Sep 182022
 
 September 18, 2022  Posted by at 8:51 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  52 Responses »


Marcel Duchamp Sonata 1911

 

Ukraine Is No Longer a “Limited Military Operation” (Paul Craig Roberts)
Ukraine Fumes Over ‘Unnatural Borders’ Claim (RT)
Ukraine Once Again Endangering Nuclear Plant – Moscow (RT)
Russia Can Declare Victory ‘Whenever It Wants’ – Budapest (RT)
Biden Warns Russia Against Nuclear Option In Ukraine (RT)
Kremlin Responds To Western Nuclear Claims (RT)
The Real Reason The US Wants To Sanction China (Marsden)
London Delusions (Milacic)
Angry Customers Demand Explanation As German Energy Bills Soar (ZH)
Zugzwang – Are We On The Brink Of A Central Banking Paradigm Shift? (Tooze)
The Simple Facts On Equities And Debt (Denninger)
‘Fauci Knows’ He Funded Gain-of-function Research – Redfield (JTN)
No, DeSantis Is Not A Human Trafficker Or Kidnapper (Turley)
Epstein Victims Angered By ‘Public Rehabilitation’ Of Prince Andrew (RT)
India PM Modi Reintroduces Extinct Cheetahs On Birthday (BBC)

 

 

This is just too perfect.

 

 

Child myocarditis ad

 

 

 

 

Putin fertilizer

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Maidan turned into War

 

 

 

 

PCR wanted a quicker resolution. Putin wanted to minimize civilian casualties. Maybe he trusted too much that others wanted that too.

Ukraine Is No Longer a “Limited Military Operation” (Paul Craig Roberts)

I was criticized as “blood-thirsty” by commentators incapable of strategic thought when I said that a limited operation would result in a wider war and more casualties to both sides than a swift conquest of Ukraine before the US and NATO had a chance to get involved. What Southfront calls the “unpredictable results” of the widening war will continue to prove me correct. Everyone who watched Washington’s limited involvement in Vietnam grow into a full-fledged long war should have known better than to repeat the folly. Apparently, the lesson escaped the Kremlin. Perhaps Putin won’t be able to stomach war with his “Western partners,” or the NATO countries will back out of the war in order to secure Russian energy and forestall economic and political collapse. But perhaps not.

I don’t think the Ukraine/NATO offensive in the Kharkov region was a success, but the media has played it as one and this will encourage the Washington neoconservatives, who have controlled US foreign policy since the George W. Bush regime, to push harder. As the US and NATO are already deep into the conflict, providing weapon systems, intelligence and targeting information, training, and now military personnel, it is easier for them to get in deeper than to withdraw. Putin might like to withdraw as he watches a dangerous wider war creep up on him, but he can’t without being regarded as a failure who led Russia to defeat. I conclude that the odds seem to be in favor of a larger war. To be clear, my purpose is not to pillory Putin or to produce a Russian victory. My purpose is to avoid a conflict that neither side can afford to lose. The only way to insure that outcome would have been a swift Russian victory over the entirety of Ukraine, not a “military intervention” in one corner of the country that festers month after month.

A convincing demonstration of Russian military prowess would have dissuaded Finland and Sweden from joining NATO as it would have demonstrated the inability of the limited forces at NATO’s disposal to defend anyone against the kind of attack Russia could have unleashed on Ukraine. I even entertain the possibility that NATO would have dissolved as Europe realized that its real interest is to be at peace with Russia. Unfortunately, those opportunities have passed untaken, and now we are faced with an interminable conflict unless the Kremlin abandons its failed policy and acts decisively. With winter approaching Europe will soon be overwhelmed with economic and political problems produced by being cut off from Russian energy by Washington’s sanctions. Unless Putin rushes to Europe’s rescue, Europe will soon be out of the conflict.

As the Western media functions as a Propaganda Ministry, few people in the world understand that Russia has committed few troops to the conflict. The Russian force has always been outnumbered by Ukraine’s forces, but superior Russian firepower has made the difference. If Putin were to commit another 100,000 soldiers and deprive Kiev and Western Ukraine of power and communication, he could still bring the conflict to an end before it widens out of hand. What is required is acceptance that the war has widened and requires decisive Russian action to bring the war to an end before the war widens further and becomes uncontrollable.

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“.. It should cede Transcarpathia to Hungary, Galicia to Poland, Bukovina to Romania, Donbass and Crimea to Russia. These are the territories of other countries..”

Ukraine Fumes Over ‘Unnatural Borders’ Claim (RT)

The Ukrainian Embassy in Romania has accused the EU country’s former foreign minister, Andrei Marga, of undermining the“basic principles of international law,” after he claimed that the borders of modern Ukraine are “unnatural,” and suggested that Kiev should cede parts of its territory to the neighboring states. The embassy has voiced its “regret” that a former top official of a “democratic European state” would make a statement that is not just “unacceptable under any circumstances,” but also represents a “particularly blatant deviation at a time when Ukraine heroically defends its independence and the security of Europe.”

The former Romanian diplomat made the controversial remark earlier on Saturday at the Alba Transylvania book fair, where he presented his new book ‘The Fate of Democracy’ and suggested that leading world powers should come together and agree on a new “security structure” in Europe and worldwide. “We are in a very special situation here, and I take this with all responsibility, Ukraine exists in unnatural borders. It should cede Transcarpathia to Hungary, Galicia to Poland, Bukovina to Romania, Donbass and Crimea to Russia. These are the territories of other countries,” he said, listing the regions that were incorporated into then-Soviet Ukraine by the Communists, but which he thinks should be relinquished. Over the course of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Kiev has repeatedly vowed to return to its control all of the territories it ended up with following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

After the 2014 Maidan coup, Ukraine lost Crimea, which ended up re-unifying with Russia after a referendum. In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized two Donbass republics as independent states, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions special status within the Ukrainian state. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked, even as Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko had admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.” Moscow has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc.

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With NATO support, they will try and shell it until Russia leaves.

Ukraine Once Again Endangering Nuclear Plant – Moscow (RT)

Ukraine has again shelled the area around the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant in an effort to undermine the facility’s safety, Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed on Saturday. The ministry said that “the Kiev regime has resumed provocations to create the threat of a man-made disaster” at the plant. Within the last 24 hours, the Russian military registered two Ukrainian artillery strikes, one on a suburban settlement and the other on a thermal substation in the vicinity of the facility, which has been under Russian control since March. “In total, 15 artillery shells were fired from the Nikopol area of the Dnepropetrovsk region. The artillery units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces were suppressed by retaliatory fire,” the statement read. According to the Defense Ministry, the radiation situation at the plant remains normal.

Moscow has repeatedly accused Ukrainian forces of shelling the grounds of the plant, warning that the attacks could trigger a disaster that would eclipse the Chernobyl incident. Earlier this week, the head of Russia’s Security Council, Nikolay Patrushev, accused Washington of supplying Kiev with crucial intelligence to designate targets for shelling around the facility. “The consequences of these provocations could be very catastrophic not only for the majority of the population of Ukraine and Russia but also for Europe, and in terms of their scale they could surpass the tragedies that occurred at the nuclear power plants in Chernobyl and Fukushima,” he said at the time.

Ukraine has blamed Russia for the incidents, alleging that Moscow has been carrying out the strikes to frame Ukraine, even though its military eventually admitted to targeting the area. Following the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission that visited the Zaporozhye plant in early September, the UN’s nuclear watchdog adopted a resolution demanding that Russia “immediately cease all actions against and at” the plant. Russian officials, however, criticized the document, saying that it failed to mention Ukraine’s attacks on the station. Blasting the resolution as “anti-Russian,” Moscow also accused Western nations of “supporting and shielding” Kiev in “every possible way.”

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“..Moscow “has such an advantage” in the conflict that it could define what would constitute victory and declare it “almost at any time.”

Russia Can Declare Victory ‘Whenever It Wants’ – Budapest (RT)

Given Russia’s clear upper hand in Ukraine, the Kremlin can define what constitutes victory and declare that it has been achieved whenever it sees fit, a Hungarian minister has claimed. On Friday, Gergely Gulyas, the minister in charge of the Hungarian Prime Minister’s Office, shared his view of the conflict in Ukraine at a roundtable discussion at the University of Public Service in Budapest, which was held to promote a new book titled ‘Russian Great Power Policy 1905-2021.’ The official said that Ukraine and Russia have both found themselves in a situation that they are having a hard time getting out of. He added that the “chances of peace” right now are “poor” – though Moscow “has such an advantage” in the conflict that it could define what would constitute victory and declare it “almost at any time.”

He went on to warn against any direct involvement by NATO, adding that the EU sanctions on Russia have so far backfired, hurting the bloc more than the intended target. Gulyas noted that the Western restrictions have “brought incredible income” for Moscow so far. Furthermore, the EU’s policies, he believes, could result in Russia drifting further away from Europe while becoming closer with Asia. While Budapest joins the US in condemning Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, this does not mean that Hungary is prepared to impose similar sanctions on Moscow, as this would go against the country’s own national interests, the minister noted.

On the topic of Ukraine, Gulyas accused Kiev of failing to protect the basic rights of ethnic minorities, particularly Hungarians. In 2017, the Ukrainian government adopted a law aimed at removing minority languages from Ukrainian schools, which Budapest sees as discriminatory. Kiev has long accused its Western neighbor of fanning secessionism among Ukraine’s Hungarian diaspora, including by allegedly secretly granting citizenship to ethnic Hungarians.

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“..should a nuclear or chemical attack take place, Russia would “become more of a pariah in the world than they ever have been..”

You mean, just like the US?

Biden Warns Russia Against Nuclear Option In Ukraine (RT)

US President Joe Biden has warned Russia of harsh consequences should it use nuclear or chemical weapons in Ukraine. In an interview with CBS News, a part of which was released on Friday, Biden was asked what would he say if he learned that Moscow is considering the use of weapons of mass destruction to counter what Kiev calls a successful counter-offensive in the east. “Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. You will change the face of war unlike anything since World War II,” he said. The president, however, declined to outline what the US’ response would be. “You think I would tell you if I knew exactly what it would be? Of course I’m not gonna tell you. It’ll be consequential.”


However, he said that should a nuclear or chemical attack take place, Russia would “become more of a pariah in the world than they ever have been,” and America’s response would depend “on the extent of what they do.” In mid-August, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu dismissed claims that Moscow might use nukes in Ukraine as “absurd,” saying there are no targets in Ukraine that would warrant doing so. Russia’s current nuclear posture allows their use only when “the very existence of the state is threatened.”

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Of course, this is all blah. Clickbait. Russia’s doctrine is crystal clear, and there’s no sign they would violate it.

Kremlin Responds To Western Nuclear Claims (RT)

Moscow has reiterated that its nuclear doctrine is self-explanatory as top Russian officials repeatedly stated that the conflict in Ukraine does not meet any of its criteria. The statement followed US President Joe Biden’s threat of a harsh, “consequential” response should Russia use the weapons of mass destruction. “Read the doctrine, everything is written there,”Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov told RIA Novosti on Saturday, when asked about the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons in Ukraine. According to Russia’s nuclear posture, Moscow reserves the right to use nukes only “in response to the use of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction against Russia or its allies,” as well as “in response to a conventional attack that threatens the very existence” of Russia as a sovereign state.

The latest update to the doctrine, made in 2020, clarified two more scenarios for the possible use of nukes: in case of receiving “credible information about the launch of ballistic missiles” targeting the territory of Russia or its allies, or an attack “on critical infrastructure that controls nuclear weapons,” potentially rendering the deterrent inoperable. However, none of these hypothetical scenarios is relevant to the situation in Ukraine, Russian officials told the UN Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference in New York on several occasions last month. In mid-August, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu also dismissed as “absurd” claims that Moscow might use nukes in Ukraine, saying there are no targets there that would warrant doing so.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters on Friday that so far, Moscow has demonstrated a reserved reaction to actions by the Ukrainian authorities, such as attempts to target vital infrastructure on Russian soil or to stage “terror attacks.” “We’re witnessing attempts to stage terror attacks, attempts to damage our civilian infrastructure. We respond to this with restraint, but only for the time being,” Putin stated, triggering speculation that the approach may change in the future.

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To cripple Europe?!

The Real Reason The US Wants To Sanction China (Marsden)

The impact of anti-China sanctions on the EU would be devastating, particularly in light of the economic blow that the bloc has already taken from anti-Russian sanctions slapped on its own cheap Russian energy supply as a result of being egged on by Washington to stand in solidarity with Ukraine. China is one of Germany’s top customers, and Berlin is already facing near-deindustrialization as a result of the anti-Russian sanctions impact on its industrial sector. Washington has previously issued exemptions to its own restrictions for American entities. For instance, even in the case of its sanctions on Moscow, “the U.S. is issuing a number of “authorized-transaction notices and general licenses” to shield some corporate targets from the harsh economic measures contained in the sanctions,” according to a LexisNexis report.

But the path to any such US sanctions exemption for foreign entities is less clear. In the case of Russian oil, for example, the EU is dependent on the good graces of Washington if it wants to keep importing US-sanctioned Russian fuel. So basically Washington can use the restrictions to control and dictate trade in the EU and beyond. Unless, of course, enough countries get fed up with it and seek out an alternative system. Which is exactly what seems to be evolving in the wake of the West’s Ukraine-related sanctions, with Russia, China, Iran, and the global south deepening cooperation that could ultimately bypass the Western financial sphere.

It’s hardly surprising that the China sanctions talk comes in the wake of a US State Department visit to Mexico City this month, to pitch Mexican semiconductor manufacturing as part of a $50 billion investment that would facilitate US independence from the approximate $1 billion worth of semiconductors that America imports annually from China. The US is working to secure its own interests – as every country should. It’s clearly willing to pull out every stop to maximize its global competitiveness. Perhaps one of these days its allies will start following suit and doing strictly what’s best for themselves and their own citizens, even if it means diversifying their interests away from Washington’s.

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“Britain has assumed an extremely tough anti-Russian position, not bothering to see into the causes of the war, or think about its own interests.”

London Delusions (Milacic)

[..] since the 1950s, London has mastered the role of “Washington’s junior partner,” which implies a bigger role in NATO and exclusivity towards Europeans. Decades later, Liz Truss continues to play this very card in Ukraine, just as Boris Jonson did before her. Britain has assumed an extremely tough anti-Russian position, not bothering to see into the causes of the war, or think about its own interests.

It support a president who banned the official use of his country’s most widely spoken minority language, who sanctioned the torture of prisoners and persecution of ethnic minorities, a president whom Britain supplies with weapons and military instructors, and writes off debts. Taking a cue from the Johnson Cabinet, Liz Truss will try to convince Britons that since the struggle for England and its age-old imperial interests is now going on in the Ukrainian steppes, the British people must prepare for hardships – heating problems, rising tariffs, inflation and increased defense outlays. At the same time, the conflict in Ukraine will give London a chance to put a temporary damper on such controversial issues with Europe, as fishing quotas, relations with the EU in Northern Ireland, the situation around the economic status of Gibraltar, etc.

Meanwhile, the Russian market is closed to Western countries, the Russians turned to the East, where they quickly redirected the flow of raw materials supplies. Western arms deliveries to Ukraine allow Kyiv to fight on, but the Ukrainian economy is no longer able to support the very existence of the Ukrainian state, which requires monthly financial infusions from its Western allies. British mercenaries captured in Ukraine are tried and sentenced to death in the Donbass republics, and London cannot do anything to get them out. Of course, already the second British government in six months cannot be accused of waging a proxy war against Russia, which is a time-tested way to weakening the enemy. But is Russia weakening? And how will the British gain from this war? Will Ukraine ever be able to repay all the investments that London has sunk in it since February 2022?

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Governments will fall. But how many? How long can the EU survive?

Angry Customers Demand Explanation As German Energy Bills Soar (ZH)

Utilities in Germany have had to handle a surge in customer service calls in recent weeks from clients angry or desperate about their sky-rocketing energy bills, Reuters reports.The biggest utility, E.ON, has ramped up its capacity to handle calls from consumers who are shocked to find just how much their energy bills have surged in recent months. Gas prices in Europe are very high and power prices in many countries, including Germany, have hit record levels this summer after Russia choked pipeline gas supply to Europe and shut down indefinitely the key gas export pipeline to Germany, Nord Stream, at the beginning of this month.

“Some become aggressive out of frustration, others are in tears and need psychological support,” Ingbert Liebing, head of local utilities organization VKU, told Reuters, commenting on the spike in customer calls to utilities’ service centers. Apart from already high energy bills, German customers will have a surcharge as of October, as part of a government plan to implement a so-called gas levy on consumers in order to help struggling energy firms. Germany has recently announced it would impose a gas levy on consumers from October 1 through March 2024 as it aims to help energy providers and importers of natural gas, which are struggling with low Russian gas supply and very expensive alternatives to Russian gas. The new natural gas tax is set to cost German families, who will have to foot the bill for the tax, an extra $500 a year.

Meanwhile, the German government is in talks with the biggest German importer of natural gas, Uniper, to potentially lift its 30% stake in the company to majority participation or to nationalize the firm. The German government agreed in July on a $15 billion bailout package to help the energy giant, which has been reeling from reduced Russian gas supply and soaring prices of non-Russian gas. Under the package, the German government bought a 30% stake in Uniper and made available further capital to help the company. “The deteriorating operating environment and Uniper’s financial situation have to be taken into account while Fortum, the German government and Uniper continue their discussions on a long-term solution for Uniper,” Uniper’s parent firm, Finland-based Fortum, said in a statement earlier this week.

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“The proper description for what is happening in Europe is really an energy and food price shock rather than a general inflation.”

Zugzwang – Are We On The Brink Of A Central Banking Paradigm Shift? (Tooze)

Central banks around the world are under pressure. Surging prices stoke fears of inflation. Central bankers, who commonly define themselves as guardians of price stability, feel forced to react. Interest rates are their preferred tool. Higher rates take steam out of the economy. That should lower inflation. The price is pain for borrowers and the risk of a recession and rising unemployment The choice for central bankers is easier where price increases are taking place across many sectors, meaning that the economy is undergoing a general inflation. This includes wages rising along with prices. The correlation between wages and prices should be regarded neither as anomalous nor as a dangerous “second round effect”. It should, in fact, be definitional of a general inflation.


Wages are the price of labour. If wages are not rising along with other prices, then you are not dealing with a general inflation at all, but rather a one-sided redistributional push by capital at the expense of labour. A truly general inflation will commonly go hand in hand with a relatively strong economy with low unemployment. In this respect there is a big difference between the situation on either side of the Atlantic. In the US, the Fed is facing a general inflation, modest in pace, but broadly based. Price increases are not uniform, they never are. But they now extend from bottleneck sectors, such as energy and food, to rents and house prices. Wages are also rising broadly in line with prices.

The situation in Europe is quite different. Price increases are far less broad-based. The proper description for what is happening in Europe is really an energy and food price shock rather than a general inflation. The energy price shock is sufficiently serious, to threaten a socio-political crisis as household expenditures and business budgets are wrenched out of balance by the price of gas and electricity. But to insist that this is an “inflation” problem and thus properly the domain of central bank interest rate policy is, to say the least, question-begging. What good will interest rate increases do in slowing down a surge in gas prices caused by the uneven COVID recovery, Putin’s war in Ukraine and the lack of integration in the global gas market?

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Roll over.

The Simple Facts On Equities And Debt (Denninger)

Corporations basically never pay off debt; they always roll it over. Since 1980, roughly, the cost of money has always been cheaper, so every time that bond comes due and has to be rolled over the amount of money you must pay in interest on the new one is less. This in turn means the amount the corporation pays in interest goes down and that means “E”, or earnings, go up. But — this cycle presumes that rates will never rise. That is, at worst the downward movement will cease, but never go the other way. Why? Because if it does (and it is and has for the last six months or so) then every time your bond comes due now you need to pay more in interest on the new one that replaces the old and that makes “E” go down. “E” is simply what’s left of what you take in after you pay expenses, of course, and if you have debt outstanding interest is one of your expenses.

People say The Fed “can’t” raise rates. Well, they are. And worse, the TNX, 10 year Treasury, broke range and is likely headed to about 5% which means a “AAA” corporate bond should carry a coupon of somewhere between 5.5-6% because no matter how good that credit may be it is inferior to the US Treasury. When the best credits out there roll over the next time, which they all will within the next couple to ten years, they will pay that 6% where they were paying 2 or 3%! The only other option is to redeem the bond entirely which means forking up the face value in cash. Take a firm that is regard as very well-managed — Berkshire. They have $119 billion in debt outstanding, and are certainly a AAA credit. Let’s assume that $119 billion currently carries a 2% coupon, so $2.38 billion in interest expense a year.

The firm’s net income is $11.7 billion so what happens if the cost of carrying that debt doubles (say much less triples.) That’s a 20% whack off the earnings; if the cost triples its a massive 40%. How does the “current” 58 P/E sound to you or even the so-called “forward projection” (commonly called a guess) if the earnings crash by nearly half? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Oh, and this ignores input costs, which of course you can’t. As another example look at FedEx which reported last night. Revenues largely met expectations but EPS missed by a third. Where’d that come from? Costs, obviously. And, I might add, roll costs, that is, the spike higher in interest expense on outstanding debt are not yet showing up in any material size – but they most-certainly will over coming quarters and years; it is unavoidable for anyone with outstanding paper.

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But he’s still your friend?!

‘Fauci Knows’ He Funded Gain-of-function Research – Redfield (JTN)

The former Center for Disease Control and Prevention director who was cast as a conspiracy theorist for saying the evidence supported the lab-leak explanation for COVID-19 – allegedly provoking death threats – claims that the real “conspiracy is Collins, Fauci, and the established scientific community.” Robert Redfield told former Senate Finance Committee investigator Paul Thacker that National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci “knew” he funded gain-of-function research that makes viruses more dangerous, and “misled Congress” when he denied it,” but “[n]othing’s going to happen as long as the Biden administration is here.” “Tony and I are friends, but we don’t agree on this at all,” Redfield said in an interview published in Thacker’s Disinformation Chronicle newsletter.

“Everyone had to agree to the narrative” pushed by Fauci and then-National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins that SARS-CoV-2 emerged from a “wet market” in Wuhan, not the Fauci-funded Wuhan Institute of Virology miles away, to avoid becoming a public target of the two officials, he said. The virologist Redfield told the immunologist Fauci from the “second or third week in January” 2020 that “I’m very concerned that he was championing this theory that it came from animals.” The particulars of the novel coronavirus, such as the furin cleavage site and the “human” sequence in it, make clear that it’s not from bats, he said. “This thing was manipulated, orchestrated. That cleavage site was created.”

Transmission doesn’t make sense under natural evolution, according to Redfield. “You have a virus that is one of the most infectious viruses in the history of humanity, and yet that virus no longer can infect the bat? … No, this is highly abnormal.” Redfield said he believes The Lancet spring 2020 letter that lumped in the lab-leak hypothesis with “conspiracy theories” was “orchestrated … under direction of Fauci and Collins, trying to nip any attempt to have an honest investigation of the pandemic’s origin.” “There was nothing scientific about that letter. It was just an attempt to intimidate people,” he also said.

“Tony had over a year looking for an intermediate host” to explain the natural-evolution theory of COVID-19 “and still hadn’t found one” when Redfield went on CNN in 2021 to defend the lab-leak hypothesis, Redfield continued. Scientific American accused Redfield of promoting a conspiracy theory based on “xenophobia,” which Redfield suspects was due to Fauci’s influence at that publication. “I was threatened, my life was threatened,” he said. “I have letters I got from prominent scientists, that previously gave me awards, telling me that the best thing I could do for the world was to shoot myself because of what I said.”

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Kyle Shideler @ShidelerK: “The Feds shipping literally hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens around the country in the middle of the night and then threatening to sue/jail @RonDeSantisFL for sending 50 is the perfect encapsulation of the Biden Administration’s primary ethos.”

Stephen Miller @StephenM: “In 2020, under Trump, there were zero discretionary releases on the border—all illegals were either deported (expedited removal), expelled (Title 42), sent to Mexico (return to territory) or sent to a third nation (Safe 3rd). Biden replaced a policy of removal with MASS RELEASE.”

No, DeSantis Is Not A Human Trafficker Or Kidnapper (Turley)

Most migrants do not intend to remain in border communities with a huge influx of migrants and limited opportunities — one reason why the Biden administration has moved migrants elsewhere. Thus, if the administration pursued Newsom’s allegation of a possible “civil rights conspiracy in violation of 42 U.S.C. section 1985,” it would potentially make a case against itself. If these governors are discriminating on the basis of national origin, so is the administration. Let’s consider a few of the other alleged crimes suggested by politicians and pundits:

Kidnapping, human trafficking The claim by Newsom and others that this could constitute kidnapping is absurd. Kidnapping requires that the culprit “unlawfully seizes, confines, inveigles, decoys, kidnaps, abducts, or carries away and holds for ransom or reward or otherwise any person.” There is nothing unlawful in conveying individuals who are lawfully in the country pending their immigration hearings; the trips are voluntary, and most migrants appear eager to accept free passage to cities like New York or Chicago. Human trafficking — a charge suggested by some law professors — is prosecuted by the Justice Department when you exploit “a person for labor, services, or commercial sex.” Gov. DeSantis may have overt political motives for transporting migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, but even cable-news programs have not suggested he is doing so for sexual or labor exploitation.

Racketeering RICO was designed to combat organized crime by allowing criminal charges based on a pattern of underlying criminal acts. Under 18 U.S.C. § 1961 there is a list of “predicate offenses,” and at least two of those crimes can create the needed pattern for prosecution. But there is no established RICO pattern here because there are no established predicate crimes. An effort by the Biden administration to designate political opponents as “racketeers” would raise deeply troubling concerns about weaponizing the criminal justice system.

Illegal transport One of the most-cited bases for criminal prosecution has been 8 U.S. Code § 1324, which prohibits transporting or attempting to transport undocumented migrants. The law is designed to combat smugglers, not states offering free trips to those released into the country by the federal government. It requires an act of “knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact” that the migrant “has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law.” These trips, however, are not in violation of law or “in furtherance of such violation of law.” The Biden administration’s controversial “catch and release” policy means migrants are free to go anywhere or accept trips from public interest groups, the federal government or the states.

In theory, public interest groups arranging for transportation or individuals giving rides to migrants could be prosecuted on the same basis under Section 1324. In reality, if transporting undocumented migrants after they are released into the country is to be judged criminal, then the Biden administration would be the largest “coyote” in history.

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Charles has so far done everything wrong. I give him 5 years as king. If that. He’s a danger to the family, the concept, the immeasurable riches.

Epstein Victims Angered By ‘Public Rehabilitation’ Of Prince Andrew (RT)

Lawyers who represented victims of deceased pedophile Jeffrey Epstein told The Independent that their clients are angry and upset after seeing Prince Andrew – an associate of Epstein who was also accused of abuse – return to public life following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. Andrew was stripped of his royal patronages and honorary military titles earlier this year after he settled a civil lawsuit with Virginia Giuffre, who accused him of sexually assaulting her while she was still a minor in 2001. Andrew refrained from public appearances after the settlement, but the disgraced royal has returned to the spotlight following the death of his mother, walking in the Queen’s funeral procession and standing vigil at her coffin in Westminster Hall.

“For the victims that are involved, seeing him in these types of public appearances and being praised by the public, it’s frustrating to them,”Spencer Kevin, a Florida-based lawyer who represented nine of Epstein’s victims, told The Independent. “This is a man they see as someone who is, at the very least, disrespectful to the victims, by his friendship with a pedophile. And for him to be lauded in public, as he’s doing, and to be praised by the public, which is what he’s seeking, is insulting.” Kevin suggested that Andrew may be attempting to “rehabilitate his image in the public,” and said that the Duke of York should have grieved in private instead. Mariann Wang, a New York-based lawyer who represented up to a dozen of Epstein’s victims, agreed, calling Andrew’s appearance in public “quite outrageous.”

Epstein’s victims aren’t the only people upset at Andrew’s recent appearances. As the Queen’s funeral cortege made its way through Edinburgh last weekend, a young man was arrested after he called the prince a “sick old man.” Epstein and Andrew were friends, and the British royal admitted to staying at Epstein’s properties even after the American financier had been jailed in 2008 for soliciting a child for prostitution. Epstein was arrested again in 2019 and accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls, but was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell before he could be brought to trial. His death was officially ruled a suicide.

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Bit of hopeful news. Love the way they painted the plane for the occasion.

India PM Modi Reintroduces Extinct Cheetahs On Birthday (BBC)

Cheetahs are set to roam in India for the first time since they were declared officially extinct in 1952. A group of eight cats arrived from Namibia on the occasion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday on Saturday. They will undergo a month-long quarantine before being released in a national park in central India. Cheetahs formerly shared jungles with other big cats like lions and tigers but disappeared 70 years ago. They are the world’s fastest land animals, capable of reaching speeds of 70 miles (113km) an hour. This is the first time a large carnivore is being moved from one continent to another and being reintroduced in the wild.

At least 20 cheetahs are coming to India from South Africa and Namibia, home to more than a third of the world’s 7,000 cheetahs. The first batch of eight – five females and three males, aged between two and six years – arrived from Windhoek in Namibia to the Indian city of Gwalior on Saturday. Wildlife experts, veterinary doctors and three biologists accompanied the animals as they made the transcontinental journey in a modified passenger Boeing 747 plane. From Gwalior, the cheetahs were transferred by helicopter to Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh state, where they were released by a delegation led by Mr Modi.

Spread over a 289-square-mile area, the Kuno National Park is a sprawling sanctuary with prey like antelope and wild boars for the wild cats. An electrified enclosure, with 10 compartments ranging in size, has been built for the animals to quarantine before being released in the wild. Each cheetah will be given a dedicated team of volunteers, which will monitor it and keep tabs on the animal’s movement. Satellite radio collars have been put on each cheetah for their geolocation updates.

Read more …

 

 

 

Putin grain

 

 

The poorest in the UK and US are now poorer than the poorest in Slovenia.

 

 

Sagan budget

 

 

 

Pool party
https://twitter.com/i/status/1571061288561774599

 

 

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Jun 222018
 
 June 22, 2018  Posted by at 8:08 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  14 Responses »


Wassily Kandinsky Yellow-Red-Blue 1925

 

Could China’s Next Target Be the US Housing Market? (Forsyth)
Next Central Bank Puts QE Unwind on the Calendar (WS)
Eurogroup Deal For Greece Clinched After Marathon Session (K.)
IMF Welcomes Greek Debt Deal But Has Reservations On Long-Term (R.)
Germany Has Made Over $3 Billion Profit From Greek Crisis (KTG)
Greek GDP Is Low, But Food Prices Are High (K.)
EU Is Getting Ready For No-Deal Brexit – Juncker (G.)
Multi-Decade Outsourcing Boom Comes to Sticky End in the UK (DQ)
Energy Is The Primary Driver Of The Economy (EI)
Italy To Pick Up Migrants, Impound German Charity Ship (R.)
People Donate Millions To Help Separated Families (AP)
2 Koreas Meet To Arrange Reunions Of War-Split Families (AP)
Tourism Preventing Kenya’s Cheetahs From Raising Young (G.)
India Is Facing Its Worst-Ever Water Crisis (ZH)

 

 

They can’t really sell Treasuries. MBS, though…

Could China’s Next Target Be the US Housing Market? (Forsyth)

While so much attention is focused on foreign purchases of Treasuries, the big action has been in U.S. agencies, most of which consist of mortgage-backed securities from government-sponsored Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. In April, overseas investors bought $20 billion of agencies, bringing their 12-month total to $186 billion, or over $100 billion more than Treasuries. Asia accounted for $160 billion of those purchases, including $24 billion from China. U.S. corporations also get key support for their borrowing habit from abroad. Foreign investors bought $128 billion of corporate bonds in the latest 12 months, although just $1.6 billion in April. As for equities, overseas investors bought $82 billion ($6 billion in the latest month).

The numbers show that, even more than Uncle Sam, U.S. home borrowers depend on the kindness of strangers. China could retreat from bolstering the American housing market merely not reinvesting the monthly MBS interest and principal payments, resulting in a stealth tightening of mortgage credit. The housing market is already in the doldrums, as May’s weaker-than-expected existing home sales at an annual rate of 5.43 million, 100,000 less than forecast and below April’s 5.45 million annual pace. That disappointing home sales pace comes with unemployment at just 3.8%. But with single-family home prices up 5.2% from a year ago, home sales are sluggish. A further push up in mortgage rates, already at seven-year highs, would further crimp this key sector of the U.S. economy.

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Do we see nerves there?

Next Central Bank Puts QE Unwind on the Calendar (WS)

Markets were surprised today when the Bank of England took a “hawkish” turn and announced that three out of nine members of its Monetary Policy Committee – including influential Chief Economist Andrew Haldane, who’d been considered dovish – voted to raise the Bank Rate to 0.75%, thus dissenting from the majority who kept it at 0.5%. This dissension, particularly by Haldane, communicated to the markets that a rate hike at the next meeting in August is likely. The beaten-down UK pound jumped. But less prominent was the announcement about the QE unwind. Like other central banks, the BoE heavily engaged in QE and maintains a balance sheet of £435 billion ($577 billion) of British government bonds and £10 billion ($13 billion) in UK corporate bonds that it had acquired during the Brexit kerfuffle.

Before it starts shedding assets on its balance sheet, however, the BoE wants to raise the Bank Rate enough to where it can cut it “materially” if needed, “reflecting the Committee’s preference to use Bank Rate as the primary instrument for monetary policy,” as it said. In this, it parallels the Fed. The Fed started its QE unwind in October 2017, after it had already raised its target range for the federal funds rate four times. The BoE’s previous guidance was that the QE unwind would start when the Bank Rate is “around 2%.” Back in the day when this guidance was given, NIRP had broken out all over Europe, and pundits assumed that the BoE would never be able to raise its rate to anywhere near 2%, and so the QE unwind could never happen.

Today the BoE moved down its guidance about the beginning of the QE unwind to a time when the Bank Rate is “around 1.5%.” The Fed’s target range is already between 1.75% and 2.0%. The Fed leads, other central banks follow. And by August 2, the BoE’s Bank Rate may be at 0.75%. From that point forward, the QE unwind may only be three rate hikes away.

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Many headlines talk about debt relief. But that’s not what this is. It’s just another bunch of loan extensions and a €15 billion new loan. There will be many more years of austerity and creditor oversight. No, the bailout has not been completed.

Eurogroup Deal For Greece Clinched After Marathon Session (K.)

After several hours of negotiations, Greek officials and representatives of the country’s international creditors reached an agreement on securing the sustainability of the country’s debt in the early hours of Friday. Greece is to receive a loan tranche of 15 billion euros (3.3 billion euros of which would be used to pay off part of the country’s debt to the ECB and IMF), European officials said. Greece will also get a 10-year extension for the repayment of its European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) loans and an additional grace period of 10 years on interest payments. The extension of the repayment period of the EFSF loans and the size of the final bailout tranche had been a sticking points in the talks.

These two issues were the focus of several trilateral meetings between Greek Foreign Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and his French and German counterparts, Bruno Le Maire and Olaf Scholz. At a press conference announcing the details of the deal, European Economic and Financial Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici spoke of a “historical moment for Greece” and said a new chapter was beginning for the country. He expressed “great satisfaction” in seeing Greece emerge from eight years of financial support.

“Tonight’s Eurogroup agreement achieves what we have been calling for, a credible, upfront set of measures, which will meaningfully lighten Greece’s debt burden, allow the country to stand on its own two feet, and reassure all partners and investors,” he said. Eurogroup President Mario Centeno struck a similar note. “This is it,” he said. “After eight long years, the Greek bailout has been completed.”

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The IMF has caved on debt relief. Even though it knows it must be accorded.

IMF Welcomes Greek Debt Deal But Has Reservations On Long-Term (R.)

The IMF welcomed on Friday a deal on debt relief for Greece reached by Athens’ euro zone creditors saying it will improve debt sustainability in the medium term, but maintained reservations on the long term. Euro zone finance ministers earlier on Friday offered Greece a 10-year deferral and maturities extension on a large part of past loans as well as 15 billion euros in new credit to ensure Athens can stand on its own feet after it exits its third bailout in August. “The additional debt relief measures announced today will mitigate Greece medium-term financing risks and improve medium term debt prospects,” the IMF managing director Christine Lagarde told a news conference.

But she added that the fund will not join the expiring 86-billion-euro bailout as the time “has run out”, and maintained “reservations” on the long term sustainability of the Greek debt, which runs until 2060. The fund will begin assessing the sustainability of the Greek debt “as early as next week”, Lagarde said, adding that the fund will remain engaged in Greece and will participate to the monitoring of the Greek economic performance and reforms after the end of the program.

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“Contrary to all right-wing myths, Germany has benefited massively from the crisis in Greece..”

Germany Has Made Over $3 Billion Profit From Greek Crisis (KTG)

Germany has earned around 2.9 billion euros in profit from interest rate since the first bailout for Greece in 2010. This is the official response of the Federal Government to a request submitted by the Green party in Berlin. The profit was transmitted to the central Bundesbank and from there to the federal budget. The revenues came mainly due to purchases of Greek government bonds under the so-called Securities Markets Program (SMP) of the European Central Bank (ECB). Previous agreements between the government in Athens and the eurozone states foresaw that other states will pay out the profits from this program to Greece if Athens would meet all the austerity and reform requirements.

However, according to Berlin’s response, only in 2013 and 2014 such funds have been transferred to the Greek State and the ESM. The money to the euro bailout landed on a seggregated account. As the Federal Government announced, the Bundesbank achieved by 2017 about 3.4 billion euros in interest gains from the SMP purchases. In 2013, approximately 527 million euros were transferred back to Greece and around 387 million to the ESM in 2014. Therefore, the overall profit is 2.5 billion euros. In addition, there are interest profits of 400 million euros from a loan from the state bank KfW.

“Contrary to all right-wing myths, Germany has benefited massively from the crisis in Greece,” said Greens household expert Sven Christian Kindler said and demanded a debt relief for Greece. “It can not be that the federal government with billions of revenues from the Greek interest the German budget recapitalize,” Kindler criticized. “Greece has saved hard and kept its commitments, now the Eurogroup must keep its promise,” he stressed.

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And here’s why the Greek recovery story is simply falsehood.

Greek GDP Is Low, But Food Prices Are High (K.)

Greeks may be among the poorest citizens in the European Union, but that does not mean low prices for basic products and services in this country. According to figures published on Wednesday by Eurostat, Greece was the 17th most expensive country among the 28 EU member-states last year, with the general price level standing at 84 percent of the EU average. However, in the most basic category – food – price levels in Greece stood above the bloc’s average, having a significant negative impact on living standards. Eurostat figures had shown on Tuesday that the per capita GDP in Greece in 2017 amounted to just 67 percent of the EU average, while real private consumption stood 23 percent below the EU mean rate.

A key role in food prices remaining at such high levels – in spite of the decade-long crisis – has been played by a succession of hikes in the value-added tax: From a 9 percent rate on food imposed in 2009, many food products now bear a VAT rate of 24 percent, making Greece the 13th most expensive country for food across the bloc. High indirect taxes also explain the particularly high prices in tobacco and alcoholic beverages in Greece, which make this country the 12th most expensive in the EU in this category.

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A hard Brexit will be very unpretty. Airbus talked today about moving 14,000 jobs out of the UK. And they won’t be the last.

EU Is Getting Ready For No-Deal Brexit – Juncker (G.)

The EU needs to be realistic about the dangerous state of the Brexit negotiations and is preparing to deploy its trillion-pound budget to cushion the bloc from the prospect of a no-deal scenario, the European commission president has warned. With the two sides still far apart on the “hardest issues”, just days from a crunch leaders’ summit in Brussels, Jean-Claude Juncker told the Irish parliament on Thursday he was stepping up preparations for a breakdown in talks, and even drafting plans aimed at keeping the peace in Northern Ireland. The problem of avoiding a hard border with the Republic – said by the Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, to be akin to a “riddle wrapped in an enigma” – is threatening to thwart all attempts to make progress on a wider deal.

With Theresa May refusing to countenance what Juncker described as the bloc’s “bespoke and workable solution”, of the Northern Ireland effectively staying in the customs union and single market, it was crucial for the 27 EU member states to prepare for the worst outcome, the commission president said. Juncker told Irish MPs and senators in a joint session of parliament in Dublin: “With pragmatism comes realism. As the clock to Brexit ticks down, we must prepare for every eventuality, including no deal. This is neither a desired nor a likely outcome. But it is not an impossible one. And we are getting ready just in case.

“We will use all the tools at our disposal, which could have a cushioning impact. The new long-term budget for our union from 2021 onwards has an in-built flexibility that could allow us to redirect funds if the situation arose. “We will also earmark €120m (£105m) for a new peace programme which has done so much in breaking down barriers between communities in Northern Ireland and the border counties.”

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More things coming to an end in Britain.

Multi-Decade Outsourcing Boom Comes to Sticky End in the UK (DQ)

The United Kingdom, widely considered to be the birthplace of the modern incarnation of the public-private partnership (PPP), in which private firms are contracted to complete and manage public projects, could be one of the first countries to jettison the model. The collapse in January of 200-year old UK infrastructure group Carillion, whose outsized role in delivering public services earned it the moniker “the company that runs Britain,” has fueled concerns that other big outsourcing groups could soon follow in its doomed footsteps. Last week the CEO of Interserve, another large outsourcing group, revealed that the government has given the firm a red rating as a strategic supplier, meaning it has “significant material concerns” about the company’s finances.

Fears are growing that Carillion was not a one-off episode but rather the swan song of a deeply flawed and dying business model. Those fears were hardly assuaged by the release this week of a damning parliamentary report into the UK government’s practice of outsourcing public projects through so-called Private Finance Initiatives (PFIs). PFI deals were invented in 1992 by the Conservative government and then enthusiastically rolled out by the subsequent Labour government. The schemes usually involved large-scale public buildings such as new schools and hospitals which were previously funded by the UK Treasury. Under PFI they were put out to tender with bids invited from developers who put up the investment to build new schools, hospitals or other schemes and then leased them back.

[..] The Treasury’s incapacity to measure the actual benefits of PFI should be of grave concern to British taxpayers given that the interest rate of private-sector debt — these projects are debt financed — can be as much as 2 to 3.75 percentage points higher than the cost of government borrowing. Even if the government doesn’t enter into any new PFI-type deals, it will pay private companies £199 billion, including interest, between April 2017 until the 2040s for existing deals, in addition to some £110 billion already paid. That’s for 700 projects worth around £60 billion. British taxpayers could clearly “get a much better deal,” the report concludes.

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John Lounsbury posted this talk by Steve from late 2016 again. And why not? Economics denies the role of energy…

Energy Is The Primary Driver Of The Economy (EI)

Economic theory has failed to incorporate the role of energy in production for two centuries since the Physiocrats, according to Prof. Steve Keen. In this video he derives a production function that includes energy in an essential manner. It implies that economic growth has been driven by the increase in the energy throughput capabilities of machinery. Prof. Keen argues that all economic gain can be traced to the use of energy which we receive at no cost from the sun. Capital and labor participate in the economy only by use of this energy.

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The Dutch play a strange role in this.

Italy To Pick Up Migrants, Impound German Charity Ship (R.)

Italy appeared to relent on Thursday after at first refusing to accept 226 migrants on board a German charity rescue ship, saying later in the day it would take them in but would impound the vessel. Anti-immigrant interior minister Matteo Salvini initially said the Dutch-flagged ship Lifeline should take the people it plucked from the Mediterranean to the Netherlands and not Italy. But transport minister Danilo Toninelli, who oversees the coastguard, later said it was unsafe for the 32-metre vessel to travel such a great distance with so many people on board. “We will assume the humanitarian generosity and responsibility to save these people and take them onto Italian coastguard ships,” Toninelli said in a video posted on Facebook.

Earlier this month Salvini pledged to no longer let charity ships bring rescued migrants in Italy, leaving the Gibraltar-flagged Aquarius stranded at sea for days with more than 600 migrants until Spain offered them safe haven. The Dutch government denied responsibility for the vessel, something Toninelli said Italy would investigate. The Italian coastguard would escort Lifeline “to an Italian port to conduct the probe” and impound the ship, he said. Also on Thursday, the German charity Sea Eye which operates another Dutch-flagged ship, the Seefuchs, said in a statement it was ending its sea rescue mission after the Dutch government told them that it was no longer responsible for the vessel.

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Please make sure it’s spent well.

People Donate Millions To Help Separated Families (AP)

In an outpouring of concern prompted by images and audio of children crying for their parents, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide are donating to nonprofit organizations to help families being separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. Among those that have generated the most attention is a fundraiser on Facebook started by a Silicon Valley couple, who say they felt compelled to help after they saw a photograph of a Honduran toddler sobbing as her mother was searched by a U.S. border patrol agent. The fundraiser started by David and Charlotte Willner had collected nearly $14 million by Wednesday afternoon.

The Willners, who have a 2-year-old daughter, set up the “Reunite an immigrant parent with their child” fundraiser on Saturday hoping to collect $1,500 — enough for one detained immigrant parent to post bond — but money began pouring in and within days people had donated $5 million to help immigrant families separated under the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy that criminally prosecutes all adults caught crossing the border illegally. “What started out as a hope to help one person get reunited with their family has turned into a movement that will help countless people,” the couple said in a statement released by a spokeswoman Wednesday. The couple, who were early employees at Facebook, declined to be interviewed.

“Regardless of political party, so many of us are distraught over children being separated from their parents at the border.” The money collected from more than 300,000 people in the United States and around the world will be given to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, or RAICES, a Texas nonprofit that that offers free and low-cost legal services to immigrants.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in doesn’t sit still.

2 Koreas Meet To Arrange Reunions Of War-Split Families (AP)

North and South Korean officials are meeting to arrange the first reunions in three years between families divided by the 1950-53 Korean War. Friday’s meeting at the North’s Diamond Mountain resort comes as the rivals take reconciliation steps amid a diplomatic push to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis. Seoul’s Unification Ministry said the meeting will discuss ways to carry out an agreement on the reunions made at a summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The two summits between Kim and Moon have opened various channels of peace talks between the Koreas, including military talks for reducing tensions across their tense border and sports talks for fielding combined teams at the upcoming Asian Games in Indonesia.

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Even if we don’t shoot them, we find other ways to kill them off.

Tourism Preventing Kenya’s Cheetahs From Raising Young (G.)

High levels of tourism can lead to a dramatic reduction in the number of cheetahs able to raise their young to independence, new research has found. A study in Kenya’s Maasai Mara savannah found that in areas with a high density of tourist vehicles, the average number of cubs a mother cheetah raised to independence was just 0.2 cubs per litter – less than a tenth of the 2.3 cubs per litter expected in areas with low tourism. Dr Femke Broekhuis, a researcher at Oxford University and the author of the study, surveyed cheetahs in the reserve between 2013 and 2017 to assess how the frequency of tourist vehicles affected the number of cheetah cubs that survived to adulthood.

“During the study there was no hard evidence of direct mortality caused by tourists,” such as vehicles accidentally running over cubs, Broekhuis said. “It is therefore possible that tourists have an indirect effect on cub survival by changing a cheetah’s behaviour, increasing a cheetah’s stress levels or by minimising food consumption.” Broekhuis said she has seen as many as 30 vehicles around a single cheetah at the same time. “The most vehicles that we recorded at a cheetah sighting was 64 vehicles over a two-hour period,” she said.

Too many tourist vehicles can reduce a cheetah’s hunting success rate, the study suggests, and even if the hunt is successful, the disturbance from tourists could cause a female to abandon her kill, making her less likely to be able to provide for her young. Broekhuis said it was “crucial that strict wildlife viewing guidelines are implemented and adhered to,” and suggested limiting the number of vehicles around a cheetah to five and not allowing them to get any closer than 30 metres.

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The shape of things to come.

India Is Facing Its Worst-Ever Water Crisis (ZH)

India is facing its worst-ever water crisis, with some 600 million people facing acute water shortage, a government think-tank says. The Niti Aayog report, which draws on data from 24 of India’s 29 states, says the crisis is “only going to get worse” in the years ahead. Around 200,000 Indians die every year because they have no access to clean water, according to the report. And as The BBC reports, many end up relying on private water suppliers or tankers paid for the by the government. Winding queues of people waiting to collect water from tankers or public taps is a common sight in Indian slums. Indian cities and towns regularly run out water in the summer because they lack the infrastructure to deliver piped water to every home.

• 600 million people face high-to-extreme water stress. • 75% of households do not have drinking water on premise. 84% rural households do not have piped water access. • 70% of our water is contaminated; India is currently ranked 120 among 122 countries in the water quality index. India faces more than one problem – all compounding the nation’s crisis: Droughts are becoming more frequent, creating severe problems for India’s rain-dependent farmers (~53% of agriculture in India is rainfed17). When water is available, it is likely to be contaminated (up to 70% of our water supply), resulting in nearly 200,000 deaths each year.

Interstate disagreements are on the rise, with seven major disputes currently raging, pointing to the fact that limited frameworks and institutions are in place for national water governance. And that means massive problems lie ahead… 40% of the Indian population will have no access to drinking water by 2030 with 21 cities running out of groundwater by 2020 – affecting 100 million people which will cut 6% from GDP by 2050. What remains alarming is that the states that are ranked the lowest – such as Uttar Pradesh and Haryana in the north or Bihar and Jharkhand in the east – are also home to nearly half of India’s population as well the bulk of its agricultural produce.

Read more …

Dec 272016
 
 December 27, 2016  Posted by at 9:47 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  4 Responses »

 


Konstantinos Polychronopoulos, Athens Christmas Day 2016

Recession, Market Crash Next Year, Expect Rate Cuts: Rickards (CNBC)
Did Donald Trump Just Jump The ‘Dow 20,000’ Shark? (ZH)
Yuan Trading Volume Has Been Surging In December (BBG)
ECB: Monte dei Paschi Must Now Raise €8.8 Billion After Recent Withdrawals (R.)
War & The Rejection of Peace (Rossini)
Israel Claims ‘Evidence’ That Obama Orchestrated UN Resolution (G.)
Corbyn Hits Back After Obama Suggests Labour Is ‘Disintegrating’ (G.)
Hard Brexit ‘Could Boost UK Economy By £24 Billion’: Pro-Leave Group (Ind.)
Mervyn King: Britain Should Be More Upbeat About Brexit (G.)
EU Faces Two Major Problems – And Has Answers To Neither: King (Ind.)
Exit, Hope and Change (Jim Kunstler)
Cheetahs Heading Towards Extinction As Population Crashes (BBC)
The Automatic Earth in Greece: Big Dreams for 2017 (Automatic Earth)

 

 

“..a “head-on collision” between perception and reality…”

Recession, Market Crash Next Year, Expect Rate Cuts: Rickards (CNBC)

The Federal Reserve hiked interest rates just two weeks ago for the second time in a decade, but it will soon be cutting them again, said Jim Rickards on Tuesday. Speaking to CNBC’s Squawk Box, the director of The James Rickards Project said a stock market correction is coming as President-elect Donald Trump’s economic stimulus plans will not pan out, causing a “head-on collision” between perception and reality. “When the reality of no stimulus catches up with the perception of stimulus plus the Fed tightening: that’s the train wreck. Either we’re going to have a recession or a stock market correction,” he said. The markets have been rallying on the back of Trump’s win as investors bet on tax cuts and fiscal spending under the new administration.

However, “the stimulus is not going to come” as Trump’s proposed tax cuts will hit government revenue while the Congress is likely to block his stimulus plans as the U.S. is already $20 trillion in debt, Rickards added. This will lead to a recession or a “very severe correction” in the stock market, prompting rate cuts later next year, he said, prompting the Fed to cut rates. “They will raise (rates) in March and then something will hit the wall, either the economy or the stock market or both. Then the Fed will backpedal from there, starting with a forward guidance then perhaps a rate cut later in the year,” said Rickards, who recommends holding gold and U.S. 10-year Treasurys.

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Ominous.

Did Donald Trump Just Jump The ‘Dow 20,000’ Shark? (ZH)

It appears the sugar-high from holiday celebrations is still running through president-elect Trump's veins as his tweets took an even more narcisistic tone on this oh-so-aptly-named 'Boxing Day' in America. First Trump decided to take credit for the unprecedented short-squeeze in US stock markets – and the Christmas spending numbers…

We just wonder what he will sat if/when Goldman Sachs stops rising and stocks tumble ("never gonna happen", probably The Fed's fault after all), but perhaps even more importantly, how does he feel about the $1.2 trillion of value he has erased from global capital markets since his election?

 

The drop in global debt and equity values in Q4 2016 is very reminiscent of the drop into 2015's Fed rate hike… which did not end well…

 

But, the last time that global stocks and global bonds decoupled so aggressively was following the end of QE3… here's what happened next…

But it's probably different this time, right? China is fine (oh wait, failed auctions and liquidity crisis), Europe is fine (oh wait, Italian banks are collapsing), and the US economy is great (oh wait, automakers are shuttering plants due to credit-created excess inventory).

*  *  *

But Trump was not done there, he took on the arrogance of Obama, as we detailed earlier

Invincible politician and stock market savior…Let's just hope nothing goes wrong to break that narrative in the next 4 years (or 4 weeks).

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Beijing will be forced to take very unpopular decisions. Xi signaled tolerance for a lower growth target, and whoops goes the money. They’re stuck in their own bubbles.

Yuan Trading Volume Has Been Surging In December (BBG)

The onshore yuan’s surging trading volume is another piece of evidence that capital is fleeing China at a faster pace. The daily average value of transactions in Shanghai climbed to $34 billion in December as of Monday, the highest since at least April 2014, according to data from China Foreign Exchange Trade System. That’s up 51% from the first 11 months of the year. The increase suggests quickening outflows, given that data in recent months showed banks were net sellers of the yuan, according to Harrison Hu at RBS This month’s jump in trading volume signals sentiment has kept deteriorating since November, when the nation’s foreign-exchange reserves shrank by the most since January.

The Chinese currency is headed for its steepest annual slump in more than two decades and when the year turns, authorities will be faced with a triple whammy of the renewal of citizens’ $50,000 conversion quota, prospects of further Federal Reserve interest-rate increases, and concern that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump may slap punitive tariffs on China’s exports to the world’s largest economy. “Capital outflow pressures will stay, and in near term, we should monitor the impact upon the reset of the annual quota,” said Frances Cheung at Societe Generale. The pressures will likely ease toward the end of the first quarter as foreign flows into China’s bond market quicken, she said.

Read more …

If it quacks like a typical bank run… Don’t you think they could perhaps have done this deal in silence?

ECB: Monte dei Paschi Must Now Raise €8.8 Billion After Recent Withdrawals (R.)

The ECB has told Monte dei Paschi it needs to plug a capital shortfall of €8.8 billion, higher than a previous €5 billion gap estimated by the bank, the lender said on Monday, confirming what sources told Reuters. Last Friday the Italian government approved a decree to bail out Monte dei Paschi after Italy’s No. 3 lender failed to win investor backing for a desperately needed €5 billion capital increase. The bank said on Monday it had officially asked the ECB last Friday for go ahead for a “precautionary recapitalization”. A precautionary recapitalization is a type of state intervention in a struggling bank that is still solvent. It means only a modest bail-in of investors though the government can buy shares or bonds only on market terms endorsed by EU state aid officials in Brussels.

In its reply, the ECB said it had calculated the capital it believed the bank needed on the basis of a shortfall emerging from European stress test of large lenders earlier this year. In those tests Monte dei Paschi was the only Italian bank to come short under an adverse scenario. The ECB said the lender was solvent but signaled the bank’s liquidity position had rapidly deteriorated between the end of November and December 21, Monte dei Paschi said. [..] The European Commission said on Friday it would work with Rome to establish conditions were met for a bailout of Monte dei Paschi. But on Monday ECB policymaker Jens Weidmann said plans for a state bailout of Monte dei Paschi should be weighed carefully as many questions remain to be answered.

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“..He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but ended up invading 7 countries. He also became the very first U.S. President to be at continuous war during his entire 8 years in office…”

War & The Rejection of Peace (Rossini)

Try to think of a time in your life when the U.S. government was not militarily involved somewhere in the world. It’s a sad fact that a vast majority of us can’t recall such a time. [..] When war is all that a population knows to exist, the idea of peace becomes an anomaly. We all know that people are habitual. We cling to our habits (good and bad) and resist the unknown where change can occur. Well, in America the unknown has become peace! How sad to think that the idea of peace actually terrifies so many people both in and out of government. One can at least understand why governments would want to avoid peace. As Randolph Bourne famously pointed: “War is the health of the state.” During times of war, government capitalizes on the fear that it generates and concomitantly seizes unbelievable powers for itself.

We can at least see the benefit to government and those with a lust for power and the ability to dominate others. But what’s in it for the people? Here we can quote Samuel B. Pettengill who said: “War – after all, what is it that the people get? Why – widows, taxes, wooden legs and debt.” Sounds like a raw deal for the people. And yet, Americans have sat idly by, and have turned a blind eye to an incredible list of military interventions over the years. More war, less liberty …. More war, less liberty …. If it happens over an administration or two, it can be spun as government losing its way to a few bad apples. But 100+ years of more war, less liberty? That’s a system!

[..] There is a tremendous amount of upside to war for those who are in power. It provides them with an opportunity to swipe away liberties at an exponential pace. The populace will give up virtually everything. Is it any wonder that those in power run away from even the prospect of peace? We’re soon about to have a new president, and he’s coming into office with a lot of expectations. The outgoing president had high expectations as well. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but ended up invading 7 countries. He also became the very first U.S. President to be at continuous war during his entire 8 years in office. Will this new president keep the boots of war firmly pressed against American throats? Will he continue the asphyxiation of the American Dream?

So far, when it comes to the insane idea of confronting a nuclear Russia, he has shown admirable qualities of restraint and cordial behavior. Will that continue through his presidential term? Or will he keep the century old American tradition of military adventurism overseas? The world is much bigger than Russia. There are plenty of other places that America can mire itself. There are other nuclear powers (like China) where trouble can be fomented. The president-elect has already shown that he has a bone to pick with the Chinese. Are we merely exchanging trouble with one nuclear power for another? Let’s hope that Donald Trump doesn’t repeat the mistakes of history. Let’s hope that he doesn’t become just another bad example for future generations to study.

Wouldn’t it be nice for Americans to someday be born into a life of liberty and peace? That was the original idea in the ‘land of the free’. A return to a foreign policy of non-interventionism and peace is desperately needed.

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Quite the allegation.

Israel Claims ‘Evidence’ That Obama Orchestrated UN Resolution (G.)

Israel has escalated its already furious war with the outgoing US administration, claiming that it has “rather hard” evidence that Barack Obama was behind a critical UN security council resolution criticising Israeli settlement building, and threatening to hand over the material to Donald Trump. The latest comments come a day after the US ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, was summoned by Netanyahu to explain why the US did not veto the vote and instead abstained. The claims have emerged in interviews given by close Netanyahu allies to US media outlets on Monday after the Obama administration denied in categorical terms the claims originally made by Netanyahu himself.

However, speaking to Fox News on Sunday, David Keyes – a Netanyahu spokesman – said Arab sources, among others, had informed Jerusalem of Obama’s alleged involvement in advancing the resolution. “We have rather iron-clad information from sources in both the Arab world and internationally that this was a deliberate push by the United States and in fact they helped create the resolution in the first place,” Keyes said. Doubling down on the claim a few hours later the controversial Israeli ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, went even further suggesting it had gathered evidence that it would present to the incoming Trump administration. “We will present this evidence to the new administration through the appropriate channels. If they want to share it with the American people, they are welcome to do it,” Dermer told CNN.

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Curious things for Obama to say. It’s not obvious enough yet that his own party has fallen apart?

Corbyn Hits Back After Obama Suggests Labour Is ‘Disintegrating’ (G.)

A spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn has hit back after Barack Obama appeared to suggest that the Labour party has moved away from “fact and reality” and is disintegrating. The spokesman said the Labour leader “stands for what most people want” and suggested that the outgoing president’s Democratic party needed to “challenge power if they are going to speak for working people”. Obama had earlier said he was not worried when asked if the US Democrats could undergo “Corbynisation” and “disintegrate” like Labour in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s election defeat by Donald Trump. The departing US president was giving an in-depth interview, in which he also said he would have won the 8 November contest if he ran for a third term, to David Axelrod, formerly an adviser to Corbyn’s predecessor as Labour leader, Ed Miliband.

The 55-year-old compared the way the Labour party and the US Republicans had chosen to swing away from the middle ground and claimed even left-wing senator Bernie Sanders was a centrist compared to Corbyn. Asked about a potential “Corbynisation” of his party, he said: “I don’t worry about that partly because I think that the Democratic party has stayed pretty grounded in fact and reality.” He added: “[The Republican party] started filling up with all kinds of conspiracy-theorising that became kind of common wisdom or conventional wisdom within the Republican party base. That hasn’t happened in the Democratic party. I think people like the passion that Bernie brought, but Bernie Sanders is a pretty centrist politician relative to … Corbyn or relative to some of the Republicans.” In response Corbyn’s spokesman said: “Both Labour and US Democrats will have to challenge power if they are going to speak for working people and change a broken system that isn’t delivering for the majority.

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They’re going to continue to fight over this for much longer.

Hard Brexit ‘Could Boost UK Economy By £24 Billion’: Pro-Leave Group (Ind.)

The UK economy could benefit by £24bn a year – more than £450m a week – by leaving the European single market and customs union, a pro-Brexit pressure group has claimed. The Change Britain group said that the option – which it describes as “clean Brexit” – is likely to deliver annual savings of almost £10.4bn from contributions to the EU budget and £1.2bn from scrapping “burdensome” regulations, while allowing the UK to forge new trade deals worth £12.3bn. The group said its estimate was “very conservative” and that the benefits of withdrawal from the single market and customs union could be as much as £38.6bn a year. Even the lowest forecast within its range of likely outcomes was a boost of £20bn.

But the figure does not factor in the possibility of large-scale loss of exports to the remaining 27 EU nations, which advocates of a “soft Brexit” argue could happen if the UK faces tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade as a result of leaving the single market. Britain exported around £220bn of goods and services to the EU in 2015, while imports from the EU totalled around £290bn. Change Britain said that the biggest prize on offer was in potential trade agreements outside the EU which Britain could strike if it left the customs union, which requires it to take part only in deals negotiated by the European Commission. Depending on how many deals the UK secures, GDP could be boosted by between £8.5bn and £19.8bn, said Change Britain.

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Might as well. It’s just that King has been ‘unlucky’ in his predictions for years.

Mervyn King: Britain Should Be More Upbeat About Brexit (G.)

Britain may be better off going for a hard Brexit that would mean leaving the single market and customs union, Mervyn King, the former governor of the Bank of England, has suggested. Lord King, who has been more optimistic about leaving the EU than many economic commentators, acknowledged that Brexit would bring great political difficulties and would not be a “bed of roses”. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he also said there would be many opportunities economically for the UK striking out on its own. The crossbench peer, who led the bank for a decade until 2013, said the UK should leave the European single market and warned there were “real question marks” over whether it should seek to remain in the customs union, which would limit its ability to forge trade deals on its own.

Theresa May’s cabinet is split on the issue of the single market and customs union, with the most pro-Brexit ministers seeking a clean break and others warning of the economic dangers of being cut adrift from the UK’s closest trading partners. King said before the referendum that warnings of economic doom about leaving the EU were overstated. Since then, he has welcomed the fall in the pound and said he believes Britain can be better off out than in the EU. He told the BBC on Boxing Day: “I think the challenges we face mean it’s not a bed of roses – no one should pretend that – but equally it is not the end of the world and there are some real opportunities that arise from the fact of Brexit we might take. “There are many opportunities and I think we should look at it in a much more self-confident way than either side is approaching it at present. Being out of what is a pretty unsuccessful European Union – particularly in the economic sense – gives us opportunities as well as obviously great political difficulties.”

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At least he’s right on this.

EU Faces Two Major Problems – And Has Answers To Neither: King (Ind.)

The European Union is facing “existential problems” over migration and the single currency for which it does not yet have the answers, former Bank of England governor Lord King has warned. Lord King said the scale of the crises was such that Brexit amounted to little more than “minor irritant” by comparison. And he suggested that the factor which could bring the problems to a head was German voters asking whether they want to remain part of a project which involves them propping up less competitive eurozone economies like Italy, Portugal and France. Lord King said that the single currency project was flawed from the start, and that it would probably have been better to create two monetary unions for “premier league” and “second division” economies. But he said it was too late to move to this model now.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the former governor said: “I think the EU is facing two existential problems and it has answers to neither of them. “The first is the fate of the monetary union, which even the ECB is saying is in a critical position and needs major reform. “Secondly, migration from outside the EU into the EU and the knock-on consequences of that for the free movement of people. “I don’t think they have answers for either of those issues and it is a real crisis for the EU. “British membership is irrelevant to these two questions and from that perspective I think they regard our decision to leave the EU as a minor irritant.” Lord King said it was impossible to put any timescale on when the problems of the eurozone might come to a head. But he said: “They simply haven’t put in place the framework to make it a success, desperately trying to struggle from one month to the next.

“For a long period they were relying on the confidence that financial markets had in the words of (ECB) president Mario Draghi that they would do ‘whatever it takes’. But I think words in the end run out and you need to back them up by actions. “The problem now is that people in Germany and other countries in the northern part of the EU are deeply reluctant – understandably – to pay for countries in the south. That wasn’t the prospectus they were offered when they joined the monetary union. “In the long run, it would make some sense to recognise that it was a mistake to go to monetary union as early as 1999. I think they might have been able to divide it into two divisions – a premier league and a second division – but I think it may be too late to do. If you look at economies like Italy, Portugal and even France, they are really struggling.

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Excellent from Jim, and that’s before his predictions for 2017.

Exit, Hope and Change (Jim Kunstler)

From the get-go, he made himself hostage to some of the most sinister puppeteers of the Deep State: Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Tim Geithner on the money side, and the Beltway Neocon war party infestation on the foreign affairs side. I’m convinced that the top dogs of both these gangs worked Obama over woodshed-style sometime after the 2008 election and told him to stick with the program, or else. What was the program? On the money side, it was to float the banks and the whole groaning daisy chain of their dependents in shadow finance, real estate, and insurance, at all costs. Hence, the extension of Bush Two’s bailout policy with the trillion-dollar “shovel-ready” stimulus, the rescue of the car-makers, and a much greater and surreptitious multi-trillion dollar hand-off from the Federal Reserve to backstop the European banks with counter-party obligations to US banks.

In April of 2009, Obama’s new SEC appointees, strong-armed by bank lobbyists, pushed the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) into suspending their crucial Rule 157, which had required publically-held companies to report their asset holdings based on standard market-based valuation procedures — called “mark-to-market.” After that, companies like Too-Big-Too-Fail banks could just make shit up. This opened the door to the pervasive accounting fraud that allowed the financial sector to pretend it was healthy for the eight years that followed. The net effect of their criminal fakery was to only make the financial sector artificially larger, more dangerously fragile, and more prone to cataclysmic collapse.

[..]in foreign affairs, there is Obama’s mystifying campaign against the Russian Federation. The US had an agreement with Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union that we would not expand NATO if they gave us a quantity of nuclear material that was in danger of falling into questionable hands in the disorder that followed the collapse. Russia complied. What did we do? We expanded NATO to include most of the former eastern European countries (except the remnants of Yugoslavia), and then under Obama, NATO began holding war games on Russia’s border. For what reason? The fictitious notion that Russia wanted to “take back” these nations — as if they needed to adopt a host of dependents that had only recently bankrupted the Soviet state. Any reasonable analysis would call these war games naked aggression by the West.

Then there was the 2014 US State Department-sponsored coup against Ukraine’s elected government and the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych. Why? Because his government wanted to join the Russian-led Eurasian Customs Union instead of an association with European Union. We didn’t like that and we decided to oppose it by subverting the Ukrainian government. In the violence and disorder that ensued, Russia took back the Crimea — which had been gifted to the former Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic (a province of Soviet Russia) one drunken night by the Ukraine-born Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. What did we expect after turning Ukraine into another failed state? The Crimean peninsula had been part of Russia for longer than the US had been a country. Its only warm water naval ports were located there.

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One by one they leave us.

Cheetahs Heading Towards Extinction As Population Crashes (BBC)

The sleek, speedy cheetah is rapidly heading towards extinction according to a new study into declining numbers. The report estimates that there are just 7,100 of the world’s fastest mammals now left in the wild. Cheetahs are in trouble because they range far beyond protected areas and are coming increasingly into conflict with humans. The authors are calling for an urgent re-categorisation of the species from vulnerable to endangered. According to the study, more than half the world’s surviving cheetahs live in one population that ranges across six countries in southern Africa. Cheetahs in Asia have been essentially wiped out. A group estimated to number fewer than 50 individuals clings on in Iran.


ZSL

Because the cheetah is one of the widest-ranging carnivores, it roams across lands far outside protected areas. Some 77% of their habitat falls outside these parks and reserves. As a result, the animal struggles because these lands are increasingly being developed by farmers and the cheetah’s prey is declining because of bushmeat hunting. In Zimbabwe, the cheetah population has fallen from around 1,200 to just 170 animals in 16 years, with the main cause being major changes in land tenure. [..] “The take-away from this pinnacle study is that securing protected areas alone is not enough,” said Dr Kim Young-Overton from Panthera, another author on the report. “We must think bigger, conserving across the mosaic of protected and unprotected landscapes that these far-reaching cats inhabit, if we are to avert the otherwise certain loss of the cheetah forever.”

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We had a great Christmas Day live cooking event in Monastiraki square in Athens (see photos). I’ll get back to you on that. Donations through Paypal -top left hand corner of this page- of course remain welcome.

The Automatic Earth in Greece: Big Dreams for 2017 (Automatic Earth)

Both Konstantinos and myself -and all the other volunteers at O Allos Anthropos- want to thank you so much for all the help you’ve given over the past year -and in 2015-. If I may make a last suggestion, please forward this ‘dream’ to anyone you know -and even those you don’t-, by mail, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, word of mouth, any which way you can think of. Go to your local mayor or town council, suggest they can help and get -loudly- recognized for it. There may be a dream involved for 2017, but that was our notion a year ago as well, and look what we’ve achieved a year later: it is very real indeed. And anyone, everyone can become part of that reality for just a few bucks. If the institutions won’t do it, perhaps the people themselves should. That doesn’t even sound all that crazy or farfetched. There’s a lot of us.


Konstantinos Polychronopoulos, Athens Christmas Day 2016

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