrected, evidence based medicine will remain an illusion.

The philosophy of critical rationalism, advanced by the philosopher Karl Popper, famously advocated for the integrity of science and its role in an open, democratic society. A science of real integrity would be one in which practitioners are careful not to cling to cherished hypotheses and take seriously the outcome of the most stringent experiments. This ideal is, however, threatened by corporations, in which financial interests trump the common good. Medicine is largely dominated by a small number of very large pharmaceutical companies that compete for market share, but are effectively united in their efforts to expanding that market. The short term stimulus to biomedical research because of privatisation has been celebrated by free market champions, but the unintended, long term consequences for medicine have been severe. Scientific progress is thwarted by the ownership of data and knowledge because industry suppresses negative trial results, fails to report adverse events, and does not share raw data with the academic research community. Patients die because of the adverse impact of commercial interests on the research agenda, universities, and regulators.

The pharmaceutical industry’s responsibility to its shareholders means that priority must be given to their hierarchical power structures, product loyalty, and public relations propaganda over scientific integrity. Although universities have always been elite institutions prone to influence through endowments, they have long laid claim to being guardians of truth and the moral conscience of society. But in the face of inadequate government funding, they have adopted a neo-liberal market approach, actively seeking pharmaceutical funding on commercial terms. As a result, university departments become instruments of industry: through company control of the research agenda and ghostwriting of medical journal articles and continuing medical education, academics become agents for the promotion of commercial products. When scandals involving industry-academe partnership are exposed in the mainstream media, trust in academic institutions is weakened and the vision of an open society is betrayed.

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If they report on just 1 in a 1000 events, they will always appear to be rare. Win-win.

Woman Died From Rare Vaccine Side-effect (BBC)

A mother died from a “catastrophic” bleed on the brain caused by a rare side-effect of the Covid-19 vaccine, a coroner has concluded. Kim Lockwood, 34, complained of an excruciating headache eight days after her AstraZeneca jab in March 2021. Her condition quickly deteriorated and she was pronounced dead 17 hours after being admitted to Rotherham Hospital. South Yorkshire Coroner Nicola Mundy said Mrs Lockwood had been “extremely unlucky”. At Doncaster Coroner’s court, she recorded the cause of death as Vaccine-Induced Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia (VITT) and returned a verdict of misadventure. Little was known about the link between the Covid-19 jab and VITT at the time of Mrs Lockwood’s death, the coroner said, but “medical advances” meant the condition was better-recognised since the initial vaccine rollout.


Government figures show the type of reaction Mrs Lockwood experienced is considered extremely rare. There have been 438 reported cases and 78 deaths after an estimated 24.9 million first doses and 24.2 million second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The inquest heard administrative secretary Mrs Lockwood first went to Rotherham Hospital’s A&E on 22 March but left without being seen after a long wait. She returned the next morning suffering from debilitating headaches, blurred vision and vomiting, and by midday could not speak in full sentences. By 02:00 on 24 March, the mother-of-two was unresponsive and her family was called to say their goodbyes. Ms Mundy said an MRI scan should have been arranged sooner, but this, combined with other measures such as a blood platelet transfusion and lumbar puncture would not have saved Mrs Lockwood due to the massive, “sudden and catastrophic” bleed on her brain.

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“If either is seen to be less than optimal, a manageable epidemic could move toward catastrophe.”

The Vindication of D.A. Henderson (Tucker)

Venkayya and his friends might have invented “pandemic planning” of this sort but it did not work. Instead it created mass suffering, demoralization, confusion, and public anger, not to mention having vastly expanded government power over the entire world. It is not an accident that censorship, ill-health, illiteracy, and now war are left in the wake of this fiasco. The lockdowns shattered what was called civilization, rooted in the rights and freedoms that “pandemic planning” reduced to nothingness. We should remember the man who called out this crazed ideology back in 2006. He is Donald A. Henderson, the world’s most important epidemiologist at the time. He had worked with the World Health Organization and is given primary credit for the eradication of smallpox. His book on the topic is a tour de force and a model of how a genuine public health official goes about his work.

His 2006 article provided a comprehensive critique of lockdown ideology. The title is “Disease Mitigation Measures in the Control of Pandemic Influenza.” He notes the new interest “in a range of disease mitigation measures. Possible measures that have been proposed include: isolation of sick people in hospital or at home, use of antiviral medications, hand-washing and respiratory etiquette, large-scale or home quarantine of people believed to have been exposed, travel restrictions, prohibition of social gatherings, school closures, maintaining personal distance, and the use of masks.” “We must ask,” he writes, “whether any or all of the proposed measures are epidemiologically sound, logistically feasible, and politically viable.

“It is also critically important to consider possible secondary social and economic impacts of various mitigation measures.” Coming under special scrutiny here was the neologism “social distancing.” He points out that it has been deployed to describe everything from simple actions to avoid exposure to covering full-scale closures and stay-at-home orders. He approves of course of hand-washing and using tissues but points out that while these practices have individual value, there is no evidence that making the practices widespread will somehow end a pandemic or even stop the spread of a virus. As for the other measures – travel restrictions, closures, stay-at-home orders, prohibition of gatherings, masking – he shoots them down one by one using logic, experience, and citations from literature.

While it is good to be prepared for a pandemic, we must remember that they do come and go. Wrecking society and rights achieves nothing. He saves the best as the final flourish. Read it and see his prophecy in action: “Experience has shown that communities faced with epidemics or other adverse events respond best and with the least anxiety when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted. Strong political and public health leadership to provide reassurance and to ensure that needed medical care services are provided are critical elements. If either is seen to be less than optimal, a manageable epidemic could move toward catastrophe.”

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“..published OLC opinions that say senior presidential advisers are “absolutely immune” from compelled congressional testimony. ”

DOJ Ordered To Produce Documents Related To Steve Bannon Prosecution (Pol.)

A federal judge has ordered the Justice Department to produce internal records related to its decision to prosecute Steve Bannon, a win for the former Trump adviser, who maintains that he had a sound legal basis for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the House’s Jan. 6 select committee. U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols said Bannon’s team should be provided with Justice Department “statements or writings” that square the decision to charge Bannon with contempt of Congress with long-standing department legal opinions that say former presidential advisers are largely immune from congressional subpoenas.

Prosecutors had argued during a two-hour hearing that the Justice Department’s legal guidance, reflected in opinions issued by its Office of Legal Counsel, were not relevant to whether Bannon actually committed the contempt-of-Congress crimes he’s charged with. But Bannon’s lawyers have emphasized that they advised him repeatedly not to comply with the congressional subpoena because the department’s policy rendered the subpoena invalid. Nichols raised a hypothetical scenario in which Congress subpoenaed Ron Klain, the chief of staff to President Joe Biden. Klain, he said, could refuse to appear, citing published OLC opinions that say senior presidential advisers are “absolutely immune” from compelled congressional testimony.

But under the Justice Department’s argument in the Bannon case he noted, Klain could be prosecuted anyway — creating a conflict between the department’s internal policies and its prosecution decisions. “Those two positions would be held at the same time,” said Nichols, an appointee of President Donald Trump. The documents the Justice Department provides could shed light on how it tried to square that inherent conflict, or whether it has issued subsequent, nonpublic legal guidance that would permit prosecuting Bannon for defying the select committee.

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“..the Court is simply avoiding hot potatoes at present.”

New Legal Hurdles for Julian Assange (Craig Murray)

It interested me in particular that the Supreme Court refused to hear Assange’s appeal on the basis that there was “no arguable point of law.” When the Supreme Court refused to hear my own appeal against imprisonment, they rather stated their alternative formulation, that there was “no arguable point of law of general public interest.” Meaning there was an arguable point of law, but it was merely an individual injustice, that did not matter to anybody except Craig Murray. My own view is that, with the Tory government very open about their desire to clip the wings of judges and reduce the reach of the Supreme Court in particular, the Court is simply avoiding hot potatoes at present. So the extradition now goes to Priti Patel, the home secretary, to decide whether to extradite. The defence has four weeks to make representations to Patel, which she must hear.

There are those on the libertarian right of the Tory party who oppose the extradition on freedom of speech grounds, but Patel has not a libertarian thought in her head and appears to revel in deportation, so personally I hold out no particular hope for this stage. Assuming Patel does authorise extradition, the matter returns to the original magistrate’s court and to Judge Vanessa Baraitser for execution. That is where this process takes a remarkable twist. The appeals process that has just concluded was the appeal initiated by the United States government, against Baraitser’s original ruling that the combination of Assange’s health and the conditions he would face in U.S. jails, meant that he could not be extradited. The United States government succeeded in this appeal at the High Court. Assange then tried to appeal against that High Court verdict to the Supreme Court, and was refused permission.

But Assange himself has not yet appealed to the High Court, and he can do so, once the matter has been sent back to Baraitser by Patel. His appeal will be against those grounds on which Baraitser initially found in favour of the United States. These are principally:
• the misuse of the extradition treaty which specifically prohibits political extradition;
• the breach of the UNCHR Article 10 right of freedom of speech;
• the misuse of the U.S. Espionage Act
• the use of tainted, paid evidence from a convicted fraudster who has since publicly admitted his evidence was false
• the lack of foundation to the hacking charge

None of these points have yet been considered by the High Court. It seems a remarkably strange procedure that having been through the appeals process once, the whole thing starts again after Priti Patel has made her decision, but that is the crazy game of snake and ladders the law puts us through. It is fine for the political establishment, of course, because it enables them to keep Assange locked up under maximum security in Belmarsh.

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It’s a trap

 

 

The New Hampshire House is misleading…

 

 

Arestovych

 

 

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Sep 122018
 


Vincent van Gogh Mountainous Landscape Behind Saint-Rémy 1888

 

US Federal Deficit Soars 32% To $895 Billion (Hill)
The Fed’s Lost Opportunity to Return to Normal (Rickards)
China ‘National Team’ Bought Billions In Stocks in Q2 – Goldman (CNBC)
Putin Bashes Protectionism, ‘Sanctions, Bans And Political Bias’ (CNBC)
Skripal Poisoning Suspects Are Civilians, Not Criminals, Says Putin (G.)
UK Police Prepares For Disorder At Ports If UK Crashes Out Of EU (Ind.)
Barnier Confronts Raab Over Discovery Of Brexit No-Deal Letters To EU27 (G.)
Europe Is Voting On Controversial Internet Copyright Law (CNBC)
Americans Need Social Media Guided by the US Constitution (Krieger)
Internet Industry Group Backs ‘National’ Data Privacy Approach (R.)
Armageddon Rides In The Balance (PCR)
Tsipras Warns “Europe Has No Future If It Doesn’t Admit Mistakes” (KTG)
Monsanto-Bayer Merger Hurts Farmers and Consumers (CP)
‘Monster’ Hurricane Florence To Pummel US Southeast For Days (R.)

 

 

Steady as she goes.

US Federal Deficit Soars 32% To $895 Billion (Hill)

The federal deficit hit $895 billion in the first 11 months of fiscal 2018, an increase of $222 billion, or 32 percent, over the same period the previous year, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The nonpartisan CBO reported that the central drivers of the increasing deficit were the Republican tax law and the bipartisan agreement to increase spending. As a result, revenue only rose 1 percent, failing to keep up with a 7 percent surge in spending, it added. Revenue from individual and payroll taxes was up some $105 billion, or 4 percent, while corporate taxes fell $71 billion, or 30 percent.

The August statistics were somewhat inflated, however, due to a timing shift for certain payments, putting the deficit measure through August slightly out of sync with the previous year, the CBO noted. Had it not been for the timing shift, the deficit would have increased $154 billion instead of $222 billion. Earlier analysis from CBO projected that deficits would near $1 trillion in 2019 and surpass that amount the following year.

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With 10 years of such market manipulation that there is no market left, what exactly is normal?

The Fed’s Lost Opportunity to Return to Normal (Rickards)

Current Fed policy will push the U.S. economy to the brink of recession, possibly by later this year. When that happens, the Fed will have to reverse course and ease monetary policy. Meanwhile, the economic cheerleaders recite recent GDP figures and the stimulative effects of the Trump tax cuts. There’s one problem with the happy talk about 3–4% growth. We’ve seen this movie before. In 2009, almost every economic forecaster and commentator was talking about “green shoots.” In 2010, then-Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner forecast the “recovery summer.” In 2017, the global monetary elites were praising the arrival (at last) of “synchronized global growth.”

None of this wishful thinking panned out. The green shoots turned brown, the recovery summer never came and the synchronized global growth was over almost as soon as it began. Strong quarters have been followed by much weaker quarters within six months on six separate occasions in the past nine years. There’s no reason to believe this time will be any different. This expansion has been extraordinarily long — over 30% longer than average — indicating that a recession should be expected sooner rather than later. Into this mix of weak growth comes the Federal Reserve, which is tightening monetary policy, reducing the base money supply and supporting a strong dollar. All of these policies are associated with slower growth ahead and a high probability of recession.

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Plunge protection. Imitating ECB.

China ‘National Team’ Bought Billions In Stocks in Q2 – Goldman (CNBC)

As the mainland Chinese stock market dropped in the second quarter, groups with government ties bought shares, according to a Goldman Sachs analysis. The “national team” of entities related to or influenced by the state was formed in 2015 to help support stocks during that summer’s market turmoil. The Shanghai composite crashed more than 40 percent that year, and has struggled to recover since. The index’s losses accelerated in June, when it fell 20 percent from a recent high, or into a bear market. Beijing’s efforts to reduce the economy’s reliance on debt has led to tighter financial conditions, while rising U.S.-China trade tensions have added to pressure on growth. In all, the Shanghai composite lost 10 percent in the second quarter.

During that time, the national team bought an estimated net 116 billion yuan — or nearly $17 billion — worth of local stocks known as A shares, Goldman Sachs’ Chief China Equity Strategist Kinger Lau said in a Friday report.The second-quarter purchases account for about 0.2 percent of market capitalization and follow sales of 71 billion yuan in the first quarter, Lau said. Overall, his team estimated the national team holds 1.5 trillion yuan worth of A shares, or about 2.9 percent of the listed market capitalization. The findings are based on analysis of required quarterly disclosures of the top 10 shareholders in A share companies.


Source: Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research

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Trump unites China and Russia.

Putin Bashes Protectionism, ‘Sanctions, Bans And Political Bias’ (CNBC)

President Vladimir Putin appeared to take another thinly veiled swipe at Trump’s economic policies on Wednesday, a day after Russia and China vowed to stand together to fight protectionism. “The world and global economy are coming up against new forms of protectionism today with different kinds of barriers which are increasing,” Russian President Vladimir Putin told a plenary session at the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok, Russia. “Basic principles of trade — competition and mutual economic benefit — are depreciated and unfortunately undermined, they’re becoming hostages of ideological and fleeting political situations, in that we see a serious challenge for all of the global economy, especially for the dynamically-growing Asia-Pacific and its leadership,” he added.

Putin’s comments come as China and Russia appeared united on Tuesday after the leaders of both countries pledged to stand together to fight protectionism. The comments were seen as a thinly veiled attack on U.S. President Donald Trump who has implemented a massive package of tariffs on Chinese imports and threatened further sanctions on Moscow. [..] Putin said Wednesday that Russia and its eastern economic partners should work to keep trade free of barriers. “We’re convinced that in order for our region to continue to achieve high growth rates, and to remain a key participant in the global economy and trade, it should retain the spirit of economic freedom, to be the space of business initiative without sanctions, bans and political bias ,” Putin told delegates.

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With a whole series of CCTV images. Because Russian secret agents on murder missions are too stupid to avoid their photos being taken. There is even one where they take time to ‘pose’ by looking into a shop window with a camera, taken AFTER the ‘attack’.

Skripal Poisoning Suspects Are Civilians, Not Criminals, Says Putin (G.)

The two men accused by the UK of carrying out a nerve agent attack in Salisbury have been identified and are civilians, not criminals, Vladimir Putin has said. “We know who they are, we have found them,” Putin said at an economic forum in the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok, adding that the two men – named by the UK as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov – might soon make appearances in the media to protest their innocence. “These are civilians,” Putin said in remarks reported by Russian news agencies. “There is nothing criminal here.” British officials have said the men were agents of Russian military intelligence dispatched to kill Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy who had given information to British intelligence. He was imprisoned in Russia before being released in a spy swap in 2010.

Putin’s remarks appeared to be a denial that the men worked for Russia’s military intelligence service the Main Directorate, commonly called the GRU. British officials this month charged the two men in absentia with the attempted murder with novichok of Sergei Skripal, his daughter, Yulia, and a police officer who investigated the scene. Scotland Yard released CCTV images of the two suspects at Salisbury train station on the day of the attack. [..] Putin called on the two men to appear in the media to protest their innocence, saying he “wanted to address them directly”. The Russian’s president’s words marked a departure from his country’s earlier position, which was to disregard the evidence released by Scotland Yard as a fabrication.

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And the military too. And this is just what you’re allowed to know.

UK Police Prepares For Disorder At Ports If UK Crashes Out Of EU (Ind.)

Police are preparing for disorder at British ports in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has revealed. The head of Scotland Yard said her force was also bracing for the loss of key European data systems that are “very important” for keeping London safe. She said that the police were conducting careful, calm and sober contingency planning for eventualities, particularly relating to ports in Kent as well as in other parts of the UK. “Is there going to be protests, is there going to be disorder?” she asked, while addressing delegates at the Police Superintendents’ Association conference in Leicester. “At the moment in planning terms it’s a long-way off because there are so many uncertainties that could happen.”

Her comments came after a leaked document prepared by the National Police Coordination Centre revealed the “real possibility” of police calling on the military to help with civil disorder caused by a no-deal Brexit. It warned of traffic queues at ports and said concerns around medical supplies could “feed civil disorder”, while a rise in the price of goods could also lead to “widespread protest” and trigger crimes such as theft. Ms Dick raised additional concerns over the potential loss of access to EU systems including the European Arrest Warrant, Europol and databases containing information on criminals and terrorists entering the UK. “At any one time in my custody suites I will have 35, 40 per cent foreign nationals, over half EU citizens and a huge chunk would have travelled through Europe,” she explained.

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The UK still thinks they can make separate deals. It doesn’t understand the EU.

Barnier Confronts Raab Over Discovery Of Brexit No-Deal Letters To EU27 (G.)

Dominic Raab has been reprimanded by Michel Barnier after the EU’s chief negotiator discovered the British government had written to the 27 other member states asking for side negotiations on transport in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The Brexit secretary was confronted by Barnier during their most recent meeting in Brussels over correspondence sent in recent days to EU capitals by the Department for Transport. The letters had asked the member states to prepare to engage with the British government in side deals on aviation and haulage, to allow key trade flows to continue in the event of the UK and the EU failing to come to an agreement on leaving the union by 29 March 2019.

The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, had ordered the letters to be sent despite being told less than two weeks ago by the European commission’s most senior trade official, Violeta Bulc, that without a deal this autumn, there would be no other agreements made to protect the UK economy. Barnier is said to have reiterated that message to Raab, telling the cabinet minister: “If there is no deal, there is no trust.” The bruising exchange came on the same day that Theresa May told cabinet members the UK should remain “the EU’s closest ally” after Brexit, amid a growing belief in Downing Street that progress was gradually being made in the long-running divorce talks.

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A few of them may understand the issues, but the majority sure don’t.

Europe Is Voting On Controversial Internet Copyright Law (CNBC)

European parliamentarians are set to vote on a controversial copyright law that some critics believe could stop people from sharing memes and articles online. Lawmakers in Strasbourg, France, will cast their votes on the European Union’s new copyright directive on Wednesday. The result of that vote could determine whether large tech companies including Facebook, Twitter and Google are forced to use filtering systems that block copyrighted content. Two particular parts of the directive have attracted the most criticism from pro-internet freedom activists. One is Article 13. This section calls on internet giants to take “appropriate and proportionate” measures to prevent user-generated content that infringes a rightsholder’s copyright.

This part of the law has come under heavy criticism over concerns that tech giants could end up using automated content filtering systems. The law states that “effective content recognition systems” should be put in place by digital companies to prevent copyrighted materials from being distributed on their platforms. Campaigners have scrutinized this part of the legislation over concerns that it could amount to censorship, and argue that the use of copyright-protected material by way of commentary or parody should be permitted under the doctrine of “fair use.” Particular attention has been paid to the status of “memes,” which often rely on copyright protected images or pieces of video, and whether they could be censored as a result.

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Echoing a point I’ve been making.

Americans Need Social Media Guided by the US Constitution (Krieger)

This past Friday, Alex Jones was de-platformed from the last couple of third party tools he had been using to publicly communicate his message after Twitter and Apple permanently banned him and his website Infowars. This means an American citizen with a very large audience who played a meaningful role in the 2016 election, has been banned from all of the most widely used products of communication of our age: Twitter, Facebook, Google’s YouTube and Apple’s iTunes. You can point out he still has his radio show and website, and this is unquestionably true, but when it comes to the everyday tools most people interact with to receive information and communicate in 2018, Alex Jones has been thrown down the memory hole. Not because he was convicted of a crime or broke any laws, but because corporate executives decided he crossed an arbitrary line of their own creation.

It’s not against the law to be crazy or say crazy things in this country. It’s also not against the law to say hateful things. It’s pretty obvious the main reason Alex Jones was deleted from public discourse by Silicon Valley executives relates to his impact and popularity. [..] unabashed bigots like David Duke and Louis Farrakhan continue to have active presences across social media, and rightly so. The difference is neither David Duke nor Louis Farrakhan played a major role in the election of Donald Trump, whereas Alex Jones did. Jones and Infowars were having an outsized impact on the U.S. political discourse in a manner tech giant executives found threatening and offensive, so they collectively found excuses to silence him.

When the outrage mob consisting of politicians, corporate media outlets like CNN, and even his own employees, complained to Twitter’s Jack Dorsey on the issue of Alex Jones, he couldn’t hold the line on free speech because his company’s own policies are junk. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube should have a clear policy when it comes to speech, and it should be this: If it isn’t breaking the law – in other words, if it’s protected speech under the First Amendment – it stays up. Period. When you have corporate rules against “hate speech,” you’re relying on a concept that doesn’t really have any sort of legal standing when it comes to free speech in this country. There is no “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment of the U.S Constitution.

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They want to regulate themselves. Don’t let them.

Internet Industry Group Backs ‘National’ Data Privacy Approach (R.)

A group representing major internet companies including Facebook, Amazon.com and Alphabet said on Tuesday it backed modernizing U.S. data privacy rules but wants a national approach that would preempt California’s new regulations that take effect in 2020. The Internet Association, a group representing more than 40 major internet and technology firms including Netflix, Microsoft and Twitter, said “internet companies support an economy-wide, national approach to regulation that protects the privacy of all Americans.” The group said it backed principles that would ensure consumers should have “meaningful controls over how personal information they provide” is used and should be able to know who it is being shared with.

Consumers should also be able to seek deletion of data or request corrections or take personal information to another company that provides similar services and have reasonable access to the personal information they provide, it said. The group also told policymakers they should give companies flexibility in notifying individuals, set a “performance standard” on privacy and data security protections that avoids a prescriptive approach and set national data breach notification rules. Michael Beckerman, president and chief executive officer of the Internet Association, said in an interview the proposals were “very forward looking and very aggressive” and would push to ensure the new rules apply “economy wide.” He said the group “would be very active working with both the administration and Congress on putting pen to paper.”

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Leftwing and intelligence.

Armageddon Rides In The Balance (PCR)

For some time I have pointed out the paradox of the American liberal/progressive/left being allied with the CIA, FBI, military/security complex and deep state. Now leftist Ann Garrison has noticed the paradox of this alliance. She concludes that the left has lost its mind. Indeed, it has. Out of its hatred of Trump the left has united with the forces of evil and war that are leading to conflict with Russia. The left’s hatred of Trump shows that the American left has totally seperated from the interests of the working class, which elected Trump. The American left has abandoned the working class for the group victimizations and hatreds of Identity Politics. As Hillary put it, the working class comprises the “Trump deplorables.” The Democratic Party, like the Republicans, represents the ruling oligarchy.

I have explained that the leftwing lost its bearings when the Soviet Union collapsed and socialism gave way to neoliberal privatizations. The moral fury of the leftwing movement had to go somewhere, and it found its home in Identity Politics in which the white heterosexual male takes the place of the capitalist, and his victim groups—blacks, women, homosexuals, illegal immigrants—take the place of the working class. The consequences of the leftwing’s alliance with warmongers and liars is the leftwing’s loss of veracity. The left has endorsed a CIA orchestration—“Russiagate”—for which there is no known evidence, but which the left supports as proven truth. The purpose of “Russiagate” is to prevent President Trump from normalizing relations with Russia.

In these times when so many Americans are hard pressed, normal relations could adversely impact the budget and power of the military/security complex by reducing the “Russian threat.” If there is no real Russian threat, only an orchestrated perceived one, the question arises: why does the military/security complex have a taxpayer-supported annual budget of $1,000 billion dollars? The presstitutes have kept the truth from emerging that the “Russiagate” investigation has found no sign of a Trump/Putin plot to steal the 2016 presidential election from Hillary. Indeed, it has been proven beyond all questioning that the Hillary emails were not hacked but were downloaded on a thumb drive. This proof collapses the entire premise of “Russiagate.” Nevertheless, the hoax continues.

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He might as well be talking about himself.

Tsipras Warns “Europe Has No Future If It Doesn’t Admit Mistakes” (KTG)

Europe will have no future if the bloc does not admit mistakes in handling the financial and the migration crisis, Prime Minister warned the European Parliament on Tuesday. Alexis Tsipras said Europe could face an existential crisis over nationalism unless the bloc admits mistakes and its failure to handle a fiscal crisis and the deal with an influx of migrants effectively. The Greek Prime Minister said economic austerity pushed by European governments has fostered fear, racism and the emergence of the far right.“ The economic austerity pursued by European governments had fostered fear, racism and the emergence of the far right, he told lawmakers in the European parliament.

“The EU’s failure to give democratic and effective responses to modern challenges will lead irrevocably to the triumph of chauvinism and will rekindle nationalistic rivalry,” he said. “It will turn it into a fragmented continent, a continent without cohesion, without an international role, and without a future,” he said. Tsipras also criticised Europe’s handling of security and said this could have helped bolster support for far right parties. Several European countries including France and Belgium have seen attacks by Islamist militants in recent years. “The issue at stake is existential for Europe,” said Tsipras. “The handling so far of the financial crisis, the refugee crisis and a security crisis, has exposed huge deficiencies and contradictions.”

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“93% of farmers expressed concern that the merger will harm independent farmers and farming communities.”

Monsanto-Bayer Merger Hurts Farmers and Consumers (CP)

The U.S. Department of Justice issued a stern warning in its lawsuit against the conditionally-approved mega-merger between Bayer and Monsanto in June. The anti-competitive price effects of the merger would, according to the DOJ, “likely result in hundreds of millions of dollars per year in harm, raising costs to farmers and consumers.” The Justice Department warned that the combining of Bayer and Monsanto would reduce competition for vegetable seeds, likely driving up prices. Further, farmers might see prices for GMO cotton, canola, corn and soybean seeds increase, as well as price increases for herbicide and seed treatments. After imposing some limited divestments on Monsanto, the DOJ approved this merger, enabling Monsanto to hide its controversial name brand while giving Bayer anti-competitive control over seeds, pesticides, farmers and consumers worldwide.

But the harm to consumers and farmers will still exist. The DOJ is on the brink of essentially authorizing a monopoly. This is bad news for nearly everyone on the planet except Bayer and Monsanto executives and shareholders. Aside from a combined Bayer-Monsanto, only three other seed companies will be in the market manufacture and sell these products. Farmers overwhelmingly object to the merger. 93% of farmers expressed concern that the merger will harm independent farmers and farming communities. Farmers’ top three concerns were that Bayer/Monsanto “would use its dominance in one product to push sales of other products;” “control data about farm practices;” and that the merger will create “increased pressure for chemically dependent farming.”

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Meanwhile, super typhoon Mangkhut is heading straight for Hong Kong.

‘Monster’ Hurricane Florence To Pummel US Southeast For Days (R.)

Hurricane Florence, on track to become the first Category 4 storm to make a direct hit on North Carolina in six decades, howled closer to shore on Tuesday, threatening to unleash deadly pounding surf, days of torrential rain and severe flooding. Fierce winds and massive waves are expected to lash the coasts of North and South Carolina and Virginia even before Florence makes landfall by early Friday, bringing a storm surge as much as 13 feet (4 meters), the National Hurricane Center in Miami warned. Catastrophic floods could follow if the storm stalls inland, it said. Although Florence was still days from arrival, authorities took extraordinary measures to move people out of harm’s way. More than 1 million residents have been ordered to evacuate from the coastline of the three states, while university campuses, schools and factories were being shuttered.

The U.S. Coast Guard closed ports in Wilmington and Morehead City, North Carolina and Hampton Roads, Virginia to inbound vessels greater than 500 tons and was requiring vessels of that size to leave if they did not have permission to be in the ports. Packing maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour (225 km per hour), the storm ranked as a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale and was expected to grow stronger and larger over the next few days, the NHC said. “This storm is a monster,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said. “Even if you’ve ridden out storms before, this one is different. Don’t bet your life on riding out a monster.” He cited forecasts showing Florence was likely to stall over North Carolina, “bringing days and days of rain.”


Graph: weather.com

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Feb 062018
 
 February 6, 2018  Posted by at 9:53 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  19 Responses »


 

Dow Jones Hit By Biggest Single-Day Points Drop Ever (Ind.)
Stocks Crumble In Vicious Sell-off As ‘Goldilocks’ Trade Unravels (R.)
Europe Joins Global Stock Selloff With Biggest Drop in 20 Months (BBG)
‘Short-Volatility Armageddon’ Craters Two Of Wall Street’s Favorite Trades (MW)
Volatility Spike Boosts US Options Hedging Activity (R.)
Traders Panic As XIV Disintegrates -90% After The Close (ZH)
Machines Had Their Fingerprints All Over a Dow Rout for the Ages (BBG)
Commodities Dragged Into Global Selloff as Oil to Copper Get Hit (BBG)
Bitcoin Tumbles Almost 20% as Crypto Backlash Accelerates (BBG)
The Fed’s Dependence On Stability (Roberts)
A Quandary (Jim Kunstler)
21st Century Plague (MarkGB)
UK Court To Rule On Lifting Assange Arrest Warrant (AFP)
Robots Will Care For 80% Of Elderly Japanese By 2020 (G.)
Berlusconi Pledges To Deport 600,000 Illegal Immigrants From Italy (G.)

 

 

4% is nothing.

Dow Jones Hit By Biggest Single-Day Points Drop Ever (Ind.)

Newfound market volatility has shattered what had been a long period of stability and mounting value. The Dow’s dive erased gains for the year so far and extended a multi-day slump that saw the Dow drop by some 600 points on Friday. In addition setting a new record for number of points dropped in a day, the Dow’s 4.6% decline in value was the most substantial since 2011. It was still less severe than declines during market-rocking events like the 2008 financial crisis, when the Dow shed 7% of its value in its worst single-day hit. Earlier in the day the Dow had plummeted by nearly 1,600 points before recovering much of that value. It has swung some 2,100 points in the last week of trading, a slide approaching 8%.

In addition to the Dow shedding value, the S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq both saw declines of around 4%. The S&P 500 declined to about 7.8% below its all-time high. With thriving markets toppling records in recent months, some analysts said the pullback was all but inevitable. After cresting to a record high in January, the Dow has retreated by 8.5% from that apex. “It’s like a kid at a child’s party who, after an afternoon of cake and ice cream, eats one more cookie and that puts them over the edge,” David Kelly, the chief global strategist for JPMorgan Asset Management, told the Associated Press.

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Worldwide.

Stocks Crumble In Vicious Sell-off As ‘Goldilocks’ Trade Unravels (R.)

A rout in global equities deepened in Asia on Tuesday as inflation worries gripped financial markets, sending U.S. stock futures sinking further into the red after Wall Street suffered its biggest decline since 2011 in a vicious sell-off. S&P mini futures fell as much as 3.0% to four-month lows in Asia, extending their losses from the record peak hit just over a week ago to 12%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slid 4.3%, which would be its biggest fall since the yuan devaluation shock in August 2015, turning red on the year for the first time in 2018. Japan’s Nikkei dived 6.8% to near four-month lows while Taiwan shares lost 5.5% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropped 4.9%.

Monday’s stock market rout left two of the most popular exchange-traded products that investors use to benefit from calm rather than volatile conditions facing potential liquidation, market participants said. The ructions in markets come after investors have ridden a nearly nine-year bull run, with low global rates sparking a revival in economic growth and bright corporate earnings. That good times may be nearing at end if Wall Street is anything to go by. U.S. stocks plunged in highly volatile trading on Monday, with the Dow industrials falling nearly 1,600 points during the session, its biggest intraday decline in history, as investors grappled with rising bond yields and potentially higher inflation.

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They’ll all keep claiming that fundamentals are solid.

Europe Joins Global Stock Selloff With Biggest Drop in 20 Months (BBG)

European stocks headed for their worst drop since the aftermath of the Brexit referendum as traders in the region caught up with an overnight selloff in the U.S. and Asia. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 2.6% as of 8:16 a.m. in London, with all industry groups firmly in the red. After a strong start to 2018, most European stock benchmarks have wiped out gains for the year in a rout that is extending into a seventh day for the broader regional benchmark. Sentiment has been hurt by worries over rising government bond yields and the outlook for the trajectory of interest rates. “There is a sense out there that this is, in a way, a release of some of the pent-up low volatility we’ve seen over the past year,” said Ben Kumar, an investment manager at Seven Investment Management in London, which oversees about 12 billion pounds.

“We have been sitting on quite a large cash pile for some time and at some point, we will look to invest that. There may be a bit more pain to come before we start seeing a real dip to buy.” Cyclicals including automakers, technology and basic resources were among the worst sector performers. Still, data on Monday showed economic momentum in the euro-area climbed to the fastest pace in almost 12 years, and German factory orders surged in the last month of 2017. That’s leading some fund managers and traders to bet that equities are experiencing an overdue pullback rather than a deeper correction. “Market tops have probably been set for a pretty long time now on many equity indexes,” Stephane Barbier de la Serre, a strategist at Makor Capital Markets, said by phone.

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They’ll have a hard time accepting the demise of easy money.

‘Short-Volatility Armageddon’ Craters Two Of Wall Street’s Favorite Trades (MW)

One of the most popular trades in the market, betting a period of unnatural calm would continue, may have amplified selling pressure in the stock market on Monday market participants said. At least two products tied to volatility bets were severely whacked with the hemorrhaging that could pose challenges to the exchange-traded notes. One popular product, the VelocityShares Daily Inverse VIX Short Term ETN, was down 90% in after-hours trade on Monday, following a session in which the Dow Jones Industrial plunged by 1,175 points, or 4.6%, while the S&P 500 index tumbled 4.1%—both benchmarks coughed up all of their gains for 2018.

The Cboe Volatility Index, meanwhile, skyrocketed by about 118%, marking its sharpest daily rise on record. The VIX uses bullish and bearish option bets on the S&P 500 to reflect expected volatility over the coming 30 days, and it typically rises as stocks fall. The XIV, meanwhile, was designed to allow investors to bet against a rise in volatility and such bets had been a winning proposition until recently, when equities accelerated a multisession unraveling fueled by fears that the Federal Reserve will be forced to raise borrowing costs faster than anticipated due to a potential resurgence in inflation, which had pushed Treasury yields higher. Monday’s stock-market drop may have been amplified because those making bets that volatility, as measured by the VIX, would remain relatively subdued, were caught wrong-footed.

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Ultra low volatility is purely artificial.

Volatility Spike Boosts US Options Hedging Activity (R.)

Wall Street’s “fear gauge” notched its biggest one-day jump on Monday in over two years, as U.S. stocks slumped and investors took to the options market in search of protection against a further slide in equities prices. Stocks slid in highly volatile trading on Monday, with the benchmark S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrials suffering their biggest respective%age drops since August 2011 as a long-awaited pullback from record highs deepened. For the Dow, the fall at one point of nearly 1,600 points was the biggest intraday point loss in Wall Street history. The CBOE Volatility Index, better known as the VIX, is the most widely followed barometer of expected near-term volatility for the S&P 500 Index. On Monday, the index ended up 20.01 points at 37.32, its highest close since August 2015.

“The day started out fairly orderly, but somehow it took a turn for a worse, and then panic set in,” Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab. “There may have been some pretty sizeable program trades that were clicked in. It just looks like some institutional program selling,” he said. The intensity of the selloff drove traders to the options market and trading volume surged to 35.5 million contracts – the third busiest day ever and the busiest day since Aug. 21, 2015, according to options analytics firm Trade Alert. VIX call options, primarily used to protect against a spike in volatility, accounted for nine of Monday’s 10 most heavily-traded contracts. Overall VIX options volume hit 3.6 million contracts, or about three times its average daily volume.

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VIX can trigger some pretty dramatic events.

Traders Panic As XIV Disintegrates -90% After The Close (ZH)

Today’s market turmoil has left more questions than answers. “What was frightening was the speed at which the market tanked,” said Walter “Bucky” Hellwig, Birmingham, Alabama-based senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management, who helps oversee about $17 billion. “The drop in the morning was caused by humans, but the free-fall in the afternoon was caused by the machines. It brought back the same reaction that we had in 2010, which was ‘What the heck is going on here?” Some tried to blame it on a fat-finger or ‘machines’, but in this case it was not the normal cuprits per se… “There was not a single self-help; there were no outs; there were no fat fingers that we saw,” Doug Cifu, CEO of high-speed trading firm Virtu, told CNBC. “There were no busted trades, no repricing. It was just an avalanche of orders around 3 o’clock-ish.”

But while we noted earlier that US equity futures were extending losses after the close, but the real panic action is in the volatility complex. Putting today’s VIX move in context, this is among the biggest ever… And it appears Morgan Stanley was right to bet on VIX hitting 30…

But the real action is in the super-crowded short-vol space. XIV – The Short VIX ETF – after its relentless diagonal move higher as one after another Target manager sold vol for a living… just disintegrated after-hours, down a stunning 90% to $10.00.

Which is a problem because as we explained last summer, the threshold for an XIV termination event is a -80% drop. What does this mean? Well, in previewing today’s events last July, Fasanara Capital explained precisely what is going on last July:

“Additional risks arise as ‘liquidity gates’ may be imposed, even in the absence of a spike in volatility. In 2012, for example, the price of TVIX ETN fell 60% in two days, despite relatively benign trading conditions elsewhere in the market. The reason was that the promoter of the volatility-linked note announced that it temporarily suspended further issuances of the ETN due to “internal limits” reached on the size of the ETNs. Furthermore, for some of the volatility-linked notes, the prospectus foresee the possibility of ‘termination events’: for example, for XIV ETF a termination event is triggered if the daily percentage drop exceeds 80%. Then a full wipe-out is avoided insofar as it is preceded by a game-over event.” The reaction of the investor base at play – often retail – holds the potential to create cascading effects and to send shockwaves to the market at large. This likely is a blind spot for markets.

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Algorithms rule what is left.

Machines Had Their Fingerprints All Over a Dow Rout for the Ages (BBG)

Risk parity funds. Volatility-targeting programs. Statistical arbitrage. Sometimes the U.S. stock market seems like a giant science project, one that can quickly turn hazardous for its human inhabitants. You didn’t need an engineering degree to tell something was amiss Monday. While it’s impossible to say for sure what was at work when the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell as much as 1,597 points, the worst part of the downdraft felt to many like the machines run amok. For 15 harrowing minutes just after 3 p.m. in New York a deluge of sell orders came so fast that it seemed like nothing breathing could’ve been responsible. The result was a gut check of epic proportion for investors, who before last week had been riding one of the most peaceful market advances ever seen. The S&P 500, which last week capped a record streak of never falling more than 3% from any past point, ended the day down 4.1%, bringing its loss since last Monday to 7.8%.

“We are proactively calling up our clients and discussing that a 1,600-point intraday drop is due more to algorithms and high-frequency quant trading than macro events or humans running swiftly to the nearest fire exit,” said Jon Ulin, of Ulin & Co. in an email. To be sure, not all of the rout requires inhuman agency to explain. Markets are jittery. Bond yields had been surging and stock valuations are approaching levels last seen in the internet bubble. Much of today’s selloff was perfectly rational, if harrowing – particularly coming after last week’s plunge in which the Dow fell 666 points on Friday. Observers looking for an electronic villain trained most of their attention on the roughest part of the tumble, a 15-minute stretch starting about an hour before the close. That’s when an orderly selloff snowballed, taking the Dow from down about 700 points to down a whopping 1,600. It quickly recovered.

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When commodities trade is separated from what industries actually use, and they become financial tools only, inevitable.

Commodities Dragged Into Global Selloff as Oil to Copper Get Hit (BBG)

Commodities from crude oil to metals and iron ore dropped as the global equity rout and surge in market volatility spurred investors to pare risk, cutting positions in raw materials even as banks and analysts stood by the asset class given the backdrop of solid global growth. Brent crude slid as much as 1.2% to $66.82 a barrel, heading for a third daily drop and the longest losing run since November. On the London Metal Exchange, copper sank as much as 2% to $7,025 a metric ton as zinc, lead and nickel declined. Iron ore futures fell 1.2% in Singapore. Global equity markets are in retreat after Wall Street losses that began in the final session of last week worsened on Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average posting its biggest intraday point drop in history.

The selloff – triggered in part by an initial rise in bond yields and concerns about the pace at which the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates – is spilling into commodities, which rallied in late January to the highest level since 2015. Still, Citigroup said now’s the time for investors to add positions in metals. “Clearly there is a risk off tone in the markets that will weigh on the sector,” said Daniel Hynes at Australia & New Zealand Banking. “But there is no fundamental reason for this selloff to change our view of commodity markets.” Miners and energy companies fell as share benchmarks spiraled downward. In the U.S. on Monday, Exxon Mobil and Chevron were among the worst performers in the Dow. In Sydney, BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, dropped 2.7% as Rio Tinto traded lower. Oil producer PetroChina lost as much as 7.3% in Hong Kong.

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6,100 as I write this.

Bitcoin Tumbles Almost 20% as Crypto Backlash Accelerates (BBG)

Bitcoin tumbled for a fifth day, dropping below $7,000 for the first time since November and leading other digital tokens lower, as a backlash by banks and government regulators against the speculative frenzy that drove cryptocurrencies to dizzying heights last year picks up steam. The biggest digital currency sank as much as 22% to $6,579, before trading at $7,054 as of 4:08 p.m. in New York. It has erased about 65% of its value from a record high $19,511 in December. Rival coins also retreated on Monday, with Ripple losing as much as 21% and Ethereum and Litecoin also weaker. “Although no fundamental change triggered this crash, the parabolic growth this market has experienced had to slow down at some point,” Lucas Nuzzi, a senior analyst at Digital Asset Research, wrote in an email. “All that it took this time was a large lot of sell orders.”

Weeks of negative news and commercial setbacks have buffeted digital tokens. Lloyds joined a growing number of big credit-card issuers have said they’re halting purchases of cryptocurrencies on their cards, including JPMorgan and Bank of America. Several cited risk aversion and a desire to protect their customers. SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said he supports efforts to bring clarity to cryptocurrency issues and that existing rules weren’t designed with such trading in mind, according to prepared remarks for a Senate Banking Committee hearing Tuesday on virtual currencies. Bitcoin’s longest run of losses since Christmas day has coincided with investors exiting risky assets across the board, with stocks retreating globally. Bitcoin so far seems to be struggling to live up to any comparison with gold as a store of value, which is an argument made by some of its supporters. Bullion edged higher as other safe havens – the yen, Swiss franc and bonds – also gained.

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Stability breeds instability. Minsky.

The Fed’s Dependence On Stability (Roberts)

Last week, I discussed how the Federal Reserve will likely be the culprits of whatever sparks the next major financial crisis. To wit: “In the U.S., the Federal Reserve has been the catalyst behind every preceding financial event since they became ‘active,’ monetarily policy-wise, in the late 70’s. As shown in the chart below, when the Fed has lifted the short-term lending rates to a level higher than the 10-year rate, bad ‘stuff’ has historically followed.” This past week, as Ms. Yellen relinquished her control over the Federal Reserve to Jerome Powell, the Fed stood by its position they intend to hike rates 3-more times in 2018.

With the entirety of the financial ecosystem now more heavily levered than ever, due to the Fed’s profligate measures of suppressing interest rates and flooding the system with excessive levels of liquidity, the “instability of stability” is now the biggest risk. The “stability/instability paradox” assumes that all players are rational and such rationality implies avoidance of complete destruction. In other words, all players will act rationally and no one will push “the big red button.” The Fed is highly dependent on this assumption. After more than 9-years of the most unprecedented monetary policy program in human history, they are now trying to extricate themselves from it. The Fed is dependent on “everyone acting rationally,” particularly as they try to reduce their balance sheet. The first attempt was seen in January. Well…sort of…but not really.

While the Fed did “reduce” their holding by $28 billion in January, it followed an increase of $21 billion in December. Which brings up several questions? Was the ramp up/run down just a test of the market’s stability? (Seems likely.) With the market throwing a “conniption fit” last week, will the Fed rethink their balance sheet reduction program? (Probably) More importantly, with the government on the verge of another “shut down” this coming week due to the expiration of the “continuing resolution” from three weeks ago, will the Fed continue its current path in the face of an event that could lead to fiscal instability? (Probably not) We will soon find out.

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There will be a second Special Counsel.

A Quandary (Jim Kunstler)

The Resistance pulled out all the stops last week in its shrieking denunciation of the Nunes Memo, and the various complaints had one thing in common: a complete lack of interest in the facts of the matter, in particular the shenanigans in the upper ranks of the FBI. Give a listen, for instance, to last Thursday’s Slate’s Political Gabfest with David Plotz, John Dickerson, and Emily Bazelon, the three honey-badgers of Resistance Radio (like the fabled honey-badgers of the veldt, they don’t give a shit about any obstacles in pursuit of their quarry: Trump). They’ve even been able to one-up Nassim Taleb’s defined category of “intellectuals-yet-idiots” to intellectuals-yet-useful-idiots.

The New York Times, with its termite-mound of casuistry artists, managed to concoct a completely inside-out “story” alleging that the disclosure in the Nunes memo of official impropriety at the FBI was in itself an “obstruction of justice,” since making the FBI look bad might impede their ability to give Trump the much wished-for bum’s rush from the White House. There was already enough dishonesty in our national life before the Left side of the political transect decided to ally itself with the worst instincts of the permanent Washington bureaucracy: the faction devoted to ass-covering. The misconduct at the FBI and DOJ around the 2016 election is really quite startling.

How is it not disturbing that Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr brokered the Steele Dossier between the Fusion GPS psy-ops company and the FBI, when Fusion GPS was employed by the Clinton campaign, and Ohr’s wife worked for Fusion GPS? How is it okay that this janky dossier was put over on a FISA court judge to get warrants to surveil US citizens in an election campaign? How was it okay for Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe’s wife to accept $700,000 from the Clinton family’s long-time bag-man, Terry McAuliffe, when she ran for a Virginia State Senate seat, a few months before McCabe assumed command of the Hillary email investigation? How was it not fishy that FBI Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division, Peter Strock, and his workplace girlfriend, FBI lawyer (for Andrew McCabe), Lisa Page appeared to plot against Trump in their many cell-phone text exchanges?

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Deceit as the big killer.

21st Century Plague (MarkGB)

The Black Death was a medieval pandemic which swept through the ‘old world’ in the 14th Century. It arrived in Europe from Asia in the 1340s and killed an estimated 25 million people, about 50% of the population. The social and economic consequences of this were ‘permanent’: it created a labour shortage which ended the medieval institution of serfdom. In short: Increased demand for labour + reduced supply of labour + chaos = collapse of status quo. What emerged from the chaos was a rudimentary ‘free market’ in labour and goods. The age of capitalism had begun…the unforeseen consequence of a plague, borne on a creature that looked like this:

The pandemic we face in the 21st Century is a psychological phenomenon rather than a biological one, but in my view, it is equally parasitic. Its name is ‘deceit’, and our political & economic institutions are riddled with it. The majority of people I speak to know that something is badly wrong with our societies and our economies – they feel it when they pick up a newspaper, turn on the TV or engage with the internet. Some of us try to disconnect from the drama and the constant stream of claim and counterclaim, in order to try to ‘get on with normal lives’ – but we feel something is badly wrong nevertheless. Some of us gather ourselves into political parties, protest movements, and/or intellectual cliques in order to discuss how to ‘fix’ what ails us.

And every 4 or 5 years, the majority of us go out and vote for an individual or a group of people that we hope will bring change…and then…we get more of the same. We just got, for example, the 3rd president in a row who ran on a promise of peace, and then immediately went looking for war. What the majority of people have not yet realised is that the politician’s ‘promise’ is part of the deceit – it’s what keeps you coming back for more, hoping this time will be different. It never is – it’s just a new coat of paint on a crumbling wall. What the majority of people have not yet realised is that the politician’s ‘promise’ is part of the deceit – it’s what keeps you coming back for more

It matters little whether you believe an individual candidate is a ‘good’ person, or a ‘bad’ person. Once in office he or she becomes a tool for the maintenance of the status quo – evidently. Why is this? Because the system is not run for your benefit. Its primary function is the concentration of power and wealth within the system itself, to serve the vested interests of a relatively tiny group of people. These are the manifestations of the 21st-century plague – the institutions of deceit: 1) A monetary system rigged for the banks and globalised corporations. 2) A military-industrial complex that requires endless war. 3) Politicians that are controlled by 1 & 2. 4) A mainstream media that is complicit with 1 to 3.

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Expect appeal after appeal.

UK Court To Rule On Lifting Assange Arrest Warrant (AFP)

A British court is to decide Tuesday whether to lift a UK arrest warrant for Julian Assange, potentially paving the way for the WikiLeaks founder to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has spent the last five years. If the court rules in Assange’s favour, allowing him to leave the embassy in the British capital without fear of arrest, it would be the first time that he has stepped outside embassy grounds since seeking asylum there in June 2012. Assange entered the Ecuadoran embassy to dodge a European arrest warrant and extradition to Sweden over a 2010 probe in the Scandinavian country into rape and sexual assault allegations.

Sweden dropped its investigation last year, but British police are still seeking to arrest Assange for failing to surrender to a court after violating bail terms during his unsuccessful battle against extradition. Assange’s lawyer Mark Summers told a London court last week that the warrant had “lost its purpose and its function”. He said Assange had been living in conditions “akin to imprisonment” and his “psychological health” has deteriorated and was “in serious peril”. The court heard that the 46-year-old was suffering from a bad tooth, a frozen shoulder and depression. But prosecutor Aaron Watkins called Assange’s court bid “absurd”. “The proper approach is that when a discrete, standalone offence of failing to surrender occurs, it always remains open to this court to secure the arrest,” Watkins said.

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You like this future? It’s all yours. Who needs people?

Robots Will Care For 80% Of Elderly Japanese By 2020 (G.)

Japan’s elderly are being told to get used to being looked after by robots. With Japan’s ageing society facing a predicted shortfall of 370,000 caregivers by 2025, the government wants to increase community acceptance of technology that could help fill the gap in the nursing workforce. Developers have focused their efforts on producing simple robotic devices that help frail residents get out of their bed and into a wheelchair, or that can ease senior citizens into bathtubs. But the government sees a wider range of potential applications and recently revised its list of priorities to include robots that can predict when patients might need to use the toilet. Dr Hirohisa Hirukawa, director of robot innovation research at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, said the aims included easing the burden on nursing staff and boosting the autonomy of people still living at home.

“Robotics cannot solve all of these issues; however, robotics will be able to make a contribution to some of these difficulties,” he said. Hirukawa said lifting robotics had so far been deployed in only about 8% of nursing homes in Japan, partly because of the cost and partly because of the “the mindset by the people on the frontline of caregiving that after all it must be human beings who provide this kind of care”. He added: “On the side of those who receive care, of course initially there will be psychological resistance.” Hirukawa’s research centre has worked on a government-backed project to help 98 manufacturers test nursing-care robotic devices over the past five years, 15 of which have been developed into commercial products.

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This is what Brussels and Berlin invite by ignoring the issue.

Berlusconi Pledges To Deport 600,000 Illegal Immigrants From Italy (G.)

Silvio Berlusconi has pledged to deport 600,000 illegal immigrants from Italy should his centre-right coalition enter government after elections on 4 March, as tensions simmer over the shooting of six Africans by a far-right extremist on Saturday. The 81-year-old rightwing former prime minister said in a TV interview that immigration was a “social bomb ready to explode in Italy” and that the shooting in Macerata posed a security problem. “Immigration has become an urgent question, because after years with a leftwing government, there are 600,000 migrants who don’t have the right to stay,” said Berlusconi. “We consider it to be an absolute priority to regain control over the situation.” Berlusconi’s Forza Italia has forged an alliance with two far-right parties, the Northern League and the smaller Brothers of Italy, for the elections.

The three-time former prime minister is banned from running for office after being convicted of tax fraud, but could still end up pulling the strings of power should the coalition gain enough of a majority to govern. “When we’re in government we will invest many resources in security,” he said. “We will boost police presence and reintroduce the ‘Safe Streets’ initiative … Our soldiers will patrol the streets alongside police officers.” Berlusconi took a swipe at the EU for failing to share the burden of Italy’s migrant arrivals, saying: “Today, Italy counts for nothing in Brussels and the world. We will make it count again.” Italy is a favoured landing point on Europe’s southern coastline for people making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean, often on board unseaworthy boats, to enter the continent. However, 2017 was a turning point for Italy: the country went from large-scale arrivals in the first six months to a sharp drop-off, thanks to a controversial agreement between the EU and Libya.

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Oct 212017
 
 October 21, 2017  Posted by at 9:07 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  4 Responses »


Robert Doisneau Vitrine, Galerie Romi, Paris 1948

 

Will Trump Oversee The Financial Apocalypse? (Cohan)
Calm Before The Storm (Peter Schiff)
The Big Story: Edge Of The Cliff (RV/ZH)
A $4 Trillion Hole in Bond Market May Start Filling in 2018 (BBG)
US Fiscal Year Deficit Widens To $666 Billion (R.)
Fed’s Yellen Defends Past Policies As Trump Mulls Top Fed Pick (R.)
‘Dr. Doom’, Marc Faber, Removed From More Boards After Comments On Race (R.)
China Still Needs Loans From World Bank (Caixin)
Betrayed by Banks, 40,000 Italian Businesses Are in Limbo (BBG)
Catalan Rebels Say Spain Will Live to Regret Hostile Power Grab (BBG)
A Giant Insect Ecosystem Is Collapsing Due To Humans. It’s A Catastrophe (G.)

 

 

“The bond market determines how much you pay to borrow money to buy a home, a car, or when you use your credit cards.”

Will Trump Oversee The Financial Apocalypse? (Cohan)

Let’s face it: people’s eyes tend to glaze over when someone starts talking about bonds and interest rates. Which is why much of the audience inside the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, and those watching the livestream, probably missed the import of Gundlach’s answer. But the bond market is hugely important. The stock markets get most of the attention from the media, but the bond market, four times the size of the stock market, helps set the price of money. The bond market determines how much you pay to borrow money to buy a home, a car, or when you use your credit cards. The Bond King said the returns on bonds have been anemic at best for the past seven years or so.

While the Dow Jones Industrial Average has nearly quadrupled since March 2009, returns on bonds have averaged something like 2.5% for treasuries and something like 8.5% for riskier “junk” bonds. Gundlach urged investors to be “light” on bonds. Of course, that makes the irony especially rich for the Bond King. “I’m stuck in it,” he said of his massive bond portfolio. He said interest rates have bottomed out and been rising gradually for the past six years. (Rising interest rates hurt the value of the bonds you own, as bonds trade in inverse proportion to their yield. Snore . . .) Gundlach said his job now, on behalf of his clients, “is to get them to the other side of the valley.” When the bigger, seemingly inevitable hikes in interest rates come, “I’ll feel like I’ve done a service by getting people through,” he said. “That’s why I’m still at the game. I want to see how the movie ends.”

But it can’t end well. To illustrate his point about the risk in owning bonds these days, Gundlach shared a chart that showed how investors in European “junk” bonds are willing to accept the same no-default return as they are for U.S. Treasury bonds. In other words, the yield on European “junk” bonds is about the same—between 2% and 3%—as the yield on U.S. Treasuries, even though the risk profile of the two could not be more different. He correctly pointed out that this phenomenon has been caused by “manipulated behavior”—his code for the European Central Bank’s version of the so-called “quantitative easing” program that Ben Bernanke, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, initiated in 2008 and that Mario Draghi, the head of the E.C.B., has taken to heart.

Bernanke’s idea was to have the Federal Reserve buy up trillions of dollars of bonds, increasing their price and lowering their yields. He figured lower interest rates would help jump-start an economy in recession. Whereas Janet Yellen, Bernanke’s successor, ended the Fed’s Q.E. program in 2014, Draghi’s version of it is still going, which has led to the “manipulation” that so concerns Gundlach. European interest rates “should be much higher than they are today,” he said, “. . . [and] once Draghi realizes this, the order of the financial system will be turned upside down and it won’t be a good thing. It will mean the liquidity that has been pumping up the markets will be drying up in 2018 . . . Things go down. We’ve been in an artificially inflated market for stocks and bonds largely around the world.”

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Excellent from Schiff. The VIX/CAPE ratio looks to be a valuable tool.

Calm Before The Storm (Peter Schiff)

Before the crisis, there was still a strong belief that stock investing entailed real risk. The period of stock stagnation of the 1970s and 1980s was still well remembered, as were the crashes of 1987, 2000, and 2008. But the existence of the Greenspan/Bernanke/Yellen “Put” (the idea that the Fed would back stop market losses), came to ease many of the anxieties on Wall Street. Over the past few years, the Fed has consistently demonstrated that it is willing to use its new tool kit in extraordinary ways. While many economists had expected the Fed to roll back its QE purchases as soon as the immediate economic crisis had passed, the program steamed at full speed through 2015, long past the point where the economy had apparently recovered. Time and again, the Fed cited fragile financial conditions as the reason it persisted, even while unemployment dropped and the stock market soared.

The Fed further showcased its maternal instinct in early 2016 when a surprise 8% drop in stocks in the first two weeks of January (the worst ever start of a calendar year on Wall Street) led it to abandon its carefully laid groundwork for multiple rate hikes in 2016. As investors seem to have interpreted this as the Fed leaving the safety net firmly in place, the VIX has dropped steadily from that time. In September of this year, the VIX fell below 10. Untethered optimism can be seen most clearly by looking at the relationship between the VIX and the CAPE ratio. Over the past 27 years, this figure has averaged 1.43. But just this month, the ratio approached 3 for the first time on record, increasing 100% in just a year and a half. This means that the gap between how expensive stocks have become and how little this increase concerns investors has never been wider. But history has shown that bad things can happen after periods in which fear takes a back seat.

Investors may be trying to convince themselves that the outcome will be different this time around. But the only thing that is likely to be different is the Fed’s ability to limit the damage. In 2000-2002, the Fed was able to cut interest rates 500 basis points (from 6% to 1%) in order to counter the effects of the imploding tech stock bubble. Seven years later, it cut rates 500 basis points (from 5% to 0) in response to the deflating housing bubble. Stocks still fell anyway, but they probably would have fallen further if the Fed hadn’t been able to deliver these massive stimuli. In hindsight, investors would have been wise to move some funds out of U.S. stocks when the CAPE/VIX ratio moved into record territory. While stocks fell following those peaks, gold rose nicely.

Past performance is not indicative of future results. Created by Euro Pacific Capital from data culled from Bloomberg.

But interest rates are now at just 1.25%. If the stock market were again to drop in such a manner, the Fed has far less fire power to bring to bear. It could cut rates to zero and then re-launch another round of QE bond buying to flood the financial sector with liquidity. But that may not be nearly as effective as it was in 2008. Given that the big problem at that point was bad mortgage debt, the QE program’s purchase of mortgage bonds was a fairly effective solution (although we believe a misguided one). But propping up overvalued stocks, many of which have nothing to do with the financial sector, is a far more difficult challenge. The Fed may have to buy stocks on the open market, a tactic that has been used by the Bank of Japan.

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A whole family of bears.

The Big Story: Edge Of The Cliff (RV/ZH)

Real Vision released a video early today containing interviews with some of the biggest names in the hedge fund universe. Though the interview was shot a few weeks ago, remarks from Hayman Capital’s Kyle Bass resonated with market’s mood. Bass discussed what he sees as the many short- and long-term risks to the US equity market, including the rise of algorithmic trading and passive investment, which have enabled investors to take risks without understanding what they’re doing, leaving the market vulnerable to an “air pocket.” And with so many traders short vol, Bass said investors will know the correction has begun when a 4% or 5% drop in equities snowballs into a 10% to 15% decline at the drop of a hat.

“The shift from active to passive means that risk is in the hands of people who don’t know how to take risk. Therefore we’re likely to have a 1987 air pocket. This is like portfolio insurance on steroids, the way algorithmic trading is now running the market place. Investors are moving from active to passive, meaning they’re taking the wheel themselves all at a time when CTAs are running their own algo strategies where they’re one and a half times long and half short and they all believe they can come out at the same time.” “If you see the equity market crack 4 or 5 points, buckle up, because I think we’re going to see a pretty interesting air-pocket, and I don’t think investors are ready for that,” Bass said.

“Our trade relationship with China is worsening our relationship with north korea whatever it is continually worsens. We’ve got three people at the head of these countries that are trying ot maike their countries great again, I think that’s a real risk geopolitically.” “But when you think about it financially, which is actually easier to calculate, the financial reason is the G-4 central banks going from a period of accommodation to a period of tightening, and that’s net of bond issuance.

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Yeah, that’s right. We’re not issuing enough debt yet. What will central banks purchase?

A $4 Trillion Hole in Bond Market May Start Filling in 2018 (BBG)

A key dynamic that’s been holding down bond yields since the global financial crisis is poised to ease next year – presenting a test to riskier parts of the market, according to analysis by Oxford Economics. In the aftermath of the crisis, banks and shadow financial institutions in developed economies sharply cut back their issuance of bonds, to the tune of about $4 trillion, according to the research group’s tally. That happened thanks to banks shrinking their balance sheets amid a regulatory crackdown, and due to a contraction in supply of mortgages that were regularly securitized into asset-backed bonds. “Against stable demand for fixed-income securities, the large negative supply shock created an increasingly acute shortage of these assets,” said Guillermo Tolosa, an economic adviser to Oxford Economics in London who has worked at the IMF.

The impact of that shock was an “almost decade-long yield squeeze,” he wrote. That compression “may start to ease in 2018,” Tolosa wrote in a report distributed Tuesday. Using slightly different metrics, the chart below shows how the market for financial company debt securities in the Group of Seven nations shrank after the 2009 global recession, and now appears to have flat-lined. Continued demand among mutual funds, pensions and insurance companies for fixed income then created the opportunity for nonfinancial companies to ramp up issuance, Tolosa wrote – a dynamic also seen in the chart. It’s one of a number of supply factors that have been identified explaining why bond yields globally remain historically low. Perhaps the most well documented one is the QE programs by the Fed, ECB and Bank of Japan that gobbled up about $14 trillion of assets.

Tolosa’s analysis suggests that Fed QE has had less of an impact than generally accepted, as the initiative was “more than offset” by increased public-sector borrowing. The large portfolio rebalancing in fixed income was instead “essentially a switch within private sector securities,” he said. There was a “massive shift” from financial securities into Treasuries, along with nonfinancial corporate and overseas debt, Tolosa concluded. “This explains a considerable part of the post-crisis surge in demand for other spread products and the issuance boom for global nonfinancial corporates and emerging-market borrowers,” Tolosa wrote. Over the decade through 2007, 10-year U.S. Treasury yields averaged 4.85%. But since the start of 2009 they’ve averaged just 2.46% – giving investors incentives to find higher rates elsewhere.

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What’s in a number?

US Fiscal Year Deficit Widens To $666 Billion (R.)

The U.S. budget deficit widened to $666 billion for the fiscal year 2017 as record spending more than offset record receipts, the Treasury Department said on Friday. The 2017 deficit increased to 3.5% of gross domestic product. The previous fiscal year deficit was $586 billion, with a deficit-to-GDP ratio of 3.2%. The latest fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, straddled the presidencies of Barack Obama, a Democrat, and Donald Trump, a Republican. Accounting for calendar adjustments, the 2017 fiscal year deficit was $644 billion compared with $546 billion the prior year. Fiscal 2017 revenues increased 1% to $3.315 trillion, while spending rose 3% to $3.981 trillion. Since taking office in January, the Trump administration has sought to overhaul the U.S. tax code with precise details currently being worked on in Congress.

The Republican tax plan currently calls for as much as $6 trillion in tax cuts, which would sharply reduce government revenues. It has prompted criticism that it favors tax breaks for business and the wealthy and could add trillions of dollars to the deficit. The administration contends tax cuts will pay for themselves by boosting economic growth. In addition to the annual deficit, the national debt – the accumulation of past deficits and interest due to lenders to the Treasury – now exceeds $20 trillion. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has said the ever-rising debt levels are unsustainable as the government pays for the medical and retirement costs of the aging Baby Boomer generation.

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We know they don’t know a thing.

Fed’s Yellen Defends Past Policies As Trump Mulls Top Fed Pick (R.)

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said on Friday that asset purchases and other unconventional policy tools must remain part of the Fed’s arsenal as long as the economy remains stuck in a low interest-rate economy. Yellen’s remarks offered a contrast between her legacy as Fed chair with the policy views of others who President Donald Trump is considering for her position when her term expires in February. Yellen told the National Economists Club, “We must keep our unconventional policy tools ready to be deployed again.” Reaching the near-zero lower bound would force the Fed to turn to other means to stimulate the economy. Following the 2007 to 2009 financial crisis, the Fed used both a spoken commitment to lower rates and $3.5 trillion in asset purchases to pull rates lower than they would have been otherwise, boosting consumption and growth.

Those asset holdings are now on the decline, the Fed’s policy rate is being increased, and the economy in general is doing well, Yellen said. But she cautioned that the world may not return to its old normal, and “future policymakers” may need to use emergency steps similar to those used in the past decade. Persistent low inflation has caught the Fed by surprise and is “of great concern,” Yellen said. She and other Fed officials are also convinced that the “neutral” rate, which neither stimulates nor discourages economic activity, is much lower than in the past, likely limiting how far the Fed can go during this rate increase cycle. As President Donald Trump mulls a switch at the Fed, Trump is considering several possible replacements for Yellen.

One of the possible nominees Trump has interviewed, former Fed Governor Kevin Warsh, was critical of Fed asset purchases at the time, and argued that Fed has stayed too deeply involved in asset markets. Another, Stanford Economist John Taylor, advocates use of an interest rate rule that would have recommended higher rates through the downturn and recovery. Once rates reach the lower bound, moreover, Taylor’s rule-based approach would likely have to give way to judgment about what steps to take.

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What curious ideas.

‘Dr. Doom’, Marc Faber, Removed From More Boards After Comments On Race (R.)

Marc Faber, the markets prognosticator known as “Dr. Doom,” has been dismissed from three more company boards after comments in his latest newsletter this week suggested the United States had only prospered because it was settled by white people. U.S-based Sunshine Silver Mining, Vietnam Growth Fund managed by Dragon Capital, and Indochina Capital Corporation, had all dismissed him, Faber told Reuters on Friday, Faber has now been fired from six boards with Canadian fund manager Sprott, NovaGold Resources and Ivanhoe Mines letting him go on Tuesday after his remarks went viral on social media platform Twitter. In the October edition of his newsletter, “The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report,” in a section discussing capitalism versus socialism, Faber criticized the move to tear down monuments commemorating the U.S. Civil War military leaders of the Confederacy.

“Thank God white people populated America, not the blacks,” Faber wrote in his newsletter. “Otherwise, the U.S. would look like Zimbabwe, which it might look like one day anyway, but at least America enjoyed 200 years in the economic and political sun under a white majority.” “I am not a racist,” Faber continued, “but the reality – no matter how politically incorrect – needs to be spelled out as well.” Faber, a Swiss investor based in Thailand, who oversees $300 million in assets, said he has not lost any client money, and still stands by his comments and will keep publishing his newsletter. ”My clients all know me for more than 30 years. They know that to call me a racist is inappropriate,” he said. Faber said he has not seen a significant amount of subscribers cancel their subscriptions to his newsletter as a result of the controversy. “No, I think most people actually agree with me and certainly defend freedom of expression even if it does not coincide with their views.”

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Strange indeed.

China Still Needs Loans From World Bank (Caixin)

The World Bank’s former country director for China has defended the organization’s lending to Chinese governments. Yukon Huang, who now serves as a senior fellow at the Carnegie Asia Program, made the remarks after reports said the U.S. has rejected a capital increase plan for the multilateral lender because of dissatisfaction with its loans to wealthier countries, including China. The provincial-level and local governments need the World Bank loans because structural impediments prevent domestic banks from providing sufficient credit to finance public projects, Huang said. Chinese governments that borrow from the World Bank benefit from the support, Huang told Caixin. For example, he said, loans help agencies finance public services without having to rely so much on land sale revenues.

World Bank loans also help those governments improve their debt management. World Bank funds made available in January through its Development Policy Financing program are now helping governments within Hunan province and the municipality of Chongqing “achieve fiscal sustainability through a comprehensive and transparent public finance framework that integrates budget, public investment and debt management,” according to a statement on the World Bank’s website. For two years, the World Bank Group had been working to get member countries to agree on a capital increase plan for its International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) lending arm before the 2017 World Bank and IMF annual meetings, which began last week, according to Reuters.

The IBRD, the world’s largest development bank, is dedicated to helping countries reduce poverty and extending the benefits of sustainable growth by providing them with financial products and policy advice, its official website says. The U.S. is currently the largest IBRD shareholder out of its 189 member nations, with the greatest voting power of 16.28%. China is the third-largest shareholder, after Japan, with 4.53% voting power. The Trump administration was reluctant to endorse the capital increase, with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying in an Oct. 13 statement that “more capital is not the solution when existing capital is not allocated effectively.” “We want to see a significant shift in allocation of funding to support countries most in need of development finance,” Mnuchin said.

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Yes, Italy’s troubles run deep.

Betrayed by Banks, 40,000 Italian Businesses Are in Limbo (BBG)

The Most Serene Republic, as the area around Venice was known for a millennium, is now the troubled epicenter of a banking meltdown that’s threatening to derail one of globalization’s great success stories. The base of brands like Benetton, De’Longhi, Geox and Luxottica, Veneto has also become home to as many as 40,000 small businesses suddenly stranded without access to financing since a pair of regional banks collapsed in June. The implosions of Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca, which also wiped out the life savings of many of their 200,000 shareholders, set off economic and political tremors felt from Rome to Frankfurt. Anger over what many view as lax oversight by national authorities is animating a movement for more autonomy that’s already emboldened by Catalonia’s efforts to split from Spain.

“The pain for Veneto’s banks may be over, but the pain for Veneto’s businesses is just beginning,” said Andrea Arman, a lawyer advising some of the companies and individuals who’ve been hit the hardest. “We’re just starting to see the consequences of the collapse and what we’re seeing is alarming.” Nestled between the Alps and the Adriatic, Veneto is home to about 5 million people. Like Catalonia, it has a seafaring heritage, its own language and incomes far above the national average. Veneto President Luca Zaia, who’s called Italy and its 64 governments in 71 years a “bankrupt state,” plans to use the results of a nonbinding referendum on Oct. 22 to press Rome for more autonomy. Three out of four Veneti want more local power and 15% would support complete independence, according to a Demos poll published by La Repubblica this week.

While Intesa Sanpaolo SpA, Italy’s second-largest bank, paid a symbolic sum to acquire the healthiest parts of the two Veneto lenders, the state entity that’s absorbing the 18 billion euros ($21.3 billion) of troubled debt the banks amassed, called SGA, isn’t fully operational yet. That has left small and midsized companies in the lurch—in many cases unable to do business. “Many of these borrowers are profitable companies, but they’re stuck in limbo,” said Mauro Rocchesso, head of Fidi Impresa e Turismo Veneto, a financial firm that provides collateral to companies seeking lines of credit. “They don’t have a counterparty anymore and can’t find fresh capital from a new lender because of their exposure to the two Veneto banks.”

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More violence and Rajoy is out.

Catalan Rebels Say Spain Will Live to Regret Hostile Power Grab (BBG)

Catalan separatists say Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into as he moves to quash their campaign for independence. As the government in Madrid prepares to deploy its most powerful legal weapons, three leading members of the movement in Barcelona said Rajoy isn’t equipped to achieve his goals and risks a damaging entanglement in hostile terrain. They reckon they have enough support among the Catalan civil service and police to thwart Spain’s plan. Rajoy’s cabinet meets in Madrid on Saturday to consider specific measures to reassert control over the rebel region, a process set out in the Spanish Constitution that’s never yet been tested. Among the top priorities is bringing to heel the Catalan police force and deciding what to do with President Carles Puigdemont.

The plan still needs approval by the Senate, so it could be another two weeks before Spain can take any action. “This is a minefield for Rajoy,” said Antonio Barroso, an analyst in London at Teneo Intelligence, a company advising on political risk. “The implementation on the ground is a risk for him when the government may face some regional civil servants who don’t cooperate.” The three Catalan officials – one from the parliament, one from the regional executive and one from the grass-roots campaign organization – spoke on condition of anonymity due to the legal threats against the movement. It all comes down to Article 155 of the constitution, a short passage that gives the legal green light for Spain to revoke the semi-autonomy of Catalonia. Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said at a press conference in Madrid on Friday that it would be applied in a “prudent, proportionate and gradual manner.”

The problem for Rajoy is that the separatists already proved with their makeshift referendum on Oct. 1 that they can ignore edicts from Madrid with a degree of success. That means he will need to back up his ruling with people on the ground, and it didn’t work as planned the last time around. The Catalan police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra, ignored orders to shut down polling stations before the illegal vote on Oct. 1. After Rajoy sent in the Civil Guard, images of Spanish police beating would-be voters were broadcast around the world. Mossos Police Chief Josep Lluis Trapero is a local hero, his face worn on T-shirts at separatist demonstrations. When he returned this week from an interrogation in Madrid, where he’s facing possible sedition charges, staff greeted him with hugs and applause.

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And we worry about a financial apocalypse. If you value money over life, you will lose both.

A Giant Insect Ecosystem Is Collapsing Due To Humans. It’s A Catastrophe (G.)

They are multitudinous almost beyond our imagining. They thrive in soil, water, and air; they have triumphed for hundreds of millions of years in every continent bar Antarctica, in every habitat but the ocean. And it is their success – staggering, unparalleled and seemingly endless – which makes all the more alarming the great truth now dawning upon us: insects as a group are in terrible trouble and the remorselessly expanding human enterprise has become too much, even for them. The astonishing report highlighted in the Guardian, that the biomass of flying insects in Germany has dropped by three quarters since 1989, threatening an “ecological Armageddon”, is the starkest warning yet; but it is only the latest in a series of studies which in the last five years have finally brought to public attention the real scale of the problem.

Does it matter? Even if bugs make you shudder? Oh yes. Insects are vital plant-pollinators and although most of our grain crops are pollinated by the wind, most of our fruit crops are insect-pollinated, as are the vast majority of our wild plants, from daisies to our most splendid wild flower, the rare and beautiful lady’s slipper orchid. Furthermore, insects form the base of thousands upon thousands of food chains, and their disappearance is a principal reason why Britain’s farmland birds have more than halved in number since 1970. Some declines have been catastrophic: the grey partridge, whose chicks fed on the insects once abundant in cornfields, and the charming spotted flycatcher, a specialist predator of aerial insects, have both declined by more than 95%, while the red-backed shrike, which feeds on big beetles, became extinct in Britain in the 1990s. Ecologically, catastrophe is the word for it.

[..] It seems indisputable: it is us. It is human activity – more specifically, three generations of industrialised farming with a vast tide of poisons pouring over the land year after year after year, since the end of the second world war. This is the true price of pesticide-based agriculture, which society has for so long blithely accepted. So what is the future for 21st-century insects? It will be worse still, as we struggle to feed the nine billion people expected to be inhabiting the world by 2050, and the possible 12 billion by 2100, and agriculture intensifies even further to let us do so. You think there will be fewer insecticides sprayed on farmlands around the globe in the years to come? Think again. It is the most uncomfortable of truths, but one which stares us in the face: that even the most successful organisms that have ever existed on earth are now being overwhelmed by the titanic scale of the human enterprise, as indeed, is the whole natural world.

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Sep 102017
 
 September 10, 2017  Posted by at 9:15 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  2 Responses »


Irma gets closer

 

‘The Most Catastrophic Storm Florida Has Ever Seen’ (G.)
Bahamians Freak Out As Hurricane Irma ‘Sucks Away’ Miles Of Ocean (RT)
Houston Residents Confront Officials Over Decision To Flood Neighborhoods (R.)
Stock, Flow or Impulse? (JPMi)
Signs, Signs, Everywhere A Sign (Roberts)
China Targets A $3 Trillion Shadow Banking Industry (R.)
China Studying When To Ban Sales Of Traditional Fuel Cars (R.)
How Democrats Learned To Stop Worrying And Love ‘Medicare For All’ (CNN)
Laughing on the Way to Armageddon (PCR)
Scotland and Wales Deliver Brexit Ultimatum To Theresa May (Ind.)
British Arms Sales To Repressive Regimes Soar To £5 Billion Since Election (G.)
Greek PM Vows Bailout Exit In 2018, Help For Workers, Youth (R.)
Greek Government Aims To Integrate Up To 30,000 Migrants (K.)
Astronomers Find Stars That Appear Older Than The Universe (F.)

 

 

But it looks like things could have been much worse. Still, do spare a prayer.

‘The Most Catastrophic Storm Florida Has Ever Seen’ (G.)

Florida faces the “most catastrophic” storm in its history as Hurricane Irma prepares to unleash devastating force on the state, including 120mph winds, life-threatening sea surges that could submerge buildings and an advance battery of tornadoes. “You need to leave – not tonight, not in an hour, right now,” Governor Rick Scott commanded in a press conference, 12 hours before the cyclone was expected to make landfall on Sunday morning. “This is the most catastrophic storm the state has ever seen.” The US national hurricane centre said in its 8pm Saturday update on Irma that “heavy squalls with embedded tornadoes” were already sweeping across south Florida. The US National Weather Service later said the first hurricane-force wind gust had been recorded in the Florida Keys, a low-lying island chain off the state’s southern coast.

Irma dropped to a category three hurricane but could regain its category four intensity as the bathtub-warm seawater of nearly 32C (90F) will enable the storm to build strength. It was forecast to hit the Keys first, then again near Cape Coral or Fort Myers, and then a third time near Tampa Bay on its path up Florida’s west coast. Weather stations in Marathon, a city in the Keys, reported sustained winds of 51mph (81kmh) with a gust to 71mph (115kmh) on Saturday night. In Florida’s south-west, officials expected sea surges as high as 15ft (4.5 metres), which can rapidly rise and fall. “Fifteen feet is devastating and will cover your house,” Scott said. “Do not think the storm is over when the wind slows down. The storm surge will rush in and it could kill you.” He said at least 76,000 people were without power as the 350 miles (560km) wide storm unleashes winds and rain on the state. Officials said the window for people in evacuation zones was shutting, with gas stations closing and bridges blocked off.

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Eerie.

Bahamians Freak Out As Hurricane Irma ‘Sucks Away’ Miles Of Ocean (RT)

Footage from the Irma-hit Bahamas freaked out social media users on Saturday as it emerged that seawater was missing from a bay as far as the eye could see. The scene turned out to be a rare natural occurrence tied to the outgoing hurricane. “I am in disbelief right now… This is Long Island, Bahamas and the ocean water is missing!!! That’s as far as they see,” @Kaydi_K wrote on Twitter. The eerie scene was shared over 50,000 times in one day and it spooked web users, many of whom suggested it resembled the sucking away of water before a tsunami. However, weather experts analyzing the scene put the blame on Hurricane Irma, which had just left a trail of destruction in the Caribbean and was about to land in Florida. The ominous-looking occurrence was in fact caused by a combination of low tide, low pressure and strong winds in the right direction, which literally pushed the water away from the long narrow bay. The phenomenon has been dubbed “reverse storm surge” by some of those explaining it online.

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“..homes may also be occupied by alligators, rodents and snakes due to the floods.”

Houston Residents Confront Officials Over Decision To Flood Neighborhoods (R.)

Angry Houston residents shouted at city officials on Saturday over decisions to intentionally flood certain neighborhoods during Hurricane Harvey, as they returned to homes that may have been contaminated by overflowing sewers. A town hall grew heated after City Council member Greg Travis, who represents parts of western Houston, told about 250 people that an Army Corps of Engineers official told him that certain gauges measuring water levels at the Buffalo Bayou – the city’s main waterway – failed due to a decision to release water from two municipal reservoirs to avoid an overflow. Travis’ words inflamed tensions at the town hall, held at the Westin Houston hotel, as the region struggled to recover from Hurricane Harvey, which dropped as much as 50 inches (127 cm) of rain in some areas along Texas’ Gulf Coast, triggering historic floods.

More than 450,000 people either still do not have safe drinking water or need to boil their water first. On Aug. 28, the Army Corps and the Harris County Flood Control District opened the Addicks and Barker reservoirs in western Houston to keep them from overflowing. They warned it would flood neighborhoods, some of which remained closed off two weeks later. Travis said the Army Corps official said they kept releasing water without knowing the extent of the flooding. “They didn’t understand that the bathtub effect was occurring,” he said. Residents attempting to return to flooded homes may have to contend with contaminated water and air because the city’s sewer systems overflowed during the floods. Fire chief Samuel Pena said people returning home should wear breathing masks and consider getting tetanus shots.

“We couldn’t survive the Corps – why should we rebuild?” Debora Kumbalek, who lives in Travis’ district in Houston, shouted during the town hall. Scattered heaps of discarded appliances, wallboard and mattresses can be still seen throughout the city of 2.7 million people, the nation’s fourth-largest. There were no representatives from the Army Corps at the town hall. The Corps released water at an intended maximum rate of 13,000 cubic feet (370 cubic meters) per second to keep those reservoirs from overflowing. However, preliminary data from the U.S. Geological Survey suggests that on at least two days, the average release rate exceeded that 13,000 level.

Many residents face lengthy rebuilding processes, and the majority do not have flood insurance. The Federal Emergency Management Administration will contribute a maximum of $33,000 per home in assistance to cover damages, a FEMA official said at the town hall, though for heavily flooded homes, damages will likely exceed that amount. Fire chief Pena said homes may also be occupied by alligators, rodents and snakes due to the floods.

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From JPMorgan. Central banks set prices for everything. But the impulse has turned negative.

Stock, Flow or Impulse? (JPMi)

Notwithstanding all the discussion of balance sheet reduction and tapering, the developed market central banks in aggregate are still very much in expansionary mode, with the G4 balance sheets still growing by more than $1 trillion per year on an annualized pace (see Chart). The strength of asset prices in the face of fundamental challenges serves as an enduring reminder for me of the importance of this positive QE flow. The link between QE flow and asset prices makes intuitive sense. The world’s stock of savings is held in two places: cash and everything else (“financial assets”). QE, by its nature, increases the supply of cash in the world, and simultaneously decreases the supply of non-cash financial assets, by removing government bonds, corporates, and in some cases equities from circulation.

Those securities are replaced in the financial system by cash of equivalent value. So, QE increases the ratio of cash to financial assets worldwide, and that ratio reflects the relative abundance or scarcity of cash available to purchase each unit of assets. QE’s influence on that ratio drives up the price of financial assets, all else equal. This rationale suggests that it is the flow of QE, i.e. the speed with which cash is injected and financial assets are removed, that influences the change in asset prices. Flow is positive, asset prices go up; flow is negative, asset prices go down. However, despite this simplicity (or maybe because of it) the relationship between balance sheets and asset prices is still a matter of intense debate.

Some clever analysis yields a compelling case that the impulse, rather than the flow, of global central bank balance sheets is likely to be the primary driver of asset prices. Whereas the “flow” of QE is the speed of balance sheet increase, the “impulse,” is its acceleration. If the speed of balance sheet growth is slowing down, impulse is negative. A carefully constructed dataset shows a remarkably good fit between QE impulse and change in spreads and stock prices. Unfortunately the fit is so good historically that it almost looks like data mining, and recently, there has been a material breakdown: global central bank QE impulse has already turned negative, most demonstrably back in Q2 of this year, and asset prices have continued to remain buoyant.

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Do low rates kill growth?

Signs, Signs, Everywhere A Sign (Roberts)

You don’t have to look very hard to see a rising number of signs that suggest the “Trump Trade” has come to its inevitable conclusion. Following the election, this past November the financial markets rallied sharply on the hopes of major policy reforms and legislative agenda coming out of Washington. Eleven months later, the markets are still waiting as the Administration has remained primarily embroiled in Washington politics with a divisive, Republican controlled, House and Senate. While there are still “hopes” the Administration will pass through tax reform, the failure to “rally the troops” to repeal the Affordable Care Act leaves permanent tax cuts an unlikely outcome. That hopeful outcome was further exacerbated with the deal cut between President Trump and leading Democrats to lift the debt ceiling and fund the Government through December.

That “deal” has effectively nullified any leverage the Republicans had to strong-arm a deal on taxes later this year. The markets are figuring it out as well. If you want to know where the economy is headed over the next few months, you don’t have to look much further than interest rates. Since interest rates are ultimately driven by the demand for credit, and that demand is driven by economic growth, their historical correlation is no surprise.

But like I said, if you want to know where GDP is going to be in the months ahead, keep a close watch on rates. I suspect, before year-end, we will see rates below 2.0%. As a reminder, this is why we have remained rampant bond bulls since 2013 despite the continuing calls for the end of the “bond bull market.” The 3-D’s (Demographics, Deflation & Debt) ensure that rates will remain low, and go lower, in the years to come. Think Japan.

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China’s too late.

China Targets A $3 Trillion Shadow Banking Industry (R.)

As a flood of unregulated cash swirls through the Chinese economy, Beijing has been taking aim at the trust companies whose unrestrained lending practices are worrying regulators. The trusts, at the heart of a vast shadow banking industry, are being pressured to step up compliance and background checks, and are being pushed towards greater transparency. But the fast-growing 20 trillion yuan ($3 trillion) industry, whose lending operations are cloaked behind opaque structures, will be tough to rein in, according to employees at some trusts. A regulatory sanction against one trust, Shanghai International Trust, and a legal case against another, National Trust, offer rare insights into the industry, and reveals just how hard it will be to police it. Shanghai Trust was fined 200,000 yuan for selling a product that violated leverage rules, according to a regulator’s notice in January.

Under these rules, property developers are only allowed to borrow up to three times their existing net assets. According to two people with direct knowledge of the case, an unknown sum was loaned by China Construction Bank through Shanghai Trust to Cinda Asset Management Company. Cinda then invested the cash. One of the sources said Cinda used the cash to acquire land, a sector rife with speculation that regulators have singled out as a “risky” destination for trust company loans. [..] The case against National Trust, which had revenue of 655 million yuan in 2016, involves wealth management products linked to the steel industry. The trust was sued in June this year by eight investors who allege it misrepresented the risks involved in products it sold them and failed to adequately assess the guarantor’s creditworthiness.

The trust skirted restrictions on loans to the steel industry by using the products to raise money to lend to a subsidiary of Bohai Steel Group, according to Tang Chunlin, a lawyer at Yingke Law Firm, who is representing the investors. The plaintiffs invested different sums in the wealth management products, which National Trust promised would deliver an annual return of over 9 percent. National Trust lent the money collected to a Bohai subsidiary, Tianjin Iron and Steel Group. National Trust has now defaulted on the product, according to Tang and Gongyu Zhou, one of the eight investors, because Tianjin Iron and Steel is unable to pay back its loan.The products were also illegally sold via third-party non-financial institutions, Tang and Zhou said.

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Let me guess. When lithium prices go to the moon?

China Studying When To Ban Sales Of Traditional Fuel Cars (R.)

China has begun studying when to ban the production and sale of cars using traditional fuels, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing comments by the vice industry minister, who predicted “turbulent times” for automakers forced to adapt. Xin Guobin did not give details on when China, the world’s largest auto market, would implement such a ban. The UK and France have said they will ban new petrol and diesel cars from 2040. “Some countries have made a timeline for when to stop the production and sales of traditional fuel cars,” Xin, vice minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, was quoted as saying at an auto industry event in the city of Tianjin on Saturday. “The ministry has also started relevant research and will make such a timeline with relevant departments. Those measures will certainly bring profound changes for our car industry’s development,” he said.

To combat air pollution and close a competitive gap between its newer domestic automakers and their global rivals, China has set goals for electric and plug-in hybrid cars to make up at least a fifth of Chinese auto sales by 2025. Xin said the domestic auto industry faced “turbulent times” over the years to 2025 to make the switch towards new energy vehicles, and called on the country’s car makers to adapt to the challenge and adjust their strategies accordingly. Banning the sale of petrol- and diesel-powered cars would have a significant impact on oil demand in China, the world’s second-largest oil consumer. Last month, state oil major China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) said China’s energy demand will peak by 2040, later than the previous forecast of 2035, as transportation fuel consumption rises through the middle of the century.

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As Hillary’s starting a book tour attacking Bernie, he’s gathering Democrats around him.

How Democrats Learned To Stop Worrying And Love ‘Medicare For All’ (CNN)

First, consider this: It’s the summer of 2019 and a dozen Democratic presidential candidates are gathered onstage for a debate somewhere in the Midwest. The network moderator concludes her introductions and tees up the opening question. “Who here tonight supports moving the United States toward a single-payer, or ‘Medicare for all,’ taxpayer-funded health care system?” Pause it there and rewind to January 2016 in Iowa. The caucuses are days away, and Hillary Clinton is fending off an unexpected challenge from Sen. Bernie Sanders. The discussion turns to single-payer, and Clinton balks. “People who have health emergencies can’t wait for us to have a theoretical debate about some better idea that will never, ever come to pass,” she tells voters in Des Moines, explaining her campaign’s focus on preserving and expanding Obamacare, while dismissing the progressive insurgent’s more ambitious pitch.

Go back even further now to the last contested Democratic primary before that, in 2008, and recall the lone and lonely voices in favor of single-payer care. They belonged to Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel. The pair combined for a delegate haul of precisely nil. Back to the present – a decade on – and after a chaotic months-long push by Republicans to dismantle former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, the prospect of Sanders’ “Medicare-for-all” program has emerged as the hot-button centerpiece of the Democratic Party’s roiling public policy debate. After a summer that has seen so many of the party’s most ambitious officials and brightest prospects line up in vocal support of what was so recently a fringe cause, consider again how the single-payer question will be received on a Democratic debate stage. Here’s a hint: Expect to see a lot of hands.

[..] .. in mid-July, Sanders returned to Des Moines, Iowa, for the first time since the 2016 election to water the grassroots. “Our immediate test,” he said, was to defeat the Republican plan. “But as soon as we accomplish that, I will be introducing legislation which has gained more and more support all across this country, legislation for a Medicare for All, single-payer system.” Robert Becker, Sanders’ 2016 Iowa campaign director, was in the hall that day. Between cigarettes, and before his old boss arrived on the scene, Becker sat back and diagnosed the bubbling dynamic. “Every time Paul Ryan, or someone who is trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, steps to the podium and starts talking about insurance rates and premiums getting higher and higher and higher, they’re actually making an argument for a single-payer system,” he said. “You don’t hear people on Medicare and Medicaid complaining about their co-pays.”

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But the feeding frenzy will continue.

Laughing on the Way to Armageddon (PCR)

The United States shows the world such a ridiculous face that the world laughs at us. The latest spin on “Russia stole the election” is that Russia used Facebook to influence the election. The NPR women yesterday were breathless about it. We have been subjected to ten months of propaganda about Trump/Putin election interference and still not a scrap of evidence. It is past time to ask an unasked question: If there were evidence, what is the big deal? All sorts of interest groups try to influence election outcomes including foreign governments. Why is it OK for Israel to influence US elections but not for Russia to do so? Why do you think the armament industry, the energy industry, agribusiness, Wall Street and the banks, pharmaceutical companies, etc., etc., supply the huge sum of money to finance election campaigns if their intent is not to influence the election?

Why do editorial boards write editorials endorsing one candidate and damning another if they are not influencing the election? What is the difference between influencing the election and influencing the government? Washington is full of lobbyists of all descriptions, including lobbyists for foreign governments, working round the clock to influence the US government. It is safe to say that the least represented in the government are the citizens themselves who don’t have any lobbyists working for them. The orchestrated hysteria over “Russian influence” is even more absurd considering the reason Russia allegedly interfered in the election. Russia favored Trump because he was the peace candidate who promised to reduce the high tensions with Russia created by the Obama regime and its neocon nazis—Hillary Clinton, Victoria Nuland, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power.

What’s wrong with Russia preferring a peace candidate over a war candidate? The American people themselves preferred the peace candidate. So Russia agreed with the electorate. Those who don’t agree with the electorate are the warmongers—the military/security complex and the neocon nazis. These are democracy’s enemies who are trying to overturn the choice of the American people. It is not Russia that disrespects the choice of the American people; it is the utterly corrupt Democratic National Committee and its divisive Identity Politics, the military/security complex, and the presstitute media who are undermining democracy. I believe it is time to change the subject. The important question is who is it that is trying so hard to convince Americans that Russian influence prevails over us?

Do the idiots pushing this line realize how impotent this makes an alleged “superpower” look. How can we be the hegemonic power that the Zionist neocons say we are when Russia can decide who is the president of the United States? The US has a massive spy state that even intercepts the private cell phone conversations of the Chancellor of Germany, but his massive spy organization is unable to produce one scrap of evidence that the Russians conspired with Trump to steal the presidential election from Hillary. When will the imbeciles realize that when they make charges for which no evidence can be produced they make the United States look silly, foolish, incompetent, stupid beyond all belief?

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The UK needs a national government. Or else.

Scotland and Wales Deliver Brexit Ultimatum To Theresa May (Ind.)

Wales and Scotland will formally lay down a challenge to Theresa May’s Brexit plans this week, warning she risks a constitutional crisis if changes are not made. Governments in both nations are expected to officially submit documents confirming their intention to withhold consent for the Prime Minister’s approach to EU withdrawal unless it radically alters. Conservative ministers have admitted to The Independent that pushing on without their backing could hold up Brexit, while politicians outside England warn it will strain the UK at the seams. The devolved governments claim Ms May’s key piece of Brexit legislation will see London snatch authority over key policy areas and give Conservative ministers unacceptably-strong powers to meddle with other laws.

It comes as MPs are expected to approve the EU (Withdrawal) Bill at its first Commons hurdle on Monday, but the Prime Minister faces a rebellion later on because even Tories want changes to the same clauses that are angering leaders in Cardiff and Edinburgh. On Tuesday the Scottish and Welsh administrations will officially start their drive to force concessions, by submitting ‘legislative consent’ papers in their assemblies that set out how the bill must change. Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones told The Independent Ms May’s bill will allow Whitehall to “hijack” powers during Brexit that should be passed to Cardiff. He said: “The UK Government is being rigid in its approach. It’s saying there is only one way. It’s acting as if it won a majority at the election in June. It didn’t.

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It needs a national conscience too.

British Arms Sales To Repressive Regimes Soar To £5 Billion Since Election (G.)

UK arms manufacturers have exported almost £5bn worth of weapons to countries that are judged to have repressive regimes in the 22 months since the Conservative party won the last election. The huge rise is largely down to a rise in orders from Saudi Arabia, but many other countries with controversial human rights records – including Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Venezuela and China – have also been major buyers. The revelation comes before the Defence and Security Equipment International arms fair at the Excel centre in east London, one of the largest shows of its kind in the world. Among countries invited to attend by the British government are Egypt, Qatar, Kenya, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Campaigners called on the government to end arms sales to the United Arab Emirates in light of its record on human rights.

They accused the government of negotiating trade deals to sell the Gulf state cyber surveillance technology which the UAE government uses to spy on its citizens, and weaponry which, they allege, has been used to commit war crimes in Yemen. The Saudis have historically been a major buyer of British-made weapons, but the rise in sales to other countries signals a shift in emphasis on the part of the government, which is keen to support the defence industry, which employs more than 55,000 people. Following the referendum on leaving the EU, the Defence & Security Organisation, the government body that promotes arms manufacturers to overseas buyers, was moved from UK Trade & Investment to the Department for International Trade. Shortly afterwards, it was announced that the international trade secretary, Liam Fox, would spearhead the push to promote the country’s military and security industries exports.

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What’s going to happen to Tsipras when Greeks find out he can’t deliver?

Greek PM Vows Bailout Exit In 2018, Help For Workers, Youth (R.)

Greece will exit successfully its bailout program in 2018 helped by strong growth, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Saturday, vowing to support workers, young Greeks and small businesses as the economy recovers. Addressing a Greek public worn out by austerity and skeptical after years of reform efforts have failed to fix the country’s woes, Tsipras said his leftist-led government would do whatever it takes to end lenders’ supervision next year. “The country, after eight whole years, will have exited bailouts and suffocating supervision. That’s our aim,” Tsipras said in his annual policy speech in the northern city of Thessaloniki. “We are determined to do everything we can.” Greece’s current international bailout, worth 86 billion euros, expires next year. Tsipras’ term ends a year later.

Tsipras said Athens would continue to outperform its fiscal targets and fight endemic tax evasion to create fiscal room for tax cuts that would alleviate the burden on businesses and households, long squeezed by the debt crisis. Greece has received about 260 billion euros in bailout aid from its eurozone partners and the International Monetary Fund since 2010 in return for draconian austerity which has wiped out a quarter of its output and cut tens of thousands of jobs. Unemployment stood at 21.2 percent in June, the euro zone’s highest, with young Greeks the hardest hit. Greece’s economy is expected to grow by about 2 percent in 2018, a sign that sacrifices are bearing fruit, Tsipras said outlining initiatives to boost employment and fight a brain drain.

A march of thousands of workers was largely peaceful outside the venue where he spoke. Tsipras said the state would give financial incentives to employers to hire more younger workers and spend 156 million euros to subsidize social security contributions of employers who will turn contractors into full-time staff. Unregistered work and contract jobs have increased during the debt crisis, as businesses are desperate to cut costs. The government will also pay 100 million euros to subsidize unpaid workers in struggling sectors and businesses, he said, promising to fight labor law violations.

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In a country that has no jobs for its own people.

Greek Government Aims To Integrate Up To 30,000 Migrants (K.)

Authorities are preparing measures to integrate between 25,000-30,000 asylum seekers who are not entitled to relocation under the existing European Union program, Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas has said. Speaking to Ta Nea newspaper over the weekend, Mouzalas said that a three-pronged scheme is under way to integrate newcomers, involving a new registration process and the issuing of tax identification and social security numbers; school enrolment for children; and access to the local labor market. Asked about Greece’s recent decision to take back a small number of asylum seekers in line with the EU’s so-called Dublin rules, Mouzalas said that Athens had only accepted returns “from countries who helped us by consenting to up to 17,000 relocations and 7,000 [family] reunions.”

The minister said that a new agreement is currently in the works because the Dublin system is “dead.” Meanwhile, more than 350 police officers took part in a pre-dawn operation on Saturday at the Moria camp on the Aegean island of Lesvos to transfer an unspecified number of migrants to the pre-deportation center. These individuals, who have all received a final rejection of their asylum application, will be returned to Turkey. Moria has been rocked by riots twice in recent weeks in protest at the slow pace of registration and asylum processing for certain nationalities, as well as crowded conditions.

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Interesting mystery. No answers so far.

Astronomers Find Stars That Appear Older Than The Universe (F.)

If you understand how stars work, you can observe the physical properties of one of them and extrapolate its age, and know when it had to have been born. Stars undergo a lot of changes as they age: their radius, luminosity, and temperature all evolve as they burn through their fuel. But a star’s lifespan, in general, is dependent on only two properties that it’s born with: its mass and its metallicity, which is the amount of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium present within. The oldest stars we’ve found in the Universe are nearly pristine, where almost 100% of what makes them up is the hydrogen and helium left over from the Big Bang. They come in at over 13 billion years old, with the oldest at 14.5 billion. And this is a big problem, because the Universe itself is only 13.8 billion years old.

You can’t very well have a star that’s older than the Universe itself; that would imply that the star existed before the Big Bang ever happened! Yet the Big Bang was the origin of the Universe as-we-know-it, where all the matter, energy, neutrinos, photons, antimatter, dark matter and even dark energy originated. Everything contained in our observable Universe came from that event, and everything we perceive today can be traced back to that origin in time. So the simplest explanation, that there are stars predating the Universe, must be ruled out. It’s also possible that we’ve got the age of the Universe wrong! The way we arrive at that figure is from precision measurements of the Universe on the largest scales.

By looking at a whole slew of features, including: • The density and temperature imperfections in the cosmic microwave background, left over from the Big Bang, • The clustering of stars and galaxies at present and going back billions of light years, • The Hubble expansion rate of the fabric of the Universe, • The history of star formation and galactic evolution, and many other sources, we’ve arrived at a very consistent picture of the Universe. It’s made up of 68% dark energy, 27% dark matter, 4.9% normal matter, about 0.1% neutrinos and 0.01% radiation, and is right around 13.8 billion years old. The uncertainty on the age figure is less than 100 million years, so even though it might be plausible that the Universe is slightly older-or-younger, it’s extraordinarily improbable to get up to 14.5 billion years.

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Jul 272017
 


Hieronymus Bosch St. Jerome in Prayer 1482

 

Fed Says Balance-Sheet Unwind to Start ‘Relatively Soon’ (BBG)
Time Flies for Draghi and the Bumblebees (BBG)
The Greater Moderation (DDMB)
Thursday Is the ‘Day From Hell’ for Europe’s Stock Watchers (BBG)
Market Hype Triggers ‘New Major Warning’ Sign For Stocks (CNBC)
Financialization and Risk Asymmetry (CHS)
China’s Banks Now Stable, ‘Shadow’ Banking Less Threatening – Moody’s (CNBC)
Investor Howard Marks Says Bitcoin Is A ‘Pyramid Scheme’ (CNBC)
German Business Lobby Urges EU Action Against New US Sanctions On Russia (RT)
Macron Unleashes a Decade of Italian Anger (BBG)
Sweden Leaks Details Of Almost All Of Its Citizens (Ind.)
Armageddon Is Two and One-half Minutes Away (PCR)
Half Our Bodies’ Atoms ‘Formed Beyond The Milky Way’ (G.)

 

 

Far too much power. And then you get inane stuff like: Fed Chair Janet Yellen has allowed the labor market to strengthen .. That means exactly nothing at all.

Fed Says Balance-Sheet Unwind to Start ‘Relatively Soon’ (BBG)

Federal Reserve officials said they would begin running off their $4.5 trillion balance sheet “relatively soon” and left their benchmark policy rate unchanged as they assess progress toward their inflation goal. The start of balance-sheet normalization – possibly as soon as September – is another policy milestone in an economic recovery now in its ninth year. The Fed bought trillions of dollars of securities to lower long-term borrowing costs after cutting the main interest rate to zero in December 2008. “Near-term risks to the economic outlook appear roughly balanced,” the Federal Open Market Committee said in a statement Wednesday following a two-day meeting in Washington. “Household spending and business fixed investment have continued to expand.”

Fed watchers had anticipated that the inclusion of the term “relatively soon” would signal the central bank could announce the timing of the balance-sheet reduction program at its next meeting, scheduled for Sept. 19-20. U.S. stocks rose slightly and 10-year Treasury yields fell following the Fed’s statement. “I expect an announcement of the onset of the balance-sheet reduction at the conclusion of the September meeting, effective on the first of October,” Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust Corp. in Chicago, said after Wednesday’s statement. U.S. central bankers have raised the benchmark policy rate four times since they began removing emergency policy in December 2015, and project another increase before the end of this year.

In June, the FOMC outlined gradually rising runoff caps for maturing Treasuries and mortgage-related securities, and said the program would start “this year.” Fed Chair Janet Yellen has allowed the labor market to strengthen while inflation has remained lower than the 2% goal of officials, with price pressures declining in recent months. The target range for the benchmark federal funds rate was held at 1% to 1.25%. The FOMC said it’s “monitoring inflation developments closely.”

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Also far too much power. It’s crazy to see the man’s babytalk endanger entire societies.

Time Flies for Draghi and the Bumblebees (BBG)

Five years ago today, Mario Draghi was talking about bumblebees. The European Central Bank president’s speech in London on July 26, 2012, became instantly famous because of his pledge to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro. But for all the power and clarity of that phrase, he started his remarks more obliquely. “The euro is like a bumblebee. This is a mystery of nature because it shouldn’t fly but instead it does. So the euro was a bumblebee that flew very well for several years. And now — and I think people ask “how come?”– probably there was something in the atmosphere, in the air, that made the bumblebee fly. Now something must have changed in the air, and we know what after the financial crisis.”

At the time, the currency bloc was being buffeted by soaring bond yields in peripheral nations as speculators bet the union’s fundamental flaws would rip it apart. Draghi’s answer was to state unequivocally that the immediate crisis fell under the ECB’s responsibility and he would deal with it. “The ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro. And believe me, it will be enough.” That pledge was followed by a program to buy the debt of stressed countries in return for structural reforms, and in that respect the words alone proved to be enough. Yield spreads collapsed even though the program has never been tapped.

The bumblebee metaphor tends to be forgotten, but Draghi’s point was this: even with many national governments and more than a dozen different languages dividing the labor force, the single currency can fly. He went further though, saying that it would fly better if European governments overhaul their economies and work more closely together. On that point, the ECB has less reason to be satisfied with the past five years. The institution has since become the regional banking supervisor but European-level integration has otherwise largely stalled, and Draghi has repeatedly lamented the sluggish pace of national economic reforms.

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“The last great central banker that we had in the last 110 years other than Volcker was J.P. Morgan. The difference is, when Morgan tried to contain the 1907 crisis, he wasn’t using zeros and ones of imaginary computer money; he was using his own capital.”

The Greater Moderation (DDMB)

In late June, the recently retired Robert Rodriguez, a 33-year veteran of the markets, sat down for a lengthy interview with Advisor Perspectives (linked here). Among his many accolades, Rodriguez carries the unique distinction of being crowned Morningstar Manager of the Year for his outstanding management of both equity and bond funds. He likens the current era to that of the nine years ended 1951, a period during which the Fed and Treasury held interest rates at artificially low levels to finance World War II. His main concern today is that price discovery has been so distorted by the Fed that the stage is set for a ‘perfect storm.’ His personal allocation to equities is at the lowest level since 1971. The combination of meteorological forces to bring on said storm, you ask? It may well be an act of God, an earthquake. It could just as easily be a geopolitical tremor the system cannot absorb; it’s easy enough to name a handful of potential aggressors.

Or history may simply rhyme with the unrelenting shock waves that catalyzed the subprime mortgage crisis, coupled per chance with a plain vanilla recession. We may simply and slowly wake to the realization that the assumptions we’ve used to delude ourselves into buying the most expensive credit markets in the history of mankind are built on so much quicksand. The point is panics do not randomly come to pass; they must be shocked into existence as was the case in advance of 1907 and 2007. One of Rodriguez’s observations struck a raw nerve for yours truly, who prides herself on being a reformed central banker: “The last great central banker that we had in the last 110 years other than Volcker was J.P. Morgan. The difference is, when Morgan tried to contain the 1907 crisis, he wasn’t using zeros and ones of imaginary computer money; he was using his own capital.”

It is only fair and true to honor history and add that Morgan’s efforts rescued depositors. Income inequality in the years that followed 1907 declined before resuming its ascent to its prior peak, reached at the climax of the Roaring Twenties. The Fed’s intrusions since 2007, built on the false premise of a fanciful wealth effect concocted using models that have no place in the real world, have accomplished the opposite. Income inequality has not only grown in the aftermath of The Great Financial Crisis and throughout The Greater Moderation; it has long since smashed through its former 1927 record and kept rising. The Fed’s actions have not saved the little guy; they’ve skewered him.

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Oh so busy with no price discovery.

Thursday Is the ‘Day From Hell’ for Europe’s Stock Watchers (BBG)

If you think your Thursday looks bad, spare a thought for James Edwardes Jones. The RBC analyst is bracing for what he calls the busiest earnings day he’s experienced in about 20 years covering the consumer-goods industry. Edwardes Jones plans to arrive at RBC Europe’s London offices along the River Thames about the time the world’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, reports results at 6 a.m. local time. Fifteen minutes later he has Nestle, followed by Danone at 6:30. Then come Diageo and British American Tobacco, along with a trading update from Britvic, all before the morning team meeting at 7:15 a.m. Next up are calls with executives of some of those companies at 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Edwardes Jones has client notes to write before his final set of results from L’Oreal SA at 5 p.m. – 11 hours after the first batch.

Other retail or consumer-goods companies reporting Thursday include French grocer Casino, U.K. bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral and Paris-based luxury conglomerate Kering. “There has never been a day like that,” Edwardes Jones said. His recipe for getting through the day: “Maybe a quadruple espresso.” Across London’s financial district, analysts are readying themselves for what Martin Deboo at Jefferies called a “day from hell”: a bumper earnings session in which European companies worth more than $3 trillion are set to report results, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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Everyone still thinks they’ll be able to get out in time.

Market Hype Triggers ‘New Major Warning’ Sign For Stocks (CNBC)

With a fresh round of record-breaking highs in the stock market has come a surge in investor optimism, and that eventually could create problems. Bullishness in the most recent Investors Intelligence survey hit 60.2%, the highest level since late February. The survey comes from editors of market newsletters and thus provides a snapshot of what professional investors are thinking. Elevated levels of optimism often coincide with market dips. The last time the II survey hit this level, the S&P 500 proceeded to fall nearly 3%. John Gray, editor at II, cautions that the big spread between bulls and bears, who are at just 16.5%, is an indicator of potential danger ahead. “The latest sentiment is not encouraging for the rest of the year as markets rarely fulfill expectations,” Gray wrote.

“This is a new major warning calling for defensive measures to protect profits, renewing the same signal from earlier this year.” While there’s been plenty of talk in the market about elevated levels that could trigger a correction — or a 10% drop — II respondents don’t see it happening. Expectations for a correction dipped to 23.3% of respondents. By comparison, the correction reading was at a comparatively lofty 34% prior to the November presidential election — just before the market surged on hopes that President Donald Trump would usher in a new pro-business era in Washington. Since hitting the most recent bottom earlier in July, the market has been on what is just the latest leg higher. Defying expectations that stocks could see limited gains this year, the S&P 500 has climbed 10.6% on strength in tech, materials, health care and discretionary stocks.

Among the sampling of newsletter sentiment that II cited was a warning from Bert Dohmen’s Wellington Letter, which said the Fed could thwart the rally. “As long as Fed officials talk about hiking rates, it will enhance concerns about the Fed producing a recession,” Dohmen wrote. “We interpret each rate hike as another nail in the coffin for an economic recovery.” Ten of the last 13 Fed rate-hiking cycles ended with recession. Dohmen said that could be the case again, though he did not advocate that investors panic. “We are seeing warning signs, but not enough to run for the hills just yet. We have said for a number of months that the final phase in the bull market should be a noticeable spurt to the upside, forcing all skeptics into the market,” he wrote. “We haven’t seen that yet.”

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The opposite of skin in the game.

Financialization and Risk Asymmetry (CHS)

One of the most pernicious consequences of financialization is the shifting of risk from the top of the wealth-power pyramid to the bottom: those who benefit the most from financialization’s leveraged, speculative credit bubbles protect themselves from losses while those at the bottom of the pyramid (the bottom 99.5%) face the full fury of financialization’s formidable risk. Longtime correspondent Chad D. and I recently exchanged emails exploring how the higher debt loads and higher interest payments of financialization inhibits people at the bottom of the wealth-power pyramid (i.e. debt-serfs) from taking risks such as starting a small business. But this is only one serving of financialization’s toxic banquet of risk-related consequences.

Chad summarized how those at the apex of the wealth-power pyramid protect themselves from risk and losses. At the top levels of the pyramid, members in those groups collect way more interest than they pay out and at the very top, they get a ton of interest and pay little to none. The people at the top can take all sorts of risk, because of this dynamic and further, they also usually have a heavy influence on the financial/political machinery, so they get bailed out by taxpayers when their investments go bad. In addition, because their influence extends to the criminal justice system, they are able to commit fraud and at the same time neutralize regulators and prosecutors, thereby escaping any ramifications from their excessive risk taking and in many cases massive fraud.

As Chad observed, the wealthy own the income streams from debt (bonds, etc.), while everyone else owes the interest and principal due on debt. As this chart shows, the wealthy own business equity and financial securities and have a modest slice of debt. The bottom 90% owe most of the debt, and their primary asset is the family home– an asset that doesn’t generate income while it generates interest income for those who own the mortgage. In other words, it’s less an investment than a form of consumption– especially when the current housing bubble deflates.

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Moody’s is smoking the good stuff. What utter nonsense.

China’s Banks Now Stable, ‘Shadow’ Banking Less Threatening – Moody’s (CNBC)

Moody’s Investors Service no longer takes a negative view on China’s banking system, raising its outlook to stable on Thursday as concerns over so-called shadow banking eased. “The government’s adoption of more coordinated policy measures to curb shadow banking will help mitigate asset risks for banks, and address some key imbalances in the financial system,” Yulia Wan, a Moody’s banking analyst, said in a statement on Thursday. Shadow banking is a broad category of banking-like services from non-traditional players; it can include loans from non-financial companies as well as investment products. It is outside the bounds of normal banking regulation, so it largely goes unregulated.

Earlier this month, Moody’s had noted that actions on shadow-banking had included the central bank changing its monetary policy setting in the last quarter of 2016 to “moderate neutral” from “moderate,” which raised market funding costs and refinancing risks for banks, reducing the return from supporting long-term investments with short-term market funds. In March and April, the China Banking Regulatory Commission also requested banks test whether their interbank liabilities would exceed the regulatory ceiling at one-third of total liabilities. Moodys’ noted in the Thursday report that there were signs of declines in outstanding wealth management products issued by the mainland’s banks and fewer investments in loans and receivables among the 26 listed banks.

But it added that profit growth would be limited by continued pressure on net interest margins and slower fee-income growth on higher funding costs and stricter shadow-banking regulations. [..] “Overall delinquency rates will stabilize as corporate profit continues to recover, helped by stable and solid economic growth, steady commodity prices and a slower increase in corporate leverage,” the Moody’s statement said.

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In the present evironment, there’s no need to consider underlying value. Everything’s just a big leveraged bet on the Fed.

Investor Howard Marks Says Bitcoin Is A ‘Pyramid Scheme’ (CNBC)

Howard Marks, one of the most respected value investors out there, starkly warned his clients to avoid high-flying digital currencies. “In my view, digital currencies are nothing but an unfounded fad (or perhaps even a pyramid scheme), based on a willingness to ascribe value to something that has little or none beyond what people will pay for it,” Marks wrote in the investor letter Wednesday. Ethereum cryptocurrency is up more than 2,300% year to date through Wednesday, while bitcoin is up nearly 160% this year, according to data from industry website CoinDesk.

The co-chairman of Oaktree Capital is famous for his prescient investment memos, which predicted the financial crisis and the dotcom bubble implosion. The manager then went on to compare cryptocurrencies to the Tulip mania of 1637, the South Sea bubble of 1720 and the internet bubble of 1999. “Serious investing consists of buying things because the price is attractive relative to intrinsic value,” he wrote. “Speculation, on the other hand, occurs when people buy something without any consideration of its underlying value or the appropriateness of its price.”

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“There are suspicions the US government is introducing the new sanctions against Russia to boost exports of American natural gas to the European market.”

German Business Lobby Urges EU Action Against New US Sanctions On Russia (RT)

A US move to expand sanctions against Russia may have an adverse impact on Europe’s energy security, hurt the German economy, and appears to favor American firms, says Volker Treier, chief economist at the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK). Treier has urged European authorities to address the new round of anti-Russian sanctions approved by the US House of Representatives on Tuesday. “The European Commission now must make efforts to shed light on the current situation, as well as resist the exterritorial effect of new US penalties. We get the impression the US pursues their own economic interests”, he told in an interview with TASS.

“If German firms are banned from participating in gas pipeline enterprises, very important projects in the energy supply security sector can be halted. In that case, the German economy will be discernibly influenced,” Treier said. The future of the Nord Stream-2 natural gas pipeline project from Russia to Germany is of particular concern to Europeans. Roughly a third of the European Union’s natural gas supply still comes from Russia. The proposed expansion would double the existing pipeline’s capacity and make Germany EU’s main energy hub. There are suspicions the US government is introducing the new sanctions against Russia to boost exports of American natural gas to the European market.

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What is happening to Italy’s sovereignty? And what do Italians think about that?

Macron Unleashes a Decade of Italian Anger (BBG)

The 2006 World Cup final should have been a triumph for Italians, but all people remember now is the iconic French soccer captain Zinedine Zidane headbutting an opponent in the last minutes. The controversy overshadowed much of the glory for the winning team that night and the subsequent carping of French fans convinced many Italians that their bigger, richer neighbor will never give them the respect they deserve, whether the field is sports, business or politics. That resentment burst into the open on Wednesday when Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said France is ready to nationalize the STX shipyard in Saint-Nazaire if its would-be Italian buyer Fincantieri SpA doesn’t accept his government’s conditions. Fincantieri stock plunged as much as 13% and Italian ministers erupted.

Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said there’s “no reason” why Fincantieri should accept only a minority stake and his colleague Carlo Calenda, in charge of economic development, told Ansa newswire that Italy is ready to walk away from the deal after Le Maire changed terms already agreed with the previous administration, citing the need to protect a key national asset from foreign influence. The Italians have struggled to accept that rationale, given STX’s previous owner was Korean. President Emmanuel Macron’s June election victory may have reinvigorated the Franco-German relationship at the heart of the European Union. But ties with Italy, the continent’s No. 3 economy, are going from bad to worse, suggesting that competition for jobs, security, and indeed glory, could quickly dampen hopes for tighter EU cooperation.

“This situation is not good for business and not good for European integration,” Alessandro Ungaro, a security and defense analyst at Rome’s Institute for International Affairs, said in a phone interview. “We were hoping for a more market-friendly and pro-European stance, but they’re rejecting a European ally and reasonable industrial project in favor of a possible nationalization.” Italian officials were already smarting when they woke up on Wednesday. The previous day Macron had snubbed their Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni by leaving him out of peace talks in Paris with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and Khalifa Haftar, leader of the country’s powerful eastern-based military force. Italy sees Libya, its former colony, as its sphere of influence. Privately many Italian officials blame French meddling for contributing to the collapse of the North African country’s institutions.

[..] On Wednesday, Italy’s front pages were filled with anger at the French. “Macron’s blitz overshadows Italy,” said La Stampa, later adding on its website, “Italy and France head for naval battle.” Il Messaggero went with “Libya deal without Italy.” In response, Gentiloni invited the Libyan leader al-Serraj to Rome and held his own press conference on television to reassert his influence. “This is getting a bit childish,” said Sofia Ventura, a professor of politics at the University of Bologna, whose father is Italian and mother is French. “The problem is individual countries are looking after their interests and not really keeping with the European spirit. Among the bigger nations, Italy is weaker, it can’t fully compete.”

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IBM doesn’t look good either, I would say. Government ministers may not have the know-how, but IBM personnel does.

Sweden Leaks Details Of Almost All Of Its Citizens (Ind.)

Sweden appears to have accidentally leaked the details of almost all of its citizens. And now it’s getting worse. The brewing scandal – based around a leak that actually happened in 2015 but only emerged last week – could see prominent members of Sweden’s government removed from their post. The leak allowed unvetted IT workers in other countries to see the details of people registered in Swedish government and police databases. It happened after the government looked to outsource data held by the Transport Agency, but did so in a way that allowed that information to be available to almost anyone, critics have claimed. The opposition is seeking to boot out the ministers of infrastructure, defence and the interior – Anna Johansson, Peter Hultqvist and Anders Ygeman, respectively – for their role in outsourcing IT-services for the Swedish Transport Agency in 2015.

The minority government has said that contract process – won by IBM Sweden – was speeded up, bypassing some laws and internal procedures in a manner that may have led to people abroad, handling servers with sensitive materials. Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said on Monday his country and its citizens were exposed to risks by potential leaks as a result of the contract. The centre right opposition Alliance, comprising the Moderate, Centre, Liberal and Christian Democrat parties, has taken aim at the three ministers. “It is obvious (they) have neglected their responsibility. They have not taken action to protect Sweden’s safety”, Centre party leader Annie Loof told a news conference.

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“America has failed itself and the world.”

Armageddon Is Two and One-half Minutes Away (PCR)

Are you ready to die? You and I are going to die and not from old age, because our fellow Americans are so stupid, ignorant, and brainwashed that they believe the lies that are leading us to our certain destruction. This is what the Atomic Scientists tell us. And they are right. Can you comprehend the absurdity? President Trump is under full-scale attack from the military/security complex, the US presstitute media, the Democratic Party, and from many Republicans, such as Republican Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham and Republican Senator from Arizona John McCain simply because President Trump wants to reduce the dangerous tensions between the two major nuclear powers. What explains the total lack of concern for their own lives on the part of the populations in South Carolina and Arizona who send to the Senate and keep sending to the Senate two morons determined to provoke war between the US and Russia?

It should send shivers up your spine that you can ask this same question about all 50 states, and almost all congressional districts. You can ask the same question about the bordello known as “the American media.” There will be no one alive to post or to read the headlines of the war that they are helping to promote. The United States and the rest of the world with it along with all life on earth are being sent to their graves by the total failure of American leadership. What is wrong with Americans that they cannot understand that any “leader” who provokes war with a major nuclear power should be instantly institutionalized as criminally insane? Why do Americans sit night after night in front of the TV absorbing lies that commit them beyond all doubt to their deaths? America has failed itself and the world.

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We are stardust from far away.

Half Our Bodies’ Atoms ‘Formed Beyond The Milky Way’ (G.)

Nearly half of the atoms that make up our bodies may have formed beyond the Milky Way and travelled to the solar system on intergalactic winds driven by giant exploding stars, astronomers claim. The dramatic conclusion emerges from computer simulations that reveal how galaxies grow over aeons by absorbing huge amounts of material that is blasted out of neighbouring galaxies when stars explode at the end of their lives. Powerful supernova explosions can fling trillions of tonnes of atoms into space with such ferocity that they escape their home galaxy’s gravitational pull and fall towards larger neighbours in enormous clouds that travel at hundreds of kilometres per second.

Astronomers have long known that elements forged in stars can travel from one galaxy to another, but the latest research is the first to reveal that up to half of the material in the Milky Way and similar-sized galaxies can arrive from smaller galactic neighbours. Much of the hydrogen and helium that falls into galaxies forms new stars, while heavier elements, themselves created in stars and dispersed in the violent detonations, become the raw material for building comets and asteroids, planets and life. “Science is very useful for finding our place in the universe,” said Daniel Anglés-Alcázar, an astronomer at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. “In some sense we are extragalactic visitors or immigrants in what we think of as our galaxy.”

The researchers ran supercomputer simulations to watch what happened as galaxies evolved over billions of years. They noticed that as stars exploded in smaller galaxies, the blasts ejected clouds of elements that fell into neighbouring, larger galaxies. The Milky Way absorbs about one sun’s-worth of extragalactic material every year. “The surprising thing is that galactic winds contribute significantly more material than we thought,” said Anglés-Alcázar. “In terms of research in galaxy evolution, we’re very excited about these results. It’s a new mode of galaxy growth we’ve not considered before.” The simulations showed that elements carried on intergalactic winds could travel a million light years before settling in a new galaxy, according to a report in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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Feb 182017
 
 February 18, 2017  Posted by at 10:40 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  3 Responses »


Unknown California State Automobile Association signage 1925

 

“That War You Ordered….” (Jim Kunstler)
US ‘Unwavering’ In NATO Support – Pence (BBC)
European Union President Rejects Trump Call For More NATO Spending (CNBC)
Four NATO Nations Would Pick Russia to Defend Them If Threatened (BBG)
Who Really Rules The United States? (FreeB)
Australia Headed For ‘Economic Armageddon’ (News.com.au)
China Is Going Broke (Jim Rickards)
Brexit Was A Revolt Against Snobs Like Tony Blair (Spec.)
Small Businesses Face Being ‘Driven Out Of London’ (Ind.)
Norway Central Bank Chief Warns Of Sharp Drop In Wealth Fund (BBG)
Only Germans Love the Euro These Days (BBG)
How Do You Say Deja Vu In Greek? (R.)
Can Tax Increases Bring Inflation To Greece? (KTG)
Greek Labor Minister Says Pensioners Can Barely Make Ends Meet (K.)

 

 

Hard to find any news articles these days that are not severely biased. So let’s go with Jim.

“That War You Ordered….” (Jim Kunstler)

The Russia paranoia frenzy is serious business because it indicates that a state-of-war exists between the permanent bureaucracy of government (a.k.a. the Deep State) and the new Trump administration. There are features of the struggle that ought to be much more disturbing than the dubious alleged monkey business about Russia hacking the election and the hoo-hah around a single intercepted phone call between Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador, made to open a line-of-communication between high-ranking officials, strictly routine business in any other administration. Most disturbing are signs that the so-called intelligence community (IC) has gone rogue in collusion with forces aligned around Democratic Party functionaries up to and including former president Obama and Hillary Clinton, along with CNN, The Times, The Wash-Po, NBC News and a few other mouthpieces of the defeated establishment.

Obama and Hillary remain conspicuously sequestered from this maelstrom, but they must be working their phones like nobody’s business. (Is the IC monitoring them, too, one wonders?) Until his Queeg-on-steroids news conference late yesterday, Trump laid pretty low after General Flynn was thrown under the bus, but he must be plotting counter-moves, with Bannon and Steven Miller straining at their leashes, slavering for blood. Will some employees over at the CIA and the — what? — sixteen other IC outposts that stud the government like shipworms in a rotting hulk — be called on the carpet of the oval office, and possibly handed pink slips? How do you drain that swamp in Langley, VA? Perhaps with subpoenas? Surely Jeff Sessions over at the Department of Justice has got to be weighing action against the IC leakers. That shit is against the law.

The next disturbing element of the situation is all the war-drum beating by the same cast of characters: the IC, the Democratic Party, and major media. Why in hell are we antagonizing Russia? In the last month of Obama’s term — and for the first time in many years — NATO moved a bunch of tanks close to Russia’s border with the Baltic states. Do you really think Russia wants to reoccupy these countries for the pleasure of subsidizing them and draining the Russian treasury? In those twilight days of Obama, government officials made wild and unspecific charges about “Russian aggression,” and vague assertions about Russian plans to dominate the global scene. ajor what-the-fuck there. There’s the ugly situation in Ukraine, of course, but that was engineered by Obama’s state department.

Do you know why Russia annexed Crimea after that? It couldn’t have been for more transparently rational reasons. And what exactly is our beef with Russia in Syria? That they’re trying to prop up the Assad government because the last thing the Middle East needs is another failed state with no government whatsoever? What’s our plan for Syria, anyway? Same as Somalia, Iraq, and Libya? These stories about Russia’s intentions seem insane on their face. It’s amazing that readers of The New York Times swallow them whole. It must say something about the deterioration of the coastal gene pool. The story-mongers have a purpose though: to promote a state of permanent hostility, neo-cold-war style, to justify the grotesquely overgrown operations of the IC.

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Hollow words.

US ‘Unwavering’ In NATO Support – Pence (BBC)

The US will be “unwavering” in its support for Nato, vice-president Mike Pence told European leaders at the Munich Security Conference. In the first major foreign policy address for the Trump administration, Mr Pence said the US would “stand with Europe today and every day”. But he told the gathered leaders that European countries were “failing to pay their fair share” on defence. That failure “erodes the foundation of our alliance”, he said. Apart from the US, only four other nations had met a commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence, “The time has come to do more,” he said.

President Donald Trump warned before taking office that the US might not uphold its commitment to come to the defence of Nato allies who were not perceived to have contributed enough financially. Mr Pence went on to say that the US would “continue to hold Russia accountable, even as we search for new common ground, which as you know, President Trump believes can be found”. Mr Pence said Russia must honour the Minsk peace accords on Ukraine and de-escalate its military operations in the east of the country.

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Juncker makes sense for a change.

European Union President Rejects Trump Call For More NATO Spending (CNBC)

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said Europe should resist U.S. pressure to spend more spending on defense. U.S. President Donald Trump has criticized the NATO defense alliance, suggesting he could withdraw support if European countries did not raise defense spending to at least 2% of their economic output.In a speech on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference Thursday, Juncker, who heads the EU’s executive arm, suggested some resistance to Trump’s threat was in order. “It has been the American message for many, many years. I am very much against letting ourselves be pushed into this,” he said. Juncker also said the EU’s other spending commitments made up for any shortfalls in military funding. “Modern politics cannot just be about raising defense spending,” he said.

“If you look at what Europe is doing in defense, plus development aid, plus humanitarian aid, the comparison with the United States looks rather different,” he said. Juncker added that European nations should bundle their defense spending better and spend the money more efficiently. At a NATO meeting Wednesday, the U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis reinforced Trump’s message, warning treaty allies they must boost their defense spending or America could “moderate its commitment.” “Americans cannot care more for your children’s future security than you do. I owe it to you to give you clarity on the political reality in the United States and to state the fair demand from my country’s people in concrete terms,” he said in a speech to NATO allies in the Belgian city of Brussels on Wednesday.

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Originally filed by reporter (see URL) as: “Melania Trump’s Slovenia Would Pick Russian Over US Protection”. Say no more.

Four NATO Nations Would Pick Russia to Defend Them If Threatened (BBG)

Who you gonna call? For the citizens of four NATO countries asked which military power they’d want fighting on their side if attacked, the answer was simple – Russia. That was among the findings of a multi-nation Gallup poll published just ahead of Friday’s annual gathering of the transatlantic security community in Germany that appeared to map out shifts in the post-Cold War security alliances which have come under renewed strain and scrutiny since Donald Trump’s election to the U.S. presidency. By far the largest number of countries polled by WIN/Gallup International chose the U.S. for their go-to defense partner, suggesting that it remains the world’s only military power with truly global reach and alliances. At the same time, however, China and Russia picked each other, war-torn Ukraine and Iraq split down the middle, while those four members of the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization – Bulgaria, Greece, Slovenia and Turkey – plumped for Russia.

As U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis tours Europe delivering a message of tough love to NATO allies – increase spending or see the U.S. “moderate’’ its support – the poll shows the world’s gradual political reorganization around different security poles, according to Kancho Stoychev, vice president of WIN/Gallup International. “It isn’t surprising that Russians and Chinese chose each other, but it is new,’’ said Stoychev. “It shows us something very important – that U.S. policy over the last 20 years has driven Russia into the arms of China, which is quite strange because Russia is fundamentally a part of Europe.’’ At the same time, some of the results in European NATO countries showed how their fundamental security choices were moving beyond the alliance, he said. Bulgaria and Greece, for example, see their biggest security threat coming from Turkey.

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Right wing. As I said, very hard to find anything unbiased. All heels are dug in deeply.

Who Really Rules The United States? (FreeB)

Donald Trump was elected president last November by winning 306 electoral votes. He pledged to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C., to overturn the system of politics that had left the nation’s capital and major financial and tech centers flourishing but large swaths of the country mired in stagnation and decay. “What truly matters,” he said in his Inaugural Address, “is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.” Is it? By any historical and constitutional standard, “the people” elected Donald Trump and endorsed his program of nation-state populist reform. Yet over the last few weeks America has been in the throes of an unprecedented revolt. Not of the people against the government—that happened last year—but of the government against the people. What this says about the state of American democracy, and what it portends for the future, is incredibly disturbing.

There is, of course, the case of Michael Flynn. He made a lot of enemies inside the government during his career, suffice it to say. And when he exposed himself as vulnerable those enemies pounced. But consider the means: anonymous and possibly illegal leaks of private conversations. Yes, the conversation in question was with a foreign national. And no one doubts we spy on ambassadors. But we aren’t supposed to spy on Americans without probable cause. And we most certainly are not supposed to disclose the results of our spying in the pages of the Washington Post because it suits a partisan or personal agenda. Here was a case of current and former national security officials using their position, their sources, and their methods to crush a political enemy. And no one but supporters of the president seems to be disturbed.

Why? Because we are meant to believe that the mysterious, elusive, nefarious, and to date unproven connection between Donald Trump and the Kremlin is more important than the norms of intelligence and the decisions of the voters. But why should we believe that? And who elected these officials to make this judgment for us? Nor is Flynn the only example of nameless bureaucrats working to undermine and ultimately overturn the results of last year’s election. According to the New York Times, civil servants at the EPA are lobbying Congress to reject Donald Trump’s nominee to run the agency. Is it because Scott Pruitt lacks qualifications? No. Is it because he is ethically compromised? Sorry. The reason for the opposition is that Pruitt is a critic of the way the EPA was run during the presidency of Barack Obama. He has a policy difference with the men and women who are soon to be his employees. Up until, oh, this month, the normal course of action was for civil servants to follow the direction of the political appointees who serve as proxies for the elected president.

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Personal debt.

Australia Headed For ‘Economic Armageddon’ (News.com.au)

Australia is headed for an “economic Armageddon”, with record household debt, record foreign debt and a massive housing bubble creating a perfect storm that could “wipe out” millions of families if there is a global shock. That is the apocalyptic warning of a former government economic advisor, who says the government needs to cut tax incentives such as negative gearing and welfare handouts and the RBA needs to increase interest rates in order to avoid a “devastating depression”. Corporate governance specialist John Adams, who was an economics and policy advisor to Senator Arthur Sinodinos and management consultant to a big four accounting firm, believes he has found seven disturbing signs that the global economy is primed for a major fall. Worse still, Australia is particularly vulnerable because of significant structural imbalances, including record levels of household debt not seen since the lead up to the last great depression in the 1920s.

“Australians should be concerned over the state of both the Australian and global economy,” Mr Adams told news.com.au. “The data clearly demonstrates that there are significant structural economic imbalances in the Australian economy. Significant expansion of the broad money supply and record low interest rates by the Reserve Bank of Australia as well as generous tax incentives and welfare provisions by the Federal Government have led Australians to amass record levels of personal debt which have fuelled the creation of asset bubbles, particularly in housing. “Millions of Australians are not only doing it tough through significant cost of living and debt serving pressures, but are at significant risk of being financially wiped out if an unanticipated adverse international economic shock were to hit Australia such as a new global financial crisis.”

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End of the year?

China Is Going Broke (Jim Rickards)

[..] of the 2.9 trillion, about one trillion of that is not liquid, meaning it’s wealth of some kind, it represents investment, but China wanted to improve their returns actually on their investments, so they invested in hedge funds, they invested in private equity funds, they made direct investments in gold mines in Zambia and so forth, so about a trillion of that is, it’s wealth, but it’s not liquid. It’s not money that you can use to pay your bills. So now, we’re down to 1.9 trillion liquid. Well, about another trillion is going to have to be held in what’s called a “precautionary reserve” to bail out the Chinese banking system.

When you look at the Chinese banking system, private estimates are that the bad debts are 25% of total assets. Banks usually run with 5, maybe 7-8% capital. Even if you said 10% capital, well, if 25% of your assets are bad, that completely wipes out your capital, so the Chinese banking system is technically insolvent, even though they don’t admit that. I mean, they cook the books, they take these bad loans. Let’s say I’m a bank and I have a loan to a state owned enterprise, a steel mill or something and the guy can’t pay me, can’t even come close to paying me and the loan’s due, I say, “Well, look, you owe me 300 million dollars. I’ll tell you what. I’ll give you a new loan for 400 million dollars, but I’ll take the money and pay myself back the old loan plus the interest, and then I’ll give the new loan to your maturity and I’ll see you in two years.”

So, if you did that in the U.S. banking system you’d go to jail. You’re not allowed to do that. You’re throwing good money after bad and you’re supposed to right off a loan that is clearly not performing or where the borrower is unable to pay. But in this case, it’s just extend to pretend, and so it’s still on the books, in my example, 400 million dollar good loan with a two year maturity, but in fact it’s a rotten loan that the guy couldn’t pay in the first place, and now he just can’t pay a bigger amount. He’s probably going to go bankrupt and I’ll have to write it off at the end of the day. So, with that as background for the Chinese banking system, people kind of shrug and say, “Well, can’t China just bail it out? They’ve got all this money.”

Well, the answer is they could, and they’ve done so before, and they can bail it out, but it’s going to trust a trillion dollars, so you’ve got to put a trillion dollars to one side, for when the time comes, to bail out the banking system. Well, now you’re down to 900 billion, right? Remember, we started with four trillion, 1.1 trillion’s out door, 1 trillion’s illiquid, 1 trillion you’ve got to hold to one side to bail out the banking system, well now you only have 900 billion of liquid assets to defend your currency, to prop up the Chinese yuan. But the problem is the reserves are going out the door at a rate of, it varies month to month, 30, 40, 50 billion dollars a month. Some months more, some months over 100 billion dollars.

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Blair getting involved will be a huge boon for Brexit.

Brexit Was A Revolt Against Snobs Like Tony Blair (Spec.)

The brass neck of Tony Blair. The Brexit vote was ‘based on imperfect knowledge’, says the man who unleashed barbarism across the Middle East on the basis of a student dissertation he printed off the internet. Who marched thousands into unimaginable horror on the basis of myth and spin. That NHS claim on the side of the Leave bus is small fry, infinitesimally small fry, in comparison with the guff this bloke came out with. It didn’t cause anyone to die, for one. For Blair to lecture the British people about truth is an affront to memory and decency and reason. No self-respecting citizen should put up with it. Blair made his comments about our ‘imperfect knowledge’ – dimwits that we are – in a speech for Open Britain, a cross-party pro-EU group, in London this morning.

The speech sums up the elitism and arrogance and contempt for democracy of those Remainers who just cannot accept that they lost. ‘The people voted without knowledge of the true terms of Brexit’, Blair haughtily declared. Rubbish. We all knew what it meant to tick the box saying ‘Leave the European Union’ — it meant leaving the European Union. It meant what it said — and we meant what we said. Blair and the connected, moneyed weepers for the EU who make up Open Britain can’t get their heads around this. They think we didn’t know what we were doing. And so they’ve come to enlighten us and make us think again. Remainers must ‘rise up’, says Blair, and turn the throng’s ‘imperfect knowledge’ into ‘informed knowledge’ by giving us ‘easy to understand’ information about how Brexit will ‘cause real damage to the country’.

Risen, brave, ‘informed’ Remainers must hold back the ‘rush over the cliff’s edge’, he said. The whole thing stinks to the heavens of paternalism. Blair is positioning himself and his switched-on mates as the possessors of information that we the imperfect plebs lack. Like lemmings we’re leaping off the cliff, and this good man must save us. He must impart to us his wisdom — in ‘easy to understand’ ways, of course, because we can’t handle anything too complex — and in the process fulfil the duty of the political leader to ‘give answers’ rather than ‘ride the anger’ of the public. He depicts Open Britain as cool and knowledgable, and Leavers as uninformed and angry. It’s positively aristocratic, with Open Britain fancying itself as the small but beautiful font of wisdom in a land of madness.

[..] Blair spoke in the language of revolution. Remainers must ‘rise up’. He talked about the need for a ‘revolt’, by ‘force of argument’, against the Leave vote. Excitable media outlets have gone even further, describing his speech as a call ‘for people to “rise up” against Brexit’, a plea that ‘Britain must rise up against Brexit’.

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How to kill a city, part 826.

Small Businesses Face Being ‘Driven Out Of London’ (Ind.)

An increase in business rates is one of biggest issues concerning small businesses in London, easily trumping fears around economic uncertainty and worries relating to recruiting the right talent. According to a survey by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and trade body Camden Town Unlimited, the average micro business in the city, defined as a company with fewer than 10 employees, will be paying business rates of £17,000 as of April this year under a Government hike. “London is in serious danger of losing its vital support system of micro and small businesses,” the FSB’s chair for London, Sue Terpilowski, said in a statement. “We need to realise that the hard costs of operating a business in the capital are starting to outweigh the benefits which simply does not make economic sense – and so tacking these burdens at the spring Budget is critical,” Ms Terpilowski added.

Business rates – which are sometimes referred to as non-domestic rates – are levies that companies occupying commercial properties pay. That tax goes towards covering the cost of services provided by local authorities and the emergency services. The survey found that close to three quarters – 74% – of businesses consider rates to be one of the biggest issues affecting them, while 36% cited economic uncertainty, and, one third said that the difficulty around recruiting the right staff was their biggest concern. “The new business rates will drive firms out of London, force some businesses to cut staff or close down altogether,” said Simon Pitkeathley, the chief executive of Camden Town Unlimited.

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Fast and furious. Caught in the oil wars.

Norway Central Bank Chief Warns Of Sharp Drop In Wealth Fund (BBG)

Norway’s central bank governor sharpened his warning on rising spending of oil revenue as he drew up scenarios for a 50% loss of capital over the next 10 years for the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund. Governor Oystein Olsen said that the continued rise in oil cash spending, which now accounts for about 20% of the budget and 8% of GDP, must now be halted to protect the $900 billion fund, the world’s largest sovereign pool of cash. “With a high level of oil revenue spending, there’s a risk of a sharp reduction in the fund’s capital,” Olsen said in the traditional Annual Address in Oslo Thursday. “This could, for example, happen if a global recession triggers both a decline in oil revenue and low or negative returns on the fund’s capital.” Government withdrawals from the fund are estimated to jump about 25% this year after an historic first outflow last year. The Conservative-led government was last year forced to dip into the oil fund for the first time to cover budget needs and protect the economy amid a plunge in oil prices.

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Why the euro is doomed.

Only Germans Love the Euro These Days (BBG)

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen unsettled investors with her pledge to pull France out of the euro and re-denominate all French debt in newly minted francs. Polls suggest Le Pen won’t get the chance; she is expected to lose a second-round runoff. Even if polls are correct this time, that doesn’t mean the euro is safe. In fact, political support for the single currency has been waning – especially in Germany’s two largest euro-zone trading partners. In both France and Italy, there is now a plurality of support for candidates who advocate a withdrawal from the euro, with pro-euro candidates gathering less than 30% in polls. In France, anti-euro candidates – Le Pen and Socialist Jean-Luc Melanchon – together have nearly 40% support.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that all of Le Pen’s supporters, or Melanchon’s, oppose the euro. Most French voters still tell pollsters they favor the euro; but clearly that support waning, as the latest Eurobarometer poll showed. Anti-euro sentiment, once a blip on the fringes of public opinion, is now credible and has found its way onto political platforms. Respondents are asked whether they think the euro is a good or bad thing for their country. In Italy, the euro gets even less love than in France, with 47% saying the euro is a “bad” thing for their country. That is in stark contrast to Germany, where there is now a clear majority in favor of the euro. This chart shows how opinion has changed over time:

This is a dramatic reversal in opinion: A German population that was initially reluctant to give up the Deutsche mark is now firmly wedded to the euro, while support in France and Italy has declined (particularly sharply in Italy’s case). But this shift is the logical result of the euro’s structural deficiencies. German industry, whose productivity has been increasing more than its European counterparts, now dominates the continental economy. While German unemployment was decreasing and its economy recovering from the financial crisis, Italy was stagnant with rising unemployment. Already saddled with a very large public debt (now over 130% of gross domestic product), Italy could neither reflate its economy, nor bail out its banks, while whole segments of its industry, particularly in lower and medium-cost goods, have disappeared.

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Damning: 56% of Greeks make less than €8,600 a year. And the Troika wants to tax them more. “..the tax- free income threshold, now at about €8,600 per person per year, a number the IMF maintains lets some 56% of wage-earning Greeks escape paying income tax.”

How Do You Say Deja Vu In Greek? (R.)

[..] it would not be trite to say that another festering row with Greece is the last thing the euro zone needs when faced with a protectionist U.S. president, Britain leaving the European Union, and anti-euro politicians vying for power or presence in French, Dutch and German elections. So EU officials have been urging speed in finding agreement and calmly warning of instability ahead if none is found. “There is a common understanding that time lost in reaching an agreement will have a cost for everyone,” the European commissioner responsible for the euro, Valdis Dombrovskis, told Greek news portal Euro2day. The issue, however, is multi-layered and thus particularly complex. Part of it is about what kind of primary surplus – what is left in a surplus budget before debt obligations – Greece must reach and run for some time.

The bailout, signed by Greece and euro zone lenders, says 3.5% of GDP(which would be by far the highest in the euro zone). The IMF, the other major lender, says that is undoable without further Greek belt-tightening. It says 1.5% of GDP and some form of debt relaxation – for example, over what is paid when – would be more realistic and sustainable. The IMF, furthermore, says it won’t participate in any bailout that it does not believe to be viable. Germany and others say that the IMF must be a part of the bailout or there is no deal. Both lenders have told Greece they want about €3.6 billion in additional savings, including a reduction in the tax- free income threshold, now at about €8,600 per person per year, a number the IMF maintains lets some 56% of wage-earning Greeks escape paying income tax.

Greece says no. Its economy contracted again in the fourth quarter of 2016, nearly one in four Greeks is unemployed and its pensioners have already seen 11 cuts to income. So plenty of scope for crisis – if not quite yet.

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Good example of why rising prices do not equal inflation. Greece is deflating like mad. Money velocity has plummeted, making recovery impossible.

Can Tax Increases Bring Inflation To Greece? (KTG)

Special consumption fees imposed on fuel, coffee, tobacco products and telecommunications beginning of the year skyrocketed consumer prices and led to the inevitable: inflation. According to Greek Statistics Authority ELSTAT inflation reached 1.5% in January from 0.3% in December. ‘This is almost a five-year high and above market expectations that were forecasting a 0.4% for January,’ Reuters notes. I do not know how ‘markets’ make their forecasts, but real Greek life shows a different picture. The supermarkets had massive discount offers in a plethora of goods in December. The special fees imposed as of 1.1.2017 were not immediately seen in supermarket prices but in fuel and tobaccoo products and telecommunications. Super markets kept offering discounts until around January 20th. Then the “households party” was over.

On February 1st, the price for half a kilo filter coffee went up to €7.68 from €5.46. Apparently sales stagnated, the import company lowered the price by 1 euro. A week later, the discount offer was just 50 cents. Officially, the special fee was supposed to be €2-3 per kilo of roasted coffee. In real life, the increase is higher €2.12 for just half a kilo. Similarly, the price for 400-gr package for a cocoa drink of a well known international brand went up to €3.40 from €2.60. At the same time, the cheaper soft package disappeared from the supermarket shelves. Here to note that for year the hard package used to contain 500gr. Sometime in 2010, I was badly surprised to see the package was down to 400gr, while the price remained the same.

In real life, I have to spend a total of €9 to €10 more per supermarket visit once a week. This makes a nice sum of €40 more per month. And that’s alone for the supermarket. Add the increases in other sectors and start the calculation.

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As the EU keeps stressing the importance of unity, the Troika inches ever closer to causing a civil war in Greece. Unity is not just a word.

Greek Labor Minister Says Pensioners Can Barely Make Ends Meet (K.)

Greece’s Minister of Labor, Social Security and Social Solidarity Effie Achtsioglou insisted in a letter published Friday in the Financial Times that Greek pensioners have barely enough to live on and urged IMF chief Christine Lagarde to listen. “We cannot accept IMF insistence on further cuts in pensions. As minister for pensions I must answer, hoping that IMF managing director Christine Lagarde will listen,” she said, ahead of Monday’s Eurogroup, in a bid to explain why Greece cannot make any more pension cuts. “The narrative about Greek pensions is driven by demands of its creditors. They argue that the pension system is overgenerous and a drain on the economy,” she said, adding that it is based on the crude statistic that pensions require annual transfers from the state budget of around 11% of GDP in Greece compared with the eurozone average of 2.25%.

This comparison, she said, is misleading. “Following the implementation of the new pension law last year, total state financing of pensions is projected at less than 9% of GDP,” she explained. “The bottom line is that Greece’s old people are much worse off than elsewhere in Europe because they do not have access to other benefits. Per capita income for individuals aged over 65 is about €9,000, compared with €20,000 in the eurozone.” she added, asking “how could the major problem confronting Greece be overgenerous pensions, when 43% of pensioners receive less than €660 a month?.”

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PRESS CONFERENCE

searching
inside his cranium

trying to find
a brain to rack,

he found the word
”uranium”

and launched
an unclear attack

Brian Bilston