Feb 212022
 
 February 21, 2022  Posted by at 9:30 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  147 Responses »


Rembrandt van Rijn Saskia en profil in expensive attire 1640-45

 

Biden And Putin Accept Macron’s Proposal (RT)
Biden-Putin Peace Summit Certain to Bring Nobel Peace Nomination (CTH)
Ukraine DM: Low Probability of Major Escalation With Russia (Antiwar)
Europe Has Next To No Gas Left – Gazprom (RT)
New World Order Desperate as Plan Falls Apart – Martin Armstrong (USAW)
The Next Step for the World Economic Forum (Koops)
The Great Reset Becomes The Great Awakening (Luongo)
Why People Believe Wrong Things: A Response to Reader Critiques (Eugyp)
The CDC Isn’t Publishing Large Portions of the Covid Data It Collects (NYT)
Scientists Reluctant to Study Vaccine Side Effects, Notes Top Journal (DS)
American Truckers Are Launching The People’s Convoy (Malone)
Ottawa Mayor Wants To Sell Confiscated Freedom Convoy Trucks (RT)
US Congresswoman Proposes Asylum For Canadian Protesters (RT)
A Social Credit System Arrives in Canada (Sacks)
Trudeau to Make Surveillance Powers over Financial Transactions Permanent (NR)
Eric Adams Admits That Vax Mandates Don’t Work, But Won’t Change Them (NYP)

 

 

 

 

Rogan Maajid Nawaz

 

 

 

 

Ha ha ha ha!

“..such a meeting “can only be held at the condition that Russia does not invade Ukraine,” the Elysee palace added”

Biden And Putin Accept Macron’s Proposal (RT)

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his American counterpart Joe Biden have both agreed in “principle” to hold a meeting to halt escalation of conflict in Ukraine, the Elysee Palace said in a statement on Sunday night. Emmanuel Macron “proposed a summit to be held between President Biden and President Putin and then with relevant stakeholders to discuss security and strategic stability in Europe,” according to the statement. “Presidents Biden and Putin have both accepted the principle of such a summit,” it added. However, such a meeting “can only be held at the condition that Russia does not invade Ukraine,” the Elysee palace added. The “substance” of the summit, should it take place, will be prepared by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during their meeting expected on Thursday, February 24.


While the Kremlin has yet to issue a comment, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that President Biden “accepted in principle a meeting with President Putin following [Blinken-Lavrov] engagement, again, if an invasion hasn’t happened.” French President briefed his US counterpart on Sunday evening on his talks with Vladimir Putin of Russia and Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, in a call that reportedly lasted only 15 minutes on Sunday evening. In a call with Putin earlier on Sunday, Macron offered to mediate talks in the so-called Normandy Format “in the next few hours” to secure a ceasefire along the line of contact in the disputed region of Donbass in eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin confirmed that “the two leaders agreed to maintain contact at various levels,” but did not provide any specific details on such plans.

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“..they must take the manufactured crisis to the brink of thermonuclear war, so that Joe Biden can save the world and be seen as this legendary diplomat.”

Biden-Putin Peace Summit Certain to Bring Nobel Peace Nomination (CTH)

To understand why there has been so much escalating rhetoric about Russia going to invade Ukraine at any moment, you must realize the intent. The motives of the crisis narrative are crystal clear. Everything about the Russia invasion of Ukraine has to be increasingly imminent, horrible and loomingly catastrophic for the planet, so that when it doesn’t happen the glorious victory for Dear Leader Biden can be proclaimed and amplified from the mountaintops. Russia has absolutely no plan to invade Ukraine and doesn’t even have a role in this theatrical production from the White House. The way the game is played; and believe me, everything about this is a game; they must take the manufactured crisis to the brink of thermonuclear war, so that Joe Biden can save the world and be seen as this legendary diplomat.

In the annals of U.S. historym there has never been such an important summit. The nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, that Ron Klain wants in this mid-term election year, is dependent on magnanimous and strategic Biden overcoming all geopolitical odds to save the world. Everything is carefully planned and scripted with a ‘this’, then ‘that‘ approach toward sequencing. Earlier today, the Sunday news talk shows were filled with pending invasion rhetoric. Putin was mere moments away from a massive army entering Ukraine. The smells of heavy diesel loomed in the valleys as the thundering sound of tank tracks approached ever closer. Dark men with black weapons were beating drums and carrying the flag of Mother Russia, as millions were seen marching by U.S. spy satellites in the region.

The birds all fled as the sounds of the battle groups began converging on the Ukraine border. “The Russians are coming; The Russians are coming” one lad shouted to the CNN crew as he whizzed by on his bicycle, trying to peddle fast while carrying a bag of sausages for his sullen and sickly grandparents in eastern Ukraine. CBS David Martin and Margaret Brennan reported {link} the Russian generals were informing their troop commanders of the invasion plans. CNN then broke into the news cycle quoting three sources {link} “saying that the US has intelligence indicating that orders have been sent to Russian commanders to proceed with an attack on Ukraine.” Things looked really bad just before noon…

Everything within the game needs to be looming on the precipice of crisis in order for it to have maximum impact when it doesn’t happen. However, it was always never going to happen, because it is pretend. It is all a big performance, a ruse, built on a completely manufactured scenario they know will never happen… because the White House is making it up.

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“Ukraine’s own assessment is clearly far afield of America’s.”

Ukraine DM: Low Probability of Major Escalation With Russia (Antiwar)

Ukraine DM Oleksii Reznikov told parliament on Friday that there is a low probability of any major escalation with Russia. He added that Ukraine intelligence sees every move made in the area. Tensions at the Russia-Ukraine border have been ongoing, with several Western nations repeatedly predicting a huge war. Ukraine has chided those nations for causing a panic. Predictions of such a conflict go back years, and while previous Ukraine officials had similar pessimism about it, more recently officials see a lot more chance for diplomacy. President Biden again predicted a Russian invasion Friday, noting a Russian offer to talk later this month and suggesting there’d be no point if invasion happens first. Ukraine’s own assessment is clearly far afield of America’s.

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Gazprom has honored all contracts.

Europe Has Next To No Gas Left – Gazprom (RT)

Underground gas storage facilities (UGS) in Europe were 95.3% empty as of February 17, Russia’s state energy giant and major gas exporter Gazprom said on Saturday, citing data from Gas Infrastructure Europe. This means that Europe now has only 4.7% of its gas reserves left for the remainder of the winter season. The volume of active gas in storage facilities is 21% or 8.3 billion cubic meters less compared to the same time last year. In total, 44.8 billion cubic meters have already been withdrawn from Europe’s UGS this winter. According to Gazprom, gas reserves in underground storage facilities in Ukraine are also at a minimum, having dropped to 10.6 billion cubic meters, which is 45% less than last year. Also, earlier this week, authorities in Germany, which has one of the largest underground storage capacities in Europe, reported a plunge in storage volumes to historically low levels compared to previous years.


The European Union, however, this week claimed that its supplies were sufficient to last several more weeks in the event that Russia stops its gas flow to the bloc amid tensions over Ukraine. Russian gas supplies to European countries had already started to fall in mid-2021, and the decline accelerated at the beginning of 2022. Gazprom, however, repeatedly insisted that it is still supplying Europe with gas in strict accordance with existing contracts. Despite this, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on Saturday called Gazprom’s supply policy intentionally harmful. “Gazprom is consciously trying to store and deliver as little as possible while prices and demand are skyrocketing,” she said in a speech at the Munich Security Conference, as quoted by Anadolu news agency.

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“The financial system has come to an end.”

New World Order Desperate as Plan Falls Apart – Martin Armstrong (USAW)

Legendary financial and geopolitical cycle analyst Martin Armstrong thinks the New World Order’s so-called “Great Reset” plan for humanity is falling apart, and the globalists are becoming increasingly “desperate.” Armstrong explains, “They are basically desperate at this stage. I don’t think they anticipate the amount of resistance that they are getting. It’s not just with the truckers in Canada, but this is starting everywhere. There has been an awful lot of resistance consistently that the press does not cover in virtually every city throughout Europe. . . . . They never step out and talk to the people because we are too stupid to actually have an opinion. They know better. This is what Klause Schwab does. He is far more sophisticated than people realize.

He has methodically gone out and created his young global leaders. He is basically sticking people in government positions that are loyal to him. Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau is one of them. . . . They think communism is a step up, and the last time this was attempted, it led to the death of 200 million people. This is absurd. . . . You are not allowed to think freely. That’s what communism really is. . . . You don’t realize this whole thing we are going through right now is the same thing. This is cancel culture. Someone said something I don’t like, and that was 20 years ago, so cancel them. This is exactly what took place in communism. You are destroying the right to speak freely.” The so-called “Great Reset” is all about control and tyranny. Armstrong says, “Just look at Canada. Trudeau is one of Klaus Schwab’s young global leaders. The worst countries have leaders that have graduated from his school. Make everybody comply, and if they don’t, crush them to the ground.”


The only good news is, according to Armstrong and his “Socrates” computer analysis, this is “not going to work out well for the globalists pushing communism.” Armstrong says, “With Karl Marx, at the time, people owned nothing. Schwab is saying, ‘You will own nothing and you will be happy.’ This is absurd because what you are doing is creating a fake image. Schwab is saying I am going to relieve you of all your debt. . . . That is a front because the government has gone to the point of no return. What you have to understand here is it is really the government that has to default. What I have said is, look, governments are going to have to default because this is no longer sustainable.” Armstrong predicted last year, “The financial system has come to an end.”

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A WEF overview. Can you still get elected anywhere without being a member?

The Next Step for the World Economic Forum (Koops)

If I give you the names of the following people – Biden, Trudeau, Ardern, Merkel, Macron, Draghi, Morrison, Xi Jinping – what do you think that they have in common? Yes, they are all pampered and stumble over themselves, but that is also not the connection. One can see very quickly that these names certainly connect to lockdown countries and individuals who have ignored their own laws and/or tried in some way to usurp them. But, there is more to it than that and I will give a hint by providing a link with each name. Joseph Biden, President, United States Boris Johnson, PM of United Kingdom Jacinda Ardern, PM of New Zealand Angela Merkel, Former PM of Germany Emmanuel Macron, President of France Justin Trudeau, PM of Canada Xi Jinping, CCP Leader, China Mario Draghi, PM of Italy Scott Morrison, PM of Australia

They are all associated with the World Economic Forum (WEF), a “nonprofit” private organization started (in 1971) and headed by Klaus “You will own nothing and be happy” Schwab and his family. This is a private organization that has no official bearing with any world governance body, despite the implication of the name. It could just as well have been called the “Church of Schwabies.” The WEF was the origin of the “Great Reset” and I would guess that it was the origin of “Build Back Better” (since most of the above names have used that term recently). If you think that the WEF membership ends with just leaders of countries, here are a few more names: Gavin Newsom, Governor of California Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State Anthony Fauci, Director NIAID Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House .

Allow me to introduce more of the WEF by giving a list of names for the Board of Trustees. Al Gore, Former VP of the US Mark Carney, UN Special Envoy for Climate Action T. Shanmugaratnam, Seminar Minister Singapore Christine Lagarde, President, European Central Bank Ngozi Okonja-Iweala, Director General, WTO Kristalian Georggieva, Managing Director, IMF Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Minister of Canada Laurence Fink, CEO, BlackRock

You can see a cross section of political and economic leaders on the board. The leader of the organization, that is the leader of the Board, is still Klaus Schwab. He has built an impressive array of followers. If you want to really see the extent of influence, go to the website and pick out the corporate name of your choice; there are many to choose from: Abbott Laboratories, Astra-Zeneca, Biogen, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Serum Institute of India, BASF, Mayo Clinic, Kaiser Permanente, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust, Blackrock, CISCO, Dell, Google, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Zoom, Yahoo, Amazon, Airbus, Boeing, Honda, Rakuten, Walmart, UPS, Coca-Cola, UBER, Bank of China. Bank of America. Deutsche Bank, State Bank of India, Royal Bank of Canada, Lloyds Banking, JP Morgan-Chase, Equifax, Goldman-Sachs, Hong Kong Exchanges, Bloomberg, VISA, New York Times, Ontario (Canada) Teacher’s Pension Plan

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“That’s what the State is folks, violence. Always has been. This is why Klaus Schwab and his minions like Trudeau, Arden and others will fail.”

The Great Reset Becomes The Great Awakening (Luongo)

The reality is that Arden and Trudeau are both hanging on by a thread because public opinion already turned against them. The only thing propping Trudeau up at this point is the shock at the speed he has escalated events. That shock will wear off very soon. If parliament doesn’t act to limit/censure or simply get rid of this guy, Canadians will have a much bigger problem on their hands. Too many Canadians are still asking, “Is this Canada?” When they should be stating, “This is not Canada.” Stop asking for permission to feel outraged and feel the outrage.

In New Zealand, the veil of authority for Arden is thinner thanks to Trudeau’s mistakes in Ottawa. No doubt they are seeing the same things we are and want no part of it. The knives will come out for Arden quickly if she doesn’t back down. I say all the time, spooks start civil wars, militaries end them. In Canada, the civil war there is just beginning. What we’ve not seen in New Zealand means it’s likely over before anyone even realized they were in one. The Great Reset rests on tyrants like Justin Trudeau to win through fear, intimidation and the banal corruption of weak people to support them. With each image of peaceful people being trampled under the bootheel of Canadian stormtroopers, more people awaken from the slumber of the comfortable lie the government protects us from chaos.

That’s what the State is folks, violence. Always has been. This is why Klaus Schwab and his minions like Trudeau, Arden and others will fail. There is no law these people recognize. There is no restraint on their behavior they feel is justified for their holy cause. The sooner we accept that, like many of the truckers who organized this protest, the sooner we can all begin bridging the divide.

Schwab
https://twitter.com/i/status/1487922335864741890

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“The problems we have go a lot deeper than the World Economic Forum and Bill Gates.”

Why People Believe Wrong Things: A Response to Reader Critiques (Eugyp)

People on the establishment side of the debate mainly argue that Corona is an unprecedented and unusual virus, and that the scientific response has been totally reasonable and justified. People on our side of the discussion tend to see Corona as nothing special, but the scientific and political response as something new and unusual. I suggest that it helps to see the virus, despite its laboratory origins, as a biological threat of the kind we’ve lived with for millennia; and that it likewise helps to see our unbalanced reaction to this virus as an expression of our own declining society and institutions. That’s a big reason why fixing this has proven to be so hard.

The problems we have go a lot deeper than the World Economic Forum and Bill Gates. In many ways, those guys are just the surface manifestations of this much deeper rot. I know a lot of you conceive of what happened in 2020 as a kind of mass hysteria or hypnosis, or compare our current policies to National Socialism in the 1930s. I think there can be polemical value in both points, but I also think the most important thing, is to recognise that containment is a characteristic policy not of Nazi Germany, but of western liberal democracies. These regimes have enthusiastically embraced lockdowns, compulsory vaccination, and widespread restrictions. For two years, our governments pursued containment as their highest and most central political goal; it became a kind of ideological system unto itself, and persists as one. These are western, liberal, democratic policies by definition, and they show that something is terribly wrong with our political order.

I think it is important to come to terms with these simple facts, because these dangerous crazy lunatics are still running everything. The pandemicists have come out of the past two years more entrenched and powerful than ever before. Our public health bureaucracies have learned what they can do now, and with what little pretence. SARS-2 research will receive tidal waves of funding for decades to come; even people who study elephants or soil fungi will now find incentives to make their work at least a little bit about Corona. The SARS-related virus research will also continue, there will be more lab leaks, and the vaccinators will show up every fall with their mRNA snake oil. It would be better, if all of this nonsense were directed, or the result of some unusual passing madness. It’s not; it is the way things are. This is the nature of the political and social institutions that govern us.

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What’s more striking, that the NYT goes after the CDC, or that they do it only now?

The CDC Isn’t Publishing Large Portions of the Covid Data It Collects (NYT)

For more than a year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has collected data on hospitalizations for Covid-19 in the United States and broken it down by age, race and vaccination status. But it has not made most of the information public. When the C.D.C. published the first significant data on the effectiveness of boosters in adults younger than 65 two weeks ago, it left out the numbers for a huge portion of that population: 18- to 49-year-olds, the group least likely to benefit from extra shots, because the first two doses already left them well-protected. The agency recently debuted a dashboard of wastewater data on its website that will be updated daily and might provide early signals of an oncoming surge of Covid cases. Some states and localities had been sharing wastewater information with the agency since the start of the pandemic, but it had never before released those findings.

Two full years into the pandemic, the agency leading the country’s response to the public health emergency has published only a tiny fraction of the data it has collected, several people familiar with the data said. Much of the withheld information could help state and local health officials better target their efforts to bring the virus under control. Detailed, timely data on hospitalizations by age and race would help health officials identify and help the populations at highest risk. Information on hospitalizations and death by age and vaccination status would have helped inform whether healthy adults needed booster shots. And wastewater surveillance across the nation would spot outbreaks and emerging variants early.

Without the booster data for 18- to 49-year-olds, the outside experts whom federal health agencies look to for advice had to rely on numbers from Israel to make their recommendations on the shots. Kristen Nordlund, a spokeswoman for the C.D.C., said the agency has been slow to release the different streams of data “because basically, at the end of the day, it’s not yet ready for prime time.” She said the agency’s “priority when gathering any data is to ensure that it’s accurate and actionable.” Another reason is fear that the information might be misinterpreted, Ms. Nordlund said.

[..] Last year, the agency repeatedly came under fire for not tracking so-called breakthrough infections in vaccinated Americans, and focusing only on individuals who became ill enough to be hospitalized or die. The agency presented that information as risk comparisons with unvaccinated adults, rather than provide timely snapshots of hospitalized patients stratified by age, sex, race and vaccination status. But the C.D.C. has been routinely collecting information since the Covid vaccines were first rolled out last year, according to a federal official familiar with the effort. The agency has been reluctant to make those figures public, the official said, because they might be misinterpreted as the vaccines being ineffective.

Ms. Nordlund confirmed that as one of the reasons. Another reason, she said, is that the data represents only 10 percent of the population of the United States. But the C.D.C. has relied on the same level of sampling to track influenza for years. Some outside public health experts were stunned to hear that information exists. “We have been begging for that sort of granularity of data for two years,” said Jessica Malaty Rivera, an epidemiologist and part of the team that ran Covid Tracking Project, an independent effort that compiled data on the pandemic till March 2021. A detailed analysis, she said, “builds public trust, and it paints a much clearer picture of what’s actually going on.”

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CDC doesn’t publish, and scientists don’t research.

Scientists Reluctant to Study Vaccine Side Effects, Notes Top Journal (DS)

While current evidence suggests that serious side effects are rare, the same is true of Covid itself when we’re talking about healthy, young people or those with a prior infection. Hence it’s by no means clear that vaccination actually makes sense for these people – especially if you factor in the possibility of unknown, long-term effects. So far, there’s evidence of an increased risk of blood clots following the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines, and an increased risk of heart inflammation following the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. While the absolute risks are still low, any side effects – however rare – have to be taken seriously. What’s more, there’s evidence that side effects are more common in young people and those who’ve already had Covid – two groups that face very little risk from the disease itself.

However, we still don’t know exactly what the risk of side effects is for specific subgroups, such as ‘people aged 18–30 with a prior infection’. In addition, some conditions that have been linked to the vaccines (including one that resembles long Covid) are not yet well-understood. Shouldn’t scientists be rushing to answer these and other unanswered questions about vaccine side effects? You’d certainly think so. But unfortunately, that isn’t the way science works in our current, politicised era. As this surprisingly candid report in the journal Science notes, scientists have other things to consider aside from how pressing certain questions might be:

“Probing possible side effects presents a dilemma to researchers: They risk fomenting rejection of vaccines that are generally safe, effective, and crucial to saving lives. “You have to be very careful” before tying COVID-19 vaccines to complications, Nath cautions. “You can make the wrong conclusion. … The implications are huge.” [Avindra Nath is clinical director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke]” Researchers are reluctant to work on vaccine side effects for fear of causing, or being accused of causing, ‘vaccine hesitancy’. The Science report goes on: “Other researchers note the scientific community is uneasy about studying such effects. “Everyone is tiptoeing around it,” Pretorius says. “I’ve talked to a lot of clinicians and researchers at various universities, and they don’t want to touch it.” [Resia Pretorius is a physiologist at Stellenbosch University in South Africa]”

Needless to say, this does not bode well for science. Nor does it bode well for vaccine uptake in the long term. After all, people will only take vaccines – whether for Covid or anything else – if they trust the medical establishment. And ignoring side effects, even rare ones, isn’t the way to build trust.

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Wednesday.

American Truckers Are Launching The People’s Convoy (Malone)

American truckers are launching The People’s Convoy, a peaceful and unified transcontinental movement, on Wednesday, February 23, 2022, from the Adelanto Stadium in Southern California. Starting at 10:00 a.m., hundreds of truckers will hear words of encouragement and blessings from a group of speakers including FLCCC President Dr. Pierre Kory and Godspeak Church Pastor Rob McCoy. The truckers and blue-collar workers of the United States will be joined by freedom-loving supporters from all walks of life – frontline doctors, lawyers, first- responders, former military servicemen and women, students, retirees, mothers, fathers and children – on this peaceful and law-abiding transcontinental journey toward the east coast. The truckers encourage one and all to come out to the stadium in the heart of Adelanto, California to wish them well, see them off and join in the journey.

This convoy is about freedom and unity: the truckers are riding unified across party and state lines and with people of all colors and creeds – Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Mormons, Agnostics, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, Republican, Democrats. All individuals are welcome to participate by either attending the launch gathering – at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday February 23, at Adelanto Stadium – or by getting in their own vehicles and following the big rigs from Adelanto toward the east coast! The message of The People’s Convoy is simple. The last 23 months of the COVID-19 pandemic have been a rough road for all Americans to travel: spiritually, emotionally, physically, and – not least – financially.


With the advent of the vaccine and workable therapeutic agents, along with the hard work of so many sectors that contributed to declining COVID-19 cases and severity of illness, it is now time to re-open the country. The average American worker needs to be able to end-run the economic hardships of the last two years, and get back to the business of making bread – so they can pay their rents and mortgages and help jumpstart this economy. To that end, it’s time for elected officials to work with the blue collar and white-collar workers of America and restore accountability and liberty – by lifting all mandates and ending the state of emergency – as COVID is well-in-hand now, and Americans need to get back to work in a free and unrestricted manner.

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“Watson said that officers had “done a remarkable job,” and were “very measured in their response.“

Ottawa Mayor Wants To Sell Confiscated Freedom Convoy Trucks (RT)

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has praised the police crackdown on anti-mandate Freedom Convoy protesters in the Canadian capital. With the demonstrations cleared, he told state media that trucks, campers, and vehicles seized from the protesters should be sold off, claiming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s controversial emergency powers allow him to do so. Speaking to CBC on Saturday, Watson commended police officers for clearing protesters from downtown Ottawa, where they had been camped for three weeks protesting vaccine mandates. The demonstrations were broken by city and federal police officers between Friday and Saturday after Trudeau invoked the never-before-used Emergencies Act on Monday.

Despite video footage showing shocking scenes of police brutality, Watson said that officers had “done a remarkable job,” and were “very measured in their response.” At least 170 protesters have been arrested, more than 50 vehicles have been seized, and the government has frozen the bank accounts of at least 76 protest participants and supporters. “Under the Emergencies Act I’ve asked our solicitor and our city manager, ‘how can we keep the tow trucks and the campers and the vans and everything else that we’ve confiscated, and sell those pieces of equipment to help recoup some of the costs that our taxpayers are absorbing?’” Watson told CBC.

[..] It is unclear whether Watson’s plan will go ahead, and whether the Emergencies Act actually allows the city to auction off seized vehicles. Ottawa Police have previously stated that seized vehicles will be held for seven days, after which time they can be retrieved. Likewise the Emergencies Act is currently being enforced despite not being debated in Parliament, and could end up amended significantly. While some of Canada’s provincial premiers have relaxed their rules on masking and vaccination since the protest began, Trudeau’s nationwide vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers and a rule requiring Canadians be vaccinated to leave the country remain in effect.

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Ha! Yeah, that’ll work…

US Congresswoman Proposes Asylum For Canadian Protesters (RT)

A US congresswoman has promised to introduce legislation to grant asylum to Canadian truckers facing persecution from their government for being involved in the recent ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests against Covid-19 restrictions. Republican New Mexico Congresswoman Yvette Herrell announced her campaign to provide refuge to dissident Canadians on Saturday, comparing Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “heavy-handed crackdown against peaceful protesters” to that of “an authoritarian regime like Venezuela.”


Arguing that Canada’s treatment of protesters “is not the action of a Western Democracy,” Herrell said the US should provide asylum for protesters “who have been subjected to violence, had their property confiscated, and their bank accounts frozen by a government that is quickly becoming the embarrassment of the free world.” “I am introducing legislation that would temporarily grant asylum to innocent Canadian protesters who are being persecuted by their own government,” she said. “We cannot be silent as our neighbors to the north are treated so badly “

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“When these protestors or those that supported them end up in financial hardship because they lose their job, business, or bank account, what will happen to those who try to help them?”

A Social Credit System Arrives in Canada (Sacks)

On Monday, the rhetoric turned to action when Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act. This heretofore-unused 1988 law gives the government virtually unlimited power for 30 days to deal with a crisis. Invoking the law under the present circumstance would require the threat or use of “serious violence,” yet the vast majority of protesters have been entirely peaceful—playing “We Are the World” and waving Maple Leaf flags. Indeed, the government has made little attempt to justify the need for emergency powers beyond Trudeau’s frequent bemoaning of the truckers’ alleged “hateful rhetoric.” His public safety minister Marco Mendocino stated that such extraordinary measures were necessary due to “intimidation, harassment, and expressions of hate.” Perhaps he doesn’t realize that none of these are listed in the law as valid reasons to invoke it.

Trudeau escalated things further on Tuesday night, when he issued a new directive called the Emergency Economic Measures Order. Invoking a War on Terror law called the Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act, the order requires financial institutions—including banks, credit unions, co-ops, loan companies, trusts, and even cryptocurrency wallets—to stop “providing any financial or related services” to anyone associated with the protests (a “designated person”). This has resulted, according to the CBC, in “frozen accounts, stranded money and canceled credit cards.” Banks, according to this new order, have a “duty to determine” if one of their customers is a “designated person.” A “designated person” can refer to anyone who “directly or indirectly” participates in the protest, including donors who “provide property to facilitate” the protests through crowdfunding sites.

In other words, a designated person can just as easily be a grandmother who donated $25 to support the truckers as one of the organizers of the convoy. Because the donor data to the crowdfunding site GiveSendGo was hacked—and the leaked data shows that Canadians donated most of the $8 million raised—many thousands of law-abiding Canadians now face the prospect of financial retaliation and ruin merely for supporting an anti-government protest. Already, a low-level government official in Ontario was fired after her $100 donation came to light. A gelato shop was forced to close when it received threats after its owner was revealed to have donated to the protest. On Wednesday, Justice Minister David Lametti went on Canadian television to say the quiet part aloud, namely that anyone contributing to “a pro-Trump movement” should be “worried” about their bank accounts and other financial assets being frozen.

When these protestors or those that supported them end up in financial hardship because they lose their job, business, or bank account, what will happen to those who try to help them? Will Canadian financial institutions be forced to play Six Degrees of Deplorables? The fear of being ensnared in the dragnet will surely have a chilling effect on the commercial prospects of those suspected of “unacceptable views,” creating a caste of untouchables whom no one will dare to transact with or help. B.J. Dichter, one of the protest organizers who has had all of his bank accounts and credit cards frozen, expressed the sense of desperation: “It feels like being banished from the medieval village left to die.”

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Make sure you have cash.

Trudeau to Make Surveillance Powers over Financial Transactions Permanent (NR)

As all eyes were trained on the aggressive police sweep of the Ottawa trucker convoy this week, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’s administration was quietly moving to implement a sweeping expansion of surveillance power at the federal level. The Trudeau government’s financial war against the truckers has been covered at length. But one underreported aspect of this broader assault on Canadian civil liberties is the effort to bring crowdfunding and payment service providers — two of the most prominent routes for financial transactions on the Internet — under the permanent control of a centralized government authority.

In a February 14 news conference, Canadian finance minister Chrystia Freeland said that the government was using the Emergencies Act to broaden “the scope of Canada’s anti-money-laundering and terrorist financing rules so that they cover crowdfunding platforms and the payment service providers they use.” That broadened power requires all forms of digital transactions, including cryptocurrencies, to be reported to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Center of Canada. (I.e., “Fintrac”). “As of today, all crowdfunding platforms and the payment service providers they use must register with Fintrac, and they must report large and suspicious transactions to Fintrac,” Freeland said. She justified the move as a way to “mitigate the risk” of “illicit funds” and “increase the quality and quantity of intelligence received by Fintrac and make more information available to support investigations by law enforcement.” Trudeau, standing behind Freeland at the press conference, nodded his head in agreement.

Freeland said the trucker convoy, which had assembled to protest coronavirus restrictions, had “highlighted the fact” that digital assets and funding mechanisms “weren’t captured” by the Canadian government’s pre-existing surveillance powers. As a result, she said, “the government will also bring forward legislation to provide these authorities to FinTrac on a permanent basis.” Freeland reiterated that point in a subsequent press conference this past Friday. “We reviewed very, very carefully the tools at the disposal of the federal government, and we used all the tools that we had prior to the invocation of the Emergencies Act, and we determined that we needed some additional tools,” she said. “Now some of those tools, we will be putting forward measures to put those tools permanently in place. The authorities of FinTrac, I believe, do need to be expanded to cover crowdsourcing platforms and their payment providers.”

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New York can’t pick a decent mayor, can it?

Eric Adams Admits That Vax Mandates Don’t Work, But Won’t Change Them (NYP)

Mayor Eric Adams admitted Wednesday that vaccine mandates don’t work — yet he’s still going ahead with firing city workers who refuse to show proof they got their shots. “The rule was put in place; to start changing it now would send mixed messages,” he said while lamenting the fact that un-jabbed Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving can’t play at his home arena even though unvaxxed out-of-towners can. Mixed messages? We’ve heard time and again that vax mandates are a life-and-death question of public health, fending off some new COVID surge. That’s plainly no longer true, if it ever was. So what’s the point now? New York City’s positivity rate is below 2%, down from an Omicron peak of near 23%. It’s clearly time to rethink draconian COVID approaches

The disconnect between policy and reality here is so glaring that the best Adams can offer in defense is a lukewarm worry that changing it might scramble political messaging. But at least he’s finally, albeit inadvertently, come clean about mandates: They’ve become pure hygiene theater. As we’ve said before: The vaccines are safe and effective and almost everybody should get them. But the data reveal that mandates have near-zero effect on COVID outcomes. Look at Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis actively restricted vaccine mandates. Per Mayo Clinic data, the Sunshine State saw about 347 average daily cases per 100,000 people at its Omicron peak. New York, with vastly stricter policies, saw 366. Florida’s fatality rate at the peak was 1.2% vs. New York’s 1.4%. And those outcomes were this similar even before Delta hit.


But even if you don’t want to “follow the science,” what about basic logic? You are allowed to play ball at Barclays Center or the Garden if you’re not vaccinated; you just can’t play for a New York team. Guess we missed that epidemiological principle: Away players are never disease vectors. A rule so self-contradictory has nothing to do with health. It’s pure power politics. Kyrie Irving is lucky. He earns many multiples of what average Americans will see in a lifetime even with his haircut for missed home games. But what of the hundreds of teachers, cops, firefighters and so on Adams just axed for refusing a vaccine? If the mandate’s main purpose is now literally rhetorical, it’s indefensible.

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Police in Paris have joined the march against Covid mandates.

 

 

 

 

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Jul 082018
 
 July 8, 2018  Posted by at 8:06 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  15 Responses »


Utagawa Hiroshige Sudden Evening Shower on the Great Bridge near Atake 1857

 

US Debt Explosion & Weimar II (von Greyerz)
China Threatened By “Vicious Circle Of Panic Selling” (ZH)
The Demise of Toys ‘R’ Us Is a Warning (Atlantic)
Why It’s Not Too Late To Step Back From The Brexit Brink (G.)
British MPs Should Be Ashamed Of Supporting Regime Change In Tehran (Oborne)
OPEC’s Dilemma (Lacalle)
Turkey Sacks Another 18,500 State Employees In New Decree (AFP)
Trump, the Dragonbear, and the Bipolar World Order 2.0 (M.)
Trump’s Existential Threat To The Empire (Stockman)
Are All Societies Destined To Destroy Themselves? (Wef)
Inventing the Weekend (Jacobin)

 

 

“Prosperity built on debt is short lived..”

US Debt Explosion & Weimar II (von Greyerz)

[..] change starts in the periphery where very few are looking. Look at China where the Shanghai composite is down 23% since January. And look at Brazil where the Bovespa is off 17% so far this year and Turkey which has lost 20%. What is important to understand is that most major markets are now looking extremely vulnerable, be it Japan, Germany or the US. Fundamentally most markets are overvalued with the help of central bank liquidity. Also, technically we are not far from crashes in most markets. Whilst there is always a possibility of a last hurrah, it looks like all markets have topped, including the US, and that later in 2018 we will see major falls. Once the bear markets start, they are likely to turn into secular trends that last many years and result in falls of 75% to 95%.

Difficult to believe for most investors today, but nobody in 1929 believed that the Dow would fall 90% in the ensuing years and take 25 years to recover. The investment world has been lulled into a permanent state of security and euphoria. Hard to deny that central banks and governments have been extremely skilful in telling the world constant lies. And why would anyone protest, as the rich are getting incredibly rich and many normal people in the West have a higher standard of living than ever. Very few of the “normal people” understand that their prosperity is built on personal debt and their government borrowing more than ever. Nor do they understand that they are responsible for this debt that they of course can never repay.

Even less do they understand that they will be on their own when debt implodes and they lose their jobs. Because the state will at that point have run out of money and there will be no social security or unemployment benefits. Nor will there be any pension for retirees as pension funds will go from extremely underfunded to totally unfunded.

When Trump was elected in November 2016, I forecast that US debt would continue to double every 8 years on average, as it has done since Reagan become president. That would lead to $28 trillion debt by 2021 and $40 trillion by 2025. Well, it seemed quite unrealistic back in 2016 that the US would average over $2.5 trillion deficit in the ensuing 8 years to 2025. Judging by current forecasts, it looks like debt will “only” be $25 trillion in 2021. But as tax revenues decline and spending increases, I would not be surprised to see $28 trillion debt in 2021. That would put the US on course for a $40 trillion debt in 2025.That would mean a doubling of the debt from 2017 which is in line with the historical trend of a 100% increase every 8 years.

A $40 trillion debt in 2025 would be bad enough but things are likely to get worse. With debt exploding, the Fed will lose control of interest rates as foreign investors dump US bonds. A rate of 10% at that point would not be unrealistic. That would lead to an interest bill of $4 trillion per year (10% on $40T). This would mean that just interest costs are likely to be higher than total tax revenue.

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“$1 trillion worth of stocks are being pledged as collateral for loans..”

China Threatened By “Vicious Circle Of Panic Selling” (ZH)

Small caps aside, the marketwide numbers are staggering: about $1 trillion worth of stocks listed in China’s two main markets, Shanghai or Shenzhen, are being pledged as collateral for loans, according to data from the China Securities Depository and ChinaClear. More ominously, this trends has exploded in the past three years, and according to Bank of America, some 23% of all market positions were leveraged in some way by the end of last year in China, double from the start of 2015.


Source: WSJ

As a result of the recent market rout which sent the Shanghai Composite into bear market territory, in June UBS warned that it sees a growing risk in China’s stock pledges; the bank calculated that the market cap of pledged stocks that have fallen below levels triggering liquidation amounts to 440 billion yuan with some 500 billion yuan below warning line, which translates to ~1% and 1.1% of China’s entire market value of $6.8 trillion. A separate analysis by TF Securities, as of Jun 19th, stock prices of 619 companies were close to levels where margin calls will be triggered. Since then, that number has increased.

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When Toys R Us went bankrupt, they got permission to give the executives that drove the company into bankruptcy $32 million in bonuses. Store employees, regular working people, got nothing.

The Demise of Toys ‘R’ Us Is a Warning (Atlantic)

Ann marie reinhart was one of the first people to learn that Toys “R” Us was shuttering her store. She was supervising the closing shift at the Babies “R” Us in Durham, North Carolina, when her manager gave her the news. “I was almost speechless,” she told me recently. Twenty-nine years ago, Reinhart was a new mother buying diapers in a Toys “R” Us when she saw a now hiring sign. She applied and was offered a job on the spot. She eventually became a human-resources manager and then a store supervisor. She stayed because the company treated her well, accommodating her schedule. She got good benefits: health insurance, a 401(k). But she noticed a difference after the private-equity firms Bain Capital and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, along with the real-estate firm Vornado Realty Trust, took over Toys “R” Us in 2005.

“It changed the dynamic of how the store ran,” she said. The company eliminated positions, loading responsibilities onto other workers. Schedules became unpredictable. Employees had to pay more for fewer benefits, Reinhart recalled. Reinhart’s store closed for good on April 3. She was granted no severance—like the more than 30,000 other employees who are losing their job with the company. In March, Toys “R” Us announced that it was liquidating all of its U.S. stores as part of its bankruptcy process, which began last September. Observers pointed to the company’s struggle to fight off new competition. In its court filing, the company laid the blame at the feet of Amazon, Walmart, and Target, saying it “could not compete” when they priced toys so low.

Less attention was paid to the albatross that Bain, KKR, and Vornado had placed around the company’s neck. Toys “R” Us had a debt load of $1.86 billion before it was bought out. Immediately after the deal, it shouldered more than $5 billion in debt. And though sales had slumped before the deal, they held relatively steady after it, even when the Great Recession hit. The company generated $11.2 billion in sales in the 12 months before the deal; in the 12 months before November 2017, it generated $11.1 billion.

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The legal position.

Why It’s Not Too Late To Step Back From The Brexit Brink (G.)

Last week, in response to a petition seeking a referendum on the final deal, the government not only refused to allow “the people” to decide on the terms of Brexit, it categorically stated that parliament will not be allowed to do so either. Parliament will instead be given what it calls “a meaningful vote … either [to] accept the final agreement or leave the EU with no agreement”. This is the opposite of “meaningful”; the government intends to refuse parliament the chance to reject both options – it must accept what is offered or take nothing at all. And this is the government’s position, irrespective of the dire consequences for our country or “the will of its people” to avoid them. Even though the UK could before March 2019 change its mind, the government says that it will on no account let that happen.

The reason given for this is said to be the government’s “firm policy” that “there must be no attempts to [reverse the referendum and] remain inside the European Union”; the government does not deny that reversal is legally possible. Its position accords with advice, which I am told from two good sources the prime minister has received, namely that the article 50 notification can be withdrawn by the UK at any time before 29 March 2019, resulting in the UK remaining in the EU on its current favourable terms. Such advice would also accord with the view of Lord Kerr, who was involved in drafting article 50, of Jean-Claude Piris, former director general of the Council of the EU’s legal service and of Martin Selmayr, a lawyer and head of cabinet to the president of the European commission.

As a lawyer, I agree with them. Article 50 provides for the notification – not of withdrawal but of an “intention” to withdraw. In law, an “intention” is not a binding commitment; it can be changed or withdrawn. Article 50(5) is, moreover, clear that it is only after a member state has left that it has to reapply to join. Had the drafters intended that once a notification had taken place, a member state would have to request readmission (or seek the consent of the other member states to stay), then article 50(5) would have referred not just to the position following withdrawal, but also following notification. Such an interpretation is in line with the object and purpose of article 50.

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Britain’s empire days are over. Hard to accept?!

British MPs Should Be Ashamed Of Supporting Regime Change In Tehran (Oborne)

Britain’s prime minister has been fighting a valiant, losing battle to rescue British relations with Iran in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s reckless attempts to wreck them. But last week Theresa May was dealt a devastating blow to her authority after several Tory MPs defied her by going to Paris for a meeting designed to promote regime change inside Iran. This event is the latest sign that the prime minister and her foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, are facing a mutiny over Iran. Former cabinet minister Theresa Villiers was among senior Tories who travelled to Paris last week to hear Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York and Trump’s highly influential lawyer, call for the downfall of the Iranian government.

This meeting was a direct defiance of British government policy, which aims to save the Iran nuclear deal intact, and is against engineering a change of government in Iran. Indeed, Johnson assured Parliament in May that “I do not believe that regime change in Tehran is the objective that we should be seeking.” The overwhelming majority of Conservative MPs favoured Trump’s policy of dismantling the JCPOA – and condemned May’s policy of keeping it Three Tory MPs – along with one Labour MP – travelled to the event, organised by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a front organisation for Mojahedin-e-Khalq Organisation (MEK), once listed by the US as a terror organisation. There is no question that these reflect a powerful and vocal body of sentiment inside the Conservative Party.

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Sanctions on Iran conflict with lower oil prices.

OPEC’s Dilemma (Lacalle)

The fundamental problem of the last OPEC meeting is the evidence of the division between two groups. One, led by Iran, which wants higher prices and deeper cuts, and the two largest producers, Saudi Arabia and Russia, who support a more diplomatic position. Iran wants to continue increasing its own production yet wants OPEC to maintain the group cuts. Iran also faces the backlash of sanctions on exports. Today, the US exports more oil than Iran. Saudi Arabia and Russia have the lowest production costs and stand as the ones to gain more from a moderate production increase. Oil prices will not collapse and they will sell more oil.

The agreed increase in production is a good political move from Saudi Arabia because it shows that it does not aim to harm the world economy or its customers, only to return to a stabilized oil market. With this, Saudi Arabia cements its position as the Central Bank of oil. The winners from this carefully designed agreement are Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the Gulf countries. Those who enjoy lower costs and can generate higher revenues from improved exports. The agreement sets production higher but no individual quotas, so improvement in output is left to the countries with the highest excess capacity. Iran, Venezuela, Ecuador and other countries that have production and geopolitical problems suffer the most. The commitment is likely to add 600,000-650,000 barrels per day to the market.

A figure of 32 million barrels per day is agreed, but the real increase will not be the optical one million barrels per day, but rather the aforementioned 650,000 one. This figure, at a time when oil inventories are in line with the average of the past five years, relieves inflationary pressures and eliminates the risk that the US Administration will take political measures against the OPEC countries. Trump had already alerted OPEC that it could not keep inflating prices artificially. In addition to showing the tension between these two sides, the OPEC summit also reveals that the cartel has much less market control than they would like to have. The fact that the price has only reached 80 dollars a barrel (compared to 100-130 dollars a few years ago) indicates that their ability to manipulate prices to 100 dollars per barrel is very low.

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How does that country still function?

Turkey Sacks Another 18,500 State Employees In New Decree (AFP)

Turkish authorities ordered the dismissal of more than 18,500 state employees including police officers, soldiers and academics, in a decree published on Sunday. The Official Gazette said 18,632 people had been sacked including 8,998 police officers in the emergency decree over suspected links to terror organisations and groups that “act against national security”. Some 3,077 army soldiers were also dismissed as well as 1,949 air force personnel and 1,126 from the naval forces. Another 1,052 civil servants from the justice ministry and linked institutions have been fired as well as 649 from the gendarmerie and 192 from the coast guard. Authorities also sacked 199 academics, according to the new decree, while 148 state employees from the military and ministries were reinstated.

Turkey has been under a state of emergency since the July 2016 attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkish media dubbed the decree as the “last” with officials indicating the state of emergency could end as early as Monday. The emergency has been renewed seven times and the latest period is officially due to end on July 19. Over 110,000 public sector employees have been removed previously from their jobs via emergency decrees since July 2016 while tens of thousands more have been suspended in a crackdown criticised by Ankara’s Western allies. [..] Sunday’s decree shut down 12 associations across the country as well as three newspapers and a television channel.

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Recommended by Jim Rickards. The changing shapes of world order.

Trump, the Dragonbear, and the Bipolar World Order 2.0 (M.)

Just a few days ago, in an unexpected move, Ray Dalio, the founder of world’s largest hedge fund -Bridgewater Associates- announced on Social Media: “Today is the first day of the war with China.” And a day earlier, Trump made a statement about the upcoming summit in Helsinki, claiming that: “Putin’s fine. He’s fine.” One might wonder what the former message has to do with the latter, and how all these contradictory statements fit together. In fact, they make sense if seen through the prism of an emerging bipolar World Order 2.0, which is about the systemic rivalry between the USA and China, and the unique position of Russia in between.

It has become apparent that most of the decision-makers, experts and scholars mistook the end of the US-led unipolarity for the beginning of multipolarity and thus overlooked the emergence of the Global System bipolarity as well as the creation of the Dragonbear (an unique systemic bond between China and Russia as opposed to the USA). Furthermore, the Global System has become too unsustainable regarding its main (man-made) socio-economic components of global finance, monetary, economy, trade, and energy networks, and, as a consequence, is now being shaped by the unprecedented systemic rivalry between the USA and China, with Russia, the EU and India being the free riders, which leads to unexpected new alliances like the Dragonbear or the one between the USA and India, and might also result in the breakup of the NATO and the EU in the long term.

Back in 1975, the West and the Soviet Union bloc met in Helsinki to negotiate and sign a final act with ten principles that have been guiding their relations until now, among which the principle of sovereign equality, the refraining from the threat or use of force, inviolability of frontiers, the territorial integrity of states, and the non-intervention in internal affairs. Indeed, these principles were constantly deteriorated by the actions of single states or organisations over the last decades but were at least recognised by all actors of the global affairs.

However, Trump and Putin might declare new rules of the game, which will reflect the growing great powers competition and the flux of the global affairs. The meeting between Trump and Putin tête-à-tête will most likely address the broader picture of the geopolitical and geoeconomic interests of the two actors in the Middle East and beyond, particularly avoiding sensitive issues such as Ukraine, Syria (except for the sake of coordination efforts) or energy sanctions, and will specifically focus on North Korea, Iran and nuclear non-proliferation.

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The old world order no longer works.

Trump’s Existential Threat To The Empire (Stockman)

[..] the NATO subservient think tanks and establishment policy apparatchiks are harrumphing up a storm, but for crying out loud most of Europe’s elected politicians are in on the joke. They are fiscally swamped paying for their Welfare States and are not about to squeeze their budgets or taxpayers to fund military muscle against a nonexistent threat. As Justin Raimondo aptly notes, “Finally an American president has woken up to the fact that World War II, not to mention the cold war, is over: there’s no need for US troops to occupy Germany. Vladimir Putin isn’t going to march into Berlin in a reenactment of the Red Army taking the Fuehrer-bunker – but even if he were so inclined, why won’t Germany defend itself?”

Exactly. If their history proves anything, Germans are not a nation of pacifists, meekly willing to bend-over in the face of real aggressors. Yet they spent the paltry sum of $43 billion on defense during 2017, or barely 1.1% of Germany’s $3.8 trillion GDP, which happens to be roughly three times bigger than Russia’s. In short, the policy action of the German government tells you they don’t think Putin is about to invade the Rhineland or retake the Brandenburg Gate. And this live action testimonial also trumps, as it were, all of the risible alarms emanating from the beltway think tanks and the 4,000 NATO bureaucrats talking book in behalf of their own plush Brussels sinecures. But now comes the piece de resistance. The Donald is going to Helsinki to make peace with Vlad Putin, and just in the nick of time.

Hopefully, in one-fell swoop they can reach an agreement to get the US military out of Syria; normalize the return of Crimea and Moscow’s historic naval base at Sevastopol to the Russian motherland; stop the civil war in Ukraine via a mutually agreed de facto partition; stand-down from the incipient military clashes from the Baltic to the Black Sea; and pave the way for lifting of the absurd sanctions on Russian businessmen and citizens. Needless to say, time is of the essence. Every hour that the Donald wastes tweeting, bloviating about his beloved Mexican wall, sabotaging American exports and jobs and watching Fox & Friends reruns is just more opportunity for the vast apparatus of the Deep State (and most of his own top officials) to deep-six the Donald’s emerging and thoroughly welcome rendition of America First.

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It’s about energy.

Are All Societies Destined To Destroy Themselves? (Wef)

In order to illustrate how civilization-planet systems co-evolve, Frank and his collaborators developed a mathematical model to show ways in which a technologically advanced population and its planet might develop together. By thinking of civilizations and planets—even alien ones—as a whole, researchers can better predict what might be required for the human project of civilization to survive. “The point is to recognize that driving climate change may be something generic,” Frank says. “The laws of physics demand that any young population, building an energy-intensive civilization like ours, is going to have feedback on its planet. Seeing climate change in this cosmic context may give us better insight into what’s happening to us now and how to deal with it.” Using their mathematical model, the researchers found four potential scenarios that might occur in a civilization-planet system:

Die-off: The population and the planet’s state (indicated by something like its average temperature) rise very quickly. Eventually, the population peaks and then declines rapidly as the rising planetary temperature makes conditions harder to survive. A steady population level is achieved, but it’s only a fraction of the peak population. “Imagine if 7 out of 10 people you knew died quickly,” Frank says. “It’s not clear a complex technological civilization could survive that kind of change.” Sustainability: The population and the temperature rise but eventually both come to steady values without any catastrophic effects. This scenario occurs in the models when the population recognizes it is having a negative effect on the planet and switches from using high-impact resources, such as oil, to low-impact resources, such as solar energy.

Collapse without resource change: The population and temperature both rise rapidly until the population reaches a peak and drops precipitously. In these models civilization collapses, though it is not clear if the species itself completely dies outs. Collapse with resource change: The population and the temperature rise, but the population recognizes it is causing a problem and switches from high-impact resources to low-impact resources. Things appear to level off for a while, but the response turns out to have come too late, and the population collapses anyway. “The last scenario is the most frightening,” Frank says. “Even if you did the right thing, if you waited too long, you could still have your population collapse.”

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Lovely treatise on how capitalism shaped leisure time.

Inventing the Weekend (Jacobin)

Although “commemoration of the Resurrection” was the official reason early Christians began observing the day of rest on Sunday instead of Saturday, they were also eager to differentiate themselves from Jews, and by the fourth century this eagerness translated into the codification of the Sunday Sabbath in ecclesiastical and civil legislation. A millennium and a half later, the Sabbatarian movement pointed to this antisemitism, along with the undue influence of pagan sun worship among early Christians, as reason to reestablish Saturday as the Christian Sabbath day. Temporal, political concerns should not have affected the observance of the true day of rest, so their argument went.

There’s another reason Saturday was re-sanctified in the nineteenth century, which has to do with the “illegitimacy” not of Sunday but of Monday. In preindustrial England, according to a poem of George Davis’s, “people of all ranks, at times, obey[ed] / the festive orgies of this jocund day.” Not just skilled laborers but all classes of workers observed “Saint Monday” as a holiday from work, much to the chagrin of emergent entrepreneurs. While it’s true that many workers spent Saint Monday in the alehouse and at cock or dog fights, it was also a day of relaxation and sociability, a day when the public gardens would be “literally swarming with a well-dressed, happy and decorous body of the working classes.”

The fact that Monday was often taken as a day of rest was a consequence of the typical rhythm of preindustrial work, in which workers would assemble to complete a certain set of tasks, work intensely for a few days until those tasks were completed, and then be at play half the week. In E. P. Thompson’s portrayal, “the work pattern was one of alternate bouts of intense labour and of idleness, wherever men were in control of their own working lives.” The idea that work was to be done during a set amount of regularly apportioned time, time that was well demarcated from another time of “leisure,” was still rather foreign. In 1806, a committee appointed by the House of Commons to assess the state of woolen manufacture in England found an “utmost distaste on the part of the men, to any regular hours or regular habits.” Work was a set of tasks, and when those tasks were completed, play began.

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Dec 012016
 
 December 1, 2016  Posted by at 10:40 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  2 Responses »


NPC K & W Tire Co. Rainier truck, Washington, DC 1919

Oil Price Surges As OPEC Agrees First Output Cut Since 2008 (G.)
Preet Bharara to Stay On as Manhattan US Attorney Under Trump (WSJ)
Trump’s Tax Cut Means Billion-Dollar Writedowns for US Banks (BBG)
6 Million Americans Are Delinquent On Auto Loans (MW)
‘Classic Ponzi Scheme’: Sydney House Prices 12 Times Annual Income (SMH)
Melbourne Apartment Prices Drop by Most Since 2014 (BBG)
Greece Isn’t ‘Crying Wolf’ on Debt Relief (BBG)
Angry Mobs Lock Up Indian Bankers As Cash Chaos Soars (ZH)
The Pillars Of The New World Order (Pieraccini)
More Than 250,000 People Are Homeless In England (BBC)
Climate Change Will Stir ‘Unimaginable’ Refugee Crisis, Says Military (G.)

 

 

How long will the illusion last?

Oil Price Surges As OPEC Agrees First Output Cut Since 2008 (G.)

The price of oil has surged by 8% after the 14-nation cartel Opec agreed to its first cut in production in eight years. Confounding critics who said the club of oil-producing nations was too riven with political infighting to agree a deal, Opec announced it was trimming output by 1.2m barrels per day (bpd) from 1 January. The deal is contingent on securing the agreement of non-Opec producers to lower production by 600,000m barrels per day. But the Qatari oil minister, Mohammed bin Saleh al-Sada, said he was confident that the key non-Opec player – Russia – would sign up to a 300,000 bpd cut. Russia’s oil minister, Alexander Novak, welcomed the Opec move but said his country would only be able to cut production gradually due to “technical issues”. A meeting with non-Opec countries in Moscow on 9 December has been pencilled in.

Al-Sada said the deal was a great success and a “major step forward”, but the news that Saudi Arabia had effectively admitted defeat in its long-running attempt to drive US shale producers out of business was enough to send the price of crude sharply higher on the world’s commodity markets. Brent crude was trading at just over $50 a barrel following the completion of the Opec meeting in Vienna – an increase of almost $4 on the day. Saudi Arabia will bear the brunt of Opec’s production curbs, having agreed to a reduction in output of just under 500,000 bpd. Iraq has agreed to a 210,000 bpd cut, followed by the United Arab Emirates (-139,000), Kuwait (-131,000) and Venezuela (-95,000). Smaller countries are also reducing output, but Iran – which has only recently returned to the global oil market after the lifting of international sanctions – has been allowed to continue raising output.

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Let’s say that the jury’s out.

Preet Bharara to Stay On as Manhattan US Attorney Under Trump (WSJ)

Preet Bharara, the Manhattan U.S. attorney, has agreed to stay in his current role under the Trump administration, a surprise move that could signal the president-elect is serious about cracking down on Wall Street wrongdoing. Mr. Bharara, famous for his aggressive prosecutions of insider trading and corruption in New York, met with President-elect Donald Trump in Trump Tower on Wednesday. Afterward, Mr. Bharara told reporters that Mr. Trump asked whether he was prepared to remain as U.S. attorney, and Mr. Bharara said he was. “We had a good meeting,” Mr. Bharara said. “I agreed to stay on.” Since 2009, Mr. Bharara has served as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, one of the highest-profile U.S. attorney’s offices in the country.

An appointee of President Barack Obama, he rose to prominence after pursuing dozens of insider-trading cases, leading to his moniker as the “sheriff of Wall Street.” The office is also seen as a leader in public corruption, cybercrime and terrorism prosecutions. His office has brought corruption charges against a dozen state lawmakers in New York and convicted the leaders of both legislative houses. Keeping Mr. Bharara appears to be at odds with other picks Mr. Trump has made. Despite campaigning against Wall Street excesses and the largest banks, Mr. Trump has tapped Wall Street investors for key positions in his cabinet, including a former Goldman Sachs executive, Steven Mnuchin, for Treasury Secretary and a billionaire private-equity investor, Wilbur Ross, to run the Commerce Department.

Partly as a result, financial services executives have quickly warmed to the prospect of a Trump presidency. His team has promised to roll back parts of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law enacted in the wake of the financial crisis, saying it has cut back on lending. But the decision to keep Mr. Bharara is likely to temper speculation that a Trump administration might focus less on corporate wrongdoing, white-collar lawyers said.

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“In one fell swoop, a significant part of their net worth goes up in smoke.”

Trump’s Tax Cut Means Billion-Dollar Writedowns for US Banks (BBG)

Donald Trump’s planned U.S. corporate tax cuts could translate to a big one-time earnings hit for many of the biggest U.S. banks, thanks to tax benefits they generated during the 2008 financial crisis. Citigroup would take the deepest earnings hit – perhaps $12 billion or more, according to recent estimates by the bank’s chief financial officer and several banking analysts. Others, including Bank of America and Wells Fargo could face multibillion-dollar writedowns. The banks might have to write down deferred tax assets, which often pile up when a company loses money and can’t immediately enjoy the tax benefits of those losses.

Any writedowns won’t have much impact on capital levels for the banks for regulatory purposes, and lower taxes will allow for higher earnings in the long run. But a one-time hit to earnings can make for a bruising quarter – and even year – for a bank’s results. “It’s a traumatic experience for companies with large” amounts of such assets, said Robert Willens, an independent tax and accounting expert in New York. “In one fell swoop, a significant part of their net worth goes up in smoke.” Deferred tax assets, as disclosed in securities filings, consist of benefits that companies expect to use to cut their future tax bills.

For most companies, the bulk of their value is tied to the current U.S. corporate tax rate of 35%. (Assets stemming from, say, state tax bills are tied to state tax rates.) The assets include unused credits for foreign taxes companies have paid; deductions they’re allowed to take in future years for prior losses; and future tax advantages that stem from so-called “timing differences” – or gaps between when income or expenses are reported to shareholders and to the Internal Revenue Service. Analysts say that calculating the value of assets associated with timing differences can be as much an art as a science.

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America without a car.

6 Million Americans Are Delinquent On Auto Loans (MW)

The number of subprime auto loans sinking into delinquency hit their highest level since 2010 in the third quarter, with roughly 6 million individuals at least 90 days late on their car-loan payments. It’s behavior much like that seen in the months heading into the 2007-2009 recession, according to data from Federal Reserve Bank of New York researchers. “The worsening in the delinquency rate of subprime auto loans is pronounced, with a notable increase during the past few years,” the researchers, led by Andrew Haughwout, said Wednesday in a blog on their Liberty Street Economics site. Weakness among the lowest-rated borrowers plays out against a robustly growing vehicle lending market.

Originations of auto loans have continued at a brisk pace over the past few years, with 2016 shaping up to be the strongest of any year within the NY Fed’s data, which began in 1999. It’s worth noting that the majority of auto loans are still performing well—it’s the subprime loans, those with associated credit scores below 620, that heavily influence the delinquency rates, the researchers said. Consequently, auto finance companies that specialize in subprime lending, as well as some banks with higher subprime exposure are likely to have experienced declining performance in their auto loan portfolios. Credit officials have stressed that the contagion risk to the financial system from poor auto loans isn’t like the risk posed when subprime mortgage lending pushed the U.S. into the Great Recession.

That’s in large part because repossessed cars are easier to resell than bank-owned homes. Cars can’t sink whole neighborhoods with foreclosure blight. Subprime mortgage lending remains at very low levels since the financial crisis. But as the financial system has recovered, subprime auto lending has ramped up with little hesitation. New auto loans to borrowers with credit scores below 660 have nearly tripled since the end of 2009. So far in 2016, about $50 billion of new auto loans per quarter have gone to those borrowers and about $30 billion each quarter has gone to borrowers with scores below 620, according to data the Fed provided, citing credit-score tracker Equifax.

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WHAT? “Property experts disagree furiously about whether prices are in a bubble..”

‘Classic Ponzi Scheme’: Sydney House Prices 12 Times Annual Income (SMH)

Sydney houses now cost 12 times the annual income, up from four times when Gough Whitlam was dismissed. As many first time buyers turn to the bank of mum and dad to top up their deposits, a new report “Parental guidance not recommended” warns Australians are being caught up in a classic “Ponzi scheme”. The report by economic consultancy LF Economics – which has previously sensationally warned of a “bloodbath” when Sydney’s property bubble bursts – estimates it will now take the average first time buyer in Sydney nine years to save a deposit, up from three years in 1975. Baby boomers, who have benefited from skyrocketing prices, are increasingly able to fast track their children’s path to property ownership by either stumping up part of the deposit or putting up their own homes as collateral.

LF Economics, founded by Lindsay David and Philip Soos, warns this may be helping a new generation to over-leverage into mortgages they can’t afford, leaving their parents’ homes exposed. “Unfortunately, this loan guarantee strategy in a rising housing market for securing ever-larger amounts of debt is essentially pyramid or Ponzi finance. This leaves many parents in a dangerous predicament should their children experience difficulties making loan payments, let alone defaulting and suffering foreclosure.” “In reality, many parents – the Baby Boomer cohort – are asset-rich but income-poor. The blunt fact is few parents have enough savings and other liquid assets on hand to meet their legal obligations without selling their home if their children default,” the report warns.

Property experts disagree furiously about whether prices are in a bubble and about the best measure of housing affordability. Treasury secretary John Fraser has said that Sydney house prices are in a “bubble”. But many economists remain wary of the term and point out that supply constraints and strong population growth will underpin prices, even if slower wages growth inhibits further price gains. LF Economics argues that price gains have outstripped the fundamental worth of properties. “Financial regulators have ignored the Ponzi lending practices by lenders, believing the RBA will have the adequate ability to bail them out at taxpayers’ expense the day this classic Ponzi lending scheme breaks down.”

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Bailout?

Melbourne Apartment Prices Drop by Most Since 2014 (BBG)

Apartment prices in Melbourne fell at the fastest pace in more than two years in November, reinforcing concerns about a looming oversupply of units in Australia’s second-largest city. The 3.2% month-on-month drop is the largest such decline since May 2014, according to figures from data provider CoreLogic Inc. This dragged down the overall increase in dwelling values across the nation’s state capitals to 0.2%, the smallest rise since March this year. Record low interest rates put in place by the Reserve Bank of Australia to help ease the economy’s shift away from mining investment and combat low inflation have helped to spur a housing boom in the nation’s biggest centers and the central bank has repeatedly voiced concern that apartment gluts are developing in central Melbourne and Brisbane.

“Risks around the projected large increases in supply in some inner-city apartment markets are coming to the fore,” the RBA said in its quarterly financial stability review in October. Shayne Elliott, CEO of Australia and New Zealand Bank, said Wednesday that the lender had become increasingly cautious about parts of the housing market. He warned about pockets of over-building, particularly in the small apartments segment. “There are emerging signs of stress” in the economy, the head of Australia’s third-biggest bank told a Reuters event in Sydney. The difficulty for both the RBA and commercial lenders in judging the state of the market is that in other areas house prices have been accelerating. In Sydney, where auction clearance rates have been around the 80% mark for the past three months, the median dwelling price has risen to A$845,000 ($625,000).

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Schäuble invites in the vultures.

Greece Isn’t ‘Crying Wolf’ on Debt Relief (BBG)

Paul Kazarian says he’s spent “tens of millions of dollars” mobilizing a team of a hundred analysts to scrutinize Greece’s assets and liabilities. According to him, everyone else – including the IMF, the credit-rating agencies, the EU and the Greek government itself — is massively overstating the problem of the nation’s debt burden relative to economic output. The problem is, the more he tries to convince the world to accept his version of the numbers, the harder it may get for Greece to win the additional debt relief that most economic observers agree is vital to its recovery. Kazarian, an alumnus of (where else) Goldman Sachs, says the investment firm he founded in 1988, Japonica Partners, is the largest private holder of Greek government debt.

Since he first made his interest known about four years ago, he’s declined to be specific about how much he’s invested, or what prices he paid, or whether he’s up or down or sideways on the trade. This isn’t just your standard tale of a bondholder trying to boost the value of his investments by talking his book. What Kazarian has tried to do for the past four years is treat the sovereign nation of Greece the same way he might a private company he’d taken over: by detailing its assets and liabilities, looking for ways to enhance asset value while reducing liabilities, and, most importantly, seeking to install his own managers to take charge. The more you reflect on that latter notion, the more disturbing Kazarian’s larger-than-life presence on the Greek financial scene becomes.

As the keynote speaker at a conference organized by the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce in Athens on Monday, the bespectacled, straight-talking American succeeded in turning the afternoon into The Paul Kazarian Show, berating his audience and his fellow speakers with an odd combination of derision and self-effacing charm and dominating the proceedings by sheer force of personality. (In a previous existence, he gained notoriety for firing BB guns into the empty executive chairs in the boardroom of a company he’d seized control of, accompanying the shots with shouts of “Die!”) Presenting a selection of gems from a presentation that runs to more than 110 slides (Kazarian clearly knows them all by heart), the financier leveled a damning accusation against his hosts: Greece, he said, is “crying wolf for debt relief.”

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Payday coming up.

Angry Mobs Lock Up Indian Bankers As Cash Chaos Soars (ZH)

India’s demonetization campaign is not going as expected. Overnight, banks played down expectations of a dramatic improvement in currency availability, raising the prospect of queues lengthening as salaries get paid and people look to withdraw money from their accounts the Economic Times reported. While much of India has become habituated to the sight of people lining up at banks and cash dispensers since the November 8 demonetisation announcement, bank officials said the message from the Reserve Bank of India is that supplies may not get any easier in the near future and that they should push digital transactions. “We had sought a hearing with RBI as we were not allocated enough cash, but we were told that rationing of cash may continue for some time,” said a banker who was present at one of several meetings with central bank officials.

“Reserve Bank has asked us to push the use of digital channels to all our customers and ensure that we bring down use of cash in the economy,” said a banker. This confirms a previous report according to which the demonstization campaign has been a not so subtle attempt to impose digital currency on the entire population. Bankers have been making several trips to the central bank’s headquarters in Mumbai to get a sense of whether currency availability will improve. Some automated teller machines haven’t been filled even once since the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes ceased to be legal tender, they said. Typically, households pay milkmen, domestic helps, drivers, etc, at the start of the month in cash. The idea is that all these payments should become electronic, using computers or mobiles.

This strategy however, appears to not have been conveyed to the public, and as Bloomberg adds, “bankers are bracing for long hours and angry mobs as pay day approaches in India.” “Already people who are frustrated are locking branches from outside in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Tamil Nadu and abusing staff as enough cash is not available,” said CH Venkatachalam, general secretary of the All India Bank Employees’ Association. The group has sought police protection at bank branches for the next 10 days, he added. Joining many others who have slammed Modi’s decision, the banker said that “this is the fallout of one of the worst planned and executed government decisions in decades.”

He estimates that about 20 million people – almost twice the population of Greece – will queue up at bank branches and ATMs over the coming week, when most employers in India pay their staff. In an economy where 98% of consumer payments are in cash, banks are functioning with about half the amount of currency they need. As Bloomberg notes, retaining public support is crucial for Modi before key state elections next year and a national contest in 2019, however it appears he is starting to lose it. “We are bracing ourselves for payday and fearing the worst,” said Parthasarathi Mukherjee, CEO at Laxmi Vilas Bank. “If we run out of cash we will have to approach the Reserve Bank of India for more. It is tough.”

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It’s kind of funny that Trump is seen as the end of a 70-year era.

The Pillars Of The New World Order (Pieraccini)

Looking at US history over a fairly long period of time, it is easy to see the destructive path that has accompanied the expansion of the American empire over the last seventy years. While World War II was still raging, US strategists were already planning their next steps in the international arena. The new target was immediately identified in the assault and the dismemberment of the Soviet empire. With the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Soviet economic model as an alternative to the capitalist system, the West found itself faced with what was defined as ‘the end of’ history, and proceeded to act accordingly. The delicate transition from bipolarity, the world-order system based on the United States and the Soviet Union occupying opposing poles, to a unipolar world order with Washington as the only superpower, was entrusted to George H. W. Bush.

The main purpose was to reassure with special care the former Soviet empire, even as the Soviet Union plunged into chaos and poverty while the West preyed on her resources. Not surprisingly, the 90’s represented a phase of major economic growth for the United States. Predictably, on that occasion, the national elite favored the election of a president, Bill Clinton, who was more attentive to domestic issues over international affairs. The American financial oligarchy sought to consolidate their economic fortunes by expanding as far as possible the Western financial model, especially with new virgin territory in the former Soviet republics yet to be conquered and exploited. With the disintegration of the USSR, the United States had a decade to aspire to the utopia of global hegemony. Reviewing with the passage of time the convulsive period of the 90’s, the goal seemed one step away, almost within reach.

The means of conquest and expansion of the American empire generally consist of three domains: cultural, economic and military. With the end of the Soviet empire, there was no alternative left for the American imperialist capitalist system. From the point of view of cultural expansion, Washington had now no adversaries and could focus on the destruction of other countries thanks to the globalization of products like McDonald’s and Coca Cola in every corner of the planet. Of course the consequences of an enlargement of the sphere of cultural influence led to the increased power of the economic system. In this sense, Washington’s domination in international financial institutions complemented the imposition of the American way of life on other countries. Due to the mechanisms of austerity arising from trap-loans issued by the IMF or World Bank, countries in serious economic difficulties have ended up being swallowed up by debt.

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Not surprised. A country that needs to refind itself.

More Than 250,000 People Are Homeless In England (BBC)

More than a quarter of a million people are homeless in England, an analysis of the latest official figures suggests. Researchers from charity Shelter used data from four sets of official 2016 statistics to compile what it describes as a “conservative” total. The figures show homelessness hotspots outside London, with high rates in Birmingham, Brighton and Luton. The government says it does not recognise the figures, but is investing more than £500m on homelessness. For the very first time, Shelter has totted up the official statistics from four different forms of recorded homelessness. These were: • national government statistics on rough sleepers • statistics on those in temporary accommodation • the number of people housed in hostels * the number of people waiting to be housed by social services departments (obtained through Freedom of Information requests).

The charity insists the overall figure, 254,514, released to mark 50 years since its founding, is a “robust lower-end estimate”. It has been adjusted down to account for any possible overlap and no estimates have been added in where information was not available. Charity chief executive Campbell Robb said: “Shelter’s founding shone a light on hidden homelessness in the 1960s slums. “But while those troubled times have faded into memory, 50 years on a modern-day housing crisis is tightening its grip on our country. “Hundreds of thousands of people will face the trauma of waking up homeless this Christmas.

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Just in case you thought things are bad now.

Climate Change Will Stir ‘Unimaginable’ Refugee Crisis, Says Military (G.)

Climate change is set to cause a refugee crisis of “unimaginable scale”, according to senior military figures, who warn that global warming is the greatest security threat of the 21st century and that mass migration will become the “new normal”. The generals said the impacts of climate change were already factors in the conflicts driving a current crisis of migration into Europe, having been linked to the Arab Spring, the war in Syria and the Boko Haram terrorist insurgency. Military leaders have long warned that global warming could multiply and accelerate security threats around the world by provoking conflicts and migration. They are now warning that immediate action is required.

“Climate change is the greatest security threat of the 21st century,” said Maj Gen Munir Muniruzzaman, chairman of the Global Military Advisory Council on climate change and a former military adviser to the president of Bangladesh. He said one metre of sea level rise will flood 20% of his nation. “We’re going to see refugee problems on an unimaginable scale, potentially above 30 million people.” Previously, Bangladesh’s finance minister, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, called on Britain and other wealthy countries to accept millions of displaced people.

Brig Gen Stephen Cheney, a member of the US Department of State’s foreign affairs policy board and CEO of the American Security Project, said: “Climate change could lead to a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. We’re already seeing migration of large numbers of people around the world because of food scarcity, water insecurity and extreme weather, and this is set to become the new normal. “Climate change impacts are also acting as an accelerant of instability in parts of the world on Europe’s doorstep, including the Middle East and Africa,” Cheney said. “There are direct links to climate change in the Arab Spring, the war in Syria, and the Boko Haram terrorist insurgency in sub-Saharan Africa.”

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