Apr 262024
 
 April 26, 2024  Posted by at 8:50 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  55 Responses »


Herri met de Bles Landscape with Saint Christopher 1535 – 1545

 

America: Goodbye my Country (Paul Craig Roberts)
Sceptical Supreme Court Could Hand Trump Partial Victory In Immunity Case (ZH)
Court to Decide Trump Contempt Sanction (Turley)
Hillary Clinton and Marc Elias Are Afraid of 2024 Trump Win (Sp.)
Democrats Want Donald Trump ‘Killed,’ Alan Dershowitz Warns (ET)
Pollster: ‘Deep State’ Wanted Trump’s Imprint On Failed Ukraine Policy (Sp.)
Trump Allies Charged In Arizona Election Interference Case (Sp.)
Biden Rushes Aid to Ukraine As US Cost of Living Skyrockets (Miles)
Biden Team Doubts US Aid Will Help Ukraine Win – Politico (RT)
Scott Ritter: US Aid for Ukraine Won’t Hamper Russia’s Strategic Advantage (Sp.)
Russia To Seize $440 Million From JPMorgan (ZH)
Harvey Weinstein Conviction Overturned On Appeal (ZH)
Immanuel Kant Goes To War (Hayes)
Carbon Emissions CANNOT Cause ‘Global Warming’ (Slay)

 

 

 

 

Trump NY

 

 

Pecker
https://twitter.com/i/status/1783587614928368048

 

 

Immunity
https://twitter.com/i/status/1783600215817163214

 

 


Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

Tucker racism

 

 

Bannon Rickards

 

 

 

 

“Americans have sat on their butts and allowed the destruction of civility, the rule of law, the Constitution, and their nation.”

America: Goodbye my Country (Paul Craig Roberts)

I would add several more. For example, the independence of doctors requires private practice. Private practice is being destroyed systematically by medical insurance, malpractice insurance, Medicare, Big Pharma, and the US Congress which panders to Big Pharma for campaign contributions. Medical doctors are being forced into becoming employees for HMOs where they have to follow their employer’s protocols or be fired. This means that they must abandon the Hippocratric Oath and follow the profit-enhancing practices of their employer HMOs. Big Pharma provides software for diagnosis and treatment, and doctors have to prescribe according to what Medicare and insurance companies will pay a percentage of the billing amount. Even doctors in private practice find that what they can prescribe and what operations they can perform is limited to insurance and medicare decisions.

During the orchestrated “Covid pandemic,” the entire propaganda operation was geared toward maximizing Big Pharma’s profits from the Covid “vaccine” and to cancelling people’s control over their own health care by imposing “vaccine” mandates. This was the first exercise in the imposition of mass tyranny in the Western World. Individual countries had experienced tyranny, but never before the entire Western world simultaneously. In order to maximize Big Pharma’s profits and impose mass tyranny, it was necessary to prohibit two safe, effective, known preventatives and cures for Covid–hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin. Doctors who successfully used these cures and preventatives to protect their patients were subject to persecution by medical authorities and governing boards. Some were fired from their HMO jobs and university medical schools, some were stripped of their licenses, some were prosecuted. In order to mass inject people with an untested “vaccine” under an emergency use order the requirement was that there were no cures.

So, the fact that there were cures had to be suppressed. The utterly corrupt US medical establishment, the whore media and the Western governments suppressed the cures and ridiculed them as “horse medicine.” If the Western peoples were not so insouciant, so gullible, so trusting of “authorities,” so utterly stupid and incapable of thinking for themselves, there would have been no orchestrated “Covid pandemic” and no mass vaccination, which is against all medical protocols in the face of a pandemic. According to all available scientific evidence to date, the “Covid vaccine” has killed and destroyed the health of more people than the Covid virus. The corrupt “authorities” have done their best to cover this up, but as I have reported the coverup has failed. Still nothing is being done about it. Nothing can be done as long as Congress is dependent on campaign contributions from corporations. “Our” representatives are really representatives of those interest groups that fund election campaigns.

Congress reports to them, not to us. The idiot US Supreme Court actually ruled that corporations had a legitimate Constitutional right to purchase the US government. This ruling converted a government that represented the people into one that represented the political campaign contributors. Another addition I would make is the destruction of manners. Try to find today any sign of the manners I grew up with or the civilization that existed. Even when I was in my 20s, when a woman entered the room, the men stood up. Car and restaurant doors were opened for women. Women were helped into their seat at the table. Only when women were seated did men sit down. Men were trained to be gentleman, and ladies to be ladies. No gentleman ever used a four-letter word in a woman’s presence, and no woman ever spoke one. Listen to the barbaric youth today. Even the terms ladies and gentlemen have passed out or have been driven out of use.

[..] Today in the Disunited States we have a government in power that was not elected; instead it used control over the blue cities in swing states and the whore American media to steal the election. Massive amounts of evidence was provided by experts that the election was stolen, but this was strongly denied by the whore media, and experts were prosecuted for making the facts known. Today America is governed by an illegitimate tyrannical regime, and nothing has been done about it. The Republican Party is useless. Only Trump soldiers on with four orchestrated criminal indictments and a number of civil cases arrayed against him. The media, Democrats, and Rino Republicans are all against him. Only the people are for him, and the people are powerless. They don’t even have the vote as the Democrats made clear by stealing the last two elections. Those prosecuting Trump have no concern that they are destroying America’s reputation and reducing the power of all future presidents, making them even more subservient to the deep state.

America’s only representative–Donald Trump–is so overloaded with criminal and civil prosecutions that he has no time to campaign and even as a billionaire is overwhelmed with the legal costs of defending himself from obvious nonsensical charges.The legal profession, the law schools, the bar associations, the Congress, the courts, the media stand aside as if they are not also endangered and as if the weaponization of law isn’t a foundation of tyranny. What we are witnessing most certainly is the transformation of American law into a weapon for subjecting the American population and eliminating anyone who dares to protest or challenge the tyrannical ruling establishment. This is the reason that the United States of America is a totally dead and buried formerly free nation. Americans have sat on their butts and allowed the destruction of civility, the rule of law, the Constitution, and their nation.

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Interesting discussion. To be continued.

Sceptical Supreme Court Could Hand Trump Partial Victory In Immunity Case (ZH)

After two and a half hours, the Supreme Court has finished hearing arguments on whether a former president is immune from criminal prosecution. Reading the tea-leaves of the comments has left most believing that SCOTUS will fail to grant former President Trump the full immunity he is seeking (choosing instead to narrow the protections for former presidents), but are likely to issue a ruling that could further delay his trial on charges of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election. That would be a partial win for the former President. As Axios reports, a definitive ruling against Trump – a clear rejection of his theory of immunity that would allow his Jan. 6 trial to promptly resume – seemed to be the least likely outcome. A majority of the justices seemed inclined to rule that former presidents must have at least some protection from criminal charges, but not necessarily the “absolute immunity” Trump is seeking.

The core distinction during oral arguments came down to a president’s official vs. unofficial actions. — and which of Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results were official vs. unofficial. The most likely outcome might be for the high court to punt, perhaps kicking the case back to lower courts for more nuanced hearings. That would still be a victory for Trump, as Sam Dorman reports via The Epoch Times that the outcome of this appeal could delay lower court proceedings in President Trump’s Washington trial as well as his cases in Georgia and Florida. It’s unlikely that the Supreme Court, which is expected to release a decision in June, will write an opinion that delays his ongoing criminal “hush money” trial in New York. The bottom-line is that no clear, concise majority opinion emerged this morning. But there may be five justices willing to kick the can down the road – and that’s enough for Trump, at least for now.

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“Only Michael Cohen would portray himself in terms of a witness simply trying to share evidence of a crime..”

Court to Decide Trump Contempt Sanction (Turley)

I will confess that there are at times a level of contempt expressed in my columns. However, today will be the first time that a column becomes a legal matter for contempt. Among the ten postings by former president Donald Trump being raised by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in his contempt sanction is the use of a quotation from one of my columns. In a hearing on the gag order Tuesday morning, Judge Juan Merchan reserved any final decision. On April 15, Trump quoted my New York Post column from the day before titled “A serial perjurer will try to prove an old misdemeanor against Trump in an embarrassment for the New York legal system.” Trump posted the title while attaching a link. There is an interesting aspect to this controversy that captures the problem with Judge Merchan’s gag order.

In addition to continually appealing on television to oppose Trump’s election and to discuss his testimony in this case, Cohen has also lashed out against critics and coverage, including my own columns. I have been a critic of Cohen since the time when he was still working as counsel for Trump. Cohen has continued to attack some of us with vulgar postings while posting mocking pictures and attacks on Trump, including running commentary on the trial. In one posting, Cohen posted an insulting attack on myself and others who have raised questions about the Manhattan case while objecting that he is entitled to the protection of the gag order because he is a witness. Only Michael Cohen would portray himself in terms of a witness simply trying to share evidence of a crime.

Cohen has raised money on being the antagonist of Donald Trump. He has cultivated his professional wrestling style as a type of trash-talking, chair-throwing thug to liberal cable programs. Judge Merchan has allowed him to use the gag order to shield him from criticism as he heaps abuse on Trump both as a candidate and a defendant. That includes, like Trump, responding to these very columns, including my own, on the case. I have previously criticized these gag orders on constitutional grounds.

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“.. ‘public servants’ in the United States dole out trillions of unregulated dollars, but can be ‘purchased’ for mere millions of dollars..”

Hillary Clinton and Marc Elias Are Afraid of 2024 Trump Win (Sp.)

Hillary Clinton has once again evoked the specter of “Russian collusion” and warned the audience of Marc Elias’ “Democracy Docket” podcast that Donald Trump’s role model is no one but Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to Clinton, the danger of a Trump victory to the US democracy is acute, given that Republicans would do whatever it takes to win the 2024 elections, starting with narrowing the electorate, purging votes, creating confusion at polling stations and even weaponizing artificial intelligence (AI). “Probably can’t even imagine what they’re going to do with artificial intelligence and other cyber-attacks on voters in terms of the messages that they will get, sometimes deliberately, to confuse them. You know, different polling places, different days to vote, different times of voting — I mean, whatever they can do to mess people up,” the former secretary of state claimed.

She went on to say that if Trump wins the presidential election in 2024 he would turn into a full-fledged “authoritarian” or “dictator”, who wants to kill his opposition, suppresses the freedom of speech, takes bribes in pay-to-play schemes, and doesn’t believe in the rule of law. Clinton’s outlandish claims expose her as nothing short of a projectionist, according to Wall Street analyst and investigative journalist Charles Ortel, who has been examining the Clinton Foundation’s alleged fraud and pay-to-play scheming for several years. “Hillary Clinton and Marc Elias are both disgraces to the legal profession and mere servants of corrupt donors who plainly understand that ‘public servants’ in the United States dole out trillions of unregulated dollars, but can be ‘purchased’ for mere millions of dollars, often routed via leaky ‘charities,’ or off-market ‘business’ deals and media gigs,” Ortel told Sputnik.

“So far, the known record indicates that Elias, acting for the 2015/16 Clinton campaign and likely working directly with Hillary, rigged the Democratic primaries to favor Hillary and deny Bernie a running shot at winning the Democratic nomination,” the analyst continued. “Then, Elias (likely under direction from Hillary and her corrupt donors) contracted the manufacture of bold lies attempting to link Trump to Russia in the ‘Steele Dossier’ and hyped their deep connections in media and academia to inflate a massive web of deception that hampered the Trump presidency, instigated impeachments of Trump, interfered in the 2020 election, the 2022 election and now in the 2024 election. “If Trump and the GOP win the White House and Congress this year, that could spell serious legal troubles for both Hillary and Marc, the analyst presumed.

Clinton’s claim about Trump’s apparent desire to “kill” his opposition could trigger inconvenient parallels with a string of unexplained deaths around Team Clinton, according to Sputnik’s interlocutor. While Hillary is peddling the idea of the GOP’s forthcoming “election disinformation,” one should recall how she tried to evade scrutiny during the “emailgate” scandal concerning classified government information which ran through her unprotected server, the analyst pointed out. The former secretary of state permanently deleted 33,000 of those emails insisting they were “personal and private”. “Hillary Clinton is an adept liar and mistress of attempting to destroy incriminating evidence,” Ortel said. “In this, she has legions of co-conspirators who have woven fanciful tales of her decades of ‘public service’ without explaining how she managed to convince a major law firm— Williams & Connolly—-to defer collecting millions in legal fees through Bill Clinton’s presidency or how the Clinton family scored millions of dollars in off-market book and speech deals.”

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What is it with Dems and Secret Service protection? Nobody questioned it before..

Democrats Want Donald Trump ‘Killed,’ Alan Dershowitz Warns (ET)

Retired Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz suggested that Democrat officials want former President Donald Trump to get killed by taking away his Secret Service protection. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) introduced legislation last week that would remove Secret Service protection for people who are convicted of felony or state crimes. The lawmaker mentioned that a “former president” could be an individual whose protection would be terminated if he’s found guilty in four cases. But Mr. Dershowitz, a former constitutional law professor and criminal defense lawyer, asserted in an interview with Newsmax over the weekend that Mr. Thompson’s legislation is “ridiculous” and “means they want him killed because he’s obviously a target.”

“We live in an age where everybody is in danger. Look, Bobby Kennedy ought to be getting Secret Service protection, but certainly Donald Trump needs to get Secret Service protection. He’s not going to jail, but if he goes to jail obviously the law requires Secret Service protection,” Mr. Dershowitz said, referring to President Trump. It comes as President Trump faces a criminal trial in which prosecutors allege that he falsified business records during the 2016 campaign to cover up negative news stories. The trial is scheduled to last around six to eight weeks in total, while opening arguments started Monday. Judge Juan Merchan, who is overseeing the case, “is going to bluff, fine and threat, but he’s not going to throw Donald Trump in jail,” Mr. Dershowitz said. “That would be a guaranteed victory … I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

A press release issued by Mr. Thompson’s office said that with President Trump’s cases, there is now an opportunity for Congress to reform the U.S. Secret Service’s protective mission “by automatically terminating Secret Service protection for those who have been sentenced to prison following conviction for a federal or state felony—clarifying that prison authorities would be responsible for the protection of all inmates regardless of previous Secret Service protection.”

“Unfortunately, current law doesn’t anticipate how Secret Service protection would impact the felony prison sentence of a protectee—even a former president. It is regrettable that it has come to this, but this previously unthought-of scenario could become our reality,” Mr. Thompson said, referring to the former president’s 91 state and federal charges. “Therefore, it is necessary for us to be prepared and update the law so the American people can be assured that protective status does not translate into special treatment—and that those who are sentenced to prison will indeed serve the time required of them,” he added in the news release.

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“..Speaker Johnson and many congressional Republicans snubbed their own voters on Ukraine funding for two reasons: ignorance and ideology..”

Pollster: ‘Deep State’ Wanted Trump’s Imprint On Failed Ukraine Policy (Sp.)

Most Americans hold a realistic view of the unfolding Ukraine conflict and want their government to prioritize domestic economic and national security interests, according to Patrick Basham, head of Democracy Institute, a politically independent research organization based in Washington and London. Basham likewise does not rule out that Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has been played by the US “deep state” into supporting the unpopular Ukraine aid package. Sputnik: US Congress’ decision to back Joe Biden’s $61 billion aid package for Ukraine to fight its war against Russia has been met with disapproval from US voters on both sides of the political aisle, according to your new poll. Why did Mike Johnson and some of his fellow Republicans in the House decide to snub the GOP’s base on Ukraine?

Patrick Basham: Speaker Johnson and many congressional Republicans snubbed their own voters on Ukraine funding for two reasons: ignorance and ideology. These Republican politicians, along with the majority of American congressmen and senators, are abysmally ignorant about the state of the war in Ukraine. They do not realize that Ukraine has been defeated; many of them even believe Ukraine can still win the military contest with Russia. They are also adherents to a foreign policy ideology that is at odds with the perspective held by the overwhelming majority of conservative and Republican voters in America. The politicians are neoconservatives who divide the world into black and white, good and bad nations.

They believe that American and Western military and economic power can and should remove from power foreign governments that America dislikes – and, crucially, that the removal of these governments will be met with approval from those formerly ruled by them. Although these costly interventions consistently fail, they are advertised as projects to advance democracy, freedom, and prosperity. In striking contrast, most Republican voters (and most Americans) hold a more realistic view of American power. They want Washington to prioritize American interests (especially economic and national security) abroad. As such, they are deeply reluctant to put American soldiers in harm’s way for little, if any, apparent benefit to America, and they are also acutely sensitive to the horrendous economic cost of waging a prolonged overseas war.

Sputnik: Your survey has also indicated that Donald Trump’s support for Speaker Mike Johnson failed to sway the American opposition to funding the Ukrainian conflict. Nonetheless, Sen. Lindsey Graham claimed that Trump’s support helped ram the Ukraine package through Congress. What’s your take on Trump’s role in advocating the provision of Ukraine aid in the form of a loan and backing Johnson’s Ukraine bill? Patrick Basham: Trump’s support for Johnson helped to make the Ukraine bill more palatable to some Republican congressmen. Trump provided political cover for those Republican politicians afraid of attacks from “America First” critics within their own party. I presume that Trump’s principal goal was to shore up Johnson’s overall position within the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives so that during the election campaign Republicans would not experience yet another drawn-out, politically painful exercise to choose a new speaker.

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Raising Arizona.

Trump Allies Charged In Arizona Election Interference Case (Sp.)

Trump allies Mark Meadows, Rudy Giuliani, and Jenna Ellis are among 18 people charged in an election interference case in the state of Arizona, court documents revealed. “Defendants’ attempts to declare Unindicted Co-conspirator 1 and Pence the winners of the 2020 Presidential Election contrary to voter intent and the law, involved numerous other charged and uncharged co-conspirators,” the filing said on Wednesday. Former President Donald Trump is listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the filing. The defendants are accused of trying to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state of Arizona, the court documents stated.

In February, a US federal appeals court ruled that Trump is not immune from prosecution in his 2020 election interference case, which Trump appealed to the US Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court is scheduled to decide whether Trump is immune from being prosecuted as a former US president on Thursday. In August 2023, a Fulton County grand jury indicted Trump on 13 felony counts related to his alleged attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges in Georgia over the 2020 presidential election. Trump faces a total of 91 charges in four criminal cases that Republicans say are an attempt by the Democratic establishment to prevent him from returning to the White House. The most serious charges carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison. If the punishment were to be determined by adding up the terms, he could be behind bars for more than 700 years.

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“..the cost now of living in America has risen by about $11,434, give or take, in comparison to when Biden took office.”

Biden Rushes Aid to Ukraine As US Cost of Living Skyrockets (Miles)

American households in 2024 are spending an extra $11,434 annually to maintain a similar standard of living to the one they enjoyed just three years ago. That’s according to a new study by Republican members of the US Senate Joint Economic Committee who examined consumer price data to arrive at an analysis of the impact of inflation from state to state. In some parts of the country the cost of living increase stood at a comparatively modest $8,500 per year, while in states like California and Colorado it approached $15,000. The Biden White House rejected the study as one-sided, pointing to attendant wage increases across the economy. Still, recent polling suggests most Americans don’t feel the increased income makes up for the rise in inflation, and economic issues remain at the forefront of voters’ concerns with November’s presidential election less than seven months away.

Geopolitical consultant and founder of Global Perspective Consulting David Oualaalou pointed to the troubling data during an appearance on Sputnik’s The Critical Hour program Wednesday, questioning the US president’s focus on foreign policy amidst a grim economic outlook for millions of Americans. “The fact that [the US] keeps sending more money to Ukraine [and] it’s already a failed state, what is it for?” asked the author and global speaker. “We have been taking money out of average Americans that are paying taxes. I hope your listeners understand — and this is a sad reality — that the cost now of living in America has risen by about $11,434, give or take, in comparison to when Biden took office.” “And why? Because we are taking money out of Americans and giving it to the corrupted government in Ukraine.” he insisted. “I saw those images of the incompetent members of Congress waving the Ukrainian flag inside Congress. Well to me it became like, why don’t you go and represent Ukraine?

Shame on our politicians. But, again, until the structure of our system has changed, nothing is going to change fundamentally.” Former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower famously warned Americans about the emergent US military-industrial complex during his farewell address in 1961. What’s less well known is that an earlier draft of the speech referred to a “military-industrial-congressional complex.” Eisenhower reconsidered the term out of fear of offending Washington lawmakers, but the designation makes clear legislators’ key role in what the former leader considered a corrupt and dangerous phenomenon. Military contractors make up one of the largest political lobbies in Washington; recently, a study found lawmakers who voted to pass a recent National Defense Authorization Act received four to five times more in donations from the defense industry than those who did not. The promise of campaign cash creates a powerful incentive for congress members to vote to fund more war.

“We have nothing to show but conflicts,” said Oualaalou. “We do not sell anything to the rest of the world except conflict and weapons. And at some point when the world is shifting, like what we are witnessing right now, most countries are going to say, ‘sorry, we are not interested in buying what you have to sell.'” Recently the African country of Chad has threatened to order US troops stationed in the country to leave. The move comes after the neighboring country of Niger made a similar request. The United States has, so far, refused to comply, having invested significant amounts of money there as a hub for military and surveillance activity in the region.

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It’s not about winning. It’s about fighting.

Biden Team Doubts US Aid Will Help Ukraine Win – Politico (RT)

US officials are not convinced that another $61 billion in American assistance for Ukraine will be enough for it to prevail in the conflict against Russia, Politico has reported. President Joe Biden signed a $95 billion foreign aid package on Wednesday, which also included funding for Israel and Taiwan. The Senate voted on the legislation earlier this week, ending a standoff between the Democrats and the Republicans that had dragged on since the autumn. “Battlefield dynamics [in the Ukraine conflict] have shifted a lot in the last few months,” Politico reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed members of the Biden administration. This happened partially because the stalemate in Congress led to Ukrainian forces running low on weapons and ammunition, the sources suggested.

“The immediate goal is to stop Ukrainian losses and help Ukraine regain momentum and turn the tide on the battlefield. After that, the goal is to help Ukraine begin to regain its territory,” one of the officials said. “Will they have what they need to win? Ultimately, yes. But it’s not a guarantee that they will. Military operations are much more complicated than that.” A senior Democratic Senate aide also told Politico that the question now is whether more US aid can lead to a Ukrainian victory, or if it would just be enough to fend off Russian forces temporarily. “There’s lots of debate about what a winning endgame for Ukraine looks like at this point,” the source said. The outlet argued that there is a difference between Kiev “winning” by getting “most or all of its territory back” and “not losing,” which means that “Ukraine can hold its lines and advance some but fail to claw back what Russia seized.”

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s stance that Kiev should fight until it takes back all of its territory, including Crimea, “commits the US to a much longer conflict with no guarantee Zelensky will achieve his goals,” Politico stressed. Commenting on the $61 billion US military aid package on Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted that “all these new batches of weapons… will not change the dynamics on the front line.” Earlier this week, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said that Moscow’s forces currently hold the initiative everywhere along the front line and are capturing more settlements. He estimated Kiev’s losses at half a million troops since the start of the conflict in February 2022.

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“Russia currently enjoys “military superiority, if not outright supremacy, along the entire line of contact..”

Scott Ritter: US Aid for Ukraine Won’t Hamper Russia’s Strategic Advantage (Sp.)

US President Joe Biden recently signed a long-delayed $95 billion package, including $61 billion in aid for Ukraine, into law. At least $13.8 billion of this sum will be used to deliver weaponry, such as long-range ATACMS missiles and F-16 fighter jets. This is “a lot of money” but it will not turn the tide of the conflict, former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter said in an interview with Sputnik. “The $13.8 billion in military assistance that will be provided to Ukraine will be insufficient to basically halt the ongoing Russian advance,” and “to change the outcome on the battlefield,” he stated. The sum will not help the Kiev regime “turn the tide to send Russian forces back to, according to the Zelensky formula, the 1991 borders,” Ritter stressed, recalling that it isn’t just him making this assessment.

“This is the assessment of Ukraine’s Foreign Minister [Dmytro] Kuleba, who has said that at this late stage in the game, there’s no amount of military assistance that can stop the Russian advance. He’s correct,” the Marine Corps intelligence officer underscored. Ritter also cited “talk of magic weapons” for the Zelensky regime, which he said would be of little help. According to him, Russia currently enjoys “military superiority, if not outright supremacy, along the entire line of contact, not just on the front lines, but extending well into the rear areas of the Ukrainian defense areas.” He also explained that after the US weapons are delivered to Ukraine and brought up to the front line, the weaponry “will be subjected to increasing levels of interdiction.”

“Very little of this military assistance will actually make it to the Ukrainian soldiers at the front line, and when it does, this military equipment will be destroyed relatively quickly by the Russians who will be tracking this equipment throughout its entire journey from the West to the front lines,” Ritter pointed out. The former US Marine Corps intelligence officer suggested that Russia would manage to retain its “strategic advantage” on the battlefield “until victory, regardless of the amount of money that the United States, Europe or anybody else pours into Ukraine. Ritter’s remarks come after Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov underlined that the situation on the battlefield is “self-explanatory and unambiguous,” and that “all these new batches of weapons, […] will not change the dynamics at the front line.”

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The cost of sanctions.

Russia To Seize $440 Million From JPMorgan (ZH)

Seizing assets? Two can play at that game… Just days after Washington voted to authorize the REPO Act – paving the way for the Biden administration confiscate billions in Russian sovereign assets which sit in US banks – it appears Moscow has a plan of its own (let’s call it the REVERSE REPO Act) as a Russian court has ordered the seizure of $440 million from JPMorgan. The seizure order follows from Kremlin-run lender VTB launching legal action against the largest US bank to recoup money stuck under Washington’s sanctions regime. As The FT reports, the order, published in the Russian court register on Wednesday, targets funds in JPMorgan’s accounts and shares in its Russian subsidiaries, according to the ruling issued by the arbitration court in St Petersburg. The assets had been frozen by authorities in the wake of the western sanctions, and highlights some of the fallout western companies are feeling from the punitive measures against Moscow.

Specifically, The FT notes that the dispute centers on $439mn in funds that VTB held in a JPMorgan account in the US. When Washington imposed sanctions on the Kremlin-run bank, JPMorgan had to move the funds to a separate escrow account. Under the US sanctions regime, neither VTB nor JPMorgan can access the funds. In response, VTB last week filed a lawsuit against the New York-based group to get Russian authorities to freeze the equivalent amount in Russia, warning that JPMorgan was seeking to leave Russia and would refuse to pay any compensation. The following day, JPMorgan filed its own lawsuit against the Russian lender in a US court to prevent a seizure of its assets, arguing that it had no way to reclaim VTB’s stranded US funds to compensate its own potential losses from the Russian lawsuit.

Yesterday’s decision sided with VTB, ordering the seizure of funds in JPMorgan’s Russian accounts and “movable and immovable property,” including its stake of a Russian subsidiary. JPMorgan said it faced “certain and irreparable harm” from VTB’s efforts, exposed to a nearly half-billion-dollar loss, for merely abiding by U.S. sanctions. The order was the latest example of American banks getting caught between the demands of Western sanctions regimes and overseas interests. Last summer, a Russian court froze about $36mn worth of assets owned by Goldman following a lawsuit by state-owned bank Otkritie. A few months later the court ruled that the Wall Street investment bank had to pay the funds to Otkritie. The tit-for-tat continues.

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“..witnesses who said that Weinstein had assaulted them, but whose accusations weren’t part of the charges against him..”

Harvey Weinstein Conviction Overturned On Appeal (ZH)

A New York Court of Appeals has overturned Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 conviction on felony sex crime charges, for which he was sentenced to 23 years in prison. In a 4-3 decision, the court found that the trial judge in the disgraced mogul’s case had made a critical error, allowing prosecutors to call a series of women as witnesses who said that Weinstein had assaulted them, but whose accusations weren’t part of the charges against him, the NYT reports. In 2020, Lauren Young and two other women, Dawn Dunning and Tarale Wulff, testified about their encounters with Weinstein under a state law that allows testimony about “prior bad acts” to demonstrate a pattern of behavior. But the court in its decision on Thursday said that “under our system of justice, the accused has a right to be held to account only for the crime charged.”

Citing that decision and others it identified as errors, the appeals court determined that Mr. Weinstein, who as a movie producer had been one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, had not received a fair trial. The four judges in the majority wrote that Mr. Weinstein was not tried solely on the crimes he was charged with, but instead for much of his past behavior. -NYT The decision was determined by one vote on a majority female panel of judges, who in February held a searching public debate over the fairness of the original trial. Weinstein was convicted of raping aspiring actress Jessica Mann at a DoubleTree hotel in 2013 when she was 27-years-old, and forcing oral sex on former production assistant Mimi Haleyi, then 28, at his apartment in 2006.

Now, Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, who’s currently prosecuting former President Donald Trump, will have to decide whether to seek a retrial of Weinstein – who remains in an upstate prison in Rome, NY at the moment. It’s unclear how the decision will affect his future. In 2022, he was convicted by a California court of raping a woman in a Beverly Hills hotel and sentenced to 16 years in prison. The jury found Weinstein guilty of rape, forcible oral copulation, and sexual penetration by foreign object involving a woman known as Jane Doe 1.

The 2022 jury acquitted Weinstein of a sexual battery charge made by a massage therapist who treated him at a hotel in 2010, and was unable to reach a decision on two allegations, including rape, involving Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of California’s Democratic governor Gavin Newsom. She was known as Jane Doe 4 in the trial, and had testified to being raped by Weinstein in a hotel room in 2005. Weinstein was convicted of sexually abusing over 100 women – and was convicted of assaulting two of them in the New York case. “That is unfair to survivors,” said actress Ashley Judd, the first actress to come forward with allegations against Weinstein, the NYT’s Jodi Kantor reports. “We still live in our truth. And we know what happened.”

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“..Though he is as undeniably German as the Nord Stream pipeline, Putin (and anyone else anywhere) has a right to quote him morning, noon and night..”

Immanuel Kant Goes To War (Hayes)

First off, a hat tip to Russia Today (and to the VPN, which allows me access to it) for telling me that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has lashed out at Russian President Vladimir Putin for quoting iconic German philosopher Immanuel Kant. Because Putin cited the philosopher at an event marking the 300th anniversary of Kant’s birth, Scholz accused Putin of trying to “poach” the great thinker as well as misrepresenting his ideas.n bThe story, at first glance, is so ridiculously funny that I had to google to ensure I was not being taken in by that mercurial NATO chameleon dubbed “Russian disinformation.” Sure enough, as plenty of Western sources later verified the story, we can proceed. Die Zeit cites Scholz at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences ranting that “Putin doesn’t have the slightest right to quote Kant, yet Putin’s regime remains committed to poaching Kant and his work at almost any cost”.

Let’s just stop the reel there. Kant was born in 1724 in Koenigsberg (present-day Kaliningrad), which belonged to the Kingdom of Prussia before later becoming part of the Russian Empire. The philosopher, famous for his work on ethics, aesthetics and philosophical ontology, is rightly considered one of the pillars of German classical philosophy. Though he is as undeniably German as the Nord Stream pipeline, Putin (and anyone else anywhere) has a right to quote him morning, noon and night. Though Kant is as German as Tolstoy, who regarded himself as a philosopher and not a writer, is Russian, their brilliance belongs to the world. Scholz, in other words, is free to quote Tolstoy, once, of course, he first learns to read. As Putin delivered his talk in Kant’s famous birth place, it was, of course, entirely appropriate that Putin should quote the great philosopher and Scholz, if he was not an ignoramus, should have used that to his advantage, rather than coming across as the obvious baboon that he is.

Putin, as it happens, spent much of his working life in Germany and he speaks the language of Kant, Schiller and Goethe at least as fluently as Scholz which is, admittedly, a low bar. Not only that but Putin has been praising and quoting Kant for decades and has even gone so far as saying that the philosopher should be made an official symbol of Kaliningrad Region. Germany and Germans like Kant have had a profound and often benign effect on Russia since even before Vasili III, Grand Prince of Moscow, established Moscow’s German Quarter in the fifteenth century. Catherine the Great, who was actually born in Prussia, and the German speaking and Kant admiring Putin have carried on those links into more modern times. And, though Catherine the Great, sadly, is no longer with us, Putin is, and his remarks that Kant is “one of the greatest thinkers of both his time and ours,” is not only worthy of consideration but it is one more cultured German leaders than Scholz would have leveraged to their advantage.

Scholz, who fancies himself as something of a bar room philosopher, is having none of that. He believes Russia’s role in the Russian speaking areas of Ukraine contradicts Kant’s fundamental teachings on the interference of states in the affairs of other nations, and he defended Kiev’s decision not to engage in peace talks with Moscow, unless they are on NATO’s terms of unconditional Russian surrender. Scholz, with no sense of irony or self awareness regarding the aborted Minsk Accords, said Kant believed that forced treaties were not the way to reach ‘perpetual peace’ – a direct reference to Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch, one of Kant’s major and most influential works.

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“..past 400 ppm, “the CO2 concentration can no longer cause any increase in temperature.”

Carbon Emissions CANNOT Cause ‘Global Warming’ (Slay)

A bombshell new peer-reviewed study has provided conclusive scientific evidence proving that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in Earth’s atmosphere cannot cause “global warming.” Dr. Jan Kubicki led a group of world-renowned Polish scientists to study the impact of increases in CO2 emissions on the Earth’s global temperatures. However, not only did they find that higher levels of CO2 made no difference, but they also proved that it simply isn’t possible for increases in carbon dioxide to cause temperatures to rise. Kubicki and his team recently published three papers which all conclude that Earth’s atmosphere is already “saturated” with carbon dioxide. This saturation means that, even at greatly increased levels of CO2, the “greenhouse gas” will not cause temperatures to rise. Kubicki et al. summarize their evidence by noting that as a result of saturation, “emitted CO2 does not directly cause an increase in global temperature.”

Current levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are around 418 parts per million (ppm) but the scientists state that past 400 ppm, “the CO2 concentration can no longer cause any increase in temperature.” The saturation of CO2 in the atmosphere is the hypothesis that dares not speak its name in mainstream media, politics, and across much of climate science. The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) “Net Zero” collectivism agenda is doomed without the constant fearmongering of a so-called “climate crisis.” One of the key propaganda messages behind this “green agenda” is that humans are responsible for the ever-warming climate by burning hydrocarbons and releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. The saturation hypothesis is complex, but in simple terms, it can be described by the example of loft insulation in a house.

After a certain point, doubling the lagging will have little effect since most of the heat trying to escape through the roof has already been trapped. Carbon dioxide traps heat only within narrow bands of the infrared spectrum. Levels of the gas have been up to 20 times higher in the past without any sign of runaway “global warming.” At current levels, the Polish scientists suggest that there is “currently multiple exceedances of the saturation mass for carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere.” The latest study is published in the prestigious Elsevier’s Science Direct peer-reviewed journal. Many other scientists are attracted to the saturation hypothesis because it provides more plausible explanations to fit past changes in the climate.

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Trump pizza

 

 

Roadster

 

 

Saba

 

 

Lay Down Your Tomato Plants

 

 

Mwinzi

 

 

Donkeys
https://twitter.com/i/status/1783156462681739671

 

 

Cutting

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in wartime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 212024
 
 February 21, 2024  Posted by at 9:46 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  42 Responses »


Vincent van Gogh Landscape with House and Ploughman 1889

 

Assange ‘Too Ill’ To Attend Last Chance UK Appeal Against US Extradition (RT)
President Trump’s Kafkaesque Civil Trial in New York State (Calabresi)
Pay to Play: Trump Faces a Staggering Cost for Appeal (Turley)
US ‘in Decline’ Today Due to ‘Ignorance, Arrogance’ – Pakistani Senator (Sp.)
What Happened To Alexei Navalny This Time Round (Helmer)
The US Is Planning for the Aftermath of Ukraine War (van den Ende)
How The Rosneft Refinery In Germany Is Being Expropriated (Helmer)
Germany Nationalizes Rosneft Deutschland, Poland Will Help (Andrei Gurkov)
As Ramadan Approaches, Israel Threatens War On Lebanon (Harb)
The Resistance Has a Plan for Israel (Alastair Crooke)
The Ever Expanding War (Paul Craig Roberts)
10 Million Illegals Have Entered The US Under Biden (ZH)
Germany Retreats Into The Middle Ages As Its Economy Declines (Henry Johnston)
Fixation on CO2 Ignores Real Driver of Temperature (ET)

 

 


MattOBranain: My rough sketch while trying to listen on a difficult audio feed. At front two Counsels for #Assange, to right behind them Gareth Perice, then from right John Shipton, @GabrielShipton, @Stella_Assange, behind them @ChrisLynnHedges. Also saw @CraigMurrayOrg and @suigenerisjen.

 

 

Trump Haley

 

 

Mike Benz
https://twitter.com/i/status/1759722356975530158

 

 

 

 

Thomas

 

 

Tucker Boris

 

 

Rogan Phil
https://twitter.com/i/status/1760025164677558690

 

 

 

 

“..the victim of his ‘crime’ (journalism) is a state rather than a person–the definition of a political offense, which the US-UK extradition treaty explicitly forbid..”

Assange ‘Too Ill’ To Attend Last Chance UK Appeal Against US Extradition (RT)

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is “too ill” to attend his appeal against the UK’s decision to extradite him to the US, his lawyers have said. The US wants him on 17 charges of espionage tied to WikiLeaks’ publication of State Department and Pentagon files in 2010. Assange, 52, has been held largely in solitary confinement in the Belmarsh maximum security prison in England since 2019, when Ecuador revoked his asylum at American insistence. The Australian-born publisher had requested to appear in court personally, but was unable to do so due to poor health, according to his lawyers. “The world is watching,” Assange’s wife Stella said outside the court house. She accused the US of abusing the legal system to “hound, prosecute and intimidate” and argued that the US “plotted to murder” her husband – referring to revelations that the CIA sought to kill Assange in 2017, when he sheltered in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

“What’s at stake is the ability to publish the truth and expose crimes when they’re committed by states,” Stella Assange told the dozens of demonstrators gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Tuesday. Protesters carried Australian flags and signs that said “Free Julian Assange” and “drop the charges.” The Australian parliament passed a motion, supported by the country’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, calling for Assange’s release from British captivity in the run up to the appeal. “The outrageous part of the UK’s years-long ‘trial’ to condemn Julian Assange to die in an American dungeon is that the victim of his ‘crime’ (journalism) is a state rather than a person–the definition of a political offense, which the US-UK extradition treaty explicitly forbid,” NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden said on X (formerly Twitter).

Activists outside the court chanted “US, UK, hands off Assange” and “There is only one decision – no extradition,” among other slogans. This week’s hearing will decide whether Assange will be allowed to appeal the 2022 decision by the UK government to extradite him to the US. His attorneys have argued that the extradition would amount to punishment for political opinions and violate the European Convention on Human Rights.

If the appeal fails, Assange will apply to the European Court of Human Rights and seek a Rule 39 order to stop the extradition while it considers the case, Stella Assange has said. In 2010, WikiLeaks published the US military’s Iraq and Afghanistan “war diaries,” as well as a trove of State Department cables. One of the videos, later known as “collateral murder,” showed a US helicopter killing 11 people in Iraq, including two Reuters journalists. Suspecting the Swedish “sexual assault” case was a pretext for the US to arrest him – correctly, as it later emerged – Assange sought asylum in Ecuador, which has no extradition treaty with Washington. He spent the next seven years in the country’s embassy in London, blocked from leaving by the British authorities.

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Kafla indeed.

President Trump’s Kafkaesque Civil Trial in New York State (Calabresi)

Donald Trump has been ordered to pay a $355 million fine and has been barred from doing business in New York State for three years. Judge Arthur Engoron ordered Trump to pay essentially all of his cash reserves of $400 million, which fine if upheld would force Trump to sell some of his real estate holdings to raise cash to live on. Once interest is added on the total fine will rise to $450 million. This is all on top of an $83.3 million fine Trump must pay for allegedly defaming the writer E. Jean Carroll. The fines in total could deprive Trump of between 11% and 13% of his wealth. Trump’s adult sons Donald Jr. and Eric have also been fined, and they are barred from doing business in New York State for two years. Ivanka or Melania Trump could legally run the Trump businesses for the next two years, but Judge Engoron appointed retired U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones to continue in her role as an “independent monitor” of the Trump business empire but expanded her authority to review financial disclosures before they are submitted to third parties.

Judge Jones can hire an independent director of compliance, and she has the authority to compel Trump to sell some or even all of his businesses down the road. This is all punishment for Trump allegedly committing fraud by falsely inflating and deflating the value of his real estate assets to pay lower state taxes and to receive more favorable loans from banks. The New York State laws used to go after Trump have NEVER been used in this way, historically, and while Trump may owe some back state taxes, if Judge Engoron is right, not a single bank claimed that it had been defrauded by Trump in the loans it had made to him. This is truly a victimless crime. Bankers took the stand at Trump’s civil trial testifying that they would have gladly made loans to Donald Trump given his extraordinary success as a businessman. It must also be noted that the banks that made loans to Trump did not take his assessment of the net worth of his assets at face value but made their own independent assessments of the value of Trump’s assets.

This is apparently standard practice in the New York State real estate market where borrowers often overstate the value of their assets. The bottom line is that a never before used New York State penalty has been twisted into a tool for a grossly excessive fine and more seriously the completely inappropriate appointment of Judge Jones as an “independent monitor” who can micromanage the Trump business, which she is not competent to do, and to even order the dissolution of the Trump Business in New York State. This outcome was pursued by Letitia James, a politically ambition Democrat, who is the Attorney General of New York State, and who hopes to win a future Democratic primary for Governor of or Senator from New York State.

Ms. James and Judge Engeron have essentially turned a vaguely worded New York State law into a modern day Bill of Attainder targeted at Donald Trump both for political gain and because they despise his political views and desperately want to call his truthfulness into question as he runs for President of the United States in 2024. In doing this, the have violated Trump’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech and of the press; his Fifth Amendment right not to be deprived of liberty or property without due process of law; his Fifth Amendment right not to have property taken away from him except for a pubic use with just compensation being paid; his Eighth Amendment right not to be made to pay an excessive fine; his Article IV, Section 2 right as a citizen of Florida to do make and enforce contracts in New York on the same terms as are other New Yorkers; and his Fourteenth Amendment right to be free to pursue an occupation without unnecessary and burdensome regulation.

The civil fraud judgment against Donald Trump is a travesty and an unjust political act rivaled only in American politics by the killing of former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton by Vice President Aaron Burr. If the New York State appellate courts do not reverse this judgment, the U.S. Supreme Court MUST grant cert on this case and reverse Judge Engeron’s outrageous decisions. National, presidential politics will be permanently altered if a local State’s legal system can be used in this way against candidates for President of the United States. This case raises a national issue of profound importance and if the New York State appellate courts do not address it, the U.S. Supreme Court MUST!

O’Leary
https://twitter.com/i/status/1759969359282463085

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“..every day, Trump is being hit by roughly $90,000 in just interest increases.”

Pay to Play: Trump Faces a Staggering Cost for Appeal (Turley)

In the wake of the massive judgment against Donald Trump, many in New York are celebrating the prospect that the former president could be forced to sell off his property just to be able to appeal the $355 million judgment against him. While Trump has good grounds to object to this excessive fine, he still has to come up with close to a half billion dollars just to make his arguments to the New York Court of Appeals. In order to file an appeal, the courts require a deposit for the full amount of the damages or a bond covering the full amount. Even with escrow options, the call for cash or collateral can be enough to put some executives in a fetal position. It can be challenging enough for many companies drained from years of litigation. For Donald Trump, the demand for $355 million plus $100 milion in interest could force a fire sale on properties to pony up just the deposit.

Many of us have been critical of the ruling of Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron who imposed the astronomical fine despite finding that Trump’s “victims” not only did not lose a single dollar but made handsome profits. Indeed, these banks testified that they wanted to continue to do business with Trump as a “whale” client, but Engoron is now barring them from doing so. Putting aside the merits of this judgment, the threshold deposit rule magnifies the unfairness of this New York law that does not require that anyone actually lose money to claim hundreds of millions from a company. One can argue that, if upheld, any insolvency is the fault of the company. However, this rule can force insolvency just to seek review of a judgment. For Trump, even this fine would only amount to roughly 14-17% of his wealth. The addition of the recent $83.3 million in damages imposed in a separate New York courtroom for defamation would bring the demand to over half a billion dollars in deposits with interest.

So, by making the fine so large, Engoron not only makes an appeal difficult, but could guarantee that Trump will lose tens of millions even if his judgment is dramatically reduced or tossed out. On top of this looming penalty, however, he already owes the writer E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million in damages from a separate defamation case that concluded in January. His legal fees are also mounting as he battles four criminal cases at the federal and state level. There is already speculation of whether Trump will have to leverage or sell his iconic properties at distressed prices. He has 30-days to ante up with the court and buyers could use that deadline to their advantage. The added amount is due to another New York provision imposing a massive 9 percent interest rate on judgments. That means that every day, Trump is being hit by roughly $90,000 in just interest increases.

Trump could secure a bond, but such a guaranty would come at its own premium price. However, a bonding company requires a defendant to put up 10% for the total and would lose that amount even if he prevailed. That is a roughly $45 million cost just to secure the right to an appeal. In this case, the cost could be higher given the judgment and the bar on Trump doing business for three years in New York. The expectation is that Trump can make the deposit or secure a bond to avoid what some gleefully called a “fire sale” on this properties. The deposit is now being celebrated as an added indignity and penalty. However, as New Yorkers cheer this moment, many business are likely wondering “but for the grace of God go I.” Undervaluing or overvaluing property is a common practice, particularly in real estate. That is why representations, like the one made by the Trump Corporation, come with a warning that estimates are their own and that the banks need to make their assessments.

Faced with high crime and high taxes, the spectacle in Manhattan is only likely to accelerate the exodus of businesses and high-earners from the city. That prospect has already alarmed Gov. Kathy Hochul who declared “business people have nothing to worry about, because they’re very different than Donald Trump and his behavior.” That sounds a lot like “you are fine so long as you are not Trump.” Yet, that is not reassuring to businesses who want a legal system that is based on something other than selective and arbitrary enforcement. Attorney General Letitia James campaigned on bagging Trump without even bothering to name the offense. She also sought to dissolve the National Rifle Association. The line between doing business and a public execution appears to be the dubious discretion of Letitia James. That is not the type of assurance that most businesses would accept in risking billions in investment. Despite the high taxes and falling services in New York, the city remained a draw for business as a commercial and legal center. The experience and objectivity of courts in dealing with business disputes was a selling point for companies.

That has been shattered by the James campaign and the Engoron ruling. Telling business to just “don’t be like Trump” is more menacing than consoling. Letitia James is now the face of New York corporate law — it is the “face that launched a thousand ships” . . . toward Florida. Businesses can get lower taxes, lower crime, better schools, and a better regulatory environment in virtually any other state. Fewer are likely to want to come for the shows, but stay for the disgorgement. Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary said Monday that he would “never” invest in New York after this absurd judgment. Creating an ad hoc business code for Trump undermines the city’s reputation as a premier jurisdiction for corporate and tax law. If the rate of exit increases, it will impact not just employees working for these companies (like the Trump companies) but the vast network of supporting businesses, including law firms. As New York politicians campaigning on “eat the rich” platforms, the confiscatory Trump judgment leaves many in the city wondering if they could be the next course.

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“The US I knew was a very strong and inclusive society, welcoming towards foreigners. They used to be multicultural and multireligious. Now I see a lot of paranoia and a lot of xenophobia in the US..”

US ‘in Decline’ Today Due to ‘Ignorance, Arrogance’ – Pakistani Senator (Sp.)

The reasons why the United States failed in Afghanistan and Iraq and is “in decline” today are its “ignorance and arrogance,” the chairman of the defense committee of the Senate of Pakistan, Mushahid Hussain Sayed, told Sputnik. “The US policy towards certain countries in Asia is sometimes based on the combination of ignorance and arrogance. Arrogance, because they are a big country, because they think of themselves as a superpower, they think they know it all. But they don’t. They don’t know the culture and the values of other countries. And also ignorance, because they don’t understand the people of these places. This is why they failed in Afghanistan, this is why they failed in Iraq,” Sayed said in an interview.

These are the same reasons why the US is “in decline” now and has been like that for some time, he added. The senator explained that he used to live in the US, received a masters degree from one of the most respected US universities in Washington — Georgetown, and worked in the US Congress as an intern. However, the country had changed a lot since then and the US he knew “was different.” “The US I knew was a very strong and inclusive society, welcoming towards foreigners. They used to be multicultural and multireligious. Now I see a lot of paranoia and a lot of xenophobia in the US. They call the Chinese threat, the Russian threat, the Islamic threat … That’s nonsense. They are returning to the 50s. So for me the modern US is a very strange, exclusive and divisive America,” the senator said.

In October 2001, a US-led coalition launched an invasion of Afghanistan. However, the Taliban took power in Afghanistan in August 2021, triggering the collapse of the US-backed government and accelerating Washington’s troop pullout. On August 31 of the same year, US forces completed their withdrawal from the country, ending the 20-year-long military presence. In March 2003, the US-led coalition invaded Iraq without a UN Security Council resolution. Consequently, the total of excess deaths related to the war amounted to 654,965 as of October 2006, according to The Lancet journal’s survey. The US troops withdrew from Iraq in December 2011. Despite that, to date, the US and coalition forces remain a notable military presence in the country, with military bases.

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“Inside Russia, it has been obvious for a long time that in or out of prison, Navalny alive was politically insignificant; now even less. The new western propaganda is as ineffectual for Russians as Navalny was himself.”

What Happened To Alexei Navalny This Time Round (Helmer)

Since a pack of lies about Alexei Navalny won last year’s Oscar for the best documentary film of the year when he was alive, there’s no doubt he can win another Oscar when he’s dead. But alive or dead, the prize-winning propaganda of Navalny’s story bears no resemblance to the truth. This is what happens in wartime, especially when the side which is losing the war on the battlefield – that’s the US, NATO and the Ukraine – claims to be winning the war of words against Russia. The Navalny story is now in two parts: Part 1, the Novichok in his airport cup of tea, in his hotel water bottle, and then in his underpants which causes Navalny’s collapse, but fails to be detected by Russian doctors in Omsk, by German doctors in Berlin and Munich, and then by Swedish and French state laboratories. Part 2, Navalny’s sudden death after he had taken a walk in the IK-3 penal colony in the village of Kharp, in the Russian Arctic region of Yamalo-Nenets.

The first part took 62 reports in this archive to expose the faking; the most telling evidence of this came from Navalny himself in the documented tests of his blood, urine and hair. According to these data, Navalny’s collapse was the outcome of an overdose of lithium, benzodiazepines, and other drugs. Part 2 of the Navalny story began last Friday, February 16, with the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) announcement, followed by an official telegramme to his mother in Moscow, that he had died just after two in the afternoon, Yamalo-Nenets time; that was just after noon Moscow time. Two hours later the Russian media began carrying the official announcement. The wording of the last line of the announcement is significant. “The causes of death are being established”, the FSIN statement said. Causes — plural.

In the UK coroner’s court practice, what this means is that there is likely to have been a sequence of causation, medically speaking, with the first or proximate cause of death identified as heart, brain, or lung injury or failure; and the second, intervening or contributory cause of death such as biochemical factors, including prescription drugs in lethal combination; mRNA anti-Covid vaccination triggering fatal blood clots; or homicidal poisons. For example, in the case of the alleged Russian Novichok death of Dawn Sturgess in England in 2018, the evidence is of British government tampering with the post-mortem reports to add Novichok when it wasn’t identified at first. In Navalny’s case, poisoning on the order of President Vladimir Putin has already been announced as the cause of Navalny’s death without evidence at all. The delay time required for the complicated processes of forensic pathology and toxicology to establish the evidence has been reported in the Anglo-American media to signify cover-up and body snatching. Meduza, an oppositionist publication in Riga, reports that “a doctor who advised Navalny’s associates” has said that blood clotting was “an unlikely cause of death” – this is medically false.

In speculation of poisoning as cause of death, there is at least as much likelihood that Navalny, his team, and their CIA and MI6 handlers devised a repeat of the August 2020 Tomsk operation; decided when Navalny met with his lawyer at the prison on February 14; but implemented two days later without the resuscitation Navalny himself was expecting. The Anglo-American propaganda warfare army is already pronouncing the contributory Cause 2– Putin did it — as the cause of Navalny’s death. If the Russians announce the proximate Cause 1 as cardiac arrest or brain aneurism, without a Cause 2, they won’t be believed. In the short term, Cause 2 cannot be established with credibility in Russia since it took the British government ten years, 2006-2016, to fabricate their story of Russian polonium poisoning in the Alexander Litvinenko case. In the Russian Novichok cases in England, it has so far taken six years of court, police and pathologist proceedings, 2018-2024, without outcome, and another two years will follow.

The problem for readers to interpret what has happened is that the Anglo-American propaganda warfare machine is better at what it does than the Russian side. But then when it comes to war with guns, not words, the Russian side is far superior, as can be seen in the Ukraine right now. Accordingly, the Kremlin has decided to concentrate on the main fight. Inside Russia, it has been obvious for a long time that in or out of prison, Navalny alive was politically insignificant; now even less. The new western propaganda is as ineffectual for Russians as Navalny was himself.

Nap Navalny
https://twitter.com/i/status/1760094451521970418

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“Nowhere outside the U.S. can you find as many American politicians in one place as at the Munich Security Conference this year.”

The US Is Planning for the Aftermath of Ukraine War (van den Ende)

According to the Rand Corporation, there are two scenarios for the United States: “after” the less favorable war or “after” the more favorable war. The prominent think tank for U.S. policymaking recently published a long report on the so-called aftermath of the war in Ukraine. Washington and its NATO allies have to admit that the U.S. is losing another proxy war together with its satellite states of Europe. Previously they lost in Afghanistan (after more than 20 years, a second Vietnam), also recently in Syria and Iraq, and now in Ukraine. Even so-called “Russia experts” in Europe admit that Ukraine is losing. “I do not rule out that Ukraine will lose the war this year. Europe has misjudged the Russian army,” says Belgian “Russia expert” Joris van Blade to De Standaard. Russia has the initiative again and the Russian people are not going to stop the war, he thinks. “We have missed historic opportunities to make Europe safer.”

According to the Rand study, two scenarios are possible: a so-called “hardline” or a “softline” postwar. Of course, the U.S. prefers a softline postwar outcome, where they still have room for manipulation and possible coup d’état and Balkanization (partition) of Russia just like they did in former Yugoslavia. According to Rand, the U.S. military presence in Europe has increased to around 100,000 personnel since the start of Russia’s Special Military Operation in February 2022. The United States deployed attack aviation from Germany to Lithuania; Patriot air defense systems from Germany to Slovakia and Poland; and F-15 tactical fighters from the United Kingdom to Poland. In addition, European countries are sending F-16s to Romania, as the Netherlands recently indicated. These F-16s are capable of attacking Russian cities. Washington characterized these deployments as part of a wartime surge to deter Russia from expanding its aggression beyond Ukraine to attack U.S. allies in Europe.

Leaders in Europe are almost hysterical. One after another, they proclaim that Russia is going to invade Europe, starting with Moldova, the Baltic States, and Poland. The Netherlands, Germany, and France are warning their people to expect an attack from Russia, as is Sweden, which recently joined NATO. The population is being frightened by the unhinged rhetoric of their politicians. Conscription must be reactivated and Germany even has a concept ready to recruit migrants (about 1.5 million serviceable men) and entice them to get a passport. European leaders are also concerned about the upcoming elections in the U.S. after Republican contender Donald Trump made comments suggesting he would quit NATO and let Europe fend for itself. They are worried that the U.S. might abandon them. During a recent NATO conference in Brussels, a lot of war rhetoric was spoken. “We live in an era where we have to expect the unexpected,” said Dutch NATO Admiral Rob Bauer. Meanwhile, the Danish and German defense ministers have warned of a potential war with Russia within five years.

The U.S. and European leaders assume the “hardline” scenario is likely in the next few years. They proclaim through their mouthpieces in the corporate-controlled news media that Russia is becoming much more “risk-acceptant”. Therefore, it is calculated that a hardline approach may increase NATO’s ability to deter purported Russian aggression. It’s that time of year again for the hawkish Munich Security Conference, in Bavaria, Germany. This is the forum where President Putin provoked alarm when he gave his famous speech in 2007, making it clear that the unipolar world was over and a multipolar world would emerge in the foreseeable future. Putin’s prognosis caused much chagrin for Western leaders. This year’s theme at Munich is animated by Trump’s supposed undermining of NATO.

The appeal for support from the U.S. has become more urgent among some European politicians. Ukraine lacks weapons and ammunition, they openly say. Russia is sometimes five times superior on the battlefield. In addition, a U.S. support package worth around $60 billion was approved by the Senate last week but the Republican-dominated House of Representatives could reject it – and so far it looks like it will. Europe, in turn, would not be able to fill this gap and, therefore, Ukraine will lose the proxy war for the U.S. and the West. In addition to the presence of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, the European leaders and lobbyists will also use the opportunity in Munich to lobby Republican Senators and Representatives to support Ukraine (with money). Nowhere outside the U.S. can you find as many American politicians in one place as at the Munich Security Conference this year.

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2 articles, one topic. Germany steals a Russian company.

How The Rosneft Refinery In Germany Is Being Expropriated (Helmer)

This is how the war in the Ukraine doesn’t end, not for the Germans and the Poles. So long as they can, they plan to steal or destroy Russian assets west of what used to be Kievan Ukraine; and mobilize the US military bases in both countries to reinforce and defend their larcenies. The German political party which promises to continue this war for the employment of German workers and the enrichment of German executives and shareholders will win the next election, replacing the Social Democratic Party and the Greens as the party of war. The post-Ukraine strategy of the Stavka starts here — To Berlin! On Friday last, the Russian language edition of the German state medium Deutsche Welle (DW) published a report of German and Polish government plans for the expropriation of PCK, the Rosneft crude oil refinery at Schwedt in northern Germany, and the Rosneft network of operating assets in Germany, Poland, and Austria.

The German assets of Rosneft, the Russian state oil production company under worldwide sanctions, had been placed under what the German government called “fiduciary management” by an “independent” state regulator in September 2022. This was announced at the time as a temporary arrangement to comply with the sanctions, renewable every six months, but leaving undisturbed the Russian ownership of the assets. This scheme was renewed at six monthly intervals, as Rosneft has reported. There was nothing independent about the BNA or what it has been doing every six months. BNA stands for the Federal Network Agency — Bundesnetzagentur für Elektrizität, Gas, Telekommunikation, Post und Eisenbahnen. It claims to be “an independent higher federal authority with its main office in Bonn operating within the scope of business of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) and the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV). We have been responsible for Germany’s essential electricity, gas, telecommunications and postal infrastructures for over 20 years.”

“Within the scope of” is a German fig leaf for “under control”. “Our task,” BNA says, is “to ensure fair and non-discriminatory competition for all market participants. Our success and our expertise in regulation led to the energy and rail sectors also being placed under our responsibility.” This was not what the government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz intended when it commenced its takeover of Rosneft and assigned BNA the role of camp guard. BNA described what it was doing to “safeguard security of supply in Germany…on the basis of the Energy Security of Supply Act (section 17 EnSiG) until 15 March 2023. This basis enables the fiduciary to take action to keep the business running in accordance with its importance for the functioning of society in the energy sector. The fiduciary management may be extended under certain conditions… The decision to introduce fiduciary management was prompted by…by the sanctions imposed on Russia…The fiduciary management means that the original owner no longer has authority to issue instructions.”

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“The German government is running out of time: on March 10, when the next decision on the transfer of Rosneft Deutschland under the so-called trust management of the state expires..”

Germany Nationalizes Rosneft Deutschland, Poland Will Help (Andrei Gurkov)

Expropriation of Rosneft’s German assets is becoming increasingly likely. Warsaw is ready to provide oil to the Schwedt refinery and replace supplies from Kazakhstan. But what about compensation? The nationalization of Rosneft’s German assets is becoming more and more likely, and new signals from Poland reinforce this impression. The German government is running out of time: on March 10, when the next decision on the transfer of Rosneft Deutschland under the so-called trust management of the state expires. Berlin, apparently, no longer wants to extend this regime introduced in September 2022 for six months, because they seek a stable, not temporary, solution to the fate of the oil refinery in Schwedt — PCK Raffinerie Schwedt. This is exactly the case, although Rosneft has other assets in Germany.

But in this refinery, the state-owned Russian concern actually owns 54%, and maintaining Moscow’s control over a strategically important enterprise seems to the German authorities to be too much of a risk, especially against the background of the growing threat from Russia. After all, PCK Raffinerie Schwedt provides petroleum products to a significant part of East Germany and, above all, to the capital of the country, Berlin, with its approximately four million inhabitants. The intention of the German government to put an end to the legally suspended state of the plant has clearly strengthened after the recent elections in Poland. They brought to power a pro-European coalition, which German politicians trust much more than the previous Polish government. Relations between the two countries are currently warming rapidly, as evidenced by the talks between the new Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin on February 12.

Therefore, the visit of Vice Chancellor and Minister of Economy of Germany Robert Habeck to Warsaw the next day, February 13, played an important, and perhaps decisive role in determining the next concrete steps with regard to Rosneft Deutschland. “Poland has helped a lot in the past to provide oil to the east of Germany,” the German minister recalled after the talks and made it clear that in the event of the expropriation of Rosneft, the supply of the plant in Schwedt would improve, since the Polish side is ready to significantly increase the pumping of oil through its territory towards Germany from the port of Gdansk. According to the Reuters news agency, citing an informed source, Warsaw assured Berlin even before Habeck’s arrival that it would be able, if necessary, to completely replace the volumes of Kazakh oil currently flowing to Schwedt.

Some explanations are needed here. Until 2023, this refinery, built six decades ago in the GDR on the border with Poland, operated exclusively on oil coming from the USSR and then from Russia via the Druzhba oil pipeline. In response to the full-scale Russian aggression against Ukraine, the European Union imposed an embargo on Russian oil transported by tankers, but not on supplies via the Druzhba pipeline system, since several Eastern European EU members are still heavily dependent on them. However, the German government decided for its part to completely abandon Russian oil. Since last year, the Schwedt plant has been supplied with oil purchased on the world market in three ways. From the German Baltic port of Rostock via a longstanding and not very powerful pipeline that was originally laid down as a backup — through the Polish port of Gdansk, from where oil is pumped through Poland using the westernmost segment of the Druzhba, and from Kazakhstan in transit through the Russian territory on the same Druzhba.

Germany strongly emphasizes its desire to increase oil purchases in Kazakhstan, cooperation with which is becoming more intensive. However, there are fears that in the event of the nationalization of Rosneft’s German assets, Moscow will block the Druzhba oil pipeline as a retaliatory measure and thereby [stop] the supply of Kazakh oil. [..] It is noteworthy that articles in the German media about Robert Habeck’s negotiations in Warsaw, and in general about the future of Rosneft Deutschland, in effect do not consider the option of Rosneft selling this company and its assets. This is despite the letter with such a proposal, as the economic newspaper Handelsblatt wrote in early February, from the head of the Russian concern Igor Sechin to the German government. But Berlin, the publication concluded, “has placed its bet on expropriation.”

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“..the regional backlash threatens to undermine US diplomacy, unravel Arab normalization deals with Israel, and jeopardize US business interests throughout West Asia..”

As Ramadan Approaches, Israel Threatens War On Lebanon (Harb)

Tel Aviv’s mounting threats to destroy Beirut as it has done to Gaza, coupled with growing Israeli public support for aggressive military action against Lebanon, have spiked tensions on the northern battlefront in recent days. Furthermore, the precarious game at play in Washington – which has done absolutely nothing to impede Israeli occupation forces from launching an assault on Rafah and uprooting more than a million Palestinians from their last refuge on the Egyptian border – is driving the war to a volatile, dangerous brink. Adding fuel to this already incendiary mix are two critical factors. First, Israel’s targeted strikes on Lebanese civilians, exemplified by the recent attacks in Nabatiyeh and Al-Sowanah, have provoked a stern response from Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, who vowed retribution, declaring that “the price of civilian blood will be blood.”

Second is the approaching month of Ramadan, a sacred period observed by hundreds of millions of Muslims worldwide, which adds a transnational dimension to these developments. Fasting Muslims from Indonesia to Morocco will grow increasingly frustrated with Washington’s inaction in preventing genocide and the displacement of over two million Palestinians in Gaza, many of whom are on the brink of starvation. Despite US assurances that it is pressuring Israel to mitigate casualties, the relentless onslaught has resulted in an appalling daily death toll of around 300, with nearly 29,000 lives lost, and over 60 percent of homes and infrastructure decimated. When Nasrallah declared that “for every drop of blood shed in Gaza and the entire region, the primary responsibility falls on [US President Joe] Biden, [US Secretary of State Antony] Blinken, and [US Secretary of Defense Lloyd] Austin,” his words resonated deeply – not only within the Islamic world but with millions globally – calling for an end to the war by halting the influx of American weapons to the Israeli military.

The US State Department has received multiple warnings from diplomats in the region of the growing resentment toward Washington for its complicity in Israel’s genocidal campaign. Despite its tone-deaf attempts to adjust its stance and emphasize a need to protect Palestinian civilians, the regional backlash threatens to undermine US diplomacy, unravel Arab normalization deals with Israel, and jeopardize US business interests throughout West Asia. Speaking to The Cradle, sources close to the Axis of Resistance in Lebanon said the next fortnight carries the potential for a catastrophic escalation, particularly if Israel intensifies its military aggression during Ramadan and advances its plans to displace Palestinians from Rafah.

Additionally, the discontent among Israeli settlers displaced by Lebanese resistance operations along the northern border poses further risks, with officials in Tel Aviv contemplating drastic measures to ensure calm, including potential military action – a preview of which southern Lebanese civilians have recently witnessed. The discontent among northern settlers grows as they grapple with the new security dynamics in the aftermath of the Hamas-led Al-Aqsa Flood operation on 7 October. Extending over 100 kilometers from Naqoura to the Shebaa Farms and penetrating 5 to 10 kilometers deep, this border strip has seen the displacement of thousands of settler families.

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“..They want us to pay a price without Israel committing to a thing..”

The Resistance Has a Plan for Israel (Alastair Crooke)

In a speech on Tuesday, Hizbullah leader Seyed Nasrallah said that the Party will continue the border offensive until at least the Gaza massacre stops. The war in Gaza however, is far from over. And Nasrallah warned that even were a ceasefire to be reached in Gaza, “should the enemy perform any action, we will return to operating according to the rules and formulas that existed before. The purpose of the resistance is to deter the enemy, and we will react accordingly”. Israel’s Defence Secretary Gallant has underlined that contrary to international consensus expectations, he too expects the war in Lebanon to continue. Gallant said the military has stepped up its attacks against Hizbullah by one level out of ten: “The Air Force planes flying currently in the skies of Lebanon have heavier bombs for more distant targets. Hizbullah went up half a step, whilst we, a full one … We can attack not only at 20 kilometres [from the border], but also at 50 kilometres, and in Beirut and anywhere else”.

It is not clear what ‘red line’ Hizbullah would have to cross for Israel to significantly escalate its response to much higher levels; Israeli leaders have suggested that an attack on a strategic site; or an attack leading to major civilian casualties; or a substantive barrage on Haifa might constitute the breaking point. Nonetheless, with three military divisions rather than the usual one now deployed in the north of Israel, the IDF has more forces poised for action on the northern border than it has preparing for an incursion into Rafah – at this point. It is clear, as Chief of Staff Halevy has specified, that Israel is “preparing for war” against Hizbullah (more than preparing for Rafah). Is the threat to Rafah a bluff to put pressure on Hamas to concede on the deal and hostages? One way or another, both Israel’s political and military chiefs are adamant: The IDF will incurse into Rafah – ‘at some point’. The qualitatively different Hizbullah’s strike on Safed on Israel’s northern regional command HQ on Wednesday – which that resulted in 2 dead and 7 further casualties – is being treating in Israel as the gravest attack since the start of the war, with Ben Gvir calling it a “declaration of war”. Subsequent Israeli attacks killed 11 people, including six children, in a barrage of strikes on villages across southern Lebanon, in retribution for the Safed blitz – with the fierce exchange of fire still continuing.

The ‘Safed Strike’ deep into the Galilee very likely was intended to signal that Hizbullah is not about to capitulate to western demands that it provide Israel with a ceasefire that is intended to facilitate evacuated Israelis to return to their homes in the north. As Nasrallah confirmed in a scathing attack on those external (Western) mediators who serve only as Israel’s lawyers, and neglect to address the massacres in Gaza: “It is easier to move the Litani River forward to the borders, than to push back Hezbollah fighters from the borders, to behind the Litani River … They want us to pay a price without Israel committing to a thing”. In these circumstances, Nasrallah clarified that residents of northern Israel will not return to their homes – warning that even more Israelis risk being displaced: “‘Israel’ must prepare shelters, basements, hotels and schools to house two million settlers who will be evacuated from northern Palestine, [were Israel to expand the war zone].”

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“..The inaction of Putin, China, and Iran has steeled the American neoconservatives in their agenda of American hegemony..”

The Ever Expanding War (Paul Craig Roberts)

As I previously wrote, the Israeli/American intention is to expand the war against Hamas to Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. The expansion has begun. The latest news is that Israel has struck deep into Lebanon: “War Expands With Massive Israeli Airstrikes 60km Deep Into Lebanon.” The Arabs, likely restrained by Putin, have once again sat on their butts while Israel picks them off one by one. Only the Houthis but not a single Arab or Muslim country came to Hamas’ help. Consequently, the Arabs sat sucking their thumbs while Gaza and Hamas were destroyed. The arabs accepted Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian people. Evil prevails when it is left unopposed. If Hezbollah, Syria, the Iraqi militias, and Iran had joined Hamas’ attack, Israel today would not exist. Having missed their chance, they will now be knocked off one at a time by Israel and Washington.

Already before Israel is finished with Palestine, Israel has attacked with missiles and jet fighters deep into Lebanon. It appears that the Israeli-Washington strategy is to attack Lebanese cities to set off civil war between the Lebanese army and the Hezbollah militia so that Israel can take advantage of civil war in Lebanon to drive Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon and take possession of the water resources that Israel covets. When Hezbollah is finished, Washington and Israel will wipe out the Iraqi militias and attack Syria, a section of which containing the oil fields Washington already occupies. The Russians left the liberation of Syria unfinished. Syria has the Russian air defense system but apparently is not permitted to use it against Washington and Israel. Once Iraqi militias and Syria are out of the picture, Iran, sitting there on its huge number of missiles, doing nothing, will be next.

When Iran falls, the CIA’s Jihadists will be released into the Russian Federation, Central Asia, and China’a troublesome province. The inaction of Putin, China, and Iran has steeled the American neoconservatives in their agenda of American hegemony. As Putin, XI, and Iran seem determined to sit out conflicts that not only affect them but are directed against them, Washington will continue to run over red lines until a war is forced. Putin has been deceived, betrayed, demonized, and given the West’s cold shoulder for two decades, and he still wants to negotiate with those who have thrashed him? Negotiation with a government that has proven it doesn’t keep the agreements is a form of reality denial. As the evidence indicates, the Western world is in moral and social collapse, so its destruction will be no loss. The question is whether the values the Christian West once stood for will find expression elsewhere.

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Pretty crazy..

10 Million Illegals Have Entered The US Under Biden (ZH)

A record 7.3 million illegal aliens have crossed the southwest border under President Biden’s watch, a number which according to Fox News.is greater than the population of 36 individual states. That figure is sourced from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which has already reported 961,537 Southwest land border encounters in the current fiscal year, which runs from October through September, and if the current pace of illegal immigration does not slow down, fiscal year 2024 will break last year’s record of 2,475,669 southwest border encounters — a number that by itself exceeds the population of New Mexico. The total number of southwest land border encounters since Biden assumed office in 2021 is 7,298,486, CBP data shows.

That number is larger than the population of 36 U.S. states including: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. In fact, the only states that are not in danger of being “replaced” are the blue ones. Compared to the largest U.S. states, the 7.3 million number is about 18.7% of California’s population of 39 million, 23.9% of the state of Texas and its 31 million residents, 32.3% of the population of Florida and 37.3% of New York. It’s more than half the size of Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio. As Fox News graphically describes, were the number of illegal immigrants who entered the United States under President Biden gathered together to found a city, it would be the second-largest city in America after New York.

Shockingly, that total does not include an estimated additional 1.6 million illegals who entered the US at other locations, nor 1.8 million known “gotaways” who evaded law enforcement, which would make the total bigger than the population of New York. Taken together, over 10 million migrants have crossed into the U.S. illegally during the Biden administration, a record Biden’s critics assert could only be achieved by intentionally refusing to enforce the law. “This unprecedented surge in illegal immigration isn’t an accident. It is the result of deliberate policy choices by the Biden administration,” said Eric Ruark, Director of Research for Numbers USA, a nonprofit that advocates for immigration restrictions.

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“..renewables can’t power modern civilization is because they were never meant to. One interesting question is why anybody ever thought they could.”

Germany Retreats Into The Middle Ages As Its Economy Declines (Henry Johnston)

Bloomberg recently foretold the end of Germany’s days as an industrial power in an article that begins with a depiction of the closing of a factory in Dusseldorf. Stone-faced workers preside with funereal solemnity over the final act – the fashioning of a steel pipe at a rolling mill – at the century-old plant. The “flickering of flares and torches” and “somber tones of a lone horn player” lend the scene a decidedly medieval atmosphere. Intentional or not in their inclusion of such evocative detail, the Bloomberg writers offer potent imagery for Germany – not only because the country is regressing economically but because its elites are increasingly guided by an atavistic force: the abandonment of reason. As hard economic realities lay bare the futility of its utopian energy plan and the consequences of numerous terrible decisions mount, Germany is experiencing what Swedish essayist Malcom Kyeyune calls “narrative collapse.”

The peculiar offspring of this, Kyeyune argues, is a turn toward ritual, superstition, and taboo. It is a malaise afflicting the entire West, but Germany is suffering a particularly acute case. Kyeyune defines this as an occurrence “when social and political circumstances change too rapidly for people to keep up, the result tends to be collective manias, social panics, and pseudo-religious revivalist millenarianism.” The abandonment of reason can be conceived of in various ways. Quite a lot of ink has already been spilled about the irrationality behind Germany’s fantastically improbable climate policy. Indeed, the quasi-religious verve with which this program has been rolled out speaks to something of a loosening of the country’s moorings. But as we will see shortly, the problem goes far beyond an attachment to unattainable policy goals. Prominent German business executive Wolfgang Reitzle argued that for the government to deliver on its climate and energy policy, capacities for wind and solar power would have to be more than quadrupled, while storage and back-up capacities would have to be massively increased.

Such a plan is “neither technically feasible nor affordable for a country like Germany,” Reitzle argues. What it is then, he concludes, “is simply insanity.” Michael Shellenberger, in a piece for Forbes magazine in 2019, points out that the initial impetus for seeking to transition to renewables emerged from the idea that human civilization should be scaled back to sustainable levels. He cites German philosopher Martin Heidegger’s 1954 landmark essay ‘The Question Concerning of Technology’ and subsequent work by the likes of Barry Commoner and Murray Bookchin as espousing what emerged in the 1960s as a much more austere vision for the future of civilization. Shellenberger concludes that the reason why “renewables can’t power modern civilization is because they were never meant to. One interesting question is why anybody ever thought they could.”

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“..temperature doesn’t follow CO2—instead, CO2 follows temperature, which, itself, is due to solar activity.”

Fixation on CO2 Ignores Real Driver of Temperature (ET)

Each year from 2023 to 2030, climate change sustainable development goals will cost every person in economies such as the United States $2,026, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development estimates. In lower-income economies, the per-person annual cost ranges from $332 to $1,864. In total, the global price tag comes to about $5.5 trillion per year. Separately, a report from the left-aligned nonprofit Climate Policy Initiative found that in 2021 and 2022, the world’s taxpayers spent $1.3 trillion each year on climate-related projects. It also found that the “annual climate finance needed” from 2031 to 2050 is more than $10 trillion each year. “Anyone who willfully denies the impact of climate change is condemning the American people to a very dangerous future,” President Joe Biden said on Nov. 14, 2023, while announcing $6 billion in new investments through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). “The impacts we’re seeing are only going to get worse, more frequent, more ferocious, and more costly.”

At its signing in August 2022, President Biden said the IRA “invests $369 billion to take the most aggressive action ever—ever, ever, ever—in confronting the climate crisis and strengthening our economic—our energy security.” A report from Goldman Sachs put the dollar amount much higher, stating, “Critical funding for this next energy revolution is expected to come from the IRA, which will provide an estimated $1.2 trillion of incentives by 2032.” The trillions of dollars being poured into new initiatives stem from the goals set by the United Nations’ Paris Agreement’s legally binding international treaty to “substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions” in the hope of maintaining a temperature of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

But any decrease in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions won’t have an effect for hundreds to thousands of years—even under the most restrictive circumstances, according to some experts. “If emissions of CO2 stopped altogether, it would take many thousands of years for atmospheric CO2 to return to ‘pre-industrial’ levels,” the Royal Society states in a report on its website. The organization describes itself as a “fellowship of many of the world’s most eminent scientists.” “Surface temperatures would stay elevated for at least a thousand years, implying a long-term commitment to a warmer planet due to past and current emissions,” the report states. “The current CO2-induced warming of Earth is therefore essentially irreversible on human timescales.”

A frequently asked questions page on NASA’s website holds the same position. “If we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, the rise in global temperatures would begin to flatten within a few years. Temperatures would then plateau but remain well-elevated for many, many centuries,” NASA states. And, other scientists say, that’s because CO2 isn’t the culprit in the first place. “CO2 does not cause global warming. Global warming causes more CO2,” said Edwin Berry, a theoretical physicist and certified consulting meteorologist. He called Royal Society’s position on CO2 “pure junk science.” Ian Clark, emeritus professor for the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Ottawa, agreed that if all greenhouse gas emissions ceased today, the Earth would continue warming—but not because of CO2. He said that contrary to popular opinion, temperature doesn’t follow CO2—instead, CO2 follows temperature, which, itself, is due to solar activity.

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Vaxx
https://twitter.com/i/status/1760000991980593608

 

 

Cat perfume

 

 

Dinosaur Size
https://twitter.com/i/status/1760025082657706403

 

 

Blink an eye

 

 

 

 

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Oct 032022
 
 October 3, 2022  Posted by at 2:12 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  39 Responses »


Jessie Willcox Smith From The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald 1920

 

 

We need to renew the discussion about climate (change) because one side of that discussion claims that the science is settled. And yes, that is the same thing that happened with Covid, and you can even say the same thing that has happened with Ukraine, and with Donald Trump.

In all these cases, one side of the talking controls politics, media and intelligence agencies. But that doesn’t mean they’re right, even though they may seem to be, in everything you read and hear. And if you’ve followed the Covid discussion, and how could you not have, you know how dangerous this can be, how much open discussion is needed.

There are voices who say that the whole Covid thing was just a dress rehearsal meant to gauge how compliant people can be made, with the ultimate target being make them bend over and take it for the climate. For me, the cultural culmination of this is the move from “sustainable energy” to “green energy” to now “clean energy”. All three are absurdly nonsensical terms, but people use them without a second thought.

What strikes me about this discussion, if you can still call it that, is that the people alarmed about the climate never come with actual solutions. Wind and solar cannot ever replace oil and gas, but that is how they advertized. They only so-called solutions I see all lead to economic collapse (see Europe today), and that inevitable results in the use of dirtier, not cleaner energy. Just wait till people start burning plastic to keep warm.

I’ve long said that the only answer is using less energy, and that, given our wasteful ways, this is absolutely possible, we can cut our energy use by 90% is se put our minds to it with very little discomfort, but using less energy is not on the agenda. Of course I’ve also long said that we are -biologically- programmed to use as much surplus energy as we can (as all organisms are), so there are plenty dilemmas and contradictions involved.

Why did the age of fossil fuels make us multiply to now have a population of 8 billion, when we started with half a billion? To burn the stuff faster, of course. As much as our transport modes are incredibly energy inefficient, we can still only drive one car at a time.

I’ll start off this new discussion with our commentariat. Long time commenter TAE Summary provides a …summary of points for and against in the climate discussion, while sometime commenter Bishko lets his light shine from his own chemistry background: “I run a business measuring air pollution.” Here we go.

 

 

TAE Summary:

A Tale of Two Narratives, Climate Change Edition

Disclaimer: These narratives are based on multiple sources and neither may represent any particular person’s beliefs

• The Mainstream Narrative

– Greenhouse gasses absorb dark radiation and re-emit it. With more such gasses in the atmosphere, radiation and its attendant heat stays in the earth’s atmosphere instead of escaping into outer space and so the atmosphere and earth itself warm up.
– CO2 is the primary greenhouse gas inducing warming. It has increased from about 280 ppm to 420 ppm, an increase of 50% in the last 200 years and is higher than at any time in the last 800,000 years. The effect of greenhouse gasses is non-linear and a significant tipping point will be at around 450 ppm.
– There is a proven correlation between CO2 levels and global warming both long and short term. Increases in CO2 have caused mass extinction in the past. It takes a long time for life forms to adjust to big changes in CO2 levels.
– One of the effects of global warming is a disruption of the jet stream which causes extreme temperatures both higher and lower than normally seen.
– Another effect of increased CO2 is the acidification of the oceans as CO2 combines with water to form carbonic acid. If left unchecked this will terminate much of the life in the oceans.
– That the earth is getting warmer is obvious to anyone over the age of 50.
– CO2 emission and therefore global warming is primarily due to humans burning coal, oil and natural gas.
– Nothing is being done to actually combat climate change because of the immense profits to be made from selling fossil fuels. Climate change is a consequence of our continued financial ponzi scheme. None of the so-called climate change initiatives are sincere or effective.
– Expect mass extinction on earth including humans by 2050.
– People who deny climate change ignore the facts and are victims of propaganda. Their beliefs are similar to religious hopium.

 

• The Counter Narrative

– While it is true that greenhouse gasses absorb and re-emit dark radiation, it has not been proven that this action increases global temperatures. Energy absorption by CO2 levels off as concentrations increase after which there just isn’t much more energy to absorb. The models used to predict the effects of CO2 in the atmosphere are too simplistic.
– The CO2 increase in the last 200 years is only from 0.028% to 0.04% or 0.016%, an insignificant amount. Such a small increase in concentration has little effect. Water vapor is much more prevalent in the atmosphere and more involved in warming than CO2.
– CO2 is necessary and beneficial for plant life and higher concentrations will increase crop yields and be a net benefit for mankind. Epochs with higher levels of CO2 had more abundant life compared to now. Plants today could use more CO2.
– There is no proven correlation between CO2 levels and global warming. The earth has had both dramatically hotter and cooler temperatures with the same level of CO2 we have now. The earth has not gotten any warmer in the last 20 years. We are just experiencing normal, erratic weather. We have recently seen a lot of extremely cold weather which contradicts global warming.
– Increased CO2 will not acidify the oceans. As CO2 is absorbed by the oceans it will form insoluble carbonates and act as a carbon sink. Even with ocean acidification fish will survive like they did in other epochs with high CO2.
– The idea that humans can affect the climate is hubris. The climate changes naturally, always has and always will. Solar radiation is the biggest contributor to warming of the planet and especially the oceans and is outside human control. Human activity is insignificant to the climate.
– The global war on climate change is a way to grab power, reduce the population and save resources for the elites. It is a political tool. The people preaching climate change are themselves big CO2 emitters and huge hypocrites.
– Humans are very adaptable. Even with the natural shifts in climate that we are experiencing mankind will continue to thrive for a good long time.
– People who believe in climate change ignore the facts and are victims of propaganda. Their beliefs are similar to religious paranoia.

 

 

Bishko:

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”
– HL Mencken

The Great Lie. One of the Hobgoblins.

If you want to better understand the Anthropomorphic Climate Change Hoax read on.

I am a chemist. I run a business measuring air pollution. In chemistry there is a scientific tool known as spectroscopy. The principle of spectroscopy is measuring the absorption or transmission of “light” through matter.

“Light” is in quotes because for true scientists the electromagnetic spectrum is a continuum of frequencies that begins with the very very low frequencies, say below one cycle per second, (alpha brain waves are 8 cps btw) all the way up to ultra high frequencies of X-rays and Gamma rays and beyond.

Different forms and compositions of matter absorb or transmit different frequencies of “light”. For example, a 0.1 mm thickness of aluminum can stop visible light that would easily transit one hundred miles through air. However, in spectroscopy, we vary the frequency of the light that we use to “study” the material so that we end up with a “Spectra” of the material as we vary the frequency. In chemistry, these Spectra are used to tease out compositions of materials as well as their concentrations.

In chemistry, we immediately run into the phenomenon known as “Extinction” or the “Extinction Coefficient” where our sample, suspended in the “light” beam blocks the light so completely that there is no useful data coming through the sample like the aluminum above. The Spectra is at complete absorption or 0% transmission. Not useful. When this happens, you dilute the sample or make it thinner so there is greater penetration of the “light” so you can obtain a Spectra.

In the other extreme, your sample may be too transparent in the spectrum that interests you to obtain a Spectra. The Spectra is a complete transmission or 0% absorption or near enough. Also not useful. In this case you make the sample more concentrated or increase the path length of the cell making the sample “thicker”.

As this relates to our atmosphere. The “cell length” of absorption of solar radiation is a somewhat abstract concept. If you assume that the atmosphere “ends” at 50 or 100 miles above us, you can make calculations. However, at any one time there is only one point in the atmosphere where the sun is coming down at exactly 90 degrees.

This changes moment by moment as the earth rotates and seasons change. Everywhere else the sun is coming down at an angle which increases it’s path length. At the poles much of the sun goes straight through the atmosphere and never touches the earth and exits out the other side. The perfect tangent. This is what causes the “ozone holes” not the fluorocarbons. A separate hoax and separate discussion.

 

So, with all these varying path lengths, and variable densities (absorption also changes with pressure) and changes of state (clouds are liquids suspended in gas) you get a complex absorption process.

However, you can easily measure the solar spectrum at the earth’s surface (or at any altitude) to obtain the measurements that show you which frequencies are absorbed partially or totally or not at all. This spectrum shows thousand of “holes” where thousands of frequencies of light zip through the atmosphere, carrying their entrained “photonic energy”.

The “Hard UV” radiation that hits our upper atmosphere is absorbed by the oxygen molecules when they are still quite dilute at 20 to 25 miles up where the atmospheric pressure is almost a vacuum. These UV frequencies are at “extinction” because they never penetrate very far into our atmosphere. The UV frequencies that are “softer” the so-called UVA and UVB are of a lower frequency and exist at what is considered the Ultra Violet Cutoff for our atmosphere.

Hard Ultra Violet frequencies cannot penetrate down to the surface since they are absorbed to “extinction” at much higher altitude. Our atmosphere at sea level would need to be near these vacuum conditions for these “Hard UV” photons to reach the surface, or there would need to be no oxygen in the atmosphere. Neither would allow life to exist here.

Any and all light the reaches the earth’s surface is either absorbed, reflected or refracted. Some of the absorbed light enters into chemical reactions where it is “trapped” as chemical energy. Photosynthesis comes to mind but there are others. This is a very small fraction of the total received. Some is reflected. The fact that you can “see” is a confirmation that a great deal of the light that reaches the earth is reflected. Since all of this light that reached the surface has already been “filtered” through the atmosphere, these reflected photons have a great propensity to “exit” the atmosphere as well since their frequencies have not been shifted very much.

 

The multi spectral sunlight that hits a green leaf is partially absorbed and partially reflected. The reflected light is green because the “useful” frequencies have been deducted from the spectrum by the chlorophyll to operate the plant’s chemical factory. The remaining non-useful light is reflected away as waste. That color green was always “inside” that sunlight that came down and is reflected away to your eye, camera, bird wing or to space. This is why you can see green forests from the space station, that green frequency is not absorbed by the components of the atmosphere.

All these processes occur on femtosecond time scales. The light travels from the sun in about 8 minutes transits our atmosphere in about 5/10,000 of a second, hits the leaf and is reflected back out to space in another 5/10,000 of a second and continues it’s journey throughout the universe to an unknown end.

Light that is absorbed by material at the earth’s surface has a different journey. The energy is absorbed by the electronic configuration of the molecules that it hits. This forms an electronic “excited state” where the electrons of the material move to a “higher” orbit. This excited state can be used by plants to run their chemical processes, or, in inanimate matter, can exist for a period of time (usually only femtoseconds) until it is re-emitted as a lower frequency photon or photons.

Thermodynamics forbid the new photon from being re-emitted at the same or a higher frequency (higher energy) although there are modern high tech exceptions to this (thermal imaging scopes &c where additional energy is added to the matrix).

So this new lower frequency photon is once again either absorbed, reflected or transmitted out into space.

 

If the new lower frequency photon is absorbed onto something, it means that it’s frequency was just right to enter into the electron cloud of this new molecule forming a new “excited state”. This is once again re-emitted as a new-new lower frequency photon which follows the same process of reflection, transmission or absorption. All matter is constantly emitting photons that are being absorbed by the matter around them.

The higher energy (from hotter atoms) photons relatively quickly reach equilibrium with its surroundings. Hotter things emit faster and more energetic photons. Think of a hot skillet taken off the stove. Doesn’t take but a few minutes to “cool” to room temperature. Some convection, some radiation of photons. All the convected heat also gets emitted as photons from the atoms that did the convecting.

Once again, all these things occur at very short time scales.

The photon that get’s absorbed and re-emitted at infrared frequencies follows this cascade in nanoseconds depending on the time it takes the photon to travel to the next absorption site, either microns away to kilometers. If the photon’s frequency is of a wavelength where it cannot exit the atmosphere since there are many molecules of say CO2 there to absorb it, it gets absorbed and then re-emitted at a lower frequency. Eventually, the photon is emitted at a frequency that has no “absorbers” around. All it sees is open sky and is gone. Nanoseconds. The atmosphere has many “frequency holes”.

CO2 has a Spectra, look at it if you can find one wide enough, see the thousands of holes in it. The fact that it can absorb in some infrared frequencies does not mean that it absorbs all infrared frequencies. The infrared spectrum is much much broader than the visible spectrum.

Clouds are a complicating issue in all this since they are composed of small droplets of liquid. The Spectra of liquids is usually different from the gas phase. However, that said, clouds are quite transparent to some frequencies of infrared light. Infrared imaging cuts right through fog and clouds thus no absorption at those frequencies.

 

So, overall, the sun’s energy that enters earth’s system does not stay here long. The heat that builds up during the day in the soil, rocks, water and air spends the next few hours emitting and re-emitting lower and lower frequency photons to each other and to the sky as they approach the new dawn. Cloudy nights can offer a reflecting surface to slow their exit from the atmosphere of certain frequencies but even a cloudy night gets quite cold by morning since those lower frequency infrared photons pass right through the clouds.

If you ever spent a sunset in a desert you realize how quickly the air loses it’s heat to infrared photons and the desert’s surface does not reheat the air above it much. The radiation pressure of a clear night sky is very weak and these infrared photons coming off the land are exiting en-mass.

The CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has also reached “extinction” in that the frequencies that CO2 absorbs, almost none of those photons escape back out of the atmosphere to space. They are, however, re-emitted at lower frequencies almost as soon as they are absorbed. This is the point of the person who wrote about the “sunglasses” analogy where more CO2 is just adding more sunglasses.

I like to use the ink in the pool analogy. If you are underwater in your pool and looking across to the light under the diving board you are getting near 100% transmission (of the visible not IR). If someone throws an ink well into the pool and stirs it around, your ability to see the light drops. Adding additional ink makes it drop more. At some point you have complete absorption and cannot see any light. Adding more ink to the pool does not make you see less. You have reached “extinction”.

You could of course swim towards the light until you could see it again. Then more ink would make it opaque again. CO2 in our atmosphere has reached “extinction” a very long time ago, long before life arrived. This CO2 Hobgoblin has been so effective since almost none of the people, and unfortunately almost none of the scientists understand, or they refuse to understand these principles.

This dissertation is a slightly simplified version of reality. I tried to keep the concepts intact without going into too many sidelines. A nit picker, including myself can find many nits to pick, but I think that I’m getting the main points across.

These concepts are not difficult to understand. It is all founded in base level physics and chemistry. Applying your intellect to the understanding of how all this works clears away the “fog of agenda”.

Plant potatoes.

 

 

A hobgoblin is a spirit of the hearth, typically appearing in folklore, once considered helpful but since the spread of Christianity has often been considered mischievous. Shakespeare identifies the character of Puck in his A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a hobgoblin.

 

 

 

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Apr 232019
 


Eugène Delacroix Pietà 1837

 

Donald Trump Plans State Visit To UK In June (G.)
House Democrats Subpoena Ex-White House Counsel (G.)
The Nervous Here and Now (Kunstler)
Chelsea Manning To Stay In Jail After Federal Court Rejects Appeal (RT)
The Trump Administration’s Iran Policy Will Hasten Imperial Decline (Krieger)
When the Non-Rational Trumps the Rational (Crooke)
Lower Mortgage Rates No Relief for US Home Sales (WS)
Greece Will Demand Germany Pay $337 Billion For Nazi Occupation (SCMP)
Electric Vehicles Account For More CO2 Emissions Than Diesel Ones (BT)
‘Catastrophic’ Decline Threatening The Earth (NZH)

 

 

Excuse me, but do those protesting this not see many of their own MPs are at least as bad?

Bercow: “..our opposition to racism and to sexism and our support for equality before the law..” Have you followed May’s career at all, Mr. Speaker? Windrush, Hostile Environment?

Clean your own house first. Until you do, this is just cheap propaganda.

Donald Trump Plans State Visit To UK In June (G.)

Donald Trump’s postponed state visit to the UK is due to take place in June, it will be confirmed on Tuesday, prompting renewed calls for protests against the trip. Buckingham Palace is due to announce the visit will be timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the D-day landings on 6 June, the Guardian understands. The move has renewed controversy over Theresa May’s decision to invite Trump for a full state visit when she met the president shortly after he took office. State visits are formal trip for heads of state involving considerable ceremony and time with the Queen. The invitation was extended by May when she became the first overseas leader to visit Trump in the White House after his inauguration.


When Trump travelled to the UK on an official but non-state visit in July 2018, tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest and a four-metre-high orange Trump baby blimp was floated above Parliament Square. The policing operation for the visit cost an estimated £18m. The prospect of Trump being granted the honour of a carriage ride down the Mall appalls many MPs. It is unusual for a state visit to be announced at such short notice, and details of the visit have yet to be finalised with fewer than six weeks to go. It is unclear if Trump will be be invited, or allowed, to address to both houses of parliament. In February 2017, the Speaker John Bercow, said Trump should not be allowed to speak to parliament. He said: “I feel very strongly that our opposition to racism and to sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons.”

Read more …

I think we call this the Completion Backward Principle. First talk impeachment, then try and find evidence.

“I do think, if proven – which hasn’t been proven yet – if proven, some of this would be impeachable, yes,” Nadler said..”

House Democrats Subpoena Ex-White House Counsel (G.)

The Democratic chairman of the House judiciary committee has issued a subpoena ordering that the former White House counsel Don McGahn testify before Congress. The move came as the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, vowed to hold Donald Trump to account following the release of Robert Mueller’s report on Russian influence on the 2016 US election. The subpoena, issued on Monday, escalates the congressional investigations into Trump, his finances and accusations that he sought to obstruct justice, as Democrats debate how to proceed with the evidence contained in the special counsel’s 448-page report. McGahn cooperated extensively in the special counsel’s investigation and emerged as a key witness in several incidents at the heart of whether Trump obstructed justice.

“The special counsel’s report, even in redacted form, outlines substantial evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction and other abuses,” said Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House judiciary committee, which has the power to launch impeachment proceedings. [..] This is the second subpoena issued by Nadler since the release of the report: on Friday he demanded that the justice department turn over an unredacted version of the report as well as the underlying evidence by 1 May, when the attorney general, William Barr, is due to testify before Congress. Nadler, a New York Democrat, has also invited Mueller to testify before his committee next month. Republican congressman Doug Collins, the ranking member of the House judiciary committee, called the subpoenas “premature” and criticized Democrats for seeking delicate information that the justice department believes should remain confidential.

“Instead of looking at material that Attorney General Barr has already made available, Democrats prefer to demand more documents they know are subject to constitutional and common-law privileges and can’t be produced,” he said. Barr offered to brief a select, bipartisan group of lawmakers on a version of the report that was less redacted than the copy made public. Democrats refused the offer arguing that Congress is entitled to the full, unredacted report. Trump has maintained that the report represents a “total exoneration” and has insisted repeatedly that there are no grounds for impeachment. After the subpoena was issued, he tweeted: “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT.”

This weekend, senior Democrats blanketed TV talkshows and refused to rule out impeachment. However, they remained firm that there was more to investigate before making a final determination. “I do think, if proven – which hasn’t been proven yet – if proven, some of this would be impeachable, yes,” Nadler said NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday. “Obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable.” [..] Nancy Pelosi cautioned Democrats against hastily moving toward impeachment, making clear that their immediate focus would be on investigating the president and that those inquiries would guide their actions. “This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans,” Pelosi told her colleagues, according to multiple officials on the call. “It’s about saving our democracy.”

Read more …

“These internal problems of the USA point in the direction of states and whole regions stealthily seceding from a federal system that can’t run itself competently at scale anymore.”

The Nervous Here and Now (Kunstler)

Before we get to Medicare-for-all, I’d like to see congress pass one simple law requiring all medical service “providers” in the land to publicly post the price of all their services, from the cost of heart transplants down to those $90 Tylenols they dispense. Let’s see how that affects the lawless hocus-pocus of insurance companies “negotiating” their payments with the medical corporatocracy before we go whole-hog for a nationalized health service. The colleges have already destroyed themselves intellectually, and thereby the value of their overpriced credentialing services. The smaller colleges are already folding, and many more will follow now until higher education becomes a boutique industry.

The pension funds are truly big, ominous bombs, because when they fail, they will set up unresolvable fiscal problems that will turn ugly and political. Even if the federal government attempts some kind of “one-time” bail-out, it will not solve the embedded Ponzi problem of a system that has to pay off an ever-expanding pool of claims with an ever-diminishing stream of revenue. It will only be another swipe of the blade cutting off the legs of the US dollar so that it in end every pensioner will receive his-or-her promised payout in dollars that are increasingly worthless. We may even discover that the opioid epidemic has been the only thing keeping the immiserated denizens of Flyover-land from resorting to violent insurrection.

These internal problems of the USA point in the direction of states and whole regions stealthily seceding from a federal system that can’t run itself competently at scale anymore. The process has already begun in such acts of defiance as “sanctuary states” and the burgeoning marijuana industry. Unlike the calamity of 1861, though, there may be no way to even attempt to hold the old Union together, even by force. Instead, as is the case with all foundering empires, the end will be a sickening slide into a new and strange disposition of things. One of the last successful acts of the American empire may be to send the RussiaGate instigators to jail.

Read more …

Evil empire. Meanwhile, Assange has been in max security prison for 2 weeks with no access to anyone, including his lawyers. For violating his bail?!

Your governments have set out to break your brightest and bravest. Where are you?

Chelsea Manning To Stay In Jail After Federal Court Rejects Appeal (RT)

A federal appeals court has struck down whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s bid to be released from jail, where she has been held indefinitely after refusing to testify to a grand jury probe into WikiLeaks. Judges from the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed the charges against Manning on Monday and denied her request to be released. “The court finds no error in the district court’s rulings and affirms its finding of civil contempt,” the court said in its decision. “The court also denies appellant’s motion for release on bail.” Manning is likely to pursue further appeals. Manning was arrested in March when she refused to provide grand jury testimony related to her disclosures of classified material in 2010 and her interactions with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.


She is to be held for the duration of the grand jury, or until she agrees to answer prosecutors’ questions. She has been in jail for 45 days. Assange was arrested in London on April 11, after spending nearly seven years in Ecuador’s embassy there. The court hearing on his extradition to the US is scheduled for May 2. Manning’s lawyers argue her rights were violated by the grand jury proceedings, and that federal prosecutors used a subpoena to “entrap” her. The lawyers added that Manning had already given authorities all the information she had during her previous court-martial investigation, and that her confinement is needlessly cruel, as the jail cannot provide proper medical care.

Read more …

An empire in decline always emphasizes loudest that it’s an empire. At its heyday, it doesn’t have to; it’s understood.

“The U.S. is telling China, the second largest economy in the world and home to over one billion people, that it lacks the sovereign authority to buy oil from Iran if it so desires.”

The Trump Administration’s Iran Policy Will Hasten Imperial Decline (Krieger)

A primary focus of my writing of late centers around the idea that the policies of the Trump administration, and the neocons in control of it, will hasten the decline of U.S. imperial power and more rapidly usher in a multi-polar (and possibly bifurcated) world. Today’s news regarding the elimination of waivers on Iranian oil imports provides another perfect example. Specifically, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced earlier today that waivers which allowed eight countries to import Iranian crude oil without being subject to U.S. sanctions would expire on May 2 without extension. The eight countries included are China, India, Turkey, South Korea, Japan, Greece, Italy and Taiwan.

This move is an extraordinarily foolish and reckless act which illustrates the extreme hubris and short-sightedness of those running American foreign policy under Trump. What the U.S. is decreeing to the entire world with this action is that the U.S., and the U.S. alone, decides who gets to trade with who. The U.S. is telling China, the second largest economy in the world and home to over one billion people, that it lacks the sovereign authority to buy oil from Iran if it so desires. If the U.S. can unilaterally play boss on the trade decisions of foreign countries, national sovereignty does not exist in practice anywhere on the planet. There is only empire.

As such, this goes beyond aggressive foreign policy. It’s more or less an assertion by the Trump administration that the world is in fact a global dictatorship run by a single nation (empire) that has granted itself the authority to arbitrarily decide which countries get to participate in global trade, and which ones do not. Now that the true nature of U.S. power is so completely out in the open, countries will have to decide to either bend the knee or resist, which seems to be the point. What do you think China’s going to do?

Read more …

Religious extremism in a declining empire. Read your history.

When the Non-Rational Trumps the Rational (Crooke)

Professor of Religious Studies, Andrew Chesnut tells us that Christian Zionism has become the “majority theology” among white US Evangelicals. In a 2015 poll, 73% of evangelical Christians said events in Israel are prophesied in the Book of Revelation. For Christian Zionists, achieving a ‘Greater Israel’ is one of the key preconditions for ‘Rapture’. It is a belief, known as pre-millennial dispensationalism or Christian Zionism, Chesnut says. “Trump himself embodies the very opposite of a pious Christian ideal. Trump is not a churchgoer. He is profane, twice divorced, who has boasted of sexually assaulting women. But white evangelicals have embraced him, writes Julian Borger.

“Some leading evangelicals see Trump as a latter-day King Cyrus, the sixth-century BC Persian emperor who liberated the Jews from Babylonian captivity. The comparison is made explicitly in The Trump Prophecy, a religious film screened in 1,200 cinemas [last year], depicting a retired firefighter who claims to have heard God’s voice, saying: “I’ve chosen this man, Donald Trump, for such a time as this … “Cyrus is the model for a nonbeliever, being appointed by God as a vessel for the purposes of the faithful,” said Katherine Stewart, who writes extensively about the Christian right. She added that they welcome [Trump’s] readiness to break democratic norms, to combat perceived threats to their values and way of life.

Mike Pompeo and Vice-President Pence are strongly of this Evangelical orientation. It is something that has real import for foreign policy: During his tenure as CIA director, and before that as a member of the House of Representatives, Pompeo has consistently used language that casts the war on terrorism as a cosmic, divine battle of good and evil. He has referred to Islamic terrorists as destined to “continue to press against us until we make sure that we pray, and stand and fight, and make sure that we know that Jesus Christ is our savior, and is truly the only solution for our world”. The proscription of Iran’s IRGC, by Pompeo was couched in exactly this language of terrorism, with the clear connotation that Iran is the cosmic ‘evil’. This style of Apocalyptic or Rapture language has been adopted wholesale by Trump, and his Administration.

Read more …

The Fed should have stayed away from -mortgage- rates. It has now guaranteed uncontrolled demolition.

Lower Mortgage Rates No Relief for US Home Sales (WS)

Across the US, hot and cold housing markets all thrown into one bucket: Sales of “existing homes” (single-family houses, townhouses, condos, and co-ops) in March dropped 5.4% from March last year, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.21 million homes, according to the National Association of Realtors, after having dropped 2.3% year-over-year in February, 8.7% in January, 10.1% in December, and 8.9% in November (data via YCharts):

“The impact of lower mortgage rates has not yet been fully realized,” the NAR report said, as the drop in sales volume is occurring despite the fact that mortgage rates had fallen sharply from the November highs. “According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage decreased to 4.27% in March from 4.37% in February,” the report said. The average Freddie Mac 30-year fixed rate bottomed out in the reporting week ended March 28 at 4.06%, the lowest since January 2018, and down from 4.94% in November. But it has since risen every week. For the week ending April 18, it ticked up to a still low 4.17%:

[..] “The lower-end market is hot while the upper-end market is not,” according to the NAR report. “The expensive home market will experience challenges due to the curtailment of tax deductions of mortgage interest payments and property taxes.” Alas, in many markets, even the “lower end,” after years of price surges, has become very expensive. So, with all markets across the US thrown into one bucket, the median price in March rose 3.8% from March last year to $259,400. Prices are subject to seasonality, as the chart below shows. Median price means half the homes sold for more, and half sold for less:

Read more …

“For matters of this kind there is international justice,” he said. “In all disputes the EU abides by it, on principle. Germany may say it has been resolved but what counts is international law.”

Greece Will Demand Germany Pay $337 Billion For Nazi Occupation (SCMP)

Greece is poised to send Germany a formal diplomatic note detailing its demand for billions of euros in wartime reparations after MPs voted overwhelmingly for the emotive issue to be raised officially. In a move bound to stir sentiment ahead of crucial European parliament elections, Athens vowed to pile pressure on Berlin, taking legal and diplomatic steps that will throw the spotlight on crimes committed during the brutal Nazi occupation. “It is an open issue that must be resolved,” Greece’s deputy foreign minister, Markos Bolaris, told The Guardian, hitting back at German insistence that compensation claims had been conclusively settled.


“For matters of this kind there is international justice,” he said. “In all disputes the EU abides by it, on principle. Germany may say it has been resolved but what counts is international law.” Greeks suffered hugely at the hands of Hitler’s forces, enduring what Germany’s president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, recently described on a visit to Greece as “unimaginable” horrors. Tens of thousands were killed in reprisals as Greeks mounted what historians would later hail as a heroic resistance against the Wehrmacht [German army], with entire villages being wiped out between 1941 and 1944. By the time the occupation ended, an estimated 300,000 people had died from famine and the country’s Jewish community had been almost entirely obliterated.

Read more …

All energy use produces waste. The only way to prevent this is not using the energy.

Electric Vehicles Account For More CO2 Emissions Than Diesel Ones (BT)

Electric vehicles in Germany account for more CO2 emissions than diesel ones, according to a study by German scientists. When CO2 emissions linked to the production of batteries and the German energy mix – in which coal still plays an important role – are taken into consideration, electric vehicles emit 11% to 28% more than their diesel counterparts, according to the study, presented on Wednesday at the Ifo Institute in Munich. Mining and processing the lithium, cobalt and manganese used for batteries consume a great deal of energy. A Tesla Model 3 battery, for example, represents between 11 and 15 tonnes of CO2. Given a lifetime of 10 years and an annual travel distance of 15,000 kilometres, this translates into 73 to 98 grams of CO2 per kilometre, scientists Christoph Buchal, Hans-Dieter Karl and Hans-Werner Sinn noted in their study.


The CO2 given off to produce the electricity that powers such vehicles also needs to be factored in, they say. When all these factors are considered, each Tesla emits 156 to 180 grams of CO2 per kilometre, which is more than a comparable diesel vehicle produced by the German company Mercedes, for example. The German researchers therefore take issue with the fact that European officials view electric vehicles as zero-emission ones. They note further that the EU target of 59 grams of CO2 per km by 2030 corresponds to a “technically unrealistic” consumption of 2.2 litres of diesel or 2.6 litres of gas per 100 kms.

Read more …

“Population extinctions, however, are a prelude to species extinctions, so Earth’s sixth mass extinction episode has proceeded further than most assume.”

‘Catastrophic’ Decline Threatening The Earth (NZH)

They’re the things that often bug us the most — quite literally. But with warnings insects could disappear within the century, suddenly the critters we first think to squish have made us think differently. A global scientific review of insect decline has warned insects will “go down the path of extinction” in a few decades, with “catastrophic” repercussions for the planet’s ecosystems. The biodiversity crisis is said to be even deeper than that of climate change, reports news.com.au. Scientists have already warned the earth’s sixth mass extinction event is under way through biological annihilation. “Earth’s sixth mass extinction is more severe than perceived when looking exclusively at species extinctions,” researchers wrote in 2017.


They said decimation needed to be addressed immediately. “Earth’s sixth mass extinction is more severe than perceived when looking exclusively at species extinctions. “Population extinctions, however, are a prelude to species extinctions, so Earth’s sixth mass extinction episode has proceeded further than most assume. “The massive loss of populations is already damaging the services ecosystems provide to civilisation. When considering this frightening assault on the foundations of human civilisation, one must never forget that Earth’s capacity to support life, including human life, has been shaped by life itself.”


Dragonflies are a protective and resilient insect. Photo / Getty Images

Read more …

You’re on Earth.

There’s no cure for that.

– Samuel Beckett

 

 

Jan 252019
 
 January 25, 2019  Posted by at 10:59 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  7 Responses »


Giuseppe Arcimboldo Four elements – Fire 1566

 

Trump, Pence, Pompeo Star In The Pirates Of The Caribbean (Galloway)
US Pulls Out Venezuela Staff, Urges Americans to Leave (G.)
Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó Offers Nicolás Maduro Amnesty If He Goes Quietly (G.)
US Seeks To Divert Crucial Oil Revenue From Maduro (Ind.)
Don’t Criticize Trump — We Need Him, Dutch Prime Minister Says (CNBC)
UK Firms Ramp Up Stockpiling Due To Brexit Disruption Fears (Ind.)
UK MPs Drop Plan To Table Cross-Party ‘People’s Vote’ Amendment (G.)
The Financial Secret Behind Germany’s Green Energy Revolution (Ellen Brown)
Davos Elites Fear They’re On A Toboggan Ride To Hell (Pol.eu)
CO2 Levels Expected To Rise Rapidly In 2019 (Ind.)

 

 

Yes, Jimmy Carter once called Venezuela’s election process “the best in the world” when he was there as an observer. But in March 2018, the opposition called on the UN not to send any observers as that would only legitimize the process. So now the US picks an unelected puppet.

Trump, Pence, Pompeo Star In The Pirates Of The Caribbean (Galloway)

Even though Chavez was one of the most electorally successful politicians on the planet in a democratic process described by former US president Jimmy Carter as “the best in the world,” US presidents Bush, Obama and Trump routinely called him a dictator. Before they drop the bombs, they drop the narrative, of course. And the disinformation bombardment in Venezuela has been one of the longest bombing runs in history. Massive sums of US money have been spent on media distortion, subversion, sabotage, military coups, and threats of invasion throughout the Chavez-Maduro era. The gold-toothed Venezuelan emigres who fled to Miami with their ill-gotten gains have long been effectively a coup in the making.

The recruitment of neighboring Colombia into “associate membership” of NATO, the propeling of Brazil’s Bolsonaro (another NATO applicant) to power, and plans for US military bases there have all been in preparation for this day. Although many such crimes have been committed across all continents for centuries by the US, none have constituted such comic-opera gangsterism as this latest – more ‘Bugsy Malone’ than ‘The Godfather.’ An almost random figure whose name was largely unknown until this week has disdained to put himself up for election as president of the republic, instead pronouncing himself to actually be the president, and has even sworn himself in! All the “experts” on Syria, Ukraine and Russia are scrambling to studios, practicing in the taxi how to say his name.

Read more …

Most Americans would be working in the oil industry. Sure, let them leave. And then watch prices at the pump.

US Pulls Out Venezuela Staff, Urges Americans to Leave (G.)

The US state department has urged its citizens to “strongly consider” leaving Venezuela and ordered out non-emergency government staff as the head of the country’s armed forces warned of a civil war sparked by a US-backed “criminal plan” to unseat Nicolás Maduro. In a live address to the nation on Thursday, the defence minister, Vladimir Padrino, accused the Venezuelan opposition led by Juan Guaidó, the United States and regional allies such as Brazil of launching an attempted coup against Maduro that risked bringing “chaos and anarchy” to the country. “We are here to avoid, at all costs … a conflict between Venezuelans. It is not civil war, a war between brothers that will solve the problems of Venezuela. It is dialogue,” said Padrino.

In a significant blow to Venezuela’s newly energized opposition, the defence minister declared unwavering support for “our commander-in-chief, the citizen Nicolás Maduro”. “We members of the armed forces know well the consequences [of war], just from looking at the history of humanity, of the last century, when millions and millions of human beings lost their lives,” Padrino added, flanked by the top brass of Venezuela’s armed forces. Further bolstering Maduro’s position, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, spoke to the Venezuelan leader by telephone and issued his first comments on the crisis, which he insisted was “provoked from abroad”, according to a Kremlin statement.

On Thursday night, Guaidó used his first TV interview since the crisis to offer Maduro and his inner circle amnesty if they agreed to a peaceful transition. The 35-year-old said he was determined to bring Maduro’s “dictatorship” to an end, stabilise his economically devastated nation and organise free elections “as soon as possible”.

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He went into hiding before making his offer. C’mon, let’s get serious. A mini-coup failed miserably, the army stands pat, time for a fresh story to fill the papers.

Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó Offers Nicolás Maduro Amnesty If He Goes Quietly (G.)

Venezuela’s embattled president, Nicolás Maduro, and his inner circle could be granted an amnesty if he agrees to relinquish power and submit to a peaceful political transition, his opposition challenger Juan Guaidó has said. In a high-stakes political gamble, Guaidó on Wednesday declared himself Venezuela’s legitimate interim president and was quickly recognised as such by powers including the United States, Brazil, Canada and Colombia. On Thursday British foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said his government believed Guaidó was “the right person to take Venezuela forward” but China, Russia and Turkey all backed Maduro, who claims he is the victim of a coup attempt masterminded by the US. The US state department has now urged US citizens to “strongly consider” leaving Venezuela and ordered out non-emergency government staff.

[Guaidó] indicated Maduro – who was sworn in for his second six-year term on 10 January despite a storm of international condemnation – could himself be offered an amnesty if he agreed to step aside. “This amnesty, these guarantees are on the table for everyone who is prepared to put themselves on the side of the constitution in order to recover the democratic order,” he said. “In periods of transition similar things have happened [before],” Guaidó told the broadcaster Univisión, pointing to previous pardons in Chile and Venezuela in the 1970s and 1950s. “We cannot discount any element,” he added, insisting that such a move would not represent either impunity or forgetting.

Maduro – who has vowed to resist what he calls a “gringo” plot to unseat him – has given little public hint he will accept such an offer although addressing the supreme court in Caracas on Thursday he insisted: “I’m ready for dialogue, for understanding, for negotation, for agreement.” However, in the same speech Maduro also attacked Guaidó, accusing him of being a pawn in a US-backed plot to destroy the leftist Bolivarian revolution he inherited after Hugo Chávez’s death in 2013. “Will we legitimise a puppet government imposed from abroad? We will allow our constitution to be violated … ? No!” said Maduro, blaming what he branded an attempted coup on Donald Trump’s “madness”.

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See what I said on CITGO yesterday.

US Seeks To Divert Crucial Oil Revenue From Maduro (Ind.)

Mr Trump’s national security adviser, the hawkish John Bolton, revealed the US was seeking to ensure Venezuelan oil revenue goes to Mr Guaido, and not Mr Maduro, who was sworn in for a second term just two weeks ago following an election most of the opposition boycotted. If the US were able to enact such a move it would add further pressure to the embattled Venezuelan leader, whose country’s already ailing economy heavily depends on its oil revenues. “What we’re focusing on today is disconnecting the illegitimate Maduro regime from the sources of his revenues,” Mr Bolton told reporters at the White House, according to Reuters. “We think [it is] consistent with our recognition of Juan Guaido as the constitutional interim president of Venezuela that those revenues should go to the legitimate government.”

Of potentially vital importance, earlier on Thursday, the nation’s military leadership declared its support for Mr Maduro and told the US not to interfere. In a televised speech on Thursday, defence minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said Mr Maduro was the country’s “legitimate president” and that the opposition was seeking to carry out a “coup”. “I warn the people that there is a coup underway against our democracy and our president Nicolas Maduro,” Mr Padrino said, according to Telesur. “As soldiers, we work for peace and not for war.” He added: “Those of us who lived through the coup of 2002 have it etched into our minds, we never thought we’d see that again, but we saw it yesterday.

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Rutte’s been in office for so long he gets to have an own view.

Don’t Criticize Trump — We Need Him, Dutch Prime Minister Says (CNBC)

President Donald Trump has found support from an unlikely source in Europe — Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte — who told CNBC that the president could be a catalyst for much-needed reforms. “The U.S. has voted and Trump is the president and maybe he will be re-elected … So we have to work with him, and I think he is an opportunity,” Rutte told CNBC’s Geoff Cutmore at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “He is an opportunity to make changes to some of those multilateral institutions that we hold dearly, like the World Trade Organization (WTO) which is not functioning very well. Or take the United Nations or European Union — there are many issues to solve,” he added.

“So my point would be instead of thinking ‘oh we would have liked Hillary Clinton to win,’ or ‘I wish (former President Barack) Obama was still there,’ but guys Trump is president, make use of his presidency and his critique of those international institutions is sometimes very valid.” Trump has made himself unpopular in most European circles for his criticism of hallowed, well-established institutions such as the NATO and the WTO (Trump threatened to pull the U.S. out of both) and the European Union (which Trump said was formed in order to take advantage of the U.S. in terms of trade). He has also threatened to impose tariffs on European goods and cars; hardly the policies that would make most liberal politicians, like Mark Rutte, warm to Trump. “In this world, international structures are absolutely necessary, but sometimes it vexes me when I hear the white wine-sipping elite in Amsterdam saying ‘Trump is very wrong,'” Rutte said

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Sounds very late. 9 weeks left?!

UK Firms Ramp Up Stockpiling Due To Brexit Disruption Fears (Ind.)

UK companies have ramped up stockpiling ahead of Brexit as export opportunities for manufacturers weakens, according to new research from Lloyds Bank. The lender’s international trade index shows that export growth fell to its weakest level in almost three years in the fourth quarter of 2018. Exports of consumer goods held up well, Lloyds said, but the transport sector was hit by changing emissions regulations and new rules about diesel vehicles. Exports in the service sector fell in the last three months of 2018, bringing to an end three four years of growth.

Political uncertainty at home and abroad, along with weakening economic growth in key markets, were cited as the drivers for the export downturn. Meanwhile, the data showed that UK manufacturers had increased stockpiling efforts over recent months due to the threat of shortages and disruption posed by Brexit. The UK Manufacturing PMI Index for purchases of stocks jumped up to 53.7 for the month of December, from 51.1 in the previous month. Gwynne Master, managing director and global head of trade for Lloyds Bank Global Transaction Banking, said: “We should be mindful of the impact of fluctuating trading conditions and global and domestic political uncertainty on the UK’s exporters.

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The only thing that really made sense. Because it breaks party lines. Gone.

UK MPs Drop Plan To Table Cross-Party ‘People’s Vote’ Amendment (G.)

A cross-party amendment to push for a second EU referendum will not be tabled in the Commons as it would have little chance of being passed without formal support from Labour, the MPs organising it have announced. Sarah Wollaston, the Conservative MP who has led efforts on a so-called “people’s vote” amendment, said that without the backing of Jeremy Corbyn, “at the moment we would not have the numbers”. However, the Liberal Democrats have tabled a similar amendment and have called for Labour to back the idea. Speaking outside parliament alongside the Labour MPs Luciana Berger and Chuka Umunna, Wollaston urged Corbyn to think again. “We would like to appeal again to him to give his unequivocal backing to a people’s vote, in which case we could make progress,” she said.

Labour has not ruled out supporting a second referendum and the party is keeping its options open. There is disquiet among some of its MPs and shadow ministers that backing such an option could anger leave-backing Labour voters. Wollaston argued that a second referendum was still the best option to end the Brexit deadlock. “People have a right to change their minds, and the mandate from the first referendum – over two years ago and based on entirely unrealistic promises and outright lies – has expired.” But without Labour backing, she said, “that amendment could not pass, and so with great regret we will not be laying that amendment”.

Berger said that with 30 scheduled Commons sittings left before the current Brexit date, there was “an urgent need for leadership”. “Regrettably, the Labour leadership won’t commit to an achievable policy,” she said. “And yet we know that the majority of Labour voters, supporters and members want a final say on any Brexit deal. At a time when Labour should be championing a people’s vote, the leadership avoids answering that call.”

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That revolution is overhyped, but the US and German public bank story is good.

The Financial Secret Behind Germany’s Green Energy Revolution (Ellen Brown)

KfW’s role in implementing government policy parallels that of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) in funding the New Deal in the 1930s. At that time, U.S. banks were bankrupt and incapable of financing the country’s recovery. President Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to set up a system of 12 public “industrial banks” through the Federal Reserve, but the measure failed. Roosevelt then made an end run around his opponents by using the RFC that had been set up earlier by President Herbert Hoover, expanding it to address the nation’s financing needs.

The RFC Act of 1932 provided the RFC with capital stock of $500 million and the authority to extend credit up to $1.5 billion (subsequently increased several times). With those resources, from 1932 to 1957 the RFC loaned or invested more than $40 billion. As with KfW’s loans, its funding source was the sale of bonds, mostly to the Treasury itself. Proceeds from the loans repaid the bonds, leaving the RFC with a net profit. The RFC financed roads, bridges, dams, post offices, universities, electrical power, mortgages, farms and much more; it funded all of this while generating income for the government.

The RFC was so successful that it became America’s largest corporation and the world’s largest banking organization. Its success, however, may have been its nemesis. Without the emergencies of depression and war, it was a too-powerful competitor of the private banking establishment; and in 1957, it was disbanded under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. That’s how the United States was left without a development bank at the same time Germany and other countries were hitting the ground running with theirs.

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Just ignore these people. They have nothing. They’re the past.

Davos Elites Fear They’re On A Toboggan Ride To Hell (Pol.eu)

Populists movements around the world, left and right, disagree in detail but are united around one big idea: The political and economic elites running modern societies are very powerful people who know what they are doing. What they are doing is often bad — greedy, exploitative, short-sighted — but they are doing it with purpose and confident control. A different possibility, however, hung in the alpine air this week at the annual convening of elites here at the World Economic Forum: These alleged masters of the universe came off nearly as perplexed and anxious about the future as the populist forces inveighing against them.

They have money. They have entourages. They have commanding views, both literal (from mountain chalets here) and metaphorical (from government offices and CEO suites back home). That doesn’t mean they have a clue. Foreboding about the future was a prevailing theme at this year’s Davos, sometimes even with dash of dystopian prophecy. This brooding was accompanied often, in speeches and interviews, by a rueful acknowledgment that government leaders are desperately improvising — often with bleak results — to meet the political crises of the moment, much less the long-term technological and climatological challenges of the age. In key Western capitals, governance is failing. China is exploiting. Global temperatures are rising.

Tech titans are groveling. Prospects for economic downturn are rumbling. Little wonder that, instead of triumphant optimism about the forces of globalization sometimes associated with Davos, some voices here made it sound like modern life is on a toboggan ride to hell. “Everybody agrees that there are dark clouds on the horizon, and there are risks,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, in an address here Thursday.

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Due to the 1,500 private jets in Davos.

CO2 Levels Expected To Rise Rapidly In 2019 (Ind.)

This year will see one of the biggest CO2 surges in more than six decades of measurements, according to the Met Office. Rising emissions due to the world’s continued appetite for fossil fuels will combine with reduced absorption of greenhouse gas by withering grasslands and forests. Describing the prediction as “worrying and compelling”, scientists said it was an urgent reminder that the time to cut out carbon is now. CO2 levels will be at a record high once again after emissions reached unprecedented levels last year, dashing hopes the world had finally hit “peak carbon”. Besides fossil fuels pumping out the harmful gas, natural weather fluctuations will exacerbate the problem as they hamper the ability of carbon sinks to store it. In 2019 an upward swing in tropical Pacific Ocean temperature will make many regions warmer and drier.

As drought sets in and plants dry out, they will be less capable of sucking CO2 from the atmosphere, and massive deforestation in places like the Amazon is making this problem even worse. The new predictions were based on monitoring at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii, which has registered a 30 per cent increase in the concentration of CO2 since 1958. “Carbon sinks have saved us from what has already happened – the future rise would have been about double if it wasn’t for the sinks. So we are lucky they exist, to be honest,” Professor Richard Betts of the Met Office Hadley Centre told The Independent. “But the sinks themselves are affected by the climate, and that’s an important thing because it shows that as climate change continues in the future it may affect their strength.”


Forecast CO2 concentrations at the Mauna Loa station for 2019 (orange), along with previous forecast concentrations and the real observed data (Met Office)

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May 062018
 
 May 6, 2018  Posted by at 9:46 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  5 Responses »


Paul Klee In the Houses of Saint Germain 1932

 

The Rising Dollar Will Trigger Next “Systemic Banking Crisis” – Napier (ZH)
Warren Buffett Compares Bitcoin To ‘Rat Poison Squared’ (Ind.)
UK Rates Will Stay Low For A Very Long Time (G.)
Trump White House Accuses China Of ‘Orwellian Nonsense’ (G.)
US Prosecutors Allege Ex-CEO of VW Knew All About Diesel Cheating (BBC)
US Freezes Funding For Syria’s “White Helmets” (CBS)
The U.S Government Can Still Confiscate Gold (GT)
Shock Figures From Top Thinktank Reveal Extent Of NHS Crisis (G.)
Earthquakes, Lava Fissures Could Last For Months On Hawaii (R.)
CO2 Levels In Earth’s Atmosphere ‘Highest In 800,000 Years’ (Ind.)
Facing Extinction, The North Atlantic Right Whale Cannot Adapt. Can We? (G.)

 

 

Emerging markets are already hurting. Watch Turkey.

The Rising Dollar Will Trigger Next “Systemic Banking Crisis” – Napier (ZH)

Fresh off his successful call earlier this year that the US dollar would strengthen in the coming months, macroeconomic strategist and market historian Russell Napier joined MacroVoices host Erik Townsend to discuss why he favors deflation and why he has such a bullish view on the US dollar. Echoing David Tepper’s concerns that the equity highs for the year might already be in, and that a 10-year yield above 3.25% could lead to market chaos, Napier said he sees interest rates rising sharply in the coming months as the dollar strengthens – a phenomenon that will push the US back into deflation.

Napier’s thesis relies on one simple fact: With the Fed and foreign buyers pulling back, who will step into the breach and buy Treasurys? The answer is – unfortunately for anybody who borrows in dollars – nobody. In fact, the Fed is expected to allow $228 billion in Treasury debt to roll off its balance sheet this year. This “net sell” will inevitably lead to higher interest rates in the US, as well as a stronger dollar. And once the 10-year yield reaches the 4% area, signs of stress that could be a lead up to a global “credit crisis” could start to appear.

“We know what the Federal Reserve plans to sell this calendar year, $228 billion. We know what the rise in global foreign reserves is, and about 64% of that will flow into the United States’ assets. Slightly less of that will flow into Treasuries. $228 billion, at the current rate at which foreign reserves are accumulating, we are not going to see foreign central bankers offsetting the sales from the Fed. So that’s a net sell. We don’t know what that net sale will be, but it’s a net sale from central bankers at a time when the Congressional Budget Office forecasts a roughly $1 trillion fiscal deficit. This is the first time in my investment career that savers will have to fund the whole lot. And it’s perfectly normal that real rates of interest have to go higher to attract those savings.

$1 trillion is still a large amount of money. It can come from anywhere in the world. It can come from outside the United States. It can come from inside the United States. But it’s a liquidation of other assets or a rise in the savings rate, which is necessary to fund this. Either of these things is positive for the dollar.”

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“It essentially will not deliver anything other than supposed scarcity..”

Warren Buffett Compares Bitcoin To ‘Rat Poison Squared’ (Ind.)

Mega-investor Warren Buffett still is not buying into the crypto-currency craze, likening Bitcoin to “rat poison squared”. “Cryptocurrencies will come to a bad ending”, Mr Buffett told shareholders at a retreat in Omaha, Nebraska, according to the Associated Press, adding that crypto currencies have no intrinsic value. “It essentially will not deliver anything other than supposed scarcity”, added Mr Buffett, who has earned the nickname the “Oracle of Omaha” for his prescient investment decisions. The Berkshire Hathaway CEO maintained his sceptical stance even as the alternate currency’s soaring value set off a scramble last year.

In an interview with CNBC last year, he said his company did not own any cryptocurrency and was avoiding taking a position in them. “What’s going on definitely will come to a bad ending,” Mr Buffett said at the time. Other prominent economists and investors have echoed those warnings, cautioning that the frenzied speculation around crypto-currencies had the makings of a bubble. Turning to politics, Mr Buffett downplayed the risks of a trade war breaking out as a result of Donald Trump imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum, which sparked Chinese retaliation. He said it was unlikely that the two countries would “dig themselves into” a “real trade war”, suggesting the broad appeal of trade would prevent conflict.

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If the Fed raises rates, can BoE remain behind?

UK Rates Will Stay Low For A Very Long Time (G.)

Bank of England governor Mark Carney has already faced accusations of behaving like the Grand old Duke of York and he will probably do so again should Britain’s central bank opt to keep interest rates on hold. Since he joined the Bank in 2013, he has marched borrowers and savers up the hill with heavy hints about the imminent prospect of a rate rise, only to march them back down again. Last November’s restoration of 2016’s emergency rate cut hardly qualified as a major move, whatever the Bank said about its significance. Until an interview with the BBC during the IMF spring meetings a fortnight ago, it seemed to be a racing cert that the Bank was finally ready to begin the long journey back to 3% and push the base rate from 0.5% to 0.75%.

The markets were guided to expect action at a meeting of the monetary policy committee on Thursday. And it wasn’t just Carney dropping hints. Almost every member of the committee who had previously blocked a rise had gone on the record arguing that the time for a rate increase was near at hand. Speeches by external member Jan Vlieghe constituted the most startling intervention. During 2016 and much of 2017, the former hedge fund economist turned interest-rate setter was one of the most vociferous opponents of a rise. His former brethren in the Square Mile considered him an arch dove who might never vote to increase rates, such was his downbeat view of the economy’s growth potential.

Yet, towards the end of last year, he was one of the most optimistic proponents of the economy’s resilience and the likelihood of a rate rise. Just as before, a moment of central bank exuberance looks like becoming a non-event – which is strange given Vlieghe’s reasoning for backing an increase last year. Then, he said that ultra-low unemployment, steady growth and the probable end to a long period of declining real wages was enough to justify tighter monetary policy.

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Ha!

Trump White House Accuses China Of ‘Orwellian Nonsense’ (G.)

The White House on Saturday condemned Chinese efforts to control how US airlines refer to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao as “Orwellian nonsense”. The harshly worded statement came as a high-level trade delegation led by the Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin returned from negotiations in China. The carriers were told to remove references on their websites or in other material that suggests Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are part of countries independent from China, US and airline officials said. Taiwan is China’s most sensitive territorial issue. Beijing considers the self-ruled, democratic island a wayward province. Hong Kong and Macau are former European colonies that are now part of China but run largely autonomously.

A spokesman for Airlines for America, a trade group representing United Airlines, American Airlines and other major carriers, said the group was “continuing to work with US government officials as we determine next steps”. In January, Delta Air Lines, following a demand from China over listing Taiwan and Tibet as countries on its website, apologized for making “an inadvertent error with no business or political intention” and said it had taken steps to resolve the issue. Also in January, China suspended Marriott International’s Chinese website for a week, punishing the world’s biggest hotel chain for listing Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as separate countries in a customer questionnaire.

On Saturday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that Donald Trump “ran against political correctness in the United States” and as president would “stand up for Americans resisting efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to impose Chinese political correctness on American companies and citizens”.

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What will Germany do?

US Prosecutors Allege Ex-CEO of VW Knew All About Diesel Cheating (BBC)

It was an “appalling” fraud that went to the very top of the company. That is the striking allegation made by US prosecutors looking into the emissions-cheating scandal at the Volkswagen Group. The indictment unsealed on Thursday claims that former CEO Martin Winterkorn was not only fully briefed about what his engineers were up to, he also authorised a continuing cover-up. These allegations have yet to be tested in a court of law. But if true, they paint a picture of extraordinary executive wrongdoing at one of the titans of German industry. Dr Winterkorn himself is unlikely ever to face trial in the US. But he remains under investigation in Germany on suspicion of deceiving investors.

The Volkswagen scandal erupted in September 2015, when the company admitted that nearly 600,000 cars sold in the US were fitted with “defeat devices” designed to circumvent emissions tests. Shortly afterwards the then head of its US operations, Michael Horn, told a congressional committee that the deception was the work of “a couple of software engineers”. We know that was far from the truth. Volkswagen has already admitted as much in an agreed “statement of facts” published last year as part of a settlement with the US Department of Justice. That document set out how Volkswagen engineers struggled to make a diesel engine which would both perform well and be capable of meeting stringent US emissions standards.

It explained how instead they designed a system to switch on emissions controls when the cars were being tested, and turn them off during normal driving. It also described how managers repeatedly sanctioned the use of this system despite objections from some employees, and encouraged engineers to hide what they were up to. The indictment against Dr Winterkorn goes considerably further – suggesting that the CEO himself was made well aware of what the engineers were doing and authorised a continued cover-up. It claims that in early 2014, engineers heard about a study commissioned by the International Council on Clean Transport, which showed that VW diesels were producing far higher emissions on the road than in official lab tests.

It says that senior managers were informed, and warned that the study might result in VW’s deception being uncovered. A memorandum was written for Dr Winterkorn explaining that the company would be unable to explain the test results to the authorities.

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No, CBS, you can’t sing the praises of these people without looking behind them.

US Freezes Funding For Syria’s “White Helmets” (CBS)

Less than two months ago the State Department hosted members of the White Helmets at Foggy Bottom. At the time, the humanitarian group was showered with praise for saving lives in Syria. “Our meetings in March were very positive. There were even remarks from senior officials about long-term commitments even into 2020. There were no suggestions whatsoever about stopping support,” Raed Saleh, the group’s leader, told CBS News. Now they are not getting any U.S funding as the State Department says the support is “under active review.” The U.S had accounted for about a third of the group’s overall funding. “This is a very worrisome development,” said an official from the White Helmets. “Ultimately, this will negatively impact the humanitarian workers ability to save lives.”

The White Helmets, formally known as the Syrian Civil Defense, are a group of 3,000 volunteer rescuers that have saved thousands of lives since the Syrian civil war began in 2011. A makeshift 911, they have run into the collapsing buildings to pull children, men and women out of danger’s way. They say they have saved more than 70,000 lives. Having not received U.S. funding in recent weeks, White Helmets are questioning what this means for the future. They have received no formal declaration from the U.S. government that the monetary assistance has come to a full halt, but the group’s people on the ground in Syria report that their funds have been cut off.

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“..gold is actually what kept the Federal Reserve solvent in 2008.”

The U.S Government Can Still Confiscate Gold (GT)

By the 1930s, the US government was facing its most severe financial crisis, and it needed gold (something of value), to stimulate the economy that was running on the fumes of fiat currency. So, it took people’s gold. It was as simple as that. Non-compliance was threatened with severe punishment. We may be facing another financial crisis, and it might be best to avoid the role of fugitive “gold hoarder.” At this point, it doesn’t make sense for the government to confiscate private gold, as a cashless society will indirectly control peoples finances. Why would the government seize gold? In 1933, under the 1913 Federal Reserve Act, the dollar had to be backed by 40 percent gold.

This would give the Federal Reserve room to print new money when needed. What’s a government to do when it needs to print money, but doesn’t have the gold reserves needed to back it up? It passes an Executive Order making gold ownership illegal but buys up the illegal gold itself. That’s what Roosevelt did. When the government continued to print more money, it declared ownership of silver illegal a year later. Soon after the government confiscated all gold, the price rose by 40 percent. As if by magic, the US government had a lot more funds than it had before. What happens is that the government buys your gold with cash, then devalues the cash and raises the value of the gold. It wins, you lose.

While the government attributes artificial value to money, it can do and does the same to the value of gold. The government currently holds 261 million ounces of gold in reserve at marked on its book at $42.22 per ounce. That’s a total value of $11 billion. Or is it? The fair market value of gold today is around $1,300 per ounce. As Jim Rickards pointed out in the New Case For Gold, gold is actually what kept the Federal Reserve solvent in 2008.

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Third world.

Shock Figures From Top Thinktank Reveal Extent Of NHS Crisis (G.)

The NHS has among the lowest per capita numbers of doctors, nurses and hospital beds in the western world, a new study of international health spending has revealed. The stark findings come from a new King’s Fund analysis of health data from 21 countries, collected by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. They reveal that only Poland has fewer doctors and nurses than the UK, while only Canada, Denmark and Sweden have fewer hospital beds, and that Britain also falls short when it comes to scanners. “If the 21 countries were a football league then the UK would be in the relegation zone in terms of the resources we put into our healthcare system, as measured by staff, equipment and beds in which to care for patients,” said Siva Anandaciva, the King’s Fund’s chief analyst.

“If you look across all these indicators – beds, staffing, scanners – the UK is consistently below the average in the resources we give the NHS relative to countries such as France and Germany. Overall, the NHS does not have the level of resources it needs to do the job we all expect it to do, given our ageing and growing population, and the OECD data confirms that,” he added. The report concludes that, given the dramatic differences between Britain and other countries: “A general picture emerges that suggests the NHS is under-resourced.”

The thinktank’s research found that the UK has the third-lowest number of doctors among the 21 nations, with just 2.8 per 1,000 people, barely half the number in Austria, which has 5.1 doctors per 1,000 of population. Similarly, the UK has the sixth-smallest number of nurses for its population: just 7.9 per 1,000 people – way behind Switzerland, which has the most: 18 nurses, more than twice as many. With hospital beds, the UK has just 2.6 for every 1,000 people, just over a third of the number in Germany, which has the most – 8.1 beds – and which places the UK 18th overall out of the 21 countries which the OECD gathered figures for. The number of hospital beds in England has halved over the last 30 years and now stands at about 100,000 ..

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How wrong can this go?

Earthquakes, Lava Fissures Could Last For Months On Hawaii (R.)

More homes on Hawaii’s Big Island were destroyed on Saturday as eruptions linked to the Kilauea volcano increased, spewing lava into residential areas and forcing nearly 2,000 people to evacuate, officials said. Scientists forecast more eruptions and more earthquakes, perhaps for months to come, after the southeast corner of the island was rocked by a 6.9 tremor on Friday, the strongest on the island since 1975. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said on Saturday that several new lava fissures had opened in the Leilani Estates subdivision of Puna District, about a dozen miles (19 km) from the volcano. Not all the fissures were still active, it added.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said at midday local time on Saturday that “eruptive activity is increasing and is expected to continue.” Janet Babb, a spokeswoman for the observatory, said by telephone that the eruptions could carry on “for weeks or months.” Babb said the activity since Thursday is beginning to show similarities to another event in the area in 1955 that lasted for 88 days, when far fewer people lived near the volcano.

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Rebalancing carbon: there’s too much inside the planet.

CO2 Levels In Earth’s Atmosphere ‘Highest In 800,000 Years’ (Ind.)

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached its highest level in at least 800,000 years, according to scientists. In April, CO2 concentration in the atmosphere exceeded an average of 410 parts per million (ppm) across the entire month, according to readings from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. This is the first time in the history of the observatory’s readings that a monthly average has exceeded that level. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography said that before the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide levels did not exceed 300ppm in the last 800,000 years.

The Keeling Curve, which plots the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, shows a steady rise in CO2 levels in the atmosphere for decades. Scientists have warned levels of carbon dioxide are crossing a threshold which could lead to global warming beyond the “safe” level identified by the international community, fuelling a rise in sea levels. The latest reading shows a 30 per cent increase in carbon dioxide concentration in the global atmosphere since recording began in 1958. The first measurement was recorded as 315ppm. Carbon dioxide concentration exceeded 400ppm for the first time in 2013. Prior to 1800, atmospheric CO2 averaged about 280ppm, which demonstrates the effect of manmade emissions since the industrial revolution.

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“By 1935, with as few as 60 breeding individuals left, the situation was so dire that the right whale became the first cetacean to be protected by law.”

Facing Extinction, The North Atlantic Right Whale Cannot Adapt. Can We? (G.)

As if to confound everyone, this past week Dr Charles “Stormy” Mayo and his team from the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies reported seeing up to 150 right whales in Cape Cod Bay. Dr Mayo – who has been studying these animals for 40 years and has a scientist’s aversion to exaggeration – is stunned. “It is amazing for such a rare and utterly odd creature,” he tells me. All the more amazing since he knows this great gathering could be a final flourish. By 2040, the North Atlantic right whale may be gone. He hesitates, then uses the e-word: extinction. How can such a huge mammal simply disappear within reach of the richest and most powerful nation on earth?

Shifting food sources – due to climate change – are leading whales to areas where maritime industries are unused to them. In the past 12 months, 18 rights have died after ship strikes or entanglement in fishing gear. With as few as 430 animals left, 100 of them breeding females in a reduced gene pool, the species is unsustainable. The right whale may be the strangest beast in the ocean. Vast and rotund, its gigantic mouth is fringed with two-metre strips of baleen, once “harvested” by humans to furnish Venetian blinds and corset stays but used by the whale to strain its diet of rice-sized zooplankton from the sea.

These bizarre animals are not easily known or imagined. They live far longer than us – like its Arctic cousin, the bowhead, the right whale may reach 200, perhaps more. Individuals could be older than constitutional America. They exist beyond us in time, dimension and experience. If we lose the right whale, we lose part of our planet’s biological history. [..] By 1935, with as few as 60 breeding individuals left, the situation was so dire that the right whale became the first cetacean to be protected by law. But by the start of this century, the numbers seemed to recover. Shipping lanes were shifted and fishing industries took on board the whale’s protected status. It even got its own air exclusion zone. “Like a Hollywood star,” as John Waters quipped to me.


Eubalaena glacialis with calf

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Nov 132017
 
 November 13, 2017  Posted by at 9:42 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  6 Responses »


Mark Twain in Nikola Tesla’s lab 1894

 

John Hussman Forecasts A Decade Of Stock Losses (BI)
One In Five American Households Have ‘Zero Or Negative’ Wealth (MW)
Top Tech Stocks’ $1.7 Trillion Gain Eclipses Canada’s Economy (BBG)
Bitcoin Plunges 29% From Record High (BBG)
The End Of “The End Of History” (Luongo)
Warnings From the “China Beige Book” (Rickards)
UK Government Tensions Rise After Leak Of ‘Orwellian’ Memo Sent To May (G.)
More Than A Third Of UK Home Sellers Cut Asking Price (G.)
Fossil Fuel Burning Set To Hit Record High In 2017 (G.)
The Decisions Behind Monsanto’s Weed-Killer Crisis (R.)
Weed-Killer Prompts Angry Divide Among US Farmers (AFP)
Millions On Brink Of Famine In Yemen As Saudi Arabia Tightens Blockade (G.)

 

 

Big fall, big rise and an even bigger fall.

John Hussman Forecasts A Decade Of Stock Losses (BI)

As the equity bull market has climbed into rarefied air, investors have continuously come up with new ways to rationalize the rally. Right now, they like to cite earnings growth, which has expanded for several quarters after a prolonged rough patch. They also frequently mention interest rates that, despite hawkish signals from central banks, have remained low, supplying the market with a seemingly endless supply of cheap money. On the other side of the spectrum, John Hussman, the president of the Hussman Investment Trust and a former economics professor, thinks that the investment community is unwisely ignoring the most stretched valuations in history on the heels of a nearly 300% bull market run. Ever the outspoken bear, Hussman says investors are being willfully ignorant, which has stocks at risk of a drop that could reach 63% and send the market spiraling into a full decade of negative returns.

It wouldn’t be the first time in history this has happened. But Hussman thinks this crash will be different, because the reasons for market instability are “purely psychological” this time around, according to a recent blog post. At the root of Hussman’s pessimistic market view are stock valuations that look historically stretched by a handful of measures. According to his preferred valuation metric — the ratio of non-financial market cap to corporate gross value-added (Market Cap/GVA) — stocks are more expensive than they were in 1929 and 2000, periods that immediately preceded major market selloffs. “US equity market valuations at the most offensive levels in history,” he wrote in his November monthly note. “We expect that more extreme valuations will only be met by more severe losses.”

Those losses won’t just include the 63% plunge referenced above – it’ll also be accompanied by a longer 10 to 12 year period over which the S&P 500 will fall, says Hussman. He cites the chart below, which shows how closely 12-year expected returns for the benchmark have historically tracked Market Cap/GVA, which is shown in inverted fashion. Note that the expected trajectory for Market Cap/GVA shows the S&P 500 veering into negative territory. The psychology behind the market’s willingness to accept lofty stock valuations stems from the flawed rationale that prices are justified by low interest rates, says Hussman. To him, the US economy is growing too slowly for this to be true, and that any belief to the contrary gives people false confidence.

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While other reports say some 70% live paycheck to paycheck. Which one is true? At least it should be clear that the US is not doing well at all.

One In Five American Households Have ‘Zero Or Negative’ Wealth (MW)

Millions of Americans are living on the edge. One in five households has zero or negative wealth, according to a report released this week by the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank based in Washington, D.C. What’s more, an even greater share of African-American (30%) and Latino (27%) households are “underwater” financially. The combined impact of $1 trillion in credit-card debt, $1.4 trillion in student loan debt, and stagnant wages are taking a toll. U.S. homes have regained value since the Great Recession, but many households have not. “Millions of American families struggle with zero or negative wealth, meaning they owe more than they own,” the report found. “This means that they have nothing to fall back on if an unexpected expense comes up like a broken down car or illness.” And inequality could get worse through new tax cuts for the wealthy.

President Trump’s tax proposals won’t give America’s middle class the reprieve they need to grow their wealth and recover from the financial crash, said Josh Hoxie, who heads up the Project on Opportunity and Taxation at the Institute for Policy Studies. A recent analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation concluded that taxes would decline for all income groups, with the biggest percentage-point decline for millionaires. After-tax income would rise by nearly 7% for households earning over $1 million per year, compared to less than 2% for those earning between $50,001 and $1 million, as MarketWatch recently reported. And less than 1% for those earning less than $50,000, according to Ernie Tedeschi, an economist at Evercore IS investment banking advisory firm who worked in the Treasury Department under President Obama.

Looking at private income, such as earnings and dividends, and government benefits like Social Security, the income of families near the top increased roughly 90% from 1963 to 2016, while the income of families at the bottom rose less than 10%, according to a separate report released last month by the Urban Institute, a nonprofit policy group based in Washington, D.C., while most other groups have been left behind. And that gap between rich and poor is only going to get worse, Hoxie said. The wealthiest 25 individuals in the U.S., including co-founder Bill Gates, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, own $1 trillion in combined assets. These 25 — a group equivalent to the active roster of a major league baseball team — hold more wealth than the bottom 56% of the U.S. population.

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Completely nuts.

Top Tech Stocks’ $1.7 Trillion Gain Eclipses Canada’s Economy (BBG)

Between the FAANG quintet and China’s rivaling BAT companies, gains in the world’s top technology shares are nearing a whopping $1.7 trillion in market value this year. That’s more than Canada’s entire economy, and exceeds the worth of Germany’s biggest 30 companies put together. The eight tech giants – Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google parent Alphabet, as well as their Asian peers Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent – have amassed as much money in 2017 as PIMCO, one of the world’s biggest fund managers, has done in about 46 years. While the stocks have seen a meteoric rise this year, their combined market value came off highs last week amid a global selloff in which the year’s high flyers had a bigger retreat. A recent breakdown in the correlation between high-yield bonds and the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 Index suggests the slide in junk may spread further.

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Confidence.

Bitcoin Plunges 29% From Record High (BBG)

Bitcoin plunged as the cancellation of a technology upgrade prompted some users to switch out of the cryptocurrency, spooking speculators who had profited from a more than 800% surge this year. The cryptocurrency has dropped 9.5% since late Friday, extending its slide from last week’s record to as much as 29%, according to data compiled by Coinmarketcap.com and Bloomberg. Bitcoin cash, a rival that split from the original bitcoin in August, has jumped nearly 40% since Friday. Bitcoin cash is gaining popularity because of its larger block size, a characteristic that makes transactions cheaper and faster than the original. When a faction of the cryptocurrency community canceled plans to increase bitcoin’s block size on Wednesday – a move that would have created another offshoot – some supporters of bigger blocks rallied around bitcoin cash.

The resulting volatility has been extreme even by bitcoin’s wild standards and comes amid growing interest in cryptocurrencies among regulators, banks and fund managers. While skeptics have called bitcoin’s rapid advance a bubble, it has become too big for many on Wall Street to ignore. Even after shrinking by as much as $38 billion since Wednesday, bitcoin boasts a market value of $101 billion. Supporters of bitcoin’s technology upgrade “are now switching support to bitcoin cash,” said Mike Kayamori, head of Tokyo-based Quoine, the world’s second most-active bitcoin exchange over the past day. “There’s a panic about what’s happening. People shouldn’t panic. Just hold on to both coins until we see how it plays out.”

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A different view from most.

The End Of “The End Of History” (Luongo)

The path to draining the swamp is a circuitous one but, in my mind, it’s hard to argue where things are headed. They are not headed towards confrontation with Iran but actually the opposite. The most rabidly anti-Iranian segment of the Saudi Royal house is impoverished and imprisoned. CNN will be sold and go out of business to allow for the Time-Warner/AT&T merger. Jeff Zucker is out. Add another scalp to Steve Bannon’s belt along with Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and so many to come. Will the vestiges of the neoconservative establishment in the U.S. and Israel continue to sabre-rattle and try to undermine what is happening? Yes.

They’ve been doing that since the day Trump was elected just over a year ago, but it hasn’t stopped the momentum. Why? Because Putin was on the job outmaneuvering them at every turn. Trump made a deal with the neocons back in August to cede them control of foreign policy and, in effect, outsourced cleaning up the Middle East to Putin. But, predictably they also didn’t follow through with their end of the bargain. Trump learned, like Putin did, the John McCain’s of the world don’t keep to their deals. They are ‘not agreement capable.’ And, as such, since the last failure to repeal Obamacare Trump has gone after every pillar of support these people had. It will end with Hillary Clinton’s indictment. But in the meantime it will look like the world is on the brink of world war.

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“Xi is ready to undertake reform of the financial system, which means shutting down insolvent companies and banks.”

Warnings From the “China Beige Book” (Rickards)

The China Beige Book, CBB, says that China had been covering up and smoothing over problems related to weak growth and excessive debt in order to provide a calm face to the world in advance of the National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which took place last month. CBB also makes it clear that the much-touted “rebalancing” of the Chinese economy away from investment and manufacturing toward consumption and spending has not occurred. Instead China has doubled down on excess capacity in coal, steel and manufacturing and has continued its policy of wasteful investment fueled with unpayable debt. It’s become obvious that the first cracks are starting to appear in China’s Great Wall of Debt. The Chinese debt binge of the past 10 years is a well-known story.

Chinese corporations have incurred dollar-denominated debts in the hundreds of billions of dollars, most of which are unpayable without subsidies from Beijing. China’s debt-to-equity ratio is over 300%, far worse than America’s (which is also dangerously high) and comparable to that of Japan and other all-star debtors. China’s trillion-dollar wealth management product (WMP) market is basically a Ponzi scheme. New WMPs are used to redeem maturing WMPs, while most of the market is simply rolled over because the underlying real estate and infrastructure projects cannot possibly repay their debts. A lot of corporate lending is simply one company lending to another, which in turns lends to another, giving the outward appearance of every company holding good assets, but in which none of the companies can actually pay its creditors.

It’s an accounting game with no real money behind it and no chance of repayment. All of this is well-known. What is not known is when it will end. When will confidence be lost in such a way that the entire debt house of cards crumbles? When will a geopolitical shock or natural disaster trigger a loss of confidence that ignites a financial panic? There was little prospect of this in the past year because President Xi Jinping was keeping a lid on trouble before the recently concluded National Congress of the Communist Party of China. With the congress behind him, Xi is ready to undertake reform of the financial system, which means shutting down insolvent companies and banks. Now the first bankruptcies have begun to appear.

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None of these people give one hoot about their country. They care about themselves only.

UK Government Tensions Rise After Leak Of ‘Orwellian’ Memo Sent To May (G.)

The tensions in Theresa May’s government intensified on Sunday night ahead of this week’s vital votes on the Brexit bill, as ministers accused Boris Johnson and Michael Gove of sending an “Orwellian” set of secret demands to No 10. As an increasingly weakened prime minister faces the possibility of parliamentary defeats on the bill, government colleagues have said they are aghast at the language used by the foreign secretary and the environment secretary in a joint private letter. The leaked letter – a remarkable show of unity from two ministers who infamously fell out during last year’s leadership campaign – appeared to be designed to push May decisively towards a hard Brexit and limit the influence of former remainers. It complained of “insufficient energy” on Brexit in some parts of the government and insisted any transition period must end in June 2021 – a veiled attack on the chancellor, Philip Hammond.

They urged the prime minister to ensure members of her top team fall behind their Brexit plans by “clarifying their minds” and called for them to “internalise the logic”. But the leak drew a bitter response from supporters of a soft Brexit, who suggested that May would now be forced to either discipline the pair or further weaken her position, which has already been tested by the recent resignations of Priti Patel and Michael Fallon and continuing pressure on Johnson and Damian Green. One cabinet minister told the Guardian: “It is not surprising that they [Gove and Johnson] would express their view. But what is surprising is that they would write this down and use this kind of language in a letter to the prime minister. “Some have described it as Orwellian, and it is. It is not helpful when people try and press their views in untransparent way.”

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It’s just starting. London falling.

More Than A Third Of UK Home Sellers Cut Asking Price (G.)

More than a third of home owners trying to sell their house have been forced to reduce their asking price, with the number of price cuts at their highest level since 2012, according to Rightmove. Traditionally house sellers are often forced to cut asking prices in the pre-Christmas period but this year the nation appears to be holding a collective autumn sale, said the property website. Rightmove, which claims to list 90% of the houses being sold in the UK, said 37% of current sellers had dropped their asking price, with a typical 0.8% or £2,392 price reduction. It also warned that those who recently put their property on the market were being too optimistic by not discounting by more. The mass price cut will be seen as further evidence that the market has slowed dramatically, particularly in London where prices have been falling.

Last week the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said the overall UK property market had stalled. Rics also warned that it expected the market to remain subdued in the coming months as sales stay flat or fall in most regions. Rightmove director, Miles Shipside, said the slowdown in the housing market, the recent interest rate rise and the prediction that further rises were on the horizon suggested bigger reductions in house prices in the near future. “Given that the market has been price-sensitive for a while and a five-year high proportion of sellers are slashing their prices, some sellers and their agents are over-pricing. These sellers may well be asking themselves if they could have saved some time and stress by pricing a lot more conservatively at the start.”

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As you’re being pleasantly entertained with that dumb Paris agreement.

Fossil Fuel Burning Set To Hit Record High In 2017 (G.)

The burning of fossil fuels around the world is set to hit a record high in 2017, climate scientists have warned, following three years of flat growth that raised hopes that a peak in global emissions had been reached. The expected jump in the carbon emissions that drive global warming is a “giant leap backwards for humankind”, according to some scientists. However, other experts said they were not alarmed, saying fluctuations in emissions are to be expected and that big polluters such as China are acting to cut emissions. Global emissions need to reach their peak by 2020 and then start falling quickly in order to have a realistic chance of keeping global warming below the 2C danger limit, according to leading scientists. Whether the anticipated increase in CO2 emissions in 2017 is just a blip that is followed by a falling trend, or is the start of a worrying upward trend, remains to be seen.

Much will depend on the fast implementation of the global climate deal sealed in Paris in 2015 and this is the focus of the UN summit of the world’s countries in Bonn, Germany this week. The nations must make significant progress in turning the aspirations of the Paris deal into reality, as the action pledged to date would see at least 3C of warming and increasing extreme weather impacts around the world. The 12th annual Global Carbon Budget report published on Monday is produced by 76 of the world’s leading emissions experts from 57 research institutions and estimates that global carbon emissions from fossil fuels will have risen by 2% by the end of 2017, a significant rise.

“Global CO2 emissions appear to be going up strongly once again after a three-year stable period. This is very disappointing,” said Prof Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the UK’s University of East Anglia and who led the new research. “The urgency for reducing emissions means they should really be already decreasing now.” “There was a big push to sign the Paris agreement on climate change but there is a feeling that not very much has happened since, a bit of slackening,” she said. “What happens after 2017 is very open and depends on how much effort countries are going to make. It is time to take really seriously the implementation of the Paris agreement.” She said the hurricanes and floods seen in 2017 were “a window into the future”.

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Farmers are using dicamba because they get it on their crops anyway from the neighbors. There’s not much time left to stop Monsanto from effectively owning all our food.

The Decisions Behind Monsanto’s Weed-Killer Crisis (R.)

In early 2016, agri-business giant Monsanto faced a decision that would prove pivotal in what since has become a sprawling herbicide crisis, with millions of acres of crops damaged. Monsanto had readied new genetically modified soybeans seeds. They were engineered for use with a powerful new weed-killer that contained a chemical called dicamba but aimed to control the substance’s main shortcoming: a tendency to drift into neighboring farmers’ fields and kill vegetation. The company had to choose whether to immediately start selling the seeds or wait for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to sign off on the safety of the companion herbicide. The firm stood to lose a lot of money by waiting.

Because Monsanto had bred the dicamba-resistant trait into its entire stock of soybeans, the only alternative would have been “to not sell a single soybean in the United States” that year, Monsanto Vice President of Global Strategy Scott Partridge told Reuters in an interview. Betting on a quick approval, Monsanto sold the seeds, and farmers planted a million acres of the genetically modified soybeans in 2016. But the EPA’s deliberations on the weed-killer dragged on for another 11 months because of concerns about dicamba’s historical drift problems. That delay left farmers who bought the seeds with no matching herbicide and three bad alternatives: Hire workers to pull weeds; use the less-effective herbicide glyphosate; or illegally spray an older version of dicamba at the risk of damage to nearby farms.

The resulting rash of illegal spraying that year damaged 42,000 acres of crops in Missouri, among the hardest hit areas, as well as swaths of crops in nine other states, according to an August 2016 advisory from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The damage this year has covered 3.6 million acres in 25 states, according to Kevin Bradley, a University of Missouri weed scientist who has tracked dicamba damage reports and produced estimates cited by the EPA. The episode highlights a hole in a U.S regulatory system that has separate agencies approving genetically modified seeds and their matching herbicides.

Monsanto has blamed farmers for the illegal spraying and argued it could not have foreseen that the disjointed approval process would set off a crop-damage crisis. But a Reuters review of regulatory records and interviews with crop scientists shows that Monsanto was repeatedly warned by crop scientists, starting as far back as 2011, of the dangers of releasing a dicamba-resistant seed without an accompanying herbicide designed to reduce drift to nearby farms.

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“Farmers need it desperately,” said Perry Galloway. “If I get dicamba on (my products), I can’t sell anything,” responded Shawn Peebles.”

Weed-Killer Prompts Angry Divide Among US Farmers (AFP)

When it comes to the herbicide dicamba, farmers in the southern state of Arkansas are not lacking for strong opinions. “Farmers need it desperately,” said Perry Galloway. “If I get dicamba on (my products), I can’t sell anything,” responded Shawn Peebles. The two men know each other well, living just miles apart in the towns of Gregory and Augusta, in a corner of the state where cotton and soybean fields reach to the horizon and homes are often miles from the nearest neighbor. But they disagree profoundly on the use of dicamba. Last year the agro-chemical giant Monsanto began selling soy and cotton seeds genetically modified to tolerate the herbicide. The chemical product has been used to great effect against a weed that plagues the region, Palmer amaranth, or pigweed – especially since it became resistant to another herbicide, glyphosate, which has become highly controversial in Europe over its effects on human health.

The problem with dicamba is that it vaporizes easily and is carried by the wind, often spreading to nearby farm fields – with varying effects. Facing a surge in complaints, authorities in Arkansas early this summer imposed an urgent ban on the product’s sale. The state is now poised to ban its use between April 16 and October 31, covering the period after plants have emerged from the soil and when climatic conditions favor dicamba’s dispersal.

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This is who we are. This is caused by people we support, that we call our friends.

Millions On Brink Of Famine In Yemen As Saudi Arabia Tightens Blockade (G.)

Abdulaziz al-Husseinya lies skeletal and appears lifeless in a hospital in Yemen’s western port city of Hodeidah. At the age of nine, he weighs less than one and a half stone, and is one of hundreds of thousands of children in the country suffering from acute malnutrition. Seven million people are on on the brink of famine in war-torn Yemen, which was already in the grip of the world’s worst cholera outbreak when coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia tightened its blockade on the country last week, stemming vital aid flows. Al-Thawra hospital, where Abdulaziz is being treated, is reeling under the pressure of more than two years of conflict between the Saudi-led coalition and Iranian-allied Houthi rebels. Its corridors are packed, with patients now coming from five surrounding governorates to wait elbow-to-elbow for treatment.

Less than 45% of the country’s medical facilities are still operating – most have closed due to fighting or a lack of funds, or have been bombed by coalition airstrikes. As a result, Al-Thawra is treating some 2,500 people a day, compared to 700 before the conflict escalated in March 2015. [..] Aid agencies are now warning that Yemen’s already catastrophic humanitarian crisis could soon become a “nightmare scenario” if Saudi Arabia does not ease the blockade of the country’s land, sea and air ports – a move that the kingdom insists is necessary after Houthi rebels fired a ballistic missile towards Riyadh’s international airport this month. United Nations humanitarian flights have been cancelled for the past week and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), along with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), have been prevented from flying vital medical assistance into the country.

More than 20 million Yemenis – over 70% of the population – are in need of humanitarian assistance that is being blocked. Following international pressure, the major ports of Aden and Mukalla were reopened last week for commercial traffic and food supplies, along with land border crossings to neighbouring Oman and Saudi Arabia, but humanitarian aid and aid agency workers remained barred from entering the country on Sunday. UN aid chief Mark Lowcock has said if the restrictions remain, Yemen will face “the largest famine the world has seen for many decades, with millions of victims”.

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Oct 232017
 
 October 23, 2017  Posted by at 9:19 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  4 Responses »


Gordon Parks Place de la Concorde, Paris 1950

 

Should I Stay or Should I Go? (IceCap)
Americans Have More Debt Than Ever – And It’s Creating An Economic Trap (BI)
Crisis, What Crisis? Banks Pile Back Into China (BBG)
China’s Home Price Growth Steadies In September (R.)
Jimmy Carter Unleashed: Russians Didn’t Alter Election (DaWi)
Italy Regions Back ‘Big Bang’ Autonomy (AFP)
Noble, Once Asia’s Largest Commodity Trader, Struggles To Survive (BBG)
Washington To Back Greek Call For Debt Relief (K.)
Car Pollution Causes A Huge Salmon Die-Off (WaPo)
CO2 Rise ‘Will Affect All Sea Life’ (BBC)

 

 

“..a +0.7% increase in the US 10-Year Treasury market yield created chaos, havoc and over $1.7 Trillion in losses..”

Should I Stay or Should I Go? (IceCap)

Life was so bad – especially for bond investors, that by the time 1982 rolled around you couldn’t give a bond away. If you were an investor or working in the investment industry at the time – you were painfully aware of the bond market and you were schooled to never, ever buy a bond again. Of course, 1982 was actually the best time ever to buy a bond. With long-term rates dropping like a stone over the next 35 years, bond investors and bond managers became known as the smartest people in the room. But, that was then and this is now. There are 2 points to remember forever here: 1) What goes down, must come up 2) There’s no one around today to remind us of what life was like for bond investors when long-term rates marched relentlessly higher

Interest rates are secular. And with interest rates today already hitting the theoretical 0% level – they have started to rise. And when long-term rates begin to rise, (unlike short-term rates) it happens in a snapping, violent manner. Neither of which is good for bond investors. Of course, there’s another important point to consider, the rise in long-rates from 1962 to 1982 occurred when there wasn’t a debt crisis in the developed world. And since 99% of the industry has only worked since 1982 to today, then 99% of the industry has never experienced, lived or even dreamt of a crisis in the bond market. This of course is the primary reason why all the negative stories about the stock market are alive and well played out in the media – they simply don’t know any better. And this is wrong. Very wrong. After all, the bond bubble dwarfs the tech bubble and the housing bubble. Think about it.

To grasp why the bond market is on the verge of crisis, and why trillions of Dollars, Euros, Yen and Pounds are about to panic and run away, we ask you to understand how free-markets really work. For starters, all free markets have two sides competing and participating. There are natural buyers and there are natural sellers. The point at which they meet in the middle is the selling/purchase price and the entire process is called price discovery. Price discovery is a wonderful thing. It always results in the determination of a true price for a product or service. However, a big problem arises when there is an imbalance between the buyers and sellers, and when one of the sides isn’t a natural buyer or seller. This is what has happened in the bond market. And this is why bond prices (or yields) have become so distorted; the true price of a bond hasn’t existed now for almost 9 years.

[..] over the last year, we’ve seen the most significant market reaction in the history of the bond world, not once but twice. Yet, the talking heads, the big banks and their mutual fund commentaries, and the stock market focused world have completely missed it. Almost a year ago in November immediately after the American Election, over a span of 54 hours – the bond market blew up. To put things into perspective, Chart 2 shows what happened during those fateful days. Ignoring the why’s, the how’s and the who’s – the fact remains that this tiny, miniscule increase in long-term interest rates caused the bond market to vomit over itself. Yes, a +0.7% increase in the US 10-Year Treasury market yield created chaos, havoc and over $1.7 Trillion in losses around the world.

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“Most consumers, especially those in the bottom 80%, are tapped out..”

Americans Have More Debt Than Ever – And It’s Creating An Economic Trap (BI)

There’s a scary little statistic buried beneath the US economy’s apparent stability: Consumer debt levels are now well above those seen before the Great Recession. As of June, US households were more than half a trillion dollars deeper in debt than they were a year earlier, according to the latest figures from the Federal Reserve. Total household debt now totals $12.84 trillion — also, incidentally, around two-thirds of GDP. The proportion of overall debt that was delinquent in the second quarter was steady at 4.8%, but the New York Fed warned over transitions of credit card balances into delinquency, which “ticked up notably.” Here’s the thing: Unlike government debt, which can be rolled over continuously, consumer loans actually need to be paid back. And despite low official interest rates from the Federal Reserve, those often do not trickle down to many financial products like credit cards and small business loans.

Michael Lebowitz, co-founder of market analysis firm 720 Global, says the US economy is already dangerously close to the edge. “Most consumers, especially those in the bottom 80%, are tapped out,” he told Business Insider. “They have borrowed about as much as they can. Servicing this debt will act like a wet towel on economic growth for years to come. Until wages can grow faster than our true costs of inflation, this problem will only worsen.” The IMF devotes two chapters of its latest Global Financial Stability Report to the issue of household debt. It finds that, rather intuitively, high debt levels tend to make economic downturns deeper and more prolonged. “Increases in household debt consistently [signal] higher risks when initial debt levels are already high,” the IMF says.

Nonetheless, the results indicate that the threshold levels for household debt increases being associated with negative macro outcomes start relatively low, at about 30% of GDP. Clearly, America’s already well past that point. As households become more indebted, the Fund says, future GDP growth and consumption decline and unemployment rises relative to their average values. “Changes in household debt have a positive contemporaneous relationship to real GDP growth and a negative association with future real GDP growth,” the report says. Specifically, the Fund says a 5% increase in household debt to GDP over a three-year period leads to a 1.25% fall in real GDP growth three years into the future.

“Housing busts and recessions preceded by larger run-ups in household debt tend to be more severe and protracted,” the IMF said. Is there a solution? If things reach a tipping point, yes, says the IMF — there’s always debt forgiveness. Even creditors stand to benefit. “We find that government policies can help prevent prolonged contractions in economic activity by addressing the problem of excessive household debt,” the report said. The Fund cites “bold household debt restructuring programs such as those implemented in the United States in the 1930s and in Iceland today” as historical precedents. “Such policies can, therefore, help avert self-reinforcing cycles of household defaults, further house price declines, and additional contractions in output.”

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“.. it’s odd that banks would think China is getting debt under control even as they provide more of it.”

Crisis, What Crisis? Banks Pile Back Into China (BBG)

China has been working hard to convince the world that it’s not a financial crisis waiting to happen. Judging from the latest data on cross-border lending, banks are buying it. Foreign banks’ total exposure to China reached $750 billion in June 2017, up from $659 billion a year earlier, according to the Bank for International Settlements. That’s a big contrast to a couple of years ago, when lenders were pulling tens of billions out amid concerns that a combination of high indebtedness, excessive investment and slowing growth would precipitate a wave of defaults. Here’s how that looks:

What changed? For one, China’s economy (according to the suspiciously smooth official data, at least) has proven more resilient than expected: The pace of growth has accelerated from a mid-2016 low of 6.7%, and forecasters have raised their projections for 2018. Perhaps more important, Chinese officials have advertised their commitment to controlling debt and containing an overheated property market. That said, it’s odd that banks would think China is getting debt under control even as they provide more of it. Although the accumulation has slowed in some areas, it has boomed in households and elsewhere. By one early-warning measure – the difference between the current and long-term levels of business and household credit as a share of GDP, also known as the credit gap – China and Hong Kong are still by far the riskiest countries tracked by the BIS.

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As Beijing buys 25% of sales.

China’s Home Price Growth Steadies In September (R.)

China’s new home prices registered a second straight month of weak growth in September, with prices in the biggest markets slipping and gains in smaller cities slowing as government measures to cool a long property boom took hold. China’s housing market has been on a near two-year tear, giving the economy a major boost but stirring fears of a property bubble even as authorities work to contain risks from a rapid build-up in debt. While monthly price rises peaked in September 2016 at 2.1% nationwide, they have softened only begrudgingly since then, regaining momentum as buyers shrugged off each new wave of measures to curb speculation. Analysts say more tightening could still be expected in lower-tier cities with relatively fast price gains, as critics argue China’s ever-growing administrative control over its property market has only reaffirmed speculator views that prices will remain steady.

“China’s property prices are still rising even as sales are falling off a cliff, which suggests the market still sees property as an investment product in the belief that the government won’t let prices fall,” said Yi Xianrong, a Professor of Economics at Qingdao University. Still, signs of a more stable and less frothy housing market for now will be welcome to the country’s leaders as they attend a critical Communist Party Congress to set political and economic priorities for the next five years. President Xi Jingping opened the twice-a-decade gathering last week, stressing the need to move from high-speed to high-quality growth. Average new home prices rose 0.2% month-on-month in September, the same rate as in August when prices rose at the slowest rate in seven months, according to Reuters calculations from National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data out on Monday.

“The curbs are in general still intensifying, which have gradually impacted property buyers’ expectations,” said Zhang Dawei, an analyst with Centaline, a property agency. New home prices rose 6.3% year-on-year in September, decelerating from August’s 8.3% increase, partly thanks to last September’s high base. Higher prices are also eating up more of home buyers’ disposable income, which could dampen future demand.

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Truth to power.

Jimmy Carter Unleashed: Russians Didn’t Alter Election (DaWi)

At 93, Jimmy Carter is cutting loose. The former president sat down with The New York Times recently and chatted about all kinds of subjects. The Times decided to play up the fact that Carter — one of the worst presidents in U.S. history — would love to go over to North Korea as an envoy. But the Times is steadily proving how out of touch it is, and how it no longer seems to actually “get” what real news is. Here are some major highlights from the interview:

1. The Russians didn’t steal the 2016 election. Carter was asked “Did the Russians purloin the election from Hillary?” “I don’t think there’s any evidence that what the Russians did changed enough votes — or any votes,” Carter said. So the hard-left former president doesn’t think the Russians stole the election? Take note, Capitol Hill Democrats.

2. We didn’t vote for Hillary. Carter and his wife, Roselyn, disagreed on the Russia question. In the interview, she “looked over archly [and said] ‘They obviously did'” purloin the election. “Rosie and I have a difference of opinion on that,” Carter said. Rosalynn then said, “The drip-drip-drip about Hillary.” Which prompted Carter to note that during the primary, they didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton. “We voted for Sanders.”

3. Obama fell far short of his promises. Barack Obama whooshed into office on pledges of delivering “hope and change” to the country, spilt by partisan politics. He didn’t. In fact, he made it worse. “He made some very wonderful statements, in my opinion, when he first got in office, and then he reneged on that,” he said about Obama’s action on the Middle East.

4. Media “harder on Trump than any president.” A recent Harvard study showed that 93% of new coverage about President Trump is negative. But here’s another shocker: Carter defended Trump. “I think the media have been harder on Trump than any other president certainly that I’ve known about,” Carter said. “I think they feel free to claim that Trump is mentally deranged and everything else without hesitation.”

5. NFL players should “stand during the American anthem.” Carter, who joined the other four living ex-presidents on Saturday for a hurricane fundraiser, put his hand on his heart when the national anthem played — and he has a strong opinion about what NFL players should do, too. “I think they ought to find a different way to object, to demonstrate,” he said. ” I would rather see all the players stand during the American anthem.”

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Expect more of this. Much more.

Italy Regions Back ‘Big Bang’ Autonomy (AFP)

Two of Italy’s wealthiest northern regions on Sunday voted overwhelmingly in favour of greater autonomy in the latest example of the powerful centrifugal forces reshaping European politics. Voters in the Veneto region that includes Venice and Lombardy, home to Milan, turned out at the high end of expectations to support the principle of more powers being devolved from Rome in votes that took place against the backdrop of the crisis created by Catalonia’s push for independence. Veneto President Luca Zaia hailed the results, which were delayed slightly by a hacker attack, as an institutional “big bang”. But he reiterated that the region’s aspirations were not comparable to the secessionist agenda that has provoked a constitutional crisis in Spain.

Turnout was projected at around 58% in Veneto, where support for autonomy is stronger, and just over 40% in Lombardy. The presidents of both regions said more than 95% of voters who had cast ballots had, as expected, done so to support greater autonomy. The votes are not binding but they will give the right-wing leaders of the two regions a strong political mandate when they embark on negotiations with the central government on the devolution of powers and tax revenues from Rome. Secessionist sentiment in Veneto and Lombardy is restricted to fringe groups but analysts see the autonomy drive as reflecting the same cocktail of issues and pressures that resulted in Scotland’s narrowly-defeated independence vote, Britain’s decision to leave the EU and the Catalan crisis.

“What this vote has shown is that there is no ‘autonomy party’ in Veneto – what there is is an entire people who back this idea,” said Zaia. “What’s won is the idea that we should be in charge of our own back yard.” Lombardy governor Roberto Maroni said he would be looking to present detailed proposals on devolution within two weeks, in a bid to ensure they are considered before national elections due by May next year. “I will go to Rome and ask for more powers and resources within a framework of national unity,” he said.

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Too much debt?!

Noble, Once Asia’s Largest Commodity Trader, Struggles To Survive (BBG)

Embattled commodity trader Noble Group warned of a more than $1 billion third-quarter net loss and agreed to sell most of its oil-liquids unit to Vitol Group at a loss, further complicating its fight for survival. The long-awaited deal to sell its prized oil business provided little relief to Hong Kong-based company, with shares falling the most in three months. Details of the sale announced on Monday failed to give much clarity on how much Noble Group would ultimately receive from Vitol, while the third-quarter results highlighted the company’s struggle to return to profitability as it offloads assets to repay debt. “They’re still fighting to survive,” Nicholas Teo, a trading strategist at KGI Securities said by phone. Noble Group’s stock slumped as much as 12% in Singapore, extending a more than 90% retreat since questions over its financial reporting emerged in early 2015.

While the company has defended its accounting, it has also written down the value of its long-term commodity contracts, ousted senior managers and put almost all of its businesses outside Asia up for sale. Noble Group’s 2020 notes are trading at about 39 cents on the dollar, with analysts at BNP Paribas and Nomura predicting that the company will eventually be forced to restructure its debt. Noble Group said that based on its end-June accounts it would have received net proceeds of $582 million from the oil unit deal after paying back borrowings under a secured credit facility. But that figure included proceeds from the earlier sale of its gas-and-power unit, the company said, and was prior to a third quarter in which the business was “adversely impacted” by “capital constraints.” Based on that number, the company would report a $525 million loss on the sale.

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As US alienates itself from Erdogan. For good reasons.

Washington To Back Greek Call For Debt Relief (K.)

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appears set to spearhead initiatives for Greek debt relief as part of Washington’s efforts to bolster Greece as a bastion of stability in the wider region, according to Kathimerini sources. Mnuchin took part in a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at the White House last week that addressed ways to promote investments in Greece, strengthen defense cooperation and push Greek debt relief demands. It was, reportedly, made clear at the meeting that Trump has made a strategic decision to support Greece as a reliable ally in the Eastern Mediterranean.

As a first step, the US may ask for an informal meeting of the IMF’s Executive Board to be convened – after a government is formed in Berlin and provided the third Greek bailout review is completed – where pressure will be applied for a specific time frame with regard to Greece’s debt. Another indication that the ball is beginning to roll was the result of talks between Tsipras and IMF chief Christine Lagarde a day before the meeting with Trump. Mnuchin told Trump and Tsipras that Lagarde had contacted him saying her talks with the Greek premier went well and there will be no surprises during the negotiations to complete the review. Mnuchin added that Lagarde said the IMF will push for debt relief.

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A curious story.

Car Pollution Causes A Huge Salmon Die-Off (WaPo)

Silvery coho salmon are as much a part of Washington state as its flag. The fish has a sacred place in the diets and rituals of the state’s indigenous peoples, beckons to tourists who flock to watch its migration runs, and helps to sustain a multimillion-dollar Pacific Northwest fishing industry. So watching the species die in agony is distressing: Adult coho have been seen thrashing in shallow fresh waters, males appear disoriented as they swim, and females are often rolled on their backs, their insides still plump with tiny red eggs that will never hatch. “Coho have not done well where a lot of human activity impacts their habitat,” said Nat Scholz, a research zoologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That’s to say the least.

A recent study traced a major coho salmon die-off to contaminants from roads and automobiles — brake dust, oil, fuel, chemical fluids — that hitch a ride on storm water and flow into watersheds. The contaminants are so deadly, they kill the salmon within 24 hours. “Our findings are . . . that contaminants in stormwater runoff from the regional transportation grid likely caused these mortality events. Further, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse historical coho declines without addressing the toxic pollution dimension of freshwater habitats,” said the study, published Wednesday in the journal Ecological Applications. This sort of point-source pollution from antiquated sewer systems is a problem across the nation, including the Chesapeake Bay region. Rain overwhelms storm drains, commingles with human waste and surface road garbage, then flushes into ponds, creeks, streams and rivers.

In Seattle and large cities across the Pacific Northwest, those waters are stocked with salmon. The finding could be a breakthrough in a mystery that has vexed scientists for years. But it fell short of explaining another mystery: Why are coho the only one of five salmon species to be affected? Chinook, sockeye, pink and chum don’t remotely experience the same mortality. “This is the great mystery that we are working on,” Scholz said. The future for a species that experiences up to 40 percent mortality before spawning in Puget Sound is no mystery. “The population will crash,” said Jay Davis, an environmental toxicologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who coordinated field research for the study.

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“.. an increase in acidity of about 26%…”

CO2 Rise ‘Will Affect All Sea Life’ (BBC)

All sea life will be affected because carbon dioxide emissions from modern society are making the oceans more acidic, a major new report will say. The eight-year study from more than 250 scientists finds that infant sea creatures will be especially harmed. This means the number of baby cod growing to adulthood could fall to a quarter or even a 12th of today’s numbers, the researchers suggest. The assessment comes from the BIOACID project, which is led from Germany. A brochure summarising the main outcomes will be presented to climate negotiators at their annual meeting, which this year is taking place in Bonn in November. The Biological Impacts of Ocean Acidification report authors say some creatures may benefit directly from the chemical changes – but even these could still be adversely affected indirectly by shifts in the whole food web.

What is more, the research shows that changes through acidification will be made worse by climate change, pollution, coastal development, over-fishing and agricultural fertilisers. Ocean acidification is happening because as CO2 from fossil fuels dissolves in seawater, it produces carbonic acid and this lowers the pH of the water. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the average pH of global ocean surface waters have fallen from pH 8.2 to 8.1. This represents an increase in acidity of about 26%. The study’s lead author is Prof Ulf Riebesell from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel. He is a world authority on the topic and has typically communicated cautiously about the effects of acidification. He told BBC News: “Acidification affects marine life across all groups, although to different degrees.

“Warm-water corals are generally more sensitive than cold-water corals. Clams and snails are more sensitive than crustaceans. “And we found that early life stages are generally more affected than adult organisms. “But even if an organism isn’t directly harmed by acidification it may be affected indirectly through changes in its habitat or changes in the food web. “At the end of the day, these changes will affect the many services the ocean provides to us.”

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Mar 282017
 
 March 28, 2017  Posted by at 8:38 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Debt Rattle March 28 2017


Dorothea Lange Abandoned cafe in Carey, Texas 1937

 

A Nation of Landowners – But For How Long? (M.)
Middle-Class, Even Wealthy Americans Sliding Inexorably Into The Red (MW)
Italy’s Monte Paschi Bailout Has Some ECB Supervisors Grumbling
NY Fed: “Oil Prices Fell Due To Weakening Demand” (ZH)
Why Did Preet Bharara Refuse to Drain the Wall Street Swamp? (Bill Black)
A Detailed “Roadmap” For Meeting The Paris Climate Goals (Vox)
In UK Access To Justice Is No Longer A Right, But A Luxury (G.)
The Curse of the Thinking Class (Jim Kunstler)
Tensions Flare As Greece Tells Turkey It Is Ready To Answer Any Provocation (G.)
Erdogan Races Against the Dollar in Campaign for Unrivaled Power (BBG)
Tillerson Will Not Meet Turkey Opposition In Ankara Visit This Week (R.)
Troika Pushes Greece To Sell Up To 40% Of State-Controlled Power Utility (R.)
Fraport Greece Signs Funding Deal With 5 Lenders (K.)
Contraction Of Credit Continues Unabated In Greece (K.)
Mikis Theodorakis: ‘In Tough Times, Greeks Become Heroes or Slaves’ (GR)
Nearly 1,200 Migrants Picked Up Off Libya, Heading To Italy (R.)
Italy Calls For Investigation Of NGO Supported Migrant Fleet (Dm.)

 

 

“To not one of those improvements does the land monopolist, as a land monopolist, contribute, and yet by every one of them the value of his land is enhanced.”

A Nation of Landowners – But For How Long? (M.)

Land occupies a unique position in the economy because it is essential for any activity and, given its fixed supply, an increase in demand for it can only increase its price. Meanwhile finance, which facilitates that demand, has been available in ever-greater abundance since the deregulation of mortgage lending in the 1970s and 1980s. The interaction between the inelastic supply of land and the highly elastic supply of mortgage lending lies at the heart of the house price boom over the past few decades. But while the finance part of the story is relatively new (before the 1970s mortgages were harder to get and lending restricted by the conservative practices of the building societies), the land question has been around for centuries.

Ever since Henry VIII seized the monastery lands in the early 16th century a market has been evolving in land as a privately-owned tradable commodity. What is crucial to the contemporary housing debate, and what this book illustrates brilliantly, is how the control of land is, or has at least been allowed to become, fundamental to economic and political power relations. Because land is permanent and immovable, those who own the exclusive rights to its use are able to siphon off the value of any economic output that is dependent on it. The value of a piece of land therefore reflects the level of activity conducted on or around it, as well as any speculation arising from expectations about its potential future use. This price does not reflect the efforts or ingenuity of its owner, and so it does not reward productive activity but rather penalises it in the form of rent.

This ability of landowners to extract economic rent from productive activity, or the unearned increment, was once at the centre of political discourse. It was an issue that troubled classical economists ranging from Adam Smith to Karl Marx. As the industrial revolution advanced in the 18th and 19th centuries, productivity levels improved, and so the owners of land began to enjoy the fruits of the community’s labour. A land reform movement gathered momentum towards the late 19th century and the writings of the American economist Henry George advocating a land value tax attracted a following. In 1909, a young Winston Churchill (then 35, and a Liberal) decried the land monopolist’s free ride in what remains one of the best descriptions of the dilemma:

“Roads are made, streets are made, services are improved, electric light turns night into day, water is brought from reservoirs a hundred miles off in the mountains and all the while the landlord sits still. Every one of those improvements is effected by the labour and cost of other people and the taxpayers. To not one of those improvements does the land monopolist, as a land monopolist, contribute, and yet by every one of them the value of his land is enhanced.”

Churchill was careful to stress that it was the system he was attacking not the landowner himself (‘We do not want to punish the landlord. We want to alter the law’). But the law was as it was because landowners controlled parliament and indeed the Liberals’ plan for a land value tax in the People’s Budget, in support of which Churchill had been speaking, was thrown out by the House of Lords.

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How to kill a city part 832.

Middle-Class, Even Wealthy Americans Sliding Inexorably Into The Red (MW)

Not even a high six-figure salary is enough to keep New York City families out of the red. But spare a thought for the average American family, whose costs easily outpace the average income. A recent analysis from Sam Dogen at his personal finance website Financial Samurai showed how difficult it is for high earners to escape the rat race in New York City, one of the priciest places to live in the world. He analyzed a mock budget for an imaginary family of four in which the two 35-year-old breadwinners each make $250,000 a year. After factoring in taxes, 401(k)contributions, home and child care costs, the family was left with just $7,300 for the year — as if they were living “paycheck to paycheck.”

Perhaps nobody is crying for lawyers making $500,000 a year or even $250,000, but the analysis shows just how easy it is for spending habits to take a high salary and turn it into table scraps. Dogen said pressure from peers to spend more is a big contributing factor, adding “everywhere I go, and I’ve been all over the world, high income earners are secretly feeling the same squeeze.” “They are unhappy, getting divorces, and always comparing themselves to wealthier and wealthier people,” he said. “Heck, even a friend who is worth over $200 million after founding and taking public a company feels like he needs to continue working because he has to ‘keep up with the Zuckerbergs.’”

So how would the average American family fare by the same lifestyle? MarketWatch crunched the numbers and found they would be racking up approximately $27,000 in debt a year if they spent the average of what Americans spend on the same activities. This vast difference in economic stability comes even after adjusting for cheaper housing costs and lowering the number of vacations to one a year — the average in the U.S.

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Beware of any central bank announcements made the day after Christmas.

Italy’s Monte Paschi Bailout Has Some ECB Supervisors Grumbling

When the European Central Bank declared Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena solvent last December, the first step toward a state-funded rescue, some members of the 19-nation Supervisory Board weren’t fully on board. Confronted with what they saw as a political agreement to bail out the world’s oldest lender, dissenters went along with the consensus despite their concerns about the bank’s health…[..] To make sense of the Monte Paschi debate, you have to start with a 2014 law known as the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive, which sets out the EU’s bank-failure rules. The law assumes that if a firm needs “extraordinary public financial support,” this indicates that it’s failing and should be wound down. In that process, investors including senior bondholders can be forced to take losses.

An exception, known as a precautionary recapitalization, is allowed for solvent banks if a long list of conditions is met. As the name suggests, this tool isn’t intended to clear up a bank’s existing problems, such as Monte Paschi’s mountain of soured loans. This temporary aid is allowed to address a capital shortfall identified in a stress test. Daniele Nouy, head of the ECB Supervisory Board, reiterated in an interview on Monday that Monte Paschi and other Italian banks in line for a bailout are “not insolvent, otherwise we would not be talking about precautionary recapitalization.” Not everyone is convinced the bank, whose woes date back many years, qualifies for this special treatment.

“It is unclear if Monte Paschi meets the BRRD’s exemption criteria, and their use has the appearance of promoting national political concerns over a stricter reading of the newly established European rules,” said Simon Ainsworth at Moody’s. “The plan could risk damaging the credibility of the resolution framework, especially given that it would mark its first major test case.” The ECB’s decision on Monte Paschi’s solvency and capital gap was announced by the lender the day after Christmas. The ECB published an explanation of the precautionary recapitalization process a day later, but said little else publicly. On Dec. 29, the Bank of Italy issued a statement that broke down the €8.8 billion rescue into its parts. Solvency in the case of a precautionary recapitalization is determined based on two criteria, the ECB said: the bank meets its legal minimum capital requirements, and it has no shortfall in the baseline scenario of the relevant stress test.

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I’ve been talking about falling oil demand for so long that when other bring it up now it seems all new again.

NY Fed: “Oil Prices Fell Due To Weakening Demand” (ZH)

[..] one aspect of price formation that is rarely mentioned is demand, which is generally assumed to be unwavering and trending higher with barely a hiccup. The reason for this somewhat myopic take is that while OPEC has control over supply, demand is a function of global economic growth and trade (or lack thereof) over which oil producers have little, if any control. And yet, according to the latest oil price dynamics report issued by the Fed, it was declining global demand that pushed prices lower in the most recent, volatile period. As the New York Fed report in its March 27 report, “Oil prices fell owing to weakening demand” and explains as follows: “A decline in demand expectations together with a decreasing residual drove oil prices down over the past week.”

While there was some good news, namely that “in 2016:Q4, oil prices increased on net as a consequence of steadily contracting supply and strengthening, albeit volatile, global demand” offsetting the “modest decline in oil prices during 2016:Q3 caused by weakening global demand expectations and loosening supply conditions,” the Fed’s troubling finding is that the big move lower since 2014 has been a function of rising supply as well as declining demand: Overall, since the end of 2014:Q2, both lower global demand expectations and looser supply have held oil prices down. And while this trend appeared to have reversed in 2016:Q2 and 2016:Q4, recent indications suggest that demand may once again be slowing, which in turn has pressured oil prices back to levels last seen shortly after OPEC’s Vienna deal.

It is curious that according to the NY Fed, at a time when OPEC vows it is cutting production, the Fed has instead found “loose” supply to be among the biggest contributors to the latest decline in oil prices. But what may be concering to oil bulls is that as the decomposition chart below shows, while oil demand was solidly in the green ever since Trump’s election victory, in recent weeks it appears to have also tapered off along with the supply contribution to declining oil prices. This seems to suggest that along with most other “animal spirits” that were ignited following the Trump victory, only to gradually fade, oil demand, and thus price, may be the next to take another leg lower unless of course Trump manages to reignite the Trumpflation trade which, however, over the past month appears to have completely faded.

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“Indeed, Bharara never mustered the courtesy to respond to Bowen’s offers to aid his office.”

Why Did Preet Bharara Refuse to Drain the Wall Street Swamp? (Bill Black)

The New York Times’ editorial board published an editorial on March 12, 2017, praising Preet Bharara as the “Prosecutor Who Knew How to Drain a Swamp.” I agree with the title. At all times when he was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (which includes Wall Street) Bharara knew how to drain the swamp. Further, he had the authority, the jurisdiction, the resources, and the testimony from whistleblowers like Richard Bowen (a co-founder of Bank Whistleblowers United (BWU)) to drain the Wall Street swamp. Bowen personally contacted Bharara beginning in 2005.

“You were quoted in The Nation magazine as saying that if a whistleblower comes forward with evidence of wrongdoing, then you would be the first to prosecute [elite bankers]. I am writing this email to inform you that there is a body of evidence concerning wrongdoing, which the Department of Justice has refused to act on in order to determine whether criminal charges should be pursued.” Bowen explained that he was a whistleblower about Citigroup’s senior managers and that he was (again) coming forward to aid Bharara to prosecute. Bowen tried repeatedly to interest Bharara in draining the Citigroup swamp. Bharara refused to respond to Bowen’s blowing of the whistle on the massive frauds led by Citigroup’s senior officers.

Bharara knew how to drain the Wall Street swamp and was positioned to do so because he had federal prosecutorial jurisdiction over Wall Street crimes. Whistleblowers like Bowen, who lacked any meaningful power, sacrificed their careers and repeatedly demonstrated courage to ensure that Bharara would have the testimony and documents essential to prosecute successfully some of Wall Street’s most elite felons. Bharara never mustered the courage to prosecute those elites. Indeed, Bharara never mustered the courtesy to respond to Bowen’s offers to aid his office. [..] Bharara knew how to drain the Wall Street swamp. He had the facts, the staff, and the jurisdiction to drain the Wall Street swamp. Bharara refused to do so.

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We all realize that this is never ever going to happen, right?!

A Detailed “Roadmap” For Meeting The Paris Climate Goals (Vox)

To hit the Paris climate goals without geoengineering, the world has to do three broad (and incredibly ambitious) things: 1) Global CO2 emissions from energy and industry have to fall in half each decade. That is, in the 2020s, the world cuts emissions in half. Then we do it again in the 2030s. Then we do it again in the 2040s. They dub this a “carbon law.” Lead author Johan Rockström told me they were thinking of an analogy to Moore’s law for transistors; we’ll see why. 2) Net emissions from land use — i.e., from agriculture and deforestation – have to fall steadily to zero by 2050. This would need to happen even as the world population grows and we’re feeding ever more people. 3) Technologies to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere have to start scaling up massively, until we’re artificially pulling 5 gigatons of CO2 per year out of the atmosphere by 2050 — nearly double what all the world’s trees and soils already do.

“It’s way more than adding solar or wind,” says Rockström. “It’s rapid decarbonization, plus a revolution in food production, plus a sustainability revolution, plus a massive engineering scale-up [for carbon removal].” So, uh, how do we cut CO2 emissions in half, then half again, then half again? Here, the authors lay out a sample “roadmap” of what specific actions the world would have to take each decade, based on current research. This isn’t the only path for making big CO2 cuts, but it gives a sense of the sheer scale and speed required:

2017-2020: All countries would prepare for the herculean task ahead by laying vital policy groundwork. Like: scrapping the $500 billion per year in global fossil fuel subsidies. Zeroing out investments in any new coal plants, even in countries like India and Indonesia. All major nations commit to going carbon-neutral by 2050 and put in place policies — like carbon pricing or clean electricity standards — that point down that path. “By 2020,” the paper adds, “all cities and major corporations in the industrialized world should have decarbonization strategies in place.”

2020-2030: Now the hard stuff begins! In this decade, carbon pricing would expand to cover most aspects of the global economy, averaging around $50 per ton (far higher than seen almost anywhere today) and rising. Aggressive energy efficiency programs ramp up. Coal power is phased out in rich countries by the end of the decade and is declining sharply elsewhere. Leading cities like Copenhagen are going totally fossil fuel free. Wealthy countries no longer sell new combustion engine cars by 2030, and transportation gets widely electrified, with many short-haul flights replaced by rail.

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Brexit hardly seems Britain’s biggest problem. It’s the gutting of an entire society that is.

In UK Access To Justice Is No Longer A Right, But A Luxury (G.)

Laws that cost too much to enforce are phoney laws. A civil right that people can’t afford to use is no right at all. And a society that turns justice into a luxury good is one no longer ruled by law, but by money and power. This week the highest court in the land will decide whether Britain will become such a society. There are plenty of signs that we have already gone too far. Listen to the country’s top judge, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, who admits that “our justice system has become unaffordable to most”. Look at our legal-aid system, slashed so heavily by David Cameron and Theresa May that the poor must act as their own trial lawyers, ready to be skittled by barristers in the pay of their moneyed opponents. The latest case will be heard by seven supreme court judges and will pit the government against the trade union Unison. It will be the climax of a four-year legal battle over one of the most fundamental rights of all: the right of workers to stand up against their bosses.

In 2013, Cameron stripped workers of the right to access the employment tribunal system. Whether a pregnant woman forced out of her job, a Bangladeshi-origin guy battling racism at work, or a young graduate with disabilities getting aggro from a boss, all would now have to pay £1,200 for a chance of redress. The number of cases taken to tribunal promptly fell off a cliff – down by 70% within a year. Citizens Advice, employment lawyers and academics practically queued up to warn that workers – especially poor workers – were getting priced out of justice. But for Conservative ministers, all was fine. Loyal flacks such as Matthew Hancock (then employment minister) claimed those deterred by the fees were merely “unscrupulous” try-ons, intent on “bullying bosses”. Follow Hancock’s logic, and with all those time-wasters weeded out, you’d expect the number of successful tribunal claims to jump. They’ve actually dropped.

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“Do they covet our Chick-fil-A chains and Waffle Houses? Our tattoo artists? Would they like to induce the Kardashians to live in Moscow? Is it Nascar they’re really after?”

The Curse of the Thinking Class (Jim Kunstler)

Let’s suppose there really is such a thing as The Thinking Class in this country, if it’s not too politically incorrect to say so — since it implies that there is another class, perhaps larger, that operates only on some limbic lizard-brain level of impulse and emotion. Personally, I believe there is such a Thinking Class, or at least I have dim memories of something like it. The farfetched phenomenon of Trumpism has sent that bunch on a journey to a strange land of the intellect, a place like the lost island of Kong, where one monster after another rises out of the swampy murk to threaten the frail human adventurers. No one back home would believe the things they’re tangling with: giant spiders, reptiles the size of front-end loaders, malevolent aborigines! Will any of the delicate humans survive or make it back home?

This is the feeling I get listening to arguments in the public arena these days, but especially from the quarters formerly identified as left-of-center, especially the faction organized around the Democratic Party, which I aligned with long ago (alas, no more). The main question seems to be: who is responsible for all the unrest in this land. Their answer since halfway back in 2016: the Russians. I’m not comfortable with this hypothesis. Russia has a GDP smaller than Texas. If they are able to project so much influence over what happens in the USA, they must have some supernatural mojo-of-the-mind — and perhaps they do — but it raises the question of motive. What might Russia realistically get from the USA if Vladimir Putin was the master hypnotist that Democrats make him out to be?

Do we suppose Putin wants more living space for Russia’s people? Hmmmm. Russia’s population these days, around 145 million, is less than half the USA’s and it’s rattling around in the geographically largest nation in the world. Do they want our oil? Maybe, but Russia being the world’s top oil producer suggests they’ve already got their hands full with their own operations? Do they want Hollywood? The video game industry? The US porn empire? Do they covet our Chick-fil-A chains and Waffle Houses? Our tattoo artists? Would they like to induce the Kardashians to live in Moscow? Is it Nascar they’re really after?

My hypothesis is that Russia would most of all like to be left alone. Watching NATO move tanks and German troops into Lithuania in January probably makes the Russians nervous, and no doubt that is the very objective of the NATO move — but let’s not forget that most of all NATO is an arm of American foreign policy. If there are any remnants of the American Thinking Class left at the State Department, they might recall that Russia lost 20 million people in the dust-up known as the Second World War against whom…? Oh, Germany.

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“The Turkish nationalist opposition leader, Devlet Bahçeli, has gone even further, claiming that several Greek islands are under occupation and reacting furiously when Kammenos visited the far-flung isle of Oinousses. “Someone must explain to this spoiled brat not to try our patience,” he railed. “If they [the Greeks] want to fall into the sea again, if they want to be hunted down, they are welcome, the Turkish army is ready. Someone must explain to the Greek government what happened in 1922. If there is no one to explain it to them, we can come like a bullet across the Aegean and teach them history all over again.”

Tensions Flare As Greece Tells Turkey It Is Ready To Answer Any Provocation (G.)

Fears of tensions mounting in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean Seas reignited after the Turkish president raised the prospect of a referendum on accession talks with the EU and the Greek defence minister said the country was ready for any provocation. Relations between Ankara and European capitals have worsened before the highly charged vote on 16 April on expanding the powers of the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Western allies have argued that a vote endorsing the proposed constitutional change would invest him with unparalleled authority and limit checks and balances at a time when they fear the Turkish leader is exhibiting worrying signs of authoritarianism. Erdogan has been enraged by recent bans on visiting Turkish officials rallying “yes” supporters in Germany and the Netherlands.

Highlighting growing friction between Ankara and the bloc, he raised the spectre of a public vote on EU membership at the weekend. “We have a referendum on 16 April. After that we may hold a Brexit-like referendum on the [EU] negotiations,” he told a Turkish-UK forum attended by the British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson. “No matter what our nation decides we will obey it. It should be known that our patience, tested in the face of attitudes displayed by some European countries, has limits.” The animus – reinforced last week when the leader said he would continue labelling European politicians “Nazis” if they continued calling him a dictator – has also animated tensions between Greece and Turkey, and Erdogan’s comments came hours after the Greek defence minister said armed forces were ready to respond in the event of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity being threatened.

“The Greek armed forces are ready to answer any provocation,” Panos Kammenos declared at a military parade marking the 196th anniversary of Greece’s war of liberation against Ottoman Turkish rule. “We are ready because that is how we defend peace.” Although Nato allies, the two neighbours clashed over Cyprus in 1974 and almost came to war over an uninhabited Aegean isle in 1996. Hostility has been rising in both areas, with the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades recently voicing fears of Turkey sparking a “hot incident” in the run-up to the referendum. “I fear the period from now until the referendum in Turkey, as well as the effort to create a climate of fanaticism within Turkish society,” he told CNN Greece. Turkey’s EU negotiations have long been hindered by Cyprus, and talks aimed at reuniting its estranged Greek and Turkish communities are at a critical juncture but have stalled and are unlikely to move until after the referendum.

But it is in the Aegean where tensions, matched by an increasingly ugly war of words, have been at their worst. After a tense standoff over eight military officers who escaped to Greece after the abortive coup against Erdogan last July – an impasse exacerbated when the Greek supreme court rejected a request for their extradition – hostility has been measured in almost daily dogfights between armed jets and naval incursions of Greek waters by Turkish research vessels. Both have prompted diplomats and defence experts to express fears of an accident at a time when experienced staff officers and pilots have been sidelined in the purges that have taken place since the attempted coup. The shaky migration deal signed between the EU and Turkey to thwart the flow of refugees into the continent has only added to the pressure.

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The falling dollar is setting up Turkey for dictatorship. The world will come to regret this.

Erdogan Races Against the Dollar in Campaign for Unrivaled Power (BBG)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lambasted friend and foe alike in a campaign for vast new powers, but his political fate may hang on the one thing he’s stopped carping about: the price of money. With the April 16 vote on strengthening the presidency too close for pollsters to call, Erdogan is no longer berating the central bank and commercial lenders over borrowing costs they’ve pushed to a five-year high. He’s betting any measures taken to arrest the lira’s plunge will pay off at the ballot box. The lira’s value versus the dollar is more than just a pocketbook issue in Turkey, where millions of voters still remember the abrupt devaluations that ravaged their livelihoods in past decades and view the exchange rate as the most important indicator of the nation’s economic health.

Turkey’s trade deficit is the biggest of all top 50 economies relative to output and most of its imports and foreign debt are priced in dollars, so sharp declines in the lira can be ruinous for legions of entrepreneurs like Ramazan Saglam, who owns a print shop in a working-class neighborhood of Ankara. “I bitterly recall when the dollar jumped in 1994 and 2001 – my business collapsed both times,” Saglam said. “I’m supporting the new presidential system wholeheartedly because I don’t want to go bankrupt again.” Saglam nodded at the big red banner billowing from his second-story window to illustrate his point. The Chinese cloth and South Korean ink he used to make it were all bought with dollars, as was the American printer that produced Erdogan’s image and the slogan, “Yes. For my country and my future.”

Given the choice between paying more for credit to buy supplies and keeping the lira in check, he said he’d choose sound money every time. Supporters of the proposed constitutional changes say handing Erdogan sweeping new authority is the only way to achieve the stability that society craves and businesses need to thrive. But opponents say approving the referendum is an invitation to dictatorship, particularly since Erdogan, already the most dominant leader in eight decades, jailed or fired more than 100,000 perceived enemies after rogue army officers attempted a coup in July. “Everybody on the street tracks the exchange rate on a daily basis and Erdogan wins support as long as Turkey can keep the lira stable,” said Wolfango Piccoli, the London-based co-president of Teneo Intelligence, a political risk advisory firm. “But the challenge here is the external backdrop. They can’t really predict what’s coming.”

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The US must cease labeling the PKK a terrorist organization. Or stop backing the Kurds in Syria. Can’t have both.

Tillerson Will Not Meet Turkey Opposition In Ankara Visit This Week (R.)

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will not meet members of Turkish opposition groups during a one-day visit to Ankara this week where talks with President Tayyip Erdogan will focus on the war in Syria, senior U.S. officials said on Monday. Thursday’s visit comes at a politically sensitive time in Turkey as the country prepares for a referendum on April 16 that proposes to change the constitution to give Erdogan new powers. A senior State Department official said Tillerson will meet with Erdogan and government ministers involved in the fight against Islamic State in Syria. “It is certainly something we are very acutely aware of and the secretary will be mindful of while he is there,” one State Department official told a conference call with reporters, referring to political sensitivities ahead of the referendum.

American officials expect Erdogan and others to raise the case of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the government accuses of orchestrating a failed coup last July. The focus of the Ankara talks is the U.S.-led offensive to retake Raqqa from Islamic State and to stabilize areas in which militants have been forced out, allowing refugees to return home, officials said. A major sticking point between the United States and Turkey is U.S. backing for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which Turkey considers part of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party that has been fighting an insurgency for three decades in Turkey. But the United States has long viewed Kurdish fighters as key to retaking Raqqa alongside Arab fighters in the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). “We are very mindful of Turkey’s concerns and it is something that will continue to be a topic of conversation,” a second U.S. official said.

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Fire sale. The minister actually called these practices ‘cannibalistic’, and rightly so. And that’s not even the best of it. A Greek paper details how a Greek bank, Alpha Bank, lends the money to German investors to buy up Greece’s Public Power Corp. That is about as close to cannibalism as you can get. Economic warfare 101.

Troika Pushes Greece To Sell Up To 40% Of State-Controlled Power Utility (R.)

A Greek minister on Monday accused international lenders of reneging on a 2015 bailout deal by trying to force a fire-sale of its main electricity utility PPC to serve “domestic and foreign business interests.” Under terms of a 2015 bailout deal for Greece worth up to €86 billion, Public Power Corp. (PPC) is obliged to cut its dominance in the Greek market to below 50% by 2020. Although it is not clearly specified in the deal, lenders want Greece to sell some of PPC’s assets. PPC, which is 51% owned by the state, now controls about 90% of the country’s retail electricity market and 60% of its wholesale market. Greece last year launched power auctions to private operators as a temporary mechanism and has proposed that PPC team up with private companies to help achieve this target. But lenders doubt the effectiveness of the measure.

“What they want is that power production infrastructure of up to 40% – PPC’s coal-fired production- is sold. This is what they want right know, which is beyond the (2015) deal,” Interior Minister Panos Skourletis, a former energy minister, told Greek state television. Skourletis on Monday accused the lenders pressing the country to sell-off PPC units at a very low price to serve European and domestic competitors. “It is an assault which has set its sights on PPC’s assets to pass it on to specific European and domestic business interests at a humiliating price,” Skourletis said in an Op-Ed penned for the Efimerida Ton Syntakton daily.

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More warfare, more cannibalism. Airports also ‘privatized’, ‘reformed’. Alpha Bank is also the largest lender in this case. Nice partners too: “..the International Finance Corporation (€154.1 million), a member of the World Bank Group [..] is also the sole provider of euro interest rate hedging swaps..”

Fraport Greece Signs Funding Deal With 5 Lenders (K.)

Five leading financial institutions have signed a long-term financing agreement with German-Greek consortium Fraport Greece, which will soon be managing, operating, upgrading and maintaining 14 regional Greek airports under a 40-year concession contract. The agreement is for total financing of 968.4 million euros. The lenders are Alpha Bank (participating with €284.7 million), the Black Sea Trade & Development Bank (€62.5 million), the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (€186.7 million), the European Investment Bank (€280.4 million), and the International Finance Corporation (€154.1 million), a member of the World Bank Group.

IFC is also the sole provider of euro interest rate hedging swaps to help Fraport Greece hedge potential fluctuations in interest rates through the term of the loan. Over two-thirds of the total amount (€688 million) will be used to cover the upfront payment (of €1.234 billion) due to state sell-off fund TAIPED upon the airports’ delivery, while €280.4 million will be used to finance upgrading work at the 14 airports. Meanwhile, Fraport Greece recently announced a capital increase raising the company’s total capital to €650 million, most of which will go toward the upfront payment.

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But domestic credit is still collapsing. And so is the economy, of course.

Contraction Of Credit Continues Unabated In Greece (K.)

Bank of Greece figures revealed on Monday a further contraction in the financing of the Greek economy last month, a result of the general uncertainty hanging over the economy and the drop deposits at the country’s banks. The total funding of the economy was down 2% YOY in February, from -1.5% in January, while the monthly net flow of total financing was negative by €801 million, against a negative flow of €1.261 billion in January. The main factor in that decline was the drop in funding to the state, as the annual rate concerning the general government sector posted a 3.7% contraction in February against a 0.1% increase in January. In the private sector it was negative by 1.6% as funding shrank by a net €101 million. The image was somewhat different for enterprises as there was an €82 million monthly increase in the net flow of funding last month, compared with a €643 million decline in January. However, the flow of credit to private clients and nonprofit organizations dipped by €153 million or 2.7% in February.

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Wise old genius. “As soon as three Greeks get together, they start talking of who’s going to be the leader..”

Mikis Theodorakis: ‘In Tough Times, Greeks Become Heroes or Slaves’ (GR)

“During tough times, a Greek can become a hero or a slave,” said legendary Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis in an interview published in Proto Thema Sunday newspaper. The 92-year-old musician, who is also an emblematic figure of the Greek Left, spoke about Greece’s current state, the leftist government, the main opposition party and the bailout agreements. Theodorakis said that he is not shocked about the current condition Greece is in because, historically, the country has been through turmoil several times. He said the Greek spirit, like a light, shines through at the end because Greeks have an inner harmony that prevails. However, Theodorakis said, this is a hard period for Greece and this time he is afraid for the future of the country: “When the Greek is with his back against the wall, he becomes a hero or a slave.”

When asked to compare the current state of the nation with the times of the German Occupation, Theodorakis said that what Greece is going through now is worse: “I don’t remember people going through the trash to find food. I don’t remember elderly people waiting in line to get a cabbage.” Theodorakis spoke in length about the time (2012) opposition leader Alexis Tsipras and leftist legend Manolis Glezos approached him and asked him to join SYRIZA and win the upcoming elections. He said he refused to join because the young candidate did not have a plan on how to get Greece going without supervision and financial aid from the EU and the IMF. He described Greece as a train rolling on tracks laid by the EU and the IMF.

“I told him ‘if you’re planning to come to power without having a plan to change the tracks and provide Greek people with what they need, then you are opportunists and you will only succeed in destroying the country and humiliating the Greek Left’,” the composer said about Tsipras. “With great sadness, I believe that the current plight of the country confirms exactly what I said to Alexis Tsipras, here in my house, in the meeting that I mentioned earlier,” Theodorakis said. The composer said that Greeks have a lust for power: “As soon as three Greeks get together, they start talking of who’s going to be the leader,” he said characteristically.

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A new issue has come to light: where are the NGOs picking up the refugees?

Nearly 1,200 Migrants Picked Up Off Libya, Heading To Italy (R.)

Humanitarian ships rescued almost 1,200 migrants who were crossing the Mediterranean Sea at the weekend on an array of small, tightly packed boats, Doctors Without Borders said on Sunday. A young woman was found unconscious on one of the vessels and later died, the group said. Some 412 people were crammed onto a single wooden boat, while the others were picked up from huge inflatable dinghies, which had set sail from the coast of Libya. The weekend rescues mean that about 22,000 mainly African migrants have been picked up heading to Italy so far this year, while around 520 have died trying to make the crossing.

An Italian prosecutor said last week that humanitarian ships operating off Libya were undermining the fight against people smugglers and opening a corridor that is ultimately leading to more migrant deaths. The chief prosecutor of the Sicilian port city of Catania, Carmelo Zuccaro, said he also suspected that there may be direct communication between Libya-based smugglers and members of charity-operated rescue vessels. NGOs deny any wrongdoing, saying they are simply looking to save lives, but they are facing criticism in Italy, which has taken in about half a million migrants since the start of 2014.

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Italy thinks George Soros is sponsoring this.

Italy Calls For Investigation Of NGO Supported Migrant Fleet (Dm.)

Italian authorities are calling for monitoring of the funding of an NGO fleet bussing migrants into the EU from the North African coast after a report released the European Border and Coast Guard Agency has determined that the members of the fleet are acting as accomplices to people smugglers and directly contributing to the risk of death migrants face when attempting to enter the EU. The report from regulatory agency Frontex suggests that NGOs sponsoring ships in the fleet are now acting as veritable accomplices to people smugglers due to their service which, in effect, provides a reliable shuttle service for migrants from North Africa to Italy. The fleet lowers smugglers’ costs, as it all but eliminates the need to procure seaworthy vessels capable making a full voyage across the Mediterranean to the European coastline.

Traffickers are also able to operate with much less risk of arrest by European law enforcement officers. Frontex specifically noted that traffickers have intentionally sought to alter their strategy, sending their vessels to ships run by the NGO fleet rather than the Italian and EU military. On March 25th, 2017, Italian news source Il Giornale carried remarks from Carmelo Zuccaro, the chief prosecutor of Catania (Sicily) calling for monitoring of the funding behind the NGO groups engaged in operating the migrant fleet. He stated that “the facilitation of illegal immigration is a punishable offense regardless of the intention.” While it is not a crime to enter the waters of a foreign country and pick them migrants, NGOs are supposed to land them at the nearest port of call, which would have been somewhere along the North African coast instead of in Italy.

The chief prosecutor also noted that Italy is investigating Islamic radicalization occurring in prisons and camps where immigrants are hired off the books. Italy has for some months been reeling under the pressure of massive numbers of migrants who have been moving from North Africa into the southern states of the European Union. In December 2016, The Express cited comments made by Virginia Raggi, the mayor of Vatican City, stating that Rome was on the verge of a “war” between migrants and poor Italians. The wave of migrants has also caused issues in southern Italy, where the Sicilian Cosa Nostra has declared a “war on migrants” last year amid reports that the Italian mafia had begun fighting with North African crime gangs who entered the EU among migrant populations.

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Aug 252016
 
 August 25, 2016  Posted by at 9:18 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  7 Responses »


Harris&Ewing US Navy Yard, Washington. Sight shop, big gun section 1917

‘It’s Easier To Start A War Than To Forgive Debt’ (ET)
Mobius: Helicopter Money Will Be Japan’s Next Big Experiment, And Soon (BBG)
Central Bankers Eye Public Spending To Plug $1 Trillion Investment Gap (R.)
World Trade Falls for Second Quarter in a Row (WS)
Largest Oil Companies’ Debts Hit Record High (WSJ)
This is What’s Wrong with US Oil (WS)
Scotland North Sea Oil Revenues Collapse 97% (Ind.)
The Woman Who Revived Russia’s Markets (WSJ)
China Imposes Caps on P2P Loans to Curb Shadow-Banking Risks (BBG)
Runaway Bosses Fleeing Debts A Symptom Of China’s Economic Slowdown (SCMP)
Real World Shows Economics Has a Deflation Problem (BBG)
S&P: Increased Risk Of ‘Sharp Correction In New Zealand Property Prices’ (Int.)
Treasury to EU: Back Off On Tax Probes Of US Companies (CNBC)
French Support For The EU Project Is Crumbling On The Left And Right (AEP)
‘It Took On A Life Of Its Own’: How One Rogue Tweet Led Syrians To Germany (G.)
We’ve Been Wrecking The Planet A Lot Longer Than You Think (SMH)

 

 

Good and long interview with Macquarie strategist Victor Shvets.

‘It’s Easier To Start A War Than To Forgive Debt’ (ET)

Shvets says the world should have actually delevered or paid down the debt to return initiative to the private sector, but thinks people could not accept the levels of pain associated with it. “You could eliminate the impact of the overcapacity through deflation. Nobody is prepared to accept that we might have to wipe out decades of growth just to eliminate leverage. Banks go, there are defaults, bankruptcies, layoffs,” he said. He thinks the Biblical debt jubilee, where slaves would be freed and debt would be forgiven every 50 years is a nice idea that would also work today if it weren’t for entrenched special interests. “The debt is not spread evenly, we still live in a tribal world, and it’s easier to start a war than to forgive debt,” Shvets said.

Global central banks with their easy money policies of negative interest rates and quantitative easing are working against a debt deflation scenario, with limited success, according to Shvets. “That was the entire idea of aggressive monetary policies: Stimulate investment and consumption. None of that works, there is no evidence. It can impact asset prices, but they don’t flow into the real economy,” he said. “Remember, the people at the Fed and the Bank of England are not supermen, they are people with an above average IQ trying to do a very difficult job in a highly complex environment.” Both overleveraging, easy money policies, and technological shifts are responsible for increasing levels of income inequality across the globe, another hallmark of the previous two industrial revolutions. Fewer people control more of the wealth.

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So far it’s all just talk.

Mobius: Helicopter Money Will Be Japan’s Next Big Experiment, And Soon (BBG)

The Federal Reserve signals a reluctance to raise interest rates. The yen strengthens to 90 per dollar. Haruhiko Kuroda decides to act. Helicopter money is coming, says Mark Mobius, even as soon as next month. The 80-year-old investment veteran is outlining how he expects central banks to respond to sluggish economic growth. For Mobius, executive chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group, traditional easing measures have just made people save instead of spend or borrow. Combined with a stronger yen, he says that’s going to force the Bank of Japan governor to contemplate a policy he’s repeatedly ruled out. “They’re really beginning to think what ammunition they have,” he said in an interview on a visit to a typhoon-struck Tokyo this week.

“The first reaction is to say, OK, let’s go for helicopter money, let’s get money directly into the hands of consumers,” he said. “I think that would probably be the next step.” Central bankers have flooded their economies with monetary stimulus in the eight years since the global financial crisis, driving up asset prices – including the stock markets that Mobius invests in – while struggling to kickstart global growth. A foray into negative interest rates in Japan has been met with the yen surging to about 100 per dollar, falling stocks and dwindling bank profits.

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Party time.

Central Bankers Eye Public Spending To Plug $1 Trillion Investment Gap (R.)

While markets wait for Janet Yellen’s latest message about the direction of monetary policy, the Federal Reserve chief and her colleagues already have one for politicians: the U.S. economy needs more public spending to shift into higher gear. In the past few weeks, Yellen and three of the Fed’s other four Washington-based governors have called in speeches and Congressional hearings for government infrastructure spending and other efforts to counter weak growth, sagging productivity improvements, and lagging business investment. The fifth member has supported the idea in the past. The Fed has no direct influence over fiscal policy and its officials traditionally refrain from discussing it in detail.

Having its top officials – from Yellen to former investment banker and Bush administration official Jerome Powell – speak in one voice sends a strong signal to the next president and Congress about the limits they face in setting monetary policy and what is needed to improve the economy’s prospects. The Fed’s annual conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where Yellen speaks on Friday, is due to focus on how to improve central banks’ “toolkit,” but the unanimous message from the Fed’s top policymakers is that those tools are not enough. “Monetary policy is not well equipped to address long-term issues like the slowdown in productivity growth,” Fed vice chair Stanley Fischer said on Sunday. He said it was up to the administration to invest more in infrastructure and education.

Behind Fischer’s statement lies a troubling feature of the recovery – business investment has fallen below levels in prior years and companies seem to have stopped responding to low borrowing costs. As a share of GDP, U.S. annual business investment since 2008 has averaged nearly a full percentage point below the previous decade’s average, government data shows. Reuters calculations indicate the investment shortfall has blown a hole in annual GDP that has grown to as much as one trillion dollars a year compared with what it would have been if the previous trend continued.

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“A full decade of stagnation.”

World Trade Falls for Second Quarter in a Row (WS)

Adding to the picture of crummy demand for goods around the world, the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, a division of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, just released its preliminary data of its Merchandise World Trade Monitor for June. Trade volumes rose 0.7% in June from May, after falling 0.5% in May, but were about flat year-over-year, and below the volumes of December 2014! On a quarterly basis – it averages out the monthly ups and downs – world trade fell 0.8%, contracting for the second quarter in a row. The CPB recently adjusted its world trade data down, going back many years.

The new data now depicts a post-Financial Crisis recovery of global trade that was a lot weaker than the original data had indicated. These downward adjustments of 2% to 3% came in a world where economic growth, according to the IMF, is stuck at 3.1% in 2016. This chart of the CPB’s World Trade Monitor index shows the old data released as of July 2015 (blue line) and the newly adjusted data released today (red line). Note the 4.4% drop from the peak in global trade volumes in the original data for December 2014 and in the current data for June 2016!

World trade is a reflection of the goods-producing economy. Services don’t get shipped around the world. Goods do. So industrial production, excluding construction, is key. And here the trend is awful for advanced economies. Global industrial production, excluding construction, rose 0.6% in June, after a 0.3% decline in May. The index for industrial production in advanced economies rose to 102.5, below where it had been in January (103.4), a level it had hit after the Financial Crisis in December 2012, but down from the glory days before the Financial Crisis when the index peaked in February 2008 (107.8). And here’s a tidbit: the first time that the index hit the current level had been in April 2006. A full decade of stagnation.

Industrial production has shifted to emerging economies (“cheap labor” economies) for many years, such as China, as companies in the US, decades ago, and eventually in Europe and Japan began outsourcing and offshoring production to emerging economies. Hence, industrial production in emerging economies has surged over this period. This was particularly the case after the Financial Crisis when companies in the US, Europe, and Japan redoubled their efforts to get production relocated offshore. This chart shows the CPB’s industrial production index globally (green line), and also separated by advanced economies (the dismally flat-ish blue line at the bottom) and emerging economies (brown line at the top):

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Someone better restructure that entire industry, or ugly things will happen.

Largest Oil Companies’ Debts Hit Record High (WSJ)

Some of the world’s largest energy companies are saddled with their highest debt levels ever as they struggle with low crude prices, raising worries about their ability to pay dividends and find new barrels. Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP and Chevron hold a combined net debt of $184 billion—more than double their debt levels in 2014, when oil prices began a steep descent that eventually bottomed out at $27 a barrel earlier this year. Crude prices have rebounded since, but still hover near $50 a barrel. The soaring debt levels are a fresh reminder of the toll the two-year price slump has taken on the oil industry. Just a decade ago, these four companies were hauled before Congress to explain “windfall profits” but now can’t cover expenses with normal cash flow.

Executives at BP, Shell, Exxon and Chevron have assured investors that they will generate enough cash in 2017 to pay for new investments and dividends, but some shareholders are skeptical. In the first half of 2015, the companies fell short of that goal by $40 billion, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of their numbers. “Eventually something will give,” said Michael Hulme, manager of the $550 million Carmignac Commodities Fund, which holds stakes in Shell and Exxon. “These companies won’t be able to maintain the current dividends at $50 to $60 oil—it’s unsustainable.” BP has said it expects to be able to pay for its operations, make new investments and meet its dividend at an oil price of between $50 and $55 a barrel next year.

The debt is piling up despite cuts of billions of dollars on new projects and current operations. Repaying the loans could weigh the companies down for years, crimping their ability to make investments elsewhere and keep pumping ever more oil and gas. “They are just not spending enough to boost production,” said Jonathan Waghorn at Guinness Atkinson Asset Management.

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As graphs go…

This is What’s Wrong with US Oil (WS)

Soothsayers out there have been prophesying time and again, for over a year, that very soon, in fact next week, the supply glut will start to unwind; that production in the US is already coming down sharply, that demand is up, or whatever…. In the end, a glut comes down to whether inventories are rising, particularly during a time of the year when they’re supposed to be falling (glut gets worse), or whether they’re falling (glut stabilizes or abates). It’s not just crude oil, but also the products that crude oil gets refined into for eventual use. And these stocks of petroleum products have been a doozie, particularly gasoline.

Gasoline stocks were essentially unchanged for the week, at 232.7 million barrels, a record for this time of the year, and up 8.5% from the already elevated inventory levels last year. Distillate fuels rose by 200,000 barrels to 153.3 million barrels. And “all other oils” jumped by a total of 3.9 million barrels to 490.6 million barrels. So total petroleum products stocks rose by 6.6 million barrels during the week, or 0.5%. Once again, this small-ish number, but over the period of the oil bust, total petroleum products stocks have soared by 30% and now exceed for the first time ever another huge milestone: 1.4 billion barrels. This chart shows what a truly relentless glut looks like:

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No independence then?!

Scotland North Sea Oil Revenues Collapse 97% (Ind.)

Scotland’s revenues from North Sea oil have collapsed by 97% in the past year as oil prices have plummeted, reigniting a fierce debate over whether an independent Scotland could finance itself. Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “The nationalists’ case for independence has been swallowed up by a £14bn black hole.” Taxes collected from oil production fell from £1.8bn in 2015 to just £60m in 2016. The gap between tax revenues and what Scotland spends is now 9.5%, or £14.8bn, compared to a 4% deficit for the UK as a whole. Scotland’s public sector now spends £12,800 per person, but collects just £10,000 each, the figures reveal. In 2008-9, as oil peaked at almost $150 per barrel, the Scottish government brought in a record £11.6bn from North Sea fields.

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Funny. Here’s what I wrote on April 8, 2015: Russia’s Central Bank Governor Is Way Smarter Than Ours

The Woman Who Revived Russia’s Markets (WSJ)

Russian markets are red hot again. Two years after plunging oil prices and Western economic sanctions fueled an investor exodus, the Micex stock index on Tuesday hit an all-time high. It is up 25% this year in dollar terms, making Russia the sixth-best performer among 23 emerging countries tracked by MSCI Inc. The ruble has gained 13% against the dollar this year, ranking third among all emerging currencies. Russia’s local-currency bonds rank third this year in performance out of 15 countries tracked by JP Morgan Chase. Many investors credit central-bank chief Elvira Nabiullina for Russia’s resurgence. They cite her surprise decision to end the ruble’s peg to the dollar in November 2014 and then sharply raise interest rates to combat capital flight and knock down inflation.

The moves were painful for Russia’s economy, which went into a sharp recession as the value of the ruble slumped, reducing consumer and business purchasing power. But over time they have helped to restore some international-investor faith in a country still shadowed by its 1998 default. “The correct steps taken by the Russian central bank have restored confidence in the ruble and its macroeconomic policy,” said Andrey Kutuzov, an associate portfolio manager of the Wasatch Emerging Markets Small Cap fund. Global investors this year have added $1.3 billion to funds that invest in Russian bonds and stocks, according to EPFR Global. The share of foreigners among government bondholders rose to 24.5% as of June 1, its highest level since late 2012, according to the Russian central bank.

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“..loans for weddings, guaranteed against the cash gifts that couples expect to receive..”

China Imposes Caps on P2P Loans to Curb Shadow-Banking Risks (BBG)

China imposed limits on lending by peer-to-peer platforms to individuals and companies in an effort to curb risks in one part of the loosely-regulated shadow-banking sector. An individual can borrow as much as 1 million yuan ($150,000) from P2P sites, including a maximum of 200,000 yuan from any one site, the China Banking Regulatory Commission said in Beijing on Wednesday. Corporate borrowers are capped at five times those levels. Tighter regulation may encourage consolidation that aids the industry long-term, said Wei Hou at Sanford C. Bernstein in Hong Kong. China’s authorities are concerned about defaults and fraud among the nation’s 2,349 online lenders. In December, the country’s biggest Ponzi scheme was exposed after Internet lender Ezubo allegedly defrauded more than 900,000 people out of the equivalent of $7.6 billion.

The nation has 1778 “problematic” online lenders, according to the CBRC. The P2P lenders are barred from taking public deposits or selling wealth-management products and must appoint qualified banks as custodians and improve information disclosure, the regulator said. [..] China’s P2P industry brokered 982 billion yuan of loans in 2015, almost quadruple the amount in 2014 and an approximately 10-fold increase from 2013, according to Yingcan. P2P firms attracted more than 3.4 million investors and 1.15 million borrowers in July, with loans extended at an average interest rate of 10.3%, according to Yingcan. Products offered by P2P platforms in China can include anything from loans for weddings, guaranteed against the cash gifts that couples expect to receive, to high-yield lending for risky property or mining projects.

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Biggest debts must be with shadow banks, and they don’t hang up posters.

Runaway Bosses Fleeing Debts A Symptom Of China’s Economic Slowdown (SCMP)

Wanted posters for fugitive debtors, not commercials, are the main images that flash up on a big electronic screen in downtown Yixing, in the heart of the faltering Chinese industrial powerhouse that is the Yangtze River Delta. The posters, from the local courts, show the identity card numbers and pictures of dozens of people who have fled unpaid debts. Rewards ranging from 20,000 yuan (HK$23,000) to 330,000 yuan are offered to anyone reporting their whereabouts. But Hengsheng Square is the glitziest part of Yixing – with the most luxury stores, the brightest lights and the priciest office buildings – and few passers-by, their attention directed elsewhere, heed the wanted posters. They have little novelty value in any case, with the “runaway debtor” phenomenon now just part of daily life in the small city as economic growth slows.

In many ways, the square stands as a metaphor for the overall health of the Chinese economy. Under a prosperous surface, deep cracks have begun to emerge in its investment-led model, casting a shadow over the country’s economic growth prospects and even giving rise to doubts about the fundamental soundness of the world’s second-biggest economy. “The economic dynamics are waning,” said Professor Hu Xingdou, an economist at Beijing Institute of Technology. “China’s economic growth in recent years was powered by massive money printing, which is dangerous and unsustainable.”

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Holding up Spain as a success story while it has 20-25% unemployment never seemed terribly credible. It still doesn’t.

Real World Shows Economics Has a Deflation Problem (BBG)

Jacob Rothschild, the billionaire scion of arguably Europe’s greatest banking dynasty says we’re living through “the greatest experiment in monetary policy in the history of the world.” There’s a major flaw in the experiment, though: the real world isn’t responding to policy in the way that the textbooks say it should. Moreover, it seems increasingly evident that the fears that led to zero interest rates and quantitative easing were at best overblown, if not entirely unjustified. The economic quandary is easy to parse. Central banks almost everywhere have sanctioned a 2% inflation target as signifying financial Nirvana. But, as the table below shows, consumer prices in the world’s major economies are rising much slower than that arbitrary ideal:

Spain has emerged as the poster child for deflation. Prices fell by 0.6% in July, the country’s 12th consecutive month with no increase in inflation. The textbooks suggest that when there’s a prolonged period of falling prices – the definition of deflation – the economy can quickly find itself in a tailspin. Businesses and consumers will defer purchases in the expectation that goods and services will be even cheaper in the future. So if Spain has had an average inflation rate of -0.4% since the end of 2013, and has seen lower prices in 23 of the past 30 months, consumers will have responded by shunning the shops and curtailing their spending, right? Wrong:

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Heed that warning.

S&P: Increased Risk Of ‘Sharp Correction In New Zealand Property Prices’ (Int.)

International credit rating agency S&P Global Ratings has warned of the increasing risks facing New Zealand banks as a result of the continuing rise in house prices. In a new report, S&P has downgraded its Banking Industry Country Risk Assessment (BICRA) for NZ’s banks by a notch, dropping it from 3 to 4, on a scale where 1 is the lowest risk and 10 is the highest risk. However it has not changed the individual credit ratings of any New Zealand banks. [..] .. our ratings on all the financial institutions operating in New Zealand remain unchanged. “This reflects our expectation that despite some weakening in the capital levels of all these financial institutions, their stand alone credit profiles (SACPs) would remain unchanged.

However S&P did downgrade the SACPs of ASB and Rabobank by one notch each, although it did not downgrade the two banks’ credit ratings, “… reflecting our assessment of timely financial support from their respective parents, if needed,” S&P said. S&P said the increased risks to this country’s banking sector had been driven by “…continued strong growth in residential property prices nationally, coupled with an increase in private sector credit growth.” “We believe the risk of a sharp correction in property prices has further increased and, if it were to occur – with about 56% of registered banks’ lending assets secured by residential home loans – the impact on financial institutions would be amplified by the New Zealand economy’s external weaknesses, in particular its persistent current account deficit and high level of external debt.”

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This is just plain funny.

Treasury to EU: Back Off On Tax Probes Of US Companies (CNBC)

There’s a giant pot of corporate gold sitting outside the United States, and the U.S. Treasury and the European Commission are squabbling over how to get their hands on it. American multinational corporations have stashed more than $2 trillion in profits and assets outside to avoid paying what many companies argue are unduly high U.S. corporate tax rates. Over the past few years, the European Commission has opened investigations into a handful of those companies, including Apple, Starbucks and Amazon, to determine whether they owe taxes to European countries. But the Treasury Department, in a “white paper” released Wednesday, said those investigations have gone too far.

The paper attacked the legal approach the EU is using to determine tax liabilities on American companies, saying it targets “income that (European) Member States have no right to tax under well-established international tax standards.” The paper also argued that taxes collected by European countries could, in effect, come right out of the pockets of American taxpayers. That’s because taxes collected by European countries could be deducted from any future payments to the Treasury. “That outcome is deeply troubling, as it would effectively constitute a transfer of revenue to the EU from the U.S. government and its taxpayers,” the paper said. The report urged the European Commission to “return to the system and practice of international tax cooperation that has long fostered cross-border investment between the United States and EU Member States.”

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France will demand the hollowing out of the EU. Decentralization. Inevitable when economies shrink.

French Support For The EU Project Is Crumbling On The Left And Right (AEP)

The drama of Brexit may soon be matched or eclipsed by crystallizing events in France, where the Long Slump is at last taking its political toll. A democracy can endure deflation policies for only so long. The attrition has wasted the French centre-right and the centre-left by turns, and now threatens the Fifth Republic itself. The maturing crisis has echoes of 1936, when the French people tired of ‘deflation decrees’ and turned to the once unthinkable Front Populaire, smashing what remained of the Gold Standard. Former Gaulliste president Nicolas Sarkozy has caught the headlines this week, launching a come-back bid with a package of hard-Right policies unseen in a western European democracy in modern times.

But the uproar on the Left is just as revealing. Arnaud Montebourg, the enfant terrible of the Socialist movement, has launched his own bid for the Socialist Party with a critique of such ferocity that it bears examination. The former economy minister says France voted for a left-wing French manifesto four years ago and ended up with a “right-wing German policy regime”. This is objectively true. The vote was meaningless. “I believe that we have reached the end of road for the EU, and that France no longer has any interest in it. The EU has left us mired in crisis long after the rest of the world has moved on,” he said. Mr Montebourg stops short of ‘Frexit’ but calls for the unilateral suspension of EU labour laws. “As far as I am concerned, the current treaties have elapsed.

I will be inspired by the General de Gaulle’s policy of the ’empty chair’, a strike against the EU. I am not in favour of a French Brexit, but we can longer accept a Europe like that,” he said. In other words, he wishes to leave from within – as Poland, and Hungary are doing – without actually triggering any legal or technical clause. Mr Montebourg is unlikely to progress far but his indictment of president François Hollande is devastating. The party leadership was warned repeatedly and emphatically that contractionary policies would inevitably lead to another million jobless but the economic was swept aside. “They never budged from their Catechism and their false certitudes,” he said.

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“..the first post on social media to change the course of European history..”

‘It Took On A Life Of Its Own’: How One Rogue Tweet Led Syrians To Germany (G.)

The tweet was sent by Germany’s ministry for migration and refugees a year ago today. “The #Dublin procedure for Syrian citizens is at this point in time effectively no longer being adhered to,” the message read. With 175 retweets and 165 likes, it doesn’t look like classic viral content. But in Germany it is being spoken of as the first post on social media to change the course of European history. Referring to an EU law determined at a convention in Dublin in 1990, the tweet was widely interpreted as a de facto suspension of the rule that the country in Europe where a refugee first arrives is responsible for handling his or her asylum application.

By this point in 2015, more than 300,000 asylum seekers had reached Europe by boat – a figure that was already 50% higher than even the record-breaking number of arrivals in 2014. Although the German ministry’s intervention certainly did not start the crisis, it did make Germany the first-choice destination for Syrians who previously might have aimed for other countries in Europe, such as Sweden, which at the time offered indefinite asylum to Syrians. It also created an impression of confusion and loss of political control, from which Angela Merkel’s government has at times struggled to recover. Twelve months on, politicians and officials at the centre of Berlin’s bureaucratic machine are still trying to figure out how the tweet came about.

Four days previously, Angelika Wenzl, the executive senior government official at the refugee ministry, which in Germany is known as BAMF, had emailed out an internal memo titled “Rules for the suspension of the Dublin convention for Syrian citizens” to its 36 field bureaux around the country, stating that Syrians who applied for asylum in Germany would no longer be sent back to the country where they had first stepped on European soil. [..] By channels that officials and journalists have so far failed to pinpoint, Wenzl’s internal memo was leaked to the press.

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I forget who said it, but it’s still an interesting take: ”Nature developed mankind to get rid of a carbon imbalance”.

We’ve Been Wrecking The Planet A Lot Longer Than You Think (SMH)

When Charles Dickens, the English novelist, was detailing the “soft black drizzle” of pollution over London, he might inadvertently have been chronicling the early signs of global warming. New research led by Australian scientists has pegged back the timing of when humans had clearly begun to change the climate to the 1830s. An international research project has found human-induced climate change is first detectable in the Arctic and tropical oceans around the 1830s, earlier than expected. That’s about half a century before the first comprehensive instrumental records began – and about the time Dickens began his novels depicting Victorian Britain’s rush to industrialise.

The findings, published on Thursday in the journal Nature, were based on natural records of climate variation in the world’s oceans and continents, including those found in corals, ice cores, tree rings and the changing chemistry of stalagmites in caves. Helen McGregor, an ARC future fellow at the University of Wollongong and one of the paper’s lead authors, said it was “quite a surprise” the international research teams of dozens of scientists had been able to detect a signal of climate change emerging in the tropical oceans and the Arctic from the 1830s. “Nailing down the timing in different regions was something we hadn’t expected to be able to do,” Dr McGregor told Fairfax Media.

Interestingly, the change comes sooner to northern climes, with regions such as Australasia not experiencing a clear warming signal until the early 1900s. Nerilie Abram, another of the lead authors and an associate professor at the Australian National University’s Research School of Earth Sciences, said greenhouse gas levels rose from about 280 parts per million in the 1830s to about 295 ppm by the end of that century. They now exceed 400 ppm.

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